• Published 3rd Oct 2015
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Finding Home - Krickis



Sunset Shimmer returns to Equestria only to find that returning home is different than finding one.

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5 – A Night Out

Chapter Five

A Night Out

Sunset was lying awake in bed, surrounded by scattered possessions she’d long forgotten about. She had spent hours going through everything in her old room, losing herself to her memories. For the moment, she was letting her mind take a break from the events of the day.

A soft knock on the door brought her mind back into focus. She sat up, fixed her dress, and took a quick look in the mirror. Sure enough, her eyes were bloodshot, but there was nothing she could do about that. She answered the door and wasn’t surprised to see Luna.

“Good evening, Sunset. I hope I did not wake you?”

“No, I was awake. What’s up?”

Luna nodded. “Amber and I were wondering if you’d like to accompany us to a moonlit art exhibit. I have committed myself to make a small appearance, but have much to do elsewhere as well. Of course, if you are too tired, it is understandable, but I speak for both of us when I say we would very much enjoy your presence, as otherwise Amber would be left alone should she choose to remain at the event once I leave.”

Sunset chuckled. “You know, I was Celestia’s student for seven years, and that is still the most formal invitation I’ve ever heard.”

Luna stared blankly for a moment before speaking in a tone of forced politeness. “Dearest Sunset Shimmer, allow me to begin by apologizing for the late hour and short notice of my request. However, as my newly appointed best friend, I would like to humbly extend an invitation for you to join myself and Miss Amber Glow for –”

“Yes, fine, I’ll go to your thing.”

Luna frowned and folded her ears against her head. “Sunset, I was still speaking. Surely in seven years my sister has taught you better manners than that.”

“Says the pony who’s thousands of years old and still a smartass.”

Luna tilted her head to the side. “Smartass? Is that a human term?”

Sunset facehoofed. “Yes it is,” she answered quickly, hoping she could avoid explaining what it meant. She was getting a little tired of explaining herself every time she let a human phrase slip out. Not to mention any insult with ‘ass’ potentially held racist undertones in a world with sapient donkeys. “Anyway, is this okay?” She gestured to her dress, wondering what Rarity would say about her wearing the same outfit she arrived in.

“Sunset, as my guest you would be permitted entry no matter what you chose to wear, if you choose to wear anything at all. As it stands, I’m sure the dress you chose to wear for Tia should be perfectly adequate by the standards of the Canterlot elite, should such a thing matter to you.”

“Not really, I just didn’t want to make you look bad since I’m your guest and all.” Sunset shrugged. “And I didn’t specifically choose this for meeting Celestia, I just always wear clothes.”

“All the time? How odd,” Luna said, then shrugged it off. “In any event, we can head out whenever you’re ready.”

Sunset glanced back to her mirror and was more or less satisfied with her reflection. “I’m ready. Let’s go.” She followed Luna into the hall.

“There will be a lot of influential ponies there. Have you considered what you might like to do now that you’re back in Equestria?” Luna asked.

The idea of networking brought back memories of being a filly, waiting around a punch bowl while her parents mingled with the other adults. “Twilight and I are gonna work on bringing some human technology to Equestria.”

“Is human technology vastly different than Equestrian?”

“It is. We’re also going to run some experiments to see how it reacts to magic. It’s an entirely new field, unexplored by both ponies and humans!”

Luna chuckled. “Yes, I see it now.”

“See what?” Sunset asked, her smile fading as soon as she became aware she was on the verge of completely geeking out.

“My sister’s student,” Luna said. If she noticed Sunset blush, she tactfully ignored it. “It is never enough for her that a foal be bright, they must also have the drive to learn. It is good to see that drive hasn’t left you. Tia will be pleased as well. If you haven’t told her your plans then I suggest you do so.”

Sunset nodded. She wanted Celestia to take an interest in her life, more than she’d ever be willing to admit to anypony, but she was also afraid. If Celestia didn’t trust her with something so potentially dangerous, she could probably put an end to the project before it began. Even if Twilight had a lot of authority, it wouldn’t outweigh Celestia’s. Not to mention that Sunset wasn’t sure if Twilight would even try to make a stand against their former mentor.

She followed Luna in silence, realizing along the way that they weren’t going back to her room like she expected, but rather out into the castle courtyard. Once outside, Luna turned towards the astronomy tower. She lit her horn and Sunset watched as a form lifted into the air from the tower and flew over, landing next to them.

“Hey Sunset, glad you’re joining us,” Amber said as she bumped Sunset’s hoof. “Hope we didn’t wake you.”

“Nah, I’m usually up pretty late. So where is this place?”

“Further into the city,” Luna said as she began walking. “Come, I have a chariot waiting.”

She led them to the front of the castle where two of her lunar guards stood waiting by a black and silver chariot. They bowed as Luna approached and she nodded in response. The three mares climbed in and the guards pulled them into the air.

Noticing Sunset was gripping the sides tightly, Amber wrapped a foreleg around her. “I take it you don’t like flying either?” she asked, speaking up over the roar of the wind.

Sunset shook her head, her eyes not leaving the ground so far below them. “Not especially.”

Although she was seated at the end of the chariot, Luna reached her wing around Amber to drape it over Sunset, covering both smaller ponies and pulling the three of them close together. Although she had to let go of the ledge Sunset found being so close to the others helped her relax a little.

Luna leaned in so she wouldn’t have to yell, resting her cheek on Amber’s head. “My apologies, I did not realize you are not fond of heights. Would you like us to land?”

“No, I’ll be fine,” Sunset said. With her eyes forced away from the ground as her new friends embraced her, she was able to show a genuine smile.

“I assure you that you are perfectly safe. Not only are the guards expert flyers, but I would never allow anything to happen to you.”

Sunset made a small noise of contentment, but it was carried away by the wind. “Thanks, but it’s not like I’m actually afraid of heights. I just don’t like not being in control.”

Luna nodded, although with her head still against Amber’s it was more of a nuzzle. “Understandable. Although I’m sure if it came down to it, you’d be able to cast a shield spell if something were to happen.”

Although she hadn’t practiced shield spells since she’d returned, Sunset still found comfort in the thought. “Maybe.”

“Oh yeah, aren’t you like some kind of super magic prodigy?” Amber asked. She used her free hoof to nudge Sunset, which left her with only her back hoofs to balance on, causing her to lean on the unicorn for support.

Sunset chuckled. “I was, but that was a long time ago. Now I’m just a regular unicorn.” She thought for a moment then added, “Well, maybe slightly more magically gifted than your average unicorn.”

“Only slightly?” Luna asked.

“Until I get back into practice anyway.”

As much as Sunset didn’t care for being pulled through the air, she couldn’t deny it had a certain amount of appeal. The flight from the castle to the park where the exhibit was being held was a short one, then she was back on the ground and in her element.

Examining her surroundings, Sunset found them to be about what she expected: high-class ponies mingling with high-class artists. There was more press than a simple art exhibit warranted, but it wasn’t really surprising with a princess in attendance.

“Did you warn her about the gossip?” Amber asked Luna. Sunset turned to see the princess frown slightly.

“No, although I probably should have.” She glanced at the reporters who hadn’t seemed to notice them yet. “I fear you may become the subject of gossip in some of the less reputable news sources. These days most ponies seen with me are.”

“How come?” Sunset asked.

“Because of me,” Amber said. While she didn’t seem too down, she was missing the smile that Sunset had come to expect from her. It was replaced as Luna wrapped a wing around her.

“Because some ponies do not realize the private lives of other ponies are indeed private,” Luna said. She kissed the pegasus on the top of her head. “Truthfully, I have always been the subject of gossip. Lately the nature of mine and Amber’s friendship causes confusion, and many don’t believe we are not in a traditional relationship. They see hidden signs that we have broken up or gotten back together every so often. Meanwhile, anypony I’m seen spending time with is viewed as my next replacement for her.”

“Really? Even though you’re both here together?”

Amber shrugged. “Maybe. It doesn’t matter to us, but we can leave if it bothers you.”

Sunset always used to think she’d be the center of conversation throughout Canterlot, but not just because she was seen hanging out with her friends. Still, it didn’t seem so bad. A few weird looks and stupid questions were pretty low on her concerns. “I suppose if they do make a story out of it, that’ll be the first thing my parents see about me coming back to Canterlot.”

Luna nodded. “Right. I’ve already committed myself to going, but Amber, would you mind taking Sunset back?”

“No problem. Sorry we dragged you all the way out here, but we can take the scenic route back. Canterlot by night’s still a cool sight, and that way we’ll avoid flying.”

Sunset grinned. “No way, I want to go. The only problem is that I won’t be there to see the looks on their faces when they find out.”

Amber opened her mouth and closed it. She turned to Luna with a puzzled look on her face. “You do not get along with your parents?” Luna asked.

“Well, I’ve been back in Equestria for about a week now, and I still haven’t let them know I’m alive. Then I even came back to Canterlot, but decided it was more important to see Celestia than visit my foalhood home. I think that about sums it up.”

Amber and Luna seemed to be at a loss for words. Eventually the pegasus stepped forward and put a hoof on her shoulder. “So, uhm, you want to talk about that?”

Sunset rolled her eyes. “Not really. And even if I did, it wouldn’t be here.”

Amber still looked concerned, but Luna nodded. “Fair enough. So then you do wish to join us still?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Sunset said.

Luna led them into the gallery where they were immediately surrounded by other ponies, snapping pictures and trying to get in good standing with the princess. Nopony paid much attention to Sunset, although a few did approach Amber. After posing for a few pictures with Luna she managed to join Sunset on the sidelines.

“Ever feel overwhelmed by it all?” Sunset asked.

“I really don’t mind,” Amber said. “Sometimes they can be obnoxious, and there’s been a few awkward conversations with ponies who recognized me when I’m not even in Canterlot, but for the most part it’s all pretty harmless.”

Sunset smirked. “Are you sure somepony doesn’t just like being the center of attention?”

“If by ‘somepony’ you mean Princess Moon Butt then yeah, I’d have to agree,” Amber said. Luna did seem to be enjoying herself. “Although I guess I like it a little. But it’s not really the attention, it’s more that, well, she makes it fun. She likes playing games with the reporters to keep them guessing about us, and I like going along with her schemes I guess.”

Luna seemed to handle the crowd just as well as her sister. As everypony laughed at some joke she told, Sunset got the idea that Luna might even be the more social of the two. Or at least the more approachable princess.

“You know, I didn’t really know what to expect from her,” Sunset said. “Fluttershy and Twilight both spoke really highly of her, but it’s almost like they were talking about different ponies.”

“Yeah, she tones down the playfulness around Fluttershy. A lot of times Fluttershy’s the only one who can get a straight answer from her, and I think Luna would feel a little guilty playing tricks on her. On the other hoof, she really likes messing with Twilight.”

“Why?”

Amber waited to answer, pretending to stop and admire a painting while some ponies walked by. “Because she’s got a pretty huge crush on Twilight and she likes watching her overreact.” Noticing the look on Sunset’s face Amber smiled. “And no, it doesn’t bother me.”

“I wasn’t… yeah, okay, I was going to ask.”

Amber chuckled and shook her head. “Everypony does.”

“Everypony? Do a lot of ponies know?” Sunset asked.

“Well, everypony who does, I mean. Luna’s pretty liberal with her secrets, so she’s actually told a lot of ponies, but it can be pretty hard to figure out when she’s telling the truth, so I don’t know how many actually believed her.”

Sunset laughed. “I can see why they wouldn’t.” They further distanced themselves from the group at the entrance and began to walk around and admire the art. Amber favored old-fashioned period pieces, while Sunset prefered surrealist paintings. However, they both equally hated the majority of what was on display.

“It looks like something my little brother might’ve done back in kindergarten,” Amber said.

“I hate to say it, but it sounds like your brother might have failed kindergarten,” Sunset said. “Pretty sure even a foal could do better than that."

Amber snickered. “You know, I wouldn’t be able to say what it really looks like around a kindergartner.”

The painting in question looked like somepony covered themselves in paint then rolled around the canvas. In fact, Sunset would have bet a fair amount of money that’s exactly what happened.

“So is this better or worse than the chair nailed to the wall?” Sunset asked.

“I’m gonna say worse. The chair could be taken down and used as a chair still. This is a wasted canvas no matter how you look at it.”

“A wasted canvas worth a few thousand bits,” Sunset said. She’d seen paintings like this one plenty of times before.

“Probably, judging by the way the crowd’s eating this stuff up,” Amber said, looking around them. Everywhere, ponies were all gathered around the worst art to talk about it.

As the two wandered around looking for the few decent pieces hidden among the bad ones, Sunset had one thought keep returning to her. “So what do you think Twilight and Fluttershy would do if they knew how Luna felt?” she asked once she was sure they were alone again.

Amber looked puzzled by the sudden return of the topic, but answered nonetheless. “Well, Fluttershy doesn’t care. Luna told her ages ago, and I’m sure it’s not something they talk about a whole lot, but Fluttershy’s good at picking stuff up like that. I’m sure she knows Luna still feels that way.”

“You don’t think she’s just holding it in? Like, not saying what’s really on her mind?” Sunset asked. Years of getting information from other students at CHS had taught her how to keep her tone casual, and she kept looking around at the artwork while she spoke, but really she was focusing intently on Amber’s answer. Not just her words but her tone as well, making sure she gave nothing away subconsciously.

“Not really, but I don’t know,” Amber said. The only thing Sunset could pick up from her tone was that it was probably not the most amiable subject they could talk about. “I mean, if she doesn’t want Luna to know why would she tell me?”

Although Sunset hated to push a sensitive issue, there was still one more thing she needed to know. “Has she told Twilight?”

“Yeah,” Amber said, “At least I think she has. I don’t know how that went, but they’re still friends, so there’s that.”

“Good point,” Sunset said. She dropped the subject and hoped Amber would as well. “This one’s kind of cool.”

“Yeah, you said that the last time we walked past it,” Amber said. Sunset winced as she realized the sculpture did look familiar. “Is something wrong? You seem out of it.”

“Yes, indeed. Is there something you’d like to get in the open?”

Sunset wheeled around to see Luna was right behind them. Amber merely glanced over to her, likely used to the trick.

“No, everything’s fine. How do you do that anyway?” Sunset asked. She was positive they’d been a good distance from everypony when they began talking and she hadn’t heard Luna’s approach.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Luna said. “In any event, Sunset, there is somepony whom I would like to introduce to you.”

“Are we networking?” Sunset sighed. “Could we maybe, you know, not do that?”

“Networking can be important, and you two might be able to help each other quite a bit,” Luna said.

Reluctantly, Sunset followed her while Amber lingered by the sculpture. Sunset might have protested more, but she suspected this was part of a plan for Luna to get some time alone with Amber before she had to leave. Rather than lead her to a pony though, Luna seemed to lead her away from them.

“They’ll both understand if you tell them,” Luna said quietly.

Sunset stopped walking. “What?”

Luna stopped as well. “Twilight and Fluttershy. Which one do you have feelings for?”

Sunset felt her face growing hot, so she turned away. “What are you talking about? I don’t have –” She stopped short as Luna placed a hoof on her shoulder.

“Then humor me,” Luna said. When Sunset didn’t protest, she continued. “You are staying with them, it is likely only a matter of time before these feelings come to somepony’s attention. It will reflect better on you if you are open from the beginning, I should think. Begin by telling Fluttershy.”

Sunset gave a humorless laugh. “Yeah, that’ll go over great. ‘Hey, Fluttershy, I’m in love with your marefriend. Who I live with, and will be working closely with. We’ll probably be alone together like, all the time.’ That’s really going to go over great, Luna!” She had meant it to sound hypothetical, like she was just pointing out how ridiculous Luna’s suggestion was, but as she finished she realized it was painfully obvious Luna had guessed correctly.

Luna smiled and bowed her head. “I understand your concern, and that is not the approach I would recommend with most ponies. I only suggest it because I know Fluttershy will not hold your emotions against you.”

“Even if that is true it’ll just make me feel awkward whenever I’m around her. And even if Fluttershy doesn’t care, Twilight’s still a whole other story. She’s really insecure about that kind of stuff.”

“I assure you she’s very level-headed about other ponies having feelings for her. In fact the only times I’ve known her to be insecure was when Amber had feelings for Fluttershy,” Luna said. Her eyes went wide for a moment. “Unless you mean –”

“There you are, Princess.” The two ponies turned to see a pegasus walk up to them. She had a yellow coat and a black mane with a green stripe through her tail. Like most of the ponies in attendance, she was dressed formally. For interrupting that particular conversation, Sunset silently thanked the newcomer. “Is this the pony?”

Luna nodded. Her face showed no sign that they had been in the middle of a discussion. “Metal Circuit, this is Sunset Shimmer. Sunset, Metal Circuit runs Canterlot’s primary plant for generating electricity, and oversees research into new ways to use it.”

The fact that one company could handle both generating raw electricity and inventing new technology said a lot about how early Equestria still was in its technological development.

Sunset bumped Metal Circuit’s hoof. “Nice to meet you.”

“I hear you’re some kind of technological prodigy,” Metal Circuit said.

Happy to skip the pleasantries and get straight to the point, Sunset grinned. “More so than you can imagine.”

“I’ll leave you two to get to know one another,” Luna said.

Metal Circuit nodded to the princess, who made her way back to where they had left Amber. She turned back to Sunset. “I can imagine quite a lot, actually. I don’t generally hire ponies with no experience to show, but Princess Luna’s recommendation does count for something.”

Sunset smiled. Time to let her down easy. “I’m not sure what Luna told you, but I’m not looking for a job. I’m working in Ponyville with Princess Twilight, actually.”

Metal Circuit raised an eyebrow. “Then you’re wasting your time. Sure, Princess Twilight’s a genius, but she studies magic, not electronics.”

Sunset chuckled. She wondered what Metal Circuit would think if she could see some of the contraptions Twilight had built. “Twilight studies everything. And I do mean literally everything. And I studied magic too – seven years under Princess Celestia, to be specific. After that I spent about fourteen years self-teaching myself technology, both electronics and mechanics. And anyway, we’re exploring the possibilities of magic and technology working together.”

Sunset could practically feel the warmth coming from Metal Circuit as her face lit up with the thoughts of all the potential Sunset could bring her. “Well I hope you at least plan on putting those inventions to good use. I have the resources to make that happen.”

Truthfully, Sunset didn’t care. She had too much personal stuff going on to worry about her professional life. Still, she knew that once she had something built, the temptation to go into large-scale manufacturing would be pretty great.

“Well, it’ll pretty much be up to Twilight what we do with anything we make, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you get word from us.”

Metal Circuit grinned. “Smart choice.” She took off her top hat and pulled a business card out of it. Sunset tucked it into her sash, making a mental note to either get Rarity to make her something with pockets or start carrying a purse.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, but I’d better get back to my friends,” Sunset said.

“Alright, I look forward to hearing from you." Metal Circuit winked.

Sunset left and searched around for Luna and Amber. At least when she wasn’t sneaking around, Luna stuck out, and it didn’t take long to find them. They were staring at an all black painting. She walked up next to them but neither looked away. “Uhm… am I missing something?”

Amber glanced towards Sunset before looking back to the painting. “We’re seeing who can find something actually artistic about the most pictures. This one has us both stuck.”

Sunset sighed. “It’s the Crystal Empire during the Summer Sun Celebration as seen by a blind pony.”

Amber and Luna both looked at each other before turning to Sunset. “Cool, point to Sunset,” Amber said.

“Are you a fan of this style of art?” Luna asked.

“Nopony actually likes this stuff, they just pretend like they do because it makes them seem fancier. They can show off the painting they bought for some ridiculous amount of money, and since nopony understands it, it makes them look educated. Clearly they must be able to see something in it no one else can, or else they wouldn’t have bought it. The ‘artists’ come up with something that’s easy to make, and sometimes they make up some deep symbolism to it. Usually the buyer is the only one who the artist reveals the meaning to, which means they can feel superior by making fun of others for not getting it.”

“You know, I remember when art was held in high regard for its beauty, not merely used as a status symbol,” Luna said, looking disdainfully on the canvas.

“Careful, your old mare’s showing,” Amber said, patting Luna on the shoulder.

“Yes, well, this old mare has had more than enough of what passes for art in these times, and I need to fulfil my nightly duties. I trust you will be okay without me?”

“We’ll be fine, go watch over the sleeping nation,” Amber said. Luna leaned down so Amber could reach her cheek to kiss it.

After waving goodbye to Luna, Sunset turned back to the all black painting. “So, uh, you want to hang around here?”

Amber tried to grin but it deflated as a group of ponies walked up to marvel at the originality of the piece. “To be honest, not really. But I’m totally down to go somewhere else if you want.”

Sunset nodded and they began walking towards the street. “So what else is there to do this late?” In all the years that she lived there, Sunset had never experienced Canterlot by night, although she got the feeling it was going to become something she’d see a lot more of now.

“Psh, in Canterlot?” Amber rolled her eyes. “Only everything. There’s a pretty great play starting at midnight we could probably catch.”

“Sounds good,” Sunset said. The two mares walked side by side into the night, laughing about the gullibility of the ponies they’d left behind.

Author's Note:

Metal Circuit was created by TheMTVGAMEONE1.

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