• Published 19th Jan 2015
  • 12,091 Views, 442 Comments

Firebird Dahlia - The Albinocorn



Sunset goes home to Equestria to reconcile with her family. But ten years is a large bridge to gap, especially between sisters.

  • ...
16
 442
 12,091

Trailblazer


“I can’t believe it! Spitfire has a sister! And you’re her!”

“Yes, Dash, we all heard you the first ten times,” Sunset deadpanned.

Rainbow Dash swooped under the golden chariot again, coming up on Twilight’s side. “She never told me she had a sister! It’s not on any of the official Wonderbolt trading cards!” She squished her hooves against her face. “That’s gotta be so awesome, right? Being related to a Wonderbolt must be like being friends with a princess, huh?”

Sunset rested her chin on the chariot railing. Below her, a river snaked its way from Ponyville and across the plains before reverting back into the waterfall that cascaded up the mountain.

“Maybe you missed the part where I was gone for her entire career up until now!” Sunset took a controlled breath. Honestly, she’s just as bad as the other Dash.

“Oh yeah.” Rainbow rolled onto her back, yet still managed to keep up with the two pegasi pulling the royal carriage.

Canterlot loomed ever closer, shining brilliantly in the morning sun. A light mist gathered around it, giving it a mythical look. It added to the surrealism Sunset felt. She was going home. Canterlot had never looked more beautiful sitting on its mountain perch. It reminded Sunset of one of those elven cities she had read about in a human fantasy novel.

“Still, you gotta know some cool stuff about her, right?”

Sunset groaned as Rainbow dragged her out of her romanticism.

“And hey, you said you’re pretty cool with that other me, right? Maybe you could, you know, ask Spitfire to speed up the whole becoming a Wonderbolt thing? I mean, I wanna work for it as much as the next pegasi, but it’s taking forever!”

“Yes, I know some stuff about her. Yes, you and I are pretty cool in the other world. No, I’m not asking her for anything.” That’d be a great conversation starter. ‘Hey, sis, I’m back! You’re a Wonderbolt, congrats! By the way, can you make my friend by technicality a Wonderbolt too?' Sunset almost cracked a smile.

“All right, that’s cool.” Rainbow flipped around again and zipped over to Sunset’s side. “But maybe you could just casually mention how good of a friend the other me is? Just kinda toss it in there.” She gave Sunset a toothy grin.

Sunset groaned again and turned towards Twilight who was consumed in the book she had brought along. “Remind me why you brought her along?” Compared to Rainbow’s reaction, Twilight had been quite tame when she found out who Sunset was related to.

******

Twilight jerked her head from the book and sprayed tea all over Sunset’s face. “Sp-Spitfire!” she sputtered out through a fit of coughs. “Did you say Spitfire—Oh! I’m so sorry!”

Sunset levitated a napkin and wiped the tea and spittle from her face. “It’s fine,” she growled. “At least the tea wasn’t scalding anymore.” She kept the napkin over her eyes for another moment so she wouldn't kill Twilight with her glare. “And why are you so surprised Spitfire is my sister?”

“Right. You haven’t been here for a while.” Twilight set her saucer down. “Sunset, Spitfire is captain of the Wonderbolts.”

“Really?” She laughed and clapped her hooves together. “I can’t believe it! She actually did it! Even after—” Sunset cut her voice off.

“After what?”

“Nothing.” Sunset waved it away and forced a smile. “Doesn’t matter if she’s a Wonderbolt! And she’s captain? She must have been over the moon when that happened! Oh man, now I need to go talk to her!”

******

Sunset tapped her hoof impatiently, waiting for Twilight to respond.

“She asked to come with me the next time I got Wonderbolt tickets,” Twilight said without raising her nose. “Actually, she’s the only reason I knew there was going to be a derby today.”

“Yeah, so in a way, I’m kinda responsible for bringing you two back together,” Rainbow said, puffing her chest out. “So, maybe you could return the favor…?”

Twilight fixed an eye on her. “Rainbow, quit badgering Sunset or I’ll conveniently lose your ticket.”

Rainbow held her hooves up. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I’ll stop.” There were thirty seconds of silence before, “I can’t believe Spitfire has a sister!”

“Auuuuugh!” Sunset threw her hooves in the air. “Are we there yet?”

“Yes, ma’am,” one of the pegasi answered her. “We’re beginning our descent into Canterlot.”

The city was alive and festive, just as Sunset remembered. Gold flags waved proudly from tall, pointed spires painted in royal majesty. Perfectly sculpted buildings arranged themselves in organized arrays that sprawled out over the mountain.

The chariot circled closer, skimming over the market place where savory aromas of baked pastries and steamed vegetables rose up to caress Sunset’s nose. They glided over verdant parks where foals played with shrieks of laughter that made the very air thrum with vital spirit. They finally came to rest on an empty strip of polished marble near the castle.

Sunset tentatively took her first steps off the chariot and onto her home soil. Nostalgia permeated her every pore the moment she made contact, and tears started to well up in her eyes.

Knock it off, you big baby! It’s just a city!

But it was her city.

“Whoa, you okay?” Rainbow’s voice broke into Sunset’s thoughts.

Sunset nodded, wiping the tears away and looking up at the majesty that was the castle. “Yeah. I’m just glad… I’m home.” Memories, good and ill, made Sunset’s heart flutter. Somewhere inside those walls, Princess Celestia was still orchestrating all the affairs of Equestria, even when she said she had little influence on how the country progressed.

“Is Celestia-ahem—” Sunset cleared the crack in her voice, “—is the Princess going to be at the derby?”

Twilight rubbed her chin. “That’s a good question. I know she likes a good Wonderbolt race—”

“Pssh, who doesn’t?” Rainbow said behind her.

“—but I doubt she goes to all of them. So, we’ll see.”

The knot in Sunset’s stomach tightened. She couldn’t decide who she was scared of seeing again the most: the parents she had left, the sister she had blocked out, or the mentor she had betrayed. It was like Sunset was standing at the center of three pointed swords wondering which one would strike her first.

Canterlot was a little dimmer as they walked through the city; Sunset’s dark thoughts formed a cloud over her head. Over and over, she tried to rehearse what she’d say to each pony she had left behind, yet all of it seemed either devoid of real emotion or just plain stupid.

Hi, Mom, hi, Dad! Sorry I was gone for so long. But the good news is, I’m not dead!

Princess Celestia, I’m really, really sorry about… everything...

Hey, Spits, long time, no see, right? We didn't leave off on the best terms, but maybe we can start over?

Not even the offers of fresh grilled vegetables or cinnamon buns straight out of the oven could keep Sunset’s spirits up. She knew it was utterly ridiculous to think her own family would slam the door in her face, yet the fantasies kept playing in her head.

Daughter? I’m sorry, but we only have one daughter and she’s a Wonderbolt.

Ah yes, Sunset Shimmer, my least favorite and least faithful student. I hope you were packed for a long visit, because you’ll be spending the rest of it in the dungeons. Guards!

“I don’t ever want to see your face again, you horned freak!”

Sunset stopped dead in her tracks, ice pumping from her heart to flood her veins. That last one had actually happened. The last words Spitfire had said to her.

“What’s the hold up? We’re gonna miss the race because of your slow walking!”

With one blink of her eyes, Sunset found Rainbow hovering in front of her face. “Hello, Equestria to Shimmer?”

“Oh, uh, sorry. Just got caught up in some memories, you know?” Sunset tried to grin but her face refused to work right and it came out as a lopsided grimace.

“Everything’s going to be fine, Sunset,” Twilight said. “I promise.” The gleam in her eye was all Sunset needed to know that Twilight could read her like an open book.

Stupid friendship princess.

Firefly Memorial Stadium hung on the backside of the mountain. It was a humble construction that sat mostly unchanged from its completion centuries ago. A few small buildings and concessions sat on the cliffside with only the marble bleachers packed into the mountain face to separate them from the open sky.

Twilight led them up to the top box, completely empty save for an attendant who asked them if they wanted anything to eat or drink.

Sunset passed on the food. She couldn’t get her stomach to stop backflipping. She kept looking at the door every few seconds, expecting Celestia to walk through. She sat down and fiddled her hooves for a few minutes before pressing herself over the edge of the box. She couldn’t resist looking for her family amongst the crowd, even with her stomach launching a rebellion against her.

Pony after pony filled the stands, the chatter and cheering growing louder with each passing moment. Sunset’s eyes dug through the crowd, and her heart jumped to her throat whenever she found a familiar coat or mane style... only to drop back down in disappointment—and admittedly, a little relief—when she realized it wasn’t them.

Calm down, she berated herself. Getting worked up like this isn’t going to help. She took a seat, only to jump back up when a chorus of trumpets blared.

“All right, showtime!” Rainbow said, tossing a hoofful of popcorn into the air.

Sunset found herself on the edge of the box again looking at the track, or rather, the two rings of clouds forming an oval in midair. This time, her heart stayed in her throat, almost choking Sunset when she spotted the wild orange and amber mane and tail—flames of victory against the blue tracksuit.

“I’m gonna be a Wonderbolt someday!” Spitfire cheered. She spiraled up and around the park tree and dive-bombed Sunset, pulling up just before a collision. “I’ll go so fast, there’ll be fire behind me!”

Sunset laughed. “Yeah right. The most you’ll make is smoke.”

Spitfire settled down next to her and stuck her tongue out. “Oh yeah? And what do you wanna do when you grow up?”

Sunset looked at the golden wings on her sister’s back. “I dunno yet.”

Five pegasi were lined up shoulder to shoulder at the starting line. Spitfire had moved her goggles to cover her orange eyes, but Sunset could still the determination on her face.

“Come on, Spits,” she whispered. “Show me the fire you promised.”

Bang!

The pegasi rocketed out of the gate, neck and neck with each other. The sound of the crowd was deafening, but Sunset could hear herself screaming louder than even Rainbow. “Come on, Spits! You can do it! Show them who's boss!”

Spitfire and Soarin had pulled ahead by only mere feet by the fifth lap with Fleetfoot nipping at their hooves. Soarin tried to get on the inside, but Spitfire fanned her wings out at the top of the turn and pushed him back.

Sunset let out a whoop of delight, ignoring the shower of popcorn Rainbow had released in her own excitement. On Sunset’s left, Twilight enjoyed the spectacle with a silent smile.

By the fifteenth lap, Soarin had fallen behind, and it was now Fleetfoot who kept pace with Spitfire. Fleetfoot was ahead by a nose, but Sunset could see Spitfire would not have any of it today. The tension in the last five laps was palpable; Sunset was shaking with adrenaline from just watching. She had not gone to any of the sporting events at Canterlot High, and had forgotten just how exciting something as simple as spectating could be.

The two ponies became a blur racing down the last stretch. Sunset’s throat was raw from cheering; yet like her big sister, she put everything she had into one more push, hoping her yell would make all the difference. The rational part of her brain told her it was unlikely and pointless. The irrational half said, shove off! and cheered anyway.

“And, yes! It’s Spitfire across the finish line first! Spitfire wins!” the announcer proclaimed.

Yes!” Sunset punched a hoof in the air. “She did it! My sister won!” She cracked an eye open to see Twilight and Rainbow giving her wide smirks of amusement. Sunset ran her hoof through her mane, and put on a nonchalant expression. “I mean, you know, I didn’t expect anything less from the Wonderbolt captain.”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Yeah, nice save there.”

Twilight giggled and gestured to the door. “Come on, let’s go bring you two back together.”

Sunset’s euphoria drained out of her hooves and pooled at the floor around her. No. No, it’s going to be fine. She heard you cheering for her. She must know you still care. She has to want to fix this as much as you do. The gravity intensified to ten times its normal amount, anchoring her hooves to the floor. But Sunset pressed forward, teeth grit and heart set on fixing her last mistakes.

Twilight led Sunset and Rainbow to an open pavilion where a crowd of fans had gathered. A group of burly security ponies were trying to keep them separated from the press, who were snapping photographs and shoving microphones into the small circle of breathing room the Wonderbolts had been given.

They stood together, hoods down, goggles up and lines of sweat still clinging to their brows. Spitfire stood a little taller than the rest of them, victory dancing like fire in her eyes, matching her mane.

Sunset found herself walking through a particularly long tunnel. The noise of the crowd filtered away, and all she could see at the end of it was her sister. She was older now: even more lean than when Sunset had last seen her, the grin on her face even more confident from over ten years ago.

“Miss Spitfire.” Twilight’s voice echoed in Sunset’s mind from the other end of the tunnel. “Excuse me, Miss Spitfire? There’s someone here to see you.”

Sunset stepped around Twilight, fully presenting herself. It was then she realized they had made it to the front of the crowd, even past the security.

Still laughing at whatever had been previously said, Spitfire turned her head to Sunset. The laughter died in her throat and she stared unfocused at Sunset.

Sunset raised a weak hoof. “H-hey, sis. I uhh… saw your race. Congrats!”

Spitfire’s eyes were larger than the track she had just raced around, yet her pupils had almost sunk into their vast whiteness. “S-S-Su-Su…”

“Spits, calm down,” Sunset said, seeing Spitfire’s chest heaving up and down. “It’s okay, it’s just me—”

“Security!” Spitfire screeched.

“Wait!” Sunset was grabbed on both sides by two of the largest security pegasi. “Wait, Spitfire!”

Get her out of my sight!” A vein bulged on the side of Spitfire’s neck. I don’t want to see her ever again! Make sure she doesn’t come within a hundred yards of any of my races!”

“Spitfire, please!” Twilight tried to get closer, but security blocked even her off.

“Wait, Boss!” Rainbow tried to fly over, but Spitfire had already taken off and was a distant speck in the sky.

Sunset continued to watch the speck until it vanished completely. Even then, she stared at where it had been while the guards dragged her away.

“Sis…”

******

Three ponies sat outside the stadium, now silent save for the whistle of the wind. Sunset leaned against the wall, unable to do anything but groan, and punch herself in the shoulder whenever she felt tears coming on. Rainbow sat a little ways from her, poking a stick at the ground.

“Well… that could have gone better.”

Sunset only nodded weakly, the rest of her body still too numb to convey much action.

Twilight paced the road in front of them, stopping every few minutes to say, “I’m really sorry, Sunset,” or something of that variation.

Sunset would just nod again, then punch her shoulder, feeling the sting of tears against her eyes. The look on Spitfire’s face… the hate in her voice… even after the amount of time put between them, Spitfire was still mad. Well, mad might be an understatement.

“I don’t ever want to see her again!”

Sunset flinched and slammed her head against the wall. She counted the tears coming out of her eyes as ones of pain, not sadness.

"Sooo, what now?" Rainbow asked as she tossed her stick away.

"Nothing," Sunset grunted. She stood up and started for the castle. "I'm going back to the other world.”

Twilight ground her hooves to a halt. "Wait, you can leave yet! You haven't seen your mom and dad!”

“What’s the point? You saw how Spitfire treated me.” Sunset flinched again as her sister’s words punched her in the gut. “My parents probably never want to see me again either.”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Rainbow soared over Sunset’s head and blocked her path. “You don’t know that for sure.”

Sunset looked up at her with a cold stare. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not find out the hard way.” She tried to move around Rainbow but found a hoof pressed against her forehead.

“Listen, Shimmer, I kinda know what you’re going through.”

“You do?” Sunset asked skeptically.

“You do?” Twilight asked with surprise.

Rainbow shrugged. “Yeah. I mean, when I got kicked—uhh, I mean when I left flight school, my mom and dad threw a fit. We screamed at each other for days until I finally flew the coop.”

Her air of nonchalance and lofty arrogance was replaced by the most serious and pained expression Sunset had seen on either of the Rainbows she knew. She was a cumulus that had become a thundercloud in the blink of an eye.

“I thought we were never going to speak to each other again.” Rainbow lifted her head to the sky. “But, a few years later, I decided to go back for Hearth’s Warming. Didn’t even tell them I was coming. And do you wanna know the first thing they did when they saw me?”

“What?”

Rainbow broke into a wide smile, dissipating the thundercloud. “Practically hugged me to death and sobbed all over my shoulder. I mean sure, Mom still gives me that look whenever flight school is brought up, but other than that, everything’s cool.”

“How come you never told us about this?” Twilight asked, a little hurt.

Rainbow shrugged again. “It was never important. You know I don’t like baggage weighing me down.” She wrapped a hoof around Sunset’s neck. “Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is: your mom and dad will forgive you for just about anything.” She shifted an uncertain glance to Sunset. “You didn’t kill anyone, did you?”

“No!” Sunset said indignantly. Though I came close.

“Then they’ll forgive you! That’s what parents do! Just because Spitfire’s a little miffed doesn’t mean your parents will be too.”

“Rainbow’s right,” Twilight spoke up. “I mean, you did say you and Spitfire had a fight before you left. Maybe… maybe she still needs time to cool off.”

“Yeah…” Sunset said with downcast eyes. “Maybe.”

“Hey, tell you what?” Rainbow clapped her on the back. “I’ll go talk to her for you. No, I’m not doing this for any favors,” she added, seeing Sunset’s thin frown. “I wanna help make things right.”

Sunset searched Rainbow’s eyes and found that spark of loyalty and good intentions she had come to admire in the other Rainbow Dash.

“Well… if you think you can get her to at least talk to me,” Sunset said slowly.

Rainbow sprung into the air. “No problem! Spitfire’s a hothead, but I can make her see reason. I’ll have you two hugging and junk in no time!” She shot off like a rocket, leaving a colorful contrail in her wake.

Sunset watched her fade away, then turned to Twilight. “Uhh, just in case something else… goes wrong… would you mind…?”

Twilight smiled. “Of course I’ll come with you, Sunset.”

******

The Canterlot suburbs were serene and quiet compared to the rest of the city. Two-story houses sat in tidy rows behind well-manicured lawns. They were not as extravagant or large as the mansions a few blocks over, but they boasted a warm and welcoming charm.

Sunset and Twilight walked down the sidewalk, watching a group of foals race by on their scooters. Amidst the tranquility, Sunset’s stomach alternated between warm with nervous excitement, and freezing from dread.

They’re not going to scream at you. They’re not going to shut the door in your face. Sunset took a shuddering breath. Why did I start with Spits? Why did I start with the pony who hates me the most? Now I’m just paranoid. She nodded to herself. That’s right! You’re just being paranoid. Everything’s going to be fine.

She bumped into Twilight’s backside and almost fell over. “What?”

Twilight pointed to the house in front of them. “This is it, right?”

Stone steps led up to a tan home with a darker brown roof. A porch swing hung next to the oak door. The lawn was green and looked freshly cut, and the garden under the porch was filled with blooming flowers of varying shades and hues.

Sunset saw the pink flamingo ornament standing behind a hydrangea and snorted. “Dad never got rid of that stupid thing. Mom always hated seeing it in her garden.”

Twilight laughed. “It does look pretty tacky.”

And yet, you continue to live inside the worst decoration to land on Equestrian soil. Sunset smirked to herself and ascended the stairs, pausing to look at the porch swing.

“So, girls, what should we read tonight?” Dawn Glider asked her two daughters. They were nestled up on either side of her, trying to make the swing rock.

“The Legend of Starswirl the Bearded!” Sunset cheered.

Spitfire stuck her tongue out. “We read that last night. Let’s read about Commander Firefly and how she fought a dragon!”

“She never fought a dragon, that’s just made up!”

“So is the stuff about Starswirl the Bearded!”

“Is not!”

“Is too!”

“Girls, enough!” Dawn chastised. She took a calming breath and smiled at Sunset. “We read your story last night, so it’s only fair we read Spitfire’s. And keep that tongue inside your mouth, young lady,” she added to Spitfire.

Sunset crossed her hooves and pouted. “Fine.”

Sunset turned away from the memory and faced the door. This is it. She looked back at Twilight, standing at the foot of the steps.

Twilight nodded her head and waved a hoof forward.

Sunset nodded in turn and lifted a hoof to the door.

She knocked.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!