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Lets Do This


We're going to build an exact copy of Ponyville... right over there! We've got less than a minute!

Sequels1

E

Sunset Shimmer never intended to hurt anyone. She simply had a dream of who she wanted to be. And nothing's more gut-wrenching than realizing real life simply doesn't include your life-long dream...

An origin story for Sunset Shimmer, as a basis for her episode of the Not Exactly Friends series. (Note: I treat the comics backstory as helpful guidance here, rather than canon.)

For more in this timeline, see: Sunset -- Part II

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 47 )

Sunset was ever the Burning-Brightly one, a spirit like a roaring fire. For all of Celestia's talent with the sun, she was never able to properly manage or understand that passion.

Personally, I blame Starsquirrel. If he'd never usurped Stygian's proper place in the way of things matters would not have gone so poorly.

I thought that this was a superb telling of Sunset's beginnings!

I have always thought the portal activating wasn’t on time. It doesn’t add up. So I think the magic of the sonic Rainboom and Twilight’s extreme magical surge created Super charged magical field. This what opened the portal. Sunset shimmer destiny was always connected to twilight’s

9831317
I also subscribe to the idea that pretty much everything is Star Swirl's fault.

9831387
Right down to the Sister's problems, because the old coot insisted on teaching them old Unicornia's system of government and locking them into a needlessly regimented lifestyle.

All I can say is excellent depiction of your spin on Sunset's backstory. The exchanges, characterizations and future story set-up are all well done in all the right places. I particularly like the fact that it's actually sympathetic to BOTH sides without white-washing the mistakes made by both sides. Yeah, Sunset might have been a bit too prideful, but she started out genuinely well-meaning and I can understand the frustrations of doing your best and still coming up short multiple times. And, yeah, Celestia gave Sunset too much info too soon (in contrast to NOT giving Twilight ENOUGH information until it was almost too late), but it's understandable that she was getting her hopes up here. And, yeah, having the portal incident by a result of the mix of the Rainboom and Twilight's surge was an excellent way to both connect Twilight to the situation (particularly with Celestia being forced to choose between going in after Sunset and investigating the surge) AND set up the upcoming Part Two of this story.

...How unfortunate. Poor princess.

Well now, i really enjoy this series that you have!
Though you post them so fast that im afraid of missing one now. Lol

Havent read this yet but i will after i wake up tomorrow.

In the end there is, and can be, only one Princess...

🎶"I am the one, the only one
I am the god of kingdom come!
Gimme the prize!!"🎵

Silly Sunset! That's the whole point of the title being Princess and not Queen! You can have as many princesses as you want to divide things between.

Which can be a good or a very bad thing, if you look at the history of Earth and its squabbling princes... :facehoof:

Can't wait to see what you do with Sunset in the human world...I hope you really go all out with the Villain side and not just a steortypical mean girl cliche.

So basically Celestia learnt from her mistake with Sunset and withheld information from Twilight directly?

9831698
Bear in mind here the crushing inertia of familiarity... Sunset grew up in an Equestria that's known one -- count 'em, one -- Princess for about as long as the entire Roman Republic and Empire combined. That tends to color a civilization's worldview somewhat...
:twilightsmile:

Sure, once Luna is restored to her throne, and later Cadance assumes the throne of the Crystal Empire, it's obvious there can be more than one Princess... but if you'd asked ponies on the street in Sunset's time whether one day there'd be more than one Princess, they'd have rightly laughed at the idea. "If Princess Celestia was good enough for my great-great-great-uh...-umpty-ump-grampa, she's good enough for me! And get off mah lawn, ya dumb foals!"

It's one of the ironies of Sunset's life -- she was born just a few years too soon.
:fluttershysad:

So, when's part II coming? :pinkiehappy:

9831717
Thanks! Though bear in mind this ultimately feeds into the Not Exactly Friends timeline... but hopefully I'll have some twists and turns before then that you'll find interesting...

Love this series! Love new updates! Worried about what's going to happen to the canon Mane 6 without Twilight though.

Two words, Celestia. Antimagic Field. Solves SO many problems with troublesome mages.

And Celestia sighed. "I could never possibly replace your parents," the Princess said. "And I would never want to try. But... I do want you to know, Sunset -- you matter to me. Very much. And I'm here for you. Always."
.
.
.
Celestia blinked. But... I thought Sunset...

She grimaced. Well, she'd been wrong before. About a great many things.

She glared at the mirror, and indirectly at her vanished student. Fine, she thought. Be like that. We shall let you see what you may find over there. You believe you're my equal? Consider this your first test. And much good may it do you, Sunset Shimmer!...I will get it right this time, she thought.

I promise...

See Celestia, this is exactly the kind of behavior that lost you your sister. 'tis no great wonder why you never bore Loyalty...

9832181

See Celestia, this is exactly the kind of behavior that lost you your sister. 'tis no great wonder why you never bore Loyalty...

After a thousand years, Princess Celestia was more than accustomed to finding herself in the wrong and needing to smooth things over as a result.

You wouldn't last more than five minutes in this job, she thought wryly, without that magical skill...

Even demi-goddess ponies can be driven to rashly vindictive responses. But Celestia always comes around in the end. This isn't her first time round this merry-go-round, and probably won't be her last -- a thousand-plus years is time for a lot of regrets...

9832199

I just want that journal to become relevant sometime sooner than nearly twenty years from now as a point of plot convenience.

9832203
A very good point! Though bear in mind the spirit in which the journal was given:

"... I'll keep mine close at hoof whenever I'm away on business. You can use yours to send me a message, whenever you need to, wherever you might happen to be. And I'll write right back to you, help you with whatever's troubling you."

Celestia has at least learned not to be a helicopter parent. The unwritten rule about the journal is that it's there for when Sunset feels she needs it, not for Celestia to "check in" on her periodically.

Nice, but couldn't you have pulished both parts (assuming it's that long) in a single story?

9832199
"Indeed, no immortal is perfect but, after enough time you are Forced to Learn control."

Hell, in the X-men comics Wolverine, the wild, snarling immortal battlegod, gained a countenance similar to Xavier after a few hundred years.

"Celestia has had a few millenia, if she can't understand her own people in all that time then, I, the monster of all men, the all powerful incarnation of every incomplete human emotion, I, the One, Nergal Jahad.

I, in all my foolishness, beyond my grandeur and over my own experiece, I genuinely pity such an incompetent immortal."

Interesting. Very interdasting... I said I'd accept it, and I do. Very much so.

Given the restrictions you've given yourself and your commitment to not draw on most of the usual tropes and conventions for Sunset, this is similar to the route I would probably go with too. It's especially interesting that Sunset's motivations when going through the portal are still in line with Celestia's goals, to a point. Her drive to become like Celestia, An Alicorn and eventually Princess, is probably what would eventually warp her ambitions, but she hasn't completed her fall yet, so you've left yourself plenty of room for when this side tangent eventually ties back into the main series. Even here, though, her "There Can Only Be One" (*THUNDERCRASH*) logic is somewhat flawed in-continuity, given that Cadance is already on-scene and a Princess alongside Celestia, even if she isn't quite ruling in full yet. I'm eagerly awaiting Part II, and have a feeling that Part III may be the finale tie-in for this arc of the "Not-Exactly-Verse".

Now for the ... Not exactly bad, but could use some work. The scene transitions were a bit jarring without any context for a length of time between. There's no sense of the actual scale for how long Sunset was Celestia's student, or the period between the task she was set to her eventual departure, and that made the sudden mood shifts between the periods in her development we see either fall flat or give the reader whiplash, though more-so the former than the latter. Now, I know you're trying to keep things vague with the character's ages and exact dates and things, but with this I think you're starting to reach a limit on how far you can stretch that. Maybe we don't need an exact, bulleted time-line, with notations and little fiddlybobs that tell us the dates and time of day, but maybe a bit more structure to the scenes to give us more of a sense that "TIME HATH PASSED", as well as more context behind Sunset's headcase so we can get behind her emotional state a bit more going forward with the following installments.

You've done fairly well getting the emotions across in the previous pieces in this series, but other than the gaps between the individual stories themselves, each story is more or less a continuous sequence of events in and of itself. Yes, there are transitions between events where "Other things happened", but we were always given context for what exactly those events entailed, and through the nature of the event, such as Tempest, Twilight and Starlight having Lunch with Celestia, or the period where Trixie helps them with their big project, we are able to extrapolate a rough approximation of what happened and how long the gap between the scenes was. These gaps were usually anywhere from a couple of hours, to the longest being the Trixie/Project one being roughly a week. This story, not so much, given that there is a lot of "Dead Space(Narrative?)" between the scenes that could have taken anywhere from days, to weeks, to months to (Potentially) years where a Lot of other small events could and probably did take place that would have given us a better idea of what Sunset experienced and her emotional state going into the bigger events that were covered here. The tricky part would be covering the old adage of Show Don't Tell for something like this, without dragging it out to be an even longer, potentially multi-chapter, piece... I don't know, just something to ponder on going forward I guess... :unsuresweetie:

As a final note, you may want to tie this in with the Sequel/Prequel or possibly Side-Story links through Fimfiction, though I'm not sure how one would go about doing that. Given the dating, I'd either go with Side-Story, or Prequel to "Not Exactly Friends". Keep everything neat and tidy and all.

It's always nice to see another look at Sunset's past!

I too subscribe to the idea that Celestia's biggest mistake with Sunset was telling her too much too soon, and then somewhat overcompensating for that with Twilight. Sunset's ambitious, driven, powerful young unicorn, and learning she's Celestia's secret weapon against the coming return of Nightmare Moon unsurprisingly pushes her too far.

There's a bit of cutie mark symbolism here, too... Sunset's mark is the blazing sun, and her dream is to be like Celestia, whereas Twilight has a mark of stars, and her ambition was always to make Celestia proud of her. Even now, long after her ascension, Twilight is struggling with the idea of being Celestia's equal, or even her replacement. Sunset would have embraced princesshood from the moment she was reconstituted with wings.

9833732
Thanks so much for the detailed feedback! :twilightsmile:

Yeah, my chief enemy in these stories is not ideas, but page-count, since I've found that multi-chapter stories just don't seem to build up enough initial momentum to sustain them. So I am having to write to a length here, and pick and choose a bit, deciding which events matter and allowing the rest to be implied by the transitions. This is especially the case in this "backstory" story, where to provide a reasonably self-contained "episode" I'm having to work from a specific start point to a specific end point, hitting just the emotional turning points that are needed, whereas in a longer work I might take more time to show Sunset's development and daily life, and wouldn't have to make the transitions so abrupt. Your point about including more of a suggestion of time passing in the transitions is well-taken, and I'll bear that in mind.

Regarding Cadance, I introduced her both to settle the "what about Cadance?" question, and to show that Sunset doesn't have to see Cadance as a potential rival, since it's obvious in Sunset's world-view that she's already destined to be Celestia's protege/successor. Hence, she willingly makes friends with Cadance, but feels an inner regret that ultimately one one of them will end up being Princess. (Remembering that, as far as she's ever known, there is only one ruling Princess in Equestria, and she doesn't yet have the Celestia/Luna model to show her there's a different possibility.)

Thanks for the suggestion about tying this into the overall episodic flow. I wish there was something like an actual "side story" or "see also" link in FimFiction, in addition to the straight "sequel" link, since this isn't a direct sequel so much as a spelling out of the assumptions/headcanon I'm working from in writing about Sunset. Once I have this "backstory" prequel in place I'll likely link back to it from the story descriptions in the main flow, so readers can find it easily.

And thanks again for reading, and for your feedback! It's especially encouraging when writing a headcanon piece like this, knowing that it works for readers and doesn't take too many liberties with the character(s) involved.
:twilightsmile:

She glared at the mirror, and indirectly at her vanished student. Fine, she thought. Be like that. We shall let you see what you may find over there. You believe you're my equal? Consider this your first test. And much good may it do you, Sunset Shimmer!

To be honest, I found this very jarring. It felt like the moment Celestia finds out about Twilight she immediately goes, "Well fuck you, Sunset, I have more important things to focus on now." At that very moment, it really makes it seem like all Celestia cared about was Sunset's potential to use the elements and when someone else shows that same potential she immediately decides that Sunset is just forever a lost cause and really couldn't give less of a fuck.

9834081
Yeah -- like all of us, even Celestia can be driven to a moment's angered pique when too many things are happening at once and she's suddenly forced to prioritize. And both she and Sunset now have words and thoughts about each other that they'll come to regret, and want to put right.

Well this was an interesting start to Sunset’s story. I was almost expecting her to join Twilight’s group immediately, but this is very good for her origins.

It seems like both Sunset and Celestia started out good, but Celestia told her too much too soon and Sunset became desperate to get things done as quick as possible to please Celestia, so she tried looking for shortcuts to become an alicorn.

I wonder how things will change for Sunset in the future?

9834097
I took it as more than that. Yes, given the context that is exactly the case. However, Celestia does such an emotional 180 that when she resolves to not fail again it doesn't feel like she means won't fail another student but not fail by simply choosing the right pony this time and that Sunset was just a mistake for her to put behind her. I understand that she needed to prioritize, not much she could do about Sunset at that point anyway, but to have Celestia throw out all sense of remorse the moment Twilight comes into the picture, and not even the pony herself just the part about her that is useful to Celestia, I thought was just a bit much. I get the intent but the execution created a sort of whiplash effect for me, and since it was right the end it left more of an impact then it would have otherwise.

9833834
Perhaps for a story that needs a more drawn out narrative, treat it as a series of vignettes in chapter form, rather than a series of Vignette stories that it's a part of. You could do shorter chapters for each point of reference in the character's development, while allowing yourself to draw out the story to be much longer overall while still keeping the overall feeling that the series is aiming for. That way, rather than limiting yourself to one long scene per period of reference you could break each reference period up into maybe two or three shorter scenes to better get the points across, while still being able to work in the "Boring but important" bits without breaking the flow of the whole narrative.

Just some suggestions, but what do I really know about any of this? :derpytongue2:

Surprisingly very good. I like this interpretation and makes Sunset drive to be the best far more believable with so much she believed on her shoulders mixed with her desires. It also makes Celestia less foolish in not seeing how arrogant and vicious her student was. The drawback to that is that it doesn't help with how Sunset acted at CHS, but I'll reserve on that till part 2.

This is a unique take on Sunset's entry: a mare who so sought to do good, and faced with enormous burden, it turned into someone who become the same monster she sought to destroy.

It also explains why didn't outright tell Twilight what she needed to do.

9831405 In the comics, he was originally only planning to make Celestia a ruler, not Luna.

This is actually how I suspected Sunset fell from grace from the beginning. Celestia told her too much, and she reached regrettable but entirely understandable conclusions about her ultimate disposability. There was always a good pony in there—the Elements can only do so much—but there's also a reason why Celestia let Twilight fly by the seat of her pants so often.

Brilliant work of tragedy, and a very interesting take on the mirror. I can only imagine how Sunset and the other residents of the human world would react if they learned she brought the place into being. That seems like a terrible amount of responsibility. No wonder Celestia's never told her.

9837852
Thanks much! While this is intended as an origin story for Sunset that could work either way, for the purposes of the Not Exactly Friends series I need to catch Sunset before she's gone irredeemably rogue... which kinda implies that there must have been something positive about her from the beginning, something worth recovering.

I'm working on the Part II follow-on now. I'll be interested to see what you think!
:twilightsmile:

kinda disappointed that sunset still went through the mirror in your universe.

i was hoping that she'd stuck around, since you got so many "celestia's personal students" in this.

loved the library confrontation.

9846082
Juuuust wait... hopefully you'll like where this goes...
:twilightsmile:

In the end there is, and can be, only one Princess...

Not true - there's going to be FIVE. And soon enough, you're not going to be living under a monarchy, but a diarchy.
So you're categorically mistaken.

Something that could stop Nightmare Moon dead in her tracks!

Dead, huh? That's the last thing Celestia wants - a dead Nightmare Moon.

"A thousand years..." she said, softly. "And I've learned nothing. When will I ever get it right..."

Look for purple, not orange. Purple is the key.
...Also, don't betray her trust in a future wedding. Don't. You'll destroy her spirit.

Sunset leaving right before the Sonic Rainboom was a surprise! I usually see people interpret Sunset as being at least a few years older than Twilight.

I've never given much thought to the creation of the world of Equestria Girls, so I'm surprised and I really enjoyed reading what you've created here.

9895672
Thanks much! I tried to come up with something reasonable as a backstory for both Sunset and the EQG universe, while still leaving an ending I could branch off from toward either canon or the Not Exactly Friends series, so it's great to hear it works for you!
:twilightsmile:

And Celestia herself let out a single, shuddering, relieved breath. " Finally... " she whispered, sounding at once thankful... and devastated.

Moments like this remind me of something. To my recollection, we've only ever seen Celestia cry twice. Once when she banished Luna, and once when her sister was restored to her. Imagine the awful heartache of bearing a nation for a millennia, all while carrying silently your own grief.

Well-crafted and believable as an explanation that avoided those standard tropes. I salute you.

9898771
Thanks much! I was going for an explanation of Sunset's past that would really justify the "nice" Sunset we see after her redemption, and it's great to hear that it worked well for you. Thanks for reading!
:twilightsmile:

I love your writing and I like this fan theory but I just feel it makes Celestia kind of dumb. It just seems to me if Celestia is smart enough to run a kingdom for over a thousand years she would be able to think outside the box. If the Elements of Harmony are the same as the aspects of friendship then doesn't that mean the best way to unlock them is through freindship?

9901992
Hindsight is always 20/20. Celestia certainly knows that friends are important as a source of information for Sunset to discover her own personal connection with the Elements. But she doesn't necessarily know that friendship itself is the source of magic needed to reawaken the Elements. Likely for Celestia and Luna their alicorn magic and care for each other and for their subjects was sufficient to establish a connection with the Elements, so they never really had to consider what really powered that connection.

Part of the narrative challenge here is writing about a time before our heroes had all the answers...
:twilightsmile:

Love how both Sunset and Celestia manage to be at fault for a great many reasons.

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