• Published 22nd May 2019
  • 2,907 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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06- The Shadow of Doubt

A horde of demons was nothing that Trixie's ride couldn't pummel through. At full speed, it was unstoppable, reinforced specifically for the purpose of surviving demonic attacks.

"Do you have to hit every single one we pass?" Sunburst asked, nervously clinging to his seat as Trixie slammed the pedal against the floor.

"It'll make it easier on us if we have to come back through here." Trixie smiled, feeling another demon bump the vehicle.

"Hey, wait, there she is!" Sunburst pointed out a mob of demons with Starlight at its center. "Someone's with her, maybe- Woah!"

Sunburst almost came out of his seat as Trixie spun the steering wheel to the side, slamming on the brakes as the RV turned, slowly sliding to a stop and mashing through any demons in its way.

Starlight watched expectantly, not even flinching as Trixie's wrecking ball on wheels cruised towards her. It was almost like she knew it would come to a stop a mere inch from her. She looked up to see a smiling Trixie rolling her window down.

"Abracadabra!" She said, then her grin turned to a complete deadpan. "Get in the van."

"I thought I told you to wait for me, Trixie." Starlight said.

"Yeah, well, we saw all the demons and the hotel exploding and thought it'd be best to come find you."

"She," Sunburst said, leaning over to the window. "She thought it'd be best to come find you."

"Who's your friend?" Trixie asked, seeing Flash approaching with Rainbow on his shoulders. "And why is he carrying Rainbow Dash?"

"I met him at the concert," Starlight turned to him, and pointed her thumb back at Trixie. "Agent Sentry, Trixie. Trixie, Agent Sentry."

"Waitwaitwait..." Trixie's eyes narrowed as she looked over Flash. "Sentry? Flash Sentry? As in, the coolest guy at Canterlot High?"

Flash knew her as well, but for a far sillier reason. "Trixie Lulamoon? 'Peanut Butter Crackers' Trixie?"

"Hey!" Trixie blushed, her preferred title during her high school years was 'The Great and Powerful' Trixie. "Those crackers were good, okay?"

They weren't, she was the only one that ever ate them.

Starlight looked to Trixie, then to Flash, then back to Trixie. "Oh, good. You two already know each other."

"We do." Trixie looked a bit disappointed at having the crackers thing brought up again.

"Anyway, we're trying to get Rainbow somewhere safe, would you mind giving him a ride?"

"Sure, whatever... Get in."

-----

The inside of Trixie's RV was nice, with a pair of long, couch-styled seats on either side of the interior walkway and a short table with booth seating at the end of the middle section. In the back, there was a half of a bathroom, half of a kitchen, and half of a workshop, and above them there was access to three separate platform beds and storage space.

Starlight came in and had Flash lay Rainbow down on one of the couches. Sunburst came back to greet them, but was instantly concerned when he saw Starlight's mechanical arm bent backwards.

"Starlight! Your arm!" Sunburst took it, lifting it up and inspecting the damage. "What happened?"

"I took a few hits," Starlight said, not wanting to go into detail about the duel she lost.

"You took the demon out, right?" Trixie asked, turning around in the driver's seat.

"I did, but..." Starlight stopped herself. "I did."

"Good." Trixie turned to face forward again.

Sunburst still was fussing over Starlight's arm. "You really need to be more careful with yourself, come on- let me get that fixed."

"Sunburst, I just want to sit down for a sec..." She didn't seem to want to go with him, but she let him lead her by the hand past the curtain to the back room. Their continued banter was still audible, but a question from Trixie took Flash's attention from that.

"Where am I taking you?"

"Coyote Hotel," Flash told her. "There's a SWAT unit there that'll get Rainbow out of here."

Trixie shifted into drive and looked in the mirror, turning the RV in the right direction and heading off. "Seraph Agent, huh? So you're some kind of government goon now?"

"Something like that." Flash took his pen and notepad out of the pouch on his back, and began to scribble down everything he could remember seeing that day. He described the different demons he saw, briefly stating their abilities and how to defeat them, as well as what he knew about Twilight and the Tantibus. Hearing the sounds of the pen moving, Trixie glanced back.

"Diary?" She asked.

"Taking notes. Trying to figure all of this out."

Sunburst and Starlight came back through the curtain. Starlight's arm was back in its proper position, and Flash saw her flexing her fingers as she made her way to the front.

"Do you have a plan?" Sunburst asked, taking interest in Flash's writings as he sat at the table.

"Not really," Flash said, "I was told it was a small situation, not a citywide invasion."

"The Tantibus." When Starlight said the name it put a frightened look on Sunburst's face. "The Tantibus is the reason this is happening."

"The Tantibus? That's what we're dealing with?" Sunburst went into a subtle panic. It had a mythical status amongst the Order's members, it was the thing that young scribes and paladins-to-be checked beneath their beds for. "We need to get in touch with the Order-"

"No. We can't," Starlight cut him off. "If the Order knew the Tantibus was loose they'd burn the whole city to the ground. Besides, we can handle it. That's why the Head Paladin chose us."

"SRAPH Command would take extreme measures as well," Flash said. Had Flash not closed the demon portal on his previous mission, the town he was trying to save would've been bombed completely flat. A lot of damage was already done, but they were at least able to rebuild. "I'll come up with something."

"I think you need a reality check," Starlight said. "You're not getting anything done on your own."

"Hey, I've trained for this," Flash replied, defensively. "I'm perfectly capable of-"

"Look," Trixie harshly cut him off. "Not even Starlight does anything on her own. Without me, she wouldn't have a ride anywhere, and without Sunburst she'd just be a severed head and arm."

Starlight nodded. "We need to work together if we want to stop this."

"Ugh, stop it," Trixie rolled her eyes. "You're starting to sound like some cheesy comic book hero."

"Oh, shut up." Starlight playfully smirked at her, then looked back to Flash. "What I'm trying to say is this: we're on the same team here."

Flash knew they were right, but until he knew he could pull his own weight, he didn't want to risk being the weakest link. "Last time I was on a team, things didn't go so well."

She looked like she understood, but was cut off before she could respond.

"Hey, Starlight!" Trixie pointed ahead, the Coyote Hotel was visible. The tall building was on elevated ground, and there was a flight of steps leading up to its front entrance. Part of the street curved towards the doors to allow for vehicle access, but that path was blocked by a line of cars left behind. The street itself had enough cars in the way, barreling through all of them wouldn't be practical. She'd still probably try it, though.

The street was also crowded with demons of all kinds, as well as the bodies of those foolish enough to stay or not fast enough to escape them. On top of being ruined, this street was the bloodiest and most gruesome they had seen. Perhaps the demon concentration was related to the large structure they were raising just at the top of the steps to the hotel.

It was a spire of some kind, made of blood and bones, like some sort of hellish radio antenna. It stood several meters tall, and projected a red light into the sky from its tip. Flash recognized it, he had seen one on his last mission. It was used to summon larger demons, via blood sacrifice. Sunburst knew what it was as well.

"What's that?" Trixie didn't seem too bothered by it, more just casually curious.

"I don't care." Starlight replied before either Flash or Sunburst could answer. "We're breaking it."

Trixie shrugged. "Alright. You do that, hero."

-----

Just down the street, half a kilometer to the steps leading up to the Coyote Hotel, Captain Spitfire was just barely holding off an onslaught of demons. Her entire team of twelve was down to just three, and one of them was currently getting torn up by a beetle-looking thing. Her machine gun was doing minimal damage to them- it was a compact little thing that sprayed pistol bullets. Most of the meaty demons could soak up half a magazine before going down.

Her last remaining squad member was burnt to a pile of ashes by a skeleton demon, but Spitfire didn't back down. Picking the boney demon out, she returned the favor, shattering them with several well placed shots. Unlike the bulky ones, they were fragile.

A big one with a sword was getting closer though, and try as she might, she didn't have enough rounds left to take it down. It sliced across her chest, and there was a loud crack as the ballistic armor she had on broke. She was still alive though, and by some luck, wasn't majorly wounded. That wasn't going to last long though, as the thing that knocked her down was about to finish her off.

Except it didn't, because it was hit by a flying RV. Wait. A what? A massive, armor plated RV the size of bus flew over her head, scattering the demon in front of her aside like a bowling pin. It landed on two wheels, tilting as it turned around, the back end sending demons in every direction as it regained stability and passed back around, coming to a halt just behind her.

Spitfire had no words.

Starlight Glimmer kicked open the RV's side door and rolled out, slicing through an oncoming Reaper as it got close to the downed Spitfire. Following Starlight was Flash Sentry, who held out his hand and helped her to her feet.

"Captain Spitfire, are you okay?"

"Sentry! Good to see you again..." Spitfire put a new magazine in her weapon. "Thought I was cooked."

Starlight's wild slaying of demons in front of them took their attention, knocking demons this way and that, making it look absolutely trivial. She flipped into one, kicking it to the ground with her feet while shredding another behind it with her sword cutting faster than the eye could follow. She took out a line of three with one bullet, and her fist punched a hole straight through a big one, draining its energy and recharging her own. Within a few minutes she had that section of the street cleared out. When finished, she gave her chainsaber a twirl, and turned to them, like she was expecting applause.

"What..." Spitfire was in shock. What killed her entire team, this girl cleaned up in record time.

"I'm gonna take that thing down." Starlight motioned to the spire, then turned to it. "You two get Rainbow out of here."

Spitfire wasn't about to argue with her. All she could do was accept the sheer absurdity of it all.

"You have a ride?" Flash asked, watching Starlight hop over a stack of cars and run off down the street.

"Yeah, right over there." She indicated a truck, about a third of the size of Trixie's vehicle, but just as armored. Across the side of it was the indication 'Special Weapons and Tactics'- the first letter of each word much larger than the ones following, making the acronym easily visible.

"Get it started, I'll be right back with Rainbow." Flash said, heading back to the RV.

Inside, he was surprised to see both Trixie and Sunburst in relaxed state, reading through a magazine and a leather-bound book respectively. Trixie took casual notice of him, but he had Sunburst's full attention.

"This is where we part ways, I guess." Flash said, taking Rainbow back over his shoulders.

"Yep. See ya 'round." Trixie replied lazily.

"Oh, before you go!" Sunburst sat up a bit. "I've got a two-way radio set to one-four-one point twelve. Keep in touch with us so we can meet back up again."

"Will do. Stay safe." Flash gave them a nod, and rushed back to the SWAT truck.

He pulled open the wide doors on the back, buckling Rainbow into the bench seat there, then circled around to the passenger seat. Making sure the safety was on, he rested his shotgun vertically between his seat and the door, so he could relax without it pressing on his back. As they drove away from what looked like the beginning of the apocalypse, both he and Spitfire let out extremely long sighs, suddenly finding themselves short of breath. Even if momentary, this was the first break they'd gotten all day, a day full of fighting, destruction and carnage. Neither of them were really able to handle with the things they'd seen, but they were going to push through regardless.

They looked at each other, then out at the road, grateful that Trixie's van had more or less made a pathway for them.

"We've got..." Spitfire said, still out of breath. "We've got some equipment and medical supplies in here. Is that road rash?"

Flash looked down at his arms, still red and scraped up from the tangle with the Tantibus. It didn't hurt, but he supposed that was just from the day's adrenaline. "Oh yeah. That's gonna hurt when I wake up tomorrow. If I wake up tomorrow."

"Hey, don't think like that, you'll be alright. We'll make it." She gave him a supportive hand on the shoulder. "Even if you're looking death in the face you gotta keep that attitude up."

"Right." Flash had looked death in the face enough times for one day.

They reached the bridge leading back to the residential part of town, but what Flash saw beyond it filled him with dread.

Somewhere over the bridge, another bright red light was being cast up into the sky.

The sky in turn began to change, from the grey-blue of a moderate overcast to a dark red, the same hue as the lights.

"Oh no..." Flash muttered.

"You've seen this before?"

"Once. They use those towers to summon bigger demons in." Flash said. "They operate with human blood, which is why they need to slaughter people."

"They seem perfectly fine slaughtering people either way..." Spitfire said. "Can we destroy them?"

Imagery of Flash's last mission danced across his thoughts. He was covered in blood, and had his arms locked with his squad leader as she was being pulled through an open demon portal. She was kicking, screaming, struggling, but two demonic hands on the other end of her held a firm grip, and were much stronger than Flash. Beyond the portal was one of their spires, with several explosive charges set to it. His squad leader pulled one of her arms away, and put a detonator into his hand.

After that, she pushed away from Flash, saying only one thing to him before she disappeared into the dark vortex.

"Pull it!"

Flash came out of this thoughts and answered Spitfire's question. "With explosives, yes."

"You spaced out there for a sec, you okay?"

"I'm fine, just..." Flash paused. "I've lost people. Not great to think about."

"My whole team just got wiped out," Spitfire said. "But right now they'd want me to finish the mission. Or at least get out alive."

Flash agreed. Now wasn't the time for mourning, but he wished he could control when his memories came and went.

"You're not losing me though, that's for sure." Spitfire said. "We're doing whatever it takes to get through this."

"Whatever it takes." He wasn't sure how effective his self-reassurances were, but it was all he had at the moment.

He figured he should get his arms bandaged. The bleeding had stopped, but his skin had definitely seen better days.

Locating a first aid kit between his and Spitfire's seats, he got to work.

-----

"I can't help but notice that you're not clawing my face in." Sunset stared up at Spike with hesitance.

Spike simply kept her pinned. Sunset wasn't the type to struggle, she just wanted him to get whatever attack he was going to do over with so she could land a counter hit. He didn't though, he just held her down until Twilight left, then continued to keep her down.

"I don't want to fight you, Sunset."

"Uh..." Sunset's eyes wandered away from Spike for a moment. "Didn't Twilight just tell you to?"

"She told me to 'deal with you'. I know what she wants, but you can be dealt with in a non-aggressive way if we can come to an agreement."

"Okay..." Sunset felt odd negotiating with someone she was just fighting, but honestly, she didn't want to fight him either. All of her current anger was directed towards Twilight. "What did you have in mind?"

"Help me do the second part of Twilight's orders. Help me get Applejack to safety." When Sunset didn't seem to follow, Spike explained further. "If you agree to help me, you will be dealt with for the time being, and Applejack will be safe."

"Oh..." Sunset understood now. Spike was using a logical loophole in his programming to exercise his free will. "That's... You can do that?"

"Yes, so long as I can logically justify my actions through technicality, I'm not contradicting my directives." Spike backed off of Sunset, and allowed her to stand and absorb her weapon back into her. "Twilight does it all the time, except she does it to justify hurting people."

"What's her deal, anyway?" Sunset asked. As angry as she was, she knew Twilight wouldn't act like this unless she had a reason. Even if the reason was unfounded, Sunset felt like the only way she could stop her is if she understood where she was coming from.

"Twilight thinks she can destroy the Sister of Darkness when she returns by using the latent Harmonic Magic of your friends." Spike told her. "Twilight summoned the Tantibus, an extension of the Dark Sister, in hopes of destroying it early, but it escaped. Now she's playing catch-up with it, not only gathering magic, but also 'saving' her friends from it in the process."

"The Tantibus, that's that weird space monster?" Sunset recalled fighting it before entering the Convention Hall.

"Yes." Spike nodded. "While its powers have affected our friends, I’m pretty sure she was the first to be influenced by it."

"How come she didn't turn into a monster?" She asked.

"Look at what she's done, Sunset. She did."

She couldn't disagree. "Are you allowed to say that?"

"I am not allowed to disobey a direct order from her. However, my prime directive, my purpose for existing, is to help Twilight. She'll only hurt herself more if she continues this. She needs help."

Behind her, Sunset heard Applejack's voice. "A quick kick in the ass is what she needs."

Applejack had her torn and bloodied suit jacket off and tied around her waist, and beneath it was an equally as bloodied t-shirt.

"Applejack, hope you're not too roughed up from that." Sunset looked over her. She was covered in blood, yet had no visible wounds.

"A bit sore, but I'll live..." Applejack held her rifle pointed down, with her finger away from the trigger. "Though I don't think I can take any more hits without my powers."

"Where should we take her?" Spike asked.

"Take me?"

Sunset clarified. "If it's not already, the city's about to be overrun by demons. I'm not about to let you get killed. You can hide out at my place."

Motioning for them to follow, Sunset walked towards the same exit Twilight went through. She wasn't going to bring it up with them, but she had another problem to figure out. Deep within her, she felt an uncharacteristic rage building. Normally, she'd let go of such feelings, but this one was sticking to her. Everything Twilight was doing was so painful to watch, all she wanted was for them to be friends again. But yet, the more this feeling grew, the more she felt like she wanted Twilight's head on a plate.

For the moment, she didn't let her concerns show. She kept a calm smile, and told herself that she'd handle things as they came. First thing on her list was to have a chat with Rainbow's demon.

-----

I can't believe you, I can't believe you! Applejack's Inner Demon screamed in Twilight's head. I was at peace with her!

"You mean..." Twilight's eyes widened. She sat on a tall rooftop, overlooking the destruction of Canterlot's business district. "No, you're lying. You wouldn't make peace with a human."

I... think she's telling the truth, dear... Rarity's demon chimed in. I mean, I'd compromise with a human if I were stuck with them.

I'm not some goon from a kid's cartoon! I don't just lie to folks for no reason! The demon's voice speaking in Applejack's accent was a bit jarring to Twilight, but she paid little mind to it. That girl taught me the benefit of bein' honest from time to time- and she learned a thing or two about when to lie to people.

"No," Twilight shook her head frantically, "That's still corrupting her!"

Corrupting her? Applejack's demon retorted. We were cooperating!

"That's not possible, not unless..." Twilight's thoughts faltered, and in that brief period she felt the hint of self-doubt creeping into her mind. She stomped it out the moment she realised it was there. "No, I couldn't possibly be wrong."

Oh, don't feel bad, darling. Rarity's demon said. Nobody's perfect...

I don't think she's willing to believe that, Rares. Applejack's demon said, as Twilight put her face in her hands and clenched her teeth together. She's got her head so far up her-

Oh, please don't make her angry! Rarity's demon said, defensively. She'll put us both under!

I don't care! I didn't ask to be here, you know, I didn't-

I didn't ask to be here either but I'm-

"Enough!" Twilight forced them both into silence. "I'm not doing anything wrong! You two are demons, why should I be listening to you? You should be listening to me, because I'm in control here!"

Both of them fell silent. She felt their presence linger, as if they were just staring at her with silent judgement.

"I'm in control here." She repeated, needing the comfort that came with believing the statement. "I'm in control."

Sitting here fighting with herself wasn't going to amount to anything, it was time for her to continue with her mission. The Tantibus needed to be found. Pulling out her magic-capturing device, Twilight activated its tracking function. One set of lights pointed towards the nearest spire, which she had a plain view of, but another one pointed off to the left. Only one of her old friends remained, but Twilight knew she wouldn't be in town. Fluttershy was a wildlife biologist, and last she heard, she was researching strange new creatures appearing in the slightly paranormal Everfree Forest.

She singled out the signal and mounted her hoverboard, floating down to the street level to follow her navigator. Even as she descended, the height indicator on her tracker suggested that her target was even further beneath her. Still, she followed its direction as best as she could, until she came to an open manhole cover.

If she did have a trail on the Tantibus, and she was certain she did, it had gone underground.

"Great." Twilight didn't look forward to sewer crawling. She dismounted her hoverboard, climbed down the ladder beneath the hole, and immediately got back on it as to avoid putting her boots on the damp walkway beneath her. She could also cross the man made river of filth without having to get knee deep in it.

She was going to make this as quick as possible.

-----

Starlight Glimmer had no trouble clearing out the demons in front of the Coyote Hotel. Even when she reached the menacing horned creatures with axes, called Battlemasters, she was only hindered by the sheer amount of punishment they could take before going down. She had to climb upon the last one's back and punch straight through its heart to defeat it, but the amount of power it held there overcharged Starlight's body.

All four of her external power cells glowed brightly through the back of her jacket, and gave her body the means to be faster, stronger and overall better than ever.

She neared the steps leading up to the demon spire. It was like a tall, branchless tree, sending a beacon of impending doom into the sky. And impending doom soon came. The trail of demon blood Starlight left in her wake was moving, slithering along the ground, moving the stairs until it was absorbed into the wide, circular base of the spire. Of course, the spire would accept all blood, not just human.

A swirling black vortex began to form in front of it.

Through it, what looked like a knight twice Starlight's height stepped, wielding a gigantic two handed sword- oversized even for them. They wore a sinister looking suit of armor, black as the night sky, completely covering their body in smooth demonic metal. A blue trim ran along the shoulders and leg pieces, and on their breastplate was the sigil of a silver crescent moon. Two wide, dark wings sprouted from their back, powerful, imposing, but feathered, not something Starlight would've expected to see on a demon. Feathered wings were more often associated with angels.

The face of this dark knight was completely covered as well, by a helmet with a slitted visor across the front. A long, metal spike protruded from the helmet's forehead, giving the appearance of a horn. It was likely just a decoration, but Starlight still half-expected for them to try and headbutt her with it.

The knight said nothing. Starlight stood her ground, and even though she couldn't actually see their eyes, she felt eye contact between the two of them.

"And you are?" She asked. No response.

With a flap of their wings, the knight jumped into the air, clearing the entire flight of stairs and landing in a ready stance. Feet spread apart, they held their sword upward in a close guard, still choosing to remain silent.

"Not a talker?" Starlight mirrored the stance, but held her sword forward, her body aligning with her weapon's edge. "Alright, let's just get to it, then."

The dark knight only extended a gauntleted hand, and beckoned Starlight to attack.

Author's Note:

For the next bit of the story, we'll see each chapter giving more time on individual character threads, rather than blending them all into one chapter.