• Published 22nd May 2019
  • 2,912 Views, 301 Comments

Sun Never Sets - CrownofDissonance



The gates of the underworld are opening for the first time in two thousand years. It's up to Sunset Shimmer, demon hunter extrordinaire, to slam 'em shut.

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04- The Tangling of Interests

Flash Sentry knelt down behind a row of seats on the balcony above the Convention Hall's main stage, and spoke into his radio.

"Captain Spitfire, it's Agent Sentry, where are you right now?"

He waited, the earpiece connected to his radio giving him nothing but static for a few moments before a response came.

"We dropped Pinkie and her friend off at the police station, and my team is moving towards the business district. We lost contact with a team of officers at the Coyote Hotel and need to get them out if they're in trouble."

"We're in the Convention Hall." Flash said. "We've found another of our friends and we'll need someone to take her to safety once Sunset's secured her demon."

"That, we can do." Spitfire said. "Also, both Rarity and Pinkie reported seeing the same green-eyed monster before transforming."

"We ran into it earlier." Flash thought about that possibility. It didn't seem like an ordinary demon, but Flash wouldn't have classified it as a boss. "It didn't look like a leader, but you never know."

"We'll be there soon, hang tight."

"Understood." Flash removed the piece from his ear, and peeked over the balcony looking down on the stage. A concert may have been put on here before, but now, it was the stage of a battle, with music equipment strung about and a beam from the ceiling jutting up from the ground at an angle. At its very tip, he could see Sunset balancing gracefully and firing her guns at another demon hunter with purple hair, who fired back with a revolver.

The other girl looked a bit younger than Sunset, fighting with much aggression and vocalizing her efforts through shouts and short battle cries. Though she had defeated Rainbow Dash's Inner Demon, Sunset seemed to be giving her more trouble, and those shouts became louder and angrier.

Flash was amazed, though he felt he shouldn't have been, as Sunset shot down all of the other girl's bullets with her own. When they got right up on each other, they threw punches and kicks, but still attempted to shoot off their guns. Smooth, relaxed, and with seemingly little effort, Sunset matched the girl hit for hit, then swept her off the tip of the beam with a surprise spin kick. As the other girl fell, Sunset jumped back, flipping herself upside down, pointing both of her guns down, and spinning herself around as she rained a storm of bullets down into the other girl.

The girl's eyes glimmered, and she threw her chainsaw sword into the air above her as she fell. Landing on her back, she caught it in her left hand and twirled it like a helicopter blade, intercepting all of Sunset's shots moments before impact.

There was a loud crack behind Flash, followed by something rocking the ground beneath him. Then, there was rumbling, like thunder, but closer. It was something he'd never heard before, but knew nonetheless.

A building, or part of one at least, was collapsing.

-----

On the fifteenth floor of the Coyote Hotel, there was a little bar and grill restaurant. The city was calling for evacuation, a demon attack, they said. All of the hotel's staff, as well as the people staying there, were long gone, whoever didn't escape would've been history anyway.

There was one, however, that stayed behind.

On the floor, wiping down a table with a cloth towel, was a wide shouldered woman, with a muscular frame and a head of long, blonde hair held back by a ponytail holder. She wore a pinstriped suit, not the revealing outfit of an eye-candy waitress. No, she was the manager, as indicated by the tag above her chest.

"I could've been down at Dash's concert..." She sighed, her accent that of a country girl's, not often encountered in Canterlot's city areas. She vigorously scrubbed her rag over a dark brown spot of blood on the table. "Ugh... Why does demon blood have to dry so quickly?"

Broken windows were all around her, but the floor had been swept clean. Portions of the walls and ceiling had came down, and burn marks streaked across the walls, but any ashes and rubble had also been swept away. All of the dishes and glasses behind the counters were clean, as well as every other table in the room. Behind her on a counter, there was an ornate lever action rifle, with a box of cartridges next to it.

Soft, green eyes looked on boredly as she polished the wooden surface until she saw her own freckled face in it. She wanted to smile, as that was the last table that needed cleaning, but her day had been a long one. At least there were no more customers to serve.

As if to contradict that thought, the elevator just outside the restaurant's entrance gave a sharp ding. Someone came through the doors, and the manager went to turn them away.

"We ain't open right now, there's a bit of a crisis goin' on..."

"I know, Applejack." Entering the dining area of restaurant was Twilight Sparkle, her purple coat and thick glasses immediately noticeable, and her face one the manager knew well.

"Oh, Twilight! I should've known you'd show up to help," Applejack said, relaxing a bit as she greeted her old friend. "Unfortunately, the show's over. I've cleaned up most of the demons here already."

"You did?" Twilight didn't sound surprised, instead, she sounded suspicious. This took Applejack off guard, but she gave a cool response anyway, nodding to the rifle on the counter.

"You can get a lot done with a little gunpowder, honey."

"Right..." She seemed satisfied with this answer. "Well, there's only one more to deal with, in that case."

"I just finished up cleanin' up here," Applejack rolled the towel up and tossed it perfectly into the sink from where she stood. "Maybe we can hunt 'em down together?"

"Well, that depends. Have you seen a shapeless demon that looks like an... ethereal void of nothingness?" Twilight asked. Her tone was a bit cryptic, but from what Applejack remembered, she was always like that.

"Hmm." Applejack put a hand to her chin, her focus shifting to the floor as she walked over to the bar counter and leaned on a chair. "Most of the ones that came in here looked like bugs, but I do recall one of 'em lookin' something like that. Pitch-black, like space, but it had off-putting eyes. Made my skin crawl."

"What did you do when you saw it?" Twilight now sounded like a teacher, asking a student a question. The tone shift further stirred Applejack's suspicion, but she reckoned Twilight was a bit stressed.

"I shot it, of course. Didn't kill it, but..."

"With your gun?"

Applejack tilted her head, and raised an eyebrow. Her face almost naturally shifted to that expression. "Uh, what else would I have shot it with?"

Something was wrong. Twilight's eyes pierced through Applejack's, looking right through them to her thoughts. Applejack knew the look, it was a look of someone who didn't believe a word she said. Somehow, Twilight had it in her head that Applejack wasn't telling the truth.

And she was right.

Sweat formed on her forehead.

"You're a terrible liar, Applejack."

Applejack sighed, and her body loosened as tension she didn't know she was carrying left her. She looked towards the ground. Twilight was absolutely right. She was a terrible liar.

"What gave it away?" Applejack asked, not moving her head.

"You have magic..." Twilight began.

"And?" Applejack looked up.

"The Tantibus can tap into your magic and trigger your Inner Demon, and does so through eye contact." Twilight paused. "It can also shape shift, and likes to morph itself around bullets."

Applejack's face turned a slight shade of red, but she kept herself calm.

"Maybe I didn't shoot it..." She said.

"That would lead me to believe that you're not actually Applejack, either." Twilight continued.

"What?" Looking up at Twilight, Applejack's surprise overtook her face. Certainly, she wasn't serious? "I know it's been a few years, but c'mon now..."

Twilight gripped the handle of her katana. "No, I would never forget my friend. Applejack is the most honest person I know... would she really lie to me?"

"Okay, maybe I did lie, and I shouldnt've..." Applejack's hands trembled as she held them up in a panic, backing away from the calm, yet threatening Twilight. "But I really think that-"

"No." Applejack saw no movement, one moment, Twilight's sword was sheathed, and the next, it was being pointed accusingly at her in an outstretched arm. "The inversion of Honesty: Deception. Trying to talk me down is exactly what her demon would try to do!"

She took aggressive steps forward, and Applejack backed up further. "Look, I'm sorry, I really should come clean with ya, Twi, if you would just-"

Her quaking voice was cut off by the swiping of Twilight's sword through the air. The sound of metal clashing surprised her, as did the sound of flames bursting from Applejack's forearms.

The terrified Applejack was there no more, instantaneously replaced by a more determined one. She held her arm up confidently, stopping Twilight's blade with a black and silver gauntlet of demonic stone that now had formed around it. There was a matching gauntlet on her other arm, and a mantle covering her shoulders.

"There you are, demon..." Twilight grew both excited and angered as Applejack's demon form manifested, but was surprised to see it was much more tame than she was expecting. She looked the same, the only immediate change was the slitting of her pupils.

"You don't understand..." Applejack shook her head. "I've already mastered my Inner Demon, just like you."

"You're lying." Twilight brought her sword around Applejack's other side.

Cocking her fist back, Applejack threw a strong straight punch into the sword's edge, then blocked low as it came around again. With Twilight's tempo offset, Applejack quickly threw another punch that caught the weapon's handle, stumbling Twilight and knocking her sword to the ground behind her.

Rather than push her advantage, Applejack stepped back, and held a guard up just in case Twilight had another weapon. "I don't wanna fight you, sugarcube, if you'd just listen..."

"I need your magic anyway. That's what I'm here for." Twilight kept eye contact with Applejack as she backed up and retrieved her sword. "If you're really my friend, just hand it over."

"There's a reason I didn't tell you right away, Twi..." Applejack cracked her knuckles as she took a few steps forward, a pair of demonic boots forming around her feet at her will. "You looked like you were just itchin' for a fight when you came in here. It's almost like your demon is controlling you again."

"No!" A switch within Twilight suddenly flipped at the accusation, her eye twitching under the accusation and more of her frustration showed through. "No, that's not possible!"

Applejack crossed her arms and gave defiant look. "Well now I'm definitely not giving it to you."

"I don't have time for this. You're going to give me your magic, one way or another!"

As much as she valued Twilight as a friend, sometimes friends didn't think straight, and sometimes they needed some sense knocked into them. Now seemed exactly like one of those times. Flames began to swirl around her gauntlets.

"How 'bout I show you what I actually did to that demon, then?"

-----

Starlight stood with her chainsaber ready, not bothered by the rumbling beyond them. Sunset had her sword drawn as well, but her guard was down, and empty hand pointed forward, beckoning for her to attack. After all of the fighting they'd done so far, she didn't even look tired. Sunset's cheek bulged slightly as she shifted the lollipop in her mouth.

The relaxed look on her face, the way she took pleasure in taunting her every moment she could, the way she just sucked on that lollipop... It all pissed Starlight off.

"I'm gonna knock that stupid sucker right down your throat!" Starlight shouted, revving her blade and lunging forward.

"You're welcome to try." Sunset replied, leaning in right next to the flat of Starlight's blade as she dodged its edge, so close she could see her reflection on its side. Starlight caught the tip of Sunset's blade in her palm, the metal scraping as she wrapped her fingers around its point. Sunset pulled it back, and the two crossed blades again, holding a lock this time.

"What are you?" Starlight asked in a heated rage.

"A bit more skilled than you, it would seem."

"Oh, that's it!" Starlight pushed Sunset's sword to the side and threw a cross as her weight shifted. With her sword held horizontally, Sunset bashed the pommel end of her weapon against the inside of Starlight's elbow joint, knocking it out of place while also cutting across Starlight's shoulder with the blade end.

Her mechanical arm didn't respond, and her natural one burned in pain. Starlight cried out in pain as she staggered back, dropping her saber as she lost her balance. She nearly fell to her knees, but caught herself, holding herself together as best as she could. The cut was deep, and stung like hell, but she wasn't about to give up. "I'm not down yet!"

"You might as well be," Sunset said, going to pull her lollipop stick from her mouth. Her fingers met air, though, and she found the end of the stick had been severed. "I only glanced your shoulder, and you're nearly on the floor."

Starlight only stuttered a response.

"You got the end of my lollipop though. You're pretty good."

"Pretty..." Starlight let out a breath, and closed her eyes. Any anger was exchanged for surprise. "...good?"

Starlight focused, she needed to not be bleeding right now. Drawing on the magic stored in her cyborg body, her cut began to slowly heal itself, but as the wound closed she felt the same intense burning as when the cut was made. With her left hand, she attempted to push her right back into place, but her forearm piece wouldn't budge. It was stuck, bent away from her chest, and she couldn't move it. When the pain of healing subsided, she opened her eyes and looked to Sunset.

"What are you?" She repeated.

Sunset was extending a hand to the blue and black energy above Rainbow Dash, and had it absorbed within seconds.

"Someone trying to save her friends," Sunset replied.

"No, I mean... You're not entirely human."

"Neither are you, but that's kind of stating the obvious, isn't it?"

Starlight didn't appreciate that. Furthermore, her suspicion was confirmed, Sunset was a demon. A sudden burst of anger getting the better of her, she scooped up her saber and rushed Sunset. To her dismay, she would only be blasted back by a shockwave accompanied by a loud, harmonic screech. In Sunset's hands was the same guitar wielded by Rainbow's demon.

"Ah, ah," Sunset said in a playful tone, watching Starlight roll off her back and hop to her feet. "I won our duel."

Behind them, there was another quake. This one felt like it came from the ceiling above them. Another crash followed it, sounding through the open doors of the theater area.

"You're a demon." Starlight clarified her previous statement. "I kill demons."

"Look, I said you were pretty good, but I doubt you're good enough to kill me," Sunset let the guitar hang from a strap that materialized as soon as she let go of it. "Besides, we're on the same side."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Her chainsaber, still on, rumbled softly.

"I mean you need some work," Sunset absorbed Rainbow's demon back into her. "You've got spirit, but your technique is lacking."

"No, you said we're on the same side? What are you doing here?"

"Dealing with these demons." Behind Sunset, someone else came running through the theater doors. Noticing him, she gave him a look of concern. "Flash, I told you I had this."

Flash shook his head. "You don't understand. Applejack is here too. Twilight's found her, and they're fighting."

"Oh." Sunset's concern left her immediately. "Guess they're causing those quakes, huh?"

"I guess," Flash went to Rainbow Dash, lifting her up and putting her weight over his shoulders. "Captain Spitfire is on her way to the Coyote Hotel, we need to get Rainbow there, she'll be safe with her."

"You do that," Sunset nodded. "I'll go after Applejack."

"Wait, what?" Flash blinked in surprise. "There's more demons in the Convention Hall, I'm going to need you to cover me!"

"Get someone else to babysit you, Flash." Sunset made her way to the auditorium doors, looking back just as she opened them. "I thought you could handle yourself."

Flash was left with Starlight, who watched the whole scene play out in a silent confusion. As Flash made a discouraged sigh, she spoke up.

"Uh... Is she always that harsh with you?"

"Yep." Flash nodded.

"Are you two..."

"We're just friends," He clarified, "Dated in high school, just friends now. Friends and demon-hunting partners."

"Doesn't seem like she's into the 'partner' part." Starlight said, turning off her chainsaber and putting it across her back. "Who are you, by the way?"

"Seraph Agent Flash Sentry," He said, readjusting his hold on Rainbow. She fidgeted slightly, but didn't wake. "I'm here trying to contain the demon situation."

"They send one guy for a citywide outbreak?"

Flash gave her a smirk. "And who are you?"

"Starlight Glimmer, I'm a Knight with the Order of Light. Kind of."

Flash looked surprised to hear this. The Order, as far as he knew, wore either mystic looking robes or suits of plate armor. They had strict codes and rules, he certainly didn't imagine one in denim with spiked hair. His face conveyed his disbelief.

"Before you ask," Starlight added, "I don't believe in all of their 'holy sister' stuff or do religious shit with them. I just kill demons, and they give me a paycheck and a place to sleep."

"Right." Flash said. "Wish I had more time to talk, but I've gotta get my friend here somewhere safe."

"I..." Starlight held the word out for a few seconds. "I can help you out, if you need it. If we can get to the parking garage, I've got a ride waiting for me. We could drop you off... wherever you said you needed to be dropped off."

"You'd help me? You were just fighting Sunset a minute ago."

"It's more for Rainbow than anyone else," she said, before passively adding, "It's a Paladin thing, protecting the innocent and stuff."

SRAPH agents held a similar sentiment.

Flash nodded. "Lead the way."

-----

On the roof of the multi-level parking garage across from the Convention Hall, a huge, grey RV was parked horizontally across several open spaces. Several periwinkle stripes ran along the bottom, and many panels of thick armor plating had been installed along the outside. Upon one of those panels was the spray painted image of a crescent moon, with a star tipped wand at its center.

A young woman with messy, silvery-blue hair sat in the driver's seat with her legs kicked up over the steering wheel, causing her jeans to sag a bit. Her whole body was slouched as she sunk down into her seat, curling her back up in a way that couldn't have been good for her spine. She didn't care about that, her attention was on the fashion magazine she lazily flicked through. Soft purple eyes scanned the pages, not really that invested in the models and celebrities and stories and tips on this and that, but wanted a way to pass the time.

She brushed a strand of hair that had fallen in her face, and reached to a cup holder beside her, holding an open bag of pretzels. Her crunching upon them was loud and careless, warranting the attention of the passenger beside her.

"Do you have to chew so loud, Trixie?" Sitting in a proper, upright position, he looked down at Trixie as he asked the question.

"Sowhy, Sunburhsht," Trixie replied, mouth still very much full of pretzels. As he gave her an annoyed look, she quickly swallowed her snack and repeated herself. "Sorry, Sunburst."

He returned to gazing off at the tall hotel building. The fire in it had seemingly gone out, and he was deep in thought trying to figure out how that could be. No rescue teams had made it up there, maybe someone stayed behind?

Sunburst pushed his large, circular glasses up on his face, and ran a hand through his short length of deep red hair, giving the back of his neck a scratch. Other questions invaded his mind, and he nervously played with the sleeves of the robes he wore. Often did he do this unintentionally, the blue fabric wearing away and coming undone in places he commonly ran his fingers over. Catching himself, he shifted his hand to stroke the short goatee he was growing, his facial hair being less likely to be permanently ruined than his clothes.

"You think Starlight's okay?" He asked, giving Trixie another glance.

Trixie shifted in her seat, rolling her shoulders and pulling up a sleeve of her dark blue top.

"Probably," She eventually replied. "She can take care of herself. 'Specially when we're not around to slow her down."

"I'm just worried, I guess."

"I'm not." Trixie kept her gaze fixed on her magazine. "These runs are pretty routine by now. We drop Starlight off at wherever, she beats up some demons, we all go get smoothies, and the Order pays for gas."

"But this one felt off," Sunburst said, "The Head Paladin was very secretive about giving us this mission. He didn't want us telling anyone where we were going, or how he even knew there would be a situation out here."

"Sounds complicated."

Sunburst sighed. Trixie wouldn't understand, she wasn't a member of the Order, nor did she care much for their inner workings. She was just the friend kind enough to drive her house around for them.

He would've said something else, but the floor of the RV suddenly shook as a huge clap of thunder broke both of them from any conversation they were having. The hotel a few streets away suddenly had a cloud of dust around its base, and every window on it shattered in a descending cascade, floor by floor, going all the way down to the ground in the span of several seconds.

"Woah, what was that?" Trixie nearly slipped from her seat to floorboard as she scrambled to sit up.

"I don't know." Sunburst said, concern streaking through his tone, but not showing itself fully.

The two looked at each other, then back at the hotel. Nothing else happened, but both of them felt an uneasy tension in the silence.

"I don't like this." Trixie nervously swept her hand around her seat for her keys, grabbing them the moment she felt them and hastily starting the RV.

"B-But we told Starlight we'd wait here." Sunburst said, his concern becoming more and more apparent. "Couldn't we just wait for her to come to us?"

"Nope, we're gonna find her and leave." Trixie said impatiently, spinning the steering wheel around. She put her foot down on the gas pedal, and set her massive RV home rolling out of it's parking space. Sunburst looked out the side window as they headed towards the ramp leading down through the garage, seeing swirls of red and black mist on the streets below.

Another thunderous blast rang out from beside them as a wall on the fifth floor of the Coyote Hotel exploded outward. From it, a ragdolling body was thrown far across the street and down into the roof of the Convention Hall. Someone else jumped much more gracefully after the body, then smashed them through the roof completely.

"Uh... But..." Sunburst recoiled slightly, trying to express his immense disapproval of Trixie's rash actions while suppressing his natural aversion to confrontation. He only a managed a weak response. "It's dangerous?"

"I don't care." With a firm grip on the wheel at ten and two o'clock, Trixie kept her eyes focused forward and turned down the ramp to the garage level beneath them. "Trixie goes where Trixie wants, when she wants."

"What if we run into demons?"

"Easy, we just run them over."

Author's Note:

Our cast has been introduced, our setting is established, and now their threads will be pulled along, intersecting and tangling until the story is concluded.