• Published 8th May 2021
  • 1,780 Views, 92 Comments

Birthrights and Love - The Albinocorn



Sunset Shimmer knows she's not normal. Normal people can't levitate objects or shoot energy from their hands. When strange creatures come looking for her, Sunset begins her path back to her true home and the birthright that awaits her.

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2. Odd Girl Out

Sunset threw the covers over her head as the morning light intensified. With her windows facing east, the sun lit up the white carpet, making her room even brighter.

“Sunset, get up or you’re going to be late for school!” her mother shouted from the hall.

“Uuugh.” Why does school have to start at eight? Why can’t we start at the crack of noon?

Slowly peeling the covers back to allow her eyes to adjust, Sunset rose out of bed and popped a crick in her neck. She swung her legs out of bed and immediately stepped on one of Spike’s chew toys. She kicked it aside and stood up, popping her back and letting out a tired yawn.

Unlike her sister’s perfectly organized room with alphabetized bookshelves and cubbies for her notebooks, Sunset’s was a jumbled mess she called ‘organized chaos.’ She had borrowed the term from one of Twilight’s friends. Clothes laid in a pile around the laundry hamper, notebooks laid scattered around her desk with bags of chips sprinkled in between. Even her walls were messy. Posters of television shows and rock bands covered any inch of blue wall Sunset could find, some of them overlapping one another. The only safe space was her nightstand where a collection of family pictures stood neatly arranged in a row. Front and center was Sunset’s favorite, a shot of her, Shining, and Twilight in the park. Shining had the two of them in a playful headlock while the girls screeched in damsel delight.

The forecast called for a cold front as they pushed deeper into autumn, so Sunset picked a pair of jeans she thought still looked clean and slipped them on. Downstairs, she found Twilight in the kitchen with Pop-tarts already heated and glazed.

“Thank you,” Sunset said, plucking one off the plate.

“Yep.” Twilight held it in her mouth while she slipped her shoes and backpack on. “Come on, I promised the girls I’d hang out with them before school started.”

Sunset rolled her eyes. She didn’t care too much for Twilight’s friends. One of them was a diva, one was over-competitive to the point of obnoxiousness, then there was the doormat, the country bumpkin, and the crazy one. She shuddered at the smile the crazy one had given her once.

Still, they were nice enough and took good care of Twilight when Sunset wasn’t around. Their sincerity didn’t level out their conglomeration of weird and/or annoying personalities, however. They were definitively Twilight’s friends and only her friends. Sunset preferred the company of herself anyway.

The road to school was fraught with orange and gold leaves and brisk gusts that convinced Sunset to zip up her jacket. She found tranquility watching the leaves spiral down from the shedding branches. Autumn was her favorite time of year, despite being born in the middle of summer. The way the leaves matched her hair, the sweet scent of pumpkin and ginger spice wafting from bakeries, the sun shining in the blue sky, giving them warmth without being an oppressive heat.

She and Twilight walked onto campus where other early students were milling about, many of them lounging around the statue. Sunset paused to stare at it, once again feeling that odd nostalgia.

“Hey, Twi!”

Sunset followed her sister’s gaze as Rainbow Dash ran toward them, soccer ball under her arm. Sunset swore she had never seen the girl outside of a uniform.

Rainbow ground her trainers into the concrete as she came to a stop. She spared Sunset a brief acknowledging glance. “We’re gonna kick the ball around out back. You wanna play with us?”

Twilight tugged on one of her tresses. “I don’t know. You know I’m not… athletically inclined.”

“Come on, it’ll be fun! Just a few passes and shots. Even Fluttershy’s gonna play for a bit.” Rainbow slapped her shoulder. “I promise to go easy on you.”

Twilight yielded a sigh. “All right then. Exercise is good for you, after all.”

“Sweet!” Rainbow’s excited smile became cautionary. “Do you, uhh… wanna play too, Sunset?”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. She could see the hope for rejection clear in Rainbow’s eyes. Sunset wanted to say yes just to watch that hope die. “No thanks,” she said instead. “Go have your fun.”

Rainbow shrugged. “Suit yourself.” She hid the relief in her voice pretty well. “Come on, Twi.”

“Bye, Sunny, see you after school!” Twilight ran off, jogging to keep up with Rainbow.

Sunset inhaled, smelling the crisp aroma of aging leaves and stale grass. She exhaled, pushing away the emptiness trying to make itself known in her heart. “What to do until school starts?” She supposed she could always heckle someone for a giggle, but Twilight’s pleading eyes lingered in her mind.

With a begrudged sigh, Sunset trudged up the steps and into the rotunda, pulling out another lollipop as she went. Finding a quiet spot to read her fantasy book would have to do. She stopped by her locker to shove her backpack away and grab her Daring Do book.

“Hello, Miss Shimmer. Keeping out of trouble, I hope?”

Sunset rolled the lollipop to the side of her mouth and gently shut her locker door. “Don’t worry, I’m on my best behavior, Miss Inkwell.” She turned and gave the alabaster woman a sincere smile.

Principal Inkwell stood a few inches shorter than Sunset. Her jet black hair was tied in a neat bun, and Sunset had a feeling she went to the same optometrist as Twilight because her glasses were almost the same thick-rimmed, square shape.

Sunset always felt relaxed around the principal. Despite being sent to her office numerous times for things other students couldn’t prove, Miss Inkwell was always cordial and kind. She wasn’t afraid to scold Sunset, but never once lost her temper. It was enough to where Sunset felt a twinge of guilt anytime she was called in. Yet part of her was also glad every time she got to see Raven.

Miss Inkwell smiled in turn. “That’s good to hear. I would really like to make it through a whole semester without calling you to my office.”

“That makes two of us. Now if you’ll excuse me…” Sunset held her book up. “I have some reading to do before class.”

“Oh, I just got that yesterday! How is it?”

“When I finish it, I’ll let you know.” She stepped around Raven and made for the second floor. Her advanced algebra class was always empty before the bell rang.

She climbed the flight of stairs, and as she got to the top, Roseluck came from around the corner. She hopped back at Sunset’s arrival and clutched her backpack.

“Sunset, I, uh, I finished that assignment for you.” She rummaged in her bag and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Here.”

“Oh, right.” Sunset plucked it from her fingers and looked over the typed-up answers. She had already forgotten she had pawned this off.

“If that’s it, I’m leaving,” Roseluck said curtly. She squeezed past Sunset and headed downstairs.

“Wait,” Sunset said, spinning on her heel. Roseluck cringed and froze in midstep. Sunset chewed the inside of her cheek, mulling Twilight’s words over from yesterday. “Uhh… like, good job and stuff on this.”

Roseluck turned her head, looking perplexed more than anything else. “You’re welcome?”

“Yeah. Um…” Sunset reached into her pocket and pulled out a lollipop. “Here. For doing a good job. And… sorry I made you do it in the first place.”

Now, Roseluck looked absolutely dumbfounded. She slowly reached her hand out and picked the sucker from Sunset’s grasp, eyeing it suspiciously. “Thanks?”

Sunset was already moving down the hallway, folding the paper and tucking it at the back of her book. There, I was nice. Though she supposed it didn’t matter much since Twilight wasn’t there to see it.

Sunset found her algebra classroom deserted as usual. Its window overlooked the soccer field out back. She glanced outside, spotting her sister and her friends kicking a ball around. Applejack passed it to Rainbow, who popped it up onto her head and bounced it there for a full minute before passing it to Pinkie.

Showoff. Sunset settled into a chair, leaned back and kicked her feet up, and opened her book. She loved the Daring Do series. Even though her mom edited for the author, she was never allowed any sneak peeks and had to wait like everyone else to dive into the newest adventure. Sunset didn’t envy Daring and some of the harrowing escapades she found herself in, but she loved to read about them.

She was only halfway through the first chapter when the bell rang. Mr. Hypotenuse and the other students began filling in, bringing their annoying chatter and breaking Sunset’s immersion. She huffed and stuck a bookmark between the pages before dropping into her usual classroom stupor.

She didn’t envy Daring Do, but she’d trade math for a snake pit any day.

******

Sunset walked home alone today. Twilight went out with her friends to the mall to celebrate the start of the weekend. She had received an offer from Rarity to join them, one that had been more sincere than Rainbow’s, but Sunset turned them down. She didn’t want them cramping her style.

“Mom, I’m home!” Sunset shouted upon entering the house. She kicked off her boots, flung her backpack and jacket on the couch, then flopped over the side to join them. Spike quickly made his way into the room and jumped up onto the couch to sniff at Sunset’s backpack.

Velvet walked in from her study, rolling her eyes at the mess Sunset had already made. “Hi, Sweetheart. Where’s Twilight?”

“At the mall with her friends. How’s the editing going?”

Her mom sighed. “I’ve come to a bit of a standstill. I’ve been trying to get in touch with A.K. all day to talk about her next book but, like always, she isn’t picking up her phone.”

Sunset smiled. Despite her mother’s constant complaints, A.K. Yearling was her favorite author to edit for. “So what’s for dinner?”

“I’d tell you it’s ‘whatever you decide to cook’ but your father said he’s bringing pizza. So you got lucky tonight.” Velvet walked away with her hands on her hips, muttering about children and laziness.

Sunset spent most of her afternoon watching television, flipping from game shows, to terrible reality shows, to the news, finding it all mind-numbingly boring. Twilight walked through the door just as dusk settled, stumbling over Sunset’s precariously placed boots.

“Ugh! Sunset, how many times have I told you not to leave these right in front of the door?”

“Weird, I could have sworn mom was in the other room,” Sunset said, her eyes glued to the screaming bride on the screen. “Did you have fun malling?”

“That is not a verb and you know it,” Twilight said, squeezing onto an arm of the couch as Sunset took up the rest of the space with her lounging. Spike moved from Sunset’s stomach to Twilight’s lap, barking happily at her return. “Have you been doing this all day?”

“Yep.” Sunset flipped the channel.

“Why didn’t you come to the mall with us?”

“Didn’t wanna.” Sunset flipped the channel again.

Twilight pinched the bridge of her nose. “Fine, be all Sunset-y—”

“That’s not an adjective and you know it.” She could see Twilight’s jaw tightening. Before she could make a rebuttal, the door opened again, and their father walked in, pizza and breadsticks in hand.

“Evening, girls,” Night Light said chipperly. “How was your day?”

“Meh,” Sunset replied.

I had a fun day learning and socializing,” Twilight said, her eyes pointed at Sunset.

“Meh.”

Twilight pounced, landing on Sunset and dancing her fingers across her ribcage. Sunset squirmed, biting on her lip, but Twilight’s fierce tickling and the look of exaggerated annoyance were too much. She let out a guffaw of laughter, unable to stop until Twilight finished her tirade.

“You’re such a Grinch,” she said, following their amused dad into the kitchen.

Sunset got up, still giggling. “Only because I know it makes you mad.”

Like every other night, Twilight relayed what she had learned in school and some of the misadventures she and her friends had at the mall. Ever since she had met them, Twilight had emerged quite a bit from her shell. Sunset didn’t know what it was about those girls that did it, but she supposed she owed them a small debt of gratitude.

“...So then, Rainbow dared Pinkie to eat the whole sundae as fast as she could. And of course, Pinkie agreed and starts shoveling spoonfuls into her mouths which, frankly, was gross to watch. But afterward, Pinkie got a brain freeze so bad, she completely stopped moving! Even her eyes didn’t move!” Twilight paused to take a bite of her pizza. She swallowed it and wiped her mouth before continuing. “I’m sure she was just over-exaggerating, but she put on a really good act.”

“More proof that your friends are weird and sometimes horrifying,” Sunset said.

“Yes, well, at least I have some.”

It was meant as a playful jab, but Sunset involuntarily winced. She played it off by throwing her hands up and stretching. “Well, thanks for dinner, Dad. I’m going up to my room.” She smiled and glanced at each of them, driving home the point that everything was fine before heading upstairs. She shut her door and threw herself onto her bed.

“Pfft, like I even want friends.” She looked up at her blue ceiling. She wasn’t going to fall into the melodramatic stereotype of cheesy Saturday-morning cartoon villains and spout about the weakness of friendship and how friends only held you back. She just didn’t want to make friends. She had her family and that was enough.

Sure, being bullied as a child might have factored in somewhere, but it was small.

“Okay, what to do until bed?” Sunset sat up and looked about her room. One of her handheld games was buried somewhere in here. She could continue reading her Daring Do book, but that was back downstairs, and Sunset was too lazy to retrieve it. There was a collection of books up here she still needed to get through.

Raising her hand, she felt a warm tingle rise to her fingers. The books sitting on the shelf next to her desk wobbled then floated up and over, circling around her outstretched hand.

With a grin, she raised her other hand, and an assortment of pencils, notepads, and old shirts levitated off the ground and joined the books. Sunset waved her hands and watched as everything began to swirl and spiral before her. She pushed them to the right. She pushed them to the left. She made them crest up and down like a wave. She spread her arms and parted the collection of items down the middle. Then, she dropped her hands and everything clattered to the floor.

Right, that’s why my room’s a mess.

A soft knock came from her door, and Twilight poked her head in. “Um, hey.”

Sunset reached for one of the books she had intended to peruse. “What’s up?”

Twilight stepped into the room, holding her hands to her chest and standing pigeon-toed, one of her classic defensive techniques. “You know I was just… kidding when I said—”

“Chill, Sparky, I know. You really think I’d be mad at you?”

She shuffled her feet. “Well, no. But… I worry about you, okay? You spend all your time by yourself when I’m not around. I just don’t want you to become… well, a shut-in or anything.”

Sunset raised an eyebrow, her lips quivering in amusement. “Me become a shut-in? Up until a few months ago, you spent more time in your room reading books and tinkering with gizmos than me and Shining combined.”

“I know.” Twilight tugged on her ponytail. “I just think that if I came out of my shell, maybe you should too.”

“Thanks but no thanks.” Sunset opened up her book. “And I’m out of my shell. I interact with people on a daily basis.”

“It’s never in the most healthy way.”

“I’m like a snapping turtle. I’ll come out my shell, just don’t get too close.”

Twilight sighed. “Good talk. Good night.”

“Nighty night, Sparky.” Sunset watched her leave over the top of her book. With a wave of her hand, the door closed after Twilight exited.

******

“You broke it! I can’t believe you broke it!”

“I’m sorry! It was an accident!”

Sunset looked through watery eyes at the broken handheld gaming console in Raindrops’ hands. She had been the first one in their group of friends to get the newest version, and Sunset had been so excited to see it. But when Raindrops handed it to her, and Sunset mashed a few buttons to get the little character on the screen to do something, the console sparked liked crazy, and the screen popped like a lightbulb.

“How did she even do that?” Firecracker asked, taking a step away from the smoking screen.

“I don’t know! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Sunset pleaded.

“It’s not fair!” Raindrops yelled, her voice cracking. “I just got it!”

“Maybe I can fix it!”

“You’ve done enough, you… you freak!”

Sunset recoiled like she had been hit. “I… I’m not a freak!”

“You blew up my Gametoy! No one can ever catch you at tag! And Lily got a burn from hugging you! We just played with you because our parents made us, but you’re just a weirdo!”

Sunset’s chest and throat hurt. She hiccuped a few times, trying to swallow her sobs. “F-Firecracker, you like me, right?”

Firecracker scuffed her sneaker against the sidewalk. “You are pretty weird.”

“That’s probably why you’re adopted!” Raindrops spat. “Your real parents didn’t want you!”

The pain in Sunset’s chest grew to a blistering heat as her sorrow twisted into rage. She balled her fists and yelled, “Shut up!

Her vocal cords rattled. She shut her eyes and threw her hands over her ears, eardrums ringing from the booming thunder of her own voice.

When the ringing started to settle, she opened her eyes and saw Raindrops and Firecracker laying on the sidewalk, clutching their own ears and crying. Sunset moved her hands from her ears to her mouth. She turned on her heel and sprinted down the street.

Everything Raindrops said was true. But that didn’t make her a freak, did it? But if she wasn’t a freak, why were her former friends lying on the ground from just the sound of her voice?

Maybe they were right. Maybe her real parents left her because she was dangerous.

Her foot caught on a rock, and Sunset tumbled off the sidewalk and into open air. She was high above the earth and falling fast. To her right, the sun was falling with her, and to the left, the moon was rising.

Then, it all melted into darkness. All she knew was a black void that encompassed all. She could not move. She could not breathe.

“Where is she?” a cold, malevolent voice asked.

Sunset stirred and tensed in anticipation. “I don’t know,” she said. It wasn’t her voice. But at the same time, it was.

“Lies!”

And from the darkness came pain. White-hot pain engulfed her entire body. She screamed out, cursing herself for showing weakness. But what else could she do?

“My patience has long since worn thin! I want to know what you did with that precious little star child!”

Sunset didn’t respond. It was the only act of defiance she could show. The pain came again, ripping through her and twisting every nerve.

“And ponies called me the stubborn one,” the dark voice said, almost playfully. It snapped back to its harsh bark. “You can’t hide her forever! I will find her, and I will make you watch as I slay her.”

A sob tried to escape, but Sunset forced it back. She would not give her captor the satisfaction. “Please, do not do this.”

“Why not? You love her, don’t you? You were just so elated when she was born! I felt it. I felt your joy and love all the way from my wretched prison! And the lengths you’ve gone to keep her safe. Would you have done the same for me, hmm? Did you ever love me that much?”

“Of course I did.” It proved harder and harder not to cry. “I still do. I love you, Luna.”

“Luna? Luna!” The searing pain came once more, and Sunset’s screams rose to a crescendo. Blazing hot magic rose up around her, and the dark exploded into a pillar of light.

Even when her eyes opened, light was all Sunset could see.

******

Two beasts raised their heads and swished their long, ropey tails. Their pointed snouts twitched as a familiar scent passed through their nostrils. But wait, that couldn’t be right…. That scent shouldn’t be around anymore. One turned its set of six milky white eyes to its partner, seeing its fuzzy, static outline.

The other beast snorted in agreement. The surge in magic had been too powerful to ignore. Its six legs scuttled forward, charging across the field and toward the dense forest. If her presence was indeed the source of the magical outburst, their empress would be displeased. Very displeased indeed.