• Published 5th May 2018
  • 1,190 Views, 376 Comments

Seven Days in Sunny June, Book V: The New Frontier - Shinzakura

The conclusion of the Seven Days in Sunny June saga! The world has changed, and those within it must cope with the aftermath of what has happened.

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August 27: Ça Plane Pour Moi

The shrill scream radiated through the whole of the house, jolting Sunset awake. She knew that sound – it was her own.

Or rather, not hers, but that of her “twin”, the Sunset Shimmer native to this world.

Vaulting out of her bed, her sheets blasting around her in a cascade of fabric, Sunset immediately teleported into the guest room…to see chaos.

Her clothing hanging off her in tatters, Shimmer was floating in the air, surrounded by a bright red nimbus of energy. Various objects in the room orbited her like a makeshift star system, and she was curled into a ball, mystic flames licking off her body.

Sororal instinct took over Sunset, and rushing into the energy, she grabbed Shimmer, tore off her clothing and immediately teleported both of them into the bathroom. Throwing the girl into the bathtub, she immediately turned on the water, making sure it was cold. The red energy slowly started to bleed off into nothingness, and then after a few seconds, the girl’s body reflexively arced as she let out a huge gasp.

Sunset looked down at her with concern. “How do you feel?”

Shimmer looked at the older twin. “What happened?”

“Well, there’s no real way I can explain it in human terms, but…you had a foalsflare.”

“A what?”

“A foalsflare. It’s what happens the very first time a foal’s magic erupts.” Sunset gave her counterpart a smile. “Congratulations and welcome to the world of magic, Shimmy.”

Sunset didn’t expect what happened afterwards: Shimmer reached out and slapped her counterpart hard across the face, anger and betrayal in her eyes. Sunset looked at her with shock, and then Shimmer started to cry.

A second later, behind the closed door of the bathroom, Velvet’s voice could be heard. “Is everything okay in there?”

“Yeah, Mom,” Sunset called back. “It’s just—”

“Why does the guest bedroom look like it was set on fire?”

“I’ll take care of it in a second. Kinda busy here.” Sunset turned her attention back to her twin. “Shimmy?”

“Make it go away!” the younger twin moaned, slipping into a fetal ball and shivering.

“I…I can’t. I don’t know whether that is human magic, or if it’s something you got from me when I infused my lifeforce into you, but…it’s part of you now. You have magic.”

“How could you do this to me?” Shimmer cried, fear in her eyes.

“Shimmy, listen to me. I want you to listen, and I want you to focus,” Sunset said evenly. “You’re in shock right now. I’m going to teleport us back to my room, and then get some clothing on you. Then I want you to go back to sleep and we’ll talk in the morning, okay? Can you do that for me? You don’t have to say anything, just nod yes or no.” Shimmer meekly nodded, and that was enough for Sunset.

A second later, Shimmer was crashed out on Sunset’s bed, asleep courtesy of one of Sunset’s spells. Sunset then cast a spell to dry off her own sleepwear and finally stepped out of her room to see everyone up, looking at her.

“You know,” Velvet said, crossing her arms, “I remember a time when I could sleep past four in the morning and have an alarm clock wake me up, not the latest crisis to go on in this household. I sincerely hope this isn’t going to be commonplace.”

Looking at them, Sunset explained exactly what had happened to Shimmer and how it had shocked her completely. When she was done with her explanation, Adagio was the one to react: “Sunny, I think you need a new hairdo. Apparently every girl in this house with that hairstyle seems to wig out with magic.”

“Not funny, Dagi.”

“Wasn’t trying to be. First you, then the bitch, now Shimmy. At least I can take solace that the middle lunatic is sleeping over at Ms. Luna’s tonight and getting adjusted to staying there if it’s permanent.”

“Adagio Dazzle, did I just hear you refer to someone as a bitch?” Adagio suddenly froze and looked sideways to see Velvet looking at her. “I’m waiting for an answer, young lady,” was all Velvet said.

“Figure of speech, Aunt Velvet?” Adagio said weakly.

“Smooth, Dagi. Real smooth,” Octavia yawned.

“Okay, girls, I think this has gone on long enough. I think Velvet and I are owed some answers, or any resident female under the age of eighteen in this house is spending the first month of school grounded whether or not she did something,” Night said testily. As coverage, he then added, “Including the ones who already went through their teenage years once already.”

“I’ll go make the coffee,” Sonata said. “I have a feeling we’re going to need it.”

“I’ll go fix the guest room while you all go down,” Sunset added. “Won’t take long.”

A little over an hour later, the sun began to peek over the horizon as two parents looked at their six charges.

“Well, I guess I’m lucky I’m the director now,” Velvet sighed, “so I can work from home today. It’ll give me an excuse to sleep in and my staff knows I’ve got things planned for this week anyway.”

“Same here,” Night sighed. “I need to look over the latest script that was sent before I fly out next week, so this’ll be a good chance for me to do so.”

The six teens all looked at the two adults wordlessly, awaiting whatever sentencing was going to happen.

“For one, there’s the obvious: Sunny, I want you to do what you can for Shimmer,” said Velvet. “Clearly you’re the only one who can, but if she needs someone to talk to, I’m available. May as well put my degree to use, but I suspect this is more up your alley.”

“On it, Mom.”

“The rest of you…keep a low profile. Those newsvans are still out there, and I have to wonder if they saw the magic flare. We’re going to have to come up with a plausible explanation for the lightshow if that makes the news.”

“I’m sure I can come up with something,” Twilight told her.

“We’ll think of something,” Sonata said, supporting her cousin.

“Thank you, girls.” She then looked at Adagio. “Adagio, I’m disappointed in you. You of all people should understand what Raspberry’s going through. You don’t have to like her, but you should be sympathetic for her situation, and I am not happy to hear you’ve been haranguing her all this time. I don’t ever want to hear again that you’re calling her nothing but insults. She has a name, and you should use it. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Aunt Velvet,” Adagio said in a cowed tone, feeling genuinely guilty for disappointing her aunt.

“We’ll talk about your punishment later, but at the very least, you owe Raspberry an apology when you see her again.” She drained her cup, then put it in the sink. “For now, I intend to go back to bed and wake up at a more decent hour. Girls, I suggest you do the same.”

As the two adults left the kitchen, the other teens looked at one another. “Great fucking going, sis,” Aria snarled. “Nearly got us all in trouble because you can’t get off your hate boner for Razz!”

“Okay, I fucked up, okay?” Adagio said to her sister.

“No, it’s not okay,” Twilight interjected. “Dagi, you don’t have to like her, but we’re all sick of this one-sided catfight you’ve got going on with Razz. If she’s permanently stuck here, she’s going to be part of our circle of friends. You’re going to have to get used to that, whether you like it or not.”

“I don’t,” she said, folding her arms.

“Tough shit,” Sonata said, glaring at Adagio. “Razz is my friend. I love you, sis, but you’re in the wrong here.”

“Fine,” Adagio sighed. “I’ll be nicer to her. I hate the cunt, but I hate you all being pissed at me even more.”

Sunset reached over and hugged Adagio. “Dagi, we love you, okay? This is just a part of normal life, one way or another. We’ll get through this.”

“Yeah, easy for you to say. I’m going to be the one grounded for a week, just watch.”

“Knowing Mom? Probably for two,” Twilight commented.

“Great,” Adagio sighed.

“Well, isn’t this what you wanted? The life of a normal girl? Good comes with the bad, cuz,” Octavia reminded her.

Adagio was silent for the longest time. Then a smile came over her face and she said, “Yeah, actually, yeah – this beats being cycled any day of the week.”

Shimmer sat on Sunset’s bed, hugging her knees. “I’m sorry,” she told Sunset.

“It’s okay, Shimmy,” Sunset said softly. “I know you didn’t mean to do it.”


“Because we’re sisters?” Sunset said.


“Because I just know. You were in shock and you’re afraid right now. You’re afraid of what you have now.”

Shimmer looked into Sunset’s eyes with tear-filled ones. “Of course I’m afraid! I’m going to end up like Divine, or like Chernabog, having gone nuts with my magic—”

“As opposed to when she possessed me, given that I have far more extensive knowledge of magic than you do?” Sunset pointed out, and Shimmer looked at her in surprise. “I know you’re afraid. But I wasn’t, because I know you.”

“How do you handle it? You’re so different from everyone and—”

“No I’m not. At the end of the day, I’m just a teenage girl, like you. Sure, technicalities aside, and yes, in my case there are a lot of those, but Shimmy, at the end of the day I’m no different than you. And you’re no different than you were the day before.”

“Did you know this was going to happen to me?” Shimmer asked her.

“I suspected it was possible, yes,” Sunset admitted.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because it’s not a big deal,” Sunset assured her. “Yeah, sure, you have a power that isn’t understood by nearly anyone in this world, and up until now, your only example was the megalomaniac in your family, so it’s understandable that you’re afraid. But do you remember what I told you about you and I?” Sunset took her counterpart’s hands in her own. “You’re my sister now. Even if you’re on the other side of the world, Shimmy, I will always be there for you. Whenever you need me, I’ll be there.”

“You can’t mean that.”

“I do. I know what it’s like to be alone and not have anyone – I did it for years, and it’s a feeling I don’t ever want anyone I care about to ever feel if I can help it. We’ll get through this. Keep in mind it’s not going to be easy, because I’ll have to find a way to adapt magic kindergarten books to something more human in nature, but everything you know about human magic? Ignore it. You have the real deal, and we’ll make sure you’ll be okay.”

“You promise?” The look in Shimmer’s eyes was one of terror: don’t leave me.

Sunset gave her twin a smile and put her hand out. “First lesson: transference.” Sunset let go of Shimmer’s hand and held it out before her, cupped. “Focus and call your power to you. As a unicorn, it would be to charge your horn, but since we’re humans….” A cyan sphere of energy appeared in Sunset’s hand.

Shimmer did the same, closing her eyes and focusing. A second later, a much smaller sphere of red magic appeared in Shimmer’s own palm, wavering and warping, but present all the same.

“How does it feel?” Sunset asked her.

Shimmer looked at the sphere with wonder. “Like…like it’s a part of me I’ve never known before. Like I could move a muscle I didn’t know was there.”

“Do you trust me?” Sunset asked her again. Shimmer nodded hesitantly, but then gulped and nodded more firmly. Sunset took her hand, still holding the magical sphere, and then placed it on Shimmer’s own. As their hands touched, the two spheres split, becoming smaller motes of light that danced around their hands.

“This is called the Dance of Magic,” Sunset said softly. “It’s considered very intimate, something that you only do with somepony you trust more than anyone.”

“Intimate? Like a lover?” Shimmer asked oddly.

Sunset laughed. “Intimate…like family,” she said with a smile.

With her other hand, Shimmer wiped her eyes, then reached over and hugged her older sister, as the red and blue magic orblets danced around the two Sunsets.

After a few moments, Shimmer let go. “Just out of curiosity, what would have happened if I didn’t trust you or…well, you know?”

“Oh, we would have disintegrated into component atoms,” Sunset said blandly. When Shimmer looked at her with horror, Sunset laughed and said, “Just kidding. Seriously, if we weren’t so close? The two magics wouldn’t have mixed to begin with. They would have repelled one another. You have to be in harmony to do the Dance.”

“Oh.” A second later, she slugged Sunset in the shoulder. «Ne me fais pas peur comme ça, espèce de morveux!» Shimmer grumbled, then laughed.

A second later, Aria rushed into the room, carrying something. “Sunny, look!”

Sunset didn’t think too much of the basket of cupcakes, aside from the fact that Pinkie had probably left them overnight as a token of her undying love.

A second later, however, she saw the wax-sealed scroll and gasped.

Twilight felt gentle claws shaking her. “Sis? Why are you…human?”

“Oh,” the Princess of Friendship said, blushing. “I must’ve fallen asleep like this. I’m sorry, Spike,” she said.

Spike went and hugged her. “What’s going on? Nopony’s telling me anything, you’re almost always by yourself now and the girls are afraid! It’s winter when it shouldn’t be, and Mom and Dad are worried about us!” The look in his eyes was one of colthood fear. “I don’t want to see you hurt.”

Twilight rubbed her hand across his head scales. “I’m okay, Spike. I’m sorry I’ve made you worry, little brother, but I…it felt right doing this work this way. I’m trying to reach out to Sunset, but so far nothing has worked and I feel like I’ve been thrown for a loop—”

She never finished her sentence as Platinum’s Mirror suddenly flared and spat something out, smacking Twilight in the head with force before clattering to the ground.

“Ow!” she yelped, rubbing her forehead, feeling a trickle of blood. Glad that I’m human right now, or else whatever that was would’ve smacked my horn!

“Twi!” Spike called out, waving something in her face. It was a second before her vision cleared up enough to realize what it was that her brother was holding.

Twilight took it from him, and gasped. Aside from half the symbols on the screen that she couldn’t read and the clearly wrong time – 8:37PM, when it was some time in the morning, it looked like one of those oversized cellphones humans used like magazines. But that wasn’t what caught her attention.

No, what caught her attention was the picture on the screen: of twelve girls, almost all of which she knew. Three of them were strangers to the alicorn princess, but that didn’t matter, because she knew half of the girls in the image, especially the one with red-and-gold hair…who now seemed to be much taller than Twilight remembered.

But it was the girl with a similar hairstyle to Sunset that made Twilight gasp. A cornflower-and-lilac mane, with wine-colored eyes. The light brown skin threw her off, but the rest…it had to be her. It had to be her!

Twilight let out a cheer of relief and joy, picking up her brother and dancing around the room with him before showering him with kisses. “Thank you, Spike!” she cooed.

Spike, as any colt would do, wiped off the mushy kisses. “Yeesh, Twi! What made you do that?”

“Can’t explain – I gotta go,” she said, changing back into her alicorn form. “Gather the girls for me and tell them to meet me in Canterlot ASAP! Oh, and in one of the top cabinets in the kitchen is a sea opal – have at it.”

“A sea opal?” Spike’s mouth practically watered at the sound of that; they were one of his favorite gems. “Are you sure?”

“You earned it, little brother,” she said, kissing him on the forehead. “But for now, I need to go. Don’t forget to tell everypony! See you in Canterlot!” With that, she teleported away, the strange item in her mystical grasp.

Spike went over to the desk to get some paper to write messages for the others. The sooner he did that, the sooner he could get that opal – he could almost taste it.

“CELESTIA!” Twilight cried as she teleported straight to her mentor’s room. “CELESTIA, WAKE UP!”

A weary alicorn looked at Twilight with infinitely sad eyes. Her pink, powerless mane was disheveled and unmoving, and she looked nearly mortal and frail. She said nothing, instead looking at Twilight with lilac eyes reddened from crying without end.

“She’s alive! They’re alive!” Twilight said, thrusting the tablet into her mentor’s face.

“What?” Celestia asked, unsure if she heard her apprentice’s words correctly.

“Sunny – and Razz – are alive!” Twilight said, pointing out the evidence on the giant cellphone that had somehow made its way from Sunset’s world.

Out in the sky, for the first time in months, the sun exploded with a luminal intensity that burned like midsummer. Ponies looked up in the sky in wonder, wondering what was going on.

A beam of bright light lanced into Luna’s room, waking her up. She grumbled at first, until she realized what it meant.

“She’s alive,” Luna said with relief and joy. “Twi did it. My niece lives.” She laughed heartily, stretching as she got out of bed. Sleep could wait. Right now her sister needed her more than ever.

An hour later, Raspberry wept tears of joy as she hugged Heliodor close to her as the group sat in the living room of Sunset’s home. “We can go home!” she said with unabashed joy.

“Razz, I want to caution you: this is just the first step. I don’t want to get your hopes up,” Sunset said.

“I know a Sugarcube Corner cupcake when I taste one,” Raspberry said, holding up one of them. “I don’t even need to see whatever’s on that scroll. I know.”

“Congratulations, Razz,” Luna told her. “Still, for as long as you need to, you have a home with me.”

“Thank you,” Raspberry replied, wiping the tears from her eyes, as Heliodor reached up and caressed her face with his wing. “That means a lot to me.”

“Good, now we can get rid of you,” Adagio said, then covered her mouth and realized she’d said it aloud.

“That’s three weeks, Adagio,” Velvet said flatly. “Are you trying to go for a whole month?”

“No, Aunt Velvet,” Adagio sighed dejectedly. “Look, Bit…Raspberry,” she began with gritted teeth.

“I don’t care what you have to say,” Raspberry told her. “For the sake of your cousin and sisters, I’m going to forgive you. Just…just leave me alone and we’ll call it that, okay?”

“Yeah, works for me,” she grunted.

Feeling elated, Raspberry then turned back to Sunset. “So, foalsflare, huh?”

“Yeah, bad one, too. I had to immerse her in cold water, because as a human, she has no fur that she could discharge the extra mana through. It was burning her up as a result.”

Raspberry whistled. “Yeah, that is bad. She’s okay though, right?”

“Thankfully, I was able to catch it before things got bad,” Sunset replied as she nodded. “I told her to sleep a little longer until her mother got here, then we can explain everything. Now the tough part is going to be coming up with a way to train her.”

“Well, if we reestablish a connection back to Equestria, when I go back, I’m sure I can send over some magic primers, like Little Flicker Learns Levitation?”

Sunset laughed. “Oh, I remember the Little Flicker stories from when I was a filly. I always wondered why she couldn’t understand basic magic and had to be taught everything from scratch all the time. Seriously, not one of the best written series, though I suspect I was always too advanced for it.”


“Anyway, Razz, I’m going to be busy with other stuff for the next couple of days, so….”

Raspberry nodded. “I wouldn’t take that away from you, Sunny. I know how important this is to you, so go ahead. I’ve been here for a couple of weeks now, right? A couple of days more isn’t going to really hurt, right?”

“THIS CALLS FOR MY ULTRA-SPECIAL PARTY-O-MATIC 9001!” Pinkie cheered at the top of her lungs. Before anypony could ask, she added, “Why 9001? Because it’s over nine thousand!”

“Pinkie, you can come down from the clouds – that’s my job,” Rainbow told her, though in truth she was no less ecstatic. “So, when do we get her back, Twi?”

Waving her forelegs repeatedly, Twilight told her friends, “Look, girls, it’s just the first step – and finding out they’re still alive was a lucky chance. We need to continue working to make sure that we—”

A polite cough interrupted Twilight’s small explanation. “Your highness?” Twilight turned to see a couple dozen of her mages standing there. “We have been ordered by Princess Celestia to assist you in this portal project.”

“Prof. Jumpspace, I have it all under control,” Twilight began, regretting seeing him. Jumpspace was a fine researcher but had a tendency to bully anypony who he didn’t think was as academically accomplished as he was.

“With all due respect, your highness, I’m a specialist in teleportation fields,” Jumpspace reminded her. “I was the one who wrote the recent monograph on the power reevaluations regarding Faraway Frontier’s Finetuned Focusing Fields, which as you know, is a must in advanced teleportation.”

A second pony joined him, one that Twilight knew as well: Mirage Trick. While she was quite the accomplished mare as well, she also had a habit of belittling ponies she felt were beneath her, skillwise. “And I was the lead researcher in redefining Stardust’s Special Spatial Spellbinding Sieve! You’ll need me as well, your highness.”

The third unicorn merely gave a wave. “Hi, Twi,” she said with a smile. “I came as soon as I could. Princess Celestia didn’t ask for my help on this, but I figured I couldn’t let a friend down.”

Twilight smiled at Moon Dancer. “Moony, I could really use your help with this.”

“Of course!” she chirped.

“Okay, Moon Dancer is project lead while I’m gone,” Twilight told the other two. “You two will report to her, and the rest will report to you.”

Jumpspace’s jaw practically hit the floor. “But…but…your highness!” he protested. “She’s only a…researcher! She isn’t illustrious enough to work on such a project of Royal Importance—”

“Hey!” Rainbow said, jumping in his face. “If the princess says she is, she is, capisce?”

“Moon Dancer is one of the most accomplished ponies out there,” Twilight reminded him. “Yes, I know she doesn’t have the magic levels that befit someone like myself or the archmagi, but when it comes to magical knowledge, I trust her implicitly!”

Moon blushed. “Thanks, Twi.”

“I mean that. It’s going to be a tough job, but I believe in you, Moony.”

“Twilight, dear,” Rarity said as she walked into the room, “forgive my suggestion, but I feel it is my duty to suggest that two other ponies be at least made aware of updates on this important project.” The unicorn fashionista stepped aside, revealing an overwhelmed Cashmere and Ascot.

“Your highness,” Cashmere spoke with a catch in her throat. “Is…is it true?” Though he said nothing as he stood behind his wife, Ascot’s face was a mask of anxiety.

Twilight nodded. “Yes. She’s still alive. Somehow, instead of being destroyed by Tirek, she got teleported to another world – the same world that Sunset Shimmer lives on. We believe that she’s with Sunset and that she’s safe.”

Cashmere broke down in joyful tears, collapsing to the floor in a puddle of relief. Immediately Ascot was at her side, nuzzling her and crying for joy alongside her. Finally he looked up at Twilight with gratitude in his eyes. “Thank you, Princess,” he said softly.

Fluttershy approached Twilight. “Rarity and I felt they deserved to know, Twilight,” the soft-spoken pegasus told her. “They love her so much, and I know if I were in their hooves, I’d want to know, too.”

“You did the right thing,” Twilight told her friend. “I was so busy focusing on trying to prove they were there that I hadn’t even thought to let them know. Thanks for doing that.”

“Twilight.” The alicorn turned at the sound of the familiar voice to see Celestia approaching. She still looked worn out and haggard, tired and disheveled. “Do whatever it takes to get the connection reestablished. She…they…deserve to come home.”

“We’ll get right on it, Princess,” Twilight assured her.

“Please do. I’m not….” The words were thick on her tongue, and the look in the great alicorn’s eyes was one of anxious hope. “I’m not asking this as your sovereign or your fellow alicorn, Twilight. I’m asking this as a mother. Bring my filly home. I want to see her again.”

“I will,” Twilight vowed. “I will.”

“I am proud of you, mon petit tournesol,” Solaire told Shimmer. “If this is true, you are far more than your father and I hoped.”

“Mom, I’m still not comfortable with this power I have,” Shimmer told her.

“I understand, but you must also realize that we can never allow someone like my cousin to arise again. It was a Godsend that we were able to stop him, and now we have you able to deal with future problems.”

“I didn’t ask for this,” Shimmer grunted.

“Shimmy, we know you didn’t. But we rarely ask for what is thrust onto us,” Sunset reminded her. “And I promised you I will be there when you need me.”

Shimmer gave her twin a quick arm squeeze of gratitude. “Thanks, sis.”

“Well,” Solaire said with a smile, noticing the closeness of the two girls. “It looks like you two got along fabulously while I was out of town. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that was going to happen.”

“It’s nice having a sister,” Shimmer said, favoring Sunset with a smile. “And even though we’ll be continents apart, I don’t think that’ll make a difference.”

“It won’t,” Sunset promised.

Solaire’s phone chimed, and she looked at it. “Well, that is all well and good, but now I am afraid we must get down to business. The lawyer the family hired is here.”

Night and Velvet looked at Cadance. “Good thing we brought one of our own.”

Cadance gave her future in-laws a grin. “Good thing the state bar has a mandated pro bono requirement that I could fill for you two,” she told them. “This would be racking up the bills otherwise.”

It was hours later and the group was all located at the Four Seasons Hotel, courtesy of Solaire’s brother-in-law. Given that the family had owned the vaunted hotel, it made for the best place to hold both the talks and the press conference afterwards. And given that the media frenzy had reached bizarre heights as the “truth” of Sunset’s existence had come out into the public arena, the fact that a girl who had been a runaway turned out to be a secret French princess was the top-of-the-hour news item on every local news source, and quite a few national ones as well.

A couple of seconds later, there was a knock on the door, but before anyone could get it, a thin man in an expensive tailored suit with slicked-back light gray hair and red eyes behind equally-expensive Italian eyeglasses walked in, carrying a briefcase. Setting it on the table, he said, “Hello all. My name is Contempt O’Court, and I have been hired by the House of Bonaparte to represent their interests in this matter.”

“Thank you, Mr. O’Court,” Solaire began, but she was quickly cut off by the lawyer.

“Mrs. D’Celestia,” he began in a curt tone dripping with contempt, “it was made very clear to me that you are not to be a party to this. Quite frankly, if I may, I have spoken with several family members, and they find this second ‘Sunset Shimmer’ to be a charlatan, regardless of what the DNA record says. Therefore, your father felt it was best for your immediate branch of the family to step aside in this regard, and as a result, things will be decided by the Florentine branch of your family. And, quite frankly, they have decided that they do not want some unknown ragamuffin mongrel within the family.”

“What?” Shimmer and Solaire said at once.

“Who’s the Florentines?” Sunset asked.

“That bastard Divine Right’s family,” Solaire hissed. “Clearly this is meant to punish me because I’ve chosen to date Zephyr instead of that monster. Even in death,” she commented, “he vexes me.”

Sunset looked at Solaire and gave herself a private smile; her “biological” mother was clearly a talented actress, given that she knew the truth about Divine’s whereabouts, as well as the story that he himself had put out about his death. Even though she wasn’t truly related to her, the alicorn felt a small surge of pride at the princess’ particular skills.

“Whatever that may be, Mrs. D’Celestia, the fact is, the Florentines have been given the authority to speak for the House, and as such I have been directed to tell you that the American girl calling herself Sunset Shimmer does not have legal standing within the House, and will not be recognized by the family.” He gave a grin. “Frankly, given her unusual circumstances, she doesn’t even have a birth certificate because of her situation – she’s not even legally a person.”

Cadance leapt to her feet. “Counselor, you’re out of line,” she warned him.

“And you’re out of your depth, Ms. Cadenza. This is how we sharks play in the world of law outside the coddled justice system. Just shut up, log your pro bono time and that’ll be that.”

“I’ve got a mind to report you to the bar, Mr. O’Court – your attitude is reprehensible.”

“And I’ve got a mind to wonder what you look like out of that clothing. You free tonight? I don’t have to catch a flight back to Cloudsdale for at least another day,” he commented drily.

“I’m filing that report, Counselor, you can be sure of that,” Cadance snarled.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever turns you on. By the way, meet me at the bar after all this and I’ll tell you what room I’m in.” He turned to the rest of them. “Sorry folks, but that’s just how the ball’s played. Welcome to the world of actual law.”

«TROP C’EST TROP!» Everyone turned to look at Shimmer, who was glaring at O’Court with eyes full of rage. “How dare you!”

He looked at her. “Kid, you’re out of your depth—”

“I am no child!” Shimmer rose from her seat, and despite the fact that the man was taller than her, looked him right in the eyes. “I am Her Imperial Highness Sunset Shimmer of the Sarzanist Branch of the House of Bonaparte, and I will not be talked down to!” She leaned over the table, continuing to glare. «Vous êtes un cochon grossier, savez-vous à qui vous parlez?»

“I don’t have to stand here and listen to you, child,” he sneered, closing his briefcase. “We’re done.”

“You take one step out of this room, and I will inform the family that you walked out of negotiations early. My grandfather may have given permission to the Florentines to deal with this,” Shimmer said firmly, “but he still decides whether you get paid for doing your job or not.” She set her cellphone on the table, revealing that she’d been recording the whole thing. “And I am most certainly not done.

“For all of my life, I have had to live with the fact that my sister was gone. With the grief that I was the one that survived. And then this year, I discovered a girl, just like me, who was living the life I had when I lived here. My mother knew who she was right away, but I didn’t believe it. How could I? My sister was dead. But my mother,” the girl said, gesturing to Solaire, “knew. She knew in her heart what I couldn’t wrap my own mind around. That my sister was most certainly alive and here with us.

“I have spent the past two weeks getting to know her. And I am convinced. Not because of a DNA test, or genetics or anything like that. She could be an alien shapeshifted into human form,” Shimmer said in a flat comment, “and it wouldn’t make a single bit of difference. I know my sister, and she is not to blame for what happened to her so long ago! She is a princess of the Imperial Family just as I am, and how dare you suggest otherwise!

“I am Sunset Shimmer…but I now know I am Sunset Shimmer, deuxième. She is Sunset Shimmer, première. And I suspect the child my mother buried is also my genetic identical.” Shimmer turned to Sunset. “Sister, I suspect the reason you suffered – why we all suffered – is because we weren’t twins…

“…we’re triplets.”

“Funny you should mention that.” Everyone turned to see Zephyr standing by the door, a wry grin on his face. “I called in a few favors I had with the FBI and had that checked myself. Turns out you’re right, Shimmy. That would make the child buried in the grave, er, Sunset Shimmer III?” He shrugged. “I dunno. I don’t speak French.”

Shimmer wheeled back to O’Court. “Regardless, Sunset is my sister and also an Imperial Princess of France – and neither of us will stand for this insult. If I must, I will speak your language, you cur: I am younger than you and richer than you and I will bring those assets to bear against you.” Seeing the smug look on his face, she then added, “And I’m not talking about the wealth of House Bonaparte. Right now, we stand in a hotel owned by my uncle – my paternal uncle – which means I have that inheritance to draw back on as well.

“I have more money than you can imagine, Mr. O’Court, and I will weaponize it. For my sister, I will do anything to protect her. So sit down, shut up, and let my mother have her say, or else I will make sure nothing goes right for you anywhere in the Anglo- and Francospheres, am I clear?”

The room looked at Shimmer, who daintily sat down, befitting a princess.

“I believe you heard my daughter,” Solaire said, a wide, proud smile on her face. “Would you care to let us see the documents the Florentines provided?”

“We’re going to miss you, you know that?” Sonata told Raspberry.

Raspberry laughed. “Soni, if this works, the portal will be open whenever. You guys can come visit me whenever you get the chance.”

“Yeah,” Aria agreed, “but I’m sure you’ll agree having your friends live close by kinda helps.”

The three were in the lair, lounging around while Raspberry continued to work on the candle. For her own safety’s sake, Octavia remained upstairs, and Adagio was already doing extra chores around the house as part of her punishment, leaving the trio to their own devices.

“Well, given interdimensional vagaries and whatnot, I guess you could say that I live literally next door,” Raspberry pointed out. “Plus, I have to admit that if it wasn’t for you two, I would probably be miserable here.”

Sonata frowned. “Razz…forgive Dagi, okay? It would mean a lot to us.”

“I already did, Soni. You two are my friends, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me here, not the least of which is the brace I’m wearing,” Raspberry said, patting the object bound around her leg. “But it’s more than that. You two made me feel welcome here. Not that the others didn’t, mind, and Sunny’s done everything she could. It’s just….”

“You don’t have to say it, Razz, we get the picture,” Aria said with a grin.

The candle’s flame started to get stronger, and Raspberry hopped back to her feet. “Ari, set the security doors or something. Soni, can you get the fire extinguisher?”

“On it,” both girls said at once.

Raspberry started casting a containment spell; as much as she hated to admit it, that was going to be another thing she was going to miss about living in the human realm: having human magic with its utilitarian nature was far better for her than the polarized nature of pony magic. Here, she could almost pretend she was a white magic archmagus, just like Sunset. Here, she didn’t have to worry about being shunned by the general population. Here, she didn’t have to worry that losing her temper also meant losing her guise if she was pushed hard enough.

Plus, when the girls saw it, Rainbow had called her a “badass vampiress”. A quick lookup showed that vampires were the equivalent of vamponies, and she had to admit, after reading everything, she guessed she did kinda look like a badass vampiress.

Maybe if I wasn’t going home, she mused to herself, living here wouldn’t be so bad after all.

The wick turned green and spat out a large, guttering flame; even still, it was much smaller than in previous days, a sign that things were on the mend. The flames coalesced into verdant smoke, which then transformed itself into a simple scroll, tearstained and bound by a simple white ribbon.

Raspberry’s eyes started to tear up, and shame welled within her. How could she think about staying here when she had a family back home that loved her? She didn’t have the unique situation Sunset did, and she probably never would. She belonged in Equestria.

She looked at the candle, then grabbed a pen.

I’m coming home, was all she wrote, then set the letter ablaze in the magefire. The flamefax did its job, then guttered out and returned to an orange hue once more, becoming a normal candle again.

Raspberry could feel arms encircle her in an embrace, then felt a head rest atop hers. “Are you okay?” Aria asked her.

“No. Not until I get home again,” Raspberry said softly. “Not until I get home again.”

As O’Court stormed out of the room, Cadance looked at Shimmer with appreciation. “You know, maybe you should consider being a lawyer, Shimmy,” she said. “You sure can argue a case.”

“Are you sure this is what you want, mon petit tournesol?” Solaire asked her daughter as she looked over the new documents.

Shimmer nodded. “Even if I didn’t, this is what has to happen in order to protect Sunny,” the younger flame-haired girl replied. “Besides, it got him angry, and as Uncle Noblesse says, when you argue in a rage, you don’t think about what you’re doing.”

Sunset looked at her counterpart, gaining a new respect for her. Sunset had been trained in diplomacy and negotiation by a princess, but she never really gave it much use in her life. Shimmer, however, knew exactly how to use those skills and did so to the fullest extent, so much so that it made Sunset herself reevaluate her position on that.

She looked at the copy of the document in her hands. With this, she was officially an Imperial Princess of France, and technically a French citizen. Moreover, with the other documents that had been signed by both Solaire and Sunset’s own parents, with Cadance witnessing and O’Court signing as approver on behalf of House Bonaparte….

“Shimmy, you shouldn’t have,” Sunset said, stunned.

“Mom, do we have to be present for the press conference?” Shimmer asked Solaire.

“No. In fact, I think I would rather do this myself, presuming if you would be of assistance, Night? The public knows both of us, so it should be sufficient, don’t you agree?”

“I do. I think I’d rather shield the girls from all this.”

“Good!” Shimmer said. “Sunny, can you teleport us to the nearest flowershop? I have something to do.”

“Sure, but—”

“Mom, we’ll catch you later at Uncle Autumn’s place, okay?” She leaned over and kissed her mother on the cheek. “C’mon, Sunny! Time’s wasting!”

As the two girls vanished, Cadance laughed. “Going to be hard to get used to that.”

“Yes, I suppose,” Solaire replied, “but I have never thought of my daughter as anything less than special. After today, that’s magnified a hundredfold.”

“You raised a wonderful young woman, Solaire,” Velvet said sincerely.

“I raised a princess,” came the reply. “And not just in name.”

In a well-furnished hotel half a world away, two old men looked at one another. Both seemed to be what they were not: the first old man seemed to be a frail, elderly English gentleman blinded by an accident ages ago. The second appeared to be a fit Japanese businessman of advanced years, dapper yet formal. Around them stood retainers and servants.

As he set down his chopsticks, the Sphinx smiled. “My compliments to your chef, Shokuden-dono. Perhaps I may wish to borrow his services for a banquet I intend to hold next month.”

Taking a sip from a sake cup, the other man nodded and replied in a gravelly voice, “Please, dear friend. Speak only the time and location and they will be delivered to you for your needs. My employees are at your disposal, and the Satsuma Legend Corporation aims to please.”

“Indeed you have, dear friend,” the older man said. “And now that our wonderful dinner is over, I am afraid I must mar this pleasant meeting by talking not of pleasure, but of business.”

“Of course,” Shokuden replied. “I shall have my underlings discuss the joint financial projects, starting from the European concerns, if that is what you wish.” The man gestured to his left and a second man in his mid-forties bowed, approaching with a package of documents.

“Perhaps later,” the Sphinx replied. “For now, I wish to speak of the Baraka Project.”

Shokuden nodded, then raised his hand to bid the first man to stop. “I see.” He then waved his hand again, and an elegantly-dressed young woman approached and bent over. Shokuden whispered something in her ear, and she nodded, then departed. “The rest of you, please, see to your concerns,” he told his side. “My friend and I wish to discuss private business.”

The Sphinx nodded, then moved his head ever so slightly. At the slight movement, all of the personnel that had been behind him turned and silently departed, save for a young woman dressed in business attire.

“Palm-dono, would you care for a seat? It wouldn’t do to have such a beautiful young lady stand.”

Areca Palm shifted slightly. “How does the old saying go, Shokuden-dono? ‘One must be careful of entreaties from both friends and enemies’? An old saying of Oda Nobunaga, if I recall.”

From behind Shokuden, a young man the same age as Areca and with a scowl on his face, glared at her with blood-red eyes. “Those were actually the words of Akechi Mitsuhide.”

“Ah, I see. Thank you for the correction.”

Shokuden laughed. “Ah, the trifles of youth. How I wish I could be so unconcerned with the future!”

“Perhaps,” the Sphinx said, “but it is always best to be cautious of what is to come. I come to you bearing information on your treasure. I also come bearing a warning.”

Shokuden raised an eyebrow. “It is not often that the great Grandmaster of the Ordo Duodecim comes bearing warnings.”

“It is not often that the oyabun of the Satsuma Rengo-kai requires such,” the Sphinx replied. “And yet…my spies received word that your treasure has been moved once again.”

“That is…information we already have,” Shokuden replied.

“She is also attempting to contact a being called the Chīkyū no Megami. Are you familiar with such?”

Shokuden laughed. “A fairytale, nothing more. A kami that all spirits and mages answer to? If such a creature actually existed, she would be in my grasp by now.”

“I see. Well, I felt it prudent to warn you. Your quarry and her guardian are expending considerable resources to find this being, and whether it is a waste of time or not, one must let one’s friends be aware.”

“Yes, and I thank you for the information.”

The two old men continued to sit there, as ancient magics swirled around them. High above the skyline of Tokyo, in a great skyscraper, the grand city below had no idea of the meeting that had just occurred.

Nor, if they did, would they have had any power to stop it.

After the meeting ended Areca followed her father to his limousine. “So they have no idea,” she said to him.

“Oh, he knows,” the Sphinx said wryly. “He would not be Shokuden Shinosa, the oyabun of the most feared of the yakuza gangs, were he not.”

The Sphinx waited until they were in the limo – protected from prying ears by technology and magic both – before speaking his mind. “I think it would benefit us later on down the road if we allowed his treasure to contact the so-called Chīkyū no Megami.” With a smile, he added, “It would be easy to wipe two pawns off the chessboard instead of one, don’t you think?”

Watching the limousine depart, the young man snarled in his native Japanese. “Grandfather, how could you let those gaijin go! They knew something we had no information on!”

“You mean you had no information, Shujin. I have been quite aware of the existence of the Chīkyū no Megami for quite some time.”

“I thought you said it was a fairytale!”

“I did. But all legends have a grain of truth to them. And as you well know, even the smallest grain can someday become a field if given time.” He turned to glare at his grandson. “Find our treasure and bring her under our heel, before she contacts the Chīkyū no Megami.”

Shimmer set the two sets of roses on the gravestones. “Hi, I’m back.”

Standing a polite distance away, Sunset watched as Shimmer spent some final time with her father and her unborn sister – her actual unborn sister. The girl who had never received any other appellation other than CHILD OF SUMMER BREEZE AND SOLAIRE D’CELESTIA. In the days to come, the small gravestone would be replaced with an actual name: SUNSET SHIMMER 3ème, HIH, HOUSE BONAPARTE.

It made Sunset wonder what was with her own true birth family, and if their own fate had been as horrific as Raspberry’s or if it had been an idyll, or whatever.

Finally, Shimmer stepped away from the graves and wiped her eyes. “It’s…done. I’ve made as much peace as I can.”

“Have you?”

Shimmer nodded. “I did. I…I told my father what I did, and I hoped that he would be proud of me. Mom…is going to be okay with it, and I suspect my uncle and grandfather will as well. I know those bastards in the Florentines won’t, but that’s my choice.”

“Shimmy…you just gave me half your entire fortune!”

“No,” Shimmer said with a smile. “I gave my sister what she rightfully deserves as her inheritance. If our sister had lived, it would have been split three ways. And since we didn’t know you were alive, I inherited it all. I’m just—”

“Stop, please.” Sunset looked at her counterpart. “I get that you’re wealthy, even though you told me that you live in a middle-class home in suburban Paris.”

“By choice – Mom and I want to have normal lives.”

“Shimmy, that’s your money, not mine. And in case you forgot, I’m the daughter of a princess outright to begin with. If I had to hazard a guess, the GDP of Equestria alone is probably twice that of Earth in entirety. We’re literally swimming in gems and we feed top-quality jewels to dragons and other creatures. Our mid-grade is your top quality. And yet you just—”

“It’s just money,” Shimmer said as she walked over to a bench in the cemetery. In the distance the sun began to sink behind the horizon, as if giving a notification to its namesakes. “I would rather my sister get her fair share.”

“But we’re not really—”

“We are.” Shimmer patted the seat next to her, asking Sunset to sit down. “I’ve learned a lot from Twily these past two weeks. She doesn’t care what you were born as or who you were. To her, you are her sister. You told me that you were my sister, and I said I’ve never had one before. Now, I’ve had one for two weeks, and I share so much with her.” She raised her palm, calling magic to her hand. “If it wasn’t for you, I would be dead or worse, Sunny. Giving up half my inheritance to prove your existence to the world, to me, is worth it.”


Shimmer placed a gentle finger on Sunset’s lips. “No buts. I once told Twily that you were the best Sunset you could be, and I needed to be the best Sunset I could be. So I’m doing that now, so that both of us can live our lives unfettered. Besides, it’s not as though my true birth sister was going to put it to any use, you know?”

“I’m…I’m honestly touched, Shimmy. You gave up more than just money, though.”

“Yes, but I never wanted to be involved in my family’s politics anyway. That’s not my calling, and so I don’t mind giving up my vote within family politics if it means you get official family recognition. Besides, the Florentines and the other family factions never really considered me a true Bonaparte, given that I’m half-American.”

Sunset gave a wistful smile. “I don’t know what to say,” she admitted.

“Well, my mother told me the best thing to say is a thank you,” the younger girl said lightly. “Unfortunately, you got kidnapped and so you didn’t learn that little nugget of wisdom from our mother. So I guess you can be forgiven that.” She leaned against Sunset and the two watched the sunset continue to fall. “You promise that you’ll always be there for me, Sunny?”

“As much as I can. Unfortunately, I do have my own life as well, and sometimes I’m not going to be able to break away.”

“I guess that’ll have to do. I guess in time, I’ll learn to teleport and then I can come visit you.”

“You’ll have to practice hard,” Sunset insisted. “Teleportation is a pretty advanced skill.”

“I’m sure I can master it. I do have the best teacher around,” Shimmer said with a smile.

It was days. Days of sheer torture since they had sent out that letter. Days of wondering what had become of it, what would be the fate of the simple missive, a simple plea from a mother, for her filly to come home.

And now that wait was over.

Cashmere held the letter in her shaking hooves, tears of joy staining the letter she’d sent days ago, with a simple message scrawled back on it:

My filly is coming home, Cashmere thought, her mind swimming with relief and joy. She’s coming home!

Watching from a distance, Celestia felt a mixture of emotions at the moment: joy, because one of her missing ponies was able to safely contact home. Jealousy, because Raspberry’s mother had received a letter from her daughter, when she herself had not. And shame, because she knew she shouldn’t feel as she did, especially as the ruler of the nation.

“I’m sure Sunset would have written you if she could,” Luna gently whispered into her sister’s ear. “Maybe there was no time or she wasn’t around and Raspberry wanted to make sure that we got the message. Given that it’s been days, Twilight and I already suspect there’s some level of time dilation involved.”

“I know,” Celestia said softly. “I just miss my sweet filly.”

“She hasn’t forgotten you,” Luna assured her. “She loves you.”

“No, she’s probably been adopted by that human mare by now,” Celestia said sadly, “which means I’ve lost her forever.”

“No. I can assure you of that, sister. Mothers aren’t forgotten so easily. Just because Sunset will end up with more than one mother doesn’t mean she’s forgotten you. That other Velvet might be taking care of her, but you raised her. The love is there – it will always be there.” Despite the protocol of the situation, Luna reached up and caressed her sister’s heartbroken face. “She hasn’t forgotten. She never could.”

Autumn Forest’s face had a look of both shock and sorrow on it. “All this time…all this time, she’s been here in the area,” he said to Solaire, apologetically. “All this time, we…we could have looked, if we’d known. We would have looked, if we knew.”

His wife, was inconsolable. “We should have known,” she sobbed, her face buried in her hands. “We should have.”

“It’s okay,” Solaire said, hugging her sister-in-law and feeling guilty about it. Even her extended family would have to be kept out of the truth in order to let Sunset live safely. Was this what Sunset had to go through every day of her life here on Earth? If so, Solaire didn’t care for it one bit, even though she would continue to live that lie – now not only for Sunset’s sake and her promise to her grandmother, but for her own daughter as well. “There was no way to know, and so long as she’s healthy and safe, everything is okay.”

“Are you sure about this, Soli?” Autumn asked her protectively and she knew what he meant.

“Yes. To take Sunset away from her family would be as dastardly as the woman who stole her from me. Besides, they love her – and I would not do that to another family.”

“Well, if that’s what you want,” Autumn said. “It still doesn’t mean that I won’t involve myself if you need me to.”

“You should meet her adoptive parents. They are wonderful people and I don’t feel as though I am failing my child a second time, I assure you.” Solaire gestured to where Velvet and Night waited a respective distance.

Meanwhile, there was someone in the extended family who was not waiting a respective distance. Giggling and giddy, Coco hugged Sunset without abandon, happy as a clam while Shimmer, Twilight, Octavia and the triplets watched without trying to laugh.

“Yay! I have another cousin that’s a girl!” she cooed contentedly.

Sunset looked at Shimmer wordlessly before her twin replied, “Look at it this way: you now have a cousin…that’s actually a cousin.”

“Yeah, I think Sunny’s met her quota of sisters for the rest of her life,” Adagio said with a grin.

“And best of all we all go to Zacherle together!” Coco crowed.

“Uh, actually I go to Canterlot High,” Sunset explained. “Kinda prefer that, to be honest.”


Twilight stepped in and rescued her sister from perpetual embrace. “Coco, you still have us, okay? Just because Sunny goes to a different school doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t there. Trust me, I know Sunny would want us to take care of her darling little cousin just as much as she would.”

Coco blushed at the compliment and Adagio whispered to Octavia, “Looks like Soni’s out of a smooth-talking job.” The raven-haired girl giggled at that.

“Okay,” Coco said, letting go of Sunset and immediately clamping onto Twilight.

“You know, she kinda reminds me of that toy that was out when we were kids. Constant hugging thing or whatnot,” Aria mused.

“And you had to pull the batteries out when you wanted it to stop hugging?” Octavia added.

“Yeah, that’s the one. Softy got us some on our birthdays and I think we had them until she died. Then Soni took them apart to see how the motors worked. Good times.”

Sonata interjected, “Well, by then we’d grown out of toys, so….”

Coco then looked sadly at Sunset. “Were you mistreated by you captor?”

“I….” Sunset looked at Coco’s innocent eyes and knew she couldn’t lie. A year ago, she could have – and likely would have – without issue. But she wasn’t that Sunset anymore. She’d grown quite a bit, and this was, for better or worse, her family.

Fortunately for her, Twilight stepped in. “Coco, given that she’s been around family, I don’t think it’s a good idea to ask that,” she suggested. “She might be fine now, but what happened to her is still an ordeal she has to get through. Remember that she thought her captor was her family for the longest time, so it’s not fair to ask her a question like that. It would be like me asking you how things are going with Crackle’s sister.”

“Oh.” Coco then looked at Twilight and Octavia. “Crackle…she forgave Suri, because they’re sisters. But Crackle doesn’t know if she can trust her. It hurts me to see her like that, but I don’t know what to do.”

“Just be patient, Coco. I’m sure that things will improve. Maybe Suri will change, or maybe she won’t,” Octavia told her. “But that’s not for you to do. That’s for Crackle and her sister to work out. Just be there for her. You and your friends – you are friends with the CMC, right?”

“Yeah! My parents are letting me join the Girl Scouts and then I can get badges right along with the girls!”

“Something tells me we should be worried about that,” Sunset said to no one in particular.

In other parts of the town, Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow all shivered at once, feeling as if someone had stepped on their grave, to use a term.

Finally, Sunset and the others went home. Velvet hugged Sunset close to her. “Are you ready for tomorrow, sweetie?”

Sunset looked at her, then nodded. “A dream come true,” she had to admit.

“For all of us,” Night told her. “But remember what Velvet said: just because we’re making it official tomorrow doesn’t mean that you have to love your birth mother any less. I have a feeling that she’s going to be in your life still, especially since you’re sending Raspberry home, right?”

“You sure?” Sunset asked, not wanting to correct them about the birth mother phrasing. Princess Celestia was her mother, she knew that – birth or not.

“Very, Sunny. Love is, to coin a phrase, a very human thing,” Velvet said. “And you shouldn’t let your love for her be forgotten. Someday, I want to meet her and thank her for the special gift she gave us – you.”

Sunset blushed. “Mom, you’re making me blush.”

“Of course, dear. That’s what moms do.”

“Well, we should get some sleep. Need to get up early tomorrow for the most important day of our lives!” Sonata said.

“Not really,” Twilight said, and everyone looked at her. She smiled and said, “All it’s doing is just putting on paper what we already know.” She kissed Sunset on the cheek. “My sister.”

“Our sister,” the other girls said at once.

Sunset blushed brightly, thinking about how absolutely lucky she was and how much her world had changed. Tomorrow would make for one of the most important moments in her life, and she couldn’t stop thinking about it. In a sense, she’d been adopted multiple times: by Celestia, by her new parents, and kinda sorta by Shimmer’s family. For a filly that had been found at an orphanage with no name or lineage to speak of, she’d been blessed a hundredfold over for it.

I guess I am the luckiest girl in the world, she thought to herself with a smile.

But a fleeting thought came to her, if only for a moment: what ever happened to her actual birth mother? Did she ever think of Sunset? Did it matter? To Sunset, no, not really. But somewhere in Equestria there might have been a mare who always wondered what happened to the filly she gave away.

“Here ya go,” a cider-soaked voice said, setting a mug down on a splitwood bar counter. “Finest of the house.”

The stallion, a gruff earth pony, gave her a salute and a grin. “Yeah, thanks.” He downed it quickly, without so much as even needing to breath. “Ah, that hit the spot!” He reached into a sidepack and pulled out a couple of bits, which he slapped on the worn countertop. “Get me another, will ya?”

The bartender laughed. “You keep hitting the cider, Arroyo, and your sister’s not gonna be happy about that.”

“Eh, well, not like there’s much to do out here in Flat Plains, right?” He shrugged.

The bartender picked up a mug and started polishing. “Yeah, smallest little town in the Badlands.” She laughed. “I went to Ponyville last year on business – for a ‘small town’, the place felt huge, like I was in Manehattan.”

“You’ve been to Manehattan before, Star?”

She looked wistful. “Yeah, once.”

He was about to ask her another question, when a scroll popped up in front of him. He opened it and sighed. “Well, duty calls – I gotta get back to the cactus farm. Don’t worry about the drink, but you can keep the change. I’ll catch you later!”

“Yeah, later, Arroyo,” she said, waving as he rushed out. She then took his mug and threw it into the sink; there was always a patron at the Flat Plains Saloon, which served the finest drinks in the Badlands. She smiled. This was her life, and her all, and even though she missed her husband greatly, at least he left her enough to keep this old place going so that they could have a comfortable life.

She laughed to herself; decades ago, this wouldn’t have been a comfortable life to her. No, to Rising Star, a Canterlot girl that desperately wanted to live the high life and be a noblemare, she threw herself at just about every stallion – and quite a few mares – to see if she would end up with a ring on her horn. That stupidity had cost her when she slept with the wrong stallion, especially when his wife found out about it. It had ruined her life, and that of another, and after all was said and done she’d ended up in Flat Plains, wondering how she’d destroyed her life. After all, she wasn’t meant to be here in the middle of this Lunaforsaken excuse for a town – no pony in their right mind would!

It had turned out to be a Celestiasend. Desperate for bits and not willing to become a mare of the night, she applied for the only job available. Said job was working for Stemmed Glass, the owner of the Flat Plains Saloon and a pony well older than she was. At first, he was gruff and rude to her – how dare he, the old bucker! But as time went on, she began to realize it was her that needed the attitude adjustment. And over time, she did.

And in time, somehow, they fell in love and she married him.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to last. A stray timberwolf being where it wasn’t supposed to be left her widowed and with foal. And although she had enough to run the bar comfortably, it didn’t mean a thing without her loving Stem.

Still, she had something to look forward to every day, and right now, said thing to look forward was rushing into the saloon.

“Momma! Momma!” A young earth filly with a cream-yellow coat and purple-and-silver hair rushed towards her, her glasses barely staying on her head. “Didja hear the news?”

“No, Dreampop,” Star told her daughter. “What’s the news?”

“Princess Celestia! She’s fine! She’s okay now!”


Miss Readwell, the town schoolmarm, was also the publisher of the Flat Plains Perodical, the weekly newspaper. She got flamefax stories from the big city papers like Equestria Daily, so it stood to reason that she would know.

“Uh-huh!” Dreampop said, adjusting her glasses. “Even more, they’re saying that the Princess’ daughter – Baroness Sunset Shimmer – is an acilorn now! She’s so pretty!”

Rising Star’s eyes widened, too shocked to appreciate the adorable mispronunciation of the word. “What?”

“Uh-huh! Miss Readwell let me keep the paper!” Dreampop chirped as she pulled it from her saddlepack. “Wanna see?”

Star levitated it up. The picture, of course, was a drawn representation instead of a photo, but it was a color one, and seeing it, the mare’s heart practically leapt out of her body. There, standing regal and noble, was Sunset Shimmer.

The daughter Rising Star had abandoned decades ago, too selfish to try to raise her herself.

Over the years she’d followed Sunset’s escapades as part of her personal penance for abandoning her foal. And it hurt her to see her daughter become the adopted daughter of Princess Celestia herself. And it hurt even more when the news came that Sunset had turned against her mother, rebelled and had vanished.

But now the papers said it was all a cover story. That Sunset had been on a special mission for Princess Celestia, to a strange land. That she had become an Archmagus, succeeding Princess Twilight in the position. And now…she was an alicorn. A beyond-impressive accolade for a foal that Star had left, without even so much as a name, on a doorstep so long ago.

My sweet filly…though you’ll never know it, Star thought as she looked at Dreampop’s cyan eyes with her own, I am so proud of you.

A tear rolled down Star’s cheek.

“Momma? Are you okay?” Dreampop asked, worried.

“Better than ever, my sweet,” Star said, vowing someday to tell Dreampop about her famous sister. “Better than ever.”

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