• 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 18

Sunset Shimmer shut the limousine door behind her with a click. It was still a little nerve-wracking to board an empty car, even though she knew that Tempo had at least a dozen people working for him. At least that she’d seen anyway. For all she knew, there might be hundreds employed in some diabolical operation whose purpose she could only guess at.

“How far out does Platinum live, anyway?” Sunset asked, settling into a cushion just beside the glass which separated her from the driver.

She could see their outline, but this one hadn’t even got out to hold the door for her. Not that she needed it. Sunset wasn’t from the Canterlot elite, she didn’t require somepony waiting on her hooves every waking moment.

“About an hour,” answered the voice. “It’s far from the city, up the old mountain road.”

“Oh.” Sunset shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

She nearly asked the driver to stop right there so she could rush back inside. Even if she had every reason to trust Tempo at this point, that didn’t mean she had to be stupid. Driving out to the middle of nowhere in a car with no witnesses definitely didn’t sound like the beginning of a horror story at all.

Except why tell me? Why not have an armed guard in the car so I can’t leave? Why teach me how to use my magic and make me dangerous again? Sunset pondered.

Sunset hadn’t levitated anything since leaving the little shrine in her apartment, but not from a lack of talent. The reserve of power which lay within her was still deep and was close enough to touch if she needed it.

That reservoir of telekinetic power, even if she could only use it for a few moments, made her feel infinitely safer than she had before. Humans just weren’t prepared for an enemy who could take their weapons away without being close enough to hit them. They also werent ready for someone who could simply reach out and slam on the breaks the moment they felt threatened.

That gave her an idea.

Sunset closed her eyes and began to take several deep breaths. After spending her last two days doing little else, entering the meditative state Tempo had taught her took only a few seconds of effort. She let her senses stretch, feeling the hard-plastic divider between her and the driver’s compartment. There was a window there, and with a little pressure…

It clicked, and slid slowly down, exposing the front section.

Sunset jumped, landing a full seat away. She clutched at her chest with one hand, as though she were about to conjure some magical defense. But she had none, and managed to resist the instinct to burn the rest of her magic on some pointless defense. The driver couldn’t attack her, not through a window barely big enough for a hand. Conversely, she could easily smash the car against a wall, and possibly kill them both.

“I really wish it would stop doing that,” Sonata Dusk muttered, reaching inexpertly over her shoulder towards the window.

Her hand only touched flat plastic, but it didn’t budge. Besides, there were so many cars packed into the road ahead of them that she couldn’t really look away from the wheel.

“Right, you’re probably gonna be freaking out or whatever,” Sonata continued.

Through the little window Sunset Shimmer could tell that Sonata was all dressed up in one of the identical suits that all Tempo’s staff wore.

Did that mean she was just another grunt under Perfect Tempo’s employ or was there more to the situation?

No attacks came. Sonata didn’t sing some mind-control ballad, though Sunset supposed she probably couldn’t do that anymore. With her gemstone shattered, her power was gone too.

Deep breaths, Sunset. You don’t know what’s going on. There’s probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Sunset Shimmer reasoned.

“You could say that,” Sunset settled into place about halfway across the car—far enough that she wouldn’t be within reach of the window, but close enough that she didn’t have to shout. “What are you doing here? Is this… is this supervised community service? Is Tempo your parole officer or something?”

“Parole?” Sonata asked without taking her eyes from the road, but Sunset could hear her roll them anyway. “Do you really think the human police are going to arrest us? For what?”

Sunset opened her mouth to argue, but even a few seconds reflection was enough to realize how absurd it was.

“Yes officer, those girls were singing a mind control song and made the entire school evil. Arrest them!” Sonata snarkily exclaimed.

Even Foxtrot and his goons hadn’t really treated Sunset differently, even though she was guilty of basically the same thing.

It’s just like levitation. Sunset Shimmer realized. The human world doesn’t know how to deal with magical criminals. We’re too rare.

“Okay, maybe they wouldn’t.” Sunset folded her arms, glowering at the other girl. “So you tricked Perfect Tempo into letting you work for him, is that it?”

Sonata laughed. There was none of the spite in it that Sunset remembered from Adagio, though. “We’ve known each other for a long time, pony. My sisters and I were banished here, like…”

The car started to swerve slightly to one side, and she barely caught herself. A moment later and they turned onto a narrow road—barely wide enough to permit a limousine to begin with. Could Sonata even get them there without crashing?

“Okay, so maybe I don't know the exact date but like a really long time ago. Lots of pony lifetimes,” Sonata exclaimed.

Sunset let that sink in for a moment. It was new, but didn’t contradict anything she’d been told. Perfect Tempo was a child of the court, maybe Celestia’s own son? The Dazzlings had been banished by Star Swirl, likely well over a thousand years ago.

“He didn’t talk you out of trying to take over a high school?” Sunset Shimmer inquired.

“Didn’t you do that too?” Sonata retorted.

I was old enough to be a student there. Sunset Shimmer thought but didn't say, both because the argument was pointless, and because she didn’t want to distract her driver right off the road. It was already dark outside, and the fence along their right did not look strong enough to stop them from flying over the side should they hit it.

“Not that it matters to you or anything,” Sonata continued, a few moments later. “My sisters and I never wanted to work with him. Tempo was always too… pony. Too structured. We had an alliance once, a long time ago. But he got upset the first time we tried to take over a city, and kicked us out.”

“But he let you back in?” Sunset asked.

In her head Sunset Shimmer was already planning through her first text to Twilight about this particular revelation. The girls needed to know about this. The Dazzlings probably weren’t dangerous without their gemstones, unless they were planning something.

“In,” Sonata bitterly repeated. “I’m your driver, Sunset. An ancient Siren, voice of disharmony that has crumbled nations and I’m driving your car. How in do you think we are?”

Sunset shut up again, letting the awkward silence return.

She did pull out her phone, typing what she’d learned in a quick message to Twilight. But she stopped short of sending it, imagining for a moment what Twilight would think this meant.

If I tell them the Dazzlings are working for Tempo, they’re going to be even more demanding that I stop meeting him. Right when she was getting her magic back, and learning that everything he said was true no less.

Sunset erased the message, then settled back into her seat. She thought she might make it the rest of the ride in silence, but Sonata didn’t give her the chance.

“Well, that’s it up ahead,” announced the older female, slowing a little as they turned onto an actual gravel road apparently leading right up into the trees.

There was barely one lane worth of space—Sunset didn’t even want to think about what they’d have to do if they met someone coming the other way.

“I dunno if I’d willingly sign up for a meal with Platinum myself. There’s a Taco Belle at the bottom of the hill. I could just take you there if you wanted,” Sonata offered, glancing briefly over her shoulder.

Apparently she didn’t have an abundance of loyalty towards Tempo either. But maybe Sunset could use this to her advantage.

There wasn’t much time, Sunset Shimmer could see a shape rising from the skeletal trees, an ancient Victorian-looking estate on grounds that were completely overgrown. All in all it looked exactly as Sunset Shimmer imagined it would, ancient, vaguely gothic inspired, with a front lawn so overgrown it was a forest in its own right. This was exactly the place Sunset Shimmer expected an ancient undead magical being from another reality would live.

“What’s wrong with Platinum?” Sunset asked, scooting a little closer to the window. “I saw her a few days ago. She seemed… polite.”

That much wasn’t even true. But even if Sonata was being honest with Sunset, she had no reason to do the same in return.

Sonata laughed again. “I guess if you’re deaf maybe. She’s real mean. But you’re not human, so I guess it’s probably okay. I dunno. I’m not going to park on the grounds here. You text me when you need a ride back cus this place is like, super creepy.”

“Platinum is undead, isn’t she?” Sunset offered. “Is that why you’re afraid of her? Shouldn’t that be no problem? Or do… mythical monsters have rivalries?”

“We absolutely do have rivalries,” Sonata exclaimed, like she’d just been waiting for an excuse to gush about everything. “Even my sisters and I. Adagio is so bossy, and I think Aria has been human for a little too long. She takes the little things way too seriously.”

That’s not what I asked. Sunset Shimmer pointedly thought.

Sonata drove them under a wide awning, lit by bright blue torches in the gloom. You’re kidding me. What is this, Nightmare Night?

“I don’t actually know your number,” Sunset exclaimed, flipping out her phone again.

When offered, Sunset Shimmer took it down, and could hardly believe herself as she did so. After Sonata and her sisters had tried to take over the world Sunset was adding the siren to her contacts.

The side door opened. Sunset expected a servant there, one of Tempo’s other staff perhaps. She saw nothing and felt nothing, only a gnawing at the pit of her stomach, as well as an uncomfortable itch on her neck.

“I’ll be taking you home when you’re done in there,” Sonata announced. “Text when you’re ready, I won’t be far.”

The siren waited only a few seconds after Sunset had shut the door to turn around in the circular entrance before speeding off back the way she’d come, spraying gravel behind her as she went.

You really don’t like this place. What is a Siren afraid of? Sunset Shimmer wondered.

Sunset searched the area around the car for whoever had let her out, eyes already adjusting to the gloom thanks to the relatively dark trip over. But whenever she thought she could make out a human outline, something would move out the corner of her eye, and she’d lose track again.

“Sunset, I’m delighted you could make it,” announced a voice

Someone stepped out of the shadows, emerging from near the house. Perfect Tempo wore an even more formal suit than usual, this time with long tails and his cutie mark stitched into the breast. He took Sunset Shimmer’s hand for a moment, but his gloved touch was crisp and formal.

Despite his gloves Sunset Shimmer’s finger briefly touched his wrist and she got a glimpse of something strange. It was brief but for an instant she saw Celestia standing over her, wings bloody and hooves caked in gore. The former unicorn got the distinct impression that the alicorn was seconds away from killing her before the image vanished.

“I hope the trip wasn’t too unpleasant,” Perfect Tempo offered, seemingly oblivious to the minor slip up.

“It wasn't… that bad,” Sunset Shimmer muttered, quickly thinking of how to change the subject. “You have the Dazzlings working for you?”

“You figured that one out out rather quickly,” he answered—not a hint of embarrassment in his voice, nor a bit of disappointment. “Fellow outcasts, yes. I can’t help but feel compassion for the creatures cast aside by Equestria’s cruel autocracy. They were not always monsters you know. Perhaps now they’ve been put in their place, they’ll remember that.”

He turned for the house, leading Sunset Shimmer through a wide set of double doors. Metal filigree was cankered with rust, and the glass windows clouded so darkly she couldn’t even see inside.

“Platinum…” Sunset Shimmer whispered, as loudly as she dared. “Is she really that platinum? It’s a coincidence of names, right?”

“Oh.” Tempo stopped in the massive entryway, resting one hand at the foot of a statue, looking like a general, from some long-forgotten human war. “No, it isn’t. She is exactly the pony you think she is, which is why working with her was so critically important to me. Like you, Platinum contributes talents to our cause that we cannot do without. Her history with my mother is… colorful. But so is yours, so I’m sure you’ll have much in common. Now, please. We shouldn’t be late for dinner.”

“Mother?” Sunset Shimmer murmured before pushing that thought aside.

I’ll think about that more later. Right now I’m too hungry. Though I sure hope I’m not on the menu. Sunset thought. At least she still had the magic she’d brought.

I should’ve gone to Taco Belle.

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