• Published 5th May 2018
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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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TEN MONTHS AGO: Life in a Northern Town


“…and you’ll also be expected to help around the house and some other chores,” a woman told her, brushing locks of purple and gainsboro away from her lively ice-blue eyes. “Otherwise, we’re not going to impose anything on you that we wouldn’t on our own daughter, or our nieces, since they live here as well.”

“How…many girls live here?”

“Well, technically one of them doesn’t; she just stays over often since her parents travel a lot. My daughter, as well as my three other nieces, who are triplets, do, however. So that’s five girls your age.”

Standing there, Sunset didn’t know whether to praise or curse her luck. Wherever turned out to be the home of the cop’s parents, in the affluent suburb of San Palomino – 482 Golden Oaks Drive, to be exact. To make matters both better and worse, it turned out that Armor’s mother was the assistant director for Equestria County’s Department of Social Services. While Twilight Velvet, as the woman was named, had a Ph.D. in Child Psychology, more importantly she had the expertise that could only be gained by raising three children of her own. Furthermore, Armor’s father was Night Light – both a noted physics professor over at Canterlot State University, as well as an author and television host. Still, somehow the two were very involved in their children’s lives.

Standing next to her, Night grinned as Sunset squirmed slightly. “You can relax now. You’ll be fine here, I promise. Of course, as my wife mentioned there will be some adjustments: for example, you’ll have to adjust with sleeping in a boy’s room for a while…provided that my son did clean up his room.”

Armor rolled his eyes. “Dad….” he groaned. “You know, there is a reason that Cady and I moved in together….”

Night just chuckled. “And here I thought it was because you wanted to keep your brother from getting into your comic book collection.” As the son rolled his eyes once more, Night addressed Sunset again. “Don’t mind Shining, miss. He’s a good kid and he’s marrying a wonderful gal. And I trust my son’s judgment, so if he says he thinks you’re okay, then you should be.”

A thought suddenly came to Velvet’s mind. “Oh, also, where are you attending school? Canterlot, County, or one of the ones outside the city?” the older woman asked.

“Canterlot, ma’am,” Sunset replied. As her eyes darted around, looking at the police officer, the older gentleman and the woman, there was something about them that the former pony couldn’t put her finger on, something that seemed unnaturally familiar about them that she couldn’t yet define.

A light blinked on in Velvet’s mind. “Oh! Tia! That will make things easier, then!” Seeing a confused expression come onto the teen’s face, Velvet explained, “Your principal is an old friend of mine. I guess I should call her and let her know about your change of status.”

Sunset’s eyes suddenly widened in panic – if things were problematic before, things just went nuclear, as far as she was concerned.

Forty minutes of shopping later, Sunset and Shining returned to his parents’ home. Seated at the kitchen table was Celestia; it was clear that she’d been waiting for their return. “Shining, if you don’t mind, I’d like to have a word alone with my student.”

“Fine by me,” he told her. “Cady’s probably going to kill me for being home so late anyway,” he said with a grin. “Where are my parents?”

“Both of them went off to pick up your brother from a birthday party he was at, I believe?” she told him.

“Okay, I’ll just call them later, then. Take care, Celestia. And you too, Sunset.” With that, he departed, leaving the two alone in the kitchen.

It didn’t take long for Celestia to begin. “I’m guessing you’re wondering what I told them?” the educator asked, and Sunset nodded. Giving her student a softer glance, she answered, “Don’t worry, I didn’t mention that. I owe a debt of gratitude to that alien princess for fixing everything, and I am a woman of my word, so I’m going to keep my promises to her. Plus, even if I could explain it all, I doubt Velvet would believe me or Luna anyway. I’m sure most people just think that the incident was the result of poor construction when the school was built.”

“Thank you,” Sunset said in a soft voice.

“Oh, I’m not done yet,” Celestia said, and the smile disappeared. “I just had to lie to my best friend, someone I’ve known nearly all my life, just to cover for you. Velvet and I have been friends since childhood, so she’s like family. Furthermore, Shining is marrying my niece, and so that will make them quite literally my family. So as you can see, this is very personal for me.” Celestia took a drink from her coffee, and then continued.

“So I want to make this crystal clear, Sunset Shimmer. This chance you’ve been given? It’s your last. I won’t tolerate any more lies, deceit or whatever you have on your plate. As of now, Velvet will be giving me weekly reports on how your life is here, and likewise, I’ll be doing the same for your schoolwork – so that means no more getting Snips or Snails to do your homework for you.”

Sunset shifted in her seat. “They don’t speak to me anymore since…you know,” she said, starting to wish she was somewhere else at the moment. She wasn’t sure if they even remembered what she’d done to them or even what they’d done to their fellow students, but the two did recall enough to know they wanted to stay the hell away from her.

“Good. Also, I’ll be informing the vice principal of this as well. I know it’s rumored in the school, so let me spell it out for you: yes, Vice Principal Luna is my younger sister. But what that means is that in this arrangement, she’ll have just as much involvement, including getting a hold of Velvet should she need to, understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Lastly, I feel that your friends should be made aware of the change in your residence.”

At that, Sunset panicked. “No! Don’t! Please!”

Though she kept it off her face, Celestia was shocked – she now saw the fear Sunset had on her face, completely directed at her. Shit. Velvet, you were right. The thought shamed Celestia slightly and she forced her anger and mistrust of the alien teen to subside. “I didn’t say I would be the one to tell them; I think it should be you.”

“I…I can’t,” Sunset told her.

“Sunset, one of the things you need to learn about humanity is that we rely on each other. I don’t know how things were for you on your homeworld, but if that princess’ actions were typical of your kind I suspect that your species and ours aren’t really that different. Maybe someday there will be an official meeting of the worlds and we’ll find out, but until that time, you’re just a human girl and you need to rely on…well, human nature. And part of that is your circle of friends.

“So I’m going to give you until Monday to tell them – but if you don’t, I will. I’m aware that you work part-time afterschool for the Cakes, and as the guardians of their niece they deserve to know about you and your situation, but that much Pinkie can tell them. Regardless, they are your friends, and they’re likely concerned about you, as that’s what friendship is about, after all.”

Celestia sat there for a few more seconds and before taking another drink of coffee before and finishing up with, “One last thing, Sunset: they have a saying here in this household: the difference between the words cousin and sister is nonexistent in this family. I sincerely suggest you not fight with any of the girls here, because they are very protective of one another, and they will end any fight you start – and it will not go well for you.” She drained the remaining coffee, then looked at the teen once more. “Now, do you have any questions for me?”

“No, but I do have something to say, ma’am: it sounds like you really don’t have much faith in me.”

“Given your track record, can you blame me? Fortunately for you, I have a promise to keep and faith in my students…including you.”

It was the third knock on the door the following morning that stirred Sunset awake. Her head screaming, she sat up, bedhead on her hair and a very loose Sapphire Shores tanktop that was slipping off her shoulder. She was barely able to open her eyes, and she felt completely exhausted. Even though the bed she was currently on was utter heaven compared to the dingy bunk she’d been sleeping on the past few years, the nightmare of the previous night had ruined any real chance of sleep for the first night she’d likely been completely safe since her exile began.

There was another knock on the door, and before she could really gather her wits about her, Sunset mumbled something that sounded vaguely in the ballpark of “Come in.” As her vision came to, she saw a figure before her. She blinked, then rubbed her eyes, making sure she wasn’t hallucinating. But standing before her, wearing a black-and-gray hoodie with Japanese on the front and a poodle skirt – poodle skirt? – was a person she never thought she’d see in her lifetime:

Twilight Sparkle.

There she stood, the same soft smile on her face and the same twinkling purple eyes. “Um…good morning,” she said softly. “Are you okay?”

A sudden flood of emotions overcame Sunset and she was too overwhelmed to speak as she sat up to look at her fellow pony. A dozen sensations roiled through her: joy at seeing her first real friend once more. Sadness in being reminded how that friendship had come about. And confusion as to why the alicorn princess had returned to Earth.

“Twilight?” she asked, barely able to get a hold of herself. “What are you doing here?”

“I…um….” Twilight mumbled, looking down at the floor in an action more akin to Fluttershy than anything else. Finally, with her head still down, she said, “Uh, your shirt….”

Sunset immediately realized that as she sat up, the other strap of her tanktop had slid off that shoulder and the whole thing, already oversized, had slid down her body, and was hanging down past her torso…with nothing now covering her. Sunset quickly covered herself with the nearest pillow, turning bright red in the process.

A rousing amount of laughter sounded from behind the door and another girl came into the room, patting Twilight on the shoulder. Wearing a CARE BEARS STARE THERE! t-shirt and jeans, she had long black hair and eyes the same color as Twilight’s. “Twily, once again, you prove you have such a way with words,” the other girl said, grinning.

“But I….” Twilight stammered.

“Don’t mind her; she’s socially awkward,” the newcomer said.

Recovering somewhat, Twilight blushed and said, “Um, let’s try this again. Hi, I’m Twilight Sparkle, and this joker here is one of my cousins as well as my dubious best friend, Octavia Melody.”

“Why Twilight, I am offended you would say that!”

Twilight shrugged. “It’s a contest between you and Dagi. At least she doesn’t laugh at me.”

“Not that you notice, blockhead,” Octavia drawled. “Anyway, you can just call me Tavi and she goes by Twily. And you’re Sunset? Sunny? Setty?”

“Sunset,” the ex-pony replied as she wriggled under the sheets to adjust her tanktop. And as she did, she now realized why things seemed so familiar: this was the human Twilight Sparkle, and the alicorn princess that Sunset knew was likely still in Equestria, since the dimensional gates were still closed. Likewise, that pony’s pet dog, Spike, had a counterpart in the eight-year-old boy living in the house, though how that happened was beyond Sunset’s ability to grasp.

“Well, Mom figured that you were going to sleep in since you likely didn’t sleep well – unfamiliar location and all,” Twilight rambled, unaware of Sunset’s thoughts, “so she’s making brunch now. I set up the bathroom down the hall for you if you want to take a shower or bath; chances are, the triplets aren’t going to use it right now since they’re probably doing their morning workout. Afterwards, we can eat and talk. I’m guessing you want to know a little about me and Tavi and we’d like to get to know you as well.”

A third girl, one of Chinese ethnicity with curly golden hair poofier than Pinkie’s poked her head in the door. “Hey, I heard we got company?”

“Yeah, didn’t you get Mom’s text?”

“I had a tournament last night, remember?” the new girl told her. “I was exhausted by the time we got home. Ari and Soni are still asleep.”

“Didn’t know it was that late,” Twilight said. “Anyway, this is my other cousin, Adagio Dazzle. Her sisters are still asleep. Dagi, this is Sunset Shimmer. She’s going to be staying with us for a while.”

Adagio offered her hand. “That’s cool. Nice to meet you.” She looked at the clock on the wall. “Wait – does that say 9:30? Shit – Soni’s going to miss her show. You know how she gets when she misses an episode.”

“Yeah, well, let’s go wake her and let Sunset get ready for the day,” Octavia advised.

“Good idea. We’ll see you downstairs, Sunset,” Twilight commented as the girls departed the room.

“Um…okay,” Sunset answered as she struggled for words, lost for them once more. Maybe if this was Princess Twilight Sparkle, perhaps she could have handled the whole thing better, but the awkward girl standing in front of her was definitely not that pony, and so Sunset was just going to have to start off from scratch. Maybe that was a good thing; there were probably large differences between the two Twilights, just as there had been between the two Celestias and most definitely the two Spikes – it would be unfair to hang what Sunset knew of the alicorn princess on this girl standing before her.

Besides, if we’re going to be living together, I should get to know her and not just assume she’s like the Twilight I knew, Sunset thought to herself as she climbed out of bed to get ready for the day.

Velvet had worried about Sunset’s freakout earlier in the night at Buca, given that she was overwhelmed, but thankfully the girls had taken care of that for her. They were now doing their best to try to make her feel comfortable since she would be living here for a while, but unfortunately for them, tomorrow was a school day.

Velvet knocked on Sunset’s door and poked her head in. “Girls, I know you’re all having fun, but you should really call it a night, okay?” When the group groaned, she added, “I’ve got to get up early, get us all fed, then drop off both Spike and Sunset before heading to work. Twily, your father will be taking you five to school tomorrow. So with that being said, cut us old folks some slack, okay?”

“Fine, we get the message, Mom,” Twilight answered.

“We were just wrapping up anyway, Aunt Velvet,” Octavia answered.

Aria stretched. “Yeah, besides, I need to get up early anyway, if I’m going to take a shower before everyone hogs all the hot water.” When her answer earned her scowls from the other teens, she asked coquettishly, “What did I say?”

Sunset chose to ignore that and instead addressed Velvet. “Besides, I’m guessing that Principal Celestia will want to see me before class starts,” she hazarded.

“Most likely,” Velvet agreed. “Goodnight, girls; see you in the morning.” With that, Velvet closed the door, leaving the group in peace.

About an hour later, Velvet noticed that the lights were still on. Girls, it’s two in the morning, she mentally grumbled. You’d better have a good reason for staying up so late! Opening the door, she was prepared to scold the hexad…but stopped.

Though the lights were on, five girls were asleep on the bed. Though they all had their own separate bedrooms, it was more than common for Twilight and Octavia to sleep together, given that they’d been doing it since they were children. But when Velvet found out the triplets did it as well, it was an interesting coincidence. Moreso when all five started doing so.

And now there was a sixth: in the center, seeming as though she’d always belonged, was Sunset. There was a hint of a smile on the girl’s face, as though she subconsciously knew that for the first time in a long while, she didn’t have to fear being alone. Velvet had no doubt whatsoever that tonight would probably be the best night of sleep that the troubled youth would have had in a long, long time.

A motherly smile crept onto the matron’s face. Quietly entering the room, she bent down and kissed her daughter on the forehead, then her nieces. And after a slight second, she did the same to Sunset. Taking care to be quiet, she slipped the comforter over the group, gazing at them one last time before she turned off the light switch.

“Good night, my sweet girls,” she whispered warmly before closing the door.

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