• Published 4th Jan 2016
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Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead - Rune Soldier Dan

The faculty of Canterlot High battles otherworldly horrors with style

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The Melancholy of Vice Principal Luna

Sunset awoke as something bumped her sofa-bed. The noise of plastic chair on metal bedframe broke the silent night, followed by a soft curse from above. Sunset raised her eyes to see Luna back in place at the computer.

Frowning sheepishly, the vice principal took off her headphones. “Sorry. Not much space in here with the bed out. We really got to get you your own room.”

“It’s cool.” Sunset’s voice came out as a croak. Her phone clock read 4 A.M., but concern won out over sleepiness. She gripped the arm on Luna’s chair and pulled herself upwards. “I thought you went to bed.”

“I tried.” Luna’s eyes were back on the screen. “For about an hour, then I gave up. I still have insomnia now and then, same as Celestia with her night terrors.”

“Our big fight right before bed probably didn’t help.” Sunset sighed. “Sorry.”

Luna shrugged. “Probably, but don’t worry too hard. Like I said, it comes and goes. I have my routine for dealing with it.”

“Same as your daytime routine, huh?”

The warmth fled Luna’s voice, leaving a defensive chill. “Nobody asked you, Sunset.”

Sunset froze. Luna mentally slapped herself and spun in the chair. There was a kicked-puppy look on Sunset’s face, and a stammered apology halfway through her lips.

None of that. Luna pulled a Celestia, reaching over and gripping the girl’s hand.

“Sorry!” Anxious regret made Luna’s voice loud. She cleared her throat and went on softly. “Sorry, I just… I don’t know.”

“Nobody asked you, Luna.” The blue woman made a face, remembering Redheart’s dismissal at the Chrysalis plant. Not the first time someone said that to her, and now she passed the damn thing on.

“No worries.” Sunset gave a breathless chuckle, belying the words. “We’re both tired.”

“Don’t make excuses for me,” Luna cut in. “I get enough of that from Celestia, and it’s always bullshit.”

Sunset paused, uncertain of how to respond. Luna shook her head with a short growl and abruptly fixed her with a stare. “Let me ask: what do the students think of me?”

A softball question, all things told. Sunset answered with confidence. “We don’t dislike you. I mean, yes, you’re less approachable than Celestia, and yes, most students like her more. But it makes sense – you’re the bad cop, she’s the good cop. That’s all.”

She shuffled in the bed, guessing where Luna was going with this. “We all respect you, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Luna had already outflanked her. She glared to the side, arms crossed. “Of course. You all don’t know.”

“Know what?”

Luna grimaced, keeping her gaze on the wall. “You’ve seen it by now. Celestia cooks, cleans, rakes the leaves, maintains the house, pays the bills, and packs my lunch. I’m more her daughter than you are.”

“Hey,” Sunset smiled weakly. “She packs my lunch, too.”

“Not helping.”

Sunset nodded, yielding the point. “Okay, let’s take this one thing at a time. I thought you handled the ‘business’ purchases while her money went to the house?”

“I cut Cranky a check every month.” Luna shook her head. “He’s got all these military contacts, I would just waste everyone’s time trying to butt in. Nowadays I can just send it from my phone while my game loads.”

She clicked and dragged across her screen, sending a digital soldier to his death. “Heh. First world problems. Who the hell complains about too much free time?”

Sunset righted herself on the bed. Puzzled and worried, she tried again. “You cook. You made dinner that night Celestia worked late.”

“Hey Sunset, what would you like for dinner? I’ve got Chocolate Sugar Bombs with Marshmallows, Zero-Percent Fruit (Loops), and this raisiny bullshit Celestia bought.”

Luna looked away from her game just long enough to glower towards the bed. Sunset winced and gave a too-wide grin. “Okay, bad example. But there was that time you… um…”

“Stop trying, Sunset.”

Sunset crossed her legs Indian-style, putting her at eye-level with the vice principal. “Well. Do you want to start doing all those things?”

“You mean actually be an adult?” Another click and drag. “Yeah. Of course.”

Sunset nodded. “Help me understand. What’s stopping you?”

“What are you, my therapist?”

The jab cracked Sunset’s calm. She looked away, fidgeting with her toes. “I mean, no, but I think–”

“It’s Celestia.” Luna’s words lanced right through.

“Celestia’s stopping you?”

“Yes. No? I mean…” Luna interrupted herself with a groan and yawn, stretching her arms up high. She finally rolled back from the screen, turning to Sunset. “This has been our life ever since we moved in together. I used to get ambitious, but my cooking always sucked compared to hers, and whenever I cleaned the bathroom or whatever she’d end up having to do it over. It’s easier on both of us if I don’t even try.”

“What does Celestia think?” At this point, Sunset was stalling for time. She kicked her blank mind into gear, searching for any experience that would give her the answer.

Nothing came – she was never a genius when it came to empathy. All she had were good intentions and the will to pound on any problem until it caved.

Hands on her knees, Sunset watched Luna’s mouth as she talked. “Tia? Come on, Sunset, you’ve met her. She does it all with a smile. Like the perfect mother. She’d be married with inevitably-adorable kids by now if she didn’t have me latched to her ankle.”

“Don’t say that,” Sunset said.

“It’s true.”

“So we’ll make it better.” Sunset swung her legs over the bed, green eyes gleaming. “Let’s start tonight. She wakes up at six, that’s plenty of time for us to make a good breakfast.”

“I can’t cook anything fancy,” Luna grumbled. She made to scooch her chair back to the screen, but Sunset’s foot stopped the movement.

“Bacon and eggs,” Sunset said. “I can show you how. Rainbow once told me bacon means ‘I love you’ in an ancient human language.”

Too mopey to appreciate the joke, Luna crossed her arms. “It also means ‘I hate your arteries.’ Besides, any idiot can fry meat.”

Luna reached for her keyboard, but Sunset’s foot slid the chair even further away. “So we’ll make something fancier.”

“I don’t know anything fancier.”

Sunset chuckled. “Miss Luna, there are a lot of great things about Equestria, but Earth has the internet. We can look up whatever recipe we want.”

Luna looked away. “Any idiot can follow a recipe, too.”

“How do you think they learn to cook?” Sunset spun the chair to face her, feeling no resistance from Luna. “Besides, cooking for someone is more than just food. It’s a message that says, ‘you’re worth it,’ to Celestia. And it’s a message to you, too: ‘I can do this.’”

“You are such a damn pony.” Luna laughed as she said it. She yawned again and turned the chair back to the screen, still grinning. “Alright, give me a hand with this. We’ll netsearch ‘fancy breakfast’ and go from there.”

They settled on a breakfast quiche, a plan only slightly complicated by their lack of ingredients.

“We just need milk and onions, right?” Sunset already had one arm in her jacket. She bent low to tie her boots. “They should have both at the corner mart.”

“Whole milk,” Luna clarified. “And, um… Sunset? I’m not going to go all Tia on you, but I’m not sure a seventeen year-old girl should be going out on her own in the middle of the night on Halloween.”

Sunset gave a distracted wave. “It’s cool. I have my gun.”

Luna blinked.

Then shrugged. “Oh. Okay.”

It was unseasonably warm for an early November morning. Probably one of the last good nights left in the year. Still, it was definitely cool enough for Sunset to don gloves and earmuffs before leaving, as well as setting her pace to a brisk jog.

Not even the first rays of sunlight could be seen, though Sunset didn’t mind. Even as a filly, the dark held more fascination than fear for her. The mindset served her new role well: yes, there were very real creatures that preyed in the darkness. Those creatures had a predator, though, and her name was Sunset Shimmer – bad-ass hunter.

A banging trashcan nearly sent her flying out of her skin. She frantically pawed at her holster, and stopped when the meowing emerged.

“Nobody saw that,” she mumbled. Of course no one did. No one here but Sunset, the cat, and the stranger in the heavy coat.

She caught herself and looked back to the receding figure. The coat and knit hat seemed overkill for the weather, but that itself wasn’t suspicious. And she couldn’t exactly call it out for wandering at this time of the night, so… yeah. No problem here but Sunset’s own nerves.

Life struck down the thought as soon as it crossed her mind. A second figure emerged as the coated one passed an alley – this one naked and bleached white, with hunched form and clawed hands. Its feet padded silently on the asphalt, carrying it towards the oblivious stranger.

Sunset had never seen a ghast before, but Celestia’s description of them had been clear. The undead husks of the gruesomely murdered, driven to eat human flesh in the vain, instinctive hope of resurrection. A weak and mindless enemy by the veterans’ standards, so vulnerable that a bright enough flashlight could burn them.

Sunset had a gun, not a flashlight. “Get down!” she shrieked, not at all trusting her aim.

Luck was with her: not only did the stranger oblige with an oddly-familiar squeak, but the ghast stopped in its tracks and turned.

Sunset’s first shot went wild. She wasn’t much for marksmanship, so she charged, firing as she went. It didn’t do anything for her accuracy, but the ghast was left with no choice but to charge back.

They hit the range where Sunset couldn’t possibly miss. She still almost did, winging a shoulder with an aim for the face. It was enough to knock the gangly creature down, and her next three went into its chest.

Paranoid, she kept her handgun pointed at the body, willing her thoughts to the fore. It looks dead. But is it? What do I know about ghasts? Luna says they go down like potato chips. Their claws aren’t that sharp, their bite isn’t poisonous, they really got to knock you down and maul you. They aren’t even stronger than most humans, so they hunt in groups and…


Sunset wheeled, firing wildly at the white shapes behind her. Only three, and blind luck brought one of her bullets into a face. The other two tackled her to the ground and began raking her with their claws. Sunset raised her left arm to shield the face, wincing as one of the talons caught her beautiful, already much-abused jacket and ripped it right down the sleeve.

She fired upwards, realizing too late her arm was in the way. Merciful inaccuracy brought the shot only through her jacket on its way to the ghast. It flew back with the impact, tearing off a fistful of her shirt.

“Really!?” Now pissed on top of everything, Sunset rammed a left hook into the final ghast. The blow knocked it off balance and she finished it with a last two shots.

This one slumped on top of her. Sunset let it be. She stared wide-eyed into the nighttime sky, panting and hearing only the roar of her own blood in her ears.

That hadn’t been fun. Not even cathartic. She didn’t feel like the sexy action-hero hunter. It was terrifying doing this by herself, and now that she thought about it, the faculty never worked alone either. Maybe it was the same for them.

A November gust brushed through her clothes, chilling her out of the shock. A quick self-appraisal proved she at least was whole, save for a scratch on her face from the last one’s claws. The clothes were another matter – her precious leather jacket had officially gone from ‘having character’ to ‘a charity shop would throw it out.’ There was no chance of affording a new one and less chance of asking Celestia for the money, which meant a big part of her look just went down the drain.

At least the T-shirt was replaceable. It was still reasonably decent too, though Sunset zipped up the jacket. It was getting colder, and the wind bit right through her tattered sleeve. Maybe Rarity could Frankenstein it back together…


The stranger had risen from the ground, revealing two streams of pink hair flanking a yellow face.

“Fluttershy?” Surprise turned Sunset’s response into a yelp.

Blue eyes glowed with concern as Fluttershy stepped closer and helped her up with one hand, the other gripping two tiny leashes attached to hovering bats. “Are you alright? Oh dear, you’re bleeding.”

“Just a scratch,” Sunset said. “You?”

“I’m fine.” Fluttershy gave her rare, almost-assertive frown. She pulled out a handkerchief and began dabbing the wound. “That was dangerous, Sunset.”

Sunset blinked. “Um… you’re welcome? What are you doing out here, anyway?”

“Taking Mr. and Mrs. Chocula for a walk.” Fluttershy glared appraisingly at the scratch. Finally satisfied it had stopped bleeding, she took a step back and gestured to the bats. “They wanted to show off their Halloween costumes. It’s their favorite holiday.”

The bats squeaked in reply, circling low to show off the tiny red capes attached to their collars.

Cute, but Sunset wasn’t in the mood. Remembering one of Luna’s tips, she ejected her clip and began reloading. “Fluttershy, go home. You could’ve been hurt really bad.”

“I would have been fine. Ghasts only eat human meat.”

“How far away do you live?” Sunset asked, eyes on her work.

“Just a half-block.” Fluttershy started to turn away. “I’ll be fine from here. What about you?”

“Fine,” Sunset said automatically. She did watch Fluttershy’s departure, but soon went on her own way.

The corner mart was a 24/7 one, for reasons that escaped Sunset. She’d visited once or twice in the nighttime for cigarettes or groceries and had never seen another soul beyond the counter.

“Huh. You.”

The voice caught Sunset off-guard. Yawning and painfully aware that class started in three hours, she hadn’t even looked at the cashier until now – a college-age woman in plain dress clothes, with silver hair, blue-grey skin, and yellow eyes that seemed to convey anger beyond her cool expression.

Sunset knew her, but had to guess the name. “Marble?”

“Limestone,” the girl snapped, though that was how she always talked. “You’re up early.”

The words triggered a fresh yawn from Sunset. “Don’t remind m– ‘HUMAN meat!?’”

She stared out the window, and with no Fluttershy in sight, slapped herself on the side of the head. “Tirek’s teeth, I need a do-over on the last twenty-four hours.”

Limestone rolled her eyes. “Could’ve been worse. A little scratch is about the nicest thing a ghast will do to you.”

Sunset wasn’t even surprised at this point. She just gave a tired laugh. “Okay, what’s your story?”

“Werewolf hunter.” The counter gave a soft ‘beep’ as Limestone scanned the milk. “Family business.”

That clicked Sunset’s alarm back on. “Does Pinkie…?”

Limestone made a face. “No. What are you, stupid?”

“Well I wouldn’t have guessed you, either,” Sunset growled.

Limestone gave an unapologetic glance before weighing the onions. “Pinkie and Marble don’t really have the temperament. It’s me, Maude, Mom, Dad, and Granny Pie.”

“Granny Pie?”

“Technically her ghost, but yeah.”

“Moving on,” Sunset declared. “It’s just… this doesn’t seem like much of a ‘shadow war.’ Is everyone on Earth in on it?”

“Nah.” Limestone tapped a few buttons on the register. “Just feels that way when you’re in the business. Speaking of which, want some alcohol for the cut? Aisle three. Otherwise it’s four twenty-seven.”

Sunset winced as she parted with her last ten-dollar bill. “So... any werewolf-fighting tips?”

Limestone actually did smile at that, and gave a sharp, mocking laugh. “Call a professional.”

“I am a professional.” Sunset patted her holster. “Silver bullets and all.”

“Cute.” The grey woman waved dismissively. “Listen, dork, a werewolf is between three and five hundred pounds of teeth and muscle. You shoot it with a dinky nine millimeter it’s gonna punch like an inch into the flesh. It’ll hurt, yeah, because it’s silver, but then you’ve got five hundred pounds of pissed off teeth and muscle. Go longarm or crossbow or don’t bother.”

Abrasive packaging aside, it seemed like sound advice. Sunset nodded. “Gotcha, thanks. What about shotguns?”

Limestone snorted. “Slugs? Yes. Buckshot? You’ll deserve what comes next.”

Sunset instinctively raised her hand to knock as she reached Celestia’s house. She caught the action and let the hand slide down to gently push open the door. “I’m home.”

“Yep.” Luna was already dicing ham on the counter. The vice principal gave her a glance, then a raised eyebrow upon seeing the scar. “Ghasts?”


“How’d it go?”

Scary. “Fine.”

“Just get some alcohol on it.” Luna scraped the ham into a bowl and began work on the onions. “Bathroom cabinet, second shelf. Next time I’ll go with you, okay? Don’t be embarrassed.”

Sunset smiled, surprised and grateful for Luna’s perception. She nodded and stepped quietly to the bathroom, careful to tip-toe past the closed bedroom door.

The alcohol was exactly where Luna indicated, and Sunset got to work. The wound proved shallow and thin; once cleaned, it was barely visible. Hopefully Celestia wouldn’t notice.

She returned to the kitchen to see Luna at work on the crust, pausing occasionally to check the recipe on her phone. Luna shooed away Sunset’s offer to help, instead tasking her to put on some coffee. The two chatted softly over their cups, and Sunset watched with growing interest as the older woman transformed the pile of ingredients into a raw, but delicious-looking mix. Twenty minutes in the oven removed the ‘raw’ from the equation – with mitts on, Luna pulled out a steaming, savory pie of meat, eggs, and vegetables.

She set it on the oven, and together they looked to the clock. Five fifty-five. Perfect timing.

“Should I wake Miss Celestia?” Sunset ended the words with a long, slow inhale of the aroma.

“Let it cool for a minute,” Luna whispered. She stared at the finished quiche, grinning with teeth and shaking her head. “This looks so good. I know all we did was follow a recipe, but wow. Cooking’s pretty easy.”

She gave a quick little laugh. “All I needed to do was pry myself off the screen. Thanks, Sunset.”

Luna turned, giving Sunset her full attention for the first time since the cooking began. Her shining, happy gaze turned to a curious frown. “What happened to your jacket?”

Sunset chuckled and gave the arm a wave, flapping the shredded fabric. “The ghasts. It was… Miss Luna?”

Luna had begun walking away. “Go wake Tia. I’ll be right back; just gotta get something from the attic.”

“Bye, Miss Celestia! Bye, Miss Luna!”

From the sidewalk, Sunset waved her goodbye in a heavy, wrinkled leather jacket. Celestia leaned out the car window, looking quizzically between Sunset and the pastel yellow house. “You want to be dropped off here?”

“Yeah,” Sunset said. “I have to catch up with Fluttershy on something. Don’t worry, we won’t be late.”

“Don’t make plans!” Luna called out from the passenger side. “You still have detention.”

“Stop by the office afterwards, and I’ll drive you home,” Celestia added.

Sunset nodded. “Got it. See you guys later.”

“See you later,” Celestia beamed. “I lov…”

She gave a dry cough and recovered with all the agility of an iceberg. “I left the rest of the quiche in the fridge. Help yourself when you get home.”

Red-faced, Celestia gave Sunset no chance to respond. She backed up fast enough to swipe Fluttershy’s lawn and accelerated away.

“Smooth.” Luna’s droll note came once they were safely down the block. The blue woman tapped on a handheld game. “It wouldn’t kill you to say it, you know.”

The iceberg dodged again. “Thank you for the quiche. That was a pleasant surprise.”

Luna snorted and snapped the game closed. “You mean an earth-shattering surprise. Get used to it – I’m going to try to handle dinner tonight.”


“Might not make it without Sunset to talk me into things.”

Celestia pursed her lips. “I hope she didn’t pressure you.”

“Nah.” Luna chuckled. “She just brings out my better nature, you know? Like a good-hearted little sister. I’m not going to lie: I love her, though I’m waiting for you to say it first.”

“Is that why you gave her your old jacket?”

That wiped the smile from Luna’s face. She looked evenly to Celestia, watching the pink woman watch the road.

After a few heavy seconds, Luna shook her head. “Nah. She just needed a new one, and it fit.”

“Did you tell her about the hole?”

“It’s got a lot of holes.” Now it was Luna’s turn to dodge. “She liked ‘em. Beat-up jackets are all the rage. Plus it’s heavier than her old one, so it’ll do better in the winter.”

They drove in silence for another few minutes. Then, as Canterlot High loomed in sight, Luna finished. “Of course I didn’t tell her about the hole.”

Celestia’s steady, even frown proved a mismatch for her wobbling voice. “Do you really want her wearing that memory around? I thought we were going to bury that night.”

“So did I.” Luna shrugged, palms up. “And fifteen frickin’ years later we still haven’t buried it. Not really, with how messed up we still are. Maybe it’s time to exhume the damn thing and try again.”

Celestia shook her head. “Maybe, but with Sunset here, I just want to push it down. She shouldn’t get involved.”

“If she’s joining this family, she should.”

That brought a new silence. They pulled into a parking spot, and Luna softly finished. “Family shouldn’t keep secrets from each other. Think about it, alright?”

Celestia squeezed the steering wheel, looking away. “Luna, about that night, I’m so sorr–”

“I love you, Tia.”

That at least brought the smile back to Celestia’s face. The interruption went unchallenged, and instead she leaned over and kissed a blue cheek. “Love you, too.”

In the school’s tower, the twenty-minute bell rang. The two principals dabbed their eyes, touched up their makeup in the car mirrors, and stepped out to greet the day.

Author's Note:

"Get out of my way, Principal. Aria was mean to my sister, I'm gonna presume she's a werewolf and go from there."

"Of course the dumb rookie asked me about shotguns. Everyone loves those stupid shotguns because the people who actually use them against werewolves don't come back to give a negative review. They can pack a big bullet which is what you need, but you’re better off with an older firearm that has good range. The kids on the playground might make fun of my Winchester, but while I’m scoring head-shots at 200 yards, they’re taking their zombie-movie shotguns and running closer to the werewolf. You don't wanna get close to a werewolf, and that werewolf is gonna show you why. Dumbasses."

(I really like that look - maybe just because it's so unique compared to the color-vomit that is EQG fashion.)

Anyways, hello Fluttershy, welcome to the story...

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