• 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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Watching You Sleep

“Sunset? Are you…”

Celestia caught herself as she entered the room. Sunset was fast asleep.

It was a modest house the sisters lived in – bought and maintained on Celestia’s income alone, while Luna’s funded the business. Their fold-out bed filled the living room, which also connected to the kitchen and main hallway. Celestia had apologized for the inconvenience, interrupting Sunset’s apologies for the intrusion. They went back and forth a few times before Luna brusquely ordered them to stop. Sunset then apologized for annoying her, leading to Luna claiming “First Shower” privileges.

Celestia had let Sunset take the bathroom next, using the time to get the bed and linens ready. She then took her own shower and emerged to find the young girl curled up within the spread, snoring softly.

The old phrase entered Celestia’s mind: She looks like an angel.

She really, truly did. Celestia sat down in a living room chair, eyes unmoving from the sleeping girl. It was hard to believe this was the same Sunset who had given her such trials in the past, or even the spunky fighter from this morning. Here lay a plain and simple teenager: skinny and short for her age, and always half-lost in a world not her own. Without her leather jacket, she looked more like a child than a young adult, a notion strengthened by Luna’s old Transformers blanket above her. Sunset had curled easily within it at first, though she slowly stretched as she slept. A yellow foot now poked from its base, scrunched tightly against the unwanted chill.

Many factors in Celestia’s life made her the 35-year-old virgin of today, but her maternal instincts were as sharp as anyone’s. Without even consciously thinking about it, her slippered tip-toes carried her back to the bathroom, where the linen closet was. She retrieved a large maroon comforter from it, returned, and draped it across Sunset’s sleeping form. The girl uncurled the rest of the way, sighing unconsciously as she melted into the warmth.

Celestia beamed like the sunrise. She couldn’t help herself – she brushed back Sunset’s hair, revealing the forehead. She leaned in, puckered her lips, and…

Okay, maybe she could help herself. As touchy-feely as she was with her students, there was such a thing as taking it too far.

Her back straightened. But an instant later, she leaned back down. Sunset wasn’t just a student – she was a vulnerable, homeless girl, with no one to love and care for her. She deserved more than a place to crash, she deserved…

A family? Celestia righted herself, looking away. She was not adopting Sunset, and had no plans to. She’d happily yield the living room for months, even years if that’s what it took for the girl to get on her feet. But Celestia had her own plans in life, and becoming the single mother of a teenager was absolutely not one of them. Besides, Sunset would be far better off with a normal family.

Yet… she had no normal family. And as dysfunctional as this place could be, it was miles better than the homelessness Sunset had endured for years. The poor girl… if not Celestia, then who?

She leaned in, then drew back again. It wasn’t proper. Sunset was not her daughter.

But…

“Tia, will you freaking kiss her and get it out of your system?”

As was her style, Luna had appeared in silence, her habitual glare somewhat mitigated by her Pokemon pajamas. “Seriously, I’ve been waiting an hour for you.”

“Need me to tuck you in?” Celestia teased. She picked idly at her own sleep clothes: plaid boxers and an old Simon and Garfunkel t-shirt.

“Not funny, Tia. Now hurry up.”

Celestia ended the joke, knowing full-well she had tapped a landmine. She bent her head down, gave a quick peck on Sunset’s forehead, and followed Luna to their bedroom.


Strange, how the human body works. Every square inch of Sunset’s muscle and mind wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep. But her bladder demanded action, and it held the only vote.

With a bleary garble, she checked her phone. Midnight. Celestia damn it.

Growling and grumbling, Sunset kicked off the comforter and rose. She hesitated, eyes resting on the maroon blanket that hadn’t been there before.

The mystery would wait. Nature was calling very urgently, and it was all the half-awake Sunset could do to not barrel into walls on her way to the bathroom. Only once she was seated and concluding her business could enough brain cells be freed to consider the extra blanket.

It didn’t exactly take Sherlock Hooves to solve the case. Two suspects: Vice-Principal Luna was absolutely not the type to care for her warmth, while Principal Celestia absolutely was.

Although… maybe she was wrong. The two had proven to be full of surprises. Who could say how many remained?

Thoughts of the pair made Sunset pause beneath the hallway’s light, her eyes lingering on their door. A wooden placard announced “Tia and Lulu” in pink cursive – again, probably Celestia’s work. Not for the first time, Sunset wondered at just how little she really knew of them.

Her eyes fell to where the door met the frame. It was ajar, though only slightly. A gentle push would swing it open without the telltale click of a turning knob.

Sunset’s curiosity and conscience warred briefly before the former won out. A yellow hand rose, and gently pushed the door inwards.

A blinding, white-pink light blasted from the darkened bedroom. Sunset flinched, shielding her eyes and barely resisting the urge to cry out. She groped blindly for the door, seizing it with merciful silence and easing it closed until the light no longer burned through her eyelids.

Like looking at the sun. Sunset squinted her eyes open. It was still bright, but not as bad as it had been before she half-closed the door. She could see the inside of the room. See the source.

Her jaw dropped.

The legs. For the love of… well, Celestia, it was the legs!

Sunset was a smart girl – she knew the longstanding jokes about the principal’s freakishly long legs were based more on perception than fact. Celestia (or “Celegstia,” to many students) was tall and very slim, creating the optical illusion of chest-high legs. That was all there was to it.

Boy howdy, though, here and now it was an illusion strong enough to conquer Sunset’s eyes. The legs were bare beneath their boxers, making them seem thinner and longer than ever. One was bent at the knee, propping up the other’s foot to form a hollow pyramid – a shape now burned as sunspots into Sunset’s vision. In trying to blink them away, she pushed the door open a little more and was punished by a new flare of pale pink.

Her agile mind quickly found the answer: Celestia’s legs weren’t generating the flash, of course. But they reflected the hallway light like nobody’s business. Maybe it was the angle or something, but when Sunset pushed the door open enough they became neon. No wonder the principal wore pants everywhere.

The good news was that, with sufficient control of the ambient light, Sunset was able to illuminate the room just enough to make out details. It was less interesting than she hoped – dressers, mirrors, all the stuff needed for a good double bedroom. What little free space remained seemed to be occupied by a flat-screen television, with a video game system parked in front.

Then there was the sleeping Celestia herself, looking nothing like how Sunset envisioned. No foofy pink pajamas, thick pillow, or shred of dignity. The oddly-positioned legs had already kicked off their sheet, and one hand scratched her stomach beneath a stained white t-shirt. She wasn’t snoring, but her mouth hung open as if in perpetual yawn. The enviable many-hued hair pooled and puddled around her, even dipping into the open mouth.

In her head, Sunset laughed. Another little wonder that she couldn’t tell her friends. But she liked it – a reminder that this Celestia was different than the perfect sun-princess who shared her name. A mortal instead of a goddess, Principal Celestia was one she could actually relate to, and who could relate to her.

Then there was Luna…

Who was glaring right at her!

Sunset startled and gasped, feeling her heart skip a beat.

“Sorry,” she whispered, looking away. “I, uh, just leaned on the door and it opened.”

No reply came. Sunset chanced a glance back: unlike the sister beside her, Luna was tucked into their bed, lying flat and straight… and of course, still glaring.

Under the unspoken accusation, Sunset cracked like an egg. “Okay, okay. I was curious. I’m sorry, I know it was wrong. It was spur of the moment, you know?”

Silence. Sunset swallowed hard, beginning to find the ceaseless gaze more than a little unnerving.

“Miss Luna?”

More silence.

“Miss Luna… are you awake?”

Again, silence. Susnet gave a little wave, emotions mixed. Nice as it was to get off easily, the unblinking stare was creepy as heck. Especially since it seemed to meet Sunset’s eyes no matter where she moved her head.

“I’m, uh, gonna go now. Good night.”

No response. Sunset released a sigh as she brought the door closed. She stepped quietly back to bed, mind turning with far more questions than she started with.

The biggest question only hit her a few minutes later, just as drowsiness turned to sleep.

Wait… they share a bed!?


The next morning, Sunset awoke to find Celestia on her way out the door. Saturday mornings began the principals’ weekend, and the older one started hers with a two-hour jog. Tired, hungry, and not at all interested in October’s chill, Sunset declined to join her.

Gifted with hindsight, she might have reconsidered. The next few moments saw her seated with Luna at a tense, awkward breakfast of milk and cereal. Sunset hunched over her own, blocking Luna’s eyes with the bright box of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.

She couldn’t hide from the voice, though.

“Say it.”

“Say what?” Sunset grinned widely, giving an awful bluff that Luna lanced right through.

“Don’t play dumb,” Luna huffed. “I saw you last night.”

“I thought you were asleep!”

“I was. But I remember what I see.”

“Wow. Okay, uh…” Sunset peeked over the box, smiling weakly. “I’m sorry. I really am.”

“That’s not what I meant.” Luna pointed a spoon directly at her. “I knew you’d stumble in there sooner or later, so say it: ‘You share a bed with your sister, you weirdo.’”

Sunset raised a finger in protest. “Once more, because I guess it's easy to forget: I’m a magic pony from another dimension. I cannot in good conscience call anyone else ‘weirdo.’”

“Well it is weird, so I’m going to share the reason.” Luna returned the spoon to her bowl. “Else you and the Rainbooms will invent your own explanation.”

“Hey, don’t worry about that. I won’t tell.”

“Like how you weren’t going to tell about the monster hunting?”

“Uh….” Sunset winced. “Fair point.”

“Look, it’s not a single bed.” Luna scratched at her hair, glancing away. “It’s two beds, pushed next to each other.”

She looked suddenly to Sunset, eyes far softer than their norm. “Do you know what night terrors are?”

Sunset had no idea. “A kind of monster?”

A faint smile played on Luna’s lips, then swiftly vanished. “No. Think of them as very bad, very frequent nightmares. The kind that wake you up in a blind panic, able to recall their every detail and wishing you did not.”

She sighed, gazing away once more. “Sunset, a while ago, something happened with me and Tia. Something bad, and you’ll excuse me for not sharing the details. Ever since then, Tia has been haunted by night terrors. At their worst they would rouse her several times a night, and she came to dread falling asleep. My sleeping next to her has… I hesitate to say ‘cured’ them, but it certainly helps. Like her unconscious mind somehow senses me, and knows that everything is alright.”

“That’s very kind of you.” Sunset smiled benignly, but blinked and frowned as Luna laughed.

“Not really,” Luna said. “I had sort of the opposite problem after the Something Bad. Tia’s sleep gave her trouble, and I couldn’t sleep. I would literally spend three out of four nights just playing video games, or lying in bed as the hours ticked by. I lived in a state of exhaustion until… well, until Tia came over one night. She tucked me in like a friggin’ toddler, sat by my bed, and boom. Five minutes later I was dead to the world.”

“Wow.”

“You can say that again.” Luna tapped her spoon to the empty bowl, eyes on the past. “Even now, I can’t sleep unless she’s right next to me. Pretty pathetic, huh?”

“No. Definitely not.” Sunset shook her head. “I’ve learned a lot of things since coming to this world. One of the big ones is that it’s not a bad thing to rely on those close to you. You two may need each other, but I need my friends too, and I think I’m better for it. It’s not a weakness, it’s a strength.”

“I see you’ve been reading Tia’s playbook of pussy catchphrases.” But Luna was smiling as she said it. “I hope you’ve got some snappier comebacks in the tank: we hunt vampires this evening, and smack talk is a big part of the business.”

“Um, right.” The yellow girl nodded grimly, thoughts far more on survival than proper lingo. “Just… are you two going to be okay? You’ve obviously been through a lot, and I can’t imagine that endless battle with the legions of darkness helps at all.”

She drained her milk glass after the statement, leading to an embarrassing spit-take as Luna replied.

“Oh, it helps immensely. You’ll understand when you… ew. Wipe your mouth. And then get dressed – we’re teaching you how to shoot. You won’t do us much good tonight if you can’t even work the safety.”

“Isn’t it too soon?” Sunset reached for the towel, face twisted in now-familiar confusion. “Don’t I need training or something?”

Luna shrugged. “Hm… nah. It’ll probably be fine.”

Author's Note:

Coming up next, "Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead" will actually live up to its name.

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