• Published 13th Aug 2016
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The Sun Shines No More - CGPH



After getting attacked on the street Sunset’s life begins to spiral out of control. As her mental and physical condition worsens, she soon finds that her salvation may lie with an unlikely trio.

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Chapter Eleven: The Shadows By Which We Recognize The Light

Sunset’s eyes fluttered open. There was no sudden event that caused her to spasm awake. She felt no panic; it was a peaceful awakening. No bad dreams. As her vision took focus, the familiar sight of her room welcomed her. Sunlight came in through the gaps in the curtain, illuminating her room.

Smiling, Sunset pushed away her covers. The heating in her apartment was on a timer, so the air was toasty and warm by the time she woke up. It made for a very pleasant rise, and it especially helped now they were getting deep into winter. Sitting up, her feet traced their way along her bedroom carpet and into her purple slippers.

Sunset stood up and cracked her back, resulting in a series of satisfying pops, then took her gown off the handle of her wardrobe and draped it across herself. She made her way over to her bedroom window and tugged open the curtains.

Despite the snowy blanket that covered the city, the sun above Canterlot shone brightly in the sky. She could spy the life occurring on the street below: a group of playing kids dragging their sledges behind them through the snow, cars carefully driving along the gritted road and tightly wrapped up couples walking arm in arm down the side walk. It was a peaceful scene, almost like something you’d see on the front of a Christmas card.

She let out a sigh and smiled. Oh, how she had learned to treasure a good night’s sleep.

Each sleep had been getting easier and easier since she’d gone to see the Dazzlings, and now she had achieved a state of bliss. Not only had her life returned to normal, but she felt better than ever. She’d look forward to waking up in the morning, no longer taking her life for granted. She appreciated everything and everyone she had, because she’d come so close to having it all snatched away from her. She didn’t know if her life really had got better or if she’d just learned to appreciate the little things, and she didn’t exactly care, because either way Sunset was high on life.

She looked down at the large plastic beatbox she had positioned under her window. It had been a while since she’d used her stereo… the way things had been going recently she’d almost forgot she had one.

“Ehh… what the hay?” she asked aloud, pressing the power button on it. After a few moments a quiet drumming started, and Sunset turned up the volume so it would be audible throughout her flat.

Moving her body in rhythm with the music, Sunset lightly danced her way out of her bedroom and into the bathroom. As she pushed the bathroom door to, she allowed her mind to wander back to the day before.

It had gone much better than she’d expected with Sonata. Much better. Sunset really felt like she’d got through to her. And if she could convince one of the sirens, then Sunset and her friends could convince the rest. It wouldn’t surprise her if she got a call later this evening from all three of them wanting to meet up.

It could work. It really could work. If she could help reform the sirens like her friends did with her, it would really bring her circle to a close. The student would become the master, Princess Twilight would be so proud. Sunset felt so full of hope now, the depression of two weeks ago had never felt further away. Not only had she bounced back, she’d bounced back even happier than before.

Exiting the bathroom, Sunset wiggled her hips to match the beat of the drums. She made her way into the kitchen and set about making her breakfast. Jelly sandwich and orange juice: her favorite.

She was scheduled in to have her final check up and bandage taken off on the 23rd, which was little over a week away now. Not that it mattered now; her breathing no longer felt restricted and all of her bruises had healed up, so Sunset felt right as rain again. But it was hospital rules that she could only take her bandage off to shower, as a conversation with Nurse Redheart over the phone had cleared up. On the 23rd she’d be classed as ‘officially’ healed and would be taken off the hospital’s books, which was a pressure she felt thankful for having removed from her shoulders.

She’d definitely have to head back down to the hospital with some chocolates for Redheart or something, as both a Christmas and a thank you present.

The thought of presents made Sunset moan out loud.

It was less than two weeks away from Christmas and she had yet to get her friends anything. She’d been a little distracted as of late, so she didn’t really hold herself accountable – as she was sure her friends wouldn’t – but still... Her friends deserved far more than she could afford for them on a regular day, never mind after all they had done for her recently. Even if she only got them something small, she had to get them all something.

Her friends weren’t particularly difficult to shop for: for Pinkie Pie something sugary, Rainbow Dash something sports-y, Rarity something fancy, Fluttershy something furry, Twilight something science-y and Applejack something… apple-y?

But she’d also have to get Princess Twilight something… and there wasn’t much that an actual Princess of a nation needed. What was there that Sunset could get her that she couldn’t just ask a Royal Guard to whip up? Maybe she could make her something?

‘Maybe a trip to Equestria isn’t entirely off the table after all…’ an inner voice spoke to her.

She shook her head against the idea.

‘Shut up, we’ve discussed this,’ she told herself off.

‘Just saying, it would really make her Christmas…’

‘She doesn’t even celebrate Christmas.’

‘Hearths Warming Eve then, don’t get prissy with me.’

Sunset was about to answer herself but came up short.

Life had taken such a good turn recently, maybe she shouldn’t cross going back to Equestria off the books? She was on a roll, so why stop now? She didn’t expect her winning streak to last forever, and she’d been finding excuses to avoid going back ever since her reformation so, maybe this was the best time? True, there was still all the legalities that needed to be sorted out with Celestia… But Twilight had been nagging at her to come visit for a while now, surely she’d considered that and would already have a defense prepared?

It was a tall order, Sunset knew, but maybe she shouldn’t be as hasty to cross it off as an option as she was being. If it could work out, a whole new world would be opened up to her. Literally! She could see her family again: her parents, her brother, and even her old mentor.

The last thought came in more daunting than she’d expected, and suddenly Sunset didn’t feel as confident about the idea.

‘Something to think about, at least,’ she told herself.

A knock came at the front door just as she placed her carton of orange juice back in the fridge, and her head snapped in its direction.

A moment of confusion quickly passed before Sunset realized who it most likely was. A week ago during one of her… lesser moments, she’d ordered a weight kit off eStayble. Her mentality had been that if she worked out and made herself big and beefy, then nobody could hurt her again. It wasn’t a terrible idea, but a slight overreaction, as physical intimation was never really Sunset’s style. But she’d decided getting fit anyway was a good idea elected not to cancel her order.

Sunset grooved her way out of the kitchen and over to the front door, still moving in rhythm with her music. But as she approached, she unknowingly ignored all of the obvious warning signs.

The clocks in the kitchen and on her phone both read 2:04pm.

In other words, too late for mail call.

The small pile of letters at the foot of her door signaled that the mail had already been while she was asleep.

But she didn’t look down.

Even the quick glance through the peephole, which would have revealed all, she continued past, lost instead in her own little world.

Sunset unlocked the door and swung it open, greeting the mail man with a bright smile.

But it wasn’t the mail man.

Instead she stared straight into a pair of magenta eyes.

All of a sudden Sunset’s world skidded to a sudden and rough halt. Her senses froze over and her body turned to static. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t even think. All she could do was stare deep into those glaring eyes, frozen.

Her lungs wheezed as the air was pulled from her body, but it felt more like her soul was being drained out through the top of her head. She lost the feeling in her upper arms, as though her blood itself was trying to retreat away from the eyes. Her jaw twitched, as Sunset both tried to suck in her escaping breath and search for any words that would help her situation. Could she taste pennies?

By the time she finally regained control of her body, it was too late.

She threw her entire weight forwards into the door, trying to force it shut, but the door fought back with a far greater force, and slammed back into her.

PHWACK!

The wooden door collided with Sunset’s head and forced her backwards. As she instinctively brought her hand up to the red area on her face, black spots began to cloud her vision. She was overwhelmed by the combined mixture of shock and injury, which caused her to stumble backwards over her own feet. Sunset hit the deck bottom first, allowing gravity to go to town on her skull, slamming it into the floor with full force. The collision forced out a noise, which presented itself as mixed gasp of shock and pain.

Adrenaline pumping through her veins and her heart beating a thousand times a minute, the stun from the impact lasted a mere second before her head shot up again to scan the room for the danger she knew was present. She locked eyes with it.

Adagio Dazzle stood in her doorway, staring her down, a vessel of pure rage. Another wave of fear washed over Sunset as she felt her goose bumps trying to force themselves free, as if they themselves were trying to escape the deadly gaze. She kicked at the ground furiously, trying to crawl backwards away from the intruder. Adagio descended upon her as a predator would its prey. Within seconds she was standing over Sunset and grabbing her by her pajama shirt. Despite Sunset’s struggles, Adagio easily hoisted her up and slammed her backwards against the wall.

It was only now Sunset caught sight of the other two sirens. Aria was stood a few feet behind Adagio, staring her down with a similar expression of anger, while Sonata lingered back in the doorway. The tightening of the grip on her pajamas dragged her eyes back to Adagio’s.

So close that their noses were almost touching, Sunset could feel Adagio’s hot breath against her face. Her face was flushed with fury and her eyes gave off a death stare to rival a tiger’s. Sunset’s mouth dropped open with little more than a whimper.

“How dare you?!” Adagio shouted, though she could have very well spoken it with their proximity making her sound louder.

Sunset lifted her hands up to try and free herself, and felt a light electric shock as her hands locked around Adagio’s fist. A pathetic tugging was all she could manage in her state, and it did nothing but make her feel even more helpless as Adagio’s hands didn’t budge.

“You… stay… away… from us.” Adagio seethed through her teeth. “Or I swear to whatever god you believe in… next time we won’t stop.”

'Won't stop' what? I don't... oh.

Those implications made the blood drain from her face. The cheerful music continuing to play in the background almost seemed to mock her current situation.

“B-b-b-b-but–” she forced out.

She was silenced by Adagio forcing fists into her chest, slamming her harder back against the wall.

“You stay away from me. And you stay away from my sisters.”

The terror she felt during her attack was flooding back to her, all her work to banish it ruined by finding herself suddenly helpless again. Tears began to well up in her eyes as she fought for control of her words.

“If we ever see or hear from you… or any of your friends… ever again… you’ll regret the day you dared to cross into this world.”

Her heartbeat loud in her ears, Sunset desperately brought up anything she could to defend herself.

“B-b-but, S-Sonata…” she whimpered.

The mention of her sister’s name caused Adagio’s temper to flare. Her teeth bared and the grip on Sunset’s pyjamas tightened. Adagio forced her shaking fists into Sunset’s neck, causing the heartbeat in her ears to swell to a primal thumping.

“Shut… up,” Adagio spat.

Sunset’s eyes shot over to the blue girl, who still stood a good meter behind the scene before her. Sonata stood still, her eyes on the floor, and made no attempt to help.

“B-but she–” Sunset tried again.

“Shut up!” Adagio slammed her back against the door frame, silencing her.

It was now that Adagio’s mood faltered. It was only subtle, but her brow relaxed and her scowl lessened. If it wasn’t for their close proximity Sunset doubted she’d have noticed it at all.

“Sonata’s… Sonata’s….” Adagio groaned, “… She’s not like us.”

Sunset frowned, not understanding, which just seemed to reignite Adagio’s anger.

“She’s not… It doesn’t matter, stay away from her,” she growled.

Questions clouded Sunset’s mind, but none important enough to make her speak out of turn again. She nodded silently.

With that, Adagio released her grip and Sunset dropped unceremoniously to the floor. As her body slumped against the wall, the black and white spots returned to her vision, and she fought to keep her head facing in the right direction.

Adagio continued to stare down at her for a few seconds, causing Sunset’s skin to crawl.

“Leave us alone. We don’t want your help.”

With that, Adagio made her exit. Pulling her knees up to her chest, Sunset tried to hide behind herself as much as she could. The footsteps of her attackers leaving was a distant sound, barely audible under tears, rapid breaths and pounding heartbeat.

“Wha–” Sunset tried to get out.

A fist collided with her face.

Her body jolted at the memory. She hadn’t thought about that in over a week. She’d got better.

The taste of pennies was churning her stomach.

“AUUUGGH!” Sunset wheezed as another fist hit her stomach.

Sunset’s breath got caught in her throat. Her sobs became chokes. She couldn’t breathe.

Adagio’s visit hit her like a knife to the heart; her emotional scars had been torn wide open, spewing out her long-hidden fears and anxieties.

She was back in that alleyway.

Using all the power she could muster, she was able to claw her way to her phone. The dialing tone was barely audible under her rough breaths.

All the while, the unfittingly cheerful music continued to play throughout her flat.


The sun had set, which left the familiar, messy room in near-darkness. The only light leaked in under the door from the hallway outside. The door violently swung open as Adagio marched in.

“I hate her. I hate her, hate her, hate her, hate her, hate her!”

Carrying on her rant, Adagio lunged forward and kicked a stool out from beneath the makeup mirror, launching it across the room and into the wall.

Aria and Sonata entered the room slowly behind.

“Oi, watch it!” Aria snapped at her.

Adagio spun around.

“What!?”

“You’re losing it Adagio, chill!” Aria marched past her to pick up the fallen stool.

Adagio’s glare seared into Aria’s back.

“Oh, shut up!” she hissed.

Aria span around and pointed an accusing finger at Adagio. “You can’t tell me to shut up after what you just pulled!”

“And what did I just pull?”

Aria threw her arms up in the air. “That was a STUPID idea! She knows exactly where we live and now has every reason to go the cops! Heck, we’re lucky she didn’t do it the first time, but now!? They’re probably on their way here!”

“What should I have done instead?!”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe ANYTHING but that?!”

“You didn’t try to stop me, did you?!”

“I COULD BARELY KEEP UP WITH YOU!”

“WELL IF YOU’RE SO ON HER SIDE, MAYBE YOU SHOULD GO SCROUNGE OFF HER INSTEAD!”

“I’M NOT ON HER SIDE, ADAGIO, I’M ON OUR SIDE. AND I DON’T WANT US TO GO TO PRISON! IT WAS A STUPID IDEA JUMPING HER IN THE FIRST PLACE.”

“MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE JOINED IN THEN.”

“MAYBE I SHOULDN’T HAVE.”

Another kick from Adagio sent a bedside table crashing into the wall.

“SHE STOLE OUR MAGIC! SHE MADE OUR LIVES THIS WAY, SHE’S THE REASON WE GET OUR DINNER OUT OF GARBAGE! HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT?”

Aria put her hands to her temple and closed her eyes.

“I don’t care about her, Adagio! I hate her for what she did, but I care more about us,” Aria pointed internally. “If we have to trade revenge for being safe, for being alive, then fine. I was okay with it the first time… heck, I loved beating that loser to a pulp, but you went too far! We need to leave, right now.”

Adagio planted her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow. “And go where?”

“Maybe you should have thought about that earlier.”

Adagio growled. “I can’t believe you.”

As Aria began gathering the few scraps of personal artifacts they had around the apartment, Adagio turned her head to Sonata.

Their youngest remained in the doorway, her hands grasped tightly over her mouth and tears freely flowing. She was shaking.

“You got anything to say?” Adagio asked.

Sonata’s fearful eyes locked with hers. She shook her head briefly before taking off into a run down the corridor.

“Sonata!” Adagio shouted.

“Well done,” Aria scowled her.

Aria dropped what she was doing to go after Sonata, but not before Adagio’s arm in the doorway stopped her.

“Aria... I did it for us,” Adagio's voice was softer.

Aria shook her head.

“You did it for yourself.”

Swinging under Adagio’s arm, Aria took off after Sonata.


“Wha–”

Face.

Gut.

Pennies.

Gut.

“Please… sto–”

Face.

Face.

Blood.

Sunset let out a breath.

Again and again her attack replayed. The emotions she thought she’d buried, the memories she’d repressed, they circled her head like a trio of vultures.

Sunset was a mess. Her eyes and nose were red from crying, and her sweat had sealed her pyjamas to her skin. She lay under her covers in the foetal position, tissues littering her room and baseball bat beside her. She was blisteringly hot, but didn’t want to trade her security for fresh air. She’d only stopped crying because she’d run out of tears.

Now she lay staring into the darkness, revisiting well-traveled mental routes. She hadn’t missed this. She hadn’t missed it one bit. She had just finally got out of the woods and now she was right back there again.

They were in her house.

How did they even find her house?

Sunset shivered.

She knew she was safe. But she didn’t feel it. After their visit Sunset had called Rarity, who had instantly rushed over and was currently asleep on her sofa. Sunset had asked her, begged her, not to leave. She hated herself for doing it, for being so helpless, but she didn’t want to be left alone. It’s not like she even had to ask, she knew Rarity would offer anyway, but she didn’t want to risk it. She was at the bottom of the barrel. Despite the foot of duvet over her, Rarity in the living room and the baseball bat beside her, Sunset still felt exposed.

PHWACK!

The door collided with Sunset’s head. She hit the floor.

“Gah!”

She was thrown against the wall.

“How dare you!”

“You… stay… away… from us. Or I swear to whatever god you believe in… next time we won’t stop.”

“B-b-b-b-but-“

She was slammed harder against the wall.

“You stay away from me. And you stay away from my sisters.”

Sunset choked on another breath.

She couldn’t do this again. She couldn’t. She’d give anything not to. She wasn’t strong enou–

PING

Sunset stiffened at the noise, but then relaxed again when she recognized it as her text alert. After a strong sniff, Sunset pulled herself up and plucked her cell phone off her bedside table. Squinting against the harsh light, she read her text message.

Hey, are you okay?

Sunset frowned. It was from an unknown number, one that Sunset didn’t recognize. Maybe one of her friends had got a new phone? Sunset checked the clock. If it was one of her friends with a new number, why were they messaging her at 3 a.m?

Shifting to a better position, Sunset typed her response.

Who is this?

Sunset watched the phone, and it wasn’t long before a response came.

It’s Sonata.

The blood drained from Sunset’s face. She reread the response, trying to find some way she could have misread it. Her heartbeat began to rise and she found herself falling back down that dark hole.

Please don’t text me.

With that Sunset dropped her phone back down onto the counter and turned over in bed, trying to steady her breathing.

PING

Sunset gave a disappointed sigh. Her curiosity was matching her anxiety, and she rolled back over again.

I tried to stop Adagio, I’m so sorry.

‘Not sorry enough to stop her breaking into my flat’, Sunset thought.

She almost typed that as her response, but, fearing she’d get another reply, decided against it. What else could she say to that, though? If anything?

As Sunset put her fingers to the keypad, another reply came through.

They think I can’t take care of myself, but I can. I don’t like living this way anymore and I want it to change. I only told them you came round because I thought I could convince them to trust you.

That revelation piqued her interest.

The way Sonata was talking was very different to how she had been when Sunset and Rarity had seen her. She was less like a frightened child and more like a businessman NOW, holding nothing back and laying it all on the table. Although Sunset had to remember she could be only reading it that way, as she couldn’t hear Sonata’s tone over text.

Again she couldn’t decide what to say. Sonata’s response had definitely made her think.

On the night of her attack there were only two people attacking her, and if her memory served correctly, Sonata had been the one to eventually drag them off. And today, although Sonata didn’t do anything to help, she had never laid a finger on Sunset. Come to think of it, Sonata had never shown any hostility. That didn’t by any means make her trustworthy, but it was something to be noted.

She waited on the off chance another message would come through, but when it didn’t she typed her response.

Do you trust me?

The response was quick.

I don’t have a choice; we’re going to die if we carry on this way. And you haven’t given me a reason not to.

That rang true with the speech Sunset had given outside of their door; she was glad somebody listened. But, Sonata telling her everything she wanted to hear didn’t mean anything for her friends.

Do you think your sisters will?

I know they hurt you and I’m so sorry Sunset. I really did try to stop them, please believe me.

After a moment, a second reply came.

I never wanted to hurt anybody. I've always done what I've had to to survive. And right now that means trusting with you.

Sunset was conflicted. On one hand, this was everything she’d wanted to hear from the sirens. On the other, her gut instincts warned her of the danger. Just because she had never seen Sonata with any malicious intentions didn’t mean she didn’t have any. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, as Celestia had once taught her.

How do I know I can trust you?

The response didn’t come immediately. Sunset could almost feel Sonata chalking it over in her head, wondering how to word it.

You don’t, but I’m desperate.

Sunset could feel the strain in her message.

She placed her phone down on her chest to look up at the ceiling.

She knew she couldn’t go through this again. Last time it took her two weeks to begin feeling safe in her own house, and now she didn’t even have that. If she were to continue along this path then she’d end up having to find herself a permanent solution, one which she had dared mulling over more than once.

If there is any chance take a different path, she had to take it. She’d be careful, and she had her friends to protect her. The dangers were obvious to her, but she was strong; she wouldn’t go through this again.

There was a reason they called it a leap of faith.

Picking her cell back up, Sunset typed her response.

Do you want to come to mine tomorrow? Just you, and we can talk about things.

Seeing those words on her screen churned her stomach, but Sunset pushed past the feeling and hit send.

Will your friends be there?

It made sense that Sonata didn’t trust her. Sunset had every reason to want to take revenge on her and the other Dazzlings. As much as the idea of luring her into an ambush secretly appealed to her she-demon, Sunset wouldn’t dream of it.

But then again…

Sonata’s message could easily be interpreted as trying to get her alone for her own ambush.

Her stomach churned again.

If you promise you’ll be alone, I promise I will be too.

The longest seconds of Sunset’s life ticked over before her reply came.

Then I’d like that.

Sunset nodded, reassuring herself of her idea.

Okay, I’ll see you then. Midday – everybody’s in school then.

Thank you, Sunset Shimmer.

With that, Sunset placed her phone back down and rolled over, preparing for a night of scattered nightmares and a lot of over-thinking.