• Published 20th Apr 2020
  • 1,503 Views, 111 Comments

Disharmony: Gods Among Ponies - Mr-Astounding

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Chapter 6: Sunburst

Back in the Equestria we all know and love, Celestia nodded as everyone gathered around the mirror to welcome everypony back. “Is it ready?”

Sunburst, having helped Sunset and Starlight place the finishing touches on their modified Crystal Mirror, nodded in reply. “As ready as we’ll ever be. Seeing how my own magical output isn’t too strong, I’ll be attempting to aid Pinkie in supplying kinetic energy to aid in Starlight and Sunset’s spell.”

“Just try and keep up,” the Element of Laughter declared with a teasing grin as all four ponies got to work.

Starlight nodded as the Crystal Mirror came to life with a steady portal up and ready to use. “Good: we’ve got a functioning gateway to the other dimension. Now I just need to attempt to reverse the polarity to pull everypony back.”

Suddenly, the Mirror started to spark, the portal itself seeming to behave erratically. Needless to say, Braeburn was growing concerned, as was everycreature else. “What’s happening?”

Celestia quickly scanned the mirror and frowned at what she found. “The Mirror’s still functioning, the level of arcane power is spiking! We need to shut it down!”

“No, we’re too close!” Sunburst yelled out, lighting up his own horn to channel some of his own magic into the mix. “We’re going to make contact with this other dimension!”

As it turned out, Starlight’s old friend should have chosen his words more carefully, as one bright flash of light later, he and Pinkie Pie soon found themselves dragged across the dimensional plane to what appeared to be an underground base. “Welp, we made contact with the other dimension,” Pinkie Pie called out.

“Yes, we did,” Sunburst said with a groan. “Don’t know whether to pat myself on the back, or kick myself in the…” ...and that was as far as he got before he found himself pausing, gesturing to Pinkie to keep quiet as the snuck behind a wall to listen in on a conversation that was taking place nearby.

“My technicians are more than willing to supply us with the necessary equipment, but we’re a bit short on personnel.” Lunar Prince Blueblood was heard saying, the two ponies having stumbled upon him and Lunar Lightning Dust mid-conversation.

“Doesn’t help that that crazy mare’s mini-militia is too reckless. Undisciplined...and yes, I’m well aware of the irony of me being the one to point that out,” Lightning remarked.

“That ‘crazy mare’, as you put it, is one of our most unflinching allies,” Prince Blueblood declared with an audible frown, “and even you have to admit that they’ve been invaluable to our effort.”

“Look, I have nothing but respect for the mare herself,” Lighting replied, “and you’re right: the distractions they can whip up do have their uses, but come on: you know better than anypony that it'll take more than a few distractions to take out Celestia.”

“Welp, that’s all I needed to hear,” Sunburst growled out, before turning to Pinkie. “Go and see if you can’t find somepony you can trust while I hold them off.”

For a moment, Pinkie looked like she was going to say something, before giving a shrug. “Okay: it’s your chapter.”

As soon as Pinkie ran off, Sunburst grabbed a nearby spear and threw it at the two ponies, who quickly dodged the assault. “Wasn’t this place supposed to be secure?!” Lightning found herself asking.

“Just keep him busy while I grab something from my office!” Blueblood barked back.

“With pleasure,” Lightning remarked with a snarl.

Needless to say, the following fight was not easy. While he had an entire library’s worth of knowledge of the arcane ways, Sunburst didn’t have the raw talent or magical output to perform half of those spells. Between that and how Lightning was a lot faster and had a lot more experience with actual combat, Starlight’s old friend found himself on the defensive for the majority of the battle.

That said, what he lacked in strength and speed, Sunburst made up for with his mind. Case in point, sometime into their confrontation, he couldn’t help but notice that Lightning was acting rather hostile towards him...or, well, more so than what had been reported towards even the Element Bearers during their past confrontations. He could only guess that he’d done something to upset the ex-Wonderbolt trainee in this world and while he didn’t know what that something was, it was something he was willing to take advantage of. “Is this really the best you can do?” he taunted. “It’s no wonder you the Wonderbolts didn’t want you if you can’t even take me out by my lonesome.”

“Better to be a Wonderbolt drop-out then a traitor like you!” was Lightning’s anger/anguish filled reply as she charged forward. Unfortunately, in her frustration, the Pegasus had failed to notice that Sunburst had placed himself in front of a steam vent, which he quickly used to knock his opponent off-balance before knocking him to ground.

Sunburst could only sigh as he looked upon the wounded Pegasus. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for whatever it is ‘I’ did to you.”

“If only it was her that you hurt,” Blueblood declared as he re-entered the room, a mechanical pair of wings strapped to his back. Upon noticing the look Sunburst was giving him, he gave the wings a good flap, hovering in the air as he stared down his opponent. “What do you think? It’s a little side-project I began working on a few years back.”

“I’d be more impressed if you’d earned those wings,” Sunburst remarked, “And what do you mean by that? Who else could I have hurt so badly that you’d be able to convince her to go after me with the intention to maim or kill?”

Blueblood simply scoffed in reply. “Only the mare she’s spent the last few years comforting after you broke her heart: one Starlight Glimmer.”

Needless to say, that revelation was enough to knock Sunburst off-balance enough to allow Prince Blueblood to get a few good hits in early on in the battle. Even after Sunburst rallied himself with the intent to make up for his counterpart’s mistakes, the fight wasn’t easy, as those wings the Lunar Prince had been using weren’t just for show. In fact, it was clear early on that whoever designed them, whether it had been Blueblood or his technicians, had managed to nearly perfectly match the flight speed and power of an actual Alicorn within the mechanical apparatus, and this only boasted Blueblood’s already impressive combat expertise as he had the same arcane knowledge and pragmatic fighting style as the Prince he knew back home.

Still, every machine has its flaw, and it seemed that whoever designed them had yet to figure out how to allow Blueblood to operate them and cast his rather impressive array of spells at the same time, so the Prince unfortunately found himself quickly getting exhausted as the fight wore on....which was exactly what Sunburst had been counting on. The moment Blueblood began to slow down, the studious Unicorn capitalized on it by grabbing the spear from earlier and throwing it at one of the wings mid-beat. Unfortunately for Prince Blueblood, between his aforementioned exhaustion and how the apparatus was still in the testing stage, this was enough to jam said wing in place, forcing him to the ground in defeat.

Sunburst shook her head in frustration and rage. “As much as I probably deserve a good kick in the teeth, that doesn’t give you the right to go after innocent ponies, Blueblood!”

“Stand down, everypony.”

Here, Sunburst had to blink upon noticing who entered the room. “Twilight?”

Rainbow Dash just snorted as she and everypony else entered alongside the Lunar Republic’s leader. “Sup, Sunburst. You’ve probably already figured it out, but we’re not in Canterlot anymore.”

“Yeah, I got the impression,” the wizardly Unicorn replied with amusement...which quickly turned to confusion upon noticing something else. “Pinkie Pie, what are you…?

The Party Pony merely giggled as she gave Pinkamena a side hug, her counterpart giving a small grin as she did. “You said to find somepony I could trust, and if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?”

Having spotted Lunar Starlight Glimmer, who had returned to aid in the preparations, Sunburst couldn’t help but wince. “That’s...that’s a good question.” he declared as he approached the counterpart of his childhood friend. “Listen, about what the other me did…”

“Don’t apologize,” was Lunar Starlight’s immediate response, even as a sad grin flashed across her face. “It wasn’t you who did it, and besides, the fact that you’re just as upset about what happened is more than enough for me. That said, I do hope that Lightning didn’t hurt you too badly.”

“Just my pride,” Sunburst said with a small snort, even as the others helped Blueblood to his hooves. “I’ll give her credit: she cares a lot about you.”

Starlight merely gave a light chuckle in reply. “She really does, doesn’t she?” With that she helped the ex-Wonderbolt trainee to her feet. “My old friend give you a tough time, Dusty?”

“Nothing I couldn’t handle, GlimGlam,” Lightning said with a snort before the two gave each other a quick peck on the lips.

Needless to say, Sunburst was surprised, as was everypony else who wasn’t native to this dimension. “Whoa: didn’t see that coming,” he declared, trying to keep his jealousy down by reminding himself that this wasn’t his Starlight.

“Surprised us too, when it happened,” Lightning admitted, “but we don’t regret that it did.” She then gave the newcomer a good hard look before her features softened a bit. “You...you really aren’t him, are you?”

“No I’m not, and I never will be,” Sunburst declared, before turning towards the others, “but now I’m really curious: what’s been going on here?”

Twilight could only give a helpless shrug in reply. “It’s a long story.”

Meanwhile, back at the Castle of Friendship, Solar Applejack could only watch in confusion as Celestia scanned the secret compartment that had been hidden under Spike’s throne. “Ah just don’t understand. Twi’s avoided this place for years after…” The farm pony shook her head as she tried to ignore the heavy feeling in her heart, trying to convince herself that this’ll all be worth it in the end. “We all know how smart she is: she’d know the risk she’d be takin’ coming back ‘ere, so why’d she go an’ do it? An’ why now of all times?”

The Solar Empress wished she had those answers herself as she reached into the compartment, hoping for some clue as to what her former student had been up to...only to get it in the most painful way possible when she felt a slight burning sensation in her hoof.

Noticing this, Applejack quickly ran over to the Princess’ side. “Y’all alright?! What happened!?”

Instead of answering, Celestia simply scanned the contents of the empty compartment...and stepped back in shock upon discovering some residue from the compartments’ former contents, and more specifically, what they were capable of in their purest form. “That’s...she’s done it. Twilight’s discovered how to make a mana-siphon!”

“Say what?”

Celestia shook her head at her ally’s question. “It’s essentially a magic sponge. As I recall, my former student’s human counterpart had unintentionally created something similar a few years back.”

Despite how the two of them were on opposing sides of this war, Applejack couldn’t help but worry about her old friend. “Ya’ll thinkin’ we might run into our own version o’ ‘Midnight Sparkle’?”

The Solar Empress shook her head. “No. Like I said, the concept is similar, but from what I felt, she has something else in mind. She intends to take my magic and set it free.” She couldn’t help but growl in defiance. “No, I’ll never be that powerless again. I’ll just have to flush her out...and our little prisoner is going to help us.”

Having heard the Empress say this, Applejack wouldn’t be able to ignore the uneasy feeling she was now feeling in her gut even if she tried.

“Back in the Lunar Republic’s secret hideout, Sunburst silently looks over Twilight’s secret weapon, all the while wondering how he’d managed to be roped into an inter-dimensional Civil War along the likes of…”

“Pinkie Pie, what are you doing?” Sunburst couldn’t help but ask as he looked up from his work.

Pinkie simply smiled in response. “Narrating, silly.”

“Heh: I’d actually forgotten how oblivious all our other friends could be at times,” Pinkamena declared as she scarfed down a cupcake, before giving the audience a smile. “Don’t worry: nopony’s baked into this thing. I haven’t gone that crazy yet…”

Little Strongheart could only shake her head in a sense of exasperated amusement as she looked upon the two pink ponies, even as she couldn’t help but wonder who exactly they were talking to. “Party ponies: can’t live with them…”

“...can’t live without ‘em,” Applejack finished with equal amounts of exasperated amusement.

Sunburst merely snorted in a mixture of amusement and agreement before holding up the weapon he had been examining. “Alright: I’m pretty sure if we head back to our world, we’ll be able to easily repair this thing.”

Rarity nodded in agreement. “Might want to bring some reinforcements on the way back.”

Here, Fluttershy, despite hating the idea of going to war, especially with mirror versions of her friends, gained a look of determination. “I’m sure if we’d ask, there’d be plenty of ponies who’d be willing to teach themselves some manners. Maybe get a few counterparts of the Lunar Republicans over here while we’re at it.”

It was at this moment, however, that Twilight Sparkle entered the room, a grim expression on her face. “Love the enthusiasm, but unfortunately, there isn’t any time for it.” With that, she set a scrying stone down on the table before them, an image of Celestia appearing before them.

“Five years ago, a tragic event cost the lives of countless Equestrian citizens,” the mare in the projection declared, obviously using similar stones to broadcast this message to the entire nation. “Overwhelmed with grief and guilt about being unable to prevent this event, one pony was driven mad. She became an agent of Disharmony, an enemy of peace, but no longer: the leader of the so-called Lunar Republic will pay for her crimes.”

Little Strongheart couldn’t help but pale at this announcement. “No: even she wouldn’t…”

“As dusk settles tonight, Twilight Sparkle will be executed at the gates of Tartarus,” The Solar Empress declared, confirming their worst fears. “May Faust have mercy on her soul.”

Princess Twilight simply deactivated the stone with a stiff nod. “Getting help will have to wait: rescuing Twilight, your Twilight, just became our top priority.”

Ember shook her head. “It’s a trap.”

“She’s right: we’ll have to be sneaky about this.” Sunburst declared.

“Sneaky how, exactly?” Blueblood couldn’t help but ask, bringing up a projection of Tartarus with his horn. “Tartarus is covered in teleportation and magic dampeners to discourage escape.”

Sunburst nodded. “True, but they only cover the prison itself. You just need to get the Princess outside of the place.”

Rainbow Dash smirked in reply. “Sounds like at least part of this will be about speed, not subtlety: count me in.” She then looked to Storm Chaser. “Want to help Prince Blueblood and Sweetie Belle coordinate things?”

Her late doppelganger’s daughter blinked. “Are...are you serious?”

Rainbow shrugged. “Well, I know I wouldn’t let the fact that I was grounded get in the way of wanting to help out, so I figure that making you feel useful would be a good compromise.”

“As much as I’d like to help save my counterpart, I’d better stay behind too then if Storm’s going to help with observing the battle,” Sci-Twi said with a teasing grin. “If she really is Rainbow’s daughter, she’ll probably go trying to charge right into battle regardless of the risk when things are at their most dangerous and if that happens, she’ll need someone...er, somepony to hold her steady when that happens.”

Lightning Dust merely snorted in reply. “Yeah, that sounds about right.” She then cleared her throat. “Still, you’ll need a diversion: to keep Celestia and her goons occupied…”

Princess Ember found herself sharing a grin with Little Strongheart and, believe it or not, Fluttershy at that suggestion. “Leave that to us.”

“Speaking of diversions, Rarity, could you make me a cloak that looks like the one my counterpart wears?” Sunburst asked. “I need to sneak into Cloudsdale. I’m hoping to use the local weather factory to aid in Twilight’s escape.”

“If you’re going to Cloudsdale, I’m coming with you,” Starlight remarked. “You’re going to need someone to cast a Cloud Walking spell for your infiltration to actually work.”

“And if she’s going, I’m going,” Lightning declared.

Here, Sunburst couldn’t help but frown. “Are you sure about this? I know for a fact that our history is less than ideal on both of our worlds.”

Prince Blueblood simply shook his head at this statement. “Whatever history you two might have, the fact remains that Cloudsdale is currently stationed just outside of Canterlot…”

“…and if your cover’s blown, you’ll need somepony watching your back.” Twilight said in agreement.

Lightning just leveled a glare at Sunburst. “Let me just make this clear. I’m not asking permission.”

Sunburst merely nodded in acknowledgement. “…fair enough, but I’ll still be keeping an eye on you.”

Sometime later, Sunburst, now dressed to look like his Solar counterpart (albeit with his usual robes stored away in a bag he was carrying), nodded to Starlight as he and Lightning readied themselves for the mission. “Welp, here we go. Quick question, though: you sure this telepathy scrambler gauze will work? No offense, but while you’re an expert in spell casting in any world, I don’t recall you having the best luck with potion work.” He shuddered. “I still remember the jello incident.”

“That was one time!” Starlight groaned out before sighing, “and in any case, five years is plenty of time for one to improve oneself.”

“...she managed to blow up the lab and Twilight’s the one who actually mixed this up, right?” Sunburst directed at Lightning, having not at all been convinced.

“Yep.” Lightning Dust said with a smile, much to his fillyfriend’s growing irritation. “Seems some things are the same in every world.” She shared a light laugh with Sunburst before clearing her throat. “In any case, you remember the plan, right?”

Sunburst nodded. “I go in, show the guards the forged documents that give us permission to move Cloudsdale that Blueblood gave us, I get out. Simple.”

“Or not,” Lightning Dust remarked as she pointed to a Pegasus wearing Solar Empire armor approaching the complex. “I recognize that guy from some files I’ve come across: he’ll be on guard duty around the time of the execution. If he catches onto our infiltration, the whole mission is botched.”

“Not a problem,” Sunburst said with a nod even as he started to walk towards the guard in question. “I’ve actually run into his counterpart more then a few times back in my world, and if there’s any semblance of the pony I used to be in my own counterpart, this shouldn’t be too difficult.”

Meanwhile, Solar Flash Sentry couldn’t help but feel a bit uneasy about this whole execution thing. There was just...there were so many ways this could go wrong no matter how he looked at it. What he wouldn’t give for a distraction right about now…

“Hey, Sentry: how’s it going?”

Solar Flash stared at the approaching Sunburst with a blink before raising his hoof. “Just one second.” He looked up at the sky. “What I wouldn’t give for a million bits right about now…” He waited a few seconds before looking down with a groan. “Pony feathers.”

Sunburst just snorted. “You better not have been hoping for a distraction just now: that’s just asking for trouble.”

Flash Sentry just groaned in response. “Sorry, I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately. You’d think after five years things would start to get less complicated, but then all of this happened!”

“Well, at least it’s not boring.”

Flash simply gave a snort to that remark. “True enough.” He then frowned though. “Actually, are you okay? Not sure what it is, exactly, but your voice seems a little off. You haven’t been overdoing it with the performance enhancing pills again, have you?”

Sunburst quietly flinched, knowing full well that the problem likely lay in the opposite direction. “Nah, just a tickle in my throat.” he lied, faking a few coughs before giving a grin. “Hopefully I’m not coming down with anything.”

The Solar guard stared at him for a bit, but simply shrugged in response. “Fair enough, I suppose. Think you’ll be good for our Friday night Oubliettes & Ogres session?”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Sunburst happily declared. “Though maybe we should continue this conversation later: we’ve both got some work to take care of, don’t we?”

“I’d be inclined to agree, but there’s just one problem,” Flash declared as he got into a fighting stance. “Our sessions actually take place on Saturday nights. You’re one of the duplicates, which means you’ll be coming with me.”

Mentally kicking himself for not seeing that coming, Sunburst simply shook his head. “Not happening. This war isn’t right, and you of all ponies should know that.”

Despite having committed himself to seeing this battle through, Flash Sentry couldn’t help but tilt his head in confusion. “How do you figure that?”

Sunburst just shook his head in frustration. “Don’t you know? You never split the party!”

Needless to say, this was a tough battle. Not only was Flash the faster combatant of the two, but since Sunburst had elected not to use the performance enhancers Twilight had offered him, he was forced to rely on his own natural abilities and it went without saying that he wasn't adept at high-level spell casting. That said, it wasn't just strength and speed that determined a battle's outcome. Taking advantage of how there had been some construction going on nearby, Sunburst lured his opponent to beside a pile of unused pipes, before knocking them over with his magic. Of course, being a Pegasus, Flash quickly took flight to avoid it...right into the path of a trashcan lid that Sunburst had thrown with his hooves, subsequently knocking him to the ground in a daze. With a final kick to the head, the soldier had fallen to the wizard.

“...and you never let that darn thief out of sight~” Sunburst couldn’t help but mockingly sing as he looked upon his fallen opponent before giving a chuckle. “Luckily, I’ve rolled nat 20 on evasion.”

“Looks more like a nat 1 to me.” And that was all the warning Sunburst got before he suddenly found himself stuck in the telekinetic grasp of his own counterpart, who quickly activated a telepathy spell. “Sunburst to Marshmallow: I found a duplicate of me.”

“Understood, Darling.” Rarity, currently standing inside the Lunar Republic’s headquarters helping the others make some final preparations, declared with a smile, relieved that the gauze had worked. That said, she couldn’t help the slight twitch that entered her eye as she gave her reply. “We'll be sure to send reinforcements: Rarity out.” As she disconnected from the spell, she couldn’t help but let out a groan. “Even in another dimension, I can't escape those jokes.” All Rainbow Dash could do was pat her on the back with sympathy, understanding her pain better than most.

Back in Canterlot, Solar Sunburst couldn’t help but let out a chuckle as his counterpart continued to struggle to escape his grasp. “Don’t bother: I know my own limitations better than anypony. Why do you think I jumped on board with the Empire when they announced those enhancement pills?”

Sunburst froze upon hearing those words come out of his counterpart’s mouth. “That’s the reason you joined Celestia?!”

“It’s reason enough!” Sunburst said with a growl. “You of all ponies know how painful and frustrating it is to know so much about magic and not being able to do anything with it!”

“And what about all the ponies that get hurt or killed so that we could continue using those spells?” Sunburst yelled out. “Were their lives worth the power you’ve gained?”

“...you sound just like the little traitor,” his counterpart growled out. “Acting all high and mighty while refusing to reset the timeline so that Luna never died in the first place.”

Needless to say, Sunburst couldn’t believe what he had just heard. “That’s the reason you tossed our oldest friend away like trash? If you really knew about Starlight’s time travel escapade, you’d know that…”

“Blah blah blah paradoxes, blah blah blah worse outcomes, blah blah blah moral high ground,” Sunburst whined out with a roll of his eyes. “Tell me, Sunburst: WHAT’S THE POINT OF HAVING POWER IF YOU DON’T USE IT?!”

“And how have you used it?” Lightning demanded as she and Starlight came out of hiding. “By chugging down a few pills and letting Celestia turn Equestria, land of love and friendship, into a bucking dictatorship!”

“Don’t act so high and mighty, Dust,” Sunburst growled out. “You’re the one who helped Sombra kill Luna in the first place!”

“Yeah, she’s made some mistakes,” Starlight acknowledged, “but at least she isn’t a hypocrite like you. I know that you have enough of a power boost with those pills of yours that if you really wanted to, you could’ve gone back in time yourself if it really bothered you that much, but you haven’t: why?”

“I...you see…”

“Because if he did, those pills would never have been created in the first place,” Sunburst declared, already knowing the answer. “Despite all his claims that he doesn’t care about the damage done to the time stream such a plan could potentially have, he knows that if he did this, he’d undo everything that gave him the power he now has, and that’s all he really cares about anymore.”

Sunburst just glared in reply, using his magic to tighten his grip on his doppelganger. “Shut up.”

The scholarly pony winced, but continued regardless. “I’m going to take a guess and say that he was one of the first ponies they tested the drug on, and for somepony who never knew what power felt like, the sensation was addicting. The thing about addictions, though, is that it can change who a pony really is. In fact, Starlight probably approached him, showing concern about the type of pony he was becoming.”

“Shut up!” Sunburst growled out, his horn glowing brighter as his grip tightened once again.

Despite it getting harder to breath, Sunburst just grinned, already knowing where this was going. “But you didn’t see our childhood friend being concerned when that happened. Oh, no: you saw a little pony trying to take away the power you coveted your whole life, so instead of saying to yourself: ‘Hey, maybe she’s right: maybe helping Celestia kill some ponies who might not even deserve it was a bad call. Maybe I should try not using these pills for a while,’ you cut ties with her completely, chasing her right into the arms of the Lunar Republic and by extension Lightning Dust herself.”

“SHUT UP!” Sunburst yelled out, looking ready to snap his counterpart’s neck...only for him to suddenly get thrown back by his own horn exploding from how much energy he was putting through it. Needless to say, he was shocked at this latest development even as his now free counterpart approached him, rubbing his own sore neck as he did. “Wha…?”

“‘Possible side effects include, but are not limited to, mood swings, insomnia, and, in rare cases, crippling magic surges,’” Sunburst recited off what he had read in Twilight’s notes before coming here. “I knew that if I got you riled up enough that this might happen, given how many of those pills you take on a daily basis, but I had been hoping to avoid that. Once I knew how little you cared about our lives, however, I stopped caring about preserving what little magic you had before you started taking that drug.” That was all the warning Sunburst got before his counterpart started slugging him in the face. “How’s it feel to have somepony stronger than you not give a damn about your feelings? How’s it feel to be the victim?”

Sunburst, however, simply gave a dark chuckle. “That’s right: you’re the stronger one now.” He smiled as his counterpart stopped, his horn lit and his fist ready to throw another punch. “It feels good, doesn’t it? The power, the sensation of not being a failure? Trust me: you don’t need those pills to get that feeling. Go on then: be the stronger stallion. Show me your power! END ME!”

To his counterpart’s shock and confusion, however, Sunburst shook his head and extinguished his horn, backing away as he did. “I’ll never let the pain, the darkness determine who I am. I will never be you.”

“Still as weak as ever, I see,” the now powerless Unicorn declared.

“You don’t understand, do you?” Sunburst said with a shake of his head, “Valuing life is not weakness, and disregarding it is not strength. Besides, it’s not me you have to worry about.”

Needless to say, Sunburst quickly paled upon realizing that Starlight Glimmer and Lightning Dust were still nearby, giving a weak chuckle as they approached. “You know, with the benefit of hindsight…”

Starlight didn’t even let him finish as she blasted her former friend and fillyhood crush into a wall. “That’s for breaking my heart.”

“And this is for all the lives you’ve helped Celestia take,” Lightning declared as she slugged the stallion in the jaw, knocking him out, before giving a sigh. “It’s over.”

“Not yet it’s not,” Sunburst declared, looking to Cloudsdale with determination. “We’ve still got a job to do.” Turning back, however, he sighed as he noted how Lightning’s wing was draped over Starlight’s shoulder. “Take care of her for me, okay?”

“Only if you promise to look after your Starlight.” Lightning replied with an easygoing nod.

Sunburst simply grinned in reply. “Always.”

To be continued

Author's Note:

Okay a few disclaimers before we move on to the next chapter. First and foremost, from the moment I decided that Sunburst was fighting with the Solar Empire, I had more-or-less decided that the Starburst (Starlight/Sunburst) pairing was dead in this faction of reality, though as the ending pointed out, it is still very possible in the main timeline.

As for how I handled things, well, it’s no accident that I borrowed a line from the Season 6 premiere during Sunburst’s encounter with himself: the moment he mentioned wanting to do all that magic that he knew about, I worried about what would happen if he was given the chance to: what he would do to keep that kind of power. Admittedly, I could’ve handled the “addiction” angle a bit better: as someone whose Grandfather is still recovering from his smoking habit from his youth, I know how serious the issue is. The thing is, my Grandpa wanted to stop smoking (and did); he wanted to get better (and has). Sure, he’s still feeling the effects at times, but overall he’s living a happy life because to this day he wants to be more than his (past) addiction (and succeeded), and I’ve always feared that in at least one facet of reality, Sunburst wouldn’t make that same choice and would end up destroying himself as a result, hence his horn exploding towards the end. That said, I don’t believe that would happen in every facet of reality: that bit of mainline Sunburst refusing to kill his doppelganger? That was him metaphorically and literally saying “no” to the intoxicating feeling of having power over somepony else, which as his Solar counterpart pointed out was just as addicting as the pills that gave him that power in the first place (absolute power corrupts absolutely, after all). I’ll admit, it’s not the perfect metaphor, but I hope it still works, though I apologize in advance if I offended anyone regardless.

Last but not least, regarding that bit about Lightning Dust and Starlight getting together within the Disharmony-verse, admittedly, I hadn’t originally intended to go in that direction: the idea just randomly popped up while I was writing this up and I found myself realizing "Hey, this could actually work!" Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t swing that way personally, but I have nothing against the people that do. That said, this all ties into something Rainbow Dash said to Storm Chaser a while back: actions have consequences. While I personally don’t ever see the two of them getting together in the main timeline ( #StarburstOTP ), I do think that, given that the two of them would be spending a lot more time together given the circumstances, they’d eventually discover somethings they had in common with each other and things would just escalate from there...and before someone points the same could be said of Trixie, I always viewed the illusionist as something of a younger sibling to the Twin Lights, as I like to call Twilight and her student: gets on your nerves a lot, but darn it if you don’t love them regardless, you know? At any rate, I know that it’s not perfect, but I do hope that this doesn’t stop you from enjoying the rest of the story.