• Published 19th Dec 2017
  • 973 Views, 28 Comments

Ashes to Inferno - Sun Aura

Sunset Shimmer has reached her lowest point. Thankfully, there are those that would be happy to help her up.

  • ...

Memory Part I: Mind

One of these days, Sunset was going to find and strangle whoever it was that decided she couldn’t have one weekend without some kind of ridiculous shenanigans. All she wanted was a day at the beach to be, well, a day at the beach! Simple, easy, the only ‘shenanigans’ should be from splashfights, forgetting to put on sunscreen, and the fact that sand gets freaking everywhere!

But what should she expect by now? If the day began with what she could only describe as a ‘Selfie Drone’, then whatever was causing the girls to stare at her as if she were crazy had to be ridiculous.

“Am I missing the joke here?” Sunset asked, raising an eyebrow.

“The only ‘joke’ is whatever this is you’re playing on us!” Rarity retorted, sounding as if she were genuinely angry. “Acting all ‘nice’! Like you’re our friend!”

“And it’s not funny!” Fluttershy agreed, from her place cowering behind the group.

“Because you’re not nice!” Rainbow added, her glare fierce enough to make Sunset take a step back.

“And because we ain’t friends!” Applejack finished.

“Wait, what?” Sunset stared back at them, in an almost disbelief.

This couldn’t be a prank. None of them would be this mean-spirited if it was. Well, okay, Rainbow could be a jerk of a prankster because she doesn’t think things through. However, her getting the other five in on it? Impossible considering who they were.

And not to mention, even acting ability couldn't explain the emotions they were giving off. No, not quite emotions, she’d have to touch them to feel that. They were tapping into their Magic through a want to protect each other… from her.

“You got applesauce in your ears?” Applejack demanded as Sunset stepped forward. “I said, we ain’t fu-”

Ignoring the comment, and how much it should sting, she took Applejack’s wrist and held tight. Even if they no longer felt the same, she still loved them, she could feel it, with every part of her. She held onto that as well, the feeling she knew was real. It was enough for her to use her own Magic, wishing to not only protect, but to save her friends.

But as she looked through Applejack’s memory of the past few months, she began to question it. She saw events, watching them line up with her own, except for one difference; Sunset wasn’t in those memories. She didn’t exist in them, as if their friendship never happened.

For a moment, she almost gave in and believed it. After all, what made more sense: that they’d all forgotten, or that she’d truly gone insane and imagined herself with them, wishing she really could be like that?

No, there were too many things that didn’t make sense. Even in their memories, there were too many missing holes, holes only she could fill. It was like…

“It’s like I’ve been erased,” Sunset said, staring wide-eyed.

“What are you talking about?” Applejack demanded, tearing her arm away.

“I can see your memories,” she explained, realizing that she wouldn’t know. “I’m not in any of them.”

“And exactly how is it you can ‘see our memories’, if you don’t mind me asking?” she frowned.

“Magic,” she replied, before reaching to the crystal around her neck. “You have to- no, of course you wouldn’t remember when I got this.”

“It’s obviously a cheap knockoff of ours,” Rarity scoffed, reaching for her own necklace.

“We got them together!” she insisted. “You were there!”

Okay, that wasn’t working. While Fluttershy questioned why she was still talking to them, Sunset thought. Perhaps being more specific would help? Something… something she was there for.

“Pinkie Pie,” Sunset said, turning to address the girl in question. “What about when I came to your sleepover before the Battle of the Bands?”

“Ha!” Pinkie laughed. “The closest you’ve ever come to a party of mine is Freshman year, when you pretended to be Applejack and texted me, “Your party is lamer than a hungry duck in snowboots”!”

“That’s… wrong on two accounts,” Sunset frowned, tilting her head. “I came to at least one of your parties, because you asked the Knights of Dawn to play.”

“The Knights of what now?” Twilight asked.

“I...remember that,” Pinkie said, smile now a thoughtful frown. “That was Flash’s band, before he and Thunderbass got in that big fight. But I… Huh. You’re right. You should be there. But you’re not. It makes more sense that you would’ve shown up with your boyfriend to a party, if only to make sure everyone knew he was ‘yours’.”

“Can we please not refer to Flash as my ‘boyfriend’?” Sunset said, making a face. “Not to mention, that I didn't even start faking texts until Junior year. I didn’t have any reason to back then.”

“I’ll give you that point,” Applejack said, a little sheepishly.

The whole group stared at her. While Sunset was glad for the reprieve, it was a little surprising.

“Oh come on,” Applejack sighed, inching the bridge of her nose. “This was our first week of knowing one another, it’d been a hell of a day, and you were texting every thirty seconds to ask me to come over!”

“That doesn’t mean it’s okay to be a dick,” Sunset said.

“Okay, you’re right, I’m sorry about sending that text,” she said, before raising an eyebrow to Sunset. “Wait… why are you lecturing me on when it’s okay to be a dick?”

“Because I’m not a dick?” she answered. “Okay, I was. But we’ve had several months for me to try and fix this! And yet none of you remember!”

A few of the group began to speak, but Rainbow cut them off. She stepped forward, almost shielding the others from her. While her glare was less intense than before, Sunset still felt a bit of terror as she met it.

“Fine,” Rainbow said. “Prove it to us. Tell us something that only a friend would know.”

“That’s going to do jack all,” Sunset sighed. “I already told you I can read memories. If I told you some secret thing, you’d say I only read your memories.”

“She’s smart,” Pinkie smirked. “Really smart!”

“Well then, how do we prove it?” Rarity asked.

“Can’t AJ go all ‘Honesty Mother Fucker’ on her?” Rainbow suggested.

“That depends on if she’s crazy or not,” Applejack said, tilting her head. “If she believes what she’s saying, I don’t think Honesty will work.”

“So we stop and think,” Sunset said. “Do you have any memory of me being helpful at all? Preferably something from after the Fall Formal.”

“Not that I can think of,” Fluttershy admitted.

“Exactly,” she replied. “So, back during the Battle of the Bands, after you realized the Sirens were using Dark Magic, you contacted Twilight, Princess Twilight. Do any of you remember how?”

There was a length of silence as the girls searched for an answer. A few opened their mouths, beginning to speak, only to close it and lapse back into a train of thought. It would be funny if it weren’t so worrying.

“A journal,” Rarity spoke up. “There was a journal. But…”

“Where’d we get it?” Fluttershy finished her thought.

“From me,” Sunset answered, reaching into her bag. “This isn’t the original. I got new ones because of… Okay, that’s a long story that I shouldn’t have to explain because you should remember it. But that brings up a point, what do you remember from the Friendship Games?”

“I remember you yelling at me,” Twilight said. “I mean, I kind of deserved it. I was messing with Magic and that probably could’ve knocked you off your bike with the plant monsters and all. It still hurt.”

“And I apologized for that,” she said, tentatively putting a hand on her shoulder. “But since you don’t remember, I’m sorry again.”

“Wait,” Rainbow frowned. “What do you mean ‘knocked her off her bike’?”

“Er, well,” Twilight gave a nervous chuckle. “You remember the whole thing with the portals opening and-”

“No,” she cut her off. “About Sunset being on a bike?”

“Oh,” she said, adjusting her glasses. “She was in the motocross of the second event.”

“What?!” the other four exclaimed.

“She couldn’t have been in the games,” Rarity said.

“Yeah,” Applejack nodded. “I’ll give Chinch a point in saying that CHS picks its competitors in a ‘popularity contest’. Even though the only ones we can vote for do qualify, you have to be popular enough to get in the top twelve. After the Fall Formal there’s no way Sunset would’ve been on the team.”

“But who was the last teammate?” Pinkie pointed out. “Shy and AJ were in the Archery, Rares and I were speedskating, and Dashie was on motocross. But who was on Motocross with her?”

“Sunset was,” Twilight answered tentatively. “But why do I remember it when you don’t?”

“Theoretically,” Sunset mused, “The only memories of yours that were affected were of me being a friend to you. But how far back... Pinkie?”

“Yeah?” Pinkie answered, snapping to attention.

“What night-rule now about this haunted grove?” she asked.

There was a chorus of ‘what?’ from the rest of the group. Something Sunset was quickly getting used to. Pinkie, on the other hand, launched directly into ‘actor mode’. She quoted her next lines, waving her hands dramatically as she had once done on stage.

Of course, she stopped at the end, waiting for a next line. Yet Sunset didn’t return her own line. Pinkie’s body language dropped as realization hit her like a truck. Her hair seemed a little straighter, a little darker.

“You- you were Oberon,” Pinkie whispered, slowly lowering herself into the sand.

“As in the Faerie King?” Rarity asked. “Wasn’t that the play you did last year?”

“Yes,” Sunset said. “Pinkie, you’re the only one of them I interacted with back then. As more than just chance encounters at school. Do you remember me at any rehearsal? Do you remember anyone playing Oberon last year?”

“No,” Pinkie sniffed, hands pulling at her hair as she tried to keep tears in check. “I can see it. I remember the play. But even-even on stage, with the laughing audience, I’m talking to an empty throne, answering lines I can’t hear.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, ignoring the girls’ hesitation and kneeling down to pull Pinkie into a hug. “The rest of you though, when I brought up the Games, I meant to ask about after that.”

“After the games?” Rainbow tilted her head.

“Yeah,” she nodded, gently stroking Pinkie’s hair. “That weekend, you all took a trip. Do you remember where it was? Who you met?”

“Of course,” Applejack nodded. “We went up to Hollow Shades for…”

“Shimmer,” Fluttershy said, her eyes wide as her own tears began. “We wanted to find your Counterpart.”

“Wait,” Rainbow frowned. “Why would we call the other Sunset by ‘Shimmer’? Wouldn’t we just have called her Sunset? Or said ‘the other one’?”

“Because Sunset was there,” Pinkie cried, her breathing a bit short. “That’s-that’s my system. Because of Heartstrings. When Lyra and I met Heartstrings, we agreed- we agreed that the one who belonged in this Dimension k-kept their name. But I wanted to keep it fair. So the next Counterpart should’ve- should’ve flipped that. The ‘guest’ gets to keep their name.”

“Wasn’t I next?” Twilight asked.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “I- I was looking forward to calling you ‘Sparks’ and ‘Sparkie’. But everyone-everyone thought ‘Sci-Twi’ was a good name. And after that we met Shimmer. So Sunset had to have been with us.”

“It makes more sense,” Applejack said. “Alright, you have a point. There’re too many unanswered questions. I’m trying to think of certain things, events and all.”

“I can’t believe this makes sense,” Rainbow groaned. “But you’re right. There’s no way we got through some of that stuff alone. You got me thinking on the Friendship Games, and I can’t remember what beat Midnight Sparkle.”

“Me either,” Twilight shuddered at the remembrance. “But we need a set of six. I… don’t know how I know that, but you needed six for the Elements to work.”

They all looked to Sunset, confused, a bit scared. Lost. She was the only one who seemed okay, yet even she wasn’t sure how much of her memories were real. After all, if they could forget her, who was to say she played the role she remembered?

That didn’t matter. At least not right now. Because she knew what she felt. It tore her heart to see them like this. It seemed to be hitting Pinkie hardest, as the girl still sobbed into Sunset’s chest, but the others were just as upset.

Even if their friendship was fabricated somehow, it didn’t matter. All she cared about was them, and fixing all of this.

“We need to know more,” Sunset said carefully. “We need to know if it’s just us who’ve been affected.”

“How?” Rainbow asked. “Listen, with how angry I was a few minutes ago, I don’t think heading into school on Monday is an option. I have restraint. Somewhat. Point is, if everyone hates you, then not everyone’s going to see it like… Fuck!”

“What?” Fluttershy asked, jumping back from the outburst.

“Fucking-,” she let out a noise close to a growl. “Streamline! Was that-”

“Yeah,” Sunset nodded, feeling sick at that particular memory. “But don’t worry, I wasn’t planning on waiting. You might not remember, but I have more friends than just you. Pinkie, I need to reach my phone, okay?”

Pinkie nodded, shifting slightly so Sunset could get the bag that had ended up stuck between them. She hesitated, too scared of what she would find, what she would hear, if it was more than just the seven of them involved. Taking a steady breath, she hit the call button.

There was no answer. Actually, there was a clear answer. A decline. She tried again, and got declined again. Three times was pretty clear, so she prepared herself for the worst.

“Pinkie, can I borrow your phone?” Sunset asked. “Where is it?”

Pinkie muttered something that sounded vaguely like ‘backpack’ and gestured toward a pile of bags. She moved to get up, but Sunset held her in place. Though the girl had stopped sobbing, just moving seemed to take too much effort for her. And Sunset definitely wasn’t imagining the straighter hair or darkened colors.

“It’s alright,” Sunset said. “You don’t really feel like getting up, do you?”

Pinkie shook her head. Taking a breath, Sunset felt for her Magic. As she let out the breath, she let the Magic come forth, her ears and Unicorn horn appearing. It was so familiar that she nearly forgot it wouldn’t be to them.

“How can you Pony Up?” Applejack asked.

“The same way you can,” Sunset answered, levitating Pinkie’s backpack over to her. “I can do it on command easier though. Probably because I’m a Unicorn and all. It’s more natural.”

Pinkie’s phone rang, and she made sure to put it on speakerphone. Partly to prove what was said, partly because she wanted backup in case something she couldn’t handle was said. The phone picked up, and she swallowed down her fears.

“Hello?” Flash’s voice answered.

“Flash, whatever you do, don’t hang up!” Sunset commanded.

“Sunset, what-” he began. “How’d you get Pinkie’s phone? Is she okay?”

“She’s…” she wasn’t sure how to respond.

“I’m not okay!” Pinkie shouted. “Some kind of Magical bullshit made me forget one of my best friends! How the fuck am I supposed to feel?!”

“I think she’s entered the ‘angry’ stage of grief,” Rarity answered.

“Isn’t that for death?” Rainbow asked.

“The rules apply to a lot of griefs,” she said.

“Okay, apparently a lot is going on today,” Flash said, and Sunset could imagine him rubbing the side of his face in exasperation.

“Listen,” Sunset said. “Since you declined my calls three times, I’m guessing you have no memory of us making up.”

“Is this connected to what Pinkie shouted?” he asked. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. But if this is some kind of trick-”

“No tricks,” she said, ignoring the pain this brought. “Flash, I know you don’t trust me right now, because you can’t remember me earning your trust again. But think for a moment. Who gave you a sword for Christmas?”

“What kind of question is that?” he asked.

“A legitimate one,” she said. “For Christmas this past year, you got a sword. It’s Magic, the blade only appears when you need it to. The pommel is in the shape of your- Of the shield and lightning design you like. Who got it for you?”

“It was…” he trailed off. “I can’t remember.”

“I figured,” she said. “But I got it for you. I also got Bramble a bracelet that turns into a shield and a necklace that plays music for Goldie. More Magic items. But it’s proof that you’re missing some memories.”

“Okay, fine,” he admitted. “That’s suspicious at best.”

“Just trust a little, will you?” Applejack snapped.

“Girls, a little more calm,” Fluttershy said. “We’re going through a lot, and yelling at each other won’t help.”

“She’s got a point,” Flash sighed. “But what I meant was that since it’s been pointed out, I can tell there’s a lot missing. A lot to do with you. I can remember all the bad things that happened, but the good seems to disappear. Hell, I can even remember that all of my bad memories of you are connected to good ones, but I can’t remember the good ones. Does that make sense?”

“Too much,” everyone answered.

“I can’t even remember meeting you,” he mused, as if he hadn’t heard them. “So, what do you want me to do?”

“Huh?” Sunset answered.

“You want me to trust you, fine,” he said. “If you’re going to fix things, then tell me how to help.”

“Honestly, I have no idea,” she said. “I only needed to test if it was related to my connection to the girls or something bigger. Obviously something bigger.”

“Okay,” he said. “Keep me updated, and tell me if I can help.”

“As long as you answer when I text,” she said. “Actually, can you do me a favor?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“You should still remember where my house is,” she said. “You probably don’t remember the animals though. The dog is Rhea, and the bird is Philomena. If you could swing by and check on them…”

“Some kind of Magical Crisis is going on, and you want me to pet sit?” he deadpanned.

“Just for the afternoon, please?” she begged. “With this going on I might be too preoccupied to come home until really late. Just take Rhea out for a walk and make sure all food and water bowls are full.”

“Okay, fine,” he sighed.

“Thanks,” she said. “Oh, and if Philomena bursts into flames, don’t panic. She just wants attention, but she knows better than to actually burn the house down.”

“What in the hell-?”

He was cut off as the phone hung up.

“So, what do we do?” Rainbow asked.

“We try a second option,” Sunset answered, the journal already in her Magic as she found a pen. “If Flash was affected, I’m willing to bet a lot of other people are too. But now we see if this carries across dimensions.”

Twilight, this may sound crazy, but are we friends?

She flipped through to previous pages while she waited for the answer, looking at previous messages to Twilight and everyone else she’d met in Ponyville. It was somewhat comforting to see. Reassuring that her memories were right, that she wasn’t going crazy.

At the same time, knowing that she wasn’t going crazy terrified her. Because she doubted the girls and Flash had all just happened to get very selective amnesia last night. Someone or something was doing this.

The book glowed, and she quickly flipped to the page. Words appeared on the page, though Sunset didn’t stop and wait for her to finish writing before reading.

Of course we’re friends! Are you okay? What’s going on?

Taking a breath, Sunset thanked whatever was out there that Twilight wasn’t affected. Equestria in general was likely unaffected as well. Picking up the pen again, she wrote a message back.

Kinda hard to explain. Might be easier in person. Well, not ‘person’, so to speak…

“Are you girls up for a short trip?” Sunset asked.

“Where?” Applejack asked.

“To the portal,” she explained. “Maybe through it. Just for a short time, to see if Twilight-Princess Twilight-can help fix this.”

Thankfully it didn’t take long to go. Everyone had been mostly dry for the picture, not to mention wearing something decent since it was technically a school picture, so it was really just a matter of getting to the car. And shaking off as much sand as they could.

Pinkie was reluctant to let go of Sunset, as if the moment she let go she’d disappear. None of them blamed her. They all piled into Applejack’s van, letting the pair have the back seat to themselves.

Sunset found herself doing a mental headcount of everyone the whole way. Logically, she knew they wouldn’t just disappear, or that she wouldn’t remember if they did disappear. Yet she kept it up. The other girls did too. Rarity, Rainbow, Fluttershy and Twilight kept turning to look at her, worry clear. Applejack’s eyes kept flicking to the rearview mirror, and she felt Pinkie hold her a little tighter every time she counted.

Being a saturday, Canterlot High was empty, save for a few staff and maybe some clubs. It gave the whole place an otherworldly feeling. Perhaps it was fitting, as there was a portal to another world here, but it was all too eerie. Haunted, but she didn’t know by what.

The statue stood in front of them now. Taking her hand across its surface, Sunset watched as stone rippled like water. The Portal was open, and now all she had to do was step across.

“I don’t know how long this will take,” Sunset warned. “While I could bring Twilight here, we’ll need to access her library to try and find a spell that could’ve done this, and how to reverse it. Not to mention that… I don’t want her affected by this. She could forget me too, or you might forget her.”

“It’s alright,” Rarity nodded. “I think it’s a good idea if she doesn’t cross over until we know what happened.”

“Thanks,” she sighed. “But… do you girls want to come with me?”

“Can we?” Fluttershy wondered. “I-I mean, wouldn’t that cause some problems over there?”

“I’m not leaving you,” Pinkie stated, still holding onto Sunset’s arm. “Even if you told me to stay, I wasn’t going to. Not until we fix this.”

Sunset both hated and loved the look in her eyes. It was sad, but determined, maybe a little fierce, and fueled by emotions she didn’t remember. Reaching with her free hand, she brushed Pinkie’s nearly-straight hair out of her face.

“Alright,” Sunset nodded. “It’s okay for you girls to come over. It might be better, since we can test out any spells you find.”

“Then I’m coming too,” Rainbow said.

“I think it’s safe to say we’re all going,” Applejack agreed.

There was a resounding confirmation from the rest, and it made her feel a bit better to know that they’d do this even though they didn’t remember their friendship.

Author's Note:

Of course I had to do something with Forgotten Friendship. And as you can tell, this one's going a bit of a different route than the show. Partly due to 'fix it' rewrites, and partly to fit certain things into the universe.

Also, did you know that when you want to add color to these fics, you're not limited the color pallet from the button. You can just slap any hex code in there.

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