• Member Since 18th Dec, 2014
  • offline last seen Yesterday

EbonQuill


A luminist in the employ of Her Royal Highness Princess Celestia.


T
Source

New student Lemon Hearts has come to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns to begin again. Thanks to a kind stallion named Green Fields, and the careful tutelage of Sunset Shimmer, Lemon Hearts is going to do what no first-year student has done before.

She’s going to be a Princess.
---
Historian’s Note:
Set in Novel Idea’s Wavelengths timeline, wherein the Sonic Rainboom didn’t happen, the events of Little Truths occur eighteen months before The Alchemy of Chemistry, during Sunset Shimmer’s third year.
---
Cast: Lemon Hearts, Sunset Shimmer, Green Fields
Guest Stars: Raspberry Tart, Dean Silver Slate, Minuette, and Twinkleshine
---
Third-Place Finisher for FanOfMostEverything’s Imposing Sovereigns contest!
Featured on EQD on April 11th, 2017!

Cover art by Novel Idea
Sunset Shimmer art by Karzahnii
---
Beta Reader Credits
Novel Idea, who inspired both entry and submission
Beltorn, who waited patiently
Little Tinker, who could give ninja lessons

Chapters (7)
Comments ( 46 )

Ah yes, a story so good people already know that it's going to be good before even reading it, ever.
And the people that are smart (or haters) therefore click the dislike button.
But the people who actually like you and follow you hit the Like button.
Oh conformity, we can never escape you.
*hits the 'Like' Button*
#Conformity Is Evil.
(The above is a joke, do not take too seriously, please)
That being said, I look forward to reading this... eventually.

8038982
Of all the comments I've ever received, this is surely one of them.

Real talk for a moment, I really can't figure out what you're trying to say with this.

8038995
Basically I'm saying that I have heard your name so often in association with other people (e.g. Novel-Idea) that I will automatically assume that it's good (like with any story) until proven otherwise.

Do you think you'll win the contest?

8039035
Hope springs eternal!

I'll admit, while I did indeed give the green light for this story... it still scares the hell out of me.

If you wanted to know why things went down the way they did in The Alchemy of Chemistry and Bards of the Badlands, this is it. Ever feel that Lemon Hearts seemed to be overreacting? Why Slate simply hated Sunset? What was the deal with Raspberry Tart? This is it.

I could have never written this story. The sheer amount of guile and manipulation Sunset shows in this... well, when I first read it, I think I used the term "psychological terror." I still don't think that's too far off the mark. Ebon is a master at spinning complex tales like this. In fact, he's the reason the plot of Alchemy ended up working as well as it did. He helped me put it all together. He actually had this idea several months ago, but I shot it down. But when FoME's Imposing Sovereign contest came up... it called to him. And, I finally relented (though in truth, he could have written it anyway). I had two conditions: I get first crack at it and I get to declare if it's canon or not to Wavelengths.

You know what's interesting? When you can recognize just how freaking good a story is even while being horrified of the events that occur within. That's what happened with this. This is simply masterful... and I was completely swept in despite the fact that I knew everything that was going to occur. Hell, I even know what happens sixteen years from this story. After all, Sunset does have a flashback to the end of this story in Bards. But I still couldn't stop reading until I finished.

Now you've gotten to see the rest of it. Kinda gives everything that Sunset's gone through a whole different texture, doesn't it? Even now, this story gives me the chills. This is what Sunset Shimmer is capable of. And what the Sunset Shimmer in Wavelengths is trying so very desperately to get away from. If she succeeds in that or not... well, you'll have to wait and see.

I hope you enjoyed it. Because it's a damn good story... even if I had to read Alchemy directly afterward to remind myself of who my Sunset was. In the end, we all have our demons we have to face. You just got a glimpse on just how powerful Sunset's demons really are.

That feeling when you see the Newly Posted queue on the front page with a sub-3 hour complete turnover rate and not a single story that's breached ten votes and just know something good is getting buried.

...I do feel Sunset was being a little tropey at the end, though. What I think would have made this story even better is if it was clearly demonstrated (to the audience, not Lemon) that at least one of these things she actually wasn't responsible for and was merely trying to take credit for as much as possible. Put the possibility in, but then let readers wonder exactly how much she really did. After all, villains who are evil because they can have no qualms with taking credit for others' crimes (and especially bad luck), just to bother the good guys.

8039644
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

If you're interested, I'm planning a 'Director's Cut,' if you will, that expands on the surrounding events greatly.

Lemon is unlucky enough to be the central pawn in a chess game between Sunset and Dean Slate. Everything she says she did, she did. I can explain how. I can show each move, counter-move, and each gambit in its entirety.

I just thought that might get a little dark.

8039649 I'll keep an eye out for it. Darkness is no problem at all!

Ouch, that was painful. Not because it was a bad story, quite the opposite, but because you know these characters are about to be run over and have no idea. (Something like that, I'm not that good at analogies.) This reminds me of a line from the first EQ movie, something Applejack said about Sunset- she'll play nice, then stab you in the back. Yeah, this is a perfect example of that. Honestly its kind of painful to read about Sunset in this phase of her life, especially from somepony else's point of view. Who would ever expect somepony like that to change, especially without a friendship rainbow laser involved.

Curious to see the Director's Cut. This is Sunset at her most ambitious (and amoral), I wonder if we'll see her thought process. How someone like that could grow up under Princess Celestia's tutelage and turn out like that... then again Twilight missed many of those lessons too (and sometimes students just don't listen). And the chapter titles are quite deliberate too of course, though I wonder about Empathy.

8039917
Thanks for the kind words!

Who would ever expect somepony like that to change, especially without a friendship rainbow laser involved.

Believe it or not, this is in large part why this fic exists. During the planning/editing phase of Novel's Alchemy, we talked over and over about the emotional beating Sunset gets. I felt at the time that it didn't feel quite earned. Sunny gets this huge karmic bludgeoning, and we never get to see why she deserves it.

So I took the threads from Alchemy, and had an idea.

8039470

I get to declare if it's canon or not to Wavelengths.

Just double checking then, but this is fully canon, right? Neither your comment nor the story description make that 100% clear.

8039470
This was indeed a gripping tale. I could see the hammer poised over Lemon the whole time, and every chapter made me dread the drop more and more.

I iust have one question for you, Novel: Would Sunset have delivered that villain monologue at the end? I find it hard to believe she'd admit her involvement to anyone, even when they were at their lowest.

Aside from that, this really shows just why Lemon took so long to forgive Sunset. And honestly? I can't blame her. Thank you for this, Ebon, and best of luck in the judging.

8040407
Thank you for the prompt!

I find it hard to believe she'd admit her involvement to anyone, even when they were at their lowest.

If I can sidle in here, I can explain a bit. If you note the reaction of other students around her, she's not been hiding her methods regarding anything else. And, if we look at Moon Dancer's explanation for writing to Princess Celestia in Alchemy, theres a whole lot of students who've been on the receiving end of this kind of thing. Finally, taking EQG into account, she appears to stop hiding her involvement the moment she gets what she wants, since each of the huMane 5 know exactly what she's doing and how she works.

Sunset's a creature of ego, especially when her Angry Little Pony's less of a passenger and more in control.

At least, that's my take on it.

8040275 Fine. You caught me. I was still waffling. Yes. It happened. Little Truths is canon to Wavelengths on the condition that I never have to write this version of Sunset! :twilightoops:

...and Sunset will be paying the penance for her acts for a very long time. We've already seen Sunset trying to fix the wrongs she's done. Now I'll likely not go through everything. But the Sunset you come to know in Wavelengths is still fighting against this old Sunset... and that includes doing her best to repair the damage, as we've seen in Bards.

8040407

I just have one question for you, Novel: Would Sunset have delivered that villain monologue at the end? I find it hard to believe she'd admit her involvement to anyone, even when they were at their lowest.

I'd say yes. First of all, they're in private. If Lemon went forward with this information, it would be Lemon against her (and we all know who would win that battle).

Second, this Sunset is arrogant as hell. She truly believes she cannot be touched. Her ego and pride allow her to enjoy the fact she utterly crushed her enemy. She wants to make sure her enemy knows it.

Third, in a twisted way, I think Sunset is trying to help Lemon Hearts. Now before you yell foul, hear me out. Now that's she destroyed Lemon, Sunset wants to teach Lemon how the world really works--at least as far as this Sunset is concerned. This is simply what's done (why she believes that is something I will be exploring). In a way, this is her trying to teach her about reality. Her final lesson, if you would.

Finally, if Lemon Hearts actually does read the book and "learn" what Sunset wanted her to "learn," then Sunset's actions are validated. And we know people like Sunset usually have crippling insecurity and fear (though I'm not saying that she has that... it just fits the typical mentality)... so to have her foe end up walking her own path would be validating indeed. While this could put Lemon Hearts on the road to being a threat, Sunset's sure enough of herself to make sure that never happens again.

Please note that this is written while I'm half-asleep, so I'm hoping this is as logical as I think it is.

8040477 8041204
Makes sense to me, especially the aspect of twisted tutelage. Plus, we have seen that Sunset had a tendency to gloat even in the canon timeline...

Yeah, objection withdrawn.

Seabreeze

derpicdn.net/img/view/2014/3/1/564167.jpg

I didn't know breezies attended CSGU.

8048395

Seabreeze

A lovely seafoam green unicorn whose special talent is in tidal manipulation. She's gonna work with pegasi to maintain the Equestrian coastline.

And not at all because I forgot breezies were a thing. :derpytongue2:

Oh.

Well.

Ouch.

~Skeeter The Lurker

Let's see, how do I want to put this...this is Sunset Shimmer at arguably her most anglerfish-y. In a dark world she casts a bright light that attracts others, putting on her bright and friendly persona who is all too happy to mentor a first year and help out and all other sorts of great things!

But it's all just a distraction from the big ol' mouth getting ready to eat you whole.

Very good work on this. For a moment I almost forgot that Sunset was inevitably going to stab poor Lemon Hearts in the back.

8053186
Thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

8048685
Yeah. The epigraph for "Magic" was supposed to be the warning.

Hope you enjoyed it!

8055953

I did. You've earned an applause and a giant middle finger from me.

~Skeeter The Lurker

8039470
Congratulations. You just made me both want to read this story and want to stay the buck away from it even more than I already did. Surely the coming weeks will be filled with hemming and hawing on whether or not I should take the plunge.

8066830
Hey, you can always read Alchemy after, it does wonders.

8066892
Im sensitive, alright? Alchemy already put my feelings through the wringer. You're basically saying "don't worry about hopping in the industrial washer, this here wringer will dry you right off afterwards." :derpytongue2:

(I know I can't stay away from this story forever. I will read it when I least expect it, I will love it, and I will lie awake for nights thinking about it and cursing us both for me having read it.)

So... how precisely did this lose to anyone, much less the actual winners?

As far as I'm concerned, this is the single best story to come out of the Imposing Sovereigns contest. And I say that as someone so new to Novel-Idea's universe that I thought it was one where Sunset Shimmer was nice.

8069052
Thanks for the kind words! The competition was really fierce!

There was a lot of really good stories submitted, and I freely admit mine has a couple pacing problems. Not being privy to the inner debates of the judges, I can only guess that this, coupled with the fact that it is a little reliant on someone else's world, may have cost it.

Still, I'm glad you liked seeing what she used to be, and I hope you read the rest of Wavelengths to see where she goes from here!

8069493 Please. The competition was laughable. Yours is the only one of the three winners that's entirely typo-free, the only one with a twist that both seems natural and seems surprising, and the only one that separates its 10k+ story into chapters for improved pacing. Being a bit overzealous with the time-skips is a very minor flaw, compared to the flaws of everything you supposedly lost to.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

It's killing me, because they've become such good friends, and Sunset is going to turn out to be evil or a changeling or something and Lemon is going to be completely heartbroken. ;_;

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

8082380
OR WORSE IT WILL BE GREEN FIELDS D:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

little sister

It would have been far more easier to accept Green Fields as the bad guy than this. D: You absolute monster.

I will admit a certain level of "that's it?" at the ending. It feels like there should be one more chapter here, to tell us what happened to Lemon afterward instead of just leaving her out to dry. I mean, she deserves better, but this also doesn't feel finished. :B

8082430

I mean, she deserves better, but this also doesn't feel finished.

This is meant to lead straight into Novel Idea’s excellent Alchemy of Chemistry, and Bards of the Badlands. This is just to set the stage, as it were.

... Also, the contest's deadline and word count limits...

However, I am planning a "director's cut," if you will, so there will be more expansion of events.

Thanks for giving it a chance!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

8082621
Looking forward to it!

...Does...karma ever hit later on in the wavelengths story? Cause...this is...

Yeah. This is VICIOUS.

8102319
It sure does. The very next story, in fact. Check out The Alchemy of Chemistry for that!

Bloody hell that ending was vicious.

Now I have got to read the other stories to see how this ends...

I started reading this a while ago and then dropped it. I was thinking too hard about the comments and couldn't enjoy the story. I'm still probably thinking too hard about the comments, but I'm enjoying the story. I read the first three and am just posting them here. Because. Will probably read and comment on the remainder tomorrow if I'm not swamped with plans.

So.

Chapter 1:

mahogany

 

 
That's it. Just mahogany.

Frabjous Day

That is a name I sincerely hope is used extensively in the future Wavelengths novels.
 

Umbra

I'm glad I'm not the only one who would want their kid to grow up to be a supervillain. I mean, really, so close to Sombra, and it means "Darkness" and/or "Silence". If that's not...wait... Is this pony blind? Or deaf? Or mute? That would be...kinda sad, but rather cool.
 
There were some good names in there. Also several parents that hated their children. Mallomar? Really?
 

Minuette scoffed. “No big! It was just a proper application of comedy!”

Don’t even joke about having a character based on the Rule of Funny. I still harbor an intense dislike for Pinkie Pie for this reason.
 

His severe suit looked like he’d been dipped in oil.

Maybe it is just because I have been playing a lot of Divinity Original Sin, but the image of him engulfed in flame appeared in my mind as soon as the normal image materialized.
 

Behind him, the curtains parted to reveal a gorgeous amber unicorn, with a crisply styled gold-and scarlet mane. She was dressed in a fuchsia gown, and wore a tiara made of gilded leaves and branches. Her muzzle split into a wide, welcoming smile. “Good morning, everypony! Gosh, it’s exciting to be up here, and I thank you for the opportunity to talk about what a great Autumn Liege should be.”

YAY, SUNSET! WOOOHOOOO! Hoofstomps YEAH! GO SUNSET! I know you’re evil and everything, but I really like seeing you with your self-esteem in one piece and not broken, shattered, pureed, mixed with ketchup mayonnaise and a bean burrito, eaten by a ursa major, and shat into an erupting volcano.
 

For those who don't know me, I've won the crown every year for the last two years.

Really, Sunny? Okay, whatever. “Every year for two years”? The non-egomaniacal way of saying that is “two years running”, but I’m still riding the high of watching you still have your mojo to care that you can’t quite suppress the “I’m the best and I damn well know it” feelings.
 

The qualifications have been relaxed some, so even you first-years can participate. All you have to do is maintain a four-point-oh GPA, volunteer for at least one extracurricular event a week, and be ready to demonstrate your special talent at the Ball. At that point, your peers will elect the Autumn Liege.

That sounded like a list of possible victory conditions. Or rather, defeat conditions for everyone else. Go get ‘em Sunny! :pinkiecrazy:
 

Until they all started screaming.

Okay, Sunny. I understand that AoE is the most effective way to deal with opposition when they are clustered like this, but you really need to work on your subtlety.
 
Chapter 2:
 

“Enemies you threaten gather allies.
Enemies you destroy gather dust.”

I like this Poison Pen pony.
 

Of course she'd heard of Sunset Shimmer. Brilliant, talented, beautiful, personal apprentice of the Princess

You’re goddamn right she is.
 

Sunset’s eyes glittered dangerously. “We're going to catch these jerks.”

Everything this Sunset does looks dangerous in my head.
 

Six weeks suspension, and a black mark on their records. This meant that they couldn't publish their midterm papers in the school's esteemed academic journal, and dashed Ashen Aster’s hopes to become the first Autumn Prince in a decade.

Brutal. Well done, Sunny.
 
Chapter 3:
 

“No enemy is beneath your notice.”

Exactly. If you slaughter a village, make sure you get everyone in the village, along with their immediate relatives, especially the young ones. If there is another country’s ruler or something, you can fight and outsmart them, that fight is in your hands, but if you leave an underdog alive, Fate starts getting involved and mucking all the odds up.
 
Alternatively, you could not slaughter villages, but then you’d have to find another source of corpses for your necromantic experimentation, and let me tell you, nopony wants that in their backyard.
 
Okay, I’m done. Time to continue with the story.
 

Ogres and Oubliettes game

Oh ho ho ho? My interest is piqued.
 

It felt like she'd wedged her head into too narrow a space.

Aga--

Again.

Oh. darn. It was on the next line so I didn’t see it for a second.
 

Downright astounding however, was how high Lemon Hearts was in the rankings, trailing Sunset only by a few percentage points. Her volunteer work made her popular, and her lab work, while not stellar, was certainly head-and-shoulders over the rest.

Careful, Lemon, Sunny earned that position with blood, sweat, and tears, and unless you want the next few ounces of those fluids to be yours, you’d best check yourself.
 

“Oh, I'd be honored, Lemon Hearts!” Sunset gushed, refilling Lemon’s teacup.

Oh god, Lemon. Beg for mercy, please.
 

“Miss Shimmer, I’d like for it to be you.”

Sunset froze, and gazed up from her notebook. She lifted her teacup, and took a sip. After a moment, she looked Lemon dead in the eye, her face impassive and grave, like a statue in the Royal Gardens.

Lemon Hearts kept her breathing steady, and didn’t look away.

“Are you sure? I’m the frontrunner for Autumn Liege. Aren’t you worried about conflicts of interest?”

Lemon swallowed. “Honestly? No. I trust the Princess’s judgement. She’d never have taken you on as her apprentice if she didn’t think you were worth it. I can’t believe that somepony who’d serve the Princess would be so dishonest.”

You’ve got some MASSIVE balls, Lemon. I approve, but you’re still going to die a painful, if metaphorical, death.
 
This might make framing her for something harder? Maybe? Might make Sunset herself appear closer to the plot than she normally seems? Then again, being the closest one to her is going to make research for the eventual play a cinch.
 

“No touching.”

media.tenor.com/images/e05845c53ba72e03936007be856fed5a/tenor.gif


...
Mahogany

Ladrian #42 · June 17th · · 1 · Magic ·

Chapter 4:

sugarfloss

That...doesn't seem like it would make very effective floss...

More reading. More theory. When, in the sweet name of the Sun, do I get to the ‘Applications’ part?

I laughed.
Just a bit longer, Lemon. Lemmy? Lems? Hearts? Hearts.
Just a bit longer, Hearts, and a few more (text)books about alchemy and chemistry.

“Miss Tart!” Professor Inkwell said sharply, shattering the tableau. The malicious grin Raspberry Tart wore disappeared, replaced by wide-eyed terror. “You will not speak to other students in that way! The Dean shall hear of this! Threatening another student, I never!”

Woah, nice timing on this setup, Sunny. Or at least good for you for staying in character. "Malicious grin", tho? Maybe a righteous anger sort of expression, but a grin? Ras, are you really a good guy here?

Gosh, I’m so sorry,”

Gosh this and Gosh that. You guys and your PG curses. Use some real sentence enhancers every once in a while.

“Well, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry,” Lemon said. “I’ll bow out of the race tomorrow. I don’t deserve it. I was just a pawn in somepony’s sick revenge scheme.”

Oh. Yeah. Nice, I can see that. Good play. And you didn't even have to metaphorically kill her. Just Ras.

They still glistened with tears, but her smile’s warmth finally glowed behind her eyes. “If you don’t mind a little friendly competition, I’ll try to keep up. What do you say?”

Wha...But Sunny! You had won! You put up some resistance to Hearts' idea of bowing out, and she wanted to anyway! Stop being so convincing!
Unless this is just you wanting her to remain a target for your cruelty. In which case I'd be very disappointed in you.

Chapter 5: Honesty

Over the last few weeks since Raspberry Tart’s suspension, Lemon Hearts and Sunset Shimmer had been almost neck and neck. The dean’s office had to add additional decimals to the tracking boards to distinguish them, which amused her friends to no end.

I am still really confused about how the Autumn Liege is selected. I don't understand how a points based system could possibly add decimal points to a competition to decide it, and any form of popularity contest doesn't make sense for this either.

Green Fields

Oh look, a strong pony for Sunny to break over her knee to prove how awesome she is--I mean a strong force for justice in this crazy Unicorn-spell-Unicorn world. For Sunset to completely destroy.

Lemon had never had much trouble with them. The secret was to make yourself look strong, and, thanks to her tutelage by Sunset, she had that in spades.

Yeeeeees, teach her, Sunny. Teach her the ways of the Sunny side.

“Change of plans! You would not believe how much stuff they keep in those storage closets!”

Aaaaand I'm nervous. Sunset and storage closets at CSGU makes me nervous.

Alteration thoughtforms

What was that? Did I hear a hint about how the magic works in this world? An incredibly vague hint? Who'm I talking to? No one?.

“What do you think about Green Fields, Lemon?”
This jarred her enough that her harmonic rhythm became a telekinetic thrust. A coral structure of a merpony toppled over as Lemon barked a curse. She turned to see a small smile on Sunset's face.

Heh, I don't know what game you are playing here, Sunny, but to be fair, poking fun at someone for a crush doesn't ever need an ulterior motive. Not that it can't have one.

“No? Body language, Lemon. Remind me to add that to our Psychology sessions.”

TEACH HER! TEACH SOMEONE! Preferably Twi THE RULE OF TWO, SUNNY! MASTER AND APPRENTICE!
Don't ask me anything about Star Wars, tho. That's basically the only thing I know from the Extended Universe and I don't even like the movie universe.

Lemon Hearts began to glow, her yellow coat now a rich orange.

Definitely thought Lemon Hearts was literally glowing at this point, and had to reread the last few paragraphs of the story several times before I remembered (I think) that Green Fields was the History tutor pony. Was thinking that Sunny was finally making her play on Hearts.

Yeah, Hearts, be awesome! It'll make your inevitable fall all the more beautiful I mean satisfying I mean, powerful. Yeah. That one.

Seriously, tho, Sunny. If you were intentionally building her up just to knock her down farther for no reason other than cruelty or some twisted sense of satisfaction, I am going to be rather vexed with you.

Chapter 6: Loyalty

“A pony divided by duty has no legs to stand on.”

Heh, duty. AHEM. It would take at least three duties, or two cuts, to prevent a pony from having more than one leg. Unless we are talking horizontal cuts, in which case, I guess it would only take one cut, cuz the top half would be seriously out of luck. Although the bottom half would have none of the important bits...

Princess Platypus?

I'm now imagining Rarity dressed as a platypus.

Lemon sniffed dismissively as she swooped her reading mat around her shoulders like a cape. “It is beneath one such as I to comment on such matters before the coronation,” she purred in a thick parody of a Trottingham accent. “Now, your future princess demands ice cream. Fetcheth it here.”

Dawwwww. Your eventual metaphorical death is going to be so harsh.

Green Fields cantered to the door. “Sunset was right, you’re really fun to be around!”
Lemon coasted on that for a while.

Shit, I'd be riding that for at least a couple days.

Lemon tossed her mane over her shoulder, and shot Tart a chilly glare.
Tart sighed. “You even look like her now. Ah—” She stood, and lashed out with her hooves at the fashioned stone walls. “— damn it. Forget it, kid. Maybe someday you’ll figure it out. I’m gone.”

Yay! Mane toss!

And with Sunset Shimmer back on her haunches, staring horrified at the vandalism, it wasn’t hard to guess whose.

Ras...Did you do that? I wouldn't think you would, but that malicious grin makes me wonder. I certainly ain't saying she doesn't deserve a lot of shit, but is this the best way to get her back? The real question is, is this a bit by Sunny to throw Ras even further into the hole? I don't know. But I hope I know by the end of the next chapter.

Chapter 7: Magic
Alright. I'm ready for the horrifying bomb drop. Lay it on me!

“Do not fear your enemies. 
Only a friend can betray you.”

What's this? Someone is going to be betrayed by a friend? It's probably Sunny. I knew Hearts was trouble the moment she almost cried on her first day of class.

The bare branches of the trees scratched at the cloudy sky, caught in a twisting autumn breeze. A timberwolf’s howl cut through the low-lying fog that curled up from its ponds, creating eerie shadows. Somewhere, a mournful dirge echoed from deep underground, like Tartarus itself yawned open nearby and all manner of dangerous creatures could be lurking nearby.

Wow.

Nightmare Night was upon Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.

Oh, that makes sense. I thought we were suddenly playing O&O for a second there.

She'd taken so well to her body language lessons for Psychology that Sunset had introduced her to the world of mentalism. Her eye for detail allowed her to see every little clue as to her target’s state of mind. Once she'd discovered how much she could learn by asking vague enough questions, she had become a mind reader. A demonstration with Green Fields where she'd identified that he had somepony at CSGU that he “really, really, really liked, and would happily share sundaes with,” had convinced her to do this for the school.

And she knew she was the lucky filly Green Fields would be sharing sundaes with, just like she knew she was going to be the first first-year Autumn Princess in CSGU’s history.

All thanks to Sunset Shimmer, the best friend anypony could ask for.

AHHHH! No! You can't suddenly become capable! Now I'll actually feel bad if you get metaphorically killed! You were just a puppy to kick before now!

Can't handle power. Cowards.

My god, Sunny, you've done it! It's beautiful. She could be an incredible ally. Also I didn't actually think that whole Sith Master/Apprentice thing was going to be quite this appropriate.

“Had to withdraw. Remember Ashen Aster’s poison joke potions from the beginning of the year? Dream Cycle gave him the idea. Inkwell discovered some notes they passed stuck in the back of that zebra alchemy text they swiped, and well, that was that.”

Wow, nice. No reason to set up another mess when you can just milk the last one a bit more.

His eyes danced across her mane, and down her muzzle as he brought her curls along her face. “Keep still. You don't want me to make a mess of your mane before your big moment, do you, sunshine?”

God, I'm so paranoid right now.

I kinda do….

Awwww Yea--Wait, no. Have to be serious.

“Oops! Sorry, took longer than I thought. But you look amazing, sunshine.”

AHHHHHH WHAT DID HE DO!?! LOOK IN A GORRAM MIRROR BEFORE YOU WALK OUT THERE! CHECK FOR MAGIC! THIS IS WHY I DETECT MAGIC LITERALLY EVERYTHING I OBTAIN IN D&D!
sigh
Not that I really think it's fair to expect you to do or even think of those things, given the circumstances, but yelling impotently into the uncaring void of the internet at stories already written and published restores a mild amount of my calm. Back to the comedy.

“It’s like hanging out with the little sister I never had. Now go knock ‘em dead!”

She felt ice creep into her chest, and felt a cold wetness on her muzzle. She couldn't move.

Oh. Well. I see.
Turns out he was deadgay the whole time!
Or
Turns out the mare he wanted to share sundaes with was actually Raspberry Tart! And this whole thing was a giant ploy to tear apart Sunny by going after the ponies she cares about. Sunny is the victim, she hooks up with Hearts and everypony (that I like) goes home happy.
Right?

The auditorium cheered for her. Somewhere, a voice shouted, “Yeah, don’t be so sour, Lemon!”

FINISH HER!

Sunset Shimmer kissed him on the cheek.

FATALITY

From behind her came the voice of Dean Slate. “Sour Lemon, everypony. Hooves together.”

Okay, what the hell is wrong with you? Obviously Hearts is having some serious trouble. Maybe you didn't know that nickname meant so much, but your job is to support your students, not kick them while they're down.

Sunset grabbed a piece of chalk, two rolling chalkboards, and a seat in one fluid burst of teal magic. They almost danced as they swirled about her.

“Now, let’s see… I believe the first incident you were here for was the poison joke, right?”

Wait, Sunny, you won. Don't tell anyone how you did it. You have to wait for the statute of limitations to run out before you publish your book about how awesome you are.

“However, I needed one more publication to be honestly considered for Best Young Mind In Canterlot. So they had to go.”

SUNNY! STOP IT! DON'T CONFESS TO THAT!

She glanced at her hooves, and puffed on one. She shined it on the ruins of Lemon’s gown. She never broke eye contact.

Excellent touch, and the Raspberry thing was fine, nothing criminal, but YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE CONFESSED TO THE FIRST THING! Dammit, Sunny, keep your gloating in check! You know you're awesome and everyone else fears you already!

Thanks to my assistance, you shot past most of the competition for the crown, which meant I didn’t have to lift a hoof. Either they couldn’t hack it, or were so embarrassed at losing to a first-year—” She said it like the phrase was made of nettles. “—that they gave up on their own.

Okay that kind of justifies keeping her in. I guess I could see it.

“So a little forgery here, a little buttering up of Inkwell there, and lo and behold, new evidence regarding the poison joke prank comes to light.”

SUNNY! You keep BACKSLIDING INTO BAD TERRITORY!

“‘Why?’” Sunset sneered. “Because I can. Because I have a destiny, and you were underhoof. That’s all.”

I'm really conflicted here, Sunset. On one hand, you're a badass in a lot of ways, but...you pulled some shit, Sunny.

Congrats, Ebon, you finally made me feel for the normal loser ponies that the big bad always tramples on their way to godhood. In all honesty, I probably wouldn't feel bad about it if she had actually attained near-godhood. Knowing that she falls right after this makes all of this pain seem pointless. Feels like a lesson, right there. All the sacrifices and pain feel like they're worth it when the goal is in sight, or when you have crested the mountain and look back. But when you fall and look back to see the shit you did in pursuit of a goal you didn't attain, you don't have the satisfaction of victory or drive to succeed to drown out the empathetic pain. The ends didn't justify the means.

...

Bleh. What are these things, Ebon? These...unironic feelings. Yuck. Get them off me.

“Yes, I did. That’s how the game is played.”

And there is a pun in here somewhere about "when life gives you Lemon, make lemonade." Something about aiding Lemon or maybe raising her, picking her, cutting out her Heart, wringing her out, throwing her away, and enjoying the sweet sweet taste of a job well done. Something, something, easiest way to take someone down is often through the Heart? Hmmm. Heart of the matter? There is a lot of area for puns with Lemon's name, I just need to find the right one.

“I do have a consolation prize for you, though. You have potential, if you decide to grow up some. Here.”

Her horn glowed as she pulled an old book out of her saddlebag.

Ayyy! The book! Poison Pen!

Holy shit those last 10 paragraphs made me smile so wide. I'm glad I got all those feelings out of the way.

Aaaaand now I'm thinking about it again. Dammit.

This was...This was a very good story. Far, far from my normal fare, but damn good. Made me think in ways I rarely do. 9/10 but with bonus points for having Sunny be the villain and having her win, even if we know it is short-lived. Also for making me feel, but I don't know if I want to be encouraging that.

Full review here, but in brief: a very good tale of an alternative Sunset. I haven't read any other Wavelengths stories, which may be why Lemon Hearts' background felt a bit too shadowy, but one moment in this absolutely floored me. (Not the ending!) That's actually what gained it a fave.

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