• Published 25th Aug 2018
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Sunset Shimmer Hunts the Undead - Rune Soldier Dan

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The Start of Something New

Author's Note:

Hello, and welcome! Here follows the sequel to Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead, and I highly recommend you read that first to understand the general background of events. If you are determined to press on without, I suppose it may be enough to know Principal Celestia adopted Sunset and they fight monsters together.

For those returning, we pick up the story with a college-age Sunset, and there are a few things I’d like to note:

1) The AU tag was added to this fic, as Sunset and company don’t have superpowers. No diamond shields, mind reading, etc. The Rainbooms sometimes weirdly grow ears and shoot rainbows when playing music, but that’s about it.

2) While most late-era EQG stuff will be ignored, a character from the “Forgotten Friendship” special plays a prominent role in this story. I do recommend FF as a very good addition to the series, and viewing it will be helpful in establishing what her deal is.

I should also note this world is completely separate from Appledagio and Me and My Siren, for those of you who read me there.

And I guess as a final word, because it came up a couple times last fic – things like mind-control, kidnapping, and horrors from beyond human ken are pretty serious issues, which realistically shouldn’t be addressed by teens and public educators with illegal firearms. While “it’s just a cartoon” is a bit of a cop-out, some mix of action-movie and cartoon logic pervades these stories, and if something seems wrong or inappropriate, it’s probably best to keep that lens in mind.

Away, we go!

Hail Tirek

For most students, graduation from high school brought a relieving promise of freedom. They would depart their city or even state on some pretext of education or employment, seeking above all liberation from parental authority.

Sunset Shimmer was not most students. Principal Celestia – the only parent she ever had – adopted her two months before she turned eighteen. A quiet scramble on both their parts ended with plans for bus and bike routes between the house and Canterlot College come graduation. Neither had been ready to say goodbye.

“...It didn’t work.” Celestia talked distractedly over the phone, one hand balancing a cardboard box. “Her bike got stolen, so I bought her a new one with a good lock. Then that got stolen, lock and all. And those buses… ugh. Sunset would come home at midnight, then wake at five to bus back for her morning class. One time the late bus just didn’t show, and thank heavens Luna was awake to drive her home in the middle of the night.”

She stumbled, bringing a porcelain clinking from the box. “Sorry, Redheart, I’ll call you back. I need my hands.”

Celestia pocketed the phone and turned both arms to her load, easily moving it into the last box-shaped space left in the SUV.

“Nice of Cheerilee to lend her car… oh, Sunset? What’s that?”

The flame-haired teen – “teen” for only six more months – had emerged out the side door. She grinned sheepishly and held up a dusty brown lamp in one hand and battered iron pot in the other. “Found these in the basement. Luna said I could have them.”

“No objections.” Celestia smiled faintly as Sunset jammed her finds into the loaded car. “Textbooks packed?”

“All five-hundred dollars’ worth.”


“Mom!” Sunset laughed. Green eyes found pink, and she capped it with an easy grin. “Of course. And if I somehow forgot, I can bus home and get it. I’m going to a dorm, not the moon.”

“Just being safe,” Celestia said. “Speaking of which: handgun?”

“In the concealed carry.” Sunset patted a slight bulge at her jacket’s side. “And before you ask, silver bullets are in the purse, and the light gun is packed with my underwear.”

Celestia began raising a finger for ‘speech mode,’ but Sunset caught the gesture and went on. “I’m not allowed to hunt monsters, investigate, or even poke into things without getting you first, or Miss Harshwhinny if it happens while you’re on vacation. These tools are only for immediate self-defense, and it’s my responsibility to ensure they stay in working order.”

Celestia lowered the finger, her smile growing. “I’ll repeat myself as much as I like, young lady. I’ll be worried about you.”

Sunset moved as the conversation went on, closing the hatchback only to find it jammed just in front of the latch. Frowning, she gave it a shove. A box crunched, porcelain clinked, and the door locked in place.

“I’ve lived in barns, subway terminals, the old rec building before it got demolished… a dorm will be fine. Plus I’m rooming with Applejack, and if there’s one person who can keep me on the straight and narrow, it’s her.”

“The rest of your friends will be there too, right?”

Sunset shrugged. “Not ‘the rest,’ but all the girls. AJ’s the only one at my dorm, though. Rarity and Rainbow are rooming together – and won’t that be a treat – and the rest of the guys are commuting from home. I had a couple classes with Rainbow and Pinkie last year, but that’ll change as my load gets more nursing-focused.”

The grin flashed teeth. “So if I manage to starve myself, they’ll be there to save me.”

“It’s good to have people you can count on,” Celestia said serenely.

Another shrug from Sunset. “Not for monster hunting.”

“That will not be relevant, now will it?” came the rather more edged response. “Your grades were good last year, but the classes will grow more difficult. Stay focused, and if you’re at a party remember to–”

“Floss your teeth, go to bed at nine, and remember to call your mother so she doesn’t grouse to your aunt.”

Rustling from a last ill-packed box followed Luna’s voice, announcing her exit from the house. “Any more space in there?”

Sunset accepted the cardboard load and moved to the forward doors. “I’ll just put my feet up on it.”

“Cool.” Luna cracked her neck to each side. “So, I caught you guys at the grades and party lecture. Means we were after the no-hunting lecture, right?”

Sunset traded her a smirk. “And before the safe sex lecture. Good timing, thanks Aunt Luna.”

“I’m her mother,” Celestia announced sternly, a humored smile creeping up through her scowl. “It is my right and prerogative to nag as I seeYARGH!”

Luna’s fingers had closed around her ribs, drawing a tickled yelp. Celestia tittered and gave ground before her leering sibling, backpedaling around the SUV as Luna gave chase.

“Well it’s my right to do this as both the annoying little sister and the cool aunt, soYEEP!”

Longer fingers and a generally less ticklish disposition gave Celestia an edge as she abruptly turned and fought. A brief, giggling battle sent Luna in retreat, though Celestia halted pursuit at Sunset’s humored gaze.

“She started it,” Celestia huffed.

“At least you won’t get empty nest syndrome.”

“She totally will,” Luna called, defiant on the opposite side of the car.

“Laugh away, you two.” Celestia haughtily tilted her head, giving her beanpole build an even greater height. “Perhaps I will find comfort in the arms of my boyfriend.”

Luna chuckled. “The boyfriend we mysteriously have not met.”

“We’ve been together three weeks, Luna. You will.” Celestia deflated from the arrogant pose, returning to Sunset with calm smile and shiny eyes. “If that’s everything, we should leave now. Hard as it was getting it all packed, next we have to move you to a sixth-floor dorm.”

Canterlot College was a relatively new addition to the city, and one that suited its host well. Modern architecture split the campus evenly between pleasant buildings and ones that tried too hard to be ‘artsy,’ with grassy fields, frat houses, and hipster stores sown in between. Tech-friendly and relatively inexpensive, the place had become a favorite for local graduates uninterested in leaving town. Rubbernecking from the car gave Sunset glimpses of Spitfire and Fluttershy, then Sugarcoat sulking at a cafe table.

A quick check of the map revealed their destination to be the Dali Hall – in the bottom corner of campus, as if some wise planner had purposefully tucked it away from the trendy gateway and shops. A talentless vomit of colors splattered it from top to bottom, relieved only by graffiti someone thoughtfully added to one side.

Check-in and keys gave Sunset her first impression of the interior – oddly cramped, and with a lingering smell of cigarettes in the lobby. Dali Hall sat square at the bottom of the dorms’ pecking order, catering only to light-pursed families with no better options.

Fortunately, Celestia’s prediction of a hard time unloading proved false with the addition of Applejack – Sunset’s friend and new roommate, courtesy of the long distance to Sweet Apple Acres. The muscular farmer got one heavy easy chair to the dorm while the other three panted behind with the second, and then made efficient time carrying several boxes with her next trip upwards.

“T’aint no pony palace,” Applejack said, somehow freeing a hand to show Sunset in. “But better than you might guess.”

Their bedroom resembled a ship’s cabin more than an apartment, but such was not their only space. A living room sat between it and the hall, accessible by their keys and only shared by students in the cabin next door. Applejack’s old television occupied a corner comfortably with a few chairs, leaving plenty of space for visits and hobbies.

Applejack made a face as show tunes sounded from the TV. “When did I… hang a tick.”

She walked over and turned it off, boxes still in hand. “Anyway, I don’t know who our neighbors will be. Fair warning, if they’re loud music at night types, we’ll have words.”

Celestia followed them in, then gave Sunset a conspiratorial smile. “Start unpacking. Luna and I will handle moving things from the car.”

“Voluntell me, why don’cha.” But Luna gave a snarky smile, then sped to catch up with her sister. Laughter sounded in their wake, drawing a wide grin out of Applejack.

“Those ladies have gotten a lot happier over the years. Reckon y’all had something to do with it, hm?”

Sunset looked down and away, blushing. “Yeah, maybe. You’ve been here since graduation, right? What happened with your old roommate?”

“Closets are for brooms.” Applejack pulled a pillow from one of the boxes and tossed it onto Sunset’s bed. “I told her upfront that what they say about girls who wear flannel is true. She spent the rest of the semester acting worried I was gonna jump her. She’s gone, and no hard feelings, but good riddance.”

“Good riddance,” Sunset echoed, giving AJ’s shoulder a companionable pat. A quick scan of her face showed humor without hurt, so Sunset went on and scooped up her underwear. “Just us two for now, huh?”

“Hi, Sunset.”

A quiet voice from the TV corner startled them enough for Sunset to launch her unmentionables into the air. They spun around to see a freckled green girl in cargo pants and beige sweater, perched facing the blank TV.

Applejack gave a loud whistle and laugh. “I’ll be, Wallflower Blush! You’re gonna be our suite-mate?”

“I’ve been here since last semester.”

The smile froze on Applejack’s face. Slowly it withered, and she pulled her hat down over her eyes. “And I turned off the TV on you… sorry, girl.”

Sunset moved to cover her friend’s faux pas. “I didn’t know you stayed in Canterlot.”

“I was in your statistics class last semester, and your English class the one before that.”

“Tirek’s teeth!” Sunset slapped a hand to her face and dragged it down with a groan. “Wallflower, I’m sorry, I don’t know why this happens.”

The small girl chuckled at their embarrassment, seeming to grin in genuine good faith as she waved them to stop. “It’s alright, I’m used to it. I know you guys are trying, and I’ve learned to see the good in how I am.”

Sunset peeked through her fingers. “Really?”

Almost two years ago, Principal Cinch infected her student body with brain worms and sent them as a zombie-like swarm against Canterlot High in her bid to overturn the results of the Friendship Games. One such encounter in that time saw Aria Blaze and Micro Chips dashing madly for the gym and tentative safety, pursued by a horde of slobbering preppies.

...Right past Wallflower Blush. She made her way to the exit to find it guarded by infected students, but a quiet “Excuse me,” and rigorous avoidance of eye contact allowed her to slip past them and escape.

“Really.” Wallflower nodded, honestly in better cheer than Sunset had ever seen. “Twilight even looked at me with some kind of magic detector. It found nothing… go figure, right? She thinks this might be a side effect of me over-using the memory stone. But don’t worry, I’ll speak up if I need to.”

“Well...” Applejack scratched the back of her head, then shrugged. “One roommate to go, I suppose.”

Wallflower pointed to her bedroom. “She’s here. Or rather, she moved in yesterday.”

“Anyone we know?” Sunset ventured.

Green bangs frayed listlessly as Wallflower bobbed her head. “Yeah, she was in our cl–”

The door burst open, followed by Luna and two tumbling boxes. “Okay! AJ, Sunset, little help?”

“I said to only carry one,” Celestia followed in as the rest scrambled with Luna’s load.

“And I saved us a trip, so you’re welcome. Gah!” Luna let the last box fall and waved her arms out, working some life back into them. “Okay, I’m hungry. Let’s hit that sushi place and… oh, Applejack? You’re welcome to come with, I guess.”

A twitch rippled Celestia’s placid surface, not unnoticed by Applejack. “Nah, thank you kindly. This seems like a big family moment, leaving the nest and all. I’ll walk you down.”

Luna departed, followed by Sunset. Applejack made to walk after them when a callused pink hand settled on her shoulder.

“Thank you.”

Applejack gave the hand an easy pat. “Don’t be a stranger now, Principal.”

“You graduated, Applejack. Call me Celestia.”

The pair shared a kindly smile and stepped out, with Celestia conscientiously turning off the lights on her way.

Celestia waited until they were done eating to offer a crinkled envelope from her jacket. Sunset opened it to find an expected card, signed by Celestia and Luna. Less expected was the slip of paper that fell out, and the number of zeroes written on the line marked “check amount.”

“Mom...” Flabbergasted, Sunset sank back in her seat. “I can’t accept this.”

Luna cut in, fishing through her purse. “It’s not that much, kiddo. The dorm rent and groceries will cut it down to size before the year’s out. On the subject, here’s a flier for free dinner at some Greek house.”

“Lulu and I talked about this,” Celestia said as Luna passed Sunset a folded paper. “We don’t want you to spend weekends and evenings at work. We want you to study hard and have fun.”

Sunset shook her head vehemently. “No, listen guys: I know you’re already taking out loans for me, and I know you’re not rich to begin with. Whether you got this from the vampire hunting or your Hawaii fund, I won’t have you guys crippling yourselves for me like that.”

“Oh, no worries at all!” Luna laughed, then drained the last of her coffee. “This came from outside all that.”

“Where? Or rather, how?” Sunset looked between grinning Luna and tea-sipping Celestia, confusion marking her face.

Luna settled back, smirked, and gestured with her head to Celestia. The elder sister gently returned her tea to the table with a soft clink.

“Do you remember when Princess Celestia visited, and gave us the box when she left?”

Sunset nodded. “The candy box, yeah.”

“It was gold.” Celestia took another sip. “Then… um, then last Christmas she sent me a lovely opal brooch.”

Sunset blinked.

Then twisted her head to stare sideways as the coin dropped. “You pawned the gifts Princess Celestia gave you?”

Celestia’s response came with the practiced tone of one who argued the same in a mirror. “I think the good princess would be far more interested in seeing you happy than in me hoarding her presents. It is on you to ensure the gift is budgeted well.”

Celestia would not hear another word of debate, and that was that. The group paid and departed, though Sunset paused outside as they came back to the dorm.

“Sunset…?” Celestia turned to find her daughter staring back to her.

“This is it, isn’t it?”

The words tumbled brokenly from Sunset’s mouth, and the immediate hug from mother and aunt did not interrupt. “The end. I was with you guys for so little time, and… and...”

“And you’re not going anywhere.” Gently, firmly, Celestia held her steady. “We’re not going anywhere, either. We’ll just live in different places. Like Luna and I, how we have our own bedrooms now. Change is scary, but it often turns out well. You taught us that.”

She produced a handkerchief and dabbed at Sunset’s eyes. “We’re a phone call away. Or a text. And we love you. Study hard, have fun. We don’t leave on vacation for another few weeks, so visit sometime before then and tell us how you’re doing.”

Luna stepped away, letting Sunset bring both arms up to wrap tightly around her mother.

A wet sniff broke the evening calm, and Sunset continued haltingly. “I know all that, I… I don’t know why I’m suddenly like this. Something… the help moving, the help with everything, the money, all those times caring for me...”

She swallowed hard and looked up to Celestia – still wet-eyed, but beaming. “I love you. And I know you love me.”

They kissed chastely on the lips and broke apart, each waving goodbye. Luna uncharacteristically climbed into the driver’s seat, and Celestia sat down beside her as Sunset entered the dorm.

Luna started the engine, and without looking produced her own handkerchief. She felt it quickly snatch from her grip, then heard a wet trumpet blare from Celestia’s seat.

“I’m impressed you kept it together that long,” Luna said, driving away as Celestia blew her nose again.

“I’m not falling apart,” Celestia insisted, folding the handkerchief to a dry side and passing a wrist over her eyes. “I just… I’m a little...”

A third trumpet went off, this one with a shrill honk at the end. Luna sighed, switching on music as they drove off into the twilight.

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