• Published 25th Jan 2021
  • 2,356 Views, 60 Comments

Equestria at War: Solar Sacrifice - White Comet

This story takes place in the Equestria at War universe - When a certain thought to be dead Princess of the Night visits Sunrise Sparkle in her dreams, she begins to start doubting Daybreakers leadership. A decision that could decide her fate...

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Chapter 3: Truth or Taradiddle?

Being the ruler of a country had its ups and downs. For Sunrise, now was definitely one of those downs. She had spent the entire day at an air force base in the most western parts of the Crystal Empire. A day where she was fed plenty of facts and statistics about an up and coming aircraft development. While she perfectly understood the lingo, she hardly found the visit a very efficient use of her time. But all in a day's work for the Grand Inquisitor. If anything, at least her visit would perhaps motivate a few of the ponies.

And now, here she was. Sitting in the cold, headphones across her head resting on her ears, looking up to the sky. At least this part was reasonably exciting. The culmination of the research she was inspecting; a new type of jet propulsion fitted to an aircraft.

Maybe she would be enjoying it more if her mind wasn’t elsewhere. A certain Princess of the Night had taken up residence in her head rent-free. And no matter what she tried, she couldn’t find a way to shift the thoughts. Luna wasn’t making it easier either. Her lack of sleep had made her irritable, and she found herself drinking enough coffee that would probably kill most mortal ponies. She was sure it wouldn’t be long before she took up other habits to curb her stress.

“Thirty seconds,” A stallion's voice called over her headset.

Sunrise focused her eyes on the clear sky above her, looking out into the distance. She knew the plane would be flying high and it would be small, so she was effectively looking for a speck of dust flying through the air at incredibly high speed.

She counted down the time in her head, all the while listening to the radio chatter going on from several ponies on the headset quoting various telemetry statistics. Into the final few seconds, she actually managed to spot the plane. But not because of its silhouette, but rather the bright purple flame shooting out the back of the aircraft. It was a small flame, but it burned brightly. The plane soared high above their heads.

And then came the shockwave.

Even with the headphones on, Sunrise felt the blast bounce through her eardrums. The vibrations rattled her bones. She may have jumped a little, but she remained calm. Much like everypony else working around.

“For a split second, we just about hit mach one point one on that run," a stallion's voice of one of the scientists involved with the project called over the headset. “Nice job, Eagle. Contact tower and bring her in to land.”

“Roger control,” Another voice of the pilot responded over the headset. His speech was incredibly garbled by static, but understandable. “I wouldn’t take ‘er any faster, ol’ girl was rattlin’ like crazy.”

“We weren’t planning on pushing the airframe any further, but your comments are noted, Eagle,” The scientist noted.

Believing that she had heard everything that needed to be heard, Sunrise removed her headset and stood from her seat. She trotted along to the large building by the side of the hangers, pushing through one of the doors and walking down the bleak hallway into a large room with loads of screens with various data readouts on them. The ponies operating the stations didn’t even notice her walk in. The mixed smell of the machines and coffee was a well-known sign of ponies at work.

At the back of the room on an elevated oak desk sat a middle-aged earth pony stallion, with faded red fur and an ever-thinning hairline of what was probably once a vibrant and full copper coloured mane. He trotted down the few steps from his elevated desk where he could see everything going on, towards Sunrise. “What do you think?” He asked.

“...I think it works,” Sunrise answered monotonously, looking over at the telemetry on the screens.

The stallion chuffed and nodded, “It works very well. And that isn’t anywhere near our limit. We reckon with even further refined crystals and the right magic, we could get an increase in yield of at least fifty percent. Our current drawback is the airframe. The Hunter simply wasn’t designed to go this fast. I hope the Solar Air Force is taking our designs into mind.”

“I assure you they are,” Sunrise replied, somewhat forcefully, looking back at the stallion. “I have been told their next-generation fighter will be capable of sustaining at least mach two.”

“W-wow,” The stallion’s eyes widened, “Well, we’ll be ready for that.”

“I expect you to be,” Sunrise replied, turning around. “We’re done here. Thank you, Calima,” She stated, trotting away.

“O-oh,” Calima stammered. “T-thank you, Your Highness. Did our inspection...go...well?” He trailed off, realising that Sunrise wasn’t hanging around to answer him.

Sunrise made her way through the base to find her guards waiting at its entrance. They escorted her out to a long black car with the flags of the Solar and Crystal Empire on either side above the headlights. One of her guards opened the door for Sunrise, where she climbed in and made herself comfortable in the plush beige interior. Good thing the car was designed with fully grown alicorns in mind, otherwise she might be poking her horn through the roof right now.

“Take me back to the Crystal Palace,” She informed her guards in the front.

“Right away, your Majesty,” The guard in the driver's seat answered, starting the engine.

Sunrise rolled her privacy filter up as the car began to pull away, blocking the sound and sight from the guards in the front. When it fully extended, she finally released a sigh, free to be alone with her thoughts. “Another day…” She rested her head back against the headrest of her seat. She actually found the subtle vibrations of the smooth ride somewhat relaxing. She almost felt like she could close her eyes and take a nap for the ride back.

But despite feeling tired, her mind showed no signs of slowing down. Luna’s words hung heavy on her mind. And as much as she was adamant she wasn’t going to help Luna, she was starting to run out of options. Luna was right, she needed more allies before she could even think about taking on Daybreaker. But how was she supposed to do that? Everypony saw her as the tyrant underling of the Empress. She wasn’t exactly going to garner support with her popularity among the Equestrian population.

Not to mention there was also something else Luna said last night that stuck in her mind.

“You used to love reading, Twilight Sparkle. I suggest you rekindle the hobby.”

Now that she had time to think it over… was this Luna trying to drop a hint? Sunrise’s natural instinct told her this was a trap. Luna’s ultimate goal was to kill her and Daybreaker after all, she said it herself. Why should she trust her?

On the other hoof, Sunrise was drawing a blank with any better ideas. Perhaps following Luna’s suggestion would be a good idea, at least to move her forward. Maybe she could even spot any traps the ex-Princess set before they sprung. Or better yet, convince Luna that she had fallen for them and manipulate Luna into helping her instead. A smirk crossed Sunrise’s face as she couldn’t help but admire the thought of Luna getting a taste of her own medicine.

She used her magic to slide the privacy filter back down. “I’ve changed my mind. Drop me off at the Crystal Empire Royal Library instead,” She instructed.

“As you wish, your Majesty,” The stallion answered with a nod.

Sunrise slid the privacy filter back up and rested her head against the window, staring off into the distance to pass the time.

After the long drive, Sunrise saw the Crystal Library through the tinted glass of the car. She lowered her privacy screen as the car stopped just outside the door. “Leave me here, I’ll walk back,” She instructed, opening the door with her magic.

“Understood, your Majesty,” One of the guard's ponies replied.

Sunrise closed the door behind her and heard the engine rev as the car pulled away. She trotted up the steps towards the library. Given how late it was, she wasn't surprised to see the closed sign on the door. Nevertheless, she pushed through with her magic into the library. The lights were on dimly, but just enough to illuminate the large long rows of shelves stacked with plenty of books right up to the ceiling. The fact that everything was made of crystal helped amplify the small amount of light, making even a dimly lit room seem bright.

An elderly mare stood behind a desk backed against the wall, packing a few things. "I'm sorry but we're now closed you have to come back tomoooo-ooh, Sunrise Sparkle your Highness!" The mare quickly realised who she was speaking to and stopped what she was doing to bow. "How can I be of service?"

Sunrise gracefully approached the desk, stopping right in front of it. "I need access to your restricted section immediately."

"O-oh, of course," The mare stammered, ducking her head under the desk. It sounded like she was shuffling a few items around looking for something before she popped back up with a key in her mouth, dropping it on the desk in front of her. "I know I don't need to remind you, but the restricted section should not be accessed without good reason as it contains material...that...may...not…" her sentence got stuck halfway out her throat when she saw the alicorn glaring at her, eyebrow raised, filling her body with fear as she began to tremble.

"Imjustdoingmyjob," the mare panicked as her legs buckled, sending her cowering on the floor with her hooves over her eyes. "Pleasedontkillme."

Sunrise craned her neck over the desk to look at the shivering mare, coiled up like a foal in the fetal position beneath her for a few seconds before taking the key in her magic and trotting off into the library.

She walked over to the back wall, where several long banners lined with the red and yellow colours of the Solar Empire hung from the ceiling and draped down to the floor. She stopped short of one of them and took a good look around the library. Of course, since it was closing, nopony was around, but she made sure to be careful. Confirming nopony could see her, she used her magic to pull back one of the banners to reveal a door. Dusty from decades of disuse, but still had a vibrant bronze colour since being covered up all the time kept it from fading.

She inserted the key into the lock and cast a spell onto the lock at the same time, causing the doorframe to light up in the red glow of her magic and it opened by itself, the red magic faded away.

Sunrise entered the pitch-black corridor, reapplying the banner and closing the door behind her to seal off the last piece of light. She lit her horn up to guide her way down the dusty old corridor, barely big enough for two ponies, let alone a fully grown alicorn. When she reached the other end, she pushed through another door.

Flicking a light switch revealed a large circular room at the other end of the corridor, with a big round table in the middle. The table still had the emblem of the old Crystal Empire before the Solar Empire took over. The room had no windows, the only thing lining it was a completely circular bookshelf that ran all along the wall, with stacks of books taller than most houses. Scattered around the floor were various piles of books where the Empire obviously gave up trying to organise what was essentially to them forbidden and confiscated material.

"Now where to start…" Sunrise said to herself sarcastically. None of these books had been organised since they were dumped in here. It was going to be a grind, but just staring at it wasn’t going to get the job done. She inhaled the stale air of old books and got started...

Finding no useful information in it, Sunrise set the book aside in the ‘read’ pile… the ever-growing pile…

The room had no clocks or windows in it, but Sunrise could tell that it was late. She had been here for hours, mindlessly going through all these books. She disregarded a few by their titles, but she honestly had no idea what she was looking for. She was going off some cryptic clue given by a pony she considered her enemy. Sunrise always thought the enemy of her enemy was her friend, but Luna was starting to make her question that theory.

She grabbed the next book in the pile with her magic, but as she did, she felt a strange magical feedback through her horn. Fearing that it was a trap, she immediately cut off her magic. The book dropped to the ground, landing with a thump. She jumped to her hooves, landing on the table, wings spread and hooves spaced apart in a powerful stance, expecting whatever trap she triggered to spring…

...But nothing happened…

She remained cautious for a few more seconds, keeping her head on a swivel looking around the room. But it seemed that nothing was happening. She used her wings and hopped off the table, looking back at the book she just dropped. There was definitely some magic at play in that book, but nothing malicious presented itself. Perhaps in her tiredness, she misread the signals…

She used her hooves to pick up the book and examined it further, seeing the emblem of the Griffonian Empire at the top of its spine. Then she saw the title; Amici De Cinrar

“Friendship Reincarnate?” Sunrise spoke the Old Ponish translation, raising an eyebrow. She recalled Luna saying those words in her dream last night. Perhaps this was the hint that she was trying to drop.

Nevertheless, Sunrise was still cautious about Luna’s true intentions. For all she knew, that magic she felt could still be a trap yet to trigger. She cautiously picked the book up using her hooves and flicked through the pages, finding them all to be blank.

She had no idea what it meant yet, but she was confident she found what she was supposed to find. This was the only book that, after hours of search, gave her some magical feedback. She tucked the book under her left wing and returned out of the hidden section of the library. She headed back up to the reception desk where the mare that was working there had obviously gone home for the night. Sunrise simply helped herself to a canvas bag she found amongst the various items behind the desk to put her book in and left the library herself.

Being only a short walk, Sunrise opted to walk back to her castle. That and since it was late, nopony was around to bother her. The sun had all but set, and most ponies had already turned in for the evening. She encountered a few guards that felt graced by her presence, but otherwise, she had a quiet walk back.

She made her way through to her living quarters, going up to her bedroom and locking the door behind her. At least if she passed out from work this time, she would be in her own bedroom. She used her magic to rest the book on her desk then removed all her regalia before sitting down to examine the book further.

“Now what exactly are you…?” Sunrise’s horn lit up softly around the book. She wasn't trying to do anything, she was simply probing it to try and get some more information.

"This magic...I've seen it before…" Sunrise rubbed her chin, "But where?"

The more Sunrise tried to recall the memory, she found herself feeling more of a headache. She knew what it was, it was on the tip of her tongue. She just couldn't put her hoof on it.

She closed her eyes, trying harder to recall the memory. "I...remember…” She semi-lied to herself. She HAD seen this magic before, she just couldn’t remember where. It was as if the memory had been buried deep within her mind. But it was too familiar to ignore.

She cut off her magic, letting the book drop to the desk. "What are you hiding?" She said out loud, closing her eyes once again to help her imagine the process of the spell she was about to perform to reverse the Changeling magic.

The red aura of her magic engulfed the book, then a small circle of green fire flashed around it and disappeared almost as quickly as it came. The book once again dropped onto her desk, looking exactly the same, but this time with 'Tagebuch' written in gold letters along the top of the front cover.

"Herzlandish?" Sunrise raised an eyebrow, picking up the book and flicking to the first page.

What she found was that the pages were now populated with text, meaning her theory was correct. Someone had used Changeling magic to hide the true contents of the book. Sunrise didn't speak the Herzland language, but it helped narrow down some possibilities despite the language barrier. If it was Changeling magic concealing it, does this mean the book belonged to a Changeling? Was it his or her journal? Although the emblem of the Griffonian Empire was still there on the spine. Perhaps it was a gift from Griffonia meant for a Changeling? Or it belonged to a Griffon that had a Changeling perform this spell on it for them? The possibilities were endless.

But although she didn't speak the language, there was one name she spotted that she did recognise, printed at the top of the first page.

Grover VI.

"No…" Sunrise's eyes widened in disbelief, "It can't be?" She started flicking through the pages. Not reading, as she couldn't read the language anyway, but looking at the dates that were written in the top right corner of every page. Grover was only four years old when he was supposedly murdered in one thousand and seven, a conspiracy that Sunrise and the Solar Empire heavily bought into. But looking at this book, it seems they may have been wrong all this time. There were entries in this book that went into the ten-ten's and ten-twenties.

"You're alive?" Sunrise stood from her desk. "But that means…" her hoof rubbed her chin, she began to think about the implications. "This changes everything!" She slammed her hoof on the desk.

Igniting her horn, she immediately teleported herself and the book to her secret planning room hidden beneath her throne. Perhaps in excitement, or perhaps the result of excessive caffeine consumption that she needed to get out of her system. She fumbled around for a second before finding the light switch.

“If the rightful heir to the Griffonian Empire is alive, this might just be the spark I need to ignite a civil war on the continent,” Sunrise spoke to herself, staring at the map on her wall. “Now whereabouts are you hidi--...”

Her sentence stopped short and her gaze cast down to the book. She used her magic to rapidly flick through the pages, flicking all the way to the next blank page near the end of the book. “If this magic is what I think it is…” she bought out a pen with her magic. “Then I could just ask you…”

She lowered the pen onto the top page...and held it there. Almost close enough to touch.

“Ha...haha...hahaha…” She simply deactivated her magic, letting the pen fall in place. She flung herself backwards into her chair, letting her laughter run its course. “Oh, nice try Luna! You almost had me there, but this is obviously a trap!” She slammed the book shut.

Her right eye twitched as other ideas ran through her mind, “Or SMILE are onto me, and this is their idea to get evidence against me… Ugh!” She flung the book away in frustration, slamming it against the wall with a loud thud. “I don’t need this…” She lowered her head onto her forehooves resting on the desk. “Think, Sunrise, think…”

She twisted her head, looking over at the book lying on the floor, opened to a random page on impact. She raised an eyebrow, getting somewhat of an inspiration from the book.

“Assuming that book is correct…” Sunrise bought a blue marker pen over to her map, drawing a circle over Griffenheim. “If I were young Grover… Or I suppose it would’ve been his guardian at that point… What would I have done?” She pondered, bringing another red marker pen in with her magic. Luckily the map she was looking at still had all the old territories mapped out since it was from a date long before the Griffonian Empire took over the continent. “To the north was the Republic. You likely wouldn’t have gone that way, since the Republic wanted to overthrow the monarchy anyway…” She put a red cross over the southern border of the Republic, but then noticed something else on the map. “But also before that was the Strawberry Dutchy…” she leant in as she thought, “At the time, it was ruled by your aunt, Gabriella Eagleclaw. It would have made sense to your guardian to send you there for your safety,” Sunrise drew a blue arrow from Griffenheim point up towards The Dutchy’s capital of Readewetter.

“But from there…” Sunrise rubbed her chin with her hoof, trying to work out what would have happened next. At that point, she discovered the flaw in her reasoning. “All this territory eventually got absorbed into the Empire anyway. There’s no way you could have slipped under the radar…” Sunrise groaned, rubbing her forehead in frustration. “Okay…” she picked up a dusty old eraser at the end of her desk and wiped the map clean. “Let’s think about this a different way. Instead of trying to work out where he might have gone, let's rule out the places he couldn’t have gone.”

With that in mind, she lifted the red marker up again. “The Republic, obviously,” she put a red cross through it, then moved down the map. “And Aquileia also had a republican revolution, it’s unlikely he would’ve been welcomed there with open arms either.” She crossed out the general area of Aquileia. “Wingbardy’s relationship with the Empire would also make that a no-go for him too. Which would also block the way to New Mareland…” She struck through all the countries she noted, gritting her teeth and almost snapping the pen in her magic. She ended up just throwing it against the map in frustration. “And I’ve just crossed off half the map and boxed in the Empire. Great detective work, Sunrise!” She berated herself, slamming her head on the table, mostly ignoring the pain it caused.

She couldn’t think of any other way it could have played out. She believed that he died during Ferdinand Dawnclaw’s coup in the Griffonian Empire. If anything, this only proved she was right.

She levitated the book back over to herself and started flicking through the pages again. It was possible that he was killed at a later date, but the dates in the book go well into the ten-twenties and a few entries even in ten-thirty. If she was to trust this book, then he was most certainly still alive. But her faith in this book was still questionable at best.

She looked back at the map, looking around the Griffonian Empire and the sections she hadn’t crossed off. Which only led to one conclusion. “North-east,” Sunrise spoke, standing up. “You must have gone through the mountains of Bronzhill, maybe into Firtree. Or somewhere around there. Those places were so rural and isolated at the time, you probably kept a low profile easily enough. But they were absorbed into the River Federation during the mid ten-tens, which…”

Sunrise paused for a moment. What she was suggesting to herself was crazy. “You must be hiding in the River Federation. If they’re hiding you and you’re discovered, it could be enough to trigger an all-out war between them… Would you even be welcome there? Given the history between the Empire and the Federation…”

White it was all starting to make a little bit of sense in her head, there was still an elephant in the room. No matter how deeply she looked at the evidence, it all came back to the same question. She levitated the book back up to her eye level. “Do I trust this diary? Or is this a trap and I’m taking the bait?”

She closed the book with a sigh, not being able to answer that right now. She stood up, preparing to leave. She wanted to believe that she was right and the book was a trap, set up by Luna as a sort of red herring. But she was desperate for leads, and getting nowhere. She had to at least investigate the possibility that she wasn’t being tricked. A thought that she would have to sleep on…

Sunrise suddenly stood in a dimly lit room, the lights flickering above her head. She recognised this room… Or at least, sort of recognised it. Moving her legs, they had familiar shortness to them that she felt in one of her previous dreams. She was back in a younger Twilight Sparkle’s body. Of course, it was another dream. Her attention was drawn away by the vibrations she felt rattle through the room combined with the muffled sound of explosions outside. It suddenly dawned on her; this was the Canterlot war room.

She took a few steps forward, towards a large map on a rectangular table in the middle of the room. The flickering lights made it hard to make out the specifics on it, but she could clearly see the Changeling front lines closing in on central Equestria, almost within striking distance of Canterlot. The rumbles she felt beneath her hooves were no doubt bombs falling on the city.

“Do I…” Sunrise picked up a few of the little wooden pieces used to represent troop movements on the map with her magic. “Why am I here?”

“Good question.”

The voice startled Sunrise, causing her to drop the pieces in place. She whipped herself around to see five mares standing in front of her… The same five mares from one of her previous dreams.

“Who are you?” Sunrise demanded.

“Now that’s a question ya need t’ ask y’self!” The orange earth pony mare stepped forward. “Do ya even know who YOU are anymore, Twi?”

“AJ’s right, the Twilight we know would never side with a monster like Daybreaker!” The blue pegasus with a rainbow mane added, hovering in the air.

“Monster…” Sunrise’s voice quivered, stomping her hoof, “That ‘Monster’ is protecting you! You should feel grateful!” She defended, feeling the anger rising in her voice. She could feel her horn lighting involuntarily but ignored it.

“Tell that to all the Thestrals that have died because Daybreaker says they’ve been ‘tainted by the darkness’ ” The blue pegasus retorted, “They were ready to defend Equestria ‘till the very end like everypony else, and how were they repaid? By being burned alive. Some LOYAL friend you turned out to be!”

“It’s for the good of Equestria!” Sunrise defended, gritting her teeth. “If the Empress wasn’t here, we’d all be nothing but a pile of dust right now.”

“You’re wrong, Twilight,” The white unicorn spoke up. “Equestria was doing just as well, if not better before that pathetic excuse for a goddess took over Celestia.”

Sunrise felt her eyes twitch, knowing what was going on. “My. Name. Is. SUNRISE!” She shouted angrily.

The energy buildup in her horn finally decided to discharge. Sunrise closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, letting the full wrath of her magic cascade from her horn and strike against the five mares standing in front of her. Her ears folded at the eardrum-bursting noise, even more so than the explosions that were falling above them. She grunted as she passed the apex of her magical release, taking a moment to catch her breath. She opened her eyes, feeling the tingling sensation in her horn beginning to dissipate.

The five mares that were standing in front of her were now gone, and there was a perfectly circular hole in the far wall where she was pointing. What was strange, however, was where it led. It led onto a dark night sky, covered with clouds. Much like her first encounter with Luna.

Sunrise hesitantly trotted towards the hole in the wall, poking her head out to look around. All around was nothing but a bed of clouds illuminated by the moonlight, much like she expected it to be. She took a step out, feeling the cloud under her hoof. But another strange sensation struck her as he put her hoof through the barrier. It felt like it was extending. She walked a little further through, only to feel the same thing happen to the rest of her body, then return to her normal (or rather, Twilight’s normal) form as she stepped back. Obviously, she was being turned back into her normal body when she stepped over. She made some quick steps to compensate for the strange limb imbalance as she crossed over, wanting to get back into her body as quick as she could. After completely crossing over, she looked back at where she was walking from, paying particular attention to the way the circle she made breached in. She didn’t know how to describe it, but the rest of the building she was just standing in simply didn’t exist. All she could see in every direction was the bed of clouds. It was like her magic opened a portal to another dream.

She grabbed her long flowing mane and dragged it around into her vision to confirm that she was back in her correct body. She took the solid red stripe where Twilight’s pink and purple stripe would be as confirmation. A moment later, the ‘portal’ suddenly shrunk and disappeared with an almost comical pop. Behind it stood Luna, standing tall with her wings spread. She looked somewhat disappointed, but otherwise exactly how Sunrise expected her to be.

Sunrise simply shook her head at Luna. “You know, I don’t think these ponies you keep trying to introduce me to see eye to eye with me.”

“They wouldn’t,” Luna answered, “But you’re going to need them eventually. I just want you to be prepared.”

Sunrise scoffed, “And here we go again,” She rolled her eyes, turning away. “You talk about cooperating and working together, but you made a huge mistake. You told me your goal right at the beginning. Do you really think I will work with somepony whose ultimate goal is to kill me?”

Luna shook her head. “I don’t expect you to trust me, but it will benefit both of us if we work together.”

“And here’s the same old snagging point,” Sunrise threw her hoof out half-heartedly. She didn’t care what Luna had to say anymore, she was just fed up with the broken record. “You need my help, but I don’t trust you. We’re at an impasse, and there’s nothing we can do. So how long are we gonna keep doing this for?”

“All eternity if necessary,” Luna replied strongly.

“Pfft,” Sunrise chuffed, shaking her head. “Well, we are alicorns. So get comfy, because that might take a while,” Sunrise let herself fall backwards onto the cloud, putting her forehooves behind her head.

“I’m sorry you see it that way…” Luna glanced away, “We might have eternity, but does Equestria? Does the world?”

“Don’t you DARE try and guilt trip me into this!” Sunrise demanded.

Luna looked back and raised an eyebrow, taking a few steps closer to Sunrise. “You got one fact the wrong way around, however. It’s YOU that needs MY help.”

Sunrise chuckled, “Last time I checked, you’re the one in my brain right now trying to convince me to help you.”

“Only because it’s a more strategic advantage to work with you than fight you,” Luna replied. “No matter how… difficult you’re making it…”

“Well maybe if you weren’t constantly trying to trick me, I wouldn’t be so hesitant,” Sunrise spat, continuing to stare up into the black sky. “I know it was you that planted that book there. I know you have some sort of trap set with it. So I didn’t take the bait. If you think you can outsmart me like that so easily, think again!” Sunrise spoke defiantly, untucking her left-wing and folding in all her feathers aside from the main middle one.

Luna tilted her head at the gesture, ignoring it. “I merely made sure the book ended up back in Equestria. The fact you found it was half coincidence and half the fact you went actively looking for it.” Luna rubbed her chin with a hoof. “I suppose you could argue that I pointed you in its direction…”

Sunrise tilted her head to look at Luna standing beside her. “Back in Equestria? What is that book anyway? I worked out its Grovers journal, but what’s that got to do with anything? I believe that young Grover was killed by Ferdinand Dawnclaw during the coup, so what’s to say that you haven’t forged it?”

Luna smiled, “If you haven’t figured out what that book is, then you need to press deeper into the memories of Twilight Sparkle that Daybreaker locked away from you.” Luna’s horn lit up, “Perhaps, this will help…”

“Wait…” Sunrise called, but it was too late. Luna’s magic landed on her head. She winced and braced for the pain, but… none came. Instead, it was more of a pins and needles sensation in her head. She felt like she was exploring certain parts of her brain that she didn’t even know to exist. Luna’s magic acted like some sort of map, guiding her to memories that she didn’t even know she had. “Another pony… Who is that? Sunset Shimmer? She used the book before?”

Luna nodded, “Not that exact book, but the same magic,” She explained, withdrawing her magic.

“Magic? The replication magic? But… where does it go? Who’s reading the other book?” Sunrise pressed, feeling the sensation in her head fade away.

Luna frowned, “I suppose you’ll need to go deeper into Twilight’s memories to find out,” She replied assertively. “WITHOUT my help. That’s the way you wanted it anyway, isn’t it?”

Sunrise scoffed, “You mean you just want me to drill more holes through my last line of defence because it gives you an easier time killing me.”

“If I wanted you dead, you would already be dead,” Luna stated angrily. “As I said, it’s more advantageous for both of us for you to be alive and in control at the moment.”

“Pfft,” Sunrise batted her hoof, laughing. “All you can do is lecture me in my dreams. Your threats are meaningless.”

“Then perhaps you underestimate me,” Luna replied, her horn lighting up. A smile almost crept through onto her lips, but she managed to keep a straight face. “Perhaps a demonstration is in order…”

“AAH!” Sunrise’s forehooves shot up to her head, gripping it tightly as a throbbing migraine suddenly shot through her head. At the same time, she started seeing strange colours flowing through her vision. She clamped her eyes shut to stop it, but it didn’t stop the migraines. It felt like her brain was being torn apart. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” She screamed at Luna, feeling her muscles spasm in pain.

“As I told you, I can break your hold on Twilight Sparkle’s mind and body whenever I want to. This will, unfortunately, result in your death, as I’m sure you’re aware.”

“YOU’RE...BLUFFING…!” Sunrise growled through gritted teeth, rolling around on the floor with her forehooves clamped over her head.

“Am I?” Luna asked, the light of the blue aura around her horn becoming more intense.

Sunrise growled and gasped, feeling like she was being dragged out of her own skin. “NO...NO...STOP!” She tried to scream through gritted teeth.

As quickly as it started, Luna simply withdrew her magic. Her horn’s aura fading away into nothing. Sunrise opened her eyes, gasping several times to catch her breath before going limp on the floor. She rolled across to look at Luna.

Luna lowered her head to meet Sunrise’s tired, pained eyes with her own glare, face scowling. “I was enjoying that. You have no idea how much I wanted to go all the way and bring Twilight back right now. You’re just lucky you’re more useful to me alive at the moment,” Luna spat menacingly, placing her hoof under Sunrise’s chin and lifting her head up. “Are we clear on who's helping who now?”

Sunrise met Luna’s glare for several moments, trying to conjure a response. But she gritted her teeth trying to think of something without submitting to Luna’s pressure. But her brain was too busy recovering from what just happened to think of anything.

Luna removed her hoof from Sunrise’s chin, letting her head drop to the cloud. “Thankfully, I am a patient mare. I’ll give you some time to decide.” Luna took a few steps back as Sunrise bought herself up into a sitting position, giving the back of her head a rub as she was still recovering from the pain.

“But still, I have a piece of advice,” Luna’s horn lit up and she began turning dissolving into the ether from her hooves up, transitioning the dream. “Twilight Sparkle never did things on her own. She always had her friends to help her out. My advice to you would be the very same thing my sister and Twilight herself would say; make some friends.”

When Luna fully disappeared, Sunrise felt like she wanted to faceplant the floor again. “Easier said than done…” she said to herself. Luna had given her plenty to think about, and all she could do was sleep on it…

But for now, she simply sighed and face-planted the cloud, burying her head from the embarrassment that Luna just got the drop on her with her own speciality; magic… She would have to think of some pretty good excuses for this one...

Author's Note:

Oof, beaten at your own game, eh Sunrise? :rainbowlaugh:

The pieces are starting to come together in Sunrise's head... but she still doesn't really know what to do with them all. The lack of trust between her and Luna is obviously a big issue. Luna seems to know a lot, but Sunrise isn't willing to trust her. For obvious reasons. Would you trust somepony who openly admitted their end goal is to kill you?

That book sure is a funny one. Luna seems to know all about it, but won't let on. But again, Sunrise's lack of trust in Luna seems to be creating a barrier between them. You can't tip-hoof on that barrier forever Sunrise. Sooner or later, you're gonna have to jump...

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it! :twilightsmile: