• Published 25th Jan 2018
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XCOM: Ranger - Wanderer D



Sunset Shimmer escapes Equestria... with unforeseen consequences.

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Chapter 49: Recount

Ranger

Chapter 49: Recount

By Wanderer D

"You're coming with us?" Sunset asked, glancing at Bradford as he joined them.

Bradford nodded. "You two need to do a full report before going to the lab. That, and I have to coordinate with Shen. What you found there… a working, non aggressive Sectopod, Cyber Disks and Seekers?"

He shook his head. "Not to mention the armor you're wearing. I know Shen was working on prototypes, but we lost so much from the old base and here you are with a working skeleton armor, Jane with a carapace armor and possible research fields into lasers?"

Bradford guided them to the Skyranger through the forest. "What we have here could change the course of the war far more than we expected to do. Our weapons are currently stronger than our original laser equipment, but I'm sure Shen and Tygan can find more than enough uses for the technology."

"I thought ADVENT armor was equipped with refracting properties," Sunset said, frowning. "Wasn't that why lasers weren't as effective?"

"In a way, yes," Bradford said. "But the technology still works against other creatures more effectively than magnetic rifles. It will depend on the lab and engineering teams to make the most of it, but either way, it is a tremendous help."

He smiled at them both. "That and I am glad you both made it."

Sunset and Jane grinned. "That we did, Central," Jane responded.

Bradford nodded. "I also noticed that you two are a lot more comfortable working together than before. This can only help you both, and we should make sure to strengthen that bond."

"Yessir," Sunset said, she glanced at Jane. "Um, she knows all about my… origins."

Bradford didn't slow down, although they could tell his body language changed. He seemed more tense. "I hope, Corporal, that now that your curiosity has been satiated, you will comply with the need for secrecy in relation to this development?"

"Yes, sir! And… I'm sorry sir."

Bradford shook his head. "Since your superior officer is the one that told you…" he looked over his shoulder at Sunset. "You told her right?"

"Um, yes."

Bradford nodded and resumed walking. "Then we'll assume it was the necessary call unless you two want to dispute it, which I doubt is the case. Regardless, she's not the only who found out more about this, thanks to Princess Sparkle."

"Oh no," Sunset gasped. "What did she do?"

"You'll find out later. First we get to the Avenger, write down the report, get things rolling, you checked up, and the Avenger flying."

"Yes, sir."

The small group made their way to the small clearing where Rainbow Dash waited. The moment the pilot saw them, she grinned. "Well, well, well, if it isn't the Bloody Unicorn and the Quarian."

"Your nickname keeps changing," Jane noted.

Sunset sighed. "Twilight told you?"

Rainbow Dash grinned. "You two made the news."

"That didn't answer my question," Sunset stated.

"Anyway, get in, I'll turn on Resistance Radio for you as we fly back."

"Some of you folks out there might be wondering what really went down in New Appaloosa, what with ADVENT "valiantly" defending a site from attack by rebel forces.

"Well, wonder no more! We have a guest tonight joining us for the first time. Her local resistance radio has usually remained separate, but now that things are getting organized beyond our little cells thanks to groups like XCOM, it's only natural to also reach out farther than we have before. So here she is, folks, all the way from the West Coast, Pleasant Chime!"

"Thanks! Happy to be here!"

"So Pleasant, you said that the ADVENT News Network was lying? That must have come in as a shock!"

"Completely unbelievable, M-DJ, it is unfathomable that ADVENT would lie in such a way to their victi—citizens. But it happened, and we are here to tell it straight."

"So what's going on really?"

"Well M-DJ, it turns out that there was a resistance member in the premises, but they were not attacking anyone. ADVENT overstated their involvement and also their abilities, as I have it on good authority that the agent not only made it out alive, they are still active and working to hinder our beloved overlords."

"You heard it folks! So why did ADVENT say they had eliminated the resistance?"

"That's simple: they need to lie because admitting a whole army of them in a building called the "Central Security Building" not being able to take down a single soldier would imply the Great Elders are not as high and mighty and omnipotent as they say they are."

"Well, I'm sure as hell happy that there's people out here willing to share the truth! Thanks for the heads up, Pleasant Chime!"

"My pleasure, M-DJ! Let's work together again!"

"Sunset!"

"Whoa!" Sunset barely managed to catch Twilight, as the young woman wrapped her in a hug and nuzzled her.

Tygan cleared his throat. "I did not expect your relationship to be… that close."

Jane rolled her eyes. "It's probably a unicorn thing."

Twilight blinked, noticing Sunset's red face. "Um… what?"

Sunset chuckled, helping her step back. "Humans don't nuzzle in welcome, Twilight… that's usually reserved for much closer relationships."

"And Vipers, clearly," Jane deadpanned.

There was a pause.

Twilight's eyes went wide. "I-I… oh my… I'm sorry… I never wanted to imply that we…" her face became steadily red.

"So, Doctor," Sunset said, turning to face Tygan. "Jane and I are here for a checkup."

"Yes," Dr. Tygan said, motioning them to follow. "Although communications were not very clear on the nature of the problem."

"Ah well," Sunset cleared her throat. "Here's what happened…"

A few minutes later and Tygan had taken Jane over to strap her to a machine and perform a thorough analysis, leaving Sunset and Twilight on their own.

"What you did… I don't know how you managed that," Twilight said, "But… you know that a blood transfusion using blood magic is very, very, illegal back home."

Sunset smiled. "Good thing I don't answer to the authorities there, then."

"I'm not joking, Sunset! That was dangerous! After Tygan is done I'll have to perform my own check ups on Jane. There's no telling what the magic might have done to her!"

Sunset sighed, sitting down on Twilight's desk. "It was that… or losing her. She's my friend, Twilight. I couldn't let her die."

Twilight looked away, conflicted, and sighed. "I know. I… I don't blame you for it. We just don't know what the effects will ultimately be. You know that her body could have rejected your blood, right? She might have died because of it."

"Yeah… Doctor Vahlen was very clear on that," Sunset said. She gulped. "It's… been a very long week, Twilight."

Twilight took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "I… understand, I'm sorry if I'm berating you. I'm just worried about you."

"I know."

The pair remained quiet for a moment, then Twilight pulled out the diary, giving it to Sunset. "I didn't read it," she said. "Just the first sentence. It's for you."

'Do I have the energy for this right now?' Sunset thought, taking the diary in her hands and looking down at it. Her mind drifted back to that picture of Sunny One and Chrysalis. She sighed, nodding at Twilight as she opened the diary.

Dear Sunset,

It is hard to admit that I have avoided answering your letters… not out of spite, but out of fear.

You see, the pony you once were… is no more. You changed. You grew into a mare that stands by her beliefs, leads others... trusts her friends. All values that I failed to teach you.

When you came back… I didn't see my Little Sun. I didn't see the Sunset Shimmer that left, angry and bitter… I saw a pony that had made her way in the world. A mare that held her own and was confident, but not arrogant.

I realized… I didn't know you at all. At first I thought I could treat you as my wayward student. That there were lessons to teach… that I could appeal to you to give up your anger and stay… to be my Little Sun again. To sit down and talk and learn together.

When we spoke, my dear Sunset… I was surprised... and very, very proud. I was proud that you found a home. That you made bonds with others, and that they trusted you. That their safety was more important to you than your own possible rewards.

I couldn't bring myself to stop you from escaping, even after that scuffle with the guards and Luna because my memories of you conflicted with the reality in front of me. If you had been the same Sunset Shimmer that left so many years ago… I could have stepped in.

My student Sunset. My Little Sun, I'm happy that you have turned out alright. That you lived. That you grew and found so much even away from me. It was inevitable, that with the life you've led, full of conflict and sacrifice, you and I would grow distant, and that a brief meeting wouldn't bring us closer, even if wishful thinking on my part had hoped differently.

It took the wise words and support of my sister Luna, who sits by my side as I write this, to admit this much, and to hope and dare write to you back, asking you to forgive me for not answering the pain in your words, or your silent requests for contact.

My Little Sun, I've missed you.

I've missed you so much.

All of my students are precious to me, but you… you I took in. You became part of my family and I never dared accept that reality. You were not just an apprentice, that would at the end of the day or week go back home to their parents. You were not just another student… when I took you in, I assumed a role I stupidly didn't acknowledge.

Part of me knew, of course… why else call you "Little Sun"? And yet I fooled myself into thinking it was just a nickname for my precious student.

You're all grown up now. And I missed you for a long, long time. And you have a home now. And you've changed and I wasn't part of that change… but I want to be. I want to learn what has become of you, where you're going… I want to know when you move up in rank, if you find someone to love, about the battles you win… I'm so proud, Sunset. I'll never be able to say that enough.

It's hard to write this, even knowing it to be true… because the words that I write next will make everything so much more real, including your loss for so many years. And it's hard to say this because even when I picked you up, I entertained the thought…

I'm over a thousand years old and yet I'm acting like this. Luna seems happy to point this out. Sunset… in all that time, this was never a chance I got, until I took you in, parent-less and scared. It was then that I should have stepped up to the plate and taken ownership of what I was doing.

Instead I ignored it and went in circles as I am doing right now. My Little Sun… in my heart, if not my mind I always thought of you as family. I might have lost forever the chance to be that now… and it breaks my heart, but I finally accept this truth.

I hope you can forgive this stupid old mare for this. For not being strong enough to tell you until war and distance and your possible loss forced my hoof. That it took this long and this much to admit this when I should have done so the moment I adopted you.

I am so sorry.

I hope you can find it in your heart to write back to me… and allow me to get to know my daughter once more.

Yours, with all my love and hope,

~Celestia

o.0.o End Chapter 49 o.0.o

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