• Published 22nd Nov 2015
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Gunsmoke - Wanderer D

Sunset Shimmer and Desert Mirage... what exactly is the connection?

  • ...

Chapter 01: Desert Mirage

"Ever since I turned a new leaf, I've struggled. It's easy to say: 'I'll give up my old ways; embrace the new! Reforge friendship!' But... the fact is—deep inside—beyond the cleansing effects of Her magic... I still have ambition. I still feel anger. And regret, and fear, and a desperate need to prove to myself that I'm the best.

"I don't want Her to be disappointed in me. I don't want to lose my new friends. Or for Celestia to find that I've fallen again. Friendship is magic after all, and I have proven myself a friend to the extent that the Elements work with me, whether She is here or not. My connection to the girls is as strong as ever.

"And yet... I want to lash out. Is it really such a weird thing? All that frustration just boiling up behind a smiling face and eyes hiding sadness that the others never seem to notice?

"I don't blame them. I'm not judging them. But I have to deal with this on my own. I tried the school counselor. Poor woman. She was at first terrified of me, and then—from the look she gave me—she probably thought I was crazy, I'm sure. She wasn't there when the magical fireworks went off three times... but one thing she said, did get me thinking.

"Maybe. Just maybe, I need to learn to make peace with the power of magic before it starts consuming me again. And I don't mean quitting magic. I mean stop wanting to be the most powerful magical being in the universe. It's not as easy as it might seem—after the events of the Friendship Games and the return of my magic, it's easy to fall back into the persona I had before I left home all those years ago. The arrogant magical genius that thought her growing powers were a sign that she was destined for greatness no matter what the cost.

"But I need to replace that arrogance with something. My drive will never be gone, and I don't want it to be. I just need to turn my focus into something less destructive, something that will not affect my friends in a negative way, and preferably something that most of them will never suspect me of doing.

"So I won't endanger my friends anymore. I won't seek the power to bend the universe to my will. I will not abuse magic. This gift that was finally returned to me. I might still be one of Celestia's chosen students. I might still be one of the most gifted unicorns out there—whenever I am an actual unicorn, that is— and that should be enough for me, magic-wise: to be strong enough to defend those close to me.

"But, I still need to kick ass. Save log."


by Wanderer D

Chapter 1: Desert Mirage

Desert Mirage rested her back against the remains of the concrete wall, trying to steady her breathing, and holding Twilight and Sunset to her chest. The group behind the wall was thankfully unaware of her presence so far, which gave her a moment to collect herself and put herself in the mental state she needed to be in.

She had been following them unseen until they had stopped for a rest. They seemed fairly new at this, but she knew better than just assuming things. Maybe they just didn't pay attention to things as they should. She had heard at least one of them complain about the pause, but he had been outvoted by the others.

For a brief moment, she felt a pang of guilt at what she was going to do. She could hear part of their conversation a bit more clearly when one of them got excited about a topic or another. They sounded so young. Was her personal gratification worth—

"Mirage," a voice crackled on her headset, interrupting her thoughts, "are you ready?"

Desert Mirage took one last, calming breath as she heard the rustle of a few of her targets getting to their feet and heading out. "They'll find their sentry soon. Keep them distracted for me. You know the plan," she whispered into the radio.

"This better work, Mirage. We're paying you a lot of money for this one."

She smirked despite herself, but didn't bother replying, choosing instead to press herself to the wall and make less of an obvious target to spot. Desert Mirage had a reputation for a reason, after all. No point in defending what was already fact, and she didn't want to give her position away over something so silly.

She mentally counted the seconds before the scouts found the body.





The shouts of alarm stopped all conversation behind her, and immediately the group on the other side of the wall had jumped into action, running towards the alarm, and already she could hear shots. All the campers had run out towards the trap.

All but one. He was slower, but deadly, and probably the real reason she had been hired for this.

She could hear him, stomping off to the front, just as the night sky lit up with explosions and more shouts. She grimaced. They were putting up more of a fight than she had anticipated, but then again the old farmhouse they had chosen to rest at had a lot of sturdy structures to take cover behind, and offered great visibility for defenders if you accounted for the downward slope towards the fields, where her contractors were.

If she waited any longer, her target would join the battle, and that would not do. Letting the air out slowly, she braced herself and rolled around the corner, Twilight and Sunset held secure in her hands, steady and at the ready.

It took her a split second to realize she had acted just a little bit too soon.

Her target wasn't facing away from her. He was smiling viciously in anticipation, his minigun held up at the ready.

Her eyes had barely widened by the time her instincts had kicked in and she dived away—not a second too soon—to avoid being torn into bloody chunks. She tucked in and rolled, scrapping her elbows on the concrete floor just the explosive sounds of a minigun being shut right next to her drowned all other noise.

Being so close to death was dizzying, deafening—and exhilarating. She could see the veritable fountain of used cases cascading around her and the man she had to take down to fulfill her contract.

"You're not getting out of here alive, princess!" the massive man shouted, laughing, his gun following just inches behind Desert Mirage's quick movements, showering the concrete behind her in sparks and pieces of shrapnel.

"Don't call me princess!" Mirage shouted as the roll brought her to rest against a wall. Without missing a beat, she pushed with both feet against it, propelling herself up and forward just as the bullets were reaching her position.

His shots burned stinging streaks of red in her left arm, and she gritted her teeth at the sudden pain. They were grazes at best, however, and her grip on Sunset remained firm in her grasp despite the pain.

Before her opponent could fully understand what was happening, she was standing right in front of him, where he couldn't possibly shift his angle to shoot at her.

She pressed Twilight under his chin and Sunset against his chest as he released the trigger of his minigun in surprise. The last of his spent cases rained around them like red-hot fireflies as they looked each other in the eye, as the moment of realization hit him.

The dual shot sounded like a single gunshot, and his body had barely begun to fall back before Mirage was already on the run to the other gunfight.

She saw half of the group she had stalked earlier clustered behind an overturned old truck, and smirked, jumping behind a fence. For so-called mercenaries, they were very badly equipped, and seriously lacking in training.

Twilight slid easily into its holster and she took out a grenade from her satchel. "You really couldn't have made it easier for me, could you? Clustered like doves in the park. Other than Lion you were really all amateurs."

Ping off.

Let it cook.

Mirage tossed the grenade over the fence.

It traced a beautiful arc, only to land with an ungraceful thud and an awkward roll between the legs of the combatants. Two girls, young looking. Could have been the same age as high school students. Three guys, two older, one looking decidedly younger. Not that apparent age meant anything here.

They only had time to look down in baffled comprehension at just what had landed right between them before the grenade decimated them. When the smoke cleared, none of them were standing.

She spoke into her radio. "Mirage here. Heavy weapon is down, and that explosion was a little cluster I took care of. How many are left?"

"Good," the reply was immediate. "We have three left over here. Make that two."

"Do you still need support?"

"Not at all. There's only one left. Pleasure doing business with you, Mirage."

Mirage smirked, pulling the hood of her mantle over her head before running to the back of the farm where their enemy had taken refuge. "Just make sure you transfer the rest of my money tonight."

"Every penny."

Just as she was passing the remains of the house, she sensed something. In a second, Twilight was out, and Desert Mirage was aiming it straight at the head of a young kid, who had dropped his own sub-machine gun onto the floor when he realized she would shoot him before he could bring it up. He raised his hands.

"P-please! I'm not with them! I just heard the gunfight! I wanted to see what the deal was!"

Mirage remained motionless, her hand never wavering while she studied the young man. "Amand, isn't it? I've heard of you. You're a looter." Her eyes narrowed, taking note of where they were standing. "What did you take from the Lion after I killed him?"

"N-nothing much!" The youth swore, but when Mirage pulled out Sunset as well, he relented, slowly pulling the large minigun her opponent had wielded moments before. "Please! All I got was his minigun! I'll resell and give you half the—"

"That's BS. Give it to me now."

He gawked at her for a split second. "You're kidding me. I'm not doing that! Do you know how much that thing is worth?" Amand growled, bending down to pick his gun.

"Really?" Mirage droned, a single shot from Twilight blowing the automatic rifle out of the way. "You really want to risk it? The way I see it, you give me that or you lose it, your life, and everything."

Amand clenched his jaw, but threw the minigun over next to Mirage. She didn't take her eyes off of him.

"Get out of here."

Mirage watched him go before picking up the minigun herself and activating her mantle, disappearing from view. "Time to go home."

Sunset Shimmer ran down the hall and grimaced when she reached her destination. She could hear the music behind the doors, which was a clear indication that the others had already started practicing. Taking a moment to calm down and breathe, she nodded to herself and pushed the doors open.

"Hey girls, sorry I'm late."

The group stopped playing and Rainbow Dash immediately gave her a look. "What gives, Sunset?" she asked, resting down her guitar. "You're the one that told us to be here at four!"

"Sorry, sorry!" Sunset sighed. "I got caught up sending messages to Science Twilight and Princess Twilight. We were discussing this very interesting theory about teleportation and how it would work in this world if we use advanced technology on it you see, an—"

"Okay, egghead stuff, I get it."

"Uh, Ah don't think you do, Rainbow Dash," Applejack deadpanned.

"Well, not the actual thing they're talking about, but I get that I don't care, because she should've been here already."

Applejack rolled her eyes, and turned to Sunset. "Ah wouldn't put it like that exactly, but Ah do agree with her that if you schedule somethin' you should try and be there on time. Did you go all the way to Crystal Prep to meet Science-Twilight?"

Sunset smiled sheepishly. "Well not exactly, but—"

"Never mind that, dear." Rarity stepped forward, lacing an arm around Sunset's shoulders. "You're here now, and that's what matters. I'm sure you won't let it happen again, right?" She glanced at Applejack and Rainbow Dash. "We all know Sunset wants to win the Band of the Year Award just as much as any of us, right?"

Sunset sighed. "I do, girls. I really do. I know I've spent a lot of time with Sci-Twi since we met her during the Friendship Games, and with her having decided to stay in Crystal prep it makes the travel-time a bit more obvious... it's just I got really excited about this project too. But that doesn't mean I should be late for practice," she said with a small smile. "So, how about we get started?"

Applejack and Rainbow Dash both gave Sunset a thumbs-up.

Fluttershy smiled and nodded, motioning for Sunset to join them. "We're playing a new song I wrote!" She carefully passed the music sheets to her. "We were just going to try it for the first time. I was thinking..." She blushed, letting her hair fall in front of her face, covering it. "Um... that you could... sing it... but—" She looked up. "I'm sure you'll like it!"

Sunset grinned as she read the lyrics. "I'd love to, Fluttershy! Thank you!"

"Yeah! It's pretty cool!" Rainbow Dash stated, picking up her guitar. "But I bet it sounds even cooler than it reads!"

"You know what?" Sunset readied her own guitar, glancing over the lyrics. "I think you might be right!"

The girls grinned at each other.

"Ready to win that competition?!" Pinkie asked, raising the drumsticks into the air.

"Hay yeah!"

"That's an excellent song, Fluttershy," Sunset said, hugging her friend. "And I love the lyrics. Thank you for writing it for me."

"Oh, it was not a problem at all!" Fluttershy said, returning the hug. "I felt it really went well with you."

"I love it, I promise."

Fluttershy's smile could have lit up the room.

"So, when are we doing this again?" Rainbow Dash asked. "It was a good practice session girls, and we played the song well enough, but not awesome. And I hate to remind you all, but if we're winning that competition, we need awesome."

"Well, we can practice tomorrow, I guess." Rarity sighed, brushing her hair back. "But it can't be until after noon. I'll come here straight after my visit to the hairdresser."

"Ah don't have a problem if it's after one," Applejack said. "Ah should be done with work at the farm by then. Thankfully Big Mac and Ah got most chores done during the week."

"Well, as long as we're done by five..." Fluttershy fidgeted a little then smiled. "I have to be at the vet at that time tomorrow to pick up Angel Bunny, and he's generally in a bad mood if I arrive late."

"I don't have soccer practice tomorrow, so whatever time works for me." Rainbow Dash shrugged and started packing her things.

"Ooh! You guys wanna come over to Sugarcube Corner? I have this a-may-zing new cake recipe that you have to try!" Pinkie said, jumping over the drums to grin at the others. "I baked the cake this morning!"

Sunset grimaced when all the others enthusiastically agreed to it.

"I'm sorry girls, but if we're practicing tomorrow, I need to get some things done tonight so I can have them finished in time."

"Aww! But the cake!"

Sunset patted her friend's shoulder. "You know I love your cakes, Pinkie, but I really have a lot on my plate right now. Maybe next time."

The man sat at the table with a morose look in his face. He grunted and threw some coins down for the waiter when his drink was served. Around the bar, a few people had looked at him and made an attempt to approach him until he had glared them away. They had kept quiet and not met his eyes after that.

He couldn't care less about them, though. There was a very specific person did not want to see at all. This person was female, young, wore dark-purple-tinted ceramic armor under a dark gray and black camouflage mantle, had very clashy hair colors and occupied the exact height, depth and breadth as the person now standing in front of him did.

"What do you want, princess? Here to gloat?" Lion almost growled.

"I told you not to call me 'princess'." Desert Mirage shrugged. "And no, that's not my style. I have something for you."

The Lion's eyes widened when his minigun was placed on the table with a clang. "What?! But—" he cut himself short and glared at her. "Are you trying to resell it to me?!"

Mirage shook her head. "It's yours. I saw Amand grab it and figured I wasn't okay with it."

"I hate looters," Lion said, slowly pulling the minigun to his side of the table, running his hand on the barrel. "I went through hell to get this."

"That's why I figured I'd bring it over."

Lion snorted and pushed the chair opposite of him away from the table with his foot, motioning with his head for Desert Mirage to take a seat. "Then let me at least get you a drink before you go, bacon head."

Mirage raised an eyebrow, but accepted the invitation. "Bacon head?"

"You said not to call you princess."

Left Hand: Twilight - Rare Drop: Ultralight Materials Desert Eagle .50 semi. 8-shot special.
Right Hand: Sunset - Custom-made Glock .45 ACP 10-shot magazine, Special: Fire DoT - 5 mins