• Published 5th Feb 2021
  • 1,820 Views, 87 Comments

Hostile History - Jest

Sunset Shimmer's is happy for the first time in a long time. She's accepted, has wonderful friends, and a life many would envy. Or is it all an illusion forced upon her by the very people she trusted? Only time will tell.

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Chapter 12

Sunset Shimmer knew she should be skeptical of Perfect Tempo and his gifts. Some of what she’d seen during their jailbreak had been positively terrifying after all. His magical powers would’ve frightened even Celestia herself, Sunset Shimmer was sure about that.

She was afraid of you, and the only power you had was determination. Sunset thought to herself.

His allies were even more dangerous. Ghost had killed without any apparent remorse, regret, or even hesitation. To see a creature go that far—Sunset wasn’t even sure how she was supposed to process it all.

But if the strange hadn’t been there, you might still be in that cell. Foxtrot wanted to keep you there forever. Sunset noted. Now Foxtrot might be dead, or maybe just demoted. Tempo hadn’t been terribly clear about that. Or maybe Sunset had just been too scared to ask.

Were those monsters who attacked Canterlot truly not from you, or is that just a coincidence? Sunset considered. It is rather convenient that this former ally of yours was conveniently ousted.

As Sunset walked up the drive to her new home, she turned over what she’d seen in her head. When the dragon touched her, it had spoken of a master who wanted her to break free, who told her that she’d been brainwashed exactly as Tempo did.

But would he really call humans insects and not care about how many he killed to get to me? Sunset thought to herself. Though cold he isn't completely without empathy.

The pieces weren’t falling into place. Sunset felt like she didn’t have the information she needed to make an informed choice, and it might be the most important choice of her life. She really needed to get a hold of Princess Twilight and have a long talk. The Alicorn couldn’t hide from her forever, right? Though it was Celestia didn't choose her students based on how easy it was to get a hold of them.

As she approached the apartment Sunset realized that it did indeed have a doorman who had a fancy suit with a little symbol over the lapel. He took one look at Sunset’s keys, then nodded towards her respectfully.

“You’re in our penthouse suite. Been waiting for you miss Shimmer,” he remarked in a gruff yet polite tone.

Penthouse. Sunset thought.

Tempo wasn’t just giving her the minimum. He could’ve dumped them all in that field and walked away, and he’d still have been giving them more than Sunset would have dared dream of. Yet instead of just looking out for them, he had already gone far enough to investigate the other nightmares that would be waiting for her.

Through a marble hallway and Sunset found herself on a fancy elevator, which took her up to the top of the structure in little time. When the doors opened once more they revealed not more apartments, but rather a short hallway and a single door which waited for her key. Once she inserted it, she pushed it open to reveal an entryway better furnished than even Twilight’s rich parents lived in. Marble sculptures, framed paintings, and a fireplace off to one side burning real wood.

She half expected a butler to emerge from the shadows when Sunset stepped inside, but there was nothing of the sort. Just a few cardboard boxes off to one side, each one neatly labeled and bearing the logo of a shipping company. A note rested on the top box.

“Dear Sunset,

Your landlady was extremely sympathetic, and had no desire to evict you. She was happy to hear that you would be finding alternative housing arrangements while you recovered financially.

I have not met you yet, but if you’re reading this then I trust your rescue was successful. All of your belongings should be here. When you’ve recovered, we can discuss a more productive employment relationship than taking less than minimum wage at a sushi restaurant.

-Perfect Tempo

P.S, she is going to miss your little scaly friend.”

Sunset picked a box at random, flicking open the lid. Her clothes were inside, smelling freshly dry-cleaned and folded crisply. She took that box in her arms and wandered towards the first of several open doors. Whoever had been here to furnish this place hadn’t bothered using her IKEA stuff, everything in here was real, and more expensive than she could have afforded on her own.

She also suspected the rent here was more in a month than she made in a year, so probably best not to travel down that path of madness.

Her bedroom was like something out of a movie. Massive four-poster, fountain spraying calming water, and a huge window overlooking Canterlot’s main street. And just beside her bed…

“Ray!” Sunset Shouted, darting over to the cage, she flipped off the lid and removed the lizard from inside.

She held him up gently on the back of one hand, shivering with barely contained relief.

“I was so worried about you! I knew Mrs. Wheel said she’d keep an eye on you, but… you’re okay!” Sunset proclaimed happily.

Of course Ray couldn’t say anything, but Sunset felt as though he was happy to see her too. She might not have any talents for animals like Fluttershy did, but she’d always loved owning a lizard.

Sunset did her best to settle in and take stock of the vast apartment around her, by exploring its seemingly endless rooms. After she’d wandered through the entire place she hit the shower and began to clean up after her nightmare of an escape. Once all that was done she set about sorting through her things and looking for the diary.

She found it at the bottom of her box of books, buried so deeply she almost didn’t notice it vibrating and glowing faintly. After all this time, Twilight had finally gotten to her.

I’m saved. Twilight will know what to do. She might already have help on the way. Sunset thought.

She’d have to update the princess about Perfect Tempo and the bloody rescue, as well as her suspicions that he might’ve been connected to the attack on Canterlot in the first place. After the alicorn had all of the information Sunset was certain that she would be able to help with Sunset’s ever growing list of problems.

Sunset darted over to the closest couch, leaning over the side and flipping the book open in her lap, all the way back to her last message begging Twilight for help.

There on the following page was all that Celestia’s chosen successor had written.

“Sunset, Equestria is in trouble and I don’t have much time, but I know you’re a great wizard, and an even better friend. Rely on the friends you’ve made on your side of the portal, and I know you can do anything! As soon as this threat is dealt with I promise we’ll talk more and until then, don't give up!”

Sunset Shimmer snapped the book closed so hard that she almost expected the binding to tear. It didn’t, though she wouldn’t have been terribly upset if it did. From the sound of it, Twilight Sparkle had barely even read what was bothering her, though given the urgency the princess at least had an excuse.

And even if she had, her suggestion was less than worthless. Rely on her friends? They were just as shell-shocked and horrified by everything they’d seen as Sunset was.

It was such useless peice of advice that Sunset didn’t even bother to write back. If Twilight wasn’t going to take her seriously, then Sunset didn’t think she would give her anything more useful about Perfect Tempo or his wife.

There was only one nugget of wisdom stashed away in her useless message. Which was the suggestion that Sunset probably should check in on her friends. Were they even going to go back to school tomorrow? Some part of her was amazed that the biggest thing she’d worried about was getting into college, and whether or not she’d be deported.

Still, she did want to get back in touch with them. Was her phone stashed somewhere? She wandered the apartment for a little longer, but after a few minutes she could barely even stand. She could call them in the morning.

When the sun finally came streaming in through her windows, Sunset slowly get up, surrounded by soft sheets and a dozen little pillows.

She jerked to the side, expecting the too-small room with a single sheet to sleep on to have returned somehow. Her back still ached from long nights on that cement floor… but it wasn’t here.

No tray of flavorless food had been pushed under the door. Just the sound of a distant air conditioner, and people driving by. Her time captive of the human government was just a nightmare, one that Sunset Shimmer doubted she would ever forget.

If she’d been back in her old apartment, she might’ve even relived the harrowing experience due to how cramped that place was. The luxury which surrounded her here was a potent reminder of Perfect Tempo, and what he represented. This seemed to hold off the worst of the memories, and allowed Sunset to think of something else, namely what would happen next.

Removing the brainwashing. Undoing what the Elements of Harmony did to me. Setting me free. It's all really possible. Sunset Shimmer thought to herself before crawling out of bed.

Sunset found a phone waiting for her on the kitchen table, where she hadn’t thought to look the night before. It wasn’t hers as this one was so new that there was still a thin layer of film on the front. This was the kind of phone that people waited in line for, instead of picking up from the gas station with tip money.

It turned on easily, and she was a little surprised to see someone had transferred the data from her old phone as well. Her pictures were there, along with her contacts and even her old messages. She hadn’t finished paying off her old contract, but that apparently didn’t matter either. Tempo again, probably.

As soon as it powered on, a long string of text messages from the other girls began flooding in, as those who got up earlier than she did discussed whether or not they’d be going to school and what they’d do now that they were back.

The last message in the chain was: “Where’s Sunset? Did she get arrested during the night?”

Sunset took the phone in hand, and responded. “No, sorry. I’m fine, just overslept a bit. We should meet up somewhere to talk. Why don’t you girls come over to my place, it’s… incredible. I could probably throw parties for half the school now if I wanted.”

There was some relief from the others, and she passed them the address. She even managed to unpack as well as clean up by the time they got there, filing in one after another. Each of them looked as burned out as she was, in their own unfortunate way. Though it was clear they had arrived together they didn't speak a word to one another as they entered Sunset’s apartment.

It was clear that they’d been taken to the breaking point and then well past that limit. Fluttershy had huge bags under her eyes, Pinkie’s hair was straight and her eyes unblinking, Rarity had an entire thermos of coffee just for herself. Applejack was missing her trademark hat, Rainbow Dash was the last to enter and even Twilight seemed to be on the brink of a panic attack.

“I didn’t know you had a trust fund, Sunset,” Twilight remarked, as she finally came in. “That would’ve changed some of your applications.”

You still care about that? Sunset Shimmer thought in disbelief.

“I don’t,” Sunset reported. “I never took you to my old place, but well… it was a dump. The sort of apartment you think a part-time sushi-waitress can afford. Perfect Tempo had all of this waiting for me.”

“And he didn’t… ask anything else of you, dear?” Rarity gently enquired. Despite everything, the fashionista’s tone had some of that same parental concern Sunset rarely heard. Rarity just couldn’t help but look out for her friends. “An older man giving so much to an underage girl like yourself… that’s a big red flag.”

“I’m not underage,” Sunset snapped, mostly by reflex. “I was already an adult when I got here and that was years ago now.”

“Well yes, but…” Rarity stuttered.

“You weren’t getting pressured into sex, were you?” Pinkie asked gracelessly. “That’s what she’s afraid of.”

“His wife was there every moment of the meeting,” Sunset retorted, clearly annoyed. “You’re taking this completely the wrong way. He didn’t even come in, he didn’t touch me. But he did tell me quite a few things.”

Sunset gestured for the squishy couches in one corner, leading the way over.

“What do ya mean?” asked Applejack as she settled into a large leather chair.

“He’s not from here either,” Sunset Shimmer began. “I had a little more time to get to know him, and the cause he represents. He’s Equestrian, like me. You saw all the magic. I think that’s what he’s interested in. Magic, or perhaps something else.”

That didn’t quite make sense, though. He already had plenty of power, and Sunset was going to be learning from him how to use the rest of her pony magic, assuming he really could teach her. So magic couldn’t be his sole motivation.

“Whoever he was, I’m not inclined to look too closely at where he comes from,” Applejack remarked. “So long as he ain’t hurtin’ you er nothing, Sunset. He saved us from something right evil. It was our buckin’ civic duty to fight what was done to us, and he did it. Seems like he’s a hero for what he did.”

“And what is still being done,” Twilight added nervously. “None of us got arrested, obviously. I didn’t see any sign we were being watched, did you? No unmarked vans on street corners or anything?”

The other girls nodded one at a time, and Twilight continued. “We’re free. But what do we do about all of that?”

The room was silent, and it was clear no one had the answers Twilight sought.

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