• Published 1st Nov 2014
  • 20,539 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 I-V

Like any good plan, the best part was when you got the chance to sit down and admire the extent of your work, and how everything came together in a harmonious package to advance one’s will. True, my deal with the pint-sized devil was nothing to brag about, but as I sat at the base of the statue with the latest copy of the Canterlot Free Press, I could not help but feel a small swelling of pride. Diamond Tiara held up her end of the bargain, and in the back pages of the newspaper, there was copy of Fluttershy’s animal shelter flier, calling upon all to take advantage of the upcoming weekend deal.

No longer would Fluttershy have to endure continual disappointment as student after student shunned her noble efforts. Instead, we had a half-dozen young freshmen students to hand out the fliers along with the school papers. No doubt once word spread about the article covering a certain notorious bad girl, the papers would fly off the shelves. I wouldn’t have been surprised if not a single student ignored today’s edition. It was a gut instinct that was reassured when I saw a handful of students walk past me, all with newspapers open, who paused and chuckled after casting a sideways glance to me.

Since I couldn’t let the whole school know that those pictures had been staged, I had to act as though the news article was a complete surprise to me. It was a task that was remarkably easy: I just had to wait until enough students were within earshot, and then shout my displeasure at Gabby Gums.

“What in the world?!” I didn’t want to oversell myself, but I had to make sure that people knew what in particular my outrage was being directed to. “Who the heck does this Gabby Gums think she is? I can’t believe anybody would ever want to read this garbage, especially the stuff on page twelve and thirteen!”

Might have oversold it a little bit too much.

Once the stares, chuckles, and quiet murmurs had died down, I returned to hiding behind my paper shield with the intent of staying there until the morning bell rang. Out of curiosity, I decided to take a moment and actually read what Gabby Gums had written about my spectacular displays of athletic prowess.

“From Cream of the Crop to the Queen of Flop,” I read the headline silently. “As if this year’s run for region champions wasn’t going to be hard enough for the Canterlot Wondercolts, now that legendary captain, Spitfire, has graduated and moved on, now the soccer team may be down another of its star players. An anonymous eyewitness states that soccer team captain, Rainbow Dash, had taken Sunset Shimmer to school in a little one-on-one soccer match. Apparently, she did not take kindly to the loss, and a subsequent kick resulted in a knock-out blow to midfielder, Thunderlane.”

Wasn’t too bad on the word play, though for a gossip columnist, Gabby Gums could’ve used some more colourful prose. If I had known this was going to be the calibre of the shots against me, I would’ve offered to write the article at the same time. If I was going to be lambasted by the papers, I wanted it to be a real roasting of an article. Had this been an actual surprise to me, I doubt I would have even felt a simmering of annoyance.

At least in a few days, this would all be forgotten. Gabby Gums never stayed on a single subject for very long, so it wouldn’t be long before students were gossiping about the next poor fool. Besides, I would never be so lucky as to have anything overshadow my performance at the Fall Formal.

“Oh my, that’s not a very flattering photo at all,” a familiar voice spoke up beside me.

I must’ve been getting used to having Fluttershy sneak up on me because I barely felt a twitch of surprise that time around. However, I did have to fake some degree of surprise since I couldn’t act so calmly while reading my own social life’s obituary.

“Fluttershy!” I gasped before folding the paper shut in haste. “I didn’t hear you approaching. How are you this morning?”

“I’m fine,” she replied. I could tell by her expression that she was curious as to the source of my feigned nervousness. “Is everything okay? That was a picture of you in the paper, wasn’t it?”

“Oh, it’s nothing. Nothing!” I insisted. In an attempt to change the subject, I flipped the newspaper over and showed her the copy of her flyer in it. “Check this out, though. I...um, took your advice and talked to Yearling. She’s agreed to distribute the flyer for you. Isn’t that great?”

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of holding the paper just a hair too close. Instead of just reading the paper from my hands, Fluttershy snatched it out of my grasp before I had a chance to realize my folly. I knew I couldn’t keep all the papers out of Fluttershy’s reach, but I had hoped to milk my success a bit more before giving her free access. As I feared, she spent only a few seconds on the flyer before flipping the pages back to Gabby’s column.

“Oh my!” she exclaimed at first. “Oh dear. Oh, that’s not very flattering. And that part is just mean. Is this you playing soccer? Wait a second…”

I didn’t like the sound of those last few words.

Fluttershy turned the newspaper over and pointed to one of the soccer match pictures of me. It was the one just before I kicked the ball that would, in turn, find its way to Thunderlane’s face. Did I really look that awkward when I run? My stride was awkward and ungainly, though I was willing to blame that on trying to play soccer in knee-high boots.

“I think I know who took this picture,” Fluttershy announced. She then pointed to a small pink blob in the bottom corner. “That’s my hair, right there. So whoever took this picture was standing behind and to my left, and Applejack was the only person on the top row of the bleachers.”

So it turned out that Fluttershy had good deductive reasoning skills, and a decent memory. I hadn’t counted on either of those things, which was odd considering one would think I had learned by now not to underestimate Fluttershy or her friends. Obviously, I couldn’t have Fluttershy thinking that Applejack had been responsible for those pictures, even though that was the case, as that would result in the two having a frank discussion about the pictures. In the face of Fluttershy’s accusations, I wouldn’t have expected the farmer to last more than a few seconds before confessing to my schemes.

“Oh come on, that is just ridiculous,” I replied. I threw in a dismissive chuckle to emphasize how silly a notion I thought it was. “Why would Applejack do that? You know her better than I do: is this really the sort of scheme she’d pull off? Taking pictures of somebody and leaking them to a gossip columnist is something I would’ve done.”

“When you say it like that, it doesn’t sound like something Applejack would do,” Fluttershy said after a brief pause. Lucky for me, it was hard for her to believe that Applejack would stoop to those levels, even without my reassurance, and so long as she didn’t have reason to suspect the farmer, hopefully my secret would stay that way. “I mean, maybe before the Fall Formal, she might have tried something like this, but Applejack’s forgiven you.”

“Exactly,” I insisted, “so clearly it must’ve been somebody who snuck up from under the bleachers. Or...something along those lines.”

Fluttershy took another look at the pictures before shrugging in defeat. She then handed back the newspaper and commented, “You seem pretty calm about all of this. Are you okay?”

“Oh! Um, I’m fine. Really.” In my haste to dispel suspicion around Applejack, I had neglected to maintain the ruse for myself. I had discussed weather forecasts with greater outrage than I had today’s newspaper. “It’s just some unflattering pictures—not the end of the world.”

“Are you sure?”

I didn’t know if Fluttershy was just being overly concerned, or was skeptical of my claims. Despite knowing full well that she was the type to express such levels of empathy, my paranoia nonetheless felt on edge. I continued reassuring her, perhaps a bit too much, that I was going to be fine. By the time the morning bell rang, she didn’t sound totally convinced, or was just still being her usual worrisome self. It was impossible for me to tell.

“Just focus on the positives, okay?” I suggested before gesturing for us to head into the school. “Your flyer is going to be seen by everyone in the school now. Maybe tomorrow we could make something a bit flashier and get that put into Friday’s edition. A few pictures of some puppies and kittens would certainly make for a more enticing offer.” Though the original deal with Diamond Tiara had been for one flyer in particular, at the time I was more than willing to go through the wringer once more to help Fluttershy again.

“But what about these pictures?” Fluttershy asked, once again bringing our discussion back to the gossip column. “We can’t just ignore this. Maybe we should talk to Principal Celestia and have her take these papers back. Or we could talk to Ms. Yearling and get a hold of this Gabby Gums and tell them the truth about how you’ve changed—”

“Just forget about the darn pictures!” I snapped. “We’ve got an opportunity to help that animal shelter, and we shouldn’t be squandering it over something so trivial.”

For a second, Fluttershy looked as though she was stunned by my remarks. “Do you really think your happiness is so trivial?”

“Happiness? Oh, come on Fluttershy, it’s a few silly pictures and some half-baked gossip. I can handle some students snickering behind my back for the next few days.”

Once again, volume and passion did little to dissuade Fluttershy, who maintained her calm composure. “But are you happy?” she asked.

That was an odd question, and one that left me momentarily speechless as my brain fumbled to organize a proper response. It was a strange feeling to have been silenced so effectively by someone that I had always pegged as a push-over. Fluttershy was so much easier to talk to back when she was terrified of me, but being on equal ground made me realize just how powerful her words could be. One did not need to be loud or boisterous when all it took were the right words at the precise moment to send a goliath to their knees.

“I’d be happier if you stopped fussing over me,” I replied.

Fluttershy stopped in the hall and just stared at me for a few seconds. Were she anybody else, I would’ve expected an earful or some sort of stern lecture. In a way, the silence and what I knew was coming felt even worse. Funny how something so small and subtle could cut a thousand times worse than the loudest of bellows.

“I’m sorry you think that.”

Whether by intent or not, we parted ways immediately afterwards as our lockers were in different directions. Even if they weren’t, I would have aimed for some excuse to put distance between Fluttershy and me. Something had gone wrong in my grand schemes, and I wouldn’t be able to figure out what it was, or how to fix it, if I had Fluttershy breathing down my neck. I must have missed something critical to have screwed up like this, but I suspected that the answers were not to come so easily.

“Maybe she’ll forget about it by the end of the day,” I mumbled to myself. I made a mental note to check back on Fluttershy at lunch or after class and broach the subject once more. Maybe if I just told her that I did it for her, she’d understand.

Or just get more disappointed in me.

Either way, I didn’t have time to fret over my social life with class about to begin. When I stopped by my locker, I was greeted to an unsurprising collage taped to the door. Somebody was quick with the scissors to have cut up the gossip column and adorn my locker with the pictures in the few scant few minutes between its release and my arrival. Might have been the handiwork of several students working together, which I could at least take some comfort from with the knowledge that I was facilitating cooperation amongst the school populace.

I ignored the pictures for the moment, as tempting as it was to just tear them down, but I figured using my locker for a billboard might help drive more attention towards the paper. Just because everything wasn’t going according to plan didn’t mean I had to abandon it.

When I closed the locker, I was greeted by the sight of Diamond Tiara, now standing where there had been a void beside me.

“Diamond Tiara,” I greeted calmly. “You look rather pleased.”

“Why shouldn’t I be?” she answered as the smirk across her face grew. “Class hasn’t even started and we’ve already run out of papers. We’ll have to use the lunch hour just to print out more. Looks like you’ve just become the hottest piece of gossip on the school grounds.”

“I guess you and Gabby will have your hands full trying to follow that up,” I remarked. Something told me that she was not stopping by just to say hello and make small talk, which made my paranoia flare up once more.

“Oh don’t worry, you’ll be delivering something good for Friday’s edition,” Diamond replied, referring to the fact that our newspaper only printed at the start, middle, and end of the school week.

“Friday?” I questioned. “We made our deal already—pictures for the flyers. You should have more than enough for Friday’s with what I gave you.”

“Unflattering pictures are one thing, but what everybody is loving are the ones with you nailing that soccer player in the face,” Diamond explained as the smirk began to lose its happy edge. “Our readers are just eating up the idea of Sunset Shimmer still being the bad girl.”

“That was an accident, and you know it,” I snapped back, allowing some of my anger to bubble to the surface. “I don’t mind coming off as a problem by accident, but don’t expect me to go around looking for ways to do that just so you can push papers.”

“Awww, no need to be so harsh, at least not without cameras around,” Diamond Tiara replied. The way she began easing back on the pressure did not leave me feeling at ease. In fact, she slid closer and threw an arm around my side. “It hurts me to see you getting so angry after everything we’ve done to help each other. I thought we were getting to become such good friends, and friends help each other out, don’t they?”

“Looking bad and acting bad are two different things,” I insisted as I pulled away from her toxic embrace. “I’m trying to be a different person now, so you’ll have to find some other way to peddle your journalistic garbage.”

“I suppose I could,” Diamond Tiara mused. She pursed her lips and tapped her chin, but I could tell she already had the answer in mind. Perhaps she should have gone into theatre rather than journalism. “Oh, I know another that students would love to read about: your new friends. You know, the ones who helped save the school from you. Everybody would just love to see every intimate detail of their lives, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Hey! You leave them out of this,” I warned her. She didn’t seem very threatened.

“An expose on the heroines of Canterlot High—all their most precious secrets and embarrassing moments revealed: ‘Applejack sleeping in class,’ ‘Fluttershy has hair extensions,’ ‘Pinkie Pie: party animal out of control.’ Oh, I can just see the headlines now, can’t you?”

“You wouldn’t dare,” I growled. As tempting as it was to resort to a more barbaric form of resolution, I only imagined that somewhere in the hallways, a camera was trained on me, and even a slight hint of violence would get me plastered across Friday’s edition. “What if I go ask Ms. Yearling what she thinks about how you’re running things?”

“Oh right, because she’ll totally believe you,” Tiara quipped with a trifling scoff. “The most hated student at Canterlot High versus the most successful student editor the newspaper has seen in years. How do you think that conversation is going to end?”

Not well, and my silence broadcasted that sentiment to her. Diamond Tiara had me by the throat, and all I could allow myself was to dig my nails into a textbook.

“So what’s it going to be, Sunset Shimmer?” Tiara began as she once again crept to my side like a stalking lion. “Shall we keep being good friends and...help each other out?”


Normally, I took great pride in my independence. While other students spent most of their high school years relying upon cohorts, friends, parents, and other family members just to make it through the toils of everyday life, I had endured and prospered through nothing but my own tenacity and guile. True, it wasn’t perfect, and it did end with me in a crater, but on the whole I had managed things fairly well flying solo.

So imagine the level of stress I felt that my first instinct was to get help as soon as possible. It wasn’t until lunch hour that I felt comfortable enough to approach somebody, though in this case I sought out Applejack once more as it saved me from having to explain everything that had led up to my new terms with Diamond Tiara.

Lucky for me, I managed to find Applejack in the cafeteria without Fluttershy or the others nearby. The whereabouts of the others was a mystery, so I made sure not to squander what time I had.

“ApplejackyougottahelpmeI’mreallyupthecreekhere!” Suffice to say, the past few hours had not done my blood pressure any favours as I fretted over my new dilemma. My sudden arrival had taken my friend by surprise, but she remained more confused than anything. I had been in such a rush to reach the cafeteria in time that I hadn’t even bothered grabbing myself a lunch yet—not that I had any appetite at the moment.

“Come again?” Applejack replied. “Maybe you oughta sit down, take a deep breath, and start from the top.”

She gestured for me to take the seat across the table from her, which I was grateful for. Panic was another thing that was new for me, so it took me some time to settle down, gasping for breath whilst cradling a thick leather-bound book against my chest.

“You gotta help me! You know how I said I made a deal with Diamond Tiara to get Fluttershy’s flyer in the school paper? Well, now she’s demanding I give her more or she’s going to use Gabby Gums to start a smear campaign against you and the others!”

“Gabby Gums is going to do what?”

To my surprise, the confused exclamation came not from Applejack, but rather another girl whose petite presence had escape my normally perceptive eye. With red hair and a giant bow, there was no mistaking the tiny girl for Applejack’s younger sister. In retrospect, it might’ve been better to catch Applejack when she was completely on her own, but it had slipped my mind that there was more than one group of people she spent time with at school.

Ignoring the younger sibling, I turned my attention back to my friend. “Could we talk in private?”

“You’ve already said the worst of it,” Applejack replied, making no effort to stop her enjoyment of lunch. “I reckon this is a bad time for me to say that I told you so.” Not that she wasn’t indirectly saying exactly that by making such remarks. “Have you considered talking to the teacher in charge of the newspaper? Surely she wouldn’t approve of this kind of blackmail.”

“Ms. Yearling? She’d sooner throw me to the wolves than lift a finger to help me,” I grumbled in dismay. “I’m sure she’d love the poetic justice—me finally seeing the error of my ways and falling right back into it.” Quite frankly, any solution that kept me from having to deal with her would be preferable.

“So what exactly do you have to do now? Should we have Rainbow Dash get the softball team together and you can knock one of them out?” I wasn’t sure if that was a genuine suggestion or a sarcastic jab, but either way that was out of the question even if I did think that would help my situation. It was tempting too: there were a few jocks on the softball team I wouldn’t have minded giving a concussion to.

“Diamond Tiara’s already got the story she wants in mind,” I explained. A sense of trepidation began to creep up on me, but I fought it back down with a few deep breaths. “She wants to me to steal Easy Glider’s playbook, with photographs of the theft and me giving it over to somebody from a rival school.”

“Who’s Easy Glider?” Apple Bloom peeped up once more. I thought she would’ve known better than to keep eavesdropping, but it was foolish of me to presume that a younger sister wouldn’t be butting in on the older one’s business.

“He was a coach here at Canterlot High a long time ago,” Applejack explained.

“Not just any coach—he was the coach of Canterlot High,” I corrected. My brief stint with the newspaper club did involve having to cover a lot of sporting events, so learning about these details came with the work. “Between the dozens of county, state, and national championships he’s been a part of, he also has a winning record that puts everybody else’s to shame, and several professional-level athletes who credit him with their success, Easy Glider is probably the closest thing to a legend this school has.”

“If it weren’t for the horse statue outside, we’d probably have one of him instead,” Applejack added in with a chuckle. “Still though, the playbook he left behind has been used by pretty much every coach ever since. It’s practically a sacred relic here at the school. It’s even kept locked up in the coach’s office. You’d have to be some kind of crazy fool to even consider trying to steal it.”

“Y-yeah. A...um, a crazy…crazy fool,” I nervously stammered, sinking into my seat.

It was then that Applejack noticed the book that I had been carrying and was still hugging as tight as you would your favourite teddy bear. Applejack gave it a long, hard stare, and then locked her gaze with mine.

“What is that?” she asked as a single, curious eyebrow rose up.

“A book—a plain ol’ ordinary book.” I was beginning to think that coming to Applejack may not have been the best thing to do, albeit far from the worst of the day.

“You stole—!” Applejack was close to blurting out my crime to the entire cafeteria before I managed to hush her down. Thankfully, she was able to rein in her disbelief to a more tolerable level. “How in the world did you manage to get that? It’s a locked drawer in the coach’s office.”

“I told Rainbow Dash that I wanted to learn a bit more about sports so she took me into the coach’s office to show me some of the other playbooks,” I explained. “Then I used Fluttershy’s cell phone to send Rainbow a text message to draw her away from the office. Once I was alone, I jimmied the lock open. Oh, and before I forget,” I paused for a second and reached into my coat pocket, pulled out Fluttershy’s cell phone, and tossed it over to Applejack, “I might’ve had to ‘borrow’ Fluttershy’s cell phone for a bit. Could you just give that back to her and say you found it in the hall or something?”

“Why would you do that?” Applejack replied in disbelief.

“I couldn’t use my phone; I’m on Dash’s contact list now,” I answered.

“Not that! I meant stea—” Once again Applejack had to stop herself before she blurted my crimes out loud. “Why would you take the book?” she asked more calmly.

“I...I didn’t know what to do. I guess I kind of panicked,” I admitted with some humility. I didn’t want Diamond Tiara to go after my friends, especially since the whole bargain was my fault in the first place, but I had no idea of what else to do. Until I could devise something more concrete, I just went along with the scheme. Rainbow Dash said the next soccer game wasn’t until Friday, so nobody would notice the playbook missing until Diamond Tiara broke the news.

“You lying and stealing your way into the coach’s office is your version of panicking?” Applejack questioned with growing skepticism and bewilderment.

“Well, people tend to revert back to what they’re most comfortable when they panic.” Not the best thing for me to point out since that meant being a cheat and liar were still what put my mind at ease. In my defense, it had still been less than a week since my downfall, it wasn’t as though I could unlearn all the tendencies and behaviours that I had built up over the past few years in such a short time.

I could tell by her groaning and the way she covered her face with the brim of her had that Applejack was bouncing between anger and disbelief as though she were riding a bronco. “You can’t seriously be thinking of going through with this plan. You know I won’t let you, and I know the others would rather deal with Gabby Gums than see you ruin yourself like this.”

“I...I can fix this. I just need more time to think.” A desperate plea, but I was beginning to feel like panicking again, and who knows what I might steal if I lost my nerve. “Can’t you think of some way to help?”

“Aside from explaining this mess to the others, which I believe I hinted at from the very start,” Applejack remarked. “Can’t help but find it kinda funny; you’ve gotten yourself into this mess because of your old habits, but at the same time, the old you probably wouldn’t have been in a mess like this in the first place, or at least would’ve done something just as underhanded to get out of it.”

How painfully true was that. The old me would’ve been the one doing the blackmailing, not be the recipient of it. At the same time, were I not so constrained by my desire to change my ways, I could’ve shown Diamond Tiara what real extortion was like. With a little time and effort, I could’ve had that girl begging for forgiveness, which made for a nice mental picture, but I knew that such pettiness should be beneath me now.

Then salvation came from a rather unexpected source. “I have an idea,” Apple Bloom spoke up. By that point I had given up on the idea of her respecting the sensitive nature of our conversation.

“If it’s talk to the principal, I’ve already considered that,” I voiced my skepticism. After all, how could a first-year student help? “I can’t have her knowing that I did all this backroom dealing in the first place.”

“Actually, I might be able to get you in touch with Gabby Gums,” the younger Apple sister explained. She sounded hesitant to broach the idea, but at the time I had chalked that up to her just being reluctant to deal with me. I had no idea how contacting the columnist that had been facilitating Tiara’s plan would be of any benefit to me, but any plan was better than going on nothing.


According to the youngest member of the Apple family, Gabby Gums was willing to meet with me after class. By some small miracle, I had managed to convince Applejack to keep these dealings a secret for a little while longer, if only to give me time to find a way out of this mess. Of course, the deadline for that silence was the start of school tomorrow, so that left me with very little time to devise a plan.

That felt like the most daunting task of all. My track record for schemes had taken a major nosedive in the recent weeks, and my confidence in myself had hit an all-time low. Every step I had taken thus far in my new life had been followed by two steps back. If I didn’t figure something out by the end of Thursday, my options were to either let my friends suffer because of my foolishness, or to sabotage this second chance I had been given. Nobody would ever trust me if I got caught handing off Easy Glider’s cherished playbook.

The choice of meeting place was rather unusual. I had expected a classroom or somewhere out in the yard, but instead I was meeting inside one of the storage rooms at the gym. It was a dark and dank room that reeked of old sweat and the tears of scrawny nerds. I was told to wait in the storage room for her, but I could not help but feel as though I was being set up for something.

When I first set foot into the storage room, I saw no sign of Gabby Gums or anybody. Aside from bins of variously-sized balls, old wrestling mats, and racks filled with hockey sticks and baseball bats, there was little else present.

“Hello? Gabby?” I called out.

No response.

That didn’t discount the possibility that I had simply arrived first, or that Gabby may have been hiding in wait. I ventured in deeper to check some of the nooks and crannies that somebody could’ve hidden in. When I called out a second time, an answer came in the form of the door behind me closing and the lights suddenly going dark.

“Hey! Who did that?” I shouted.

“Hello Sunset Shimmer,” a voice echoed from near the entrance. Although I didn’t recognize it off-hand, I could tell whoever it belonged to was doing their best to not sound like their normal self. That or Gabby Gums spent a lifetime gargling gravel every morning.

“Gabby, I presume?” I called back, still uncertain of where to direct my attention other than the all-consuming darkness. Fortunately, like any sensible-minded person with a propensity for sneaking into places where they didn’t belong, I had a flashlight program on my phone. Not the first time I had operated in darkened rooms.

Gabby, however, had already anticipated that. I had hoped to see who had been the writer of those gossip columns, but all I saw was a tall figure hidden beneath a wide-brim hat and a trench coat. I suddenly felt as though I had stepped into a spy story.

“It seems as though we have a mutual adversary on our hands,” Gabby replied. I tried to step closer but she raised a hand to signal me to halt. “Stay where you are if you want to hear what I have to say.”

“How can we have a mutual adversary? You’re the one who’s been writing the articles about me, and will write those articles about my friends if I don’t cooperate.” I was half-tempted to crash-tackle Gabby right then and there, but better judgment kept me where I was. “Besides, I imagine you’ve got just as much an axe to grind against me.”

“Diamond Tiara has been forcing our—my hand as well,” Gabby explained.

The subtle slip of the tongue did not escape my notice. Though it gave me reason to suspect, I needed to get closer to confirm. However, with Gabby standing closer to the door, she could have me locked inside before I could cover the distance. That was when I noticed the big bin of soccer balls right next to me. Gabby wasn’t the only one who could use the darkness to their advantage. I redirected the light to keep my movements concealed, and then grabbed one of the balls.

“Think fast!” I shouted out before punting the ball across the room. If my lesson with Rainbow Dash had taught me anything, it was how to hit a person with a ball.

There was a cacophony of shrieks as the ball hit Gabby Gums square in the chest, followed by a crash as she fell into the nearby baseball bat rack. There was a terrible ruckus as dozens of baseball bats clattered to the ground, creating a wonderful mess that nobody would be able to get up from quickly. Within a few seconds, I was able to cross the room and flicked on the lights.

“Don’t you think it’s much better now that we can meet face-to-face...to-face-to-face?” I mused as I gazed down upon Gabby Gums. I hadn’t expected the infamous gossip columnist to be three separate students, but I was able to conceal my surprise when it was revealed to be Apple Bloom and her two friends, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle.

They stared at me with looks of shock, nervousness, and embarrassment whilst tangled in a mess of a trench coat and fallen bats. They must’ve been all hiding under the one coat to give the illusion of height and age. I gestured for them to get back to their feet, to which they complied with the slow wariness of disobedient children being called upon by their parents.

“Now that we’re done hiding in the shadows, perhaps you can explain yourself in full,” I suggested. I tried not to sound too smug with myself, lest I frighten the children further, but it felt good to be in control again. Even though my rational mind knew that taking pleasure in this was wrong, it still felt like slipping into the embrace of an old friend. I tried to not let the euphoria go to my head. “You’ve been helping Diamond Tiara in all of this. Why come to me now?”

“Because we didn’t know you were making deals with her,” Apple Bloom explained. Despite wanting to be upset with the three, I could tell from their averted gazes and sheepishly shuffling feet that they weren’t as guilty as I had presumed. “We thought the pictures came from one of the photographers, like Featherweight.”

“And, to be honest, we don’t really want to be writing about gossip anymore,” the short-haired one added.

“But when we tried to tell Diamond Tiara that we wanted to quit the gossip column, she had these...um, embarrassing pictures of us,” the third one chimed in.

“So we’re all being blackmailed to play along?” I concluded with a raised eyebrow. The more I heard about Diamond Tiara, the more I began to think that this girl was turning into a richer, younger version of myself. She could have used a touch of subtlety, though, since I was now prepared to show Tiara just how badly things can blow up in your face. “You know girls, I think I have an idea on how to solve all of our problems at once.”

“You do?” Apple Bloom replied with a hint of hesitation. It sounded as though they were just as reluctant to put faith in me as they were in Diamond Tiara.

“Oh, definitely,” I said with a growing smirk. “If Diamond Tiara wants bad Sunset Shimmer, then she’s going to get a little reminder why people were so afraid of me.”