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



Sunset Shimmer escapes Equestria... with unforeseen consequences.

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Chapter 52: Arbitration

Ranger

Chapter 52: Arbitration

By Wanderer D

"Our relationship?" Sunset asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Did you not say I was pretty?" Luna countered with a smile.

When Sunset's face went red, the alicorn hid a laugh behind a hoof. "Fret not, Sunset Shimmer, I am not here to seek an amorous encounter. Yet."

Sunset ignored the last part. "I didn't know you were able to do this, is the portal open again?"

Luna shook her head. "Alas, it remains closed. 'Tis not unusual for magical artifacts to have a will of their own, of sorts. Whatever its purpose is in remaining locked, we are unable to do much but await its fancy."

"And even if it were, we'd need to go when ADVENT is not around and clean the area of Lost before attempting to help Twilight through," Sunset added.

"So, young witch," Luna said, tilting her head. "It seems your thoughts are troubled."

Sunset sat back, crossing her arms in front of her. "What do you expect? We're constantly under threat of instant demise on this side of the mirror."

Luna grinned. "We both know this is not why you're feeling insecure, young witch. It would appear my sister's diary entry has had unintended effects."

"That's one way of putting it," Sunset said, groaning. "Is there any chance we don't do this? I really don't need more drama."

Luna shrugged. "I worry for my sister. And I've come to learn much about you, so my mind is less… antagonistic than the last time we spoke."

"You're still calling me a witch, though."

Luna smirked. "That's the term for those that practice Blood Magic. It is not intended to be an insult."

"Certainly doesn't feel that way," Sunset muttered. "Since it seems we're going to be here, talking, instead of me resting…"

"No need to be upset," Luna said. "I will leave if that is what you want, but I thought perhaps you could use a pony ear as well as however many human ones you have. You know my history with my sister, surely you know I will not be blind to your own circumstances."

Sunset sighed. "I hate that she wrote me."

Luna blinked.

They were now both standing on the edge of a cliff. In the distance, one of the new ADVENT cities glowed with light. Several flying machines roamed about the city. Overall it was quite beautiful, even if the reality came with a very high price tag attached.

"She's been… indisposed for all these years," Sunset said, leaning forward to wrap her arms around her legs and rest her chin on her knees. "And then we're forced to talk again after I ended up back there by accident… and now she wants to be everything she did her damned best to not be when I really needed it?"

Luna lay down next to her, gazing at the city as well. "And you don't think forgiving her is within your grasp?"

Sunset shook her head. "It's not about forgiveness… I can forgive her for being… scared? For not being what she clearly didn't want to be back then…" She groaned and slid her face down so her forehead was now touching her knees. "I know I don't make sense."

"You do," Luna said, placing a hoof on Sunset's back. "Please, continue."

"I guess… I can let go of my anger. In a way, I have already. I realized long ago she and I were not really family. And… after several years of anger and resentment, I was finally okay with that. I realized it was my own projections that were making that fantasy world."

Luna hesitated, but remained quiet.

"So it's not about… being angry at her. I'm not… well, not for the same things. She was never mean. Never abusive, or made me feel intentionally ignored. When I wrote her a couple of years back, I was so angry at her. At myself. At where I was. But I learned many things and that anger just was… petty, in retrospect. She never did anything in order to hurt me."

Sunset looked away. "She never did anything in order to understand me."

Luna sighed. "It is complicated, young witch—"

"Just… Sunset, please."

Luna smirked. "Sunset. It is my belief that my sister harbored those feelings ever since she took you in, but she let her own stubbornness and righteousness get in the way of what should have been natural." Her smirk turned gentle. "I… wonder the type of mare she'd be today if she had let herself love you as she should have."

"She didn't, though." Sunset said, raising her head. "I… care for her. And I'm glad in a way she responded… but I was expecting… you know," she turned to look at Luna with teary eyes. "Hello! I'm glad you're doing well! I'm proud! Keep strong, become friends with Twilight, don't hit my sister in the face with a baton!"

She turned and suddenly she was a pony again, she moved over to Luna and fell flat on her belly, her horn touching the floor as she struggled to hold tears back. "But, what the hell is that letter, Princess? That's not what you write someone that you haven't seen in years and you would never have talked to were it not for them stealing your student!

"I don't know what to do! It's… that's like dropping a tank to hit a nail through a plank! Why couldn't she had just been herself? Just… nice, but distant. The "I'm proud of you, my little pony." type of inconsequential BS she throws around all the time?"

She hit the grass over and over with a hoof. "Why now? Why want to be my mother now? You can't choose to be honest with your feelings whenever! And then throw them at someone that so desperately wanted that and had finally gotten past it? It's cruel, Luna!"

She sobbed. "It's cruel, and I hate her for it, and I can't hate her! Because-b-because I wanted this so much!"

Luna softly stroked Sunset's mane, letting the mare sob and cry. "Sometimes ponies bottle things up so much, Sunset, that when things come out like that—be it sudden anger, or sudden, apologetic love—it is overwhelming."

"And unfair," Sunset said, taking a shuddering breath and slowly managing to control herself. "It is very unfair, Luna."

Luna nodded.

"I'll never… really hate her. Even when I left… I just wanted to show her I deserved better." Sunset chuckled. "Not that I did, but my need for family had been replaced by a need of power and recognition. If everypony recognized me as the greatest, if even magic itself turned me into an alicorn… then she would have to accept me… of course things have changed and my ambition…"

She sighed. "My ambitions lie elsewhere, now." She smirked a short-lived smiled. "But she's not part of that… her chance was years ago, Luna. For that, at least."

Luna nodded again, she wrapped a wing around the other mare. "What do you intend to do then? Not answer?"

"No… I will… I just… I can't just give that to her, Luna… not as she wants. Not just because she suddenly felt that way. Not after so much denial, anger and loss."

Luna sighed, closing her eyes. "I understand, Sunset. When I came back… I was the one that betrayed her trust and feelings.... perhaps your suffering in a way—"

"No," Sunset interrupted. She didn't look up at the princess, she didn't cuddle up into the embrace, but didn't pull away. She simply shook her head. "The decision to deal with her feelings about you… about me… that is up to her. You might have turned into Nightmare Moon and betrayed her, as you say… I might have stolen forbidden magic, and escaped… but neither of those actions forced her hoof into how to deal with her emotions.

"She lost her only sister for over a thousand years," Sunset said slowly. "And it's the type of loss I cannot… I just… it's not comparable to what I have felt. I get that. I can't judge her pain with a clear conscience… but how she dealt with that pain, whether it crippled her or not… that's on her.

"Blaming you for her decision either way would imply that Celestia never had a choice in the matter of how to handle that grief." Sunset took a deep breath. "Just like my decision to walk away and steal is my own and I can't blame her for it… sure, things could have been different, but we each of us choose how to act."

Luna gave her a bemused look. "You don't think she did the right thing in reaching out?"

Sunset sighed. "I don't know, Luna… I'm 25. I say a lot of shit. Maybe I'm talking out of my ass right now. Maybe I'm just BS-ing like a pro, or maybe I'm wise beyond my years. I'm lecturing you… on something I can barely deal with on my own." She lowered her head. "I'm just… trying to deal with this as best as I know how."

Luna laughed. "No, no, it's okay, Sunset. Sometimes visceral replies are much more honest than carefully planned and worded ones." She looked up into the starry sky. "My sister might be disappointed that you will not return her… affections so readily, but she should understand. She's an old hag by now."

Sunset snorted. "And you're not?"

Luna turned to her, her face all-seriousness. "I'll have you know, young Sunset, that my thousand-year entrapment kept me in a stasis. In essence, I remain a thousand years younger than my sister."

They remained like that for a while, and Sunset rested her head on Luna's shoulder. There was nothing there but them right now, a pair of mares just keeping each other company in an embrace that expected nothing more than comfort and support.

Eventually however, a large, spiraling hole opened up in the sky above, like a vortex of some sort, where the dream-stuff got dragged into.

"Seems like it's time to wake up…" Sunset said, almost regretfully. "Thank you for this, Luna."

"I will keep an ear out for you," Luna said. "I am unable to reach all over the earth, so I cannot protect you from nightmares or keep you company constantly… I do have a role to perform in Equestria, after all."

"I understand," Sunset said, smiling at the alicorn as she was slowly pulled up into the vortex. "Thank you again!"

Luna smiled. "I'll be watching over you."

And then she was gone.

"Oh my, look at who's waking up."

She knew that voice. Sunset frowned and yawned, stretching in bed before settling down and opening her eyes. She blinked to clear them. "Laetitia?"

"The same," the dark-skinned woman answered with a smile. "Slept well?"

"Hmm-hmm…" Sunset sighed. "What are you doing here?"

Laetitia tilted her head. "Watching over you."

Sunset blinked. "Um… why?"

"You seemed to be having a nightmare, but you calmed down and we didn't want to wake you up." Laetitia explained. "Jane woke up a little earlier than you, she's already out there with the others. I offered to keep watch over you since Twilight explained you might have overdrawn yourself so badly you might need some additional rest."

"Ugh…" Sunset groaned, slowly pushing herself up. "How long did we sleep?"

"You and Jane got a solid ten hours of sleep," Laetitia said. "And you slept for about… twenty more minutes."

"Great."

Laetitia laughed and stood up. "You'd better get changed into your overalls and get some food. The Commander wants to talk to you. Shen already picked up your armor for study… don't worry, she'll bring it back."

"It's… not really mine," Sunset said.

"That's not what the Commander said," the other woman replied. "Anyway, make sure you are ready for a long conversation. It appears your friend, Annette, kept the meeting room in the old base in perfect state… and that's where we're heading once you're ready."

Sunset nodded, "got it." She watched Laetitia step out of the room before rummaging through her backpack. Her eyes went wide and she looked around quickly, making sure no one was around before stuffing all fifteen of Galahad's magazines into Jane's locker.

"I completely forgot about that…" she muttered, cheeks flushed. Her eyes strayed to the locker, but she shook her head. "Nope! Not the right time, Sunset!"

She quickly got dressed, made her bed and sorted the contents of her backpack on top of it. Chrysalis' letters were all together, then there was her own, and the pictures… it was silly, perhaps, but she'd ask Chrysalis for a copy of the one where they were with Celestia and Luna.

The thought made her sigh and glance at her diary. She'd have to think carefully on what to write… but at least now she knew Luna cared enough for both of them to help smooth things out… regardless of their decision.

For now, she had work to do.

o.0.o End Chapter 52 o.0.o

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