• Published 31st Jul 2017
  • 3,776 Views, 390 Comments

How Not To Use Your Royal Prerogative - Amber Spark

After going to Coloratura's concert, Sunset gets both good news and bad news. Somepony stole her identity and is running around with her face. That's the good news.

  • ...


How does one hoofcuff a pony, anyway? Sunset wondered idly, staring at the two security ponies guarding the door.

She’d read about it in books, but she had never actually witnessed it before. Were the cuffs placed above or below the knee? Was it as uncomfortable as mystery novels made it out to be?

A chill ran down Sunset’s spine as something else occurred to her. While hoofcuffs were used on all ponies, they weren’t nearly as effective on unicorns—let alone pegasi. No, she had to worry about something far more terrifying: inhibitor rings.

Sunset fought back the panic that sprung up inside of her as she shoved that idiotic idea away. Even if they were technically trespassing, inhibitor rings were only used on dangerous criminals. They would never be used for something like this.

And not on her. Definitely not on her.

Besides, you’d never let them get that close with one of those things.

For once, she agreed with that little voice. She hated when that happened.

She let out a sigh and shook her head.

“I told you so.”

Sunset rolled her eyes and groaned. “I agreed that you had the right to say that, Cheerilee. I didn’t say you had the right to say it ten times.”

“Don’t care,” Cheerilee chirped in a strange impression of Minuette. “I’m going to enjoy every moment of it before they throw us behind bars for breaking and entering.”

“Too bad the door wasn’t unlocked,” Minuette pointed out. “Then it would just be entering.”

“Sunset.” Cheerilee ran her hooves through her mane. “How could you possibly think teaching somepony lockpicking was a good idea? You’re Celestia’s student, for pony’s sake! In fact, how do you even know how to do it?”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time?” Sunset offered with a smile.

“And it’s been pretty useful for both of us!” Moon Dancer added. “Especially once we found the faculty’s ‘special’ drinks cabinet.”

“That was once!” Sunset protested.

“That you remember,” Moon Dancer replied with an evil little grin.

“You didn’t answer my other question!” Cheerilee shot an accusing hoof at Sunset. “How did you, the personal protégée of the Princess of the Sun, learn how to pick a lock?

“I don’t really think now is the time or place for that little story,” Sunset hissed as she noted the guards’ perked ears. “Especially since we’re not alone!”

A gray earth pony stallion and a blue pegasus mare stood on either side of the only exit. Neither had broken their stony silence, instead staring at them through matching mirrored sunglasses. They looked about as friendly as sleeping manticores.

Sunset, Minuette, Moon Dancer and Cheerilee had been sequestered in a large storage room inside the ‘secured’ section of Hoofbeats. They were surrounded by stage monitors, microphones and other sound equipment littering the shelves and tables. In the far corner, five immense subwoofers that could probably cause minor seismic disturbances in the wrong hooves loomed over them. Most of it looked like strange alien devices from another world.

“If Mayor Mare ever hears about this, I’m doomed,” Cheerilee muttered.

“I’m sure it won’t come to that,” Sunset said. “They wouldn’t fire you over this. They couldn’t.”

Cheerilee lifted an eyebrow. “Oh, I know. I’m expecting you to fix it. I’m just never going to live it down.”

“Ah. Well, that clears things up.”

“Somepony actually tried to impersonate you, Sunny!” Minuette said. “Yowza! That’s kinda cool. Weird, but cool too!”

“No, it’s not.” Sunset muttered and poked one of the giant subwoofers. “And of course they did it three nights ago. I swear I’m going to find that pony and strangle her with my bare hooves!”

“Yeah, what’s up with that anyway?” Moon Dancer asked, leaning against one of the giant subwoofers. “Why would anypony want to be you?”

“Oh, thank you so very much.”

“You know what I mean, ” Moon Dancer replied with a roll of her eyes.

“To use my status to see Coloratura, most likely.” Sunset shrugged. “Some rabid fan-filly who happens to be good at illusion magic.”

“Come on, Sunny,” Cheerilee said. “It has to be more than that.”

“Oh, let me guess!” Sunset waggled her forehooves in front of her with a few vaguely spooky sound effects. “It’s the mythical changelings trying to infiltrate our society and bring about the fall of ponykind, right?”

Moon Dancer couldn’t help herself. She started snickering a few seconds before Minuette burst out laughing.

All they had gleaned from the few terse sentences from Gateway was that somepony claiming to be Sunset had tried to get into a rehearsal three nights ago. They’d been found out, but had escaped before they could be questioned.

This was ridiculous. She actually was Sunset Shimmer. Granted, she wasn’t technically supposed to be here, but she wasn’t an imposter!

Not that anypony around here believed her.

Sunset fought down the urge to stamp her hooves.

All I wanted to do was treat my friends to a night on the town. Is that too much to ask?

While there wasn’t a lot of hope left for the night she’d envisioned, she could at least figure out what was going on. The whole imposter thing bugged her more than she wanted to admit.

Yeah. No wonder. Somepony’s actually using your power to get what they want now that you won’t, her angry little pony said. Still… you can’t let that go unpunished. Take this place apart and find the truth.

Sunset shook her mane, stood and marched over to the mare beside the door. Neither of them moved an inch at her approach.

I don’t need to take this place apart to get some blasted answers.

“Look, I’m not dumb enough to demand you let us out. But I would like to know what happened three nights ago.”

“Like you don’t know,” the stallion muttered.

Sunset rounded on him as the voice at the back of her head piped up again. You’re an idiot, Sunset. Just blast them and march out of here. You know they can’t touch you. Nothing can stand in your way, least of all these rent-a-guards!

“Shut it, Grayshield,” the mare snapped. “We’ve got our orders.”

Something clicked in Sunset’s head.

“You sure are taking this whole thing awfully seriously…” Sunset rubbed her temples for a moment. “Way more seriously than you should. Why?”

“Gee, lemme think,” Grayshield stared at the ceiling and tapped his chin with a hoof. “We find out the famous Sunset Shimmer is an imposter and she escapes. An hour after we reported it to the police, ten Royal Guards come knocking down our door! All this right after—”

I said shut it!” The mare turned her full attention to the stallion.

Sunset rocked back on her hooves and gaped at the two of them. “The Royal Guard? But… that doesn’t make any sense.”

“Copper Belle, why are we playing this game?” Grayshield asked—or more accurately—whined. “Why not just get Gateway to use the detection spell on them and get this stupid thing over with?”

“Because, you twit, we have our orders.”

“Orders, orders, orders,” the stallion groaned. “Talking to Gateway is more fun than talking to you.”

Copper Belle growled as her eyes narrowed to tiny pinpricks.

“Okay, I get it!” Sunset shouted, sick of their squabbling. “At least tell me how you found out the pony wasn’t me!”

“I can’t believe you’d pull the exact same stunt just a few days after.” Grayshield snickered and shook his head. “You’re a special kind of crazy, lady.”

Sunset gritted her teeth, trying to keep her temper under control. That last thing she needed was to lose it here. That wouldn’t help anything. She needed to keep her head on straight.

Still, Grayshield laughing in her face was not making it easy. She forced her jaw to unclench and took a breath.

Before she could speak again, Cheerilee stood between the two of them. She focused all of her attention on Grayshield. The stallion’s ears flattened and he took an involuntary step backward into the wall.

“She asked a fair question,” Cheerilee said, unleashing her most devastating weapon: the annoyed teacher’s voice. “Now, be a good little colt and answer it.”

Even Copper Belle swallowed.

Sunset just stared at her friend in awe.

“A-any visitor is required to have a basic detection spell cast on them before they see Miss Coloratura!” Grayshield squeaked. “When Gateway cast it on the pony, there was this sudden flash of light and gust of wind. Then the pony was just gone.”

Copper Belle’s attitude came back, but only in part.

“She wasn’t gone, you idiot. She’d just ducked around a corner and bolted for the exit.”

“Did you get a good look at her?” Sunset demanded.

Cheerilee cocked an eyebrow at the stallion. That was enough.

“No ma’am. I think she teleported, but Miss Belle thinks I’m being stupid.”

“Because you are, Grayshield. You always think it’s teleporting unicorns, or shapeshifting changelings, or—”

“—illusory Sunset Shimmers?” offered Minuette, a look of perfect innocence on her face.

“Yeah! Illusory— wait.” Copper Belle got her hooves back under her. “I mean, crew aren’t to discuss security matters with guests! Venue policy!”

“Now wait, I had another—” Sunset stopped when she heard familiar voices outside the room.

“—a good idea,” Gateway said.

“We’re all a little on edge, Gateway.” It was the friendly mare’s voice they’d heard earlier. “Thank you for understanding. After all, a chance to get some real answers isn’t something we should pass up. Rara would be here herself if she wasn’t sleeping off that last scare.”

“Miss Pommel, Miss Spotlight, I’m sure you’re curious, but I believe this is best left to the police and the Royal Guard.”

“There’s no harm in having a conversation with them,” the mare insisted. “You and your team have always provided us with the best protection. Surely you can prevent four mares from doing further damage?”

“Three of them are unicorns,” Gateway pointed out.

“I’m here too,” Cheerilee muttered. “And I’d love to show them what an annoyed earth pony can do.”

The mare must have given Gateway some sort of silent signal. The next thing they heard was the key in the lock. Sunset and Cheerilee stepped back from the door while Moon Dancer and Minuette came up behind them. They stood together, with Sunset at the lead.

The door opened and the massive security chief stepped into the room, followed by an earth pony mare who looked roughly a year younger than Moon Dancer and Minuette. That alone was enough to throw Sunset off.

Why is this mountain of a stallion taking orders from somepony who looks like she just graduated high school?

The young mare had a pale coat, slightly lighter than Moon Dancer, with a short blue mane and a large red and purple flower pinned behind her ears. She even wore a little collar with a short red tie.

It’s called a cravat, you imbecile. Don’t you remember anything your parents taught you?

Sunset ignored the jab. Her angry little pony was particularly vindictive tonight. The last thing she wanted to do was engage it.

Despite herself, Sunset thought the newcomer looked rather adorable.

As soon as that thought came to her, Sunset shook her head and refocused.

Behind the first mare was a second older earth pony with sharp features, a dark orange coat and a thick gray mane and tail. Under her large spectacles, her face had the lines of a doting grandmother, but her expression held no such warmth. In fact, the older mare looked rather annoyed. On second thought, the word that came to Sunset’s mind was ‘vexed.’ Only certain types of ponies could truly appear ‘vexed,’ and apparently this mare was one of them.

Sunset felt about ten years younger under the older mare's stern gaze.

“Coco, dear,” the older mare said. “We shouldn’t concern ourselves with this. There is no need to engage these ruffians in conversation. Let the Guard or the police see to it.”

“Chief Stablemaker’s deferring to the Guard, Spot,” Gateway said. His teeth were grinding so much Sunset half expected sparks to come shooting out of his muzzle. “He’s dispatched a support team. They’re already en route.”

The young mare frowned. Her eyes locked onto Sunset and a very long moment passed before the filly the older mare had called Coco spoke up again.

“Gateway, have you used your detection spell on them yet?”

“Didn’t see the point, ma’am,” Gateway replied. “Once the Royal Guard arrive, they’ll handle all the logistics, including removing the illusion spell. I’m surprised she hasn’t dropped it yet, honestly.”

“Maybe because I’m the real thing?” Sunset suggested.

“What a crazy thought,” Moon Dancer muttered.

“You’re already in enough trouble,” Gateway growled. “Don’t add more to it, fillies.”

“I’m sure the Guard could handle it.” Coco tapped her hoof on the ground as if pondering something. “But… would you do it anyway? Please?”

“Miss Pommel?”

Coco still hadn’t looked away. Sunset was sure she’d never met this pony before, but the way the mare stared unnerved her.

“Very well, ma’am.” Gateway replied with a sigh. “I don’t see any harm.”

A copper aura ignited around Gateway’s horn. The magic coalesced on the tip of his horn in a small orb of glittering gray light, almost like a dim disco ball. The ball flew forward like it had been hit with a racquet and smacked right into Sunset’s muzzle.

Sunset yelped, but she didn’t actually feel any impact. There was only a flash of light. The brilliant flare left dancing stars in her vision. Besides dazzling her, the spell didn’t seem to do anything. It just drifted across her coat like a warm breeze.

“Well that was overdramatic,” Cheerilee muttered as Sunset blinked the stars out of her eyes. “Who knew the security guards could be as flashy as the dancers?”

Gateway didn’t respond. His glasses had fallen to the end of his muzzle and he, along with almost every pony in the room, was staring at Sunset in wide-eyed shock.

The only one who wasn’t was Coco.

“Satisfied?” Sunset demanded. “For the hundredth time, we didn’t try and break into your rehearsal three nights ago!”

“Then who did?” Copper Belle shot back. “The mare who was impersonating you was an exact duplicate. Even the mane was perfect.”

“I really liked her mane,” Grayshield murmured in a distracted way Sunset found slightly disturbing.

“I don’t know!” Sunset cried, throwing her hooves up in the air. “We arrived at our hotel yesterday afternoon!”

A knock got their attention. Standing in the doorway was another security mare. This one was an earth pony.

“Sir, the Royal Guard are here with a team from the downtown precinct. They’re ready to take the suspects into custody.”

“Thank you, Belt. Please tell them there was a misunderstanding,” Coco replied with a tiny smile on her face. “A case of mistaken identity. Please apologize for wasting their time.”

“But Miss Pommel!” Gateway whirled on the younger mare. “They were still breaking and entering. That’s still against the law.”

Coco paled a little, but stood firm. “I know what they did, Gateway. But… I have a feeling about this. After all, these four mares did go through an awful lot to…”

There was a warmth to Coco’s smile, mixed with what looked like mischief. She was up to something. Sunset was sure of it.

Somepony’s playing games… Sunset realized. But why?

Hey, idiot! her angry little pony shouted. She’s asking you a question!

“Sorry, um…” Sunset tried to get her brain back on track. Behind her, Sunset heard Moon Dancer stifle a giggle. “We really just wanted to… well… talk to her.”

“Fanfillies,” Spotlight sighed dramatically. “Even among the Canterlot elite, Rara attracts them like moths to a flame. Oh well, it’s not for me to complain. You do pay the bills, after all.”

Spotlight flashed them an amused little smile. Sunset returned it, to her own surprise.

“To be honest, Rara is rather tired. It’s been… a long tour,” Coco admitted.

Sunset didn’t miss the hesitation, nor the shared looks of concern between Spotlight and Gateway.

The young mare thought it over for a few more moments before she turned to the security guard at the door. “It’s okay. Go ahead and tell them. Spotlight will be happy to answer any questions they may have.”

“Coco…” Spotlight shook her head, the smile never leaving her muzzle. “Why must you do this to me?”

“Despite how you may whine on occasion, I happen to know you enjoy it.” Coco said brightly.

The older mare sniffed haughtily. “I never whine, Miss Pommel. I complain.”

Coco gazed up at her, the very picture of schoolfilly innocence. “My mistake. Now go complain to our visitors. After you settle them down, please take a break. You need some fresh air after tonight’s excitement.”

Spotlight smiled fondly at the mare. “Do you know, you’re just a tiny bit evil?”

Coco returned the smile and batted her eyelashes. “I try my best.”

“Quite. Although I suspect if you ever did decide to use that charm of yours for evil, Equestria may very well be doomed.” Spotlight nodded. “I’ll speak to them. However, I’m going to check on Miss Scratch before retiring. It wouldn’t do to let our afterparty go untended.”

“If you insist, Spotlight.” Coco said, a hint of worry creeping into her voice.

Spotlight reached out a hoof. “It’ll be okay.”

“I’m more worried about you.”

“I know. And that’s sweet of you, dear.”

With that, Spotlight departed with the other security mare. Coco watched the manager the entire way with a vaguely worried expression, but she didn’t say anything further until Spotlight vanished around the corner.

“What about this lot?” Gateway demanded. “Want me to have Copper throw them out on their flanks?”

“I don’t think we need to do that.” Coco turned her attention back to the four mares. “In fact, I’ve got an idea that might shed some light on our problems.”

“You mean about that pony impersonating me?” Sunset growled. “Yeah, I have to admit, I’m not real happy about that.”

“I’m not surprised.” Coco’s smile never faded. “And while Rara is tired, we’ve all been trying to figure out what’s going on. Gateway thinks it’s part of something bigger—”

“Only because it is,” Gateway grumbled.

Coco continued as if she hadn’t heard the security chief. “And while I understand why he thinks that, I still think it’s just a fanfilly who happens to be good with illusions.”

Sunset wasn’t sure she believed that.

“Either way, I think having the real Sunset Shimmer close to hoof might help,” Coco concluded.

“You can’t be serious, Miss Pommel,” the head of security blurted out. “They can’t be rewarded for breaking in!”

“They’re not,” the earth pony mare replied with another little glint of mischief in her eye. “They’re… oh, what’s the term the police like to use? Oh yes, they’re ‘helping us with our inquiries.’”

“I can’t talk you out of this, can I?”

“Sorry, Gateway. I really think this is the best decision. For all of us. Especially Spotlight.”

“Fine.” Gateway grumbled something under his breath, but he finally nodded. “Will you at least let me post a guard at the room?”

Coco laughed. “If it’ll make you happy, of course.”

Gateway snorted. “What would make me happy is to toss these four into the alley. But since you won’t let me do that…” He glared at the mares.

Sunset cocked an eyebrow as Minuette stuck her tongue out at him. Sunset kicked her lightly in the shin. The blue unicorn yelped, looking a little sheepish.

“Thank you, Miss Pommel,” Sunset said, using her best diplomatic voice. “We appreciate it.”

Coco giggled a little. She hadn’t missed any of Minuette’s display. “Well, after being interrogated and wrongfully accused of something…” she paused and apparently reconsidered. “Though you did actually do the thing you were accused of, just not on the same day—well, for the time being, let’s just call it a favor. Afterwards, perhaps you can give Gateway some tips on tightening his security!”

Gateway’s teeth ground together with the sound of a rock crusher. Coco giggled lightly and put a hoof on his foreleg. He rolled his eyes and grunted.

“Now, let’s go see Rara. I think she’ll actually be pleased to meet you.”

Coco Pommel lead the way out of the storage room and into the hallway. Sunset ended up in the rear, but Gateway stopped her with an outstretched hoof before she could join her friends.

“You try anything funny, you’ll wish the Royal Guard had hauled you away and thrown you in a cell for the night.”

Sunset smirked at him. “Gateway, did it ever occur to you why the Royal Guard would be interested in a mystery involving me?”

Gateway’s face revealed nothing, his large-lensed sunglasses now firmly over his eyes again.

“Because I’m exactly who I said I am,” Sunset said. “Which means I’m the student of Celestia. You know, the one who raises the sun and the moon for the whole planet?”

She tapped the security guard on the chest.

“Trust me.” Sunset smiled. “You’re a teddy bear next to her.”

He opened his mouth to respond, but then closed it. Finally, he sighed. “Okay, fine.”

Sunset laughed. “Yeah. And think of it this way: has anypony ever made it this far?”

“No,” Gateway said with a note of pride. “Not even once. Even the imposter tried to access backstage from the VIP lounge.”

“Then the only pony to almost get past you and get away with it was none other than the personal student of the ruler of all Equestria. That’s still pretty good.”

Sunset gave him a friendly smirk and trotted after her friends, leaving Gateway chuckling faintly behind her.

Author's Note:

Coco Pommel is so adorable, even Sunset can't help but realize it. I know Equestria weaponized friendship... but can you imagine if they weaponized cuteness? There wouldn't be a force in all creation that could stand against them... :pinkiegasp:

If you come across any errors, please let me know by PM!