• Published 22nd May 2019
  • 3,469 Views, 306 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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05- The Shreds of Cooperation

Sunset Shimmer stood in an open lobby and looked up through a gaping hole in the roof of the Canterlot City Convention Hall. The carpeted floor at her feet had another hole smashed through it as well, leading down through to a cracked concrete floor.

An impressed whistle passed through Sunset's lips. "They really tore the place up."

Applejack is here too, huh? A rough, gravelly voice sounded in her head. It was of the recently acquired demon of Rainbow Dash.

"Yep." She spoke under her breath, replying to her.

You better use me to take her out. The demon said.

"Yeah? Or what?"

We're going to have a problem.

Hey! The upbeat voice of Pinkie's demon spoke as well. What about me?

She's mine, Pinkie!

"I'll use whatever I need to, thank you." Sunset said, inspecting the hole in the ground closer. She couldn't see anything immediately beneath her.

Oh, tough girl, huh? Rainbow's demon took her attention again. Maybe you can do it without me, then.

"You're right. You saw how I handled that other demon hunter." In her mind, Sunset began to suppress Rainbow's demon. It was easy, like rubbing out marker on a whiteboard, but if she snuffed the voice out completely she wouldn't be able to summon her guitar form. "I don't really need you."

Wait, wait! Upon feeling Sunset's mind pressing down on her, the demon began to plead. Please, just give me a chance! We can work together!

Sunset smiled. "Alright, but I'm only going to use you when you'd be useful."

I can be useful! I just wanted a chance at showing up AJ, that's all! You don't have to use me all the time, it was just a... just a request, yeah!

"I'll see what I can do, then."

Unlike Pinkie's demon, who was content with just causing destruction, Rainbow's demon wanted something else. Sunset didn't know what just yet, but the uncertainty was enough to make her wary. It didn't take much to put her in her place, but she was also quick to challenge Sunset. Her reliability was questionable at best. The last thing she needed was a weapon not working when she needed it to, or a voice in her head actively trying to argue with her during a fight.

That was enough standing around in one spot though, she needed to get moving.

Before she could, a familiar, synthesized voice called to her from... somewhere. For whatever reason, Sunset couldn't tell what direction it came from.

"Sunset Shimmer."

She didn't see anything move, but heard a mechanical shifting moments before an energized blade cut straight up through the floor beneath her. Sunset did a backflip over it as it came towards her feet.

Catching her balance on her hands, she saw the blade cut across again, and pushed off the ground into another flip. Now back on her feet, she caught the lollipop she sent spinning through the air and returned it to her mouth, intending to enjoy as much of it as possible.

The blade pulled down, but came back up behind her, cutting only a single line several feet from her. It missed. Unless...

Sunset's center of gravity jumped forward as the floor began to collapse, it had been cut out beneath her in a square. She drew her sword, finding herself sliding and falling as the floor tilted. She smoothly landed on the ground beneath and looked up, seeing a piece of the floor above coming straight at her.

The demonic metal of her sword easily cut across the weaker materials, parting the oncoming floor just in time for Sunset to see who was right behind it- Spike, Twilight's loyal mechanized hound. On his tail was the energized blade that had cut through the floor, and he leapt straight through the sliced open slab of concrete and carpet with both paws forward, pinning Sunset to the ground with his heavy frame.

Both of Spike's front claws bared down on Sunset's blade as she held it firmly, one hand on the handle and the other on the end of the blade. She leaned her head to the side, avoiding his tail as it came down to stab her. The tip punched through the floor and retracted, but before he could bring it down again Sunset kicked both of her feet up into him and sent him spinning away.

As he spun, Spike whipped his tail around, detaching the blade from it and flinging it at Sunset with deadly precision, before landing cleanly on all fours and producing another blade from a slot on his back. Sunset, still lying face up, brought her foot up, kicking the blade up into the air and catching it as she jumped to her feet.

The blade was red hot, glowing in her hand.

"Ow!" She quickly threw it back up in the air after the pain of her hand sizzling registered, letting it clatter uselessly to the ground. Shaking her hand off, she rolled her shoulders and neck, looking up to her new opponent.

"Spike! It's been a while," She began, letting her shoulders drop and relax. "Not just a puppy anymore, are you?"

"No, Twilight's perfected my demon fighting capabilities." Spike said, his voice emotionless.

"Is that so? In what ways?" Sunset asked.

"My frame has been reinforced with a resentite alloy- a material known for its resistance to magic. Demonic weapons will not be effective against me." Spike cautiously began to circle Sunset as he talked. Behind her was a set of bathrooms, and to either side was a long, wide hallway. "Meanwhile, my blades vibrate at a frequency high enough to cut any material on the molecular level."

Sunset mirrored Spike's movements, nearing a trash can by the bathroom's entrance. Spike kept his head low, looking as if he would pounce at any moment.

"Twilight's sword is the same way," Sunset said. "And she couldn't cut through my weapons."

"Perhaps demon weapons are an exception..." Spike continued. "But I'm faster, stronger, and more durable than any human could be."

"You and me both."

Spike ignored that comment. "And my AI core, my mind... I won't bore you with the details. All you need to know is that my intelligence is beyond both human and demon comprehension."

"That was pretty clever, cutting the floor out from beneath me like that," Sunset replied, finishing her lollipop with a soft crunch and tossing the stick into the trash can. "But I'm guessing you're still on Twilight's leash, huh?"

"My primary directive is to help Twilight, yes." Spike nodded, his cold tone becoming proud for a moment. "I'm her number one assistant, after all."

"So... You're here to stop me, then?"

Again, Spike nodded. "Yes. Twilight says I have to kill you if you plan to interfere.."

"Really?" Sunset said, "With that grand intelligence of yours, I'd think you know trying to kill me is a bad idea."

"I can analyze my orders," Spike said, "But I'm not allowed to disobey them."

"So you'd throw yourself at me because Twilight told you to?" She gave him a disappointed look. "What a waste..."

Spike's voice rose up into concern. "You'd hurt her. I can't let you do that."

"You know she's going to hurt a lot of other people if she's not stopped," Sunset's eyes narrowed. "I'm just doing what I have to."

"As am I." Spike's voice again went cold, but there was something else there. Subtle, but there, like he couldn't quite suppress it all the way. Sunset knew the tone well. He was regretful. There was something in him that knew this was wrong. When Sunset had first met him, he had been free to make his own choices and had full emotional capacity. He was loving and loyal to Twilight then, just as any talking dog would love their owner, but now, it seemed that his collar was far too tight. What had Twilight done to him?

"If you won't leave, I'll have to kill you, Sunset."

Sunset mirrored Spike's regret. "That's a shame..."

Despite being completely void of emotion, the regret in Spike's words were more evident than ever. "I am sorry."

"Yeah. Me too."

-----

Getting punched through at least ten stories, a wall, and the roof of huge building was not what Twilight had been expecting to do with her day. She had to give credit where it was due, Applejack, or rather Applejack's demon, was an extremely skilled fighter- Twilight would put her on par with Sunset, just beneath herself. Applejack could match her speed, and even when ignited, Twilight's blade couldn't cut through the demonic stone surrounding her body.

Whenever Twilight thought she was about to get a hit in, the mantle on Applejack's shoulders would become animated, stretching across her body to protect wherever she was about to be hit. Only after seeing them protect her, she noticed the shoulder pieces resembled a pair of clawed hands. With the same morphing ability, the weapon held her lever-action rifle securely across Applejack's back. The weapon seemed to have a mind of its own, perhaps Applejack really did have control of her demon?

No. Twilight couldn't accept that now.

Keep on her, darling, don't let up! The voice of Rarity's demon echoed in her head. Though distracting, the voice sometimes gave helpful information. Either way, Twilight didn't have enough focus available to will her silent. She can't block forever!

You're not helping... Twilight thought, sidestepping a punch engulfed in flames, then getting forced back again as several more punches followed.

They were in the Convention Hall's basement level, a wide open area with nothing but concrete beneath them in all directions. Plenty of space to move, but nothing to take advantage of but the other's mistakes.

Well, excuse me... The demon's voice squeaked and scraped against the inside of Twilight's ears. Maybe if you switched to using me, you wouldn't have such a problem.

Twilight rolled her eyes. This demon was just so pretentious and self-important, it was unbelievable. You're not exactly a fast weapon- I'd actually use you for your pins if I didn't have to carry you as a needle.

A kick came at her leg, and Twilight blocked down, only to receive a punch to the face that laid her out in front of the elevator entrance. She was getting backed against a wall.

Perhaps I could be something a bit more... wearable, if you'd like?

What do you even care?

I'd rather not get killed again- And besides, I'd like to see you get revenge on that scruffy looking redhead for me. Of course, she was only concerned with her own wants.

Fine. Twilight grumbled.

Excellent. Don't drop me this time.

In the midst of avoiding the flurry of fiery fists Applejack threw her way, a dark blue cloak appeared around Twilight's shoulders, short in length, and with a diamond clasp on the front. It was elegant, almost regal looking, and Twilight found that by reaching into it she could produce the same sewing pins she could with the needle.

And so she did, she took a whole handful of them, five in total, and she tossed them in a spread pattern at Applejack.

"What the-" Applejack ducked, assessing Twilight's new weapon as the huge pins passed over her head. "Is that another demon?"

"Correct, dear!" Came the distorted voice of Rarity's demon, the diamond piece holding it around Twilight glowing with each word spoken.

"Rarity!" Applejack knew the voice. "What'd you do to her, Twilight?"

"Not Rarity, her Inner Demon," She replied. With her sword still in one hand, Twilight drew one of her pistols and fired off shots at Applejack. The stone mantle shifted to deflect the bullets, but this is what Twilight wanted. Behind her, beyond her perception, the thrown sewing pins halted mid-flight and turned back around.

Applejack didn't see them hit her. All five pins pierced through her back, and whatever she was about to say came out as a choked grunt of pain. She didn't scream or cry, but her eyes widened, and her legs buckled. The mantle attempted to cover her body, and even tried to pull the intruding objects out, but before it made any progress Twilight clapped her hands twice. The pins promptly detonated, blasting Applejack forward and onto her face. Chunks of the floor came up during the blast, and Applejack now had a wide, bleeding hole in her back.

"Very classy, darling." Rarity's demon complimented Twilight's sense of style, a hand clap was a delightful way to both activate the pins' explosive function and taunt one's opponent.

"Can't just fight me in a one-on-one, can ya?" Applejack managed. Her wound was healing itself, and her mantle automatically moved to cover it up. Pounding the ground with a fist, she brought herself back up and held a close boxing guard, her gauntlets protecting her face as Twilight shot at her more. "Gotta team up on me with a demon?"

With her wound healed, the mantle came back around to her front, but instead of blocking shots, the claws held Applejack's rifle, firing it from hip level as Applejack's fists stopped oncoming bullets. Twilight's focus shifted to shooting down the oncoming rounds, but at the same time she threw another set of pins out, then another, then a third.

Punching the pins was enough to disrupt them, but Twilight had an endless supply, there was no way Applejack could knock them all out. She tossed them all around, so that they spiraled in from all angles, and Applejack had to keep spinning. It was only a matter of time until one hit her and she lost her momentum. Still, she kept her rifle firing and her arms moving, each bullet buying a few seconds more to come up with a plan, but eventually she'd have nothing more to shoot.

Meanwhile, Twilight wore a confident smile. She had this fight figured out, all she needed to do was press her advantage.

-----

"So, Starlight..."

"What is it, Agent Sentry?"

Flash followed closely behind Starlight Glimmer, Rainbow Dash still over his shoulders. Carrying her was surprisingly easy, she was much lighter than he anticipated. They walked through a dark hallway, headed towards a door with the faint light of the outside behind it.

"Have you seen a spacey-looking demon with bright green eyes?"

Starlight immediately stopped, standing straight and facing Flash. "Where did you see it?"

"Outside of the Convention Hall. What is it?"

"The Order calls it 'The Tantibus'. They say it's the herald of the end of the world or something." Starlight had mentioned she didn't follow their beliefs, but apparently this proved something. "If it's here, that means the gates of the demon realm must be opening up, too."

"Sunset said something about that," Flash said. "About Twilight doing something to re-open it."

"Twilight? Twilight Sparkle? What do you know about her?"

"I used to go to school with her," Flash said. "We were friends at one point. Have you met her?"

"She's the reason I'm like this," Starlight gestured to her largely cybernetic torso. "She's also the reason the Order took me in."

"You mean she built your body?" Flash asked.

Starlight rolled her eyes. "No, I mean she cut me in half, back when I was just some punk who had anger issues and thought she could play with magic. I brainwashed a couple of people, the Order got involved, and I thought I could beat her in a swordfight."

"Jeez, I'm sorry. What happened after?"

"She apparently felt sorry for me and dragged my somehow still living shoulder and head back to the Order," she rolled said shoulder as she mentioned it, "And as it happened, one of my childhood friends was their best science guy. He built me a new body, and Twilight convinced her brother- the Head Paladin, to let me stay with them, he made me an 'honorary paladin'. Really, I'm more of a contractor that lives in their temple."

"You don't sound like you appreciate all that."

"I just..." Starlight paused, thinking of how to explain what were complicated feelings about Twilight. "I would've appreciated it more had she took a little less off of me. Not like I don't appreciate her saving my life and giving me a home, she had every right to just let me die, but now she's connected to these demons... I don't know what to think of her."

Starlight sighed, and pushed a hand against the door to the outside, peeking through it and ensuring the coast was clear before she opened it all the way. The city was desolate and empty, a mark of how bad the situation was getting, but at least no demons were around. She pointed off down the street towards the parking garage, and Flash could see the destroyed bridge a few blocks away, where he and Sunset had entered. Like before, she led, and Flash followed.

"Do you think Twilight could've released the Tantibus?" Flash asked.

Starlight thought about that. "Maybe. She got caught digging in the Order's forbidden archives and got banished. Might've found what she was looking for."

"But why would she do that?"

"I don't know, and I don't really care."

There were a couple of important points Flash wanted to write down, but he was carrying Rainbow, so he visualized them in his mind. As far as he knew, the Tantibus was directly responsible for the demon outbreak, but he knew it was going after his friends from high school, so there was a vague idea of its path. Twilight was involved with it somehow too, though the details on how or why were unclear at the moment.

There wasn't much time to think on it either, as once they reached the first intersection a gang of demons dropped down on them, led by a tall, robed demon with wrappings covering its entire body. Shorter ones of the same kind followed, as well as ones that resembled skeletons.

"Reapers, leave them to me." Starlight told Flash, indicating the robed demons with a point of her sword. "You try and take out the Phantoms, they've got fire powers but aren't very tough."

Phantoms, those were the ones that looked like skeletons. He had two more names for his mental records.

"Uh..." Flash's handgun came out, and he slowly backed away, looking for the nearest bit of available cover. An abandoned car on a nearby curb would work. "Should I set Rainbow down first?"

"Yeah, do that," Starlight gave Flash a nod, and he retreated.

Facing the tallest of the Reapers, she spun up her chainsaber, using its roaring engine as a means of intimidation.

"Don't be shy!" She shouted, her eyes sweeping across to the many foes closing in around her. "Step right up!"

-----

A roll, a sidestep, a parry. Gunshots and a sword combo.

Sunset easily deflected another of Spike's blades, but the battle with him so far hadn't been one of trading hits. He was jumpy, lunging at Sunset when he could occupy her with something else, but otherwise used the length of his tail to keep her at a distance. If she tried to shoot him, he'd close the distance, but if she tried a sword attack, he'd jump away. On top of that, he cut out parts of the walls and ceiling to throw her way, giving her more obstacles to deal with.

His hyper-intelligent mind was being put to good use. He knew he couldn't overpower her, so he was trying to wear her down. Still, it'd be smarter to just give up, as Sunset was gradually pushing him back down the hallway. She could start to make out sound of fighting echoing beyond, she was getting closer to Twilight. Spike couldn't keep her back forever.

Spike stuck his tail into the ceiling, swinging backwards as Sunset slashed at him. He couldn't possibly have an infinite number blades in him, so tossing them while retreating wasn't going to last. Flipping himself in the air, a panel shifted on his back and a different weapon emerged, a slender cannon with a long barrel. Electricity formed up around it, and as Spike landed it shot out an arcing thunderbolt.

"Rainbow!" Sunset called, holding her hand out and summoning the demonic guitar to her, strumming the bottom string which fired off a bolt of her own to counter. The two bolts struck each other, and the blast following pushed both Spike and Sunset back. She heard Spike laugh quietly as they both regained their footing.

"Heh. I get it," Spike said, "An electric guitar. Funny. But I'm afraid demon magic won't work on me."

"That's fine." Sunset went to strum again, and a shining ruby pick appeared in her hand. Her fingers pressed against the frets, and she quickly played a string of notes on the natural minor scale, finding that each note played fired off small bolts like a machine gun. Sliding her fingers from one fret to the next produced a curving bolt, and a chord sent out several arcs bundled together. Now wasn't the time for her to be messing around though, Spike was diving for her, punching right through the streams of lightning she was summoning.

The damage to him seemed minimal, as he said it would be, but Sunset had the guitar turned around in her hands and swung it at him like a baseball bat. Spike had no way to stop his momentum, and was sent sailing back down the hallway, crashing through a set of double doors and revealing the open, tall room where Twilight and Applejack fought.

"Nice switch-up!" Rainbow's voice came out of the guitar. "Nice playing, too."

"Thanks." Sunset replied, following after Spike. He dug his claws on the ground to slow himself, making deep marks in the concrete.

Holding it back over her head as she ran through the opening, Sunset brought the guitar's blade down on Spike, landing a solid hit on his foreleg as he scrambled away. A whimper escaped him, sounding as if Sunset had hit an actual dog. He already had enough of her sympathy, though. His bladed tail was sturdy enough to block strikes from the guitar, but with most of the weight behind its striking edge, each hit knocked him off balance.

As he blocked, Spike pushed away, getting into the air again as he charged up his cannon. It took a full four seconds, but he had started the cycle in advance.

"Get out of the way!" Rainbow's demon shouted. Sunset wasn't holding the guitar properly to play a counter, but she became enveloped in electricity anyway as the demon pulled on her, teleporting her forward in a shower of bolts.

Spike was now behind her, and in front of her she could see the ongoing battle between Twilight and Applejack. Applejack looked normal, though, not in a demon form like their other friends were.

"There she is!" The demon guitar began to spark again, but Sunset held her back and absorbed her energy.

"No, we need to focus on Spike right now-" Sunset felt two claws throwing her to the ground, and the two of them had Twilight's attention as they rolled closer.

Applejack caught a break from the assault of demonic sewing pins, and now was her chance to move. Focusing in on Twilight, she pulled her fist back, and let the fiery energy build up there.

"Spike!" Twilight called to him, seeing Sunset kicking him into the air and blasting him with her pistols. Coming to the aid of her number one assistant, she drew her katana and nearly took Sunset's head as she stood back up.

Spike came back down, damaged but still kicking, just in time to intercept Applejack as she rocketed straight to Twilight by a jet of flame from her gauntlet.

"Back off!" He growled, his tail blade pressing against her knuckles.

"Make me!" Applejack replied.

Blows were exchanged on both ends, from Twilight's sword on Sunset's pistols to Spike's blade on Applejack's gauntlets. Sunset took gun-punches at Twilight, sidestepping past her as she targeted Spike as well, firing one gun at him and the other at her. Spike wasn't expecting this and got hit, leading into Applejack knocking him into the wall on the other end of the room.

Twilight's sword came around again, and Sunset switched back to the guitar to block.

"Electric guitar. Cute." Twilight said, observing the electricity between their weapons.

"Why is everybody bringing that up?" Rainbow's demon whined, as Sunset continued attacking with her. "I'm not cute, or funny! I'm a star! I'm awe inspiring!"

"Right..." Twilight dodged a few more swings, then held up a block.

As with Spike, the heavier weapon pushed through Twilight's guard, but Twilight moved with the push, reaching into her cloak and drawing more pins to throw.

"This again?" Spinning the guitar to play it, Sunset ran forward and dropped to her knees, sliding along the ground and playing a power chord. A blast of lightning came out in all directions, destroying the pins and giving Sunset a burst of speed, which she used in another heavy downward chop.

Twilight didn't try to block this one, instead, she used Sunset's back as a platform to vault over, then forced her into an awkward deflection, having to hold the guitar-axe behind her back at an odd angle.

It would've been the end for Sunset had Applejack not came in and took another swing at Twilight, giving her time to turn and line up another blow.

With threats on both sides of her, and Twilight began taking steps away.

"Pins, darling!" Rarity's voice advised.

"Can't reach them..." Twilight said, hyper-focused on her defending. The stress of fighting two opponents was starting to get to her. She needed to end this fast.

Both Sunset and Applejack came in simultaneously, and Twilight stepped out of the way. Their weapons collided, and the two addressed each other for the first time.

"Sunset?" Applejack looked surprised, which in turn surprised Sunset. She was completely herself, minus the slightly demonic eyes. She kept both wrists crossed, and held her gauntlets strong against Sunset's guitar. "You too?"

"Actually, I'm trying to stop Twilight from stealing all of our magic."

Applejack looked a bit relieved to hear that. "Oh, so you're here to help me?"

"I thought you'd turn into a big demon or something, so I was expecting to fight you, but... I guess I don't have to."

"Shouldn't we be fighting Twilight, then?"

They still held their lock, and strangely, the guitar-axe resisted Sunset's attempt to move it away.

"Hey!" Sunset got the guitar back but found that it didn't want to move with her. "Rainbow, what are you doing?"

"Taking out Applejack before Twilight can!" The demon replied.

"Rainbow Dash?" Applejack took a step back. "What's going on?"

She struggled with the weapon and felt it tug her into attacking Applejack again. "We don't have to do this, Rainbow! Stop!"

The attacks were sloppy and Applejack blocked them easily, but she wasn't sure how she should handle Sunset and her disobedient weapon. Maybe she could knock it out of her hands somehow.

Again it came down, and again she blocked, but in the same instant she felt something spearing through her back. By the time Sunset finally reabsorbed the guitar back into her, Twilight had tossed the giant sewing needle of Rarity's demon out, and stuck Applejack right through. Standing near Spike, who she had been helping back up during the time before, she yanked on the needle's thread, dragging Applejack across the hard ground, until she came to rest was at her feet.

"No!" Sunset summoned the Party Cannon, taking aim and desperately firing at the group, hoping Applejack's stone armor would protect her from the blast. Spike saw her coming, and reflected the shell into the ceiling with his tail blade, causing huge chunks of it to come down on Sunset.

She was only trapped under the rubble for a moment before she busted through it, coughing and covered in dust.

"Dammit, Rainbow," Sunset scolded her, "What the hell's your problem?!"

She was right there! We could've had her!

Twilight was already extracting Applejack's magic with her device, the energy coming off of her in a orange and black swirl. The hole in her back managed to heal up just as her energy left her, leaving a nasty looking scar, but no lasting damage.

Sunset met Twilight's eyes again. In one hand, she held her katana, and in the other, Rarity's needle. Spike was right behind her, ready to fight as well.

"She's got Applejack's magic now..." Sunset whispered. "Thanks a lot, Rainbow."

How is this my fault?!? Rainbow's voice was muffled and silenced.

"Unless you want to hand over that amulet," Twilight said, "We have no further business here."

"Get back here!" Sunset aimed the Party Cannon and primed it, but Twilight gave a command before she could shoot.

"Spike! Deal with her."

Sunset took a direct blast from Spike's lightning cannon, the hit stunning her and giving him plenty of time to pounce. He took her to ground, and as he held her there a thought crossed his mind. He looked up to Twilight for clarification.

"What about Applejack?"

Materializing her hoverboard and absorbing Rarity's demon, Twilight flew off past Sunset, heading towards the exit. "Make sure she gets somewhere safe."

"Understood."

All he had to do now was deal with Sunset.

Author's Note:

Life goals: Pay an absurd amount of money to get an actual working Rainbow Demon Guitar made.