Empty Skies

by SunnyDays

First published

With gossip and slander rampant at CHS and a target put on Sunset Shimmer's back, she flees the school in search of solace. She never expected to find allies in the most unlikely of groups: CHS's soccer team, the Wondercolts.

Part 1 of the "Clipper!verse"
CHS has become a breeding ground for assholes and rampant hatred in the halls. No one knows this better than Sunset Shimmer, whom, without her friends at her side, is the prime scapegoat for all the slander being thrown around. Tired of being the punching bag for all of CHS's problems, Sunset searches for something, anything that will make her life feel worth it again. She needed to prove her innocence. What she didn't know was where her tired feet would take her.

Now, she finds herself surrounded by a group that may be willing to believe her. With new friendships forming between Sunset and CHS's soccer team, the Wondercolts, will she be able to clear her name? Or will the ever expanding reach of Anon-a-Miss smear it beyond the point of no return?

---

Beta readers: Uria the Sacred Beast, River Road

*Rubs hands together* It's about time that I put my own little spin on the Anon-A-Miss thing. This story spawned in between talks between Uria and I over his own story. It is also heavily inspired by GPizano's stories. Be sure to check them both out if you enjoy this!
Edit [6/19]: Welcoming River Road into my entourage of beta readers! Welcome River, and thanks!
Edit [6/30]: Featured! OMG!
Edit [6/30]: AND 100 likes?! You guys are amazing! Thanks so much!
Edit [7/10]: Featured again! Yay~!

1 - Dizzy

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Sunset Shimmer didn’t care about the unrelenting winds that struck her clear across her face, and battered her barely covered body. Her ears stung from the icy chill, but she didn’t seem to notice or care. Tears streamed down her face as she walked through one of Canterlot’s many shopping districts, mindlessly.

She had nowhere to stay, nowhere to go, and none to call friend. She was completely alone, humiliated, and freezing. No one cared about that, either. Defeated, she curled up on the steps of a random shop, hugging her knees to her chest and just allowing herself to cry.

“Oh my goodness!” exclaimed a voice ahead, “My dear, are you alright?!” A girl with a light Canterlot accent kneeled down to Sunset’s eye-level. Sunset recognized the blue-haired girl as Misty Fly, one of the members of the Wondercolts, the soccer team that Rainbow was captain of. Sunset flinched as Misty’s hands were brought down onto her, grabbing her shoulders and pulling her up, “What are you thinking, being out here without a coat?”

Sunset rubbed her arm, “I-I have a jacket,” she supplied weakly.

“A worn, scuffed, leather jacket,” Misty stressed, “Which, while I love the look, is not warm at all. ...Come on, come on, let’s just get you somewhere warm.”

Sunset couldn’t even protest as Misty led her forward.

A few shops down from where she had fallen, Misty pointed out their destination. A modest shop sat on the corner of the much larger retail chains, seemingly crammed into whatever space was leftover from the warehouses. A red neon sign, dwarfed by the more extravagant and vibrant signs around it, read “Clipper’s Custom Guitars”.

“A… Guitar shop?” Sunset asked quietly, looking over at Misty.

“Yes. A large group of us hang out at Clipper’s, and I think between the lot of us, we’ll be able to let you borrow some warmer clothes and get you a ride home,” Misty said with confidence.

“...Thanks,” Sunset said, more for the clothes than the other assurance, “But, Misty, don’t you go to Canterlot High?” she asked.

“Well, yes. I am on the soccer team there.” Misty nodded.

“Aren’t you… you know… furious at me for everything I’ve done? ...and everything I didn’t do?” she added with a cynical mutter.

Misty shrugged, “Well… Maybe a little?” Sunset wasn’t sure if that was said as a statement or a question, “But I can’t just leave you out here in the cold over a stupid, petty secret.”

Sunset felt her blood chill a little as she remembered exactly what secret of Misty’s Anon-A-Miss had spilled. “...Thanks, again.” Sunset had no energy to argue at the moment, using what was left of her strength to dry her tears. When they came up to the doorstep of Clipper’s, Sunset was prepared to keep her guard up. Misty had mentioned others, and that probably meant her friends, maybe even Rainbow Dash...

Warm air and soft light washed over them as they stepped into the store, and Sunset could hear the soft tunes of various rock bands playing over the speakers. A group of black leather couches and a glass coffee table were tucked into the back left corner of the store, sitting atop a grey carpet. Several teenagers sat on the couches, and one young man slouched over on the counter, strumming a crude guitar that didn’t have any decals on it.

“Yo Soar, got any beers back there?” a white-haired girl called to the dark blue haired young man as Misty and Sunset came closer.

He put his guitar down, looking over at the girl and pointing a pair of finger pistols at her, “No way in hell I’m giving free alcohol to a minor! Sorry, kiddo.”

“...If I had thirty bucks in cash...?” the girl tried again, gesturing out to him desperately.

“Stiiil a miinor~!” the young man teased in a sing-song voice, “Now stop asking, Fleet.”

Fleetfoot stuck out a quivering lip, “Fiiine.”

“Are you all quite done? We have an emergency here!” Misty said to them as she approached, a hint of humor in her voice.

Fleetfoot looked over at Shimmer, and immediately a frown crossed her lips. “Oh,” she said, looking over Sunset distastefully. Sunset flinched under the other girl’s seething tone.

“Shut up, Fleet, this isn’t the time,” Misty snapped at her, noticing Sunset’s discomfort. She led Sunset to the counter, letting her lean up on it.

“Are you hurt?” Surprise asked her, coming up to the two of them.

“No, I’m not.” Sunset shook her head.

The blonde nodded to herself, “Good, good. Wouldn’t want ya to be hurt.”

“I’m sure Surprise and Fly would make good nurses, if so,” The fiery-haired woman spoke, amused.

Sunset recognized her immediately, “...Weren’t you the captain of the soccer team before Dash?” Sunset asked the fiery woman, “Spitfire, right?”

She nodded, leaning back onto the wall, “That’s me. Soarin and I got outta there right before you came to town, Shimmer,” Sunset was waiting for the harsh words, or the stressing of her last name, but only a smirk appeared on Spitfire’s face. That only made Sunset’s hands clam up.

Fleetfoot snorted from where she now sat on the couch, “How come you came after us and not them, Shimsham?”

“The seniors were untouchable when I ‘came to town’,” Sunset said with a sigh. Having to relive the memories of how awful she was those first few years were no walk in the park.

“Well, we’ve heard about everything there is to know,” Soarin said, tucking the guitar away into a back room, “By the way, hi Sunset. I’m Soarin.” He grinned enthusiastically, “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too.” Sunset nodded at him. It felt refreshing to meet someone who didn’t really know her yet. “So… um, not to be rude or anything, but… who’s Clipper?” Sunset asked, noting that she had met everyone present. She immediately regretted asking by the face that Soarin made after she did so. Everyone else started to roar with laughter.

I’m Clipper,” Soarin sighed heavily, “And that’s her fault.” He gestured over his shoulder blindly.

“Hey! I don’t have anything to do with that!”

“Wha- Not you, Surprise! I meant Spitfire!” Soarin chuckled.

“Ohhhh. Yeah, that makes sense.” The blonde grinned.

Another round of laughter flooded the room, but Sunset only rubbed her shoulder and looked away.

“You still cold?” Misty asked, leaning into her to hear better over the excited shouting and discussion of the other four.

“Not really,” Sunset admitted with a sigh.

“Good to hear.” Misty smiled gently at her, “So, why aren’t you in winter clothes, anyways? I didn’t get an answer earlier.” She reminded.

“Didn’t have much clean this morning.” Sunset shrugged. It was an easy lie, all things considered.

“Well, here, I have an extra pair of sweats in my bag.” Dropping her pack, Misty pulled out a pair of dark blue sweatpants and handed them to her.

Sunset took them thankfully, but looked at the other girl with an expression of disbelief, “Why are you doing this?” She asked after a moment, voice barely above a whisper. “I… You know everything I’ve done.” Every secret I’ve used against you. All of you. Sunset added mentally, glancing around the room. She accidentally locked gazes with the white-haired girl and looked away quickly.

“...” Misty rubbed her arm, “I think… I think part of me wants to believe that you’re not Anon-a-Miss.”

Sunset’s eyes widened, “Really?”

“Really.” Fleet echoed her words back in a flat voice and glared slightly at her teammate.

Yes,” Misty stressed, sending Fleetfoot a harsh glance, “This doesn’t exactly seem like your sort of thing to do. I mean, I know what you used to be like,” the girl’s gaze on Sunset hardened ever so slightly, and Sunset slunk down under it.

Great, even when people might believe me, they can’t see past my mistakes.

Misty paused, her eyes widening a little, “But this isn’t you now,” she amended quickly with an apologetic frown. She turned back to Fleetfoot, “It makes no sense that after all those years of blackmail, holding secrets over our heads, Sunset would just drop all her material right after gaining everyone’s trust.”

Sunset couldn’t help but grit her teeth.

Fleet sat back on the sofa, “...Sure, sure, it doesn’t exactly seem like a good plan.”

“It’s not one,” Spitfire spoke up, looking up from the book in her hands and causing all the eyes in the room to set on her, “I was an alpha bitch in my freshman year, I know how this goes.”

“Was? You still are.” Soarin just barely ducked a book flying over his head, grinning dumbly at getting away with the joke.

“Point is that it makes no sense for her to do this to us, or her only friends,” Misty said.

Fleetfoot said nothing.

Spitfire put an elbow on Fleet’s head, “Give her a chance, Flatfoot. Not like there are any more secrets of yours that can be spread anyways, right?”

Fleet glared at the wall, crossing her arms. “I can’t believe you people are falling for this shit...”

“Or you in or out, Flat?” Misty asked, “Final answer.”

Fleetfoot set a hard gaze on Sunset, scanning her over for another moment, “...I’m kicking all of your asses if you’re wrong.”

Spitfire smiled, patting her head like a child, “Good girl.”

Fleet bit back a grin, shoving the fiery woman off. “Bite my ass, Spits. I don’t believe her yet,” She insisted, “But I’m open for you idiots to prove me wrong.”

“That’ll do.” Misty nodded. “Now, anyone have a jacket Sunset can borrow?”

“Ohhh, I do! It should be in my bag,” Surprise said from the coffee table.

Misty kneeled down, digging through the monstrously filled bag, looking for the jacket. “Surprise, what’s all this?” She picked up a gallon-sized bag of hand sanitizers.

“Look, I’m a germaphobe, okay? I don’t judge you by what’s in your backpack!” The blonde pouted, crossing her arms.

Shaking her head, Misty grabbed the thick yellow jacket and handed it to Sunset.

It was a bit too big for her, but Sunset was thankful for that. It hid her identity pretty well.

“Thanks, Surprise.” Already, Sunset was feeling a bit better. This group wasn’t the biggest, had the most influence, or even completely trusted her. But they were going to try, and that was more than her own group of friends were willing to do.

“Now, why don’t I drive you home?” Misty offered. “Then you can tell me your point of view on this whole Anon-a-Miss disaster.”

“That… sounds great.” Sunset smiled weakly, pulling herself off the counter, glancing behind her at the others.

“Have a good night, Sunset!” Surprise waved.

“Good luck.” Spitfire nodded.

Soarin just smiled softly at her again, while Fleet nodded her way begrudgingly.

After she and Misty left the store, Fleet turned towards Surprise and Soarin, who had mostly been silent during their argument. “Do you two really trust her?”

Surprise shrugged, “I don’t like holding grudges, and she seemed sincerely sad earlier. So I say yes, she really needs our help.”

“What about you, Soarin?”

“I don’t think it matters.” Soarin said simply, “You should forgive her even if she is Anon-a-Miss, Fleet.”

“Wh-WHAT?!” Fleet exclaimed, nearly falling over in her flailing.

“It’s high school. People do dumb things for attention, and then most of it all goes away for the rest of your life.” Soarin shrugged, “You’re, what, a semester away from breaking out of this town? What’s this thing going to matter to your college friends? I give it a week before it blows over.” He finally jumped off the counter, “But if she’s innocent, and this is targeting her specifically; she’ll probably be alone for awhile. No one wants that.” He looked back at Fleet, sadness lingering in his expression. “I would know.”

Fleetfoot flinched as Soarin headed into the back room of his shop. Scratching the back of her head, she looked over at Spitfire. The redhead said nothing, lips pressed into a tight frown.


“So, whoever this is, they’re blaming you specifically.” Misty summed up after Sunset had told her the events after Anon-a-Miss first started spreading secrets. “But it’s not you.”

“They made it pretty obvious that they were blaming me, too.” Sunset frowned, “Have you seen the icon? I mean, really?”

Misty almost wanted to laugh, “That definitely isn’t as thorough as you… were back then.”

Sunset paused at her hesitance. “Do you really believe me?”

Misty’s grip on the wheel tightened, “I don’t know, Sunset. I really don’t know. But… I don’t want to care, either. I don’t want to care if you are Anon-a-Miss or not. Clearly you’ve paid for it, and you need a friend right now. I’m more worried about you just being dumped somewhere.” She sighed, her grip loosening. “I want to know you’ve changed, I really do.”

Sunset sighed, and the two sat in silence, staring at the snow packed roads for a few moments. Sunset glanced over at Misty’s phone, and bit her lip. MyStable was open to a particular picture, and it made Sunset’s heart drop to her stomach.

Misty was sitting in a booth of one of the restaurants near the edge of town, leaning into a muscular teenager with a fry hanging out of her mouth, clearly teasing the guy next to her with it. The photo caught him mid-laugh, his dark Shadowbolt hoodie in stark contrast to her light blue Wondercolt one. The caption under it was what sealed the deal, though. 'Look at this traitor, dating a street rat Shadowbolt from Detrot. What a sellout.'

“He’s doing fine, by the way.” Misty said suddenly, her eyes not even leaving the road, “Crystal Prep already thinks so lowly of CHS, this doesn’t surprise them. ...But there are only so many times I can ignore being called a ‘whore’ in the hallways.” Her knuckles were white as they gripped the wheel.

“That’s awful.” Sunset said breathlessly.

Misty let out a dry, lifeless chuckle, “You’re telling me. Thank God my teammates could care less about who I date, or I’d be left to deal with that on my own.”

“Misty, I-”

“-I’m aware how much I could’ve been in your spot had I not been so close to my teammates, so maybe that’s why I want to believe you. Even if you are Anon-a-Miss, Sunset, those hateful words wouldn’t be your fault.” Misty continued, “At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.” That last phrase came out as a murmur. “I can’t hold you accountable for what they say in the hallways, and I know that I shouldn’t let some stupid gossip get in the way of m-”

PING!

Both girls froze. An alert had gone off on Misty’s phone, making the two aware that Anon-a-Miss had posted a new piece of blackmail.

Pulling her car into a nearby parking lot, Misty looked over at Sunset. Her backpack was in the trunk at the moment, and the girl had been without her phone for the entirety of the time they spent at Clipper’s.

“...It really isn’t you.” Misty said softly, glancing at her phone only to brush off the alert.

At this, Sunset’s eyes filled with tears as relief flooded over her, “Yes! Yes, it isn’t me!”

Finally! Someone believes me!

Misty stared at her phone again for a few moments before placing her hand on Sunset’s. “Let’s get you home. Okay?” If Misty’s smile hadn’t be genuine before, it definitely was now.

“Okay.” Sunset nodded, matching the smile.


They pulled up to one of the many apartment blocks in the Cloudsdale district of Canterlot, not far from Dash’s place.

“Thanks for the lift.” Sunset said, pulling her bag out of the trunk of Misty’s car, “I think I’m good to go from here.”

“What do you mean? I’m walking you to your door.” Misty said, “It’s for safety’s sake. Go on, get out your keys.” She walked back over to the driver’s side, turning off her engine.

“...No, really, it’s okay.” Sunset smiled, “You don’t have to do that. Head on home, I’ll be fine.”

Misty paused, noting something off about this. “...At least get your keys out before I leave you?” She asked. “Just because I’m worried.”

Sunset hesitated, dropping her backpack onto the hood of Misty’s car and searching through it. “...Heh, whoops, I must’ve locked myself out again. I’ll have to go talk to the landlord about…” Sunset shied away under Misty’s suspicious gaze.

That’s all the blue-haired girl needed. “You… do have an apartment, right?” She asked, looking at the sky. Already, she could tell a dark, cold winter night was ahead of them.

This time, Shimmer said nothing, looking away.

Misty’s expression fell, shaking her head. Suddenly a lot of things that Sunset did Freshman year made a lot more sense and very little sense, all at the same time. “Well, I guess my home will have to do for now, then.” She said simply, opening the driver’s side and starting the car back up.

Sunset threw her bag into the back again, and piled into the passenger’s side.

“How did no one know you were homeless?” Misty asked her almost immediately. “All these years, and no one’s noticed or said anything? How did you manage that?”

“I stayed in the school, mostly.” Sunset shrugged, “Especially during the fairer weather seasons. CHS is awful at keeping security at night, and as long as I didn’t steal anything, I was fine.”

“...You ran the school for three years, and you were homeless.” Misty repeated in disbelief, shaking her head. “No wonder you didn’t have any winter clothes.” She kicked herself mentally for not noticing it sooner. “What a shame. Guess we’ll have to buy you some new clothes at the mall over winter break, then.” She teased.

“You don’t have to do that.” Sunset said quickly.

“I insist. Consider it my Christmas gift to you.” Misty smiled.

Something in Sunset wanted to scowl at just the notion of spending the holiday with someone, but she swallowed it. Admittedly, she was grateful for the idea of wearing something new.

“Alright, thanks.” Sunset smiled.

2 - Slowpoke

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It really isn’t Sunset.’ Misty sat against her bedframe, face illuminated by her cell phone, ‘Anon-A-Miss’s last post happened while she was in the car with me. She didn’t have a phone on her, I only had mine.’ She sent the texts to her group chat between herself, Surprise and Fleetfoot, and put down her phone, waiting for the replies. She looked over at the sleeping girl on the trundle mattress beside her, shaking her head sadly.

Her phone buzzed. ‘I didn’t see her with it out at Soarin’s, either.’ Surprise responded almost immediately.

Neither did I.’ Misty agreed.

Guys, I’m pretty sure MyStable has an auto-post feature. This doesn’t really prove anything.’ Fleetfoot’s reply made Misty frown.

She glanced over at Sunset’s form again. ‘Maybe so, but you know she’s from another world like Twilight, Fleet. I’m not sure if she knows how to do that.

But she might. And that’s what matters.

We can’t discredit that she might not.’ Misty said. She paused, preparing for the backlash from her next words, ‘I believe her. She’s not Anon-A-Miss.

Your evidence is faulty, Fly. Admit it. She’s still just as likely to be guilty as before.

No. You would know it if you actually sat down and talked with her. Listen, I know we’ve always had our fun talking shit to each other, Fleet, but I mean this. You have to trust my judgement. Please. This could really hurt her.

She got no response from the chat for a few minutes, and for a moment she considered telling them about Sunset’s homelessness. Shaking her head, Misty steeled herself mentally. 'That’s not my business. That’s for Sunset to tell everyone, when or if she wants to.'

Her phone buzzed again. ‘Okay, okay. I’ll have a little chat with her.

Thanks for trusting me, Fleet.

Hey, that’s what teams are for, right?

Misty couldn’t help but smile a little at Fleet’s reply.

---

“Are you sure about this?” Misty asked Sunset after parking her car at the school’s entrance the next morning.

“Yeah.” Sunset had borrowed a typical Wondercolts hoodie from Misty for the day, burrowing her hands into it and pulling the hood over her head. “I need to keep coming to class. They’ll clue onto it not being me sooner or later.” Sunset said, “If I just leave, we’ll never know who Anon-A-Miss is. Clearly, she’s trying to drive me out of school, and I won’t let her get away with it.”

“The posts will probably stop if you leave.” Misty agreed. “I’m just worried for you with our classes being so far and all. Can you make it until lunch?”

“I’ll have to.” Sunset nodded, “I can ignore the glares. I have been for the past four years, after all.” She chuckled weakly.

All eyes were on them as they entered the school, and Sunset saw Misty’s hands twitch ever so slightly. She was staring ahead, mouth pressed into a thin line.

Sunset was fine, for now. As long as we don’t run into any of the girls, I can do this. She told herself, nodding.

“Hey, Sunset!” Sunset nearly flinched; she wasn’t expecting someone to call out her name so loudly in the hall. Not that it gave her away, just that someone would make it so prevalent that they wanted her attention. Surprise approached her and Misty, “Wanna walk to our first class together?” She asked with a smile. The crowd around them looked on in both shock and irritation, but Surprise didn’t seem to care. Or at least, she didn’t seem to notice.

“I… Sure.” Sunset blinked. She wasn’t going to turn down the company, not after the last few days of feeling utterly alone.

“Great! We’ll see ya later, Misty!” Surprise smiled.

Misty smiled back, and her posture relaxed. “See you both at lunch.” With that, she left, leaving Sunset alone with Surprise.

The two girls walked down the hall. “So, Sunset, how was your night?”

“Pretty good. I ended up at Misty’s.” Sunset said.

“Ohh, nice!” She nodded, “Misty’s not usually one for sleepovers. But she has such a big house, so I don’t get why!”

Misty’s home was pretty much a mansion, with a butler and everything. Her father was a politician, and that as much as she’d wanted to believe it, his job wasn’t without scandal. But still, she loved him, and he wanted to do what was best. Her older sister found politics disgusting, the fact that their family money was based almost entirely on it made her sick, and being a daughter of a politician would also mean that they’d make a great tool for political rivals to get at their father. There was a risk of no one being a true friend to them.

Misty shared her sister’s fear, and hid her wealth and background from nearly everyone freshman year. It worked for awhile, but then… She decided to get in Sunset’s way as she climbed to the top of the school.

Puh, really?’ Sunset flinched as she could remember her past self saying, ‘This is the idiot standing up to me? A spoiled little daddy’s girl playing tough? I didn’t even need to look that hard.

What would come next would be a series of Sunset making an “example” of Misty Fly, spilling her secret to the school through the newspaper, and making the girl weary of trusting anyone except her teammates. Sunset had seen it as nothing too earth-shattering to herself, and it wasn’t. Everything pretty much fell into place for her after that. But Misty… Sunset had put Misty in the spot she was in right now.

“-Maybe you should hang out at my place tonight after we all head to Clipper’s.” Surprise continued talking even though Sunset had zoned out completely.

This was getting all too familiar, and it made Sunset shudder, “I’ll… I’ll think about it, Surprise.”

Surprise glanced at her worriedly for a moment, before nodding, “Okay, no big deal.” She shrugged, stopping outside their classroom door.

“Wait.” Sunset said before Surprise opened the door. “Are you not bothered by all this? Everyone’s been glaring at us.”

“Yeeeah, I’m not. They’re all assholes, ignore them.” With a smile, Surprise pushed open the door, and walked in.

Lingering for only a moment, Sunset followed her in. Of course. She sighed mentally, met almost immediately with the glares of a familiar pink-haired girl. Whispers filled the room as Sunset took her seat at the front, and only wavered slightly when Surprise took the empty seat next to her.

“Can you believe that?”

“Isn’t that your cousin, Pinkie?”

“Oh God, does this mean the soccer team’s with Anon-a-Miss now?”

Surprise leaned back in her chair, stretching, “So, have your essay topic picked out, Sunset?”

“Yeah.” Sunset followed her lead, trying to stay as normal as possible and ignore the whispers, “I wanted to start with the 1700’s…”

Class continued on as normal, as normal as the obvious eyes on Sunset’s back could be. Ignoring those stares was easier for Sunset to do knowing that, on occasion, Surprise would look back and glare at the group herself.

It was after class when Pinkie started to approach them, and Surprise motioned Sunset on. “Head to to your next class, I’ll deal with this.”

“You sure?” Sunset asked.

“Pfft, she’s my cousin. I can handle her.” Surprise smirked. “Go ahead. I’ll meet you after my class.”

Sunset hurried ahead, while Pinkie was stopped from heading the same way by the blonde. “Surprise, are you serious?!” Pinkie exclaimed, pouting. “What’re you doing with that… that meanie secret-stealer?!”

“Apparently I’m not being blinded by my ego.” She said, crossing her arms, “That’s really funny, because normally it’s only Dash we have to worry about that with.”

WHAT?” Pinkie exclaimed, waving her hands in the air. “Surprise! She did this to us, and you’re acting like we’re doing it to her!”

“Because you are!” Surprise replied back sharply. “You can’t tell for sure if she is Anon-A-Miss, but she sure is one easy target to pin all this to, isn’t she Pinkie?”

“We do too have proof! We have lots and lots of it!” Pinkie argued. “Stuff was posted that was only on her phone!”

“Unless the phone was taken.” Surprise pointed out, “And put back on purpose.”

“That’s just crazy! That would mean one of my best friends did it!” Pinkie said.

Surprise frowned, “Really, Pinkie, there’s just as much evidence pointed to any of you as there is to Sunset.”

“Buh-what?!” Pinkie exclaimed again, “Why would any of us target ourselves?!”

“To blame Sunset!” Surprise repeated. “And clearly, it’s working!”

“Y-You’re crazy, Surprise! You’re going to be targeted next, just like we were! Then you’ll see!” Pinkie said.

“...You’re not really helping your own case, Pinkie.” Surprise sighed. “Anyways, cuz, as great as this conversation was, we have classes to get to.” She turned her back to Pinkie. “You really are a coward, by the way. Too afraid of standing up to the masses to speak out for your friend? Man, that’s just sad.” She started to walk away.

“H-Hey! I’m not done with you yet, Surprise!” Pinkie called after her.

“Tough luck. I have a friend to get back to.” With that, Surprise left Pinkie staring slack-jawed at her back.

Face red, Pinkie huffed and stormed off in the opposite direction.

---

“It wasn’t too bad, was it?” Misty asked Sunset as the two of them followed Surprise into the lunchroom.

“Not as much as I thought,” Sunset admitted, having thrown off the hood to the jacket earlier that day. “I have you and Surprise to thank for that.”

“It was nothing!” Surprise grinned, hands behind her back. “Now come on, people! We gotta snag the good seats before Lightning Dust does!”

“I’m… Sitting at your table?” Sunset asked, looking over at Misty.

“Of course.” Misty motioned to the table in question, where Surprise had teasingly pushed Fire Streak out of his spot. The fiery-haired freshman responded with a gracious shove back.

“Respect your elders, youngin!” They heard Surprise declare as she shoved him again.

“Fuck off, grandma!” Fire Streak grinned back at her.

“...We’re very mature here, as you can see.” Misty giggled.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way.” Sunset chuckled, sitting next to Misty at the end of the table.

“Good, because this just about sums us up about… Like at least 60% of the time.” Misty motioned to the squabbling two.

As Sunset sat, she saw the younger Wondercolts look at the older two in confusion. But seeing as Fleet wasn’t at the table, and the other two seniors making pleasant conversation with Sunset, slowly the others joined in.

“I’m Fire Streak.” The confident freshman introduced, pointing a thumb at himself.

“-Half of the Streak brain.” Surprise cut in with a grin, causing a sandwich to splat into her face. “HEY!” She scowled at the freshman, “That was a total waste of very good food! Think of the children, Half Streak, the children!”

Streak’s expression was sunken somewhere between being afraid and laughing until his sides hurt. The table erupted into laughter instead, as he decided it was the safer decision to look terrified.

“...I’m High Winds.” The other curly-haired girl scooted away from the two once the laughter died down.

“Sup, name’s Lightning Dust.” The blonde said, pushing her way between Streak and Surprise as she sat down. “How’d you manage to get in on the best table?”

Sunset chuckled, “It’s a long story.”

“We’ll tell you if you’ll meet us at Clipper’s tonight, Dust.” Misty said with a smirk.

“You know it.” The girl smirked. “Will Cap be there?”

Misty went silent, eyes wide. She seemed to have realized the same thing as Sunset. ...What if Rainbow decided to show up to Clipper’s?

A few tables over, Dash kept her head down, growling and staring at the table across the lunchroom, eyes locked on Shimmer. “What the Hell is she doing with my team?!”

“And my cousin.” Pinkie lifted her head off the table long enough to say with a sigh. Her hair was noticeably flat.

“I mean… seriously?!” Dash flailed uselessly, “They’re going to turn on me like this?!”

“Ah’d think they’re in on this, Dash.” AJ said, finding no other explanation.

“B-But what the Hell, they’re my team!” Dash repeated again, “Why would they-they turn on me all of a sudden like this?! It makes no fucking sense!”

“Oh, maybe they’re just confused?” Fluttershy offered from next to her friend.

“Yeah.” Scootaloo scoffed from the other side of Dash, “Extremely confused.”

Applebloom and Sweetie Belle looked at each other from next to their sisters, worried glances crossing their expressions.

Scoots caught their stares, nodding sharply at them.

The two nodded hesitantly back, one more “enthusiastic” than the other.


Dash stood, disposing of her tray before storming out of the Cafeteria in a huff.

“H-Hey Rainbow, wait up!” Scoots called, hastily following her idol.

Pinkie sighed as she watched them leave before looking back at the other table. She saw her cousin cross gazes with her, and turn away quickly with a scowl. ‘“You really are a coward, by the way. She sure is one easy target to pin all this to, isn’t she Pinkie?”’ Surprise’s words bounced around in the pink one’s mind.

...Something’s dun-doodley definitely not right here.’ Pinkie thought to herself, creasing her brow.

---

Sunset stared silently out of Misty’s car window as she watched Canterlot’s streets pass by her, as much a blur as the speeding snowflakes falling to the ground in the whipping winds.

“Thanks for the lift, Mist.” Surprise smiled, sitting in the back next to Lightning Dust.

“Yeah.” Dust nodded, “Kinda an understatement to say the weather sucks right now.”

“I can’t believe your parents are having you two walk in this mess.” Misty said, peering at the two of them through her rearview mirror.

“Well, my grandfather’s at work late tonight.” Dust shrugged simply, “Can’t wait to hang at Clipper’s until Soar kicks me out.”

“...Are we talking about the same Soarin?” Misty asked with a chuckle.

The rest of their conversation blurred away, Sunset tapping her fingers nervously on the console. Dash could be at Clipper’s tonight. Especially because of how Pinkie saw her and Surprise together in class today, and surely she told the rest of the girls. If not, the news of Misty and Surprise’s openness had surely spread all over the school. ...Who knew what that crazy athlete would do? Sunset couldn’t help but ask herself if there was anything Dash could do to change the minds of those around her.

She looked over, and saw Surprise laughing from behind Misty, holding her sides and giving a confident grin. Looking over to the driver, she only noticed the worried side-glance of a patient Misty Fly. ‘...No.’ She concluded, closing her eyes. ‘No, there’s nothing Dash could say that could turn them against me.

Misty looked forward, paying attention to the road. She could tell how stressed Sunset was over all of this, and she didn’t blame her. The idea of Dash coming into Clipper’s today meant that they might lose Fleet’s support entirely, maybe even the freshmen, and a divided team never made for a good thing. Still, Misty knew Dash. This girl was no debater, that was for sure. Spitfire and Soarin weren’t going to fall for melodrama from the spectrum-haired teen, either. It all came down to Fleet, really.

The group pulled up to Clipper’s, and Sunset’s heart clenched seeing the place. This was it. Do or die time. If Rainbow was here, she had to be ready to argue against a screaming, hard-headed ex-friend who wouldn’t hear whatever she was trying to say.

Slowly, the door to the guitar shop creaked open, Misty taking the lead, and blocking Sunset from whatever they might find inside, hoping to shield her even a little.

“Mornin, bitches!” A voice called from behind the counters.

“Fleet! Did you skip again?!” Misty’s body relaxed, seeing no one else but the puffy-headed girl.

“Oh, absolutely. Soarin should hire me at this rate.” Fleet smirked, “He can pay me in booze.”

“...” Misty just gave her teammate a flat look as the rest shuffled in, and Surprise plopped herself onto one of the couches in the back. “Hey Sunset, come sit by me!”

With a relieved sigh, Sunset nodded and went over to Surprise’s side. “Thanks.”

“No problem!” She grinned.

“So… Surprise, I wanted to ask you something.” Sunset said after a moment.

“Sure Sunny, what’s up?”

“You seem a lot like your cousin.” As in, a lot. Sunset added mentally. “It has to be bothering you even a little that everyone was glaring at you today, and… thanks. Thanks for it. It took guts for you to stick by me like that.”

“Really, it was fine.” Surprise smiled in a more serious manner. “I know Pinks and I seem alike, but I’m less insecure than she is. I don’t need everyone I meet to like me to feel assured in myself. ...That’s why I’m kinda ashamed of her.”

Sunset blinked, “Ashamed?”

“Yeah, I mean she goes around claiming that she’s all about making everyone happy, and everyone’s her friend and all that… But in the end, she can be pretty quick to drop whoever everyone else does. She’s so influenced by the crowd. It saves her own image, and her own ego.” Surprise sighed, “Don’t you think that’s a little hypocritical?”

“...I could see that.” Sunset nodded slowly, a frown crossing her face.

“She chooses quantity over quality sometimes, and that’s just gonna hurt her in the long run. I love her, and I don’t want her to get hurt… but she hurt you too, you know? That’s why I have to hang around, swat her in the back of the head sometimes when she’s being thick.” Surprise smirked. “You’re cool and nice, and I think she needed to stand by you. ...I won’t let her keep thinking that she made the right decision.”

“That would help.” Sunset agreed with a smile. “Thanks.”

At that moment, Soarin came into the main room of the shop, holding two brand new guitars, “Hey there kiddos! How was school?”

Surprise giggled, “Oh, Soar, you’ve gotta hear this!”

3 - Clipper

View Online

“...Pinkie said something incredibly weird, though.” Surprise had explained her confrontation with her cousin in the halls to the surrounding group, getting Spitfire, Soarin, and the freshmen caught up with today’s latest developments, “Something along the lines of ‘You’ll be next, then you’ll see’.” She looked around the room, a frown crossing her face, “You don’t think…?”

“No.” Sunset sighed, “Pinkie wouldn’t make herself the laughing stock of the school.” Fleet gave Sunset a flat look. “Well… She wouldn’t put herself in harm’s way for a joke this cruel, that is.” She amended. “It has to be someone else, but someone who was at our sleepovers.” Sunset paced back and forth across the floor of the guitar shop.

“Well,” Spitfire watched her pace, “Might as well go down the list, right? Fluttershy?”

“Oh ho, no way.” Sunset denied, shaking her head.

“Yeah, true.” Spitfire agreed, not needing anything else to prove that. “Rarity?”

“A little more plausible, but I really don’t see her throwing herself under the bus to stir up drama.” Sunset reasoned. “And AJ is an awful liar, I’d be able to see her guilt from halfway across the school if it were her.” She leaned against the counter, rolling her eyes a little. She was mad at them, sure, but they were still her friends. And she knew them better than most people at the school did. In fact, she was waiting for the day that she didn’t know every dark secret about someone at CHS.

“...Dash?” Spits asked wearily, frowning.

“Too embarrassing a subject.” Sunset said, “I don’t know why she’d pu-”

DING! Three different phones went off at once, alerting them to a new MyStable post. Misty immediately gave Fleet a look, and the puffy-haired girl just shrugged evenly.

“Oh great, here it comes.” Surprise sighed, opening up her phone, “Let’s see what the… Huh?”

“I don’t want to look.” Fleet scoffed, “What is it, Surprise?”

“...It’s pointed at Dash.” Surprise said breathlessly. “Specifically. It’s a long post; something about getting her head stuck in the bleachers after trying to show off.”

“Pffft, bwahahahaha!” Dust roared with laughter after reading the post, “Really, cap?! How did you manage that?” She asked no one in particular.

Spitfire and Soarin simply looked at each other, blinking.

“That… Doesn’t make any sense.” Spitfire’s brow furrowed, “Only Soarin and I were there with Dash that day. I remember that story-” She let out a snort of amusement, “Pretty fondly, but I know Dash doesn’t.” She tapped a finger to her lips in thought.

“Does this mean…?” Misty looked between her two older friends.

“Let’s not assume and jump on the Dash-is-the-worst train.” Soarin said simply.

“Yeah, there’s gotta be something more to this.” Sunset said. “Are you sure no one else was with you that day? No firefighters to help get Dash’s head out, or passerbys?”

“We got her out just fine by ourselves, but the passerby thing is more than possible.” Spitfire nodded slowly, “But I wouldn’t know why they would’ve been quiet about it for this long. That was Dash’s sophomore year.”

“I’ll tell you why: blackmail.” Sunset replied simply. “Once again, I don’t see Dash threatening her own ego for this. There has to be another answer.”

“Does it have to be someone at your sleepovers?” Surprise asked.

“I mean, I guess not.” Sunset said, frowning and glancing at her phone, “Someone could’ve stolen my phone when I wasn’t looking, I guess.”

“And replaced it before you noticed?” Fleet glanced at her, “Yeah, right. That’s kinda a stretch.”

Misty sighed, finally rising from her seat, “Well, it’s getting late, and there’s a snowstorm about to kick up tonight. We should think on it a bit more and sleep on it. Where do you want to stay for the night, Sunset?”

“What do you mean?” Spitfire asked with a chuckle, “We all planning sleepovers?”

“Not exactly.” Sunset said with a reserved sigh, “I-” She swallowed hard, trying to bite back the truth. She looked around at the faces around her. ‘You need to trust them with this. They can help you.

“You?” Fleetfoot asked, raising an eyebrow.

...She’d like the truth. She’d start to trust you more knowing you’re willing to tell the truth.’ Sunset took in a breath, “No, I… I have nowhere else to go.” She put simply. Fleet choked loudly, spitting the water she was drinking back into her paper cup, looking over at Sunset with a softened expression. The pity made Sunset’s spine tingle uncomfortably, but she ignored it.

“You’re homeless?!” Surprise exclaimed.

Sunset slumped over a little, “Always have been. Turns out not having papers because you’re a unicorn from a magical pony land doesn’t give you many options in real estate or jobs.” She snorted slightly, crossing her arms.

Fleet rubbed the back of her head silently.

“...Well, shit.” Soarin cursed, brows furrowing. She was way too young, and no one should be just living on the streets.

“So, she’ll be staying with me as long as she needs to, unless you all are willing to give her a place for the night.” Misty said simply.

“With that palace of yours, I doubt your parents would care...” Spitfire chuckled dryly.

“They’ll have no say in the matter.” Misty replied.

“I’m sure you’d rather have a place to yourself, right Sunset?” Soarin asked her suddenly.

She blinked in reply, “Well… I mean, I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but that’s way out of my realm of expectations right now.”

“Right.” Soarin mumbled, eyebrows still creased together.

“So, we’re back to the original question: My house, or Surprise’s?” Misty asked again.

“Um, well…” Sunset looked between the two.

“No worries if you’re not comfortable; I understand.” Surprise gave her a saddened smile.

“The disappointed look guilt-trick. Savage.” Fleet muttered under her breath.

“I think I'll stay with you tonight, Surprise.” Sunset smiled at the hyper girl, who fist-pumped.

“WOO! I’ll go get the car waarrrm~!” She bounded out of the shop.

“SURPRISE, WAIT, THAT’S MY CAR!” Misty ran out after her, noticing her car keys in Surprise’s hands. Sunset went to follow them.

“Sunset, wait.” Soarin stood from where he was sitting, “I… I know it’s not much, but, maybe I could help you get a place to stay.”

“‘Not much’?! Soarin, that’d be incredible!” Sunset turned on her heel, her eyes threatening to well with tears.

“Well, in return for you working the register every so often and locking up the doors at night; I’d be willing to convert the store’s breakroom into a little apartment for you.” Soarin gave her a sweet smile.

Yes!” Sunset sniffled, “Wh-when can I start?”

Soarin chuckled softly, “Just show up tomorrow, and I’ll get you orientated.”

“Thank you, Soarin! Thank you so much!” Sunset nodded eagerly, shouldering her backpack.

“No problem.” He shrugged with a smile, “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Th-thanks again!” Sunset ran out to Misty’s car, suddenly more uplifted.

Spitfire leaned back against the counter. “You couldn’t help yourself, could you Soar?”

Soarin’s face reddened, his cheeks hot. “No…” He sighed, “I’d want someone to help Shadey if she were in that situation.”

“They do seem a lot alike.” Spitfire nodded. “But hey, free labor, right?” Spitfire joked knowingly.

“Yeah, free as in I’ll be paying the bills here still.” Soarin smirked, “Not to mention the $10 an hour she’ll be getting.”

“You’re too good, Soar.”

“I think she deserves a break in life after everything.” Soarin said earnestly, making his way to the back of the shop, “Sounds like I’ll need help moving a mattress in, you free?”

“Eh, sure. I’m off-season.” Spitfire followed Soarin into the back.

Fleet got up off the couch, “I’ll help for a beer!” She followed as well.

NO, Fleet! Stop asking, damn it!”

Dust snickered from where she was still sitting on the couch.

---

“Hit the showers, guys! Good work tonight” Dash called to the basketball team, towel around her neck as she took a seat on the bench, taking a minute to catch her breath. She pulled her phone from her bag, and immediately the notification of a new Mystable post appeared on her screen. Dash sagged, ‘Great, do I even want to look?’ She rolled her eyes and was about to turn her phone off, before pausing. ‘What if Shimmer ripped my team a new one? ...I have to know. What’d she do to them?

Pressing on the notification, she noticed that the post had no picture for once. But the title was all she needed, “Captain Rainbow Crash?!” She growled aloud, happy that the gym was empty now. Reading more into the slandering of her ‘good’ name, Rainbow began to pace back and forth, eyebrows furrowed.

It made no sense. ‘What the Hell?! Only Soarin and Spitfire were here for this, and it was years ago!’ She paused. ‘Spitfire and Soarin. Why!? They wouldn’t do this to me, and this was before Sunset even came around!’ Her eyebrows shot up, ‘They don’t give a shit about this high school drama, and they swore they’d never tell! ...Something’s not right here.’ Dash’s eyebrows furrowed again, and she tugged her bag onto her shoulder and ran out the gym doors.

---

“That has to be like the best job ever!” Surprise grinned, “Working at the HQ!”

“And Soarin seems incredibly kind.” Sunset smiled back, hugging her backpack to herself. “I’ve been trying to get a job ever since I arrived here. What’s it like?”

“Stressful.” Misty sighed. “I’m not a people person.”

“Had me fooled.” Sunset chuckled softly.

“Oh, shut up.” Misty pouted, and Sunset laughed a little louder.

“But yeah, jobs are great!” Surprise said once Sunset’s laughter died down, “You get to answer questions and help people and talk to them a lot!”

“And stare at walls for hours.” Misty added cynically.

“And make good friends with your coworkers and sometimes even their friends!”

“Surprise, not everyone gets to work in a small town toy store.” Misty shook her head.

“Well, everyone should.” Surprise insisted as Misty pulled up besides her house in the Cloudsdale district.

“...Dash is your neighbor?” Sunset asked, suddenly frozen.

“Oh yeah, she lives like two houses down.” Surprise said. “...Is, uh, is that a problem?”

Sunset took a steadying breath, holding her head high, “No, no, it’s fine. Thanks for the ride, Misty.”

“Not a problem.” Misty looked concerned as always, “Are you sure you’re going to be alright?” Surprise went over to the door, opening it and calling something inside that Sunset couldn’t hear.

“Yeah, it’ll be fine. It’s not like Dash’ll try coming to the door, right?” Sunset asked, rubbing her arm.

“Right. Well, tell Surprise that she doesn’t have to walk to school tomorrow, I’ll pick you both up.” Misty said.

“Alright, I’ll tell her.” Sunset nodded, “Have a good night, Misty.”

“You too, Sunset.”

Sunset stood in the middle of the front yard, watching Misty pull away before following Surprise inside her home.

“Welcome to my little slice of heaven. Or, well, Pie if we’re gonna put it that way.” Surprise grinned. “Hope you’ll be comfortable!”

Sunset readjusted the backpack on her shoulders. “I’m sure I will, until Soarin has my place ready for me.” She smiled, the idea of having an actual room to herself still making her giddy with excitement.

“I’m sure it’ll be great!” Surprise assured with a nod.

“I feel like there’ll be so much to prepare for.” Sunset said, grabbing an apple from the fruit bowl at Surprise’s gesture.

“Like what?” Surprise asked, leading Sunset into her room.

“You know, getting things for an apartment. Pictures, lamps, decorative pieces. Things like that.” Sunset set her backpack down, rummaging through it for a pair of her night clothes.

“Riiiight.” Surprise’s eyelids lowered, and she rubbed her chin with a grin. “Gotcha…”

---

“Alright, so. I’m gonna have to really scrub down this little kitchenette. I was thinking the mattress could go up against that wall.” Soarin pointed out. “And she’ll probably have room for a little sofa there.”

“Yeesh, the walls are so bare in here.” Spitfire said, putting her hands on her hips, “Definitely needs a woman’s touch.”

“Where ya gonna find the woman?” Fleet snorted with a smirk, having been pacified from her rampant booze-raid with a soda. It nearly flew out of her hand as she dodged the box of tissues that had been thrown at her. “...Keep to soccer, Spits.” She snickered.

“Shut it, Flatfoot!”

“I’ll leave that up to Sunset.” Soarin continued talking, ignoring the family feud behind him. “Anyways, I’ll help her save up enough money to buy a nicer table then this crappy old thing, and-”

“-Eeey, Cap! Aren’t you tired from basketball practice?” They heard Dust’s voice from the front of the shop.

“Huh?” Fleet blinked. “Is Dash here?”

“Something’s up, Dash is never here on Thursdays.” Soarin said, heading to the front of the store with the other two.

Rainbow Dash stood shivering in shorts and her basketball jersey, immediately looking over at the two graduated CHS students. “Soarin! Spitfire! I need to talk to you!” She said, the howling winds from the outside were immediately silenced by the muffled bump of the door closing behind her.

“This about the Anon-A-Miss post today?” Spitfire took point, as always.

Dash and Fleetfoot locked eyes, Fleet nodding simply to her current captain. “Yeah.” Dash said, “I’m really confused, though. I dunno how else that secret could’ve gotten out… You didn’t tell anyone, did you?” She asked, already cringing slightly.

“Of course not.” Soarin replied, “You told us not to.”

Rainbow let out a sigh of relief, “Thought so. Thanks, guys.” Soarin crossed his arms, frowning slightly. “But yeah, there’s gotta be some other way that she found out that story.”

“Really, Dash?” Soarin’s words cut deep like a knife. Fleetfoot backed away from him. “You’re going to believe us that easily, but you didn’t do that for Sunset?”

Rainbow took two steps back, hands up defensively. It was common for Spitfire to give a verbal lashing to teammates that fell out of line, while Soarin took a softer approach to problems. It was weird to be at the receiving end of the regularly calm and playful man’s anger, and it stung more than Spitfire’s words ever could. Dash didn’t like the idea of the swap in approaches. “Wait, wait, what?”

“You don’t get it?” Soarin’s eyebrows furrowed, “Really? Even after standing up to Spitfire and Fleetfoot for me, you’re going to defend yourself? You’re nearly doing exactly what they did to me, to Sunset!” Spitfire and Fleet flinched heavily, both looking away.

“I-I-” Rainbow couldn’t even finish her thought.

“What makes it much different, Dash? I was so relieved, so indebted to you when you refused to take my place in the Championships. I knew you wanted my spot, Spitfire knew it too.” Soarin’s eyes hardened again, “And you know what, Dash? Someone wants Sunset’s spot right now. It’s so obvious that whoever this Anon-A-Miss is, they want Sunset’s spot in your group, and you’re playing right into their hands!” Rainbow was slack-jawed at this point, not even trying to dispute the older man, “Where’d that loyalty go, Dash? Are you so blinded by your self-image that you don’t care about standing up for your friends anymore?! You’re turning into them!” He finished his angry rant, face red and letting out a few angry breaths.

Stunned silence filled the room as Soarin cooled down a little. “...I’ll be in my office.” He muttered, stomping off and slamming his office door closed. Fleet let out the breath she was holding.

“He never completely forgave you two for that, did he?” Rainbow asked Spitfire and Fleet quietly.

“Well, he’s still here.” Spitfire sagged against the counter, letting out a long sigh. “So he’s mostly forgiven us.”

“Come on, Spits, it’s Soarin.” Fleet smiled weakly, “Happy-go-lucky, dork, Soarin; surely he’s-”

“-You guys backstabbed him, Fleet. I wouldn’t forgive you for awhile either.” Dash said, crossing her arms. “...But I’ve never seen him explode like that.” She looked up at Spitfire, “Do you think I turned my back on her too, Cap?”

“Yes.” Spitfire sighed, “I think Soarin got a bit out of hand with what he said, but I agree with him on one thing: Sunset’s innocent. Someone’s pinning her up as Anon-A-Miss and watching the tomatoes fly. You and your friends could’ve been there to help protect her from this, but you didn’t.” She looked over at the girl sitting awkwardly on the couch, “You listen too, rookie. Learn from our mistakes; It’ll save you a lot of shit in the long run.” Dust just nodded along.

“Then… What should I do?” Dash’s voice cracked a little, a tear threatening to streak down her face.

“Stand with your team, damn it.” Spitfire said with firm resolution, “Be the captain, and believe in your players. Set them straight,” She glanced at Fleet, who stiffened. “And stay by your friend. I almost lost mine, and you could just as easily lose yours.”

Dash looked down her tightly clenched hands, “I-I will.”

“Good, now get some actual clothes on, you’re going to freeze your nuts off if you try walking home in that getup.” Spitfire said with an more amused smile.

“Thanks, Spits.” Rainbow chuckled weakly, ducking in the bathroom.

Fleet relaxed, before looking over at her old captain, “You weren’t just talking to Dash, were you Spits?”

“No; you need to stand by your teammates too, Fleet. I know you and Fly are always at it but you need to trust her judgement.”

“Already thinking of it.” Fleet shrugged.

“Don’t just think it, do it, Flat.” Spitfire snorted, walking over to the windows at the very front of the store.

Fleet frowned, watching Spitfire’s back as if she were going to say anything more.

“...I was an alpha bitch too.” Spitfire muttered softly to herself, watching the snowflakes outside calmly settle onto the top of the ever-thickening blanket.

4 - Crash

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“What’s the sudden rush, Dashie?” Pinkie asked her friend as she showed up on the front porch of her house with a backpack full of overnight gear, looking almost Princess Twilight’s level of frazzled. Not that the pink-haired girl looked any better, only a shadow of her usual bubbly self. Still, Dash’s composure wasn’t normal.

“I think we fucked up, Pinks.” Dash came inside, unloading her bag onto the couch.

“No offense, but ‘no duh’.” Pinkie sighed, “We have your whole team against us now.”

“Not against us, just disappointed.” Dash said with a sigh. “They really do seem to think Sunset’s innocent.”

“Yeah, they do.” Pinkie nodded hesitantly, “But do you?”

Dash was silent, staring down at her phone. Without another word, she hit a name on her contact list, and the phone rang out from the silence of the two friends, until a voice on the other side picked up.

“Dash?” Came Fluttershy’s patient voice.

“Flutters, no BS, do you think Shimmer is Anon-A-Miss?” Dash asked.

“U-um, I-I…” She stuttered, startled by the sudden question.

“Be real, Flutters, it’s just Pinkie and I.”

After a small pause for a calming breath, Fluttershy replied, “N-no.”

“Then why didn’t you tell us?!” Dash exploded, “That could’ve saved us from a lot of trouble!”

“...W-Well, I did at first.” That seemed to make Dash calm a little. “But… I started to second-guess myself after seeing her and Surprise in Pinkie and I’s first class. A-After that… Y-You all were so sure, a-and standing up to you all when you’re so sure is really scary. E-Especially y-you and A-Applejack.” She sniffled, “I’m an a-awful person, aren’t I?”

Dash blew out a breath, running her hands through her hair.

“No way, Flutters. You just made a mistake. We all did.” Pinkie calmed her, wearing a forced smile. “Now we just have to make it up to Sunset.” She looked at Dash.

Dash crossed her arms, brow furrowing, “But how?”

“...We catch the real Anon-A-Miss?” Pinkie suggested.

Dash’s eyes widened, and she smirked, “Hell yeah! We’ll take them down, and apologise to Sunset after.”

“Uh, girls, can’t we apologise to Sunset first?” Fluttershy said.

“Are you kidding?! There’s no way she’d accept our apologies like this; we have to show her how sorry we are!” Rainbow insisted.

“...Or, you know, help her catch Anon-A-Miss instead?” Fluttershy muttered.

Dash paused, actually listening to her friend for once. “...You know what?” She locked eyes with Pinkie, “Maybe we should apologise to Sunset, or, at least, try to. Get over to Pinkie’s when you’re off of work tonight, Flutters, then we’ll talk.”

“...Thank you, Dash.” Fluttershy smiled on the other end of the line.

---

Sunset put her bag down on Surprise’s double bed, the mattress creaking just from that. The room around was blindingly colorful, several cartoon and motivational posters plastered across the walls. Across from the bed sat a little box that held Surprise’s thick laptop.

“Ohhh! Hold on, I think my parents are cooking dinner.” Surprise smiled, “Go ahead and get comfortable; I’ll call you down when it’s ready!” With that, the girl headed downstairs, leaving Sunset to herself.

Sunset let out a sigh, leaning back against the side of the bed, and pulled out her phone. She scrolled through her pictures, all of which being about herself and the girls having fun and goofing around. Those smiling faces looked alien to her at the moment. ‘...Somehow, I don’t care much anymore.’ Sunset’s posture drooped, ‘I’m surviving without them, aren’t I? Maybe I don’t need these girls… Besides, Surprise and all seem nice. They’ve been nothing but nice to me since I’ve fallen into this mess. Maybe… Maybe I should just find better friends.’ She scrolled over for the last time, and her heart clenched. The first picture she’d ever taken on her new phone was right after the Battle; a selfie of herself surrounded by the girls, Twilight at her side. Her hands were on Sunset’s shoulders, and she looked so happy, so proud of all of them.

The picture sent her crashing into a train of panic as she scrambled over to her backpack and fished out the journal linking herself with Princess Twilight Sparkle. Sunset hadn’t talked to Twilight since the Windigo conversation, and her stomach turned for ignoring her friend’s questions for a few days. But then, she looked down at Twilight’s last message to her.

Remember who you are. And find your family.

This gave Sunset pause, staring down at the message, trying to think of just how to reply to that.

...I think I have, Twilight. Or, well, they found me.

The girls apologised to you?’ Came Twilight’s hopeful response.

No. They avoid me at all costs.

Oh no...Are you okay?’ Twilight asked.

Yes. I’ve taken your advice, Twilight. I found myself a real family; a family that’s done nothing but help me since the start despite every little shitty thing I’ve done to them.

And the girls?

Sunset clenched her fists, ‘I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so angry at them for just ditching me like that. I was completely alone for two days.’ Her vision blurred with tears. ‘I just don’t understand it Twilight. How can they be true friends if they just drop me at the first inkling of doubt? Were they ever even my friends?

Oh, Sunset… I know you’re upset with them right now, and I’m glad you’ve found another group. ...But maybe you need to take a break from all of this for awhile. You need time to heal, and if you try to face the girls like this, you’ll only say things you’re going to regret. I would know. Don’t do anything rash; just stay safe. Also… Know that the portal back to Equestria is always open if you need it.

Thanks… But I have a home and a job now.’ Sunset cheered herself up with the news, ‘So, maybe I’ll take you up on that later, once all this is figured out.

You have a new home?!’ Was the first response, ‘That is amazing!’

Yeah, one of the guys here is incredibly kind. Offered me a job and a place to stay when I told him I was homeless. But that’s not the point! Don’t worry about me for now; I’m in good hands.

Well… I’m glad to hear that. Keep writing back to me; I’ll try my best to keep in touch in return.

Sunset sighed, ‘Alright. Good night.’ She closed the book, sighing and sitting up.

“Sunseeet~ Dinnneerrr~!” Surprise called from downstairs.

With a steadying breath, Sunset composed herself, “I’ll be right there, Surprise, just need to wash off!” She said, heading into the bathroom and splashing some cold water onto her face.

---

Misty leaned back against her seat, looking out at the dark morning around her, waiting for Surprise and Sunset. “Late…” She sighed, leaning back.

A knock was heard on the passenger window, and, assuming it was Surprise or Sunset, Misty rolled it down.

“H-Hey, Mist! We missed the bus, c-can we ride with you guys?” Dash asked, nodding to another teen beside her that Misty recognised immediately.

“Gilda?” She blinked.

“Y-Yeah, dweeb, I can’t afford to skip today. L-Let us in!” Gilda’s teeth chattered.

“You do realize Sunset’s riding with me, right?” Misty asked with a scowl, looking Gilda over distastefully.

“Do you realize I got a verbal lashing from Spitfire and Soarin yesterday?” Dash asked.

“That’s not at all surprising, Dash. Did this one finally stick?”

Dash frowned, “Oh come on!”

“Am I wrong?”

“...No.” Dash sighed, looking down.

Gilda stuck her hands in her pockets, shivering, “C-Come on, Fly, I have a math test today! I’ll miss it if we walk!”

“And you.” Misty’s glare sharpened at Gilda, “Don’t you have some Freshman to steal lunch money from or something?”

Gilda let out a breath of smoky hot air, “Look, Mile High Club, I know we were at odds in Middle School, but since Dash and Pinkie visited me during Spring Break… I realized I wanted to try to make amends.”

Misty paused, all this somehow seeming all too familiar. “...Get in here. But Sunset takes the passenger’s seat.” She mumbled.

“Sweet. Thanks, Mist.” Rainbow said, she and Gilda piling into Misty’s car.

“It’s no problem for me. ...It will be a problem for Sunset though.” She muttered, typing up a text to Surprise and Sunset.

Meanwhile, inside the other Pie household, Surprise stuffed her gallon-sized bag of hand sanitisers into her overstuffed backpack while Sunset looked on. “Ahh, thanks for waiting Sunny, these hand sanitizers needed to be perfectly sanitary, “ Surprise said, throwing her bag over her shoulder as Sunset’s phone buzzed.

Dash and Gilda needed help. They’re with me in the car.

Sunset froze, “Oh shit, Dash is with Misty.”

“Ohhhh no.” Surprise frowned, “Uhhh… Should we go? I mean, what are we gonna do, just… not go to school on our last day?” Surprise asked.

“No. No. Let’s just… act like we did with Pinkie there.”

“So… Absolutely nothing?” Surprise asked.

“Exactly. We’ll just stay so quiet and mind our own business, and we’ll never even notice she’s there.” Sunset said, holding her head up and making her way out to the car. Her brows were furrowed, and she tried to look as intimidating as she felt scared.

Misty motioned Sunset to the passenger’s side the best she could, as the early morning wind threw snowflakes all over the darkened sky. Sunset took her spot next to Misty as Surprise slid into the back seat next to Dash and Gilda.

“Morning.” Misty smiled awkwardly at Sunset.

“Mornin.” Gilda grumbled.

“Goood morning!” Surprise responded.

“Yeah, hey.” Dash muttered softly.

Sunset grabbed her backpack, muttering out her own reply. She could barely hear it, her ears buzzing as the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Eyes were glued to her back. She could feel them. A cold shiver racked itself down her spine, and she simply repeated. ‘If I don’t see her, she can’t hurt me. If I don’t see her, she can’t hurt me. If I don’t see her, she can’t hurt me.

For a solid five minutes, the car was completely silent. No one said a word, and Misty focused her efforts on driving. It would have stayed that way for the entire trip, before Surprise finally got bored, reaching past Sunset and turned on the radio, which blasted out a heavy guitar-centered rock song.

“YEEEEEAAAAH~!” Surprise headbanged, pumping both fists into the air.

“Pies are a riot.” Gilda snickered to Dash, who simply gave a smug smile and a shrug.

“...Wait, how was it on that radio station in the first place?” Dash asked, blinking.

It was now Misty who was feeling awkward. Dash couldn’t help but snicker at her friend’s bright red face, and even Sunset was forced to bite her lip, her attempts to look angry fading fast.

“Sh-shut up, Dash!” Misty laughed despite being flustered. Surprise giggled, and even Gilda flashed an amused smirk.

“Okay! Soooo, what brings you two here?” Surprise asked Gilda and Dash.

“Slept in again. Missed the bus.” Rainbow shrugged. “Typical me.”

“Yeah, how typical.” Surprise giggled.

“Dad’s not great at waking me up in the morning, as Sunset knows.” Dash said. Sunset stiffened in her seat, and Misty sent Dash a warning look from the reflection in the rearview mirror. Dash simply sighed, crossing her arms and keeping her mouth shut for once. Once again, the car was silenced for a few moments. Luckily, they had arrived at CHS, and Misty parked towards the back of the parking lot. “Thanks for the ride, Mist.” Dash said, she and Gilda piling out of one side of the car.

“You’re quite welcome, Dash.” Misty replied, she and Sunset waiting in the front seats.

Dash pressed her lips into a tight line, looking over at Sunset, who looked back at her. “Hey, Sunset, can we talk?” She asked, knowing that Sunset could hear her through the window.

Sunset hesitated for a moment, “...About what?”

Rainbow sighed, “You know what.”

“Depends, then. Are you going to leave me sobbing in the middle of the parking lot?” Sunset asked accusingly.

“No.” Dash shook her head, sighing.

“Alright.” Sunset nodded slightly, opening the door and walking out. She leaned against Misty’s car, “Go ahead.”

Dash took a deep breath, clenching her fists. “I…was wrong.” Immediately, Sunset’s eyes brightened, though her expression remained firm. “I shouldn’t have immediately pinned this Anon-A-Miss thing on you; I should’ve taken a step back and seen that you were only hurting by this.”

“And you should’ve seen how obvious that account’s a total setup. Even I saw that.” Gilda added.

“Don’t help, dude.” Dash sent her a pointed look.

“I’m just sayin’.” She teased.

“Wait, so you knew it wasn’t me too, Gilda?” Sunset asked.

“Yeah.” She replied.

“Why didn’t you say anything?!” Dash turned to her.

“Hey, it’s not my fault that the majority of this school are dumb as a pile of bricks.” She snorted.

“Thanks, Gilda.” Sunset deadpanned.

“Hey, we were rivals for top bitch after Spits stepped down. I’m still sore you won.” Gilda joked.

“Well, asshole, anything else to add to my apology?” Dash raised an eyebrow.

“Nah, I’ll shut up. For now.”

“Thank you.” Dash continued, “Sunset, the point is that we were wrong. Pinkie and Fluttershy agree with me, and we wanna help you catch Anon-A-Miss.” Misty and Surprise grinned to each other from where they had settled in front of the car. Surprise looked especially proud. “If you’ll… let us, that is.” Dash added, flinching slightly.

Sunset looked Dash over, “...Alright. I’ll give you a chance. After we catch Anon-A-Miss, we’ll see where things go. Only then.” She said pointedly.

“Yes!” Dash fist-pumped, and Sunset’s anger towards her shattered a little more, “I’ll prove it to you, Sunset! We’ll take this bitch down!”

Then, Rainbow looked over at Gilda. “What’re you looking at me for?” She grunted, “I had shit spread about me, too. I’m ready to beat in some face, and if you’re gonna track ‘em down, I’ll be more than happy to serve sweet justice.” Her grin turned feral.

Amends.” Misty reminded pointedly.

“Augh, dammit.” Gilda growled, “I don’t back down from a promise. ...Fine. I’ll intimidate whoever’s responsible.”

“Hold that thought, G. We’ll see who it is first.” Rainbow interrupted, crossing her arms. Gilda smirked.

“First we have to find them.” Sunset said, “Let’s head to Clipper’s tonight, figure out our next move. Hopefully Anon-A-Miss will keep posting, even over the holidays. ...It’ll be easier to track them that way.”

“Well, no matter what, we’ll take them down.” Misty nodded with confidence.

“Yeah!” Gilda smirked, “Let’s take that bitch out!”

“Whoever they are, wherever they are right now, they’d better be ready.” Dash grinned, and the group made their way inside the building together.

...So much for avoiding them.’ Sunset told herself as she saw Pinkie and Fluttershy waiting for her and Surprise at their first class.

“Sunset!” Pinkie looked better than she had seen her the other day, her hair puffed up and back to normal, “...Surprise.” She smiled nervously at her cousin.

“Pinks.” Surprise crossed her arms, grinning, “Good to see you came to your senses.”

“Yeah.” She grinned sheepishly, “Me too. ...I take it that you accept our apology, Sunset?”

“I accepted your help. Like I told Dash, we’ll talk about being friends after we find the real culprits.” Sunset said with a sigh. “I need time to think it over.” She rubbed the back of her neck.

“Okay.” Pinkie said, clearly disappointed.

“It’s a start.” Fluttershy said, trying to keep the mood up.

“Yeah.” Pinkie nodded.

“Well, for now, let’s get to class.” Surprise suggested, throwing an arm around her cousin with a reassuring smile.

“Yeah, sounds good.” Sunset agreed, the group heading into their class.

---

Snickers lined the hallways, and groups pointed and laughed as Diamond Tiara walked past, gripping the straps of her backpack until they shriveled up.

“Oh man, what karma.” One student snickered, “No more perfect princess life for that bitch.”

“And thank God, too.” Another added, “It was about time.”

“How the mighty fall.” A third piped up.

The bell rang, and Diamond Tiara settled in her desk, trying not to glare at everyone snickering around her. As she sat, she glanced at her phone, now open to Anon-A-Miss’s MyStable page. ‘When it was the rest of these losers, it was fun. Now, it’s just infuriating.’ She glared at Silver Spoon, who gave her a smug smirk back. ‘Ugh. I just wish everyone would forget about that stupid divorce shit.’ Glancing in front of her, she noticed Scootaloo come into the room. She grinned. ‘...Perfect timing, buttmunch!’

With a wicked smile, Diamond Tiara mentally pulled one of the many dirty little secrets she always held over her favorite punching bags, and began rapidly typing up an anonymous message to Anon-A-Miss herself. ‘We’ll see who’s the butt of the joke now!’ She grinned deviously, hitting send.

Almost immediately, she noticed Scootaloo’s phone buzz on the desk in front of her, and watched her discreetly check it. Scoot’s face twisted into a grimace, and threw her phone back into her backpack with a muted huff.

‘...Huh? She posted it that quickly?’ Diamond blinked, looking down at her own phone and refreshing MyStable. ...Nothing. Her brows furrowed, ‘No, no,’ She scoffed in her mind, ‘Those three are too lame to do something like this.’ She paused again, looking down at the phone in her hand. Before she knew it, she was scrolling through the list of targets, glancing up every now and then to stare at the back of Scootaloo’s head. ‘Those morons aren’t in here. Anywhere. What the Hell?’ She glanced back over to Scootaloo, ‘Pfft, I’m being stupid. It was probably an embarrassing text from her grandmother or something. There’s no way Anon-A-Miss saw my message yet. I just have to wait until tonight.’ She decided, focusing on the teacher as she walked in.

5 - Flatfoot

View Online

“Why’s Dash still sitting over there?” Misty asked Sunset, both watching the table towards the back of the room as they ate lunch.

“She thinks she can talk Applejack into believing me,” Sunset said simply.

“Oh. ...Think it’ll work?” Misty asked hopefully.

Sunset snorted, “Doubt it.”

“You’re being thick-headed!” Dash exclaimed over at their table.

“Ah told ya I don’t wanna talk about it, Dash!” AJ yelled back.

“Yep. That’s about what I expected.” Sunset said evenly. “Figures,” Misty simply shrugged, and the two listened to the argument.

“Rainbow, you saw those pictures!” AJ said, “There’s no one else that coulda posted them. They were on her phone!”

“What if her phone was stolen, though?”

“Not once did she tell us anythin’ about her phone bein’ stolen,” AJ said. “And she has it now, don’t she?”

“So, it could’ve been planted!” Dash said. “Ever thought that we should’ve given her the benefit of the doubt?”

“No! Dash, that’s pretty darn concrete evidence!” AJ said, “Fight me about it all ya like, but until ya have proof that Sunset didn’t do it, ah don’t want to talk to ya about this!”

“It’s true, I’m afraid.” Rarity said, “There’s no way that we can trust her after all this. What if she just does it again?”

“Um… I don’t think she did it in the first place, either…” Fluttershy spoke up.

“...Pinkie?” Rarity looked over at Pinkie Pie.

“I, um, yeah. I don’t think it was her either…” Pinkie said.

“Ah’m only gonna warn you three. She’s gonna wait for the right timin’ before backstabbin’ ya. That’s how these things work.” AJ said, eating her sandwich.

“Yes, well isn’t that the typical high school drama way of doing things.” Rarity muttered to herself.

“So… Literally nothing I say is going to change your mind?” Dash asked AJ.

“Drop it, Dash,” AJ warned.

“Alright then, I’ll get you that proof.” Dash said, crossing her arms, “Then you’ll have to admit you were wrong like the rest of us.”

“Please do.” Rarity said, “I don’t know about Applejack, but I’d love to be proven wrong.”

“Yeah, well, I doubt it,” AJ said. “But I wouldn’t mind ya tryin’. Just stop yappin’ about it until then.” Her voice lowered as she muttered, “Don’t remind everyone o’ what Anon-A-Miss put about me.”

“Fine,” Dash said triumphantly. “We’ll make you both believe it. You’ll see.”

---

The CMC walked home from school, having not seen their sisters that lunch period due to finals, and decided to spend their Friday evening at Scootaloo’s place.

“Hmph, the soccer team’s still on Sunset’s side.” Scootaloo growled, “You think Dash will change her mind because of that?”

“Who cares?” Apple Bloom shrugged, “Tha whole point ah this was to keep our sisters from spending the break with ‘er. I’d say we succeeded.”

Scoots shrugged her shoulders.

“...Yeah, maybe we should just stop now.” Sweetie said, biting her lip, “I don’t exactly like doing this.”

“Ah dunno, it’s kinda nice to get back at whoever we want.” Apple Bloom smirked, “Did you see Diamond Tiara today?”

“Heh, yeah, vengeance for all those years of torture is kinda sweet.” Scoots agreed, mirroring AB’s smirk.

“Besides, ya’ve heard all the awful stories about Shimmer. She had this comin’.” Apple Bloom reasoned.

“I mean… I guess.” Sweetie grimaced. “I dunno though, it’s still mean.”

“What Diamond Tiara does is mean.” Scoots countered, “But if you’re so adamant about this… I guess we can abandon the account. As Apple Bloom said, its done its job.” She led the way into her house. “Hey Gram! Home!” She called into the kitchen, throwing her backpack down by the door, “And the girls are here too!”

“Oh, that’s wonderful! And your other friend is here too, sweetheart!” Her grandmother called from the kitchen.

“...Our other friend?” Scoots watched the two behind her drop their stuff as well.

“Oh yes, she’s such a sweetheart. I told her to wait in your room for you.”

“Okay.” Scoots blinked, making her way down the hall.

“Um, think it’s Dash?” Sweetie suggested.

“She would’ve said if it was-” The three girls’ faces paled as they saw who was politely perched on Scootaloo’s bed, grinning deviously at the three.

“Hello there, Anon-A-Miss~” Diamond Tiara nearly purred.

---

“You all owe me gas money after this.” Misty teased as Surprise, Sunset, Gilda, and Dash piled into her car. As usual, Sunset took her spot in the passenger’s seat up front.

“Oh, shut up moneybags.” Gilda rolled her eyes. “You don’t even need it.”

“I don’t, uh…” Sunset scratched the back of her head.

“I know, it was a joke.” Misty reached over, patting Sunset on the shoulder, “Don’t worry about it.”

“I’m just happy midterms are over.” Dash sighed, leaning back in the seat. “Now for two whole weeks of goofing off!”

“Yeah! Two whole weeks to find Anon-A-Miss!” Surprise cheered.

“That too,” Dash smirked sheepishly.

“Speaking of, I hope you’re all serious about this. We’ll be raking through some dirt in the next couple of days. It won’t be pretty.” Sunset said. “We need to scour the page to see who she hasn’t targeted besides me.”

“You think she’d be stupid enough to not post about herself?” Misty asked.

“It’s worth a shot.” Sunset nodded. “We can at least sort everyone out by who’s been targeted.”

“Like that’s not gonna take a decade or anything.” Gilda deadpanned.

“Well, it’s worth it. We might find something that can be used as evidence against her later.” Sunset said.

Misty pulled up to Clipper’s. “Any evidence is good evidence, even if it throws us off-track for a little.” She said as she parked the car.

“Well, I’d rather the evidence actually point us to someone, but I’ll take what I can get.” Sunset agreed, getting out of the car.

“Ugh, what’s that smell?” Surprise plugged her nose as they all walked into Clipper’s.

“Smells like… Paint?” Dash asked, looking around.

For once, the little store was empty, no one hanging around behind the counter or watching the front. Sunset glanced at the sign on the door. The side facing them read “open”.

“Are we trespassing?” Sunset asked, motioning over to the sign at the others.

“Nah, not if the door’s open and the lights are on,” Soarin said, coming out from the back. Today, he was in a white t-shirt and shorts, wiping his hands on an old rag. “Come see, Sunset!” He motioned her over with a grin.

She followed him over to the back and gasped immediately. The entire back room had been renovated to look like a small apartment, just as Soarin said. The little kitchenette had been dusted and cleaned completely and the counters given a fresh coat of paint. A brand new toaster oven sat on one of the counters next to the original microwave.

Tucked in the corner sat a little old desk that had also been given a fresh coat of paint, along with a small, cheap desk chair. And, of course, a day bed sat on the other corner, to be used both as a bed and a sofa in one. Various holiday pillows had been thrown onto the top to keep the room festive and lively. Despite the efforts to make the room look nice, it still looked cheap, the floors were still a bland tile, the walls still a bleach white, and not everything went together. Sunset didn’t care.

“Thank you!” She nearly tackled the sweaty Soarin into a hug, “Oh thank you so much!”

Soarin laughed, “No problem, kiddo! And, hey, don’t just thank me.” He motioned over to Spitfire, who was dressed similarly.

Sunset turned, looking like she was about to tackle Spitfire in the same fashion, when the woman held out her hands, “I’m not a hugger!” She paused awkwardly, “...Fistbump?” She smiled, offering her hand.

“Fistbump.” Sunset agreed, doing said motion with a chuckle.

“Like the place?” Spitfire asked, putting her fists on her hips proudly. “We took all day to fix it up.”

“I do! I really do!” Sunset nodded eagerly, “It’s more than I could ever ask for. Really, guys, thanks. I can’t wait to stay here tonight!”

“You’re welcome, and sorry it can’t be more.” Soarin nodded. “We couldn’t fit the table in here, and you’ll still have to find somewhere else to shower. But hey, I didn’t know what color you wanted the walls, so you get to pick that. Or a wallpaper.”

“Okay Soarin, she’s not a grandmother.” Spitfire rolled her eyes with a smirk, elbowing him.

“Hey, I wasn’t looking for perfect.” Sunset laughed at Spitfire’s comment, “I’ll figure something out, no worries.”

“Good, I was kinda worried about it…” Soarin scratched the back of his head.

“Don’t be.” Sunset waved a hand as the three went into the main room to see that Fleet had arrived from school.

“Hey Flat.” Spits greeted.

“Hey Bob the Builder.” Fleet snickered at Spitfire’s appearance, looking around. “Wow. Big crowd. What’s the occasion?”

“Taking down Anon-A-Miss!” Dash said with a smirk.

“You don’t think it’s Sunset either, Cap?” Fleet asked.

“Not anymore.” Dash nodded, “Soarin, er, helped me clear my head.”

“He did?” Misty looked between Dash and Soarin.

“Yep. I think you two were chasing down Surprise or something. Gave Dashie here a verbal lashing.” Fleet said evenly.

“Soarin got mad?!” Misty almost looked terrified, before pausing, “...It was pointed at you too, wasn’t it Flat?” Misty flashed her a knowing smile.

Fleet crossed her arms, “I mean, I was going to talk to Sunset anyways. In private. Eventually.”

“So, why not do it now?” Sunset’s voice cut through the conversation. “You want to talk? I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions.”

Fleet sat back, “...I have a better idea. Hey, Gilda! How come you believe her?”

Gilda snorted, “Because I don’t only have a half a brain. You’d have to be an idiot to not see through that shallow piece of crap account. Or, in your case, pig-headed and blinded by anger. So what? You’re flat-chested. So is Dash.”

Dash’s face went red. “Aaaactually…”

“-Point is, get your ass off your high horse and just admit you were wrong already.” Gilda finished.

“...” Fleet bit her lip, taking a deep breath, “I was wrong. I… kinda knew that already.” She looked over at Sunset, “I just found that you were the nearest punching bag to take it out on, and I shouldn’t have. Sorry.”

Misty and Spitfire crossed their arms, while Soarin just looked disappointed.

“It’s okay. I understand what that’s like.” Sunset put a hand on Fleet’s shoulder, looking at the other three, “Let’s not focus on the blame game now. That’s exactly what the girls did at first, and I’m tired of it.” Dash scratched the back of her head. “Point is, we could really use your help, Fleet.”

“And it’s best that we have the strength of the full team together, right?” Dash asked, looking over at Spitfire and Soarin.

“Right,” Spitfire smirked, putting an elbow on Soarin’s shoulder. Soarin grinned widely.

It was then that Fluttershy and Pinkie came into the shop, “So thiiis is where you guys disappear to!” Pinkie said, looking around.

“Why am I not surprised that Dash disappears to a guitar shop?” Fluttershy asked with a giggle.

“Hey Flutters, hey Pinks. Glad you made it.” Dash smirked.

“And now that we’re all together, let’s get this started.” Sunset looked over to Soarin, “Do you have paper and pens in your workshop, Soarin?”

“Yep!” Soarin nodded, “What for?”

“For the first step in finding Anon-A-Miss.” Sunset nodded, “Think you two could write out some names for us?”

“Sure,” Spitfire said as Soarin ducked into his office/workshop.

“Good.” Sunset smiled, “Let’s do this, everyone. I need everyone to go onto Anon-A-Miss’ MyStable page and taking note of every one of her victims. Soarin and Spitfire will take down the names of everyone whose secret was leaked on her page. From there, we’ll be able to see who her next targets are, or who we might need to be looking at as our suspects.” Soarin came back in with all the paper and a few pens and pencils.

“As much as I hate Anon-A-Miss, this is going to be a little funny,” Gilda admitted with a smirk.

“Alright sadist, get going.” Dash rolled her eyes as the whole group got to work. Even with the huge crowd all checking their phones, it was apparent that this was going to take awhile.

---

“What do you mean, we’re Anon-A-Miss?!” Scootaloo defended immediately, “Maybe you’re Anon-A-Miss with all your drama-loving!”

“Oh, you couldn’t be more right, Scootaloo, I love drama. I love it so much, I just happened to try and send in something about each of you. ...But-” She gasped, “It’s been all day, and nothing’s gone through. ...But I might be wrong. It must all be just some big coincidence, right?” She smirked over at them. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom’s frightened expressions were all she needed to confirm her suspicions.

“Y-You’re not going to tell anyone, are ya?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Pfft, no.” Diamond Tiara waved a hand. “I get it.”

“You do?” Scootaloo cocked an eyebrow.

“I already said it: I love drama.” She shrugged, “And this is just about the biggest drama storm I’ve ever seen! It’s fun, isn’t it?”

The CMC looked at each other in confusion.

“Ah mean… a little?” Apple Bloom spoke up.

“Good! Because I won’t tell anyone about you three being Anon-A-Miss if you keep posting secrets.” Diamond said, rubbing her hands together.

“...And what if we close down the account?” Sweetie Belle asked her.

“Yeah! We just agreed to stop.” Apple Bloom agreed. “The account’s done everything we wanted it to do.”

“You sure?” Diamond asked, “Or… Do you think it’d be easy for me to go up to Rainbow Dash and your sisters and tell them who’s been telling their little secrets~?” Diamond Tiara smirked.

Scootaloo narrowed her eyes, “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Oh, I would.” Diamond Tiara smirked, “You all do realize this is a win-win for me in the end, right? Either you three get months of detention, or I get to sit back and watch the show.” She leaned back to emphasize her statement, “Make your choice, girls~”

Scootaloo eyed her suspiciously, “...Look, if we get found out, you’re going down with us. You know that, right?”

“Oh, of course.” Diamond rolled her eyes, “How stupid do I look? If we get found out, feel free to drop my name as much as you want. Hell, even tell everyone that I leaked out quite a few of the secrets.”

“Crusaders. Meetin’.” Apple Bloom ordered, and the three got into a huddle.

“Great. Now we can't just close down the account; she'll tell!” Scoots said.

“What if she's just bluffin’?” Apple Bloom asked, “She doesn' really have any proof.”

“It's Diamond Tiara. Even if she doesn't tell them now, she can still hold it over us.” Scoots replied.

“Hey, if our sisters didn't believe Sunset, why would they believe Diamond Tiara?” Sweetie asked.

“Maybe they wouldn't… But Vice-Principal Luna might.” Apple Bloom sighed.

“So then what do we do, just keep going?” Scoots asked.

“Well… Yeah. Maybe after Winter Break, everyone will just stop sendin’ in secrets.” Apple Bloom said.

“Still, she has no physical proof.” Sweetie said, “It's her word against ours.”

“Yeah, but it would leave everyone suspicious still.” Apple Bloom pointed out. “And if they’re all watchin us, we won’t be able to access the account! Then it’ll be even more obvious!”

“Then...I think our only option is to keep going and hope for the best. ...Right?” Scoots asked the other two.

“Ah think so.” Apple Bloom nodded.

“Yeah, I guess.” Sweetie visibly sagged.

“...Okay. Well, we’re not giving you the password to the account.” Scoots said, standing away from the huddle, glaring to Diamond Tiara, accusingly. “So don’t ask.”

“That’s fair.” Diamond nodded, “Just be ready to get even more secrets.”

Sweetie sighed, “Right. We’ll be ready.”

“Great! Well, that’s all I have to say. Have a good weekend, and I’ll talk to you all on Monday morning~!” Diamond waved, making her way for the door, “Oh, and Scootaloo, thank your grandmother for me. She’s such a kind lady.” She flashed a smile before making her way out, her butler waiting in the front with the car. The three watched her go with various expressions.

“...Think we can trust her?” Scoots asked.

“‘Bout as far as ah can throw ‘er.” Apple Bloom mumbled. “We need to post one of our secrets as soon as possible! If she figured it out, it’s gonna be easy for anyone else to figure it out too! Especially if she goes to Principal Celestia or Vice-Principal Luna.”

“Post one of your secrets, got it.” Scoots already had her phone out.

“What?! Why mine?!”

“You suggested it!” Scoots said.

“Ah didn’t mean mine! Why can’t it be yours?!”

“Because you’d be an easier target!”

“What?!” Apple Bloom roared. “And who says you wouldn’t be easier?!”

“Your family does way more embarrassing things to you!”

Apple Bloom gasped, “Take that back!” She growled.

Sweetie Belle watched as the two of them wrestled for Scootaloo’s phone with a shake of her head. “Oh brother… What have we gotten ourselves into?” She sighed, massaging her temples as the other two continued to wrestle and shout.

---

Diamond Tiara’s smug smirk didn’t fade, rubbing her palms together as she walked into her mansion. “...Make a fool out of me, will you?” She murmured, trodding up the stairs to her room, “We’ll see who’s the mockery of the school when I’m done. You three will never want to step foot in this town again.” She cackled, “I just have to set a few things into motion…” She opened up her own supply of dirty secrets, a mixture of her mother’s legal cases and her father’s more shady business deals. “Oh ho ho~ That'll do perfectly.” She smirked down at the digital copy of an official looking paper, in big, bold handwriting, signed Celestia Soleana.

6 - S%&!flier

View Online

“SHIT!” Rainbow announced loudly as the list of victims was coming to an end, “...The kid got targeted too!” She frowned.

“‘The Kid’?” Surprise looked around the room in confusion.

“Not Scootaloo!” Misty lamented, “The poor thing.”

Dash clenched her fists, "Anon-a-Miss is really going to pay now."

"Well, at least the list's done." Sunset said, putting her phone down. "We're one step closer to finding her."

"Right." Dash nodded, "But I have a feeling I know who's coming next. Or, should I say, the next two."

"You're probably right." Sunset nodded, "But we won't put them down until we can be sure."

Gilda got up, stretching, "Ugh, we got anything else to do?"

"Not for the night." Sunset said, "If you guys need to head home, go ahead."

"What about you?" Misty asked.

Sunset grinned, "I am home."

Spitfire chuckled softly, and the others nodded.

"So, er, can we ride with you again, Mist?" Dash asked with a smile.

Misty sighed, shaking her head with a smirk, "You're all deadbeats. Sure, come on." She laughed, turning to Sunset, “So… When should we meet up again?”

“Honestly?” Sunset asked, “I’d really like to just spend a few days to myself. We can’t exactly catch Anon-a-Miss during the break… It won’t have the same effect.”

Misty shrugged, “That’s fine. I’ll put everyone in a group chat so that we can keep in touch.”

“Sounds great.” Sunset nodded with a grin.

“Well, I guess we’ll see you around.” Misty nodded. “Come on, Fleet, I’ll drive you home too.”

“Thanks, Mist.” Fleet nodded.

“Flutters?” Dash asked

“I’m alright. I carpooled with Pinkie.” Fluttershy said, “Have a good night, Sunset.”

“See ya, bacon.” Gilda motioned her way.

“Bye Sunny!” Surprise waved. “I CALL SHOTGUN!” She yelled as she ran to Misty’s car.

“Not if I get there first!” Fleet challenged. “LATER!”

Dash chuckled, “See ya, Sunset!”

“Byyyeee~!” Pinkie called, and the group all shuffled out the door.

Sunset went over to the door, watching them all pull out of Clipper’s and into the wintry night. It felt weird to not be driving off with them, and in some ways, Sunset was thankful for that. Misty and Surprise had done nothing but show her kindness throughout the last week when no one else would, and she couldn’t think of anything she could ever do to repay that kindness. With the group now long gone, Sunset went over and sat down at the counter, sighing happily.

“Must feel nice.” Spitfire said, taking a seat next to her, “Having a place to stay.”

“You have no idea.” Sunset smiled back at her. “Thanks again for helping Soarin fix it up.”

“Eh, it was nothin.” Spitfire said, cracking open a beer. “...Want one?”

Sunset gave her a look, “I thought humans weren’t supposed to drink until they were out of high school, here?”

“Doesn’t stop just about everyone from doing it.” Spits smirked, “They’re just not supposed to sell it to you until you’re 21.”

“Oh. Yeah.” She waved, “I’m 25.”

Spitfire burst out laughing, “No way. You are not.”

“I am!” Sunset defended, pouting.

“Then how come you look 18?” Spitfire asked, still clearly not buying it, but amused nonetheless.

“Hmm. How old do humans usually live until?” Sunset asked.

“Uhhh…” Spitfire searched that on her phone, “The average life expectancy is in the 80s. Why?”

“Ponies live to be over a hundred.” Sunset said casually. “As in, anywhere from 130 to 150.”

“Oh, shit.” Spitfire looked down at her beer, as if contemplating to get another. “So, uh, then a pony’s 18 is 25?”

“Pretty much. At least, as far as I know.” Sunset nodded, “Either way, loophole.” She chuckled.

Spitfire shook her head in disbelief, “You’re older than me, then…”

“Nah, you’d be like 30 in Equestria.” Sunset laughed.

“And now I just feel old, thanks a lot, Sunset!” Spitfire exclaimed, pushing Sunset teasingly as the two laughed.

“...I still want that drink though, if you don’t mind.” Sunset said, “I won’t tell Fleet where the alcohol is.”

Spitfire didn’t even get to answer as Soarin dropped off like five beers in front of them, “Here we are!” He smirked, cracking one open, “Fresh from the stash.”

“Hey Soar.” Spitfire smirked, “Turns out Sunny over here is mentally like 25!” She said, pulling Sunset into a soft headlock.

Soarin glanced at Sunset, then at Spitfire, then at the empty can. “Geesh, Spits, you’ve only had one.” Sunset roared with laughter as Spitfire sighed. “...What?” He asked, blinking. Spitfire just rolled her eyes, passing Sunset a beer before opening up a second can.

Sunset bit her lip, “Sh-she’s right though.” She said, still giggling a little.

“Oh, cool! Welcome to the 2-0 club.” Soarin chuckled.

“To be honest, though… I’ve, er, never told any of the girls.” Sunset said.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal, honestly.” Spitfire shrugged as Soarin took a seat with them, “You look 18, you’re a senior in highschool, I don’t think anyone would question it.”

“Yeah,” Soarin nodded. “That's none of their business, really.”

“Well… I’m glad you agree.” Sunset said. She popped open her beer and took a swig.

“You down that like a champ.” Spitfire chuckled at her.

“I’m more used to wine, but hey, it works.” Sunset said.

“Ooh, fancy.” Spitfire teased, “Well I’m sorry you have to drink with the commonwealth, princess.”

Sunset shivered, “Please never say that again…”

Seeing her reaction, Spitfire frowned, raising an eyebrow. “I hit a nerve?” She asked.

Sunset rubbed her shoulder, “It's… A bit of a soft spot, yeah. Let's move on from that.”

“Okay… Well, uh, what do you think you're going to do about your friends?” Soarin asked.

“Not sure yet.” Sunset sighed, “I’m still just… So angry at them for dumping me like that. I don't know if I can ever really forgive them.” She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up to see Soarin smiling at her warmly.

“I get it.” He said, “People are stupid in high school. They're petty, and selfish, and aren't against being dirty to get what they want.” Spitfire loudly took a gulp of beer, which made Soarin chuckle nervously. “But sometimes it takes a giant screwup for someone to really realize how much you mean to them. It's the ones who turn around and admit they're wrong who are worth your time.”

Sunset frowned, “Do you… Have you had someone backstab you before, Soarin? Have you been left with no one to turn to or to trust?”

Soarin hesitated for only a moment, “Yes. I have. I forgave them nonetheless.”

“What happened?” Sunset asked him.

Soarin frowned, looking over at Spitfire, who simply nodded her head at him. “So, it was our Senior year at CHS, and also the only year that we were there when the Wondercolts had played so well, we won our way up to nationals. We had vigorous training for those next two weeks leading up to it, and Spitfire had been freaking out over it, as recruiters from all the big leagues were going to be there to keep an eye on the up-and-comings.” Soarin sighed, “Unluckily for us, I fell on my leg wrong during one of the practices, and strained it. The strain didn’t take much more than a week to heal, but Spitfire was too worried about her chances to get a scholarship to care.”

“After Soarin sprained his leg, Fleetfoot approached me about replacing him with Rainbow.” Spitfire stepped in, “And I did. Without telling him, I approached Rainbow Dash about taking his spot. Almost immediately, she refused. Because I didn’t tell Soarin about this in the first place, Rainbow didn’t want to be the one to gain from the betrayal of loyalty of a teammate.” Spitfire nodded to herself, “In the end, that’s why I chose her to take my place when I graduated.”

“...What about the championships? I can’t remember, what happened?” Sunset said.

“We lost.” Spitfire said simply, she and Soarin sharing a good chuckle between the two of them.

Sunset wasn’t sure why they were laughing, so she moved on, “And you forgave them for everything, Soarin? Why?” She frowned over at Spitfire, “Sorry, Spits.”

“Eh.” Spitfire shrugged.

“Well… Mostly because there was no point in making a big deal about it.” Soarin said with a shrug, “We were stupid teenagers, and sometimes stress makes people act without really thinking it through completely.” He smiled at Spitfire, “And you know what happened? Some of them didn't deserve it, and I distanced myself from them. But others…” He put his arm around Spitfire, “Well, they learned their lesson, and I wouldn't trade them for the world.”

“Those… others.” Sunset said, “When did you know when to leave them?”

“Well… It took more than once for things like that to be clear. Some people just never learn, Sunset. But trust me when I say: it's worth the risk.”

Sunset mulled over this for a moment.

“It's your call in the end.” Soarin continued, “If the bad moments with them outweigh the good, then you should look at getting a new group of friends. But if not… They're worth your forgiveness.”

“Thanks, Soarin.” Sunset smiled weakly at him.

“You're welcome. Hey, let's get our minds off the depressing stuff.” He swigged his beer, “Are you going back to Equestria for the holidays?”

Sunset flinched, “Um… Not quite.”

“Huh?”

“I… er, don't have anyone to go back to in Equestria.” Sunset admitted.

“Oh.” Soarin grimaced, “I had no idea.”

“Yeah, most don't.” Sunset replied with a sigh, “I really only had Celestia and Cadence, and they’ve both kinda moved on, I think. And Twilight’s busy. So, I guess I'll just be here.”

“No way!” Soarin exclaimed, standing up, “You’re gonna have Hearth’s Warming with Shadey and I. We’re all by ourselves too, so it’ll make things even better.” He nodded eagerly.

“Soarin, come on, I’m pretty much already mooching off of you.” Sunset said, “I don’t want to get in between you and your sister.”

“You won’t.” He insisted, “And you’re mooching off of me about as much as she is, so that makes you family.”

“Soarin, I hope you realize how little sense that makes.” Spitfire chuckled.

“No way, it makes perfect sense! Oh! And even better, we’re going to throw a big Wondercolts Hearth’s Warming Eve party, right here.” Soarin said, “We’ll have lights, and food and a little tree to celebrate! It’ll be perfect, and Sunset will have the best Hearth’s Warming ever.”

Spitfire leaned into Sunset, “We’ll probably have to remind him of all this in the morning.” She muttered, and Sunset giggled quietly.

“Alright, Soarin, alright.” Sunset chuckled. She felt her phone vibrate in her pocket, but ignored it for the moment. “Thanks. You’re too much sometimes, you dork.”

“Hey.” Spitfire elbowed her, grinning, “That’s my line.”

Sunset smirked back, taking another hearty swig of her beer as she checked her phone.

You, me, shopping. Be ready for 9 AM Monday.’ Misty’s text came through. ‘Maybe we’ll get you started with your little apartment, too. We’ll see.

“Oh man, Misty’s really adamant about this whole shopping thing.” Sunset grimaced.

“What, you not a shopper?” Spitfire asked.

“No, it’s more like I don’t have any money.” Sunset said. “And it makes me feel weird about accepting things from you all.”

Spitfire shrugged, “Then tell her to call it a Hearth’s Warming present and to not get you anything else. We all know you don’t exactly have cash, and we don’t do it expecting something back. At least, I hope not.”

“I guess that’s a pretty good idea.” Sunset nodded, “But what about the party? Shouldn’t I get gifts for everyone then?”

Soarin smiled, “Up to you. It’s still a week away, and you’ll have a little bit of a paycheck by then.”

“Oh, right!” Sunset’s mood brightened considerably, slumping in relief before sighing, “It feels so great. I have a warm home, good friends, and a stable way to get food. There’s only one thing that could make this better.”

“And what’s that?” Spitfire asked.

“Catching Anon-a-Miss.” Sunset said confidently with a smirk.

---

“Pfft, really?” Fleet asked, “Last again? Come on, Mist, I know you and I have our little rival thing, but you don’t have to be cruel about it.”

“What are you on about?” Misty raised an eyebrow, “You live closest to me, Fleet, of course you’d be dropped off last.” She flinched a little, “Am I… Am I that petty to you?”

“That was a joke, Mist, chill.” Fleet assured.

“Mmm.” She frowned, clearly not buying it.

“You’ve never been that petty.” Fleet said, “I promise it was just a joke.”

“Good.” Misty sighed, “It always seems like we’re just fighting. Over everything. This whole thing with Sunset, our team stats, general life… Believe it or not, I don’t really like that.”

“Yeah, me neither. ...Okay, maybe sometimes pushing your buttons is fun,” Misty gave her a flat look. “The point is we do it too often. Everyone’s gonna think that we hate each other at some point.”

“Maybe we need to hang out some more? Just you and me?” Misty asked.

“Doing what? Something competitive, like video games?” Fleet asked in amusement, knowing very well that anything competitive between the two would only set them back to default rivalry.

“I was thinking more of… You coming shopping with Sunset and I on Monday.” Misty said. “I still want to get you something for Hearth’s Warming before I leave for my family trip, and I think it’d be a good time for you and Sunset to really have that talk you promised you’d have with her. That fiasco in Clipper’s isn’t going to cut it for me as your end of the deal.”

Fleet let out a long sigh, “Shopping, really?”

“Well? I guess I never said you have to go. I just thought you’d-”

“-Okay, I’ll go.” Fleet said.

Misty blinked, “Why the sudden excitement?”

“I kinda owe it to both you and Sunset. So yeah, I’ll go. I don’t like having people be disappointed in me.” Fleet said, “Especially you, believe it or not.”

Misty blinked again, being silent for a moment before nodding to herself, “Alright then. We’ll be picking Sunset up at 9, then we’re heading to the mall.” Misty pulled up to Fleetfoot’s home, “Hey, Fleet?” She called as Fleetfoot started to get out of the car.

“Yeah?”

“...Thanks. Again.” Misty flashed her a smile, “You’re still a great teammate.”

“Don’t mention it.” Fleet smirked back, slinging her shoulder over her shoulder, “You are too. Thanks for toting me around all the time.”

“Oh, just get inside before Night Glider yells at both of us.” Misty said with a chuckle.

“Right. Goodnight!” Fleet called, waving as Misty pulled away.

---

Diamond Tiara leaned back in her chair on Monday morning, tapping her fingers on her keyboard as her butler entered, “Madame, your friends have arrived.” He said as Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo came into her room, all gripping their bags nervously.

“Ah, just the three I wanted to talk to.” Diamond smirked. “...You three haven’t been posting much this weekend. And why is that?”

“Well, uh, we kinda haven’t gotten much in.” Apple Bloom said, clearly sweating buckets.

Diamond rolled her eyes, “Pah, do I have to do all of the work? If you won’t give me access to the account, at least let me see one of your phones to look over the dirt.” She said, holding out a hand. The CMC looked over at each other hesitantly. “Do I have to remind you three what’s at stake?” Diamond huffed. Scootaloo sighed, handing her the phone. “Thank you.” She rolled her eyes in annoyance, scrolling through the requests, “Crap, crap, crap, dull, shit, boring,” She paused, grimacing, “Ewwwww…” Finally, the smirk found its way back onto her face, “Oooohhh~? Why, this oughta be interesting~” She pushed the phone back into Scootaloo’s face, “Post it.”

“What?” Scootaloo’s face twisted, “But this isn’t even from our school anymore!”

“I said… Post. It.” Diamond repeated between gritted teeth.

“No way, we already stretched getting the Shadowbolts involved by going after Misty.” Scootaloo crossed her arms, “But this is Cinch we're talking about. We're definitely going to get the Shadowbolts involved with that.”

Diamond put her hands up, “Alright, fine, don't post it.” Apple Bloom looked at her, finding it strange that she was giving in so easily. “...I’ll just have to send a text to our good friend Sunset Shimmer.” Diamond grinned ferally.

“NO!” The three panicked.

“Then put it up!” Diamond snapped. “And I want to see it done right. This is big.”

Apple Bloom grimaced, typing up their newest piece of dirt. ‘VIDEO ATTACHED: Principal Abacus Cinch of Crystal Prep blackmails student over scholarship signature’.

“There. Ya happy?” Apple Bloom frowned.

“Good work.” Diamond nodded, “And look, we even saved some poor Crystal Prep sap. Don't you girls feel great?” The CMC didn't seem to agree, going back to their phones with various expressions of disapproval. Diamond grinned to herself, putting her back up against one of the walls and typing out a message to a quite powerful ally, ‘Did you see that Anon-a-Miss post?’

The account on the other end typed for a few moments before she got her reply, ‘Ohh yes, and it wasn’t even one of mine. I’m shocked. Was that you?’

‘No way, I just happen to know who Anon-a-Miss is. That being said, I need a favor from you.’ Diamond typed back.

‘I’m listening.’

‘I need you to send in as much dirt on Crystal Prep as you have.’

‘Oh? And why would you want that?’

‘I’m going to get Anon-a-Miss in as deep into shit as I can.’ Diamond smirked, glancing up to make sure the three weren’t looking her way. Assured that they weren’t, she added, ‘Dragging Crystal Prep into this is just what I need, and I know you’re just the girl to turn to for that.’

‘You’d be absolutely right. I think it’ll be easy enough to pin shit on whoever looks at me wrong.’

Diamond grinned, ‘Perfect. I knew you’d be useful one day, SS.’

‘Don’t get too excited.’ On the other end of the line, Sour Sweet flashed her own devious grin, ‘We’ll see who I need to target first.’

7 - Shadey

View Online

Sunset could nearly see her reflection in the counter she was currently scrubbing with an old rag. It was almost useless, considering customers were always a rare sight in the guitar shop, but she had always been taught to keep good things in habit. Making the place as impressively clean as she could for her boss, in her mind, was definitely worth that trouble.

It was laughably easy to run the shopfront, if not a little boring, but Sunset pressed on nonetheless. A little boredom was the least she could do, especially because Soarin was more than lenient with her using the big desktop computer at the front for her own needs. As long as it looked like she was working on it, he said, then she would be fine. Besides, using the cash register function that they rarely ever needed, all Sunset was really required to do was check the company email for client cases, as most of Soarin’s business was through there.

What came as a shock, then, was the sound of the door chimes going off. Sunset perked up, adjusting her little work uniform quickly and smiling at the person standing at the door. The girl before Sunset didn’t even acknowledge her, going straight past the counter and knocking on Soarin’s office door weakly, holding herself.

It didn’t take long for Sunset to figure out who this girl was as Soarin flung open the door excitedly. “Shadey!” He grinned widely, spreading his arms to embrace her.

Nightshade didn’t move, hiccups seizing her body as she stood there holding herself.

“...Nightshade?” Soarin asked again, his goofy and excited mannerisms dropping from his expression entirely. Worry spread on his face instead.

Unable to hold it in anymore, Nightshade let out a squeak before bursting into loud sobs, clasping onto her brother and pressing her face into him. Sunset had never seen Soarin this stunned, or this pale. He held his sister to him, leading her quickly to one of the sofas. He sat in silence for a time, just listening to his sister’s whimpering cries.

Once she finally calmed to a level that meant she could actually talk, Soarin sighed. “What is it, Shadey?”

Nightshade grimaced, “I… Remember that Anon-a-Miss chick you guys are trying to c-catch?”

Soarin’s eyes widened, “She went after you?!”

Nightshade nodded weakly. Sunset bit her lip.

“Let me see your phone. I want to see this post.”

“Soarin, I don-” Nightshade flinched again as she was cut off.

“-Seriously, Nightshade. I need to see this.” Soarin said, not even a hint of humor in his voice.

With a shaky sigh, Nightshade wiped her eyes on her Shadowbolts hoodie, silently passing her brother the phone.

Almost immediately, Sunset could see Soarin turn red as his entire face folded into itself, glaring at the phone so hard, Sunset was sure that he’d throw it against the wall.

He turned to his sister, “When were you going to tell me...?!” He asked her, biting back his tone but tightening his grip even harder onto her phone.

Tears pooled into her eyes again, “I-I.” She looked away, speaking in only a whisper, “I n-never wanted you to know.” She looked down as the streams began again. “I… I know that you miss them.”

Soarin brushed his hands back into his hair, trying to calm himself down as his body shook with pure rage. “I can’t believe they did that to you…” He growled, shaking his head, “How could they?! I- I don’t…” His eyes squeezed shut as he took two fistfulls of his hair.

Curious as Sunset was, she wasn’t about to butt into their business and ask for details - this seemed like a family matter. What she did know was that this was all Anon-a-Miss’s fault, and they were beginning to move onto students of Crystal Prep. The idea of having two schools holding harmful secrets over her head like this made her teeth grind in fury. Of course. She was happy, so something Anon-a-Miss related had to swoop in and ruin her happy life again. She was fed up with dealing with this. She was tired of Anon-a-Miss and whoever was behind the account utterly ruining her own life, and the lives of the victims affected. It was time to stop this once and for all.

Glancing over at Soarin again, the two crossed looks, and Soarin nodded discreetly at her. Taking the hint, Sunset pulled herself from the chair behind the counter and excused herself to her apartment while the siblings talked at length.

Alone in her room and locking the door behind her, Sunset let out a sigh and opened her MyStable app, looking over the Anon-a-Miss page. What she found was truly despicable.

Even in her time when Sunset had ruled the school, she had never let secrets this serious slip. It was one thing to let petty secrets come and go to punish targets for not listening to her demands, but this…

Turns out Crystal Prep’s ‘fearless leader’ of the soccer team is so useless, even her own parents didn’t want her. All those bruises she always brought to school that she said were earned in fights? Daddy thought she looked better with them.

Sunset scowled heavily at the post, trying to ignore the soft sobs coming from the main room of Clipper’s.

Damn it, Spitfire, I need you here, now!” Soarin’s muffled, furious voice was clear even from the bed where she sat. “Pick up!

Sunset’s jaw clenched further, and she rolled over in thought. The post only went on from there, but Sunset didn’t need to see it and didn’t want to for Soarin and Nightshade’s sake. Even at her worst, this would be where she would’ve crossed the line, and the fact that Anon-a-Miss was going this far made her look even worse.

That’s when a thought crossed Sunset’s mind. ...Would Soarin turn on her for this? Would Nightshade?

No.’ She jolted up with a start, going over to her worktable with a determined expression. Even if she did doubt everyone turning on her after this, she wasn’t about to sit back and watch it happen. She had worked too damn hard to be accepted into a new group to just drop everything here, and she was tired of waiting.

So she pulled her desk open and pulled out her Anon-a-Miss notes, opening her laptop as well. This was going to get done tonight. So with all the evidence in front of her, something immediately struck her as odd.

Why was Scootaloo the only one targeted of the Crusaders? Why not all three of them? Knowing secrets aside, it made no sense to Sunset that only one of those three would have their secrets out; especially knowing Diamond Tiara. Those three did all sorts of embarrassing stunts, and Tiara should’ve had a field day dumping all of them.

The more Sunset thought about it, the more the Crusaders looked guilty. Applejack had told her that only the assembled group and her family knew about her nickname. Applebloom was a part of her family, and had been acting weird around her recently, not to mention being the one who had shown them the account to begin with. To think about it, Sweetie Belle could have easily stolen her phone while she was asleep at Rarity’s sleepover that night, and replaced it before anyone noticed. Scootaloo made a little less sense, but just about anyone could’ve stolen Rainbow’s horrible paper from her bag. ...If they knew about it, that was.

The only thing keeping Sunset from completely being firm in her assertion was Rainbow’s second secret. How would the girls have gotten that information from Spitfire and Soarin, when the two graduates swore they hadn’t told a soul?

Other than that, though, Sunset was pretty firm in her suspicion of the CMC. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle were two of the only students of the school not targeted by Anon-a-Miss, the first targets just happened to be their sisters, they had been treating Sunset strangely even before this even started, and the specific nature of Applejack’s nickname. Now, it all just made too much sense to her.

Sunset slouched back in her seat, taking a deep breath before opening the door into the main part of the shop. Nightshade was there still, looking calmer than before and sitting next to Spitfire, who must’ve arrived while Sunset was in the back. Soarin had stepped out despite the cold, and was now sitting on the front step of the shop with his head in his hands. Nightshade looked over to him sadly.

“He’s… He’s taking this about as well as I expected.” Nightshade sighed, leaning into Spitfire for support.

The young woman looked a little uncomfortable at the touch, but didn’t say anything or try to push Nightshade away, simply shaking her head at Soarin.

Sunset approached cautiously. “Hey, erm, Nightshade?”

Nightshade smiled at her weakly, a small gesture that meant the world to Sunset. Clearly, Nightshade didn’t blame her. “Hey Sunset. Good to finally meet you.” She rubbed her shoulder, “Soarin talks about you a lot.”

“Not as much as he talks about you.” Sunset said with certainty, “But… There’s something I need to tell you all.”

“Well… Soarin might take awhile to calm down, so you can tell us then.” Spitfire said.

Sunset’s eyes lingered on the door for a moment, before finally making up her mind. Ignoring Spitfire and Nightshade’s stares as she passed across the sales floor and opened the front door. She sat herself down next to Soarin, who didn’t even turn her way as she approached.

“...It’s funny.” Sunset breathed, “This is kinda like where Misty found me that day.” When Soarin said nothing, Sunset continued with a sigh, “...Anon-a-Miss has sent us both here now, and that pisses me off more than you could ever imagine.”

“...Join the club.” Soarin muttered. “I feel like an idiot.”

“You’re not an idiot, Soarin.”

“You wouldn’t know what I meant, Sunset.” Soarin sighed, “I… Mean that in the nicest of ways.”

Sunset laughed softly, “I know, I know. But I also know you’re not an idiot.”

“Then how couldn’t I have seen it?!” Soarin’s voice boomed. “It was all there, I know it was; I saw the signs!” He ran his hands through his hair again.

“...Nightshade doesn’t seem to blame you.” Sunset said, “And… Isn’t that what matters in the end? Besides… I think I’ve figured out who Anon-a-Miss is.”

Soarin perked up a little, “You found something?”

“I pulled everything together enough, I hope. It’s only a suspicion.”

“A suspicion should be enough to be left in Principal Celestia’s hands.” Sunset looked up at the sound of the new voice, and saw Dash standing over them with a reassuring smile.

“Rainbow.” Sunset breathed in relief, “Good; I was going to text you all this anyways.”

“Well, now I’m here.” Dash said, patting Soarin’s shoulder, “I couldn’t stay away after that post.”

“Let’s get inside.” Soarin told both of them, getting up. “I can’t pout all night; we need to know what we can do about this.”

“Not much, actually.” Sunset said as they went in, “Because from what I saw, the Crusaders are the ones who made the account.”

Silence immediately spread over the room as Dash, Spitfire, and Soarin stared at her, eyes wide with shock. It felt like it would take forever for them to speak up again before Nightshade broke the silence.

“...Who?” She asked.

“Three Freshman at CHS.” Sunset explained.

“Technically, one of our teammates.” Soarin growled. “The Junior Team counts.”

“...Don’t get mad at them yet, Soarin.” Dash said cautiously, “It is still a suspicion, and…” She glanced nervously at Sunset, “I jumped to conclusions about this kinda thing once, and I’m not about to do it again.”

Sunset nodded curtly, “Good. I’m not going to suggest we do anything rash, not without actual confirmation. But for now… We have our suspects, and we can get Principal Celestia in on investigating it.”

“Well… It’s not much.” Dash sighed, “But like you told Misty, evidence is important even it pushes us back.”

“Right.” Sunset nodded, “And now… All we can do is wait for break to finish.”

“That sucks…” Dash sighed, “But I guess it only makes sense.”

“Well, the Crusaders or not.” Soarin scowled, crossing his arms, “Whoever leaked out Shadey’s secret is going to pay.” His eyes narrowed dangerously.

Spitfire came over, putting her hand on his shoulder, “It’s not worth getting all wound up about now, Soar. It’s still more than a week away, and…” She glanced at Nightshade.

Soarin got the message. Blowing out his breath, he walked over and pulled Nightshade into another hug. “I’m so sorry that I never figured it out.”

“It’s okay.” She sighed, “I’ve had time to heal, and I never wanted you to find out. Let’s just… Pretend that it never did.”

“I don’t think I can.”

“Then… At least let it wait until after Hearth’s Warming. Please? I just want to forget.” She asked.

Soarin bit his lip, “Alright. Let’s not let this get in the way of the holidays. It can wait until after.”

Nightshade sighed in relief, “Sounds like a great idea.”

---

“So! Celestia.” Luna smiled at her sister as they sat on the sofa. “Another wonderful Hearth’s Warming together, wouldn’t you say?” She passed over the wine bottle as they relaxed in their parents’ living room.

“I would say.” Celestia joked, the two clinking their glasses as they enjoyed their spot in front of the fireplace.

“When are we going to be spending it with grandkids?” A man’s voice was heard from the kitchen, and Luna rolled her eyes.

“Don’t start this shit again, Dad!” Luna scoffed.

Celestia laughed, elbowing her sister, “We’d better get started Luna, because everyone knows the first thing we want in life is a teenager.”

“Yes, so I can watch someone else pull a troublemaker into their office.” Luna muttered into her drink.

“Kids.” Celestia summed up with a chuckle.

“Kids.” Luna agreed, shaking her head slowly.

PING! Despite their phones being on the other side of the room, the two could easily hear them go off.

“What’s that?” Luna asked, glancing at their phones.

Celestia put her wine glass down before getting up, “Oh, it’s probably someone else wishing us happy holidays and all that.” She was at her cell phone in an instant, smiling down at the reminder that had popped up. “I take it back. Finally, it’s Cheerilee.”

“Think she found anything about Anon-a-Miss’s identity?” Luna asked, taking another sip of her wine.

“Well, let me see.” Celestia said, opening up her messages to read what Cheerilee had texted her. She froze in place after a moment of reading Cheerilee's report and hastily switched applications, a manic look in her eyes. Luna looked over at Celestia expectantly, mid-sip of her wine and unable to speak for the moment. “Luna…”

“Mmm?” Luna raised an eyebrow.

Celestia simply passed over the phone, and Luna’s grip slowly tightened around the plastic casing as she read:

For as many punishments that she likes to dish out, looks like she had her own a few years back. Hahaha, karma is a bitch!

Included with the short line of the post, Luna saw a document attached. As she feared, she found a form that acknowledged the payment of her bail from a few years back, signed in Celestia’s clean, cursive handwriting. A few more details could be seen on the paper. The mention of a few wrecked vehicles, a destroyed concrete median, and a cutoff piece of text that spoke in relation to a storefront.

Luna bit her lip, “Th-the school board could fire me if they see this!”

“I know.” Celestia sighed harshly, brow furrowing, “This is the last straw, Luna.” Her normally quiet and soft voice became more edged with anger with every breath she took, “Screw staying out of this; it just became personal.”

Luna frowned, “It… doesn’t change that it was there, Tia.” She sighed, “And just when everyone was finally starting to forget about that incident…”

“No. None of it can be.” Celestia frowned in hesitant agreement, “But we need to get it off of that account, at the least.”

“...And how are we going to do that with no idea of the identity of the account’s user?” Luna asked. “You know, the source behind this conundrum in the first place?”

Celestia scowled down at the icon of the red and yellow girl that was posted clearly all over Anon-a-Miss’s blog. “...Do we still have Sunset Shimmer’s file, Luna?”

---

Sweetie Belle looked up with a frown, she and the rest of the Crusaders crowded inside of her room, the dark illuminated only by the light of their phones. She grimaced at the other two.

“Is it just me, or does anyone else think that we really, really just screwed up?”

8 - Sunny

View Online

“So!” Soarin grinned at Sunset, Nightshade, and Spitfire, a festive hat on his head as well as an ugly sweater and a beer in hand, “Sunset, we’re gonna show you how to decorate the tree.” He slurred.

Nightshade rolled her eyes, “Soarin, seriously, sit down. You’ve had too many beers.”

“Let him try after I get out the video camera,” Spitfire smirked.

“Seriously, Shitflyer, how come I’m the one that’s the good influence here?” Nightshade scoffed.

“Soarin’s an adult, he can make his own dumb decisions. As a friend, I have a right to laugh at him for his mistakes.” Spitfire grabbed the camcorder from the coffee table with an ear-to-ear grin, pointing it at the drunk guitar shop owner, “Go ahead, Soarin, fire away!”

“Ooookay~!” Soarin made it up the ladder without problems, especially with Sunset and Nightshade both there to support it.

“Aww, come on.” Spitfire put the camera down, “I wouldn’t have let him get up the ladder like that.”

“You’re just awful.” Nightshade scoffed, shaking her head as her brother placed the star upside-down onto the tree. “Though… I’ll admit, that’s pretty fitting for us.”

“...How do you manage to put a star upside-down?” Fleet asked as she came in, discarding her coat on the couch.

“Who knows? Soarin’s a miracle worker.” Sunset chuckled.

“Get him down,” Fleet said, “I want to put these down without fear of a landslide.” She motioned with the presents in her hands.

“A landslide?” Sunset snorted with laughter, “You need to work on your metaphors, Fleet.”

“Gesundheit,” Fleet responded as Nightshade and Spitfire led Soarin down the ladder and onto the couch.

“Christ, is he going to be pounded all night?” Dash asked as she came into the room and Fleet dropped off her presents at the foot of the tree.

“I am not pounded!” Soarin responded, “I’m jush buzzed!”

“...Uh huh.” Spitfire replied evenly.

Dash snickered as she put her own gifts under the tree, making her way over to Sunset, “So, won’t be long now.” She said as she grabbed a plate and piled food onto it.

“Nope.” Sunset agreed, “After break’s over, I’ll be taking everything right to Principal Celestia.”

“...I meant until Hearth’s Warming, but that works too.” Dash snickered as Sunset blinked, “Relax, Sunset, it’s the holidays. Let loose and worry about the account later, we can’t do anything else about it.”

“Right.” Sunset smiled, “I guess there’s no reason to worry now.”

“Nah.” Rainbow agreed, “We have gifts to open! That’s gotta be pretty exciting!”

Sunset chuckled, “I hope you like yours.”

“Well, you better not have gotten me something lame.” She pulled Sunset close, whispering quietly, “And just so you know, Nightshade and Soarin always give joke gifts, so don’t be surprised.”

“Right.” Sunset giggled, filling up her own plate with food. It was mostly easy foods, like mac and cheese, ramen, and other easy foods for high schoolers to make. Except, that was, for the homemade lasagna Fleetfoot swore her mother made. No one believed her.

Sunset settled in with a smile, feeling completely at home with her friends around her, all laughing and joking as they sat around the cheap heater Soarin had bought to replace a fireplace. It wasn’t perfect - laughable in fact - but Sunset felt that nothing could’ve been better for this holiday night.

---

Will Sunset Shimmer please report to Principal Celestia’s office?” The call rang out in 1st period, and Sunset, Fluttershy, Pinkie, and Surprise traded nervous glances as Sunset rose from her seat.

‘...I might be fighting my way through the Anon-a-Miss suspicion list.’ Sunset realized, ‘Well… I’ll just have to clear my name, then.’ She made her way out of the door, brainstorming how exactly she planned to do that. ‘Shit, I remembered all my evidence, right?’ She bit her lip. That evidence would be make or break for her claims of the Crusaders' involvement.

She took a breath as she stepped up to Celestia’s door and went inside. “Good morning, Miss Shimmer. You know why you’re here, I’m sure.”

“Anon-A-Miss?” Sunset asked, taking a seat but pulling her backpack close.

“Yes.” Celestia nodded, and she swung her adjustable computer monitor towards Sunset. On the screen, she had pulled up the MyStable page and was pointing specifically at the icon. “Can you honestly say that this outline isn’t of you?”

“Well… No.” Sunset bit her lip.

“And these colors. They’re the same as your hair and general motif.” Celestia pointed out.

“I can’t deny that.” Sunset agreed.

“So, Miss Shimmer. Who do you think is framing you like this?”

Sunset paused. “S-Say again?”

Celestia looked at her in confusion. “I thought you were being framed. Aren’t you?”

“Yes!” Sunset said, grinning, “Oh, Principal Celestia, you have no idea how relieved I am that you don’t think I’m Anon-A-Miss.” She admitted.

“I never did. I just couldn’t do anything about the account until I could prove it directly involved the school.” Celestia said. “But after all the tensions that have been running high, and the fact that the account targeted my sister over the break, I couldn’t just sit around and hope it’ll pass. So… I figured you were the best place to start in my investigation.”

Sunset pulled her backpack onto her lap. “Well, from what I’ve been able to pull together, I think it’s the Crusaders.” Seeing as Celestia was listening and not questioning, she pulled out her notes, showing them to her principal. “The first secret that was leaked was something that only a family member would have known, and Applebloom fit the evidence perfectly. Then there was the list.” Sunset pulled out two lists: one extensive, and one that only filled up a single page.”

“The targets.” Celestia smiled at her, “Perfect. This saves me from making this list myself, if you don’t mind?”

“Hey, if it goes towards Anon-a-Miss being taken down, feel free.” Sunset shrugged. “Anyways. The shorter list is those who weren’t targeted. Don’t you think it’s a little strange that one of the Crusaders was targeted, but not all of them?”

Celestia blinked. “Why’s that?”

“Well... Aren’t they always getting in trouble together?”

Celestia’s answer was immediate. “Yes. I suppose I do see how that’s a little out of place… Especially with how the target list jumps to Crystal Prep immediately after. Any idea how they could’ve done that?”

“I’d think Crystal Prep kids sent secrets in about each other, just like our students did,” Sunset said. “Nothing points to anything other than that.”

Celestia sighed, shaking her head. “Well, thank you, Miss Shimmer. I will question the girls from here, and you may go back to class.”

“Good luck, Principal Celestia.” Sunset nodded, “And, uh, thanks for believing in me.”

Celestia smiled at her, “Luna and I have doubted you one time too many, I’m sorry for that.”

That made Sunset blush, scratching the back of her head, “Well… I don’t blame you two for it. Kinda under a siren spell and all.”

“Nonetheless, I hope I can clear your name. Just go to class and let me handle the rest.” Celestia urged, “I will talk to you once this is all said and done.”

Sunset smiled, “I will.”

The door shut behind Sunset, leaving Celestia to herself to scan over the list again. Not seeing her sister’s name on the list made Celestia both eased and uneasy. It was a nauseous thought that this list - nearly 5 sheet pages long - were the names of every targeted student, down to Soarin’s little sister.

‘She didn’t really have much.’ Celestia admitted to herself with a sigh, ‘But it’s a lead. And I can’t afford to not jump on leads.’ She looked over at the other students not targeted, including Flash Sentry and a few others. ‘And even if the girls are innocent, I can see the next suspects in line like this.’

So with somewhat hesitance, Celestia pulled out Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle’s files from the cabinets behind her and began to type a number into her phone.

“Hello? Mrs. Crumbles? Hi there, this is Principal Celestia down at Canterlot High School. Sorry for the interruption, I’m calling about your daughter, Sweetie Belle…”

---

Celestia felt firm in her right to bring in Applejack after hearing Rarity’s hesitance and Dash’s confidence in Sunset. The girls were next, but the first step was to get the families on board with her plans to investigate.

“Alright then.” Celestia nodded at the girl in front of her, “I think that’s all I need. Thank you for your time, Miss Dash.”

“No problem Tia!” Dash called, taking the gratitude as a dismissal.

Celestia stared at her, shaking her head with a small smile, “Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash.” Rolling her eyes again, Celestia got up from her desk, going out into the hallway and leaning into her Secretary’s office, “Raven, could you call in Applejack, please? I’ll be back in a moment.” With her secretary’s nod, Celestia made her way back into the hall, strolling into the Cafeteria.

Granny Smith saw her approaching, coming out of the kitchen. “Principal! What can ah do for yas?” She smiled.

“This isn’t a social call, I’m afraid,” Celestia said, not wanted to let Granny ramble off-topic as usual.

The old woman’s face fell to a scowl, “It’s about Apple Bloom again, idn't it?”

“Unfortunately.” Celestia sighed, shaking her head. “Have you heard about this online Anon-a-Miss business?”

“Yes.” Granny nodded, “From Applejack. Poor thing can’t catch a break, not that I reckon her cute ‘lil nickname is all that embarrassin’.”

Celestia put up her hand to keep Granny from going on. “I have reason to believe that Applebloom is involved with Anon-a-Miss, as well as Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. I’ve already called up Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle’s parents to ask them permission to take up their cell phones if the investigation calls for it, and I’d like to ask you the same.”

“Ah’ll do ya one better!” Granny exclaimed, crossing her arms, “Ah’ll sign anythin’ ya need to legally go through Apple Bloom’s phone. Let’s not beat around the bush here, Celestia; if Apple Bloom’s innocent, that phone’s gonna prove it.”

Celestia grinned, “I couldn’t agree more.”

“Ah also wanna make one thing clear as glass: If Apple Bloom is Anon-a-Miss, she’ll be speakin’ to me at home as well. Ah’m no believer in not punishin’ your youngins.” Granny said, “Either she’s gonna be honest, or she’s gonna be knee deep in the mud.”

“...Right.” Celestia nodded, “In that case, would you like to follow me to my office? I’d like to question Applebloom with yourself and Applejack being in the room.”

“Ab-so-lutely.” Granny nodded.

---

Applejack was waiting outside the office when they returned. “Granny?” AJ gasped, “Oh gosh. This ain't about me, is it?”

“...No.” Celestia assured her, “Though, I would like to hear some answers to my questions before we pull your sister in.” She pulled the door open, motioning them both inside.

AJ did so, massaging her temples, “Apple Bloom…” She growled.

Celestia closed the door behind her, letting Granny and AJ take their seats. Applejack was scowling at the floor, running through all the annoying ways Applebloom could’ve possibly gotten in trouble this time.

“I want you to tell me about your secret that was leaked.” Celestia’s voice cut through AJ’s thoughts as she settled into her desk.

“There’s er, not much to say,” AJ replied. “It was a childhood nickname that I had just finished tellin’ the girls about before it was posted.”

“And… Only the girls knew about it?” Celestia asked.

“Well, ahh, no. Mah family knows about it as well.” AJ said.

“So. Can you say that there’s no way Apple Bloom posted your nickname at that incredibly convenient time?”

“What?!” Applejack clearly took offense to that. “She’d never!”

“Mmm, yes, she would,” Granny said from beside her. “Ah wouldn’t put it past ‘er if she got mad enough.”

“Mad enough?” Applejack blinked, “Why’s she mad at me?”

“Ah dunno.” Granny said, “It’s just not impossible, I reckon.”

“Ah mean… Yeah.” AJ admitted, “Ah just wouldn’t know why.”

“Well, maybe she wasn’t mad at you, maybe she was angry at Sunset Shimmer?” Celestia suggested.

“She… She was the first one to show us the post.” AJ admitted, “But… Ah thought she was just bein’ a good sister, ya know? Protectin’ me.”

“And that still could be a possibility, but unfortunately there’s been evidence that points to your sister and her friends pinning the blame on Sunset Shimmer for the secrets.”

“...Ah mean, maybe?” AJ looked at Granny Smith, who just shook her head.

“Well, your Grandmother has given me permission to look into your sister’s phone for concrete evidence.” Celestia said, “I just wanted you to understand the background before we pulled her in for questioning.”

“...Ah see. Well, we’ll really know if she did it then.” Applejack nodded, biting her lip.

“That phone’ll tell us.” Granny agreed.

Celestia took this as an invitation to page her secretary, “Raven. Please send for Applebloom.” She glanced at the time, and nodded to herself, “Immediately.”

It was only a few minutes before the bell rang signaling the end of second period, and, as Celestia had hoped, Applebloom came into the office with her backpack. She froze up when she saw her grandmother and older sister there as well, waiting.

“Applebloom, please hand your backpack to your sister, and sit down,” Celestia said, watching the Freshman grow pale from the command. Nonetheless, she did as she was told.

AJ dug through her sister’s bag.

“Hey! AJ!” Apple Bloom complained with a scowl.

“It’s not in here,” AJ reported.

“What’s not in there?!” The youngest apple’s eyes widened as she gave Celestia a terrified look.

“May I see your phone, Apple Bloom?” Celestia asked calmly, holding out her hand.

“M-Mah phone?!” She flinched back, putting her hands over her jeans pocket protectively. Granny’s lips pressed together.

“Yes.” Celestia’s calm tone didn’t waiver, “I just want to see your phone. Let me see it.”

Apple Bloom’s eyes darted to her family, who didn’t seem very impressed with her hesitance. Then back at Celestia’s soft, calculating glance. “O-Okay.” Her hands shook as she reached into her pocket, locking her fingers around her cell phone, and slowly reaching over to drop it into Celestia’s waiting palm.

“Thank you.” Celestia nodded, opening it and scrolling over to the MyStable app. It didn’t open immediately, the loading screen swirling over and over, preparing to open up the page. Celestia internally cursed the school’s slow wifi. Finally, it opened up straight to Anon-a-Miss’s page, and Celestia’s eyebrow shot up. She looked over to the Freshman, who was now sweating bullets in her seat. Celestia’s gaze had grown harder, which had only resulted in the gazes of her family behind her to harden too. “...Apple Bloom.” Celestia put the phone face down on her desk. “Do you have anything to say to your sister, your grandmother and I?”

Final - Wonderdolts (EDITED)

View Online

Celestia slammed her hand down onto her desk. “Do not try to pin this on others, just because you have bad blood!” She was getting frustrated with the three in front of her, especially Scootaloo’s insistence that Diamond Tiara was involved. “There is nothing that points to Tiara being a part of this! Sure, I can’t disprove that she probably sent in some secrets, but at this point, at least half the school’s guilty of that!”

“I swear! She was getting dirt on the other students for us!” Scootaloo scowled, “Just look at the messages, she sent in the one about your sister!”

“I have. All of them were sent in anonymously! Anyone could’ve grabbed my sister’s records, given that they’re online.” Celestia scowled, “But the fact that you three decided to post them was entirely your own choice!” Sweetie was sobbing at this point, unable to say anything. Apple Bloom was silent as well, simply not having the will to argue when she had been the one to give them up. Scootaloo was just digging their graves even deeper by arguing like this.

“We were being blackmailed by Tiara!” Scootaloo said.

“Just give it up, Scoots.” Applebloom sighed. They had been used, pure and simple. Tiara had left no trace of being involved, and they just looked like assholes for trying to drag her down with them. At this point, Applebloom didn’t blame her.

“But…” Finally, Scootaloo hung her head. “Daaaamn it.” She groaned.

“I just don’t even know what to say to you girls.” Celestia shook her head, “I will make sure that your punishment will be handed down not just here at school, but at your homes as well.” The crusaders said nothing. “There will be a direct school board meeting that you three will have to appeal to, there they will decide what to do with you all.” Her intense frown shifted downwards further into a full blown scowl, “And you will write up an apology letter to all of your followers on MyStable using your exact names as who are behind the account before closing it down for good. Do you understand me? Vice-Principal Luna will be looking over you as you do so.” They all traded nervous, guilty glances at each other, and Celestia knew why. Luna was going to have a field day with them for what they might’ve cost her. “Your parents and guardians will be waiting to take you home. Now, get out of my office.” She scoffed finally, waving them off.

“Principal Celes-”

“-OUT!” The normally composed woman snapped, and the three scurried out without another word.

She watched them go, clenching her teeth as she did so and sinking into her chair. “Raven. I’m taking a lunch break.” She said into her phone, preparing her things to go out and clear her head. Besides, everyone was waiting for her.

She went over and knocked on Luna’s door, “Sister? Come take a lunch with me.” She smiled as it opened, and Luna’s sad smile met her.

“You’re done with the Crusaders, then?” Luna scoffed, shaking her head. “Oh, they are going to be as miserable as possible when I’m done with them.” She frowned, and Celestia could nearly see the tears welling in her eyes. “...Do you think I should just quit, sister?”

“Quit?” Celestia scoffed, “Why would I ever think that?”

“You saw the comments on that post, Tia… The students hate me.” She sighed, shaking her head, “I never really feel appreciated here.”

Celestia smiled brighter, “Actually, I don’t think they do.” She opened the door to the Teacher’s Lounge.

“SURPRISE!” Pinkie exclaimed, teachers and students alike pressed into the lounge. A giant blue ‘We love you, Vice-Principal Luna!’ banner across the table in the back with various cookies, cupcakes, and drinks across it. The students cheered and chanted as Luna came in, unsure of what to say.

“Wh-what?” Luna choked on her words, and a freshman ran up and hugged her tightly.

“Thank you, Vice-Principal Luna! You do a lot of work to make us feel safe here.” The party planning committee freshman said with a smile.

“We just wanted to make you smile.” Pinkie agreed, “Even after this stupid Anon-a-Miss thingy. It doesn’t really matter to us anyways.”

The faculty and students cheered and clapped as Luna wiped her eyes. “I-I needed this so much… Thank you. Thank all of you.”

Celestia nodded her thanks to Pinkie, who just smiled in return. Slowly, the Wondercolts would heal from this. Slowly.

---

Diamond Tiara smirked, leaning back in her chair, feeling fully self-satisfied as she watched the final Anon-a-Miss post pop up:

To all the Anon-a-Miss readers and victims,

We, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, are so very sorry for the trouble we all caused you for these past few weeks. We were jealous of the attention Sunset Shimmer was getting from our idols and older sisters. Instead of talking to any of them about it, we decided to take it out on her, and all of you.

This was wrong, and we know that we hurt many of you. We are so sorry for this, and ask for your forgiveness.

This will be the last post of Anon-a-Miss. Please stop sending in secrets and instead be kind to those around you. Only that way can we truly heal from this.

Thank you and sorry again,

The Crusaders

“Heh. Shows them. No one spills my secrets and gets away with it.” Diamond grinned even wider as a message appeared in her inbox.

‘So, looks like Anon-a-Miss has been caught. Did you get away?’ Came Sour Sweet’s message.

‘Heh, yeah, Celestia tried to pull me into her office, but she couldn’t prove anything.’ Diamond chuckled aloud. ‘I hid the evidence of my involvement all too well~!’

‘So… Metaphorically speaking, how deep in the shitter would you be if you had been caught?’ Sour asked.

‘Pretty deep, considering the secrets I leaked. I mean, grabbing Vice-Principal Luna’s file from the online criminal records? Talk about an easy way to make Celestia pissed. Getting out of it was incredibly easy, I just had to let her see my phone. Heh. I’m a genius.’

‘Alright then, genius. How do you think everyone will feel if these get out?’

Diamond jolted up in her chair as the two screenshots popped up in their chat room, one of their first conversation when she had asked for Sour Sweet’s help, and one of her previous confession. ‘You’re fucking with me…’

‘Oh, no I’m not. And it’d be so easy to get these pictures to Celestia’s desk, unless you do exactly what I tell you.’ Sour then took it a step further, deciding just for the insult to add to that reply. ‘;)’

Diamond walked over and slammed her fist into a pillow on her bed.

‘Don’t take it personal, kiddo.’ Sour Sweet said on the other end of the message board. ‘Or do. I don’t really care. I just think having two schools under my thumb will be oh so satisfying. Wouldn’t you agree, Tiara?’

Diamond only ground her teeth as the other girl’s smug comment rubbed salt in her wound. Either way, she was in deep shit. Especially if her parents linked the secret to her mother's case files...

‘What, did you think I was going to just help without asking anything in return? That’s not how these things work. Welcome to the High School games, sweetheart. Hope you learn a thing or two.’

Tiara was nearly pulling at her hair at this point. How the hell had she been that careless, after everything she’d been through? It was official, though. Sour Sweet was next on her shitlist.

---

Sunset finished retelling her group what Celestia had told her as they watched their own phones for the account’s closing.

“...And that’s when she set up an urgent meeting with the school board. They’ll be meeting on Wednesday for the hearing, and Celestia has more than enough evidence against the Crusaders.”

“Geesh.” Fleet shook her head, “Well, nice to know our Principal isn’t an idiot.”

“I think the thing with Luna sent her overboard.” Sunset said with a shrug, wiping down the counters of the shop, “Who knows?”

“All I know is that I’m still a bit angry about the whole ‘whore’ thing. I’d be frothing at the mouth if they tried going after Charger, too, after what they did to us.” Misty agreed.

“Well, I'm sure that they'll be feeling left out of quite a few things for a while," Soarin said casually, "And I don't feel sorry for them in the slightest."

“What happened to forgiveness, Soarin?” Sunset asked, a sly smirk on her face.

“Oh, that.” Soarin nodded, “I’d forgive them if it were me, but… They targeted Shadey.” He stressed, brows furrowing, “It’s a whole different animal when you go after my sister.” He huffed. “After all the trouble they've caused? They'd better not set a foot in this shop again."

“Right.” Sunset chuckled. “Well, uh, good luck with that. I’m just happy it’s all over with.”

The group nodded in agreement and continued to lay back and enjoy their afternoon. Spring was on the horizon, as was a major sporting event between two certain schools, and the Wondercolts were just enjoying each other’s company.

“So, Sunset, how’s the new jacket treating you?” Surprise smiled at her.

“It’s been great. Thanks, Surprise. I, uh, I guess I should give you yours back, huh?”

Surprise laughed, “Yeah, that’d be great.”

“Alright, I’ll get it to you later.” Sunset nodded.

“You gonna drown it in hand sanitizer before you wear it again?” Misty asked Surprise from the couch.

“Uh, no!” Surprise responded, almost offended, “The dry cleaners will do just fine!”

Misty and Sunset chuckled to each other, and Surprise rolled her eyes with a grin.

Then, Misty sat up with a frown, “Trouble coming.” She said suddenly, looking directly at Sunset.

“Huh?” Sunset looked over to the front door and sighed loudly as the group of five with a certain three entered the shop. Dash was narrowing her eyes at the orange freshman that she was nearly dragging inside. “Ohh boy.” Sunset agreed. “Hey, uh, girls.” She said awkwardly.

OUT.” Soarin’s voice cut through the pause. Sunset looked over. Soarin was shaking, gripping the counter until his knuckles paled. “Get those three out of my shop!” He snapped. Even Rainbow couldn’t help but flinch a little.

“But, Soarin, we-” Scootaloo spoke up, immediately biting her lip as she was cut off.

“-I don’t care!” Soarin said firmly, using his large frame to stand menacingly over behind the counter, “Nothing you girls could say could ever take back what you did to my sister!”

“B-But we didn’t-” Scootaloo attempted to stutter out a response.

“-Soarin.” Sunset cut in, “I need to have a few words with them anyways. Can they stay just for that?”

Soarin paused, looking over at Sunset’s stern expression, and backed down. He folded his arms, sneering at the aggressors that had spilled his sister’s secret. “Alright. Fine. But after that, you three are banned from this shop. For good. Got it?” He growled.

“Ye-yes sir.” Applebloom swallowed hard.

“Now, you three were saying?” Sunset asked them.

Sweetie Belle sighed, “Thanks, Sunset, we-”

“Oh,” Sunset scoffed haughtily, “You shouldn’t be thanking me.” Nearly everyone in the room knew that tone in her voice, but Sunset didn’t care. Bitchy Shimmer would never leave, and she didn’t think she wanted it to. “Seriously, you girls better come up with something good to tell your sisters and I as for why you starting this shit.” Rarity and Applejack stared at their sisters expectantly.

Applebloom’s mouth pressed into a thin line. “Well… We, ah…”

“We were jealous about how much extra time our sisters were spending with you, Sunset.” Scootaloo said with a sigh, “So we set up the account to split you all up. That’s what it was. Then Diamond Tiara came in and blackmailed us to keep posting worse and worse secrets like Vice-Principal Luna’s. We’re really sorry, Sunset. Really.”

THAT’S IT?!” Applejack exploded, pointing her rage at her little sister. “That’s yur reason for turnin on yur own family, Applebloom?!” Applebloom shrunk away. “What in hell’s bells happened ta talkin’ to me?! Then ya go and try to lie to Celestia like that in fronta me and Granny! Ah can’t believe you!” She snapped.

“H-hey! Sweetie Belle’s the one who stole Sunset’s phone!” Applebloom backed away quickly, nearly tripping on her own two feet.

“What?!” Sweetie’s pupils shrunk.

“Tha-huh-wha-SWEETIE!” Now, it was Rarity’s turn to fume. “YOU’RE the one who posted those pictures?!”

“Um, yes.” Sweetie admitted, pressing her index fingers together.

“Ooooh!” Rarity’s face lit aflame, “THAT’S IT! After this, you have packing to do!”

“P-Packing?” Sweetie asked, eyes wide, “You’re kicking me out of the Boutique?!”

“That’s right!” Rarity crossed her arms. “If you cannot respect me, or be mature enough to respect my friends, you can just go back and live with mother and father!”

“Th-that’s not fair!” Applebloom jumped in for Sweetie, who was rendered speechless.

“Don’t get involved!” Applejack snapped, “And yur lucky I don’t break that damn phone ah yurs, Applebloom!”

The three continued to yell and fight, meanwhile, Scootaloo looked up at the stern-faced Dash. She did nothing but stare back down in silence. Scootaloo bit her lip, wringing her hands.

She looked over to Sunset, “W-We’re still so sorry…”

“Alright. That’s enough.” Sunset spoke, and the fighting slowly quieted down amongst the group. “No.” She looked over at Scootaloo, “You’re not sorry. You’re sorry that you got caught. I know you wouldn’t have outed yourselves to save my reputation on your own, would you?” The three said nothing, and finally, Sweetie broke down into sobs again. “You would’ve let me suffer until this quietly faded away eventually, which probably would’ve been after your sisters and I graduated.” Her eyes glanced at the elder 5, “And you all fell for it hard. Hook, line, and sinker.”

Dash crossed her arms, smirking smugly at AJ, who took her Stetson off of her head before hanging it. Even Fluttershy and Pinkie, who had moved away from the drama to stand next to Misty and Surprise, looked to the floor.

Sunset continued, “You fell for it too, Dash, stop looking so smug.” She paused, looking around the room, “Can I just say how awful it is that almost everyone in this room immediately thought this whole incident was me from the start?” Misty’s eyes widened at the sudden callout. “But unlike everyone else, Misty was able to put that aside for me. She helped me when no one else would. Something you five clearly couldn’t do. It was easy to pin it all on me. It was easy to have a punching bag for your problems, and you all took the chance with ease.” Sunset sighed again, “And you know what? I’m done. I’m done being angry at you all.” She glanced at the 5 specifically. “So, you girls want to be my friend again? Speak now, and beg like you mean it. I’m done holding it over your heads like you held the Formal over mine.”

AJ was the first to step up, “Ah was wrong, Sunset. Ah was blinded by the idea of mah family turnin’ on me, so ah pushed it onta ya. An’ ah shouldn’ta. Ah’m sorry.”

“Me too, darling. I honestly enjoyed the drama until it came to my secret, but I should have seen through it before it escalated.” Rarity said, “I’m so sorry, Sunset.”

“I should’ve listened to my cuz from the start.” Pinkie admitted, “I thought because everyone else was blaming you, I should have too. And that wasn’t fair to do to you.”

Fluttershy wiped her eyes, “I-I should’ve spoke up when I did realize it.” She sniffed, “But I was so afraid of speaking out that I… I…” She cried into her arms, Rarity holding her for support.

“Yeah.” Dash sighed, slumping over, “I said some pretty shitty things to you, and I should’ve thought things through too. You’ve heard all this before.” Dash said.

Sunset just shook her head, “Fine, then. Don’t expect everything to just be okay again. You girls hurt me, and it hasn’t healed completely. But… I want to try to get back there, eventually.” She admitted, “I want to give you girls a chance to make it up to me. It’s just going to take a while.”

“We… understand.” Rarity said hesitantly.

“Good, because it starts at lunch on Monday,” Sunset replied.

“Really?!” Pinkie asked, grinning.

“Don’t get too excited; we’ll see how Monday goes and work from there,” Sunset said.

“Thanks for the chance, Sunset.” Dash put a firm grip on Scootaloo’s shoulder, “But for now… I promised to get this one home.”

“Mmm, yes, Sweetie has packing to do,” Rarity repeated, pushing her sister out.

“And ah’m sure Granny has a few words for ya, Applebloom.” AJ frowned. “Ah’ll take Scootaloo home, Dash, you can hang here.”

“Thanks, AJ.” Dash left Scootaloo’s side, walking over to smile weakly at Sunset before sitting down on one of the couches.

With that, the sibling groups showed themselves to the door, leaving Dash, Pinkie, and Fluttershy with Sunset.

“Finally, good to have that out of my system.” Sunset shook her head as she watched an order pop into the message box of Soarin’s email. “Oh, hold on, I have to write this down really quick.”

“I’ll get it.” Soarin said, scooting over from where he was at the counter, releasing his iron grip, “No worries, Phoenix.”

“...Phoenix?” Sunset asked, giving Soarin a strange look.

“Yeah, Spitfire helped me choose your new nickname.” Soarin nodded, “And you’re stuck with it now, hope you like it~!” He teased in his usual sing-song voice, “Cause it’s gonna be there forever, right Crash?”

“Shut it, Clipper,” Dash responded with a snort.

“See?” Soarin laughed, “I think this is gonna start a-”

That was when the group heard a loud whooping sound from above them.

“YES! I FOUND IT! THE STASH!”

“...Fleet?” Surprise blinked.

There was rattling that followed.

“WHAT THE- WHO PUTS A DEADLOCK ON A FRIDGE ON A ROOF?!” Fleet exclaimed, and the rattling only got louder.

That was when the room erupted into laughter.

“SOOOOAAAARIN!”