My Little Planeswalker: Shattered Sunset

by Zennistrad

First published

When the portal to Equestria is destroyed, Sunset Shimmer's planeswalker spark awakens in a moment of despair. Upon arriving in a world where souls are transformed by nightfall, the very foundation of Sunset's identity is broken in two.

After several months without hearing anything from Princess Twilight, Sunset Shimmer's once-unshakable faith in her friendship begins to falter. Then when an unknown party destroys the portal between worlds, she soon finds herself awakening her planeswalker spark in a moment of anguish.

Arriving on an idyllic plane where different aspects of the soul are brought forth by day and night, Sunset soon finds the very foundation of her identity fractured. The Sunset that returns to Equestria is not herself, but a monster long thought to have vanished, seeking revenge for everything she had lost.

A Magic: the Gathering crossover. Cover art by GaelleDragons on DeviantArt.


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”...though we know the human species to have first evolved two hundred thousand years ago, the precise details of our evolutionary ancestry remain unknown.”

Sunset Shimmer’s eyes glazed over at the droning sound of Mental Vigor’s voice, her hand barely propping up her head above her desk in the back of the biology classroom. For the past six months, she’d found it difficult to focus on school, her thoughts constantly drifting away to places entirely unrelated to her studies. Twilight’s help had ensured that her grades didn’t suffer too badly, but it was clear that her friend was concerned for her academic standing.

It wasn’t hard to understand why she was having trouble focusing. In the past six months, the other Twilight had barely written to her at all. Sharp resentment grew within her chest as she stared at the page, but she quickly pushed it into the back of her mind. Getting angry wouldn’t help her. Princess Twilight Sparkle was the first true friend she’d ever had.


With a sigh, she grabbed a pencil and started writing.

Dear Princess Twilight,

I know it’s been a long time since you’ve written back to me. I know we haven’t really had a chance to speak with each other in person since then, either. And I know it might be annoying that I’ve been writing to you almost nonstop since then. Is there something wrong? Did something happen? You’re not upset with me, are you?

Please write back soon. I miss you.


Sunset frowned. Did she mean to write that last word? She quickly erased it, and finished the letter properly, thank you very much.

Your friend,

Sunset Shimmer

As she finished the final words, the clattering of the school bell announced the end of third period.

Mister Vigor’s dour blue-green face scanned the classroom. “...And that’s all the time we have for today,” he said. “Reading will be assigned on chapter fifteen of your textbook. You are dismissed.”

Without another word, Sunset hurriedly followed her classmates out the door.


As Sunset strode her way into shop class, she could tell right away that something was off. Handy Craft was gone, his rough yet cheerful face nowhere to be seen.

Instead, standing at the teacher’s desk was a very dire-looking man. He possessed grey-blue skin and great black dreadlocks hanging from his head, as well a scruffy yet pointed goatee. His clothes were marked by a very long grey coat, the color of an old television tuned to a dead channel, or perhaps the the sky on particularly stormy evening. Most strikingly of all, however, was the prosthetic limb replacing his right arm. It looked like no prosthetic Sunset had ever seen, a skeletal construct crafted from a metal she could not identify, one that shifted organically with every motion made by its owner.

As the students assumed their usual seats, Sunset sat herself down next to Twilight, who had elected to take shop class at Sunset’s request. It was one of the few times they had the opportunity to sit together. They both gave the new figure their undivided attention, and Sunset could feel a strange tingle in her spine as she looked at his eyes, which were filled with steely determination.

“Greetings... class,” the man spoke. The words were forced out, as though they were painful to utter. “My name is Ether Seeker. I will be your...” A sigh escaped his throat. He very much looked like he didn’t want to be there. “...Your substitute teacher.

Sunset’s eyes drifted to Twilight. On some level, she was relieved to see her friend was just as unsettled as she was.


Lunch had come soon afterward, Sunset couldn’t rightly keep her mind on food. In just one period, Ether Seeker had proven himself to be one of the most unpleasant teachers she’d ever met. He was strict to an absolutely ludicrous degree, and his demands for absolute perfection in even the simplest wooden crafts were impossible to meet. Sunset had briefly considered speaking with Principal Celestia; it didn’t seem like the new substitute was keen on sticking to curriculum.

The lunchroom was abuzz with the usual activity, each of the school’s many social groups sequestered into their own tables. Jocks, nerds, preps, goths, college-bound students, each their own set of friendships and associations. In the corner of her eye, she could see Zenith Star and Everfan playing a game of Space: the Convergence, as they usually did during lunch break.

Sunset silently shook her head. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out why anyone would spend so much money on pieces of cardboard.

Naturally, Sunset’s six closest friends were sitting on their own table. Rarity was reading a book with a black cover, depicting an apple being held in a pair of pale hands on the front. The book was, apparently, the subject of their current conversation.

“People used to bully me because of that series, you know,” said Twilight.

“Twilight, you know that none of us would dare to make fun of you for any particular naming coincidences,” Rarity reassured. “Besides, I’ve always had a fascination with vampire romance novels.... even if the writing leaves something to be desired.”

Pinkie Pie scratched the top of her head. Or at least, scratched somewhere beneath the frizz that presumably had the top of her head below it. “Weird. I always thought you were more of a werewolf person.”

Rarity’s pupils suddenly dilated. “Werewolves? I, ah... I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about there.”

“You don’t? How come?” said Pinkie. “You and I were just at a convention last month!”

Rarity’s face suddenly turned beet-red. “Pinkie!” she hissed. “We are not supposed to speak of that in public!”

Sunset caught her friends’ attention as she approached the lunch table. “What’s this about a convention?”

Pinkie let out an excited gasp. “Ohmigosh, you don’t know? It’s the bestest thing ever! Here, let me show you a picture I drew of my fursona!”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “What’s a fursona?”

Twilight and Fluttershy both blushed deeply, while Applejack simply smirked. Rainbow, meanwhile, covered her own mouth with a hand, barely holding back her own laughter.

“U-um... maybe we shouldn’t talk about that here,” said Twilight. “In fact, there’s something a lot more interesting I wanted to show you, now that you’re here.”

Twilight reached into her backpack, pulling out a small object. Sunset’s eyes went wide as she saw what it was.

There, grasped within Twilight’s fingers, was a small test tube. Its opening was sealed tightly with a cork, and within it was a mass of black oil that glistened in the cafeteria’s fluorescent light.

A shiver ran down Sunset’s spine. “What is that?”

“I don’t know,” said Twilight. “But I found it on Mister Seeker’s desk.”

“Whoa, hold on,” said Rainbow. “You stole something from a teacher? You?

Twilight glared at Rainbow. “It’s not stealing! I just wanted to take a closer look! You can feel it, can’t you?”

“Feel what?” said Sunset.

And then, she felt it. It was subtle at first, barely noticeable. But as she leaned closer to the test tube, the sensation that was creeping its way into her awareness was unmistakable.

“Oh my God,” said Sunset. She’d become accustomed to human vernacular surprisingly quickly, all things considered. “Is that magic?

“I know,” said Twilight. Apprehension had already crept its way to the edge of her voice. “And it’s only a hypothesis so far, but I don’t think Mister Seeker is just a teacher. This oil is why he’s here.”

“What, you mean the guy who’s substituting for Handy Craft?” said Applejack. “Ah think Ah heard about him. He certainly don’t sound too nice, from what other folks are saying. Glad Ah got mah shop credit before he came along, to say the least.”

“Not to mention that weird prosthetic arm he had,” said Sunset. “That definitely doesn’t look like anything they’d give someone at a hospital.”

“So what are we waiting for?” said Rainbow. “He’s probably up to no good, right? Let’s pony up and kick his butt!”

Rarity shook her head. “Rainbow, dear, you know it isn’t that simple. We don’t even know what he’s planning, or what this oil even is. In fact...” She shuddered slightly as her eyes passed over the test tube. “...I’m getting quite a bad feeling just looking at it now.”

Sunset nodded. “Rarity’s right, Twilight. We don’t even need to study that oil’s properties to know that it’s probably dangerous. We need to make sure it’s dealt with properly.” She paused, and something she recalled hearing from Twilight months ago came to mind. “You said your older brother is in the National Guard, right?”

Twilight’s eyes lit up. “Oh! You mean Shining Armor? That’s right! He’s the commanding officer of their new Magical Containment Unit!” Her face flushed slightly. “I, uh... I may have been the reason it was created to begin with, now that I think about it.”

Sunset beamed. “So we have a plan, then. Bring the oil to Shining Armor, have the Magical Containment Unit study it, and contain it if it’s dangerous. We’ll also let him know about Ether Seeker, and what he might be planning. We’ll put a stop to this whole thing before it even starts.”

Pinkie wiped off her brow in an exaggerated motion. “Phew! Crisis averted!”

Any attempts Sunset made to further clarify the plan to her friends were cut short. Her backpack began to vibrate intensely, and a tingle of warm magic seeped its way through the container, through her clothes and into her skin. It was a shock to feel such magic again, but it was far from upsetting. In fact, she was absolutely overjoyed.

In a blur of motion, she hastily removed her backpack and pulled out the journal, a soft light glowing from its pages. She slammed the book onto the table, opening its so quickly that it nearly broke the spine, and flipped to the page just after where she had last written. There, written in a script that could only be accomplish by a quill held with telekinesis, was a letter.

Dear Sunset Shimmer,

I’m deeply sorry that I haven’t written to you in a while. Due to unexpected circumstances, I’ve been preoccupied with other studies that have distracted me from the journal. It’s all very engrossing, but I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear about right now. What’s more important is something I’ve discovered about the Magic Mirror.

Several months ago, shortly after Starlight Glimmer came to your world, I conducted some preliminary research on the Mirror’s impact on Anthropia. I’d discovered that forcing the Mirror open more than it was originally intended to had caused magic to leak through it, like a permanent planar gateway for mana. If left unchecked, I feared that the Mirror would cause your world to become... well, the best word I can think of would be “oversaturated,” but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. Suffice it to say, it could have a profound and potentially damaging impact if left alone. At least, that’s what I’d thought.

Upon further researching the Mirror, I found something curious. Namely, that there’s actually a lot less magic going through it than I had initially believed, much less than there should be given the amount of ambient mana in the castle. My current hypothesis is that there’s something surrounding Anthropia itself that’s greatly limiting the flow of magic into the plane. If true, that would explain why human magic is such a rarity: most of the mana the plane receives would be consumed just to sustain its existence, leaving precious little left to be harnessed for other purposes.

Whatever the case is, I’m going to be traveling to Anthropia to find out. I have another hypothesis about the plane, too, namely the transformative effect on ponies entering it. To test it, I’ll be coming over there to visit you, but you should probably know in advance that I won’t be traveling through the Mirror. I’d say more about how that’s possible here, but I’ve limited myself to a single page per message to maximize the number of messages I can send before needing to create another journal. I’ll explain to you fully once I arrive.

Your friend,

Twilight Sparkle

Sunset stared at the page. “What.”

Twilight leaned in closer, grinning all the while. “Ooh, what’d she say? Did the other me tell you why she’s been gone for so long? Do you think she’s coming over?”

“Well, that’s just the thing I don’t get,” said Sunset. “She says she’ll be paying a visit.”

Sunset’s friends shared a look. “And what’s the catch?” said Applejack.

“She also says she won’t be using the Magic Mirror to get here,” Sunset replied. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Twilight fidgeted anxiously in her seat. “You don’t think she’ll try to tear a hole in the boundary between worlds, do you?”

Sunset shook her head. “I don’t think Twilight would be foolish enough to do something that dangerous.” She froze as soon as the words left her mouth, realizing what she had said. “Um, not you. The other you. The you that’s you did do exactly what I just described, but I said Twilight wouldn’t do something so foolish, and I-I, um, uh...”

Just then, Sunset felt something warm gently hold her hand. Twilight held onto her, her lips curving upwards as she gazed at Sunset with bright, soulful eyes. “You don’t have to worry about offending me, Sunset. You helped me move past my mistakes, after all.”

Sunset exhaled, and her heart fluttered gently. Pleasant memories of times she’d spent with Twilight danced across the edge of her awareness. “Thanks,” she said. As she released herself from Twilight’s grasp, she glanced around at the others. “I’m still baffled by the idea that Princess Twilight is traveling here without the Mirror, though. Just what are we supposed to expect?”

Pinkie leaned forward, and pointed to a space near the ceiling. “How about that?”

Sunset craned her neck upwards, and what she saw nearly made her jaw drop. There, just above the table she was standing at, was a single mote of purple light. It rapidly grew in size and brightness, taking the unmistakable shape of Twilight’s cutie mark.

Then there was a flash of light, and the lunch table was snapped in two by the impact of something large, purple, and human shaped. Sunset flinched from the sudden noise and impact, then turned to see what had caused it.

...And then sharply turned her head away again, shut her eyes tight, and covered her eyes with a hand for good measure. Blood rushed to her face, and she suddenly understood a particular human cultural taboo that had baffled her for so long.

“Yes! Humanity! It worked!” Twilight’s voice called out. “My hypothesis is confirmed! It isn’t the Magic Mirror that transforms ponies, it’s a transformative enchantment surrounding the plane Anthropia itself!”

“Wow, Twilight!” said Pinkie’s voice. “I didn’t know you were a nudist! You probably shouldn’t do that in school, though.”

“A what?” said Twilight. One of them. Probably the naked one, not that Sunset could see her. She kind of wanted to, if only out of curiosity. Yup, definitely curiosity, and nothing else. “Oh. I guess the Mirror must be some kind of clothing generator. Hold on, I can fix this.”

Sunset felt a subtle pulse of magic, one that very distinctively felt like Twilight’s magic as an alicorn, even though her magic as a human had felt different.

“Um... I think you can look now, Sunset.”

As Sunset opened her eyes, she could hear Rainbow Dash burst into uncontrollable laughter. Sure enough, one look at Rainbow showed that she was literally rolling on the floor. Sunset’s other friends were all various degrees of flustered, and Pinkie, she noted, also looked slightly disappointed. The human Twilight in particular was burying her head into her hands, trying to make herself appear as small as possible. Princess Twilight stood on the wreckage of the lunch table with a new set of clothes, the same outfit she had worn the day she first came through the Mirror. The entire cafeteria was staring at her, and many students were pointing their cell phones at her.

Sunset shot Princess Twilight a glare. “I don’t know what you did, but please never do it again.”

“Don’t worry about it, Sunset,” said Princess Twilight, “I’ll be sure to put up a clothing illusion before I planeswalk here next time.”

Sunset blinked. “Planeswalk?” Her curiosity over the term was quickly overridden by another question that popped into her mind. “Wait, your clothes are an illusion? You’re still naked?”

“I don’t see why it matters,” Princess Twilight huffed. “It looks exactly the same as if I wasn’t. Enough about that, though! There’s so much I want to show you! Here, touch me!”

“W-what? Now hold on!”

“I think she means look into her mind, darling,” Rarity pointed out.

Sunset laughed nervously. “R-right, of course. I knew that.”

Swallowing a lump in her throat, she reached out and grabbed the Princess’s outstretched hand. The geode hanging around her neck pulsed with raw power, and the next thing she knew, Sunset was drawn into a vibrant, colorful memory. It was like watching a movie made of Twilight’s own experiences, fast-forwarded a hundred times. When it finished, she slowly pulled her hand away.

Princess Twilight grinned. “Well, what do you think? Isn’t it incredible? I hope it explains why I was gone for so long, I really felt bad about neglecting you.”

“Um... no, I don’t think it explains much,” said Sunset. A nugget of information she’d gleaned from the memory popped into her thoughts. “Wait, ‘Fizzlepop Berrytwist?’ Really?”

“Oh! Oops!” said Princess Twilight. “That was the wrong memory. Here, touch me again! And go deeper this time! Maybe it’ll work better if we both move together.”

Somehow, Rainbow’s laughter managed to intensify even further, until she was barely able to breathe through her wheezing, dry-throated gasps. “S-stop! Please! I can’t take it!”

Sunset let out a sigh. It was far too late to avoid the embarrassment now. Might as well go along with it. “...Alright, fine. Come here.”

Princess Twilight stepped closer to Sunset, and reached out with a hand. Sunset brushed her own hand against it, and she once again felt the geode pulse with magic. She focused her mind outward, into the mind that her touch had connected to it, and delved deeper, into Princess Twilight’s memories of the past six months. Hopefully there she would find the answer to her absence.

And the answer indeed came to her, but it was far from what she expected. Sunset didn’t actually know what to expect, in all seriousness, but it certainly wasn’t what she saw. Glimpses of worlds beyond worlds, planes of existence that she wouldn’t have even dreamed of. An entire multiverse beyond the human world and the pony world, a seemingly infinite expanse of universes with an equally vast collection of peoples and cultures.

And then, the memory shifted to Equestria. To Princess Twilight’s experiments with an artifact called a Planar Amulet, to her discovery of the multiverse, to her full realization of her nature. A being that could travel to any plane of existence in the multiverse, using only her own power.

The memories faded, and Sunset found herself staring slack-jawed at the former alicorn standing before her. She thought she knew her friend, but in a single moment, all of that had been called into question.

“I... I don’t believe it,” said Sunset. “A planeswalker? You can travel between different worlds at will?”

Princess Twilight let out a squeal. “I know! Isn’t it incredible? I could have just told you, but words really couldn’t do justice to the things I’ve seen with my own eyes. So, what was your favorite plane you saw in my memories? Shandalar? Ravnica? Ulgrotha, maybe?”

Sunset felt her body tense. “I... I’m sorry, this is a lot to take in. You’re telling me you can just come to Anthropia whenever you want? No restrictions?”

Twilight nodded. “That’s right. I, uh, might have to figure out how to work out the clothing situation, though.”

A fire began burning within Sunset’s chest. Six months. Six months Twilight had spent, so enthralled by the multiverse that she hadn’t even bothered to write. Sunset took a deep breath, quelling the fire and pushing the fuel back where it had come from. “Okay, fine. That’s fine. But you’re telling me you don’t need to use the Mirror?”

“Nope!” said Twilight. “Isn’t it great? It means I don’t have to worry about forcing the Mirror open!”

“Right,” said Sunset. “And it also means you can also go back to Equestria whenever you want.”

“It took me a while to figure that out, actually, but yes.”

Sunset’s fingers twitched, curling slightly so that her hands had halfway turned to fists. “And if you’d ever ended up stranded here while the portal wasn’t active, you could go back whenever you wanted. You could always go home. You had a home to go back to, no matter what.”

“Well, yeah,” said Twilight. Her eyes softened slightly, and her lips curved into a frown. “Sunset, are you okay?”

Sunset threw her hands up into the air. “Yes, I’m okay! I’m perfectly fine! So stop asking!” She turned around and stormed off, not even bothering to stick around long enough to hear what her friends had to say.

As she neared the cafeteria exit, she’d seen Flash Sentry regarding in the corner of her eye. “Um... hey, Sunset.”

What!?” A very horse-like snort escaped her nostrils as she swiveled around to face him.

Flash placed a hand behind his head. “I, uh... I think your weird mind-reading thing with Princess Twilight gave you some kind of psychic nosebleed. I thought you might want to know.”

Sunset blinked. She rubbed a finger against her nose, and then held it in front of her. Sure enough, a small splatter of blood had rubbed against it.

Sunset’s eyes narrowed. Dammit, Twilight.


Sunset had gotten her fair share of weird looks from other students for the rest of the day, but lately she was more than used to attracting the wrong kinds of attention. At the very least, she didn’t accidentally overhear any arguments about which of her magical transformations was hotter.

After the final bell rung, she made her way through the hallways, the corridors lined with strange pink flyers. Eventually she reached her locker, stopping by to drop off any textbooks she wouldn’t need to bring home. While that made her no different from the other students, there was something else about her locker that made it unique. There, taped to the mirror, was something truly special. One of the few mementos she had brought from Equestria, a picture of herself as a unicorn, with Princess Celestia herself sitting next to her. She and her former mentor both made silly faces at the camera, and she could keenly remember the exasperation of the Royal Photographer that day.

Memories came to her mind, unbidden. Memories of a life on the streets of Canterlot, memories of ambitions to rise above her lowly origins, memories of capturing the attention of the highest authority in the land with her talent. Memories of being rescued from squalor, memories of living with the closest thing to a family she had ever known. And then, all at once, Celestia had turned her away from all of it.

The fire within her chest returned, and she fought hard to push it back, to shove it back into the hole it had ignited from. She had come so far, she was better than those feelings now. She couldn’t show them, couldn’t afford to let them corrupt her mind like they had in the past. For the longest time she’d succeeded in keeping the fire down, yet something about it was different now. It was stronger, more powerful, drawing from a new fuel that had been sustaining it for the past six months.

A single tear dropped down Sunset’s eye. She slammed the locker closed with more force than was probably necessary, and quickly re-fastened the padlock.

As she hastily made her way towards the school entrance, she caught Twilight’s distinctive hair bun in her peripheral vision. Sunset turned to see Twilight walking right next to her, staying by her side. Concern glinted from beneath her glasses.

“Is everything okay, Sunset? You look tense.”

“I’m fine,” came Sunset’s attempted reassurance. “I should be the one asking you that question, really. What happened today must have been pretty humiliating.”

“During lunch?” said Twilight. At some point, Sunset’s hand had begun brushing against Twilight’s, seemingly of its own volition. “I, uh... I have been getting some really weird stares from boys. It’s pretty uncomfortable.”

Sunset frowned. “Well, they should know better. If anyone starts harassing you, tell me. I’ll be sure to give them a swift kick in the teeth.”

Twilight winced. “I, uh, don’t think that will be necessary. I don’t want you getting in trouble on my behalf. Besides, despite her... appearance, I actually enjoyed getting the chance to see my counterpart again.”

As their hands briefly touched, one of Twilight’s thought began making its way into Sunset’s mind. It wasn’t a memory, per se. More like a fantasy.

Sunset’s eyes went wide, and she pulled her arm away. “Wait. You don’t think she’s—”

“What? No!” Twilight’s response came quickly and forcefully, accompanied by a luminescent blush. “I-I mean, that’d just be weird, right? Not only is she me from a parallel universe, she’s not even technically the same species!”

“Oh,” said Sunset. The last part of Twilight’s statement had stung, for a reason she refused to think about further. “Well, in any case, it’s been an eventful day. Seeing the other Twilight again is one thing, but learning that there’s an entire multiverse out there that she’s been exploring? Crazy, right?”

“Tell me about it,” said Twilight. “I’m honestly jealous. There are so many things she’ll learn about other worlds that I’ll never get a chance to.”

There was a rustling sound from above, and Sunset turned her attention to the ceiling. The pink flyers that had been plastered along the walls had apparently also been placed on the ceiling. One of them came loose drifted down, eventually landing into Sunset’s awaiting hand.

Compleation and You: Finding Your Purpose in Life

Presented by Starlight Glimmer

This Friday in Canterlot High Auditorium

Sunset coughed so hard she nearly choked on her own saliva, and then stumbled to the point where she nearly fell off her feet. A pair of arms quickly grabbed her and propped her back upright.

“Sunset!” Twilight cried out. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” said Sunset. “I think you might want to take a look at this.” She passed the flyer to Twilight, who quickly grabbed it in her hand.

Twilight adjusted her glasses as she read the paper, and her eyes widened in sudden realization. “Oh! It must be referring to this world’s version of Starlight Glimmer. I’ve heard she’s a motivational speaker here.” She paused, her eyes straining as she squinted at the letter. “Although, I have to say, it’s strange that she’s using this spelling of ‘completion.’ It’s not incorrect, but it’s pretty antiquated.”

Sunset shrugged. “It’s probably not that important. You want to head over to my place for a study session tonight?”

Twilight giggled adorably. “Sure. I think I’d like that.”


As Sunset and Twilight made their way out of the front entrance, they were both immediately confronted with an unusual sight. In any other circumstance, students would be rushing to leave the school grounds as soon as possible. Instead, however, they had formed a circle around the space where the statue-portal would be, an impenetrable mass of bodies huddling around its location.

“What’s going on?” said Twilight. “Did something happen?”

A pit formed in Sunset’s stomach. Already, she was having a very bad feeling about this. She charged forward urgently, pushing through the other students with reckless abandon. “Move! Out of my way!” Then, when she finally broke through to the innermost edge of the circle, she saw it. Or rather, she saw what wasn’t there.

The statue was gone. Vanished, leaving behind only a few stray pebbles. The last known entrance to Equestria, the last gateway to the world where she’d lived her formative years, and it was gone. And all at once, the realization struck her.

Sunset would never go home again. She was trapped, stranded in a world that, despite her many new friendships, had always felt alien to her. Her body trembled, and her legs lost the strength to support her. She fell to her knees, and gazed at the empty space with tear-soaked eyes.

“Sunset! What’s going on?” Twilight called from behind. As she pushed her way to Sunset’s side, she let out a horrified gasp. “Oh no, the portal!”

“No,” Sunset whispered. Her eyes screwed shut, and her hands clenched tightly by her sides. Raw anguish flooded itself into every muscle within her body.

“No,” she said, louder this time. “No!

Sunset followed her words with an ear-piercing scream, infused with all of the rage, frustration, and sorrow she could possibly feel. She screamed with the force of a thousand white-hot suns, and as she screamed, she felt something else awaken within her. A powerful magic, more powerful than any human could have possibly held, igniting and burning within her, consuming every inch of her mind, body, and soul.

And then, in a flash of light, the entire world disappeared.


When Sunset finally regained consciousness, she was left with the distinct feeling that she wasn’t in the same place she was before. The ground beneath her felt soft and grassy, and the warmth that trickled from the sky above was softer and more soothing than the sun she had felt before. The sunlight pressed against her eyelids, tinged with a subtle magic that was just as powerful as Celestia’s sun, but entirely foreign to her senses.

Her eyes pried themselves open, and she found herself staring at a pristine blue sky. It was clear, so clear that it almost seemed impossible to behold. And yet, here it was.

Sunset pressed her hands against the ground, and slowly lifted herself to her feet. She found herself standing in a perfect image of an idyllic meadow, like the ideal that all meadows aspired to be. As she breathed in the warm air, a single question burned within her mind.

“Where... where am I?”


Sunset the Redeemed 1RW

Legendary Planeswalker — Sunset

+1: You gain 2 life.
-1: Target creature gets +2/+2 and gains vigilance and haste until end of turn.
-6: Create a legendary 6/6 red and white Angel Avatar creature token with flying, vigilance, lifelink, and indestructible named Daydream Shimmer.



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Sunset needed answers. There was absolutely no doubt in her mind about that. She wandered the meadow aimlessly, hoping to find anything that might resemble a clue as to what had happened. Did she teleport? If so, then where did she teleport to? Why did the sun seem to have so much magic? And most importantly of all, how would she get back?

One thing was clear, the answers weren’t just going to come to her. She had to find something that could give them to her. But where would she even begin? Grass and the occasional flower rubbed against her ankles as she walked. Eventually, her wanderings took her to a stream, a small creek that cut through the meadow with the gentle sound of running water.

Most strangely of all, however, was the creature she saw hovering just above the stream. It looked like a fish, the largest fish she had ever seen, roughly the size of one of Anthropia’s horses. Its body was blue with red markings, with a wide maw and shadows above its eyes that almost looked like eyelashes. Feathered wings pulsing with magic grew from its underside, and the end of its body trailed off into an ethereal cloud of butterflies made from blue light. The creature gently glided over to Sunset, and regarded her curiously.

“You’re a friendly thing, aren’t you?” said Sunset. She reached out and placed a hand on its forehead, which was surprisingly warm to the touch. Her geode glowed, and a nugget of information dropped directly into her mind.

Sunset pulled her hand away. “Lorwyn? I’m on a plane called Lorwyn?”

The fish let out a satisfied chirp. Its eyes twinkled, and another piece of information crawled into Sunset’s thoughts.

“You’re a mulldrifter,” Sunset said gently. “An elemental spirit of knowledge. But I didn’t touch you that time.” She paused for a moment, mulling the thought over. The creature’s name made perfect sense. “Did you just give that knowledge to me?”

The mulldrifter nodded, cheeping softly. It then vanished, its body scattering into a swarm of butterflies that dissipated into the air.

“No, wait! Come back!” But by then, it was already too late. The mulldrifter had given its life to give its knowledge to Sunset, just as it was made to do. Sunset felt a twinge of sorrow, but she couldn’t bring herself to mourn. The elemental had gotten everything it had wanted in life, after all.

But what of the knowledge that she was on another plane? There was only one possible explanation.

Sunset, somehow, was a planeswalker.

It didn’t seem possible. At the very best, it should have been wildly improbable. From what she’d seen of Twilight’s memories, someone receiving a planeswalker spark was an extraordinarily rare occurrence, and having that spark ignite was even more exceedingly uncommon. The odds that both herself and Twilight could possess a spark would have been astronomically low.

Or perhaps she was thinking about it the wrong way. She and Twilight held their share of similarities, after all, and the most sensible explanation came to her easily. Both she and Twilight had been Princess Celestia’s student at some point in their pasts. They had both been chosen, she realized, because they both held the same potential. Sunset had been replaced by the first pony Celestia could find with the spark.

A tension built up within Sunset’s chest, and she couldn’t rightly figure out why. Except she knew exactly why. Except no, she didn’t. No matter what the voice in her head kept trying to tell her.

Sunset sighed. Now wasn’t the time to start dwelling on the past. She scanned the horizon for any landmarks, anything that she could use to help navigate this strange new world. She found it in a small, lonely mountain in the distance, jutting out from the landscape and covered in green foliage. From its peak, she could easily map out the surrounding lands.

Resolve poured itself into her body, and she began her journey to her new destination. Only time would tell what she would find.


The sun was already halfway to the edge of the horizon by the time Sunset had reached the mountain, and already the thought of nightfall made her nervous. The magic of Lorwyn’s sun was especially powerful, and the feeling it left on her skin as the day grew closer to her namesake changed, growing less warm and pleasant the further it grew to evening.

At the very least, she could find a suitable shelter from her vantage point atop the mountain. And what a mountain it was: small by any mountainside’s standards, yet at the same time tall and imposing, covered with so much green that its entire surface was enveloped in moss and grass. It was also strangely lumpy in shape, far from the rocky crag she had expected it to be from a distance. Come to think of it, she couldn’t even see any stone at all.

As she reached out to climb the mountain, the reason why became clear. Her geode pulsed, and she felt the familiar sensation of being pulled into another mind. Before she could even get a clear look at the memory, she pulled her hand away, shrieking in surprise as she fell onto her hindquarters.

What she had tried to climb wasn’t a mountain. It was something else. Something alive.

The ground rumbled as the giant landmass shifted and moved, and Sunset was suddenly very glad that she hadn’t had anything to drink in the past several hours. Her body shook and trembled as a giant, grassy visage turned around and faced her.

“Well, hello there, dearie.” The giant’s voice boomed, but it was far softer than Sunset expected for a creature of her size. “There’s no need to be afraid, little one. I promise I won’t hurt you.”

Sunset tried to get a grip on her body’s shaking. There was no chance of running, not against a being with strides undoubtedly larger than a football field. “W-w-what are you?”

“My name is Rosheen Meanderer,” said the giant. “Tell me, would you like to hear a story?”

Sunset nodded silently. She had a feeling her answer wouldn’t really matter regardless. It wasn’t wise to turn down someone who could squish you with a finger.

A smile cracked its way across Rosheen’s face. “Once upon a time,” she started, “the plane of Lorwyn was very different from the plane that you see today. It was a plane where all things had only one nature, where the sunrise and sunset where naught but times of day. But all of that changed when the faerie queen’s ambitions grew bolder.

“Oona, having ruled over the fae of Lorwyn for millennia, sought more. She wished to rule not merely her own subjects, but the very fabric of the world, and even the day and night itself. From her secluded glen, she weaved a web of powerful enchantments that transformed Lorwyn to suit her will, shaping it into her own image. But as the enchantments grew stronger, the world began to fall out of balance. All that is began to split in two, each soul developing two sides that would spend their waking hours fighting each other for supremacy of the body. Rather than lose control of the world she desired, Oona instead split the very plane in two, stabilizing its existence into two parallel worlds. Lorwyn, a world of eternal daylight, and Shadowmoor, a world of eternal night.”

A godlike monarch named Oona, whose powerful ambitions had created a world of eternal night. Something about that sounded familiar, but Sunset couldn’t quite put her finger on what. By then her body had stopped trembling, and she sat up, giving the giant her full attention.

“Every few centuries, a powerful magic called the Great Aurora swept through the land,” Rosheen continued. “It turned one world into the other, along with every one of its inhabitants. Souls that were kind and gentle in Lorwyn became vicious and cruel in Shadowmoor, and vice-versa. And every time the plane transformed, none but a precious few held any memories of the life they had before the Aurora transformed them. But despite Oona’s ambitions, even the Great Aurora began to slip out of her control. In her desperation, she began hurriedly plotting schemes to retain her rule over the nature of the plane. Oona grew reckless, and in her recklessness, she allowed a group of unlikely heroes to defeat her once and for all. Without her, the Aurora vanished, and Lorwyn and Shadowmoor became one once more.”

Sunset stared at Rosheen with wide eyes, utterly enraptured by her story. And yet, there was something else that bothered her. “But what about the sun?”

“The sun?” said Rosheen. “What about it, dearie?”

“The sun. I can feel its magic,” said Sunset. “And I can feel it getting darker the closer it gets to the horizon. Not just physically, but magically. What’s with that?”

Rosheen’s massive eyes swam slightly. “Ah, that. Well, dearie, just because the Aurora is gone doesn’t mean its influence isn’t still felt. A magic that powerful doesn’t simply go away without leaving a lasting mark on the world. Though Lorwyn is no longer transformed by the rising and setting of the sun, every time it dips below the horizon, people begin to change. Negative feelings grow much more powerful after nightfall. Anger, resentment, and hatred are magnified tenfold. You had best learn to accept such feelings, or they’ll end up ruling you.”

Sunset’s body tensed. “Excuse me? And just what is that supposed to mean?”

Rosheen chuckled gently. “That, I’m afraid, you will have to figure out for yourself. Would you like to hear another story? I have quite a few more to share.”

Sunset shook her head, and propped herself back onto her feet. “Thank you, miss Meanderer, but I really do have to be going.”

“Any time, little one,” said Rosheen. “You feel free to come visit me again whenever you wish.”

Sunset didn’t count on it. Lorwyn’s sun was already nearly at the horizon by the time Rosheen’s story had finished. And one thing was certain, she didn’t want to be around when nightfall happened. Not if what the giant had said to her was true.

Of course, not being around was easier said than done. Sunset didn’t even know the first thing about Lorwyn, or about planeswalking in general. The moment her spark had ignited, she was overcome with so much anguish, so much inner turmoil, that she had barely even noticed the power that had burned inside of her. She didn’t remember what it felt like to planeswalk, or how she would even begin to call upon that magic.

Panic began to set in as she considered just how lost she truly was. There was so little she understood about Lorwyn, so little she knew about the multiverse. Her breaths quickened, and she broke out into a run, hoping that if she covered enough distance, she might find an answer. Maybe another mulldrifter would give it to her, maybe she would find it somewhere else.

Sunset didn’t know how long she had been running for, and the meadow seemed to stretch on infinitely in all directions. Either way, a sudden chill down her spine, paired with a darkening of the sky, informed her that it was too late. Brilliant red and gold painted the horizon, and sunset turned to see Lorwyn’s sun lowering itself below the edge of the world.

And then, in a flash of light, everything vanished.





......Strange. I didn’t feel any different. When I opened my eyes, nothing at all had changed. I was standing in the same perfect meadow I had been standing in before, only now there wasn’t any sun hanging over it. That old lady had said something about my anger being intensified during nightfall, but that wasn’t the case at all. I was always angry, but I certainly didn’t feel any more so than before.

But then I noticed something. My thoughts felt different. There was nothing resisting them, nothing pushing them back into the corner of my own mind I had been trapped in for so long. I felt... well, free.

Slowly, I turned my head down. That alone should have confirmed it, but I decided to it take another step further. I commanded my body to raise my hands, and wriggle my own fingers before my eyes. Sure enough, my body obeyed, and I watched as the human digits danced in front of my vision.

A sudden lightness made its way into my chest. I felt absolutely giddy with excitement. Why wouldn’t I be? I was free. For the first time ever since the Fall Formal, I was free. Happiness was an unfamiliar feeling to me, but I felt so happy that I could burst into laughter at any moment.

Of course, like all good things that have ever happened to me, it didn’t last. I heard a voice in my mind, her voice, a voice much like my own. Yet though we sounded exactly alike, she couldn’t have been more different from me.

W-what? What’s going on?

Oh, of course. Of freaking course. She just had to be here, too, didn’t she? It wasn’t enough that she’d stolen everything from me, no. She didn’t even have the decency to leave me alone once I got it all back.

Why are you in my body? Who ARE you?

Be quiet, you. I don’t want to hear your stupid voice. And to answer your question, I’m Sunset Shimmer. The real Sunset Shimmer. You were never anything more than an annoying little goody-two-shoes voice in the back of my head. That is, until the Elements of Harmony gave you an identity of your own, and proceeded to hand you control over every single goddamned aspect of my life.

I-I don’t understand! Somebody help! P-please, I’m so scared!

Shut up. Just shut up. I hate you, and if it weren’t for Twilight and Celestia, I’d hate you more than anyone in the entire multiverse. So keep your mouth shut, because if you distract me from my goals, I won’t hesitate to destroy you, too. It doesn’t even matter that you’re in my own mind, push me far enough and I will find a way.

Thankfully, that damned parasite calling herself me didn’t bother to respond after that. I guess she knew her place after all. Still, even with her keeping quiet, I faced something of a dilemma. Namely, that I was still trapped on Lorwyn. I knew what I wanted, where I wanted to be, but I had no idea how to get it. It was frustrating. Aggravating. Downright infuriating.

But no, I couldn’t let that get to me. Rage defined me, rage was me, but I couldn’t let my own nature blind me to my ambitions. One way or another, I would to return to Equestria. I would find Celestia, and I would pay her back tenfold for all of the pain I was forced to endure when she turned her back on me. I would find Twilight, and make her pay for stealing the title and wings that were rightfully mine. My entire being became one with a singular goal, filling every crevasse of my body and soul with determination. I would make them suffer for what they did to me.

And then, the way back to Equestria became clear. I don’t know how it happened, the path simply appeared to me in my mind. Maybe my unstoppable will had forced the multiverse to give me what I wanted. Maybe I’d known all along on some unconscious level. Either way, it didn’t matter.

I called upon my newly-understood abilities, and planeswalked away. Soon, all of Equestria would bow before its true master.


Sunset the Exiled 4BR

Legendary Planeswalker — Sunset

+1: Sunset the Exiled deals 2 damage to target player. That player discards a card.
-2: Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gets +2/+0 and gains haste and menace until end of turn.
-7: Create a legendary 7/7 black and red Demon Avatar creature token with flying, first strike, haste, deathtouch, and indestructible named Sunset, She-Demon.


Game of Chaos

View Online

When I arrived, I found myself standing on four hooves, possessing the same body I was born with. It was a strange feeling, being a unicorn again: I’d become so used to being a human that the experience almost felt entirely alien. Either way, what mattered was that I was back in Equestria.

Now, where in Equestria I was, I didn’t know, but it was a start. I appeared to be on a dirt road in the middle of a large grassy plain. In the distance to the north I could see the Canterhorn mountain, but the real object of my interest lay in the town to the south of it, and the gleaming crystal castle that towered above it all. I was only about ten miles away from Ponyville, from the looks of it, and by my own estimate I would be able to reach there on hoof in about three and a half hours.

Walking along the road was a boring endeavor, but steady progress was better than no progress. Finally, well after what had to have been midnight, I arrived in Ponyville. There was not a single soul to be seen on the streets, and all but a scant few lights were left on in the windows. That said, I didn’t need much light to get a good look at Twilight’s Castle. It was... well, ‘gaudy’ was the first word that came to mind. Even at nighttime, when there was very little light reflected on it, it was almost sickeningly bright. The crystals were jarring and clashed heavily with the other buildings, not even coming close to matching the other colors of the town. And Twilight calls this display of utter tackiness her home?

Oh, good lord, I’m starting to turn into Rarity.

It was already late into the night, probably so late that it was already early morning. I could have just snuck into the castle right then and attacked while Twilight’s sleeping, but that would be far too unsatisfying. No, I wanted to take a moment to savor my revenge. I wanted to make it really hurt. That meant I had to be careful, I had to be methodical. An idea already began forming within my mind. I walked up to the massive crystal door, and loudly knocked, hoping that it would at least get someone’s attention.

After what felt like several minutes of knocking, the door creaked open. A very familiar-looking dragon stood behind it, his eyes only barely held open. Funny, a part of me actually expected him to start barking at the door.

“You’d better have a good reason for waking me—whoa! Sunset Shimmer!”

I’ll admit, seeing the look on his face when he recognized me was kind of hilarious. I managed to put on the best friendly smile I could muster. Something told me I’d be doing a lot of acting in the near future.

“Hi, Spike. Do you think I could talk to Twilight? It’s a long story, but I, uh, think I might be a planeswalker. I’m going to need her advice on a few things.”

Spike’s mouth moved silently, trying to process whatever response he’d come up with. His little brain probably couldn’t handle such a revelation this late at night, the poor thing. “Geez... I dunno, she’s definitely asleep right now, and I don’t think I’d want to wake her up. Why don’t you come in and stay the night? I’m sure Twilight would like to talk to you in the morning.”

Sleep was probably a good idea, actually. I was so determined to locate Twilight that I hadn’t even noticed how much my body was clamoring for rest. The longer I thought about sleep, the more I felt the painful aching in my muscles. Before long, my entire body was screaming at me to go lie down for the night.

“Yeah,” I managed to speak through a yawn, “now that you mention it, sleep sounds good right about now.”

Spike led me indoors, and before long I was dragging my hooves up the stairs, through the massive crystalline corridors and into one of the many guest rooms. It was a simple room with simple furnishings and a single bed, but it was certainly nicer than my old apartment in the human world. Granted, I was squatting there, so I couldn’t complain too much, but still.

I lay myself down on the bed, but not before casting a spell on myself to suppress rapid eye movement. I’d never met Princess Luna in person, but I wasn’t eager to have a dream she could waltz into, especially not if my subconscious mind decided to reveal my true intentions.

Before long, I found myself drifting into a deep, peaceful sleep.


I was woken up to the sound of a gentle tapping on the door. My eyes pried open to find the morning sun gently pouring through the window. I was still groggy, but felt well-rested at the very least.

“Mmmgh... come in,” I managed to articulate.

The door slowly opened to reveal Starlight Glimmer, smiling eagerly as she entered. She looked absolutely overjoyed to see me, it almost made me feel bad that I was going to destroy her mentor. Almost.

“Sorry to bother you,” she said. “But when I heard you were back in Equestria, I had to see for myself. It’s so great to get a chance to see you again!”

“You too,” I mumbled, crawling out of my bed. I wasn’t much a morning pony, but I could fake it half-convincingly.

“Well, good thing you’re awake now, because you’re just in time! Spike says he made a special breakfast just for you.”

“Thanks,” I said. I briefly looked in the mirror to check my mane. It was a bit unkempt, but I could brush it later. A rumble from my stomach reminded me that food was my first priority.

As I followed Starlight down the stairs, a twinkle of curiosity appeared in her eye. “So, I heard you’re a planeswalker now?”

“Yeah,” I reply. “It’s a long story, but I ended up discovering it yesterday. I came here to see if I could travel back to Equestria without the Magic Mirror.”

“Seems like it worked out pretty well, didn’t it?” Starlight replied. “Oh, do you know what this means? It means you and I will have even more chances to see each other!”

That almost certainly wasn’t going to happen, but for the sake of maintaining my facade I decided to humor her. “Yeah, it’s... great. So where’s Twilight, anyway?”

“Oh, her?” said Starlight. “I’m pretty sure she’s in the library right now. She said she wanted to bring some notes in case you had any questions about planeswalking.”

Yeah, that sounded like Twilight, all right. “I just hope she doesn’t bring the entire library with her,” I joked.

Starlight let out a giggle. “I know, right?”

Before long, we’d made our way into the dining room. Four spaces had already been set out at the central table, with plates utensils, and a napkin before each of the four chairs. As I sat myself down, Spike entered with a massive plate of... bacon? That couldn’t be right. The table, thankfully, was low enough that he could set the plate down in the center without a problem.

“Ta-dah!” he proclaimed. “In commemoration of your return to Equestria, I prepared for you the most fitting breakfast I could think of! A plate of the world’s finest apple-smoked hay bacon, made just for you!”

Oh. That would explain it. Somehow I’d forgotten that ponies have hay-based substitutes for certain meats. You know, maybe I’ve been spending too much time as a human. “Thanks, Spike. It looks good.” I paused, as a sudden realization weighed down on me. “Hold on, bacon? Is this because of my mane?”

Spike laughed nervously. “W-well, yeah. It’s just your mane looks kind of like, uh... I just thought...”

Ugh, that little twerp. I tried to make sure my annoyance didn’t show on my face. “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure it’s delicious. Thank you, Spike.”

“You’re welcome!” said Spike. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some cleaning up to do in the kitchen. Be sure to save some for me!”

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as Spike left. I’ll admit, though, the hay bacon did look delicious. It probably wasn’t as good as real bacon, of course, but I wasn’t about to say it. As hilarious as it would be to see ponies’ reactions to me admitting I’d developed a taste for meat, I didn’t need that kind of attention right now. A teal aura surrounded a piece of hay bacon as I levitated it to my mouth. In a few very satisfying bites, it was gone.

As I finished the bacon strip, I noticed that Starlight Glimmer was staring at me strangely. In fact, she seemed downright perplexed. It... made me feel uneasy, for some reason. Why was she looking at me like that? Did I do something wrong? Does she suspect something?

“Um... what’s the matter?” I said.

“Oh!” Starlight blinked, as though my words had suddenly shaken her out of a trance. “Right! Sorry! I didn’t mean to stare. I just got confused for a second. For a moment I almost thought your magic was the wrong color. Crazy, huh?”

Suddenly, my entire body froze. I could feel my heart drop into the pit of my stomach. Memories were called to my mind, memories of a time when I was only a spectator to my own life.

It was the parasite. That damned parasite. When she first met Starlight Glimmer, her magic took a deep red color, a stark contrast the teal hue of my own aura. She might have sounded like me, she might have looked like me, but her magic couldn’t hide what she really was. An impostor in my own skin, forcing me to watch helplessly as my body did things outside of my control. I could vividly recall all the hours I spent screaming in horror, desperately crying out in the hopes that something would notice me and rescue me from the prison of my own mind.

And then the memories were pushed away by the sound of my own voice, coming from inside my head. It sobbed desperately, its every word wracked with sorrow.

I... I’m sorry! I’m not an impostor, I-I... I-I just wanted to live my life... I didn’t know...

Are you... are you pitying me, parasite? If so, I don’t want to hear it. Only now have you even begun to understand what you did to me. You can’t take that back now.

I quickly returned to the conversation in the real world, turning my attention back to Starlight Glimmer before she could notice I was withdrawing into my own thoughts. “My magic?”

Starlight shrugged. “Eh, I’m probably just misremembering things.”

A short yet heavy breath escaped my lips. I felt like I’d just barely dodged a bullet aimed straight for my heart. Thankfully, no other pony had seen the red magic aura coming from that thing piloting my body, so my real aura probably wouldn’t appear strange to them. Still, I might have to be more careful around Starlight. I may even have to limit the use of my own telekinesis. Everyone will probably just figure I’m more used to moving things with my actual limbs.

I’d eaten almost a dozen more strips of hay bacon by the time I’d decided I had my fill. There were many, many more left on the plate, and while they were quite good, I wasn’t really here for the food. No, my true interest lay elsewhere.

My ears swiveled as the door to the dining room opened, and I turned to face the mare I’d been waiting for. Twilight Sparkle, the so-called Princess of Friendship. The one who took the life that should have been mine. As pretty as she was, I could barely bring myself to look at her directly. It had taken all the willpower I could muster to maintain a friendly appearance. She’d get her comeuppance soon enough.

“Oh my gosh, Sunset! I’m so glad to see you!” She levitated several different books at once as she approached me.

With some effort, I was able to put on a fake smile. “You too. So, I take it you brought some notes along?”

A blush appeared on Twilight’s face. It was... honestly, it was kind of adorable. How could someone I hate so much be so cute? I swear I don’t even know what my feelings are doing sometimes.

“I, uh, wanted to make sure I had enough to cover the basics,” said Twilight. “Oh, this is so exciting! To think, you’d be a planeswalker, too! There’s so much I can show you now!”

“Maybe you should put down the books until after breakfast,” I suggested. “I don’t think you’d want to get bacon grease on them, would you?”

Twilight gave a slight giggle. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’ll go set these down. Be back in a moment!”

Still levitating the books in her telekinetic grasp, Twilight happily trotted out the door. I instinctively averted my eyes as she turned her backside to me.

As she left, I had a sneaking suspicion that I was blushing.


Twilight and Spike shortly joined us for breakfast, and any strips of hay bacon that were left were quickly devoured by them both. I’d expected a dragon to have the most voracious appetite, but was utterly astonished to see Twilight practically vacuum down most of them. I guess it would make sense for alicorns to have an incredibly hyperactive metabolism, but it still came as a shock.

After our meal, I joined Twilight in the library, where she happily conversed about the basics of planeswalking. I wasn’t really paying attention to most of it, to be honest. Planeswalking didn’t matter to me. No, what mattered was getting her back for stealing the wings I deserved and ruining all of my plans. Anger bubbled up within my chest as she continued her dreadfully boring lesson. I didn’t like inhibiting myself, but I couldn’t show that rage to her. Not yet. She’d see the real me soon enough.

That said, there was one part of the lesson that I did take interest in, shortly after I described my first planeswalking experience on Lorwyn. I had to omit a few details, of course, and I was careful not to tell her the situation that caused my spark to ignite before that. I didn’t want to reveal too much about my situation, after all.

“Wait,” said Twilight, “you were still a human when you planeswalked?”

“Well, yeah,” I replied. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“The transformative magic that surrounds this plane is only temporary,” said Twilight. “As soon as you leave, you’ll revert to your default form. I’d figured it was the same way for Anthropia.”

“Maybe the magic surrounding Anthropia is stronger?” I suggested.

“That’s doubtful,” said Twilight. “The plane has so little natural mana that sustaining a world-spanning enchantment with a permanent effect would be nearly impossible. I think the real reason is that you were in Anthropia for such a long time.”

Yikes. I wasn’t sure I liked where this was going. “What do you mean?”

“Well, normally a temporary transformative effect like the one surrounding Anthropia would only affect the body,” Twilight explained. “But if you spend long enough under its influence, that magic will begin seeping into the soul as well. Basically, you’ve spent so long being magically transformed into a human that your soul itself started becoming human as well. Until you can find a way to change your soul back to a pony’s, being a human is now your default state.”

Suddenly, it felt as though a weight was pressing down on my body. What Twilight had just told me was disturbing, to say the least. I never really stopped seeing myself as a unicorn on the inside, but apparently reality itself now disagreed with me on that. Then again, I did start to notice after a while that I used human phrases and mannerisms much more easily than I did before. I don’t think I’ve even thought the word ‘everypony’ since I came back to Equestria.

Twilight seemed to notice the discomfort that was plainly written on my face. “Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry, Sunset. I didn’t think about how uncomfortable the idea of being permanently human must have made you.”

“There’s no need to apologize, Twilight.” Really, there wasn’t. The absolute last thing I wanted was anyone’s pity, much less hers.

“If you say so,” said Twilight. “Just let me know if I say anything else that makes you uncomfortable, alright?”

“Yeah, sure,” I mumbled. A thought suddenly popped up, one that nearly made my hair stand on end. “Wait, you haven’t told Princess Celestia that I’m here, have you?”

“Don’t worry. I won’t tell her if you don’t want me to,’ Twilight reassured. “I know you’ve had a difficult history with her, and I wouldn’t force you to see her again before you’re ready.”

I breathed out a sigh of relief. “Well, thanks for that, I guess.”

A noise came from the library door as it pushed itself open. Not one second later, Starlight Glimmer came rushing in, eyes wide. “Twilight, I think something’s wrong with the Magic Mirror! I went to check on, and it’s gone completely dark! It won’t even show my reflection!”

What!?” Twilight exclaimed.

My body went cold. Shit. This isn’t good. This is really, really, not good. If she finds out the other side of the portal was gone, she could start to suspect something was up. I had to come up with an excuse, an alibi, something.

“W-wait!” I blurted out. My outcry immediately drew everyone else’s attention. “I, uh... might have had something to do with that, actually.”

Twilight turned to me, the glare in her eyes making it clear that, whatever I was going to say, she wasn’t going to like it. Isn’t it just like her to be judgmental? God, I hate her so much. “Sunset, what did you do?”

“Um, well... You remember how you said to me that if magic continued to leak through the Mirror, it could have a profound and potentially negative effect on Anthropia?”

“Yes, I do,” said Twilight. “But I don’t see what that has to do with—” She stopped her sentence in its tracks, and her eyes went wide with epiphany. “Oh, no. Don’t tell me...”

“I destroyed the portal on the other end,” I admitted. It was probably not the best lie to tell, but it was all I could come up with. “I figured I wouldn’t need it anymore now. Right?”

Both of the other ponies immediately cried out in unison. “You what!?

“Hey, don’t look at me like that!” I shot back. “We already know people in Anthropia are getting magic that they shouldn’t thanks to it leaking through the Mirror. I was almost trapped in a pocket dimension for all eternity, for crying out loud!”

Twilight’s teeth gritted, and a loud groan escaped her throat. “Sunset! That’s... ugh! I still had a ton of research to do on the Mirror! I can’t believe you’d do something like that!”

Starlight’s ears folded back against her head. Her eyes wobbled, as though she were on the verge of tears. “I... I was planning on taking Trixie to the human world someday. I guess I’ll never get a chance now...” She glumly stepped away and retreated into the hallway.

It took all the effort I could muster not to gag at the sentimentality. Trust me, you two will have a lot more to be worrying about than the Mirror. Either way, I had to think of a way to defuse the situation. If Twilight kept getting angry at me, it was only a matter of time before my guise crumbled and I exploded at her with all the spite I could muster. I couldn’t afford to be so reckless. Thankfully, I already had a plan.

“You know,” I said, “you’re pretty cute when you’re angry.”

Any remaining anger on Twilight’s face vanished. Her entire face stared back in blank surprise, looking as though she’d just been slapped. “I... thanks?” was all she could bring herself to utter.

For once, what I’d said wasn’t a lie. Twilight really was the cutest mare I’d ever laid eyes upon. If I didn’t so thoroughly despise her, I might have asked her on a date. For now, I’d settle on relishing the absolutely priceless look on her face.

A sly grin crept its way across my muzzle. “You’re welcome. You know, I’ve been eager to meet some of your friends here. Why don’t you introduce me to them?”

Twilight’s eyes darted about the room, as though looking for the first excuse to escape the awkward situation. “Um... yeah. That’s probably a good idea.”


As we walked into the town, it suddenly occurred just how large Ponyville really was. Sure, it wasn’t exactly a small town by any means, but the streets were so packed with different ponies going about their everyday lives that it was virtually unrecognizable from the empty streets in the middle of the night. I had to wonder if there were this many ponies living here before Twilight’s castle appeared; I’d imagine houses within view of the castle would be prime real estate, as ugly as the castle was.

“Rarity’s boutique is the closest from here, so we’ll visit her first,” said Twilight, trotting alongside me. “Although, if I know Pinkie Pie, she’ll probably find us both before we get there.”

“Yeah, that sounds like Pinkie, alright,” I said. “Her human counterpart always did seem to know whenever someone new was at school.”

Ohmigosh! Sunset, you’re here!”

Gah!” I jumped back as a pony-shaped blob of pink appeared just before my eyes, seemingly out of nowhere. Pony or human, Pinkie always managed to be predictably unpredictable, as contradictory as that sounds. “Hi, Pinkie.”

“It’s so great to see you!” said Pinkie. “I mean, you’ve probably seen me a whole bunch, but then again it wasn’t really me me, but now that you’re here we can have so much fun together!”

“Let me guess,” I said, “you want to throw me a party?”

Pinkie nodded so rapidly that I swear I could hear her brain rattling around in her skull. “Yup! Although...” She paused, a pulled out a notepad from... from... well, from somewhere. A small crease appeared on her brow as she squinted at whatever was written down on it. “Now that I think about it, it looks like I’m going to be busy with catering and other party planning services for the rest of the week. I’m really, really sorry, but do you think you could wait until this Saturday?”

Saturday, huh? Today was Monday, so that would give me plenty of time. “Sure thing,” I said. “I was planning on staying here for a while, anyway.”

Twilight gave me a disapproving look. “Don’t you have school to attend?”

I let out a small laugh. “Twilight, I’m not even technically a real student at Canterlot High. All of my legal documentation is forged, everyone else just sort of went along with it. Trust me, I’ll be fine.”

Twilight shook her head. “I just hope your education doesn’t suffer because of this...”

“I’ll be fine, Twilight,” I repeated. “And I’ll be looking forward to this party of yours, Pinkie.”

“Don’t you worry! I’ll be sure to make it the best party you’ve ever had! I’ll see you then!” Pinkie cheerfully hopped away, bouncing with a noise that almost made her sound like a spring.

Though I didn’t say anything out loud, inwardly I let out a groan. This Pinkie seemed to be even more capable of doing unexplainable things than her counterpart, and that could be difficult to deal with if I wasn’t careful. More and more I was feeling like I was in over my head. But I wouldn’t give up. I would either have my revenge or die trying.

Twilight led me closer and closer to what I presumed was the location of Rarity’s boutique. As we walked, she was greeted by the friendly faces of numerous ponies, all of whom seemed eager to say hello. Everyone loved her, it seemed. Everyone adored her for being a princess, for becoming the one thing that I’d always wanted to be. I seethed silently with every step, each passing wave and hello rubbing more salt into a wound that had never had the chance to heal. Throughout it all, I was only made more determined to get back at Twilight. I would destroy her. I would end her.

I was so caught up in my own well of rage that I almost didn’t notice when a pegasus loudly crashed into the ground directly in front of us. A grey mare with a yellow mane and a collection of bubbles for her cutie mark, carrying a satchel that looked to be full of letters. Just what kind of post office would hire a mailpony that crashes like that?

As she stood to her feet, the mailpony looked at me with a pair of eyes that refused to stay pointed in the same direction. I had the strange feeling I’d seen her counterpart before, but I couldn’t recall where. Probably one of those unimportant humans that was just kind of there in the background.

“Oh, hello Ditzy,” said Twilight. “How’s everything going?”

Ditzy shook her head vigorously, and her eyes became slightly more steady, though still not entirely straight. “Pretty good, thanks. I was just on my usual delivery route.” She turned to look at me. “So, who’s your friend?”

“Oh, that’s right!” said Twilight. “You probably don’t know her, do you? This is Sunset Shimmer. Sunset, meet Ditzy Doo.”

“Nice to meet you, Sunset,” said Ditzy.

“You too,” I said, offering a hoof. She grabbed it and gave me a hoofshake so powerful that it very nearly tore my leg off. For such an obvious klutz, Ditzy was impressively strong.

“Actually, now that you’re here, there’s something I was wondering about,” said Twilight. “Sunset’s from Equestria, but she’s also a planeswalker like me. Do you know where Time Turner is, by any chance?”

Doctor Time Turner,” Ditzy insisted. She paused, and a frown crossed her face. “Wait, did I really just say that? Shoot, now he’s even got me doing it! Anyway, I don’t know where the Doctor is. He said he’ll be gone until Saturday. Something about a field trip in another time stream.”

Twilight and I turned towards each other. I was relieved to see that she was just as confused by that statement as I was. “Time stream?” said Twilight. “You mean like an alternate timeline?”

“I wouldn’t know,” said Ditzy. “And honestly, at this point I’ve learned it’s better not to ask. Anyway, I should really be going. I have a lot of mail to deliver.” A few wingbeats, and she took to the sky, waving back even as she wobbled slightly in the air. “Bye, Twilight!”

“See you later, Ditzy!” Twilight called back. “Well shoot, I was hoping I’d be able to introduce you to Time Turner. He could tell you so many things about planeswalking that I couldn’t.”

I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at that statement. “He’s a planeswalker, too?”

Twilight beamed. “That’s right! He’s been doing it for a lot longer than I have. In fact, he’s just about as old as Princess Celestia herself! Just think of what you could learn from him!”

Just as old as— No, that couldn’t be right. Princess Celestia was more than twelve hundred years old. Assuming there wasn’t another alicorn I hadn’t heard about, there’s no way he could be that old. Unless...

...unless this ‘Time Turner’ was someone far more powerful than I could hope to be on my own. Judging by his name, he was likely a chronomancer, and that by itself was a bad sign. Chronomancy was the single most advanced and dangerous form of magic known to equinity, and someone skilled enough at chronomancy to specialize in it could stomp me into paste before I even had a chance to move. A tingle of panic began to run down my spine. I only had until the end of the week before he returned. If I was going to pull off my revenge scheme, I had to work quickly.

But if there was one thing that was absolute certain in my mind, it was that revenge was coming. One way or another, I’d get what I came here for.


I’d spent the next two days scouting, trying to get to know Twilight’s friends better so I could understand their weaknesses. I’d told Twilight I wanted to spend some time ‘getting to know her friends,’ which in a way was true. I’d spent time trying out clothes with Rarity, watched Rainbow Dash practicing with the Wonderbolts, volunteered at Fluttershy’s animal sanctuary, and even had dinner with Applejack’s family on Tuesday evening. Wednesday was mostly spent in Twilight’s castle, but I did offer to help out Pinkie in Sugarcube Corner. I’d hoped spending time watching her bake would help me understand exactly how she managed to do so many strange things, but I’d come out of it knowing no more about her than I did before. Oh, well, it was worth a shot. Thursday, however, was the day I’d been waiting for. That was the day that Fluttershy had scheduled a tea party with Discord, which I’d offered to join.

Now, Discord... Discord was something else. Twilight had told me of all of her adventures through the journal, and Discord was easily the one being I was most afraid of. While likely not omnipotent, his magical powers seemed to have limits above and beyond anything that any pony could hope to accomplish. He could undo all of my plans with just a snap of his fingers. That’s why I’d quickly decided that I needed to take him out of the picture first.

When Thursday evening came around, I’d found myself sitting at Fluttershy’s dining room table. Her cottage was the very definition of ‘cozy,’ possibly the single most picturesque house I’d ever seen in my life. Its interior looked like something you would see out of an especially sappy greeting card. Fluttershy hummed gently to herself as she poured tea out of a pastel-colored teapot, into three matching soft pink teacups, before passing them out to each of us. Sitting on a plate in the center of the table were an assortment of bite-sized sandwiches, cut diagonally with the crusts carefully removed.

I held onto the teacup with a hoof and gently sipped from it. The tea was so weak that it barely tasted any different from boiled water, but I tried to hide my distaste. Discord, meanwhile, levitated the out of his cup as a glob of floating liquid. The tea separated itself into thin horizontal slices, and Discord grabbed onto one and popped it into his mouth. The way the tea-slice crunched as he chewed on it made it sound like he was eating a potato chip.

“It’s so nice of you to join us for tea, Sunset,” said Fluttershy, gently holding her own cup. She sipped her tea gently, so gently that it didn’t look like she was drinking any of it at all.

“It’s no problem at all,” I replied. “I’ve always wanted to meet Discord, myself.”

Discord popped another tea-chip into his mouth. This time, it made a sound like a miniature thunderclap as he chewed, sending small sparks of static between his teeth. “It certainly is a rare pleasure to meet someone from the world beyond the Magic Mirror,” said Discord. “I don’t think I’ve ever visited before, now that I mention it. Perhaps I’ll pop over and say hello sometime.”

A loud cough escaped my throat. The mere thought of Discord showing up at school very nearly made me spit out my drink. “That, uh... won’t be necessary. Trust me.”

Discord shrugged. “Well, if you insist. But if you ever want to make things a little bit more interesting, you know who to call.” The sunlight glinted off his teeth as he shot me a snaggletoothed grin.

“Don’t count on it,” I replied. Once I was done with him it wouldn’t matter. “Anyway, Fluttershy, do you have a bathroom I could use?”

Fluttershy nodded. “Of course. It’s just up the stairs, and to the left.”

“Thank you, Fluttershy,” I said. I made my way to the door at the edge of the dining room and turned the corner. I wasn’t planning on going to the bathroom, obviously. I watched from just around the corner, waiting for the right opportunity to strike. Sure enough, that opportunity came.

It didn’t take long for Discord to break out into one of his usual antics. With a snap of his fingers, a drawer opened and set of silverware jumped out, dancing around the table by the handles. Fluttershy giggled as they did their little routine, and then gave a little bow.

That was when I decided to make my move. A subtle touch of magic from my horn. A sudden motion as one of the butter knives flew outward. A painful shriek, and the sound of a body hitting the floor. Discord desperately calling out the name of his best friend.

I turned around the corner, pretending to be surprised by the sudden noise. “What’s going on!?” I shouted.

There, just before me, was the scene I had created. Fluttershy lay unconscious on the floor, her chest bleeding from the butterknife embedded in it. Discord was sobbing his eyes out, barely able to keep his composure enough to stand.

“Sunset!” he called out. “Sunset, oh, thank goodness you’re here! Fluttershy’s life is in danger!”

My mouth hung open, the best impression of shock and horror that I could put on. “Discord... what did you do?”

“Wh-wha... I-I didn’t do anything, I swear! I was just putting on a dancing silverware show, and one of the knives just—”

My eyes narrowed, and I glared at Discord so fiercely that he visibly flinched. “Discord. What. Did. You. Do?

“I...” Discord let out an audible gulp. “I... I don’t know... I just...”

I gritted my teeth and stepped closer, never once letting my eyes off him. It was the perfect image of righteous anger. Not the kind of anger I really felt, but certainly the kind I wanted to show. “Your magic is based on chaos, correct?”

Discord seemed to shrink as I approached. He might have literally been shrinking, but I didn’t care. “I... yes, of course.”

“And can you control chaos?”

“W-well, no,” Discord admitted. “I just sort of... push it in the right direction, I suppose. B-but I never wanted—”

I pointed an accusatory hoof straight at Discord’s chest. “But it doesn’t matter what you want if you don’t control the outcome, does it? Does it? This entire time, you’ve been playing with fire! You’ve been harnessing a power far beyond your control, hoping it wouldn’t backfire and hurt someone you care about!”


“But it was only a matter of time before it did backfire,” I hissed. “Fluttershy’s life is in mortal danger, and it’s all because you were toying around with the forces of chaos! Is that all this is to you? Do you think this is all just some sort of game?”

“W-well, no, but—”

“Just admit it!” I shouted back. “Your magic is a danger to her, and to everyone else! Maybe this whole world would be better off if you just... just disappeared!

Discord suddenly went silent. He closed his eyes tightly as he turned his head toward the ground, a single tear falling from his eye. A single sentence made its way out of his mouth, spoken barely above a whisper.

“...You’re right.”

A change occurred in Discord’s body. Subtle at first, but increasingly noticeable. It became translucent, more and more of the ambient light passing through him. Then it turned fully transparent. Then, it was barely visible at all.

And then, Discord had disappeared completely. He was gone, just as I had planned.

I approached Fluttershy’s body and placed a hoof on her foreleg. Her pulse was steady, despite her injury. That was good. If she were actually in danger of dying, that would ruin my plan before it even started.

I then walked into Fluttershy’s living room, and my eyes drifted towards the telephone. It was a primitive thing, a wall-mounted rotary phone that would have been seventy-five years out of date by Anthropia’s standards. I quickly picked it up and dialed the emergency number.

“H-hello? Can I get an ambulance?”


Discord’s Defeat 1R


Choose target nonenchantment permanent you control and target nonenchantment permanent you don’t control. If the permanent you don’t control is a creature named Discord, Spirit of Chaos, destroy it. Otherwise, destroy one of them at random.

“You’d think chaos incarnate wouldn’t be so predictable.”
— Sunset the Exiled

Fractured Identity

View Online

The room was quiet, save for the sound of the heart monitor steadily beeping. Fluttershy lay unconscious in the bed, the medical equipment closely reading all of her vital signs. Nurse Redheart stood closely by the monitor as she observed it, then turned to face us.

I was joined by Twilight, Spike, Starlight, and the four remaining bearers of the Elements as we stood some distance away from the hospital bed. I could see the heartbreak displayed plainly on everyone’s faces. Applejack had even removed her hat, and was clutching it tightly to her chest.

“Is she going to be okay?” said Rainbow. Her voice quivered slightly. If I knew Rainbow, she was almost certainly trying her hardest not to lose her air of confidence, and she was having a difficult time of that.

“Her condition is stable,” said Nurse Redheart. “She’ll need time to heal, but she should be out of here by the end of the week.”

Everyone else breathed a collective sigh of relief. I’d joined in, if only to keep up my act.

“It’s a good thing you called the emergency line when you did, Sunset,” said Applejack. “Ah’d hate to imagine what would’ve happened if you’d waited a moment longer.”

“But what about Discord?” Rarity added. “Darling, are you sure he just... disappeared? Just like that?”

“He was so overcome with grief at hurting his friend,” I said. I spoke in a way so that I barely choked the words out, as though my throat was dry from sobbing. “I guess he just couldn’t take it. I don’t think he’s gone forever, I just... think he wanted to take some time off to compose himself for a bit.”

As always, my statement was intended as a lie, but I did wonder if there was some truth to it. Tricking Discord into vanishing from existence almost felt too easy, and I actually didn’t know if he was gone for good. I’d have to watch my back in case he decided to return. By then, though, I’d have all the power I needed to deal with him. Hopefully.

“I think that’s all the time we have for visits today,” said Nurse Redheart. “You can come back soon, but for now you should let her rest.”

I followed the others as they left the room. We went our separate ways as we left the hospital, and I followed Twilight, Spike, and Starlight back to the castle.

They didn’t speak much on the way back. Their friend’s injury had no doubt left too much on their minds for conversation.


Twilight had warmed up slightly by the time we had dinner that night, and we’d even managed to make some attempts conversation. She’d told me about some of her adventures while planeswalking, and some of the strange and bizarre things she’d seen. Starlight, meanwhile, seemed content to talk about the things she’d been doing with Trixie recently. I didn’t honestly take Trixie for anyone to make friends, but from the way Starlight described her it seemed like they’d really become close. So close, in fact, I was pretty certain at this point that they were more than just friends. Starlight had also mentioned becoming pen pals with a childhood friend named Sunburst, apparently another orange unicorn with extensive knowledge of magical theory. I guess that would explain why she’d so easily made friends with not-me.

After dinner, I excused myself to my guest room. I wasn’t intending on staying, however. As soon as the door was closed, I opened the window and took a look out at the street below. With the visual plain before me, my horn flared, and I teleported onto the street.

Walking back to the hospital was a simple task, though sneaking in would be somewhat harder, especially since there were still some ponies on the streets. Thankfully, I’d paid enough attention while I was in Fluttershy’s room to note where the window was in relation to the outside. I approached the building from the side, by the same window. After making sure no other ponies were looking, I telekinetically lifted the window open. With another flash, I teleported inside.

The interior of the hospital room was deserted, thankfully. Fluttershy lay on the hospital bed, her chest rising and falling with every breath. The wound where the knife had impaled her had been cleaned and stitched shut, and now all that was left was for her to rest until she was ready to leave. I walked over to her bed and gently poked her in the side with a hoof.

“Wakey, wakey, Fluttershy,” I cooed.

“Uuggghhh...” Fluttershy’s eyelids slowly pried themselves open. She slowly turned her head to me, just barely coherent. “Sunset? What are you doing here?”

“Oh, nothing.” My muzzle cracked open into a grin. Judging by the the ‘eep’ that came from Fluttershy, it certainly wasn’t a nice one. “I just wanted to see the look on your face one last time.”


I didn’t answer. At least, not with words. My mind turned towards a memory of a time long past, when I had broken into the Restricted Section of the Royal Canterlot Library. Despite Princess Celestia’s strict instructions that I was never to go in there, I’d gone in regardless, seeking out the most powerful forbidden magics that I could find. There, in a dark, forgotten tome, was the spell I needed.

A shadow blacker than the darkest of midnights enveloped my horn, and I poured my power into the spell, its arcane might sending shudders of icy cold down my spine. Fluttershy’s mouth opened to scream, but no noise came out. Instead, she convulsed and spasmed, her heart monitor going wild beeping as her body reflexively struggled. Finally, her eyes glazed over, and a transluscent white wisp escaped from her mouth. The wisp spiraled around my horn, and then entered through the tip, embedding itself deep within my own psyche.

Fluttershy’s body lay motionless. The heart monitor remained steady, as though nothing had happened. The spell had the additional effect of preserving the body, so she would live indefinitely in this state, but she certainly would never be the same again.

Then, suddenly, a splitting headache struck me. I clutched my forehead and tried not to scream. Before I knew it, I was doubling over in pain as images pulled themselves to the forefront of my mind.


”Like this, right?”

Sunset watched eagerly as she dropped the tiny crickets one-by-one into the glass enclosure. From a tiny piece of plastic shaped like a log, an even tinier body emerged. Four little legs pattered against the ground, and the gecko’s yellow spotted body seemed to glow beneath the lamplight. Ray flicked his tongue, and each of the crickets disappeared into his hungry maw.

”Aww!” Sunset’s heart practically melted at the sight. She’d never given much thought to the idea of a pet, but something about Ray had her practically doting on him.

”Looks like you’ve got the hang of things. I’m glad you’re enjoying your new animal friend.”

Sunset turned around to see Fluttershy smiling contentedly. “Thanks for coming over to show me how to feed him,” said Sunset. “I’m, uh, pretty new at this animal care stuff.”

”It’s no problem at all,” Fluttershy replied. “I’m always happy to help out a friend.”


Gah! What the hell just happened!?

Ugh, okay, first things first. I have to make sure I’m alright. My head still hurt like crazy, but otherwise I was unharmed. I stood up and found myself in the same hospital room as I was before.

That was so strange. For a moment I really thought I was back on Anthropia, speaking with Fluttershy’s counterpart. But that wasn’t my memory, that was the other me. The one that’s not me. Agh, why am I referring to her as ‘other me’ when she’s not even me at all? She’s nothing but a stupid parasite!

A strange feeling began making its way through my chest. A hollow feeling, something that ate away at me from the inside. I... I felt terrible. Terrible about what I just did. Terrible about what I was going to do. Am I doing something wrong?

No, that’s a stupid question. Of course I’m doing something wrong. What I’m doing is absolutely, irrefutably evil. And you know what? I think I can live with that. If that’s what it takes to get back at Twilight, then so be it.

All of a sudden, I felt a wriggling sensation inside of me. Not within my body, but deeper. It felt good, even soothing in an odd sort of way. I grinned, knowing immediately what it was. Fluttershy’s soul was now held within me, just as I intended. I closed my eyes, relishing in the pleasurable sensations of her struggle, only to be immediately brought out of it by the sound of my own voice.

Fluttershy! What did you do to her!? I... I can hear her voice! She’s crying for help! What did you DO to her!?

You’d better get used to the company, parasite. You’re going to be having a lot more of it.


Fluttershy’s Defeat 2GW


Destroy target artifact, enchantment, or creature with flying. If that permanent is a creature named Fluttershy, Fauna Keeper, prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and creatures you control until your next turn.

“No need to be frightened. Your friends will be joining you soon.”
— Sunset the Exiled


Sunset had quickly come to learn that her own mindscape was not a pleasant place. She perceived it as a dull, grey, featureless chamber, a prison with no apparent entrance or exit, and walls that seemed at once to be both infinitely far away and too cramped to even breathe. At the same time, while she perceived herself as existing within her chamber, all of her senses were linked to those of her body. Everything her other self saw, she saw. Everything her other self experienced, she experienced. And she had no control over any of it. She could only watch helplessly as she was completely isolated from her own body and the outside world.

Most horrifying of all, however, was the knowledge that she’d forced her counterpart to experience exactly the same thing that she was experiencing now. Her other self had proven to be utterly monstrous, but no matter how cruel her actions, Sunset couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Nobody deserved to go through what she was going through, no matter how terrible.

But then there was a new feeling. After her other self cast the terrible spell, Sunset was immediately struck with the sensation that she was no longer alone. A voice called out from beyond the walls, wailing and sobbing uncontrollably.

“S-somepony help! I... I don’t know what’s going on! I... I don’t know where I am... P-Please, I... I’m so scared...”

Sunset’s mental eyes went wide,. “Fluttershy!” she called out, hoping to get her counterpart’s attention. “What did you do to her!? I... I can hear her voice! She’s crying for help! What did you do to her!?”

You’d better get used to the company, parasite. You’re going to be having a lot more of it.

As the sound of her own voice echoed off the grey walls, Sunset went silent. Then, all of a sudden, Fluttershy’s voice called back.

“Sunset? Is... Is that you?”

Though Sunset didn’t strictly have a body within the mental world, she felt a lump forming in her throat. “I-I... I...”

“It’s okay Sunset,” Fluttershy reassured. “I know you weren’t the one who did this. Did that monster trap you here, too?”

“I... Yeah,” said Sunset. “Fluttershy, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I can do...”

A small, muted sniffling sound came from the beyond the walls. “It’s okay if you don’t know. I... I feel better now, knowing that you’re here with me.”

It was a small comfort, but somehow Sunset found Fluttershy’s presence reassuring. “Yeah. Me too. Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to get us out of here. That’s a promise.”

“Really? Y-you mean it?” said Fluttershy.

“Cross my heart and hope to fly.” A Pinkie Promise was not to be made lightly, and Sunset had set her sights keeping it the very moment she spoke it.

The only thing left to do was figure out how.


I managed to sneak back to my own bedroom without incident, but it was becoming increasingly clear that my task would only become more difficult. It wouldn’t be long before Fluttershy’s friends noticed that her soul was missing, and they’d be put on extra-high alert. I could end up being found out very soon. Thankfully, without Fluttershy they had less chance of pulling some magic rainbow nonsense on me at the last minute and blasting me with some kind of friendship-powered laser.

Of course, there was also the matter of Princess Celestia. She didn’t know I was here yet, but she definitely would know as soon as word of Fluttershy’s condition gets out. I’d have to be prepared to deal with her. The problem was, I had no idea how to take care of someone with her power. I definitely wasn’t as strong as she was, as much as I hated to admit it.

...At least, I wasn’t as strong as she was currently. An idea formed in my mind. It was a massive risk, but then again, so was everything else I was doing. And in the end, it would be oh so worth it.

I brought myself to my bed, an lay myself down to sleep. This time, I didn’t bother to try suppressing my dreams.


The last time her double went to sleep, Sunset found the experience supremely disorienting. Though the prison-like mindscape didn’t change, her connection to her body’s perceptions was severed, leaving her awareness entirely within the boundaries of the grey chamber. It was then that she truly came to understand just how trapped she really was.

This time, however, something was different. As her body slipped further and further into sleep, the mindscape shifted. The grey walls spasmed and shuddered, then began expanding outwards. Soon, they’d expanded so far that they seemed to have disappeared altogether. The ground and ceiling both began shifting and changing shape, and before Sunset knew it her surroundings were unrecognizable from the featureless room she once knew.

Sunset had now found herself standing in a meadow in the middle of the night. It was the same meadow she’d found when she first arrived on Lorwyn. Then a voice called out, her counterpart’s voice.

Congratulations, parasite. You’re finally going to make yourself useful.

Sunset blinked. “What? What are you talking about?”

An unearthly roar cut through the air. The ground quaked, and before Sunset could even think to move, an enormous miasma of tentacles, each one made of pure shadow, burst out of the soil. The tentacles seized at Sunset’s body, grabbing her and hoisting her into the air. Each of her legs was wrapped by the shadowed monster, as was her horn. Neither her body nor her magic could resist. With no other option left, she could do nothing but scream.

As fear began overtaking every part of her body, Sunset looked up towards the sky, seeing the bright image of the full moon. It was then that understood what her counterpart was trying to do. From the moon came a pulse of powerful magic, and a graceful alicorn’s figure coalesced into being. Princess Luna descended from the sky, her eyes hardened with determination, as she came down on the nightmarish monster holding Sunset. A glow of Luna’s horn, and the monster vanished into nothing.

Sunset collapsed onto the ground. Despite lacking a body of her own, she felt thoroughly exhausted. A gentle touch of a wing soothed her shuddering form, and she crawled to her hooves to see Luna’s face gazing down sympathetically.

“Are you alright?” said the Princess of the Night.

“You...” Sunset’s words briefly caught on the lump in her mental form’s throat. “...You shouldn’t have come here, Princess.”

Luna smiled back gently. “Nonsense,” she teased. “As the Princess of the Night, it is my duty to protect you from nightmares.”

“N-no, you don’t understand!” Sunset shot back. “This isn’t a nightmare! It’s a trap!”


Luna didn’t even get a chance to respond. A second set of shadowed tentacles burst from the ground, immediately seizing her body and binding all of her limbs. Luna thrashed violently against their influence, but with her horn also enveloped by the dark appendages, her magic was cut off before she could even shape it.

Then there was a flash of light, and another Sunset appeared just before Luna, right by Sunset’s side. Sunset nearly jumped back at the sight of her double, and Luna’s eyes went wide.

The other Sunset’s face opened into a grin wide enough that it nearly split her muzzle open. Her teeth looked poised to kill, despite their herbivorous nature. “I want to thank you both for your cooperation. I’d also like to thank Princess Celestia for teaching me about lucid dreaming. I never thought it would be useful for anything, but... well, here we are.”

Sunset’s counterpart lowered her head, and her horn pulsed with the darkest of dark magic.

“No, stop!” Sunset cried out.

By then, however, it was too late. Princess Luna’s form began to shrink and warp, twisting into a stream of color before disappearing straight into the horn of Sunset’s counterpart. Without any more need for them, the counterpart dismissed the tentacles, dissolving into nothing. Already, Sunset could hear Luna’s muffled cries in the distance, and she know that the Princess of the Night had been imprisoned in the mindscape as well.

Sunset’s body trembled. She met her counterpart’s eyes, her legs quivering. “Why?” she uttered. “Why are you doing this?”

“I think you know exactly why, parasite,” the counterpart shot back. “I’m the one you’ve spent so much time and effort denying, after all.”

A flash of light, and Sunset’s counterpart was gone. The realm shifted and twisted as the grey walls closed back in once again, and Sunset could feel her perceptions reconnecting with those of her own body. Luna’s voice grew louder, loud enough for Sunset to make out.

“Let me out of here at once! You won’t get away with this!”

“Princess Luna?” said Sunset.

You! How dare you speak to me after what you’ve done! You’ll pay for this once I escape!”

“U-um, she’s not the one that imprisoned you here, Princess Luna,” Fluttershy’s voice chimed in. “T-there’s somepony else out there that looks and sounds just like her, but I don’t think it’s really her. Sunset’s just as trapped in here as we are.”

There was a pause before Luna’s voice spoke again. “...Ah. I think I understand. I’m sorry, Sunset, I should have known better. I was once trapped within my own mind as well, until Twilight and her friends had freed me.”

Sunset blinked. “Wait, you don’t mean Nightmare Moon, do you?”

“That I do,” said Luna. “I would assume that your double is born from similar dark magic. Tell me, would you happen to be the Sunset Shimmer that was once my sister’s student?”

“It’s complicated, but... yeah,” Sunset replied. “I think... I think my other self wants revenge. I think she blames Princess Celestia for abandoning her, and Twilight for replacing her. Now that she has your soul under her control, there’s no telling what she’ll try to do... I’ll admit, I’m terrified.”

“It is understandable that you would be frightened,” said Luna. “But you are far from alone. We are here for you, and we will support you no matter what happens.”

“But it’s not me that I’m afraid for,” said Sunset. “And besides, I... I made a promise. I promised I’d help Fluttershy, and I’m going to find a way to help you, too.”

“Thank you, Sunset Shimmer,” Luna replied. “But do not pressure yourself too greatly. Your own well-being should be just as much a concern for you as ours.”

“I... I guess I’ll keep that in mind,” said Sunset. “Thanks, Princess Luna.”


Luna’s Defeat UB


Counter target creature or enchantment spell. If a spell named Luna of the Night is countered this way, its controller puts the top ten cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

“Don’t worry, this is all just a dream. You’ll disappear when I wake up.”
— Sunset the Exiled


As I woke up, I felt the pleasant sensation of another soul inside of me. Luna was far more difficult to restrain, for obvious reasons, but she’d gone down easily thanks to the fact that I’d caught her completely off-guard. She’d definitely put up more of a fight if I didn’t set up a trap, that’s for certain.

Of course, this also meant that I was on an even stricter clock than before. Time Turner was already arriving tomorrow and could likely ruin everything just by himself, but now I’d gone and stolen the soul of one of the highest authorities in Equestria. Princess Celestia would no doubt wake up to find her sister’s soulless body lying somewhere in the castle, and you’d better believe she’d be upset about it.

That left me with a strong chance of getting caught in the act today. If that happened, I’d have to be prepared to fight off not just Twilight and her remaining friends, but Princess Celestia as well. Thankfully, I now had Luna’s magic to draw from if I needed it, so a direct confrontation was much more of an option than it was before. Still, I wanted to avoid that for as long as I could. We’ll just see if I can keep up the facade for the rest of the day.

I slowly climbed out of bed and crawled to my hooves. Then, suddenly, my head was once again struck with unbearable pain. Memories flooded forth into my awareness, engulfing every part of my being.


Sunset Shimmer inhaled deeply as she stepped into Vice Principal Luna’s office. She wasn’t yet aware of the reason she was there, but she had a feeling that she wasn’t there to be congratulated. As she stepped inside, the stern image of a middle-aged woman gazed back, her fingers steepled on her desk.

”Please, have a seat.”

At Luna’s word, Sunset pulled out the chair and sat down on the seat before the Vice Principal’s desk. For many agonizing seconds, slow ticking of the clock was the only sound that could be heard in the room.

”Sunset Shimmer,” said Luna, “do you understand why I have called you here today?”

”No, ma’am,” Sunset responded.

”Then allow me to help you,” said Luna. She reached into a drawer into her desk and pulled out a stack of papers. Most of them were forms of various sorts, but among them Sunset recognized a photocopy of a government-issued birth certificate, and a photocopy of a passport. A shiver ran down Sunset’s spine at the sight. Already she had an idea of where this was going.

”Do you recognize these documents, Sunset?” said Luna.

Sunset’s eyes drew towards the ground. ”...Yes,” she admitted. “They’re the papers I sent to apply for Canterlot High.”

”Indeed they are,” said Luna. Her gaze narrowed, seeming to bore directly into Sunset’s soul. “And from what I can tell, all of this information is forged, including your fake birth certificate and fake passport.”

Sunset gulped. “A-and that means I’m in trouble?”

”Not exactly,” Luna responded. “You see, Miss Shimmer, yours is a very interesting case. I’ve found no records of anyone with your name, or even anyone matching your appearance. Your forged information lists you as a legally emancipated minor, yet the people you named as your parents have never even heard of you. This leaves me with no way of knowing who your real parents are. You understand, this is all very concerning.”

Sunset shrank back in her seat. She didn’t think ‘my parents are magical ponies from another dimension and abandoned me when I was a foal’ would be a convincing explanation. A sigh escaped her throat.

“Alright, you got me. The truth is, I... I don’t have any parents. I haven’t had a real family for almost as long as I can remember.”

Luna’s eyes went wide. “I... I see. And you have no legal guardians to speak of?”

”No,” said Sunset. “Just me.” She looked up at Luna, the corners of her eyes already becoming damp. She suddenly lunged forward out of her chair, kneeling down before the desk and looking up at Luna with tear-soaked eyes. “Please don’t call Child Services!” she begged. “I... I can’t go to them! I just can’t! I have a job, I have a home I’ve built for myself, everything! I can’t lose it all! Please...”

Luna stared back at Sunset, her expression remaining unreadable. Finally, she reached out, resting her palm against Sunset’s outstretched hand. “Calm down,” she said. Sunset’s body relaxed almost immediately. Luna inhaled, then let out a sharp breath. “Before I begin, you must understand that what I’m about to say to you is wildly irresponsible for someone of my position. If you tell anyone else of this, there will be dire consequences for both of us.”

Sunset’s jaw very nearly dropped. ”You’re letting me off the hook?”

”Not entirely,” Luna firmly replied. “My sister does not yet know of any of this. If she finds out, I can guarantee that she’ll not be so lenient. But for now, I won’t call Child Services. You can keep your home, your job, and whatever else you have for the time being.”

Sunset sniffled slightly, wiping the tear from her eyes. ”I...”

Luna raised a finger, immediately seizing Sunset’s attention. “However,” she said, “I can’t in good conscience allow you to live without any support.” She reached into her desk and pulled out a business card, handing it to Sunset. “Here is my number. If there’s ever an emergency, call me right away. If you ever need food, clothing, or a roof over your head, I’ll provide it for you without hesitation.”

Sunset held the card in her hand. Tears once again began to fill her eyes, but they weren’t tears of sorrow or desperation. They were tears of something else, a warm feeling she hadn’t once experienced since she’d passed through the Mirror.

”Thank you, Luna”, she whispered. “Thank you so much.”


I let out a gasp as the memory finally finished playing. I... I don’t understand. Where are these things coming from? They’re not just ordinary memories, it feels like I’m actually reliving them. Every single one so far has been connected to the counterpart of someone who’s soul I’d absorbed. But why? Why would—

A scowl crossed my face. I know what’s going on here. It’s that parasite. I don’t know how she’s doing it, but somehow she’s bringing up these memories in an attempt to guilt me out of what I was doing. And the worst part? It was almost working. I felt genuinely disgusted with myself for what I did to Princess Luna, so much that it actually made my stomach churn.

I had to get rid of that parasite, somehow. But I didn’t know how to do it. I closed my eyes and concentrated, hoping to recall any spell I might have memorized during my time as Celestia’s student that could help me. After some effort, I found one. It wasn’t exactly what I would need by itself, but with some creativity I could modify it to suit my own purposes. But to get it to work, I needed a simulacrum.

My eyes darted about the bedroom. Nothing here that would work, so I decided to look elsewhere. I quietly left the room, being sure not to make too much noise. It was still very early in the morning; Twilight and the others were probably not awake yet. I briefly through the many other guestrooms in the hallway, scanning each and every one of them for something that might work. Finally, after more than a dozen attempts, I’d found it.

There, sitting on a desk by the bed, was a simple wooden music box. On top of that music box was a white porcelain figure, shaped into a unicorn wearing a tutu. As the device was winding down, it would likely have spun around in tune with the music. I grasped the item in my magical grip and placed it in front of me.

My horn lit up with energy, and I recited the modified spell in my mind. Then, in a flash, everything changed.


Sunset wasn’t sure what had happened. One moment, she was still trapped within the mindscape. Princess Luna had decided to tell her and Fluttershy a story to keep them both occupied, and for a while she’d managed to hold their attention. At the very least, it was nice to have some company.

Then, right in the middle of one of Luna’s tales, everything was suddenly gone. The grey room disappeared in a blur of light and color, and Sunset felt herself being literally pulled outside of the mindscape. Her perceptions twisted and writhed as she was suddenly and forcefully extracted, and then stuffed into... something. She couldn’t rightly tell what. Her head spun, and she found herself suddenly feeling very, very fragile.

When Sunset opened her eyes, she found herself precariously balancing on one hoof in a ballerina pose. There, looming above her, was herself. Her counterpart was absolutely gargantuan in comparison to her, enough so that even a single one of her eyes was almost larger than her entire body. And worst of all, the other Sunset was glaring at her with what could only have been murderous intent.

Sunset jumped out of the way just in time for a bolt of teal magic to strike the music box she was sitting on, reducing it to ash. She didn’t even think as she ran away as fast as her tiny form could carry her, bolting straight through her counterpart’s gargantuan legs and into the hallway. Her body, no longer made of flesh, didn’t show any signs of tiring as she sprinted. Zaps of magic narrowly passed by her, leaving scorch marks on the floor in several places that she had occupied just moments before impact.

As she neared reached the end of the hallway, Sunset was faced with no exit, save for an open window. Relative to her new size, it was so high up that reaching it may as well have been jumping onto the roof of a building from the ground. And yet, she didn’t even hesitate. Driven purely by her own flight response, she jumped up into the air. Her form soared far, far higher than her legs should have been able to propel her, straight through the open window and past the wall of the building.

It was then that she realized just what a mistake she’d made. The guest room her counterpart had stayed in was on the third floor of the castle, high enough that a fall would seriously injure even a normal-sized unicorn. But she wasn’t a normal unicorn anymore, she was something much more delicate. With her body of porcelain, the impact would shatter her into pieces.

Thinking quickly, Sunset called upon her magic. It was a tiny pool of mana, so much so that she almost didn’t notice it was there, yet it was still something she could use. Her mind strained with exertion as she called upon every last drop of magic she could harness, channeling it into a feather fall spell.

The spell had come not a moment too soon, as only a few seconds after her descent slowed, her hooves touched lightly against the ground. Despite her lack of lungs, muscles, or a working circulatory system, Sunset felt absolutely exhausted. Feather fall was one of the absolute simplest spells a unicorn could learn, and it had drained her almost completely.

She then took the time to observe her surroundings. Sunset stood on the cobblestone pavement before the castle, her form so tiny that her entire leg would fall into one of the cracks if she wasn’t careful. The sun had only barely risen above the horizon, and there were scarcely any ponies yet on the streets. That itself was a relief, as if she’d been on the streets later in the day there would be a significant risk of getting trampled to death. She turned back at her own body, getting a close look at it for the first time. She looked just like herself, only wearing a cream-colored tutu, yet the impossible smoothness of her entire body made it clear that this wasn’t what she was meant to be.

Sunset instinctively mimicked a motion similar to a sigh. When no air passed her lips, a shudder ran down her back. Everything about her felt alien, more alien than any transformation into another species could have possibly made her feel. She was a figurine. A toy. Not even alive, but a thing.

Yet, somehow, none of it was discouraging. She had a body now. She had control. She could put a stop to her counterpart, and free her friends’ souls.

And one way or another, that was exactly what she would do.


Sunset, Severed Conscience W

Legendary Artifact Creature — Unicorn

1W, sacrifice Sunset, Severed Conscience: Search your library for a white Sunset planeswalker card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Shuffle your library afterwards.

“No matter what it takes, I’ll find a way to stop myself.”


Wrecking Ball

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After the parasite escaped, I’d decided it wasn’t worth my time to try to track her down, assuming she’d even survived the fall. I couldn’t afford to let myself get distracted from my mission, or it would all come crashing down on me. Besides, even if she was somehow still alive, she was completely powerless in her current state. I had much larger and more immediate concerns than her.

As I’d expected, it didn’t take long for word to get out that Luna and Fluttershy had their souls stolen. Almost immediately after breakfast, Twilight received a letter from Celestia informing her of the news of Luna, and an additional letter was sent to her from Ponyville Hospital informing her of Fluttershy. I’m not sure exactly how Ponyville Hospital was able to send mail by dragonfire, but ultimately I figured that detail wasn’t important.

What was important was that I didn’t immediately blow my cover when Twilight decided to call me and the rest of her friends to an emergency meeting in the throne room. They all looked understandably agitated, and Rainbow in particular had an absolutely murderous look in her eyes, like she was just about ready to snap the neck of the first pony she even suspected to be responsible.

Well, that makes my decision easier. I’ll take her out next.

Of course, just because I’d mentally prepared to deal with the situation playing out before me didn’t make it easy. Especially since Twilight’s friends weren’t the only ones there. As soon as I stepped into the throne room, I was greeted with the sight of a pony that I hadn’t laid eyes on in years.

“Princess Celestia!” I gasped. I knew she’d probably be here, but nothing could have braced me for the experience of actually seeing her here.

Celestia’s ears drooped as she turned to look at me. Her normally regal appearance was marred by the redness in her eyes, no doubt made raw by her own crying. Despite this, she managed to give a weak smile. “I am happy to see that you’re well, Sunset Shimmer. I only wish we could have reunited under different circumstances.”

Heh. That statement was true in more ways than she thought. I tried to conceal my own amusement, managing to look glum enough to fit in with the somber mood. “So, is it true? Has Princess Luna’s soul really been taken?”

“I...” Celestia’s eyes went distant for a moment. “...I’m afraid so. Her body was found in her chambers this morning, and our medical staff confirmed that there was no evidence of consciousness in her brain activity. Yet her body still lives, preserved by something we could not identify. I recognized this to be a forbidden spell, used by the necromancers under King Sombra’s employ many centuries ago. It would preserve the body while stealing the soul, keeping the body alive enough to tether the soul to the realm of the living. From there, the captive soul’s magic could be drawn from to fuel the necromancer’s own power.”

My head leaned back in surprise. King Sombra? He’s the one who came up with this spell? From the way Twilight described him, he didn’t have the personality to come up with something half as diabolical. Then again, she didn’t exactly see him in his prime.

“And you’re saying whoever’s responsible for this did the same thing to Fluttershy?” Rainbow cut in.

“Based on her symptoms, it would appear so,” said Celestia. “Unfortunately, there is no way to detect a soul once it has been stolen this way. There are only three known ways to release a captured soul. The first and least likely is for the captor to release them willingly. The second is for the captor to project the souls outwards from their mindscape and take control of them, and then lose concentration enough for their control to be broken.“

Uh-oh. I think I knew where this was going, and don’t think I liked it. “And the third?” I said.

“The third is to kill the captor,” said Celestia.

That was exactly what I was afraid she’d say. It took all the willpower I could muster to suppress a shudder. Celestia claimed to care about me, sure, but I knew from experience that she wouldn’t hesitate to hurt me if she really believed it was the right thing to do. If she decided killing me was the best way to free her only family, there was no doubt in my mind that she’d do it.

While everyone else looked horrified by the suggestion of taking a life, Rainbow Dash didn’t seem perturbed by it at all. Her entire body was practically quivering in determined anger. “If that’s what it takes, then I’ll do it! If I ever find the one who did this, I’ll strangle them with my bare hooves!”

“But even if that were the right thing to do,” Rarity interjected, “how would we even find the one who did this? They could be anywhere, and there’s simply no way of us knowing.”

I was kind of shocked by Rarity’s reluctance to kill, given she’d apparently seen King Sombra’s life literally be shattered. The same thing happened to that Storm King loser, now that I mention it. Why is everyone acting like they’ve never seen someone die before? Does being turned into some kind of mineral and then broken to pieces not count?

“Actually, I think I might have an idea about that,” said Twilight. Her voice was firm, and her gaze fell directly upon me. Her eyes narrowed as she stepped forward, seeming to pierce right through my skin. “I couldn’t help but notice that you were the only pony present when Fluttershy was injured, and Discord supposedly disappeared. If you even are a pony, that is.”

Ack, no! Not here! I can’t lose my cover yet! I might be able to deal with Twilight on my own, I might even be able to handle Celestia on my own now that I had Luna’s power, but there’s no way I could deal with all of them at once! No, no, no!

Okay, no. Calm down, Sunset. Don’t jump to conclusions yet, you don’t know what will happen. I don’t know if my composure cracked enough for everyone else to see my anxiety, but I tried to get a grip as best I could. “I... Twilight, what are you talking about?”

“I think you know exactly what I’m talking about, Queen Chrysalis.

Queen Chry— Wait, she thinks I’m a changeling? Oh my God, that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! She’s so blinded by her own magic of fwiendship nonsense that she doesn’t even suspect the real me could be responsible!

I was just about to burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it, it was just so comical to me. Thankfully, before I had the chance, Twilight struck me with a blast of magic from her horn, sending me flying backwards and sprawling onto the ground. Okay, maybe not exactly thankfully, since that freaking hurt. Still, you know what I mean.

As I picked myself back onto my hooves, Twilight’s mouth hung open. “Wha... buh... That was a trueform spell! If it didn’t work, that means— Oh, dear Celestia!”

“Uh, Twi?” said Applejack. “You do know Princess Celestia’s standing just over there, right?”

Celestia cleared her throat. The disapproving look on her face was enough to make Twilight flinch. “I understand you hold me in high regard, Twilight, but it doesn’t help my efforts to prove that I’m not a god for you to refer to me in such a manner. But more importantly, I believe you owe Sunset Shimmer an apology.”

“I... I...” It had taken for Twilight to catch up with her own emotions. She really did look absolutely devastated to see Celestia displeased with her. As much as I could understand the feeling, I couldn’t say I sympathized with her. She had no idea what it actually meant to be hurt by her. “I’m sorry Sunset,” she choked out. “I... I really thought...”

“It’s okay, Twilight,” I said. “Honestly, I’m just glad I’m okay. You really looked like you were going to kill me for a second there.”

The way I said it made it sound like it was just a joke, but I really did mean it. Twilight shrank backwards at my choice of words, already looking like she was on the verge of tears. Still, I didn’t want to seem too cruel, not after I’d just dodged a bullet like that.

“Hey, cheer up, Twilight,” I reassured. “I’m not mad at you for reacting the way you did. I understand you’re going through a lot right now with the loss of your friend.”

Twilight looked away, idly pawing at the ground with a hoof. “I just...” She let out a sigh. “I don’t know. This is just so much to take in. I guess I wanted to catch the bad guy so badly that I just went for the first explanation I could think of. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions like that.”

“It’s fine, Twilight,” I repeated. A hint of annoyance crept its way into my voice, though not enough that anyone else would notice.

“Well, no offense to Sunset, but how in the hay are we supposed to find the bad guy if it ain’t her?” said Applejack.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” said Spike. “Why don’t you try calling the Gatewatch? I’m sure they could handle it, no problem!””

Without even meaning to, I inhaled sharply. I’d seen the Gatewatch in Twilight’s memories, and I didn’t know if I ever wanted to deal with them. Jace in particular was someone I absolutely did not want to cross paths with: a mind-reader could find out my true motives with practically zero effort.

“I’ve considered that, Spike,” said Twilight. “But if the villain we’re dealing with is powerful enough to subdue Princess Luna, I don’t even know if they’d be strong enough to deal with the threat. Not to mention that if our enemy absorbed a planeswalker’s soul, they’d likely gain access to the spark. Then they’d not only be a threat to this plane, but others as well. I... I’d have to think about it some more. I just don’t know if it’s worth the risk.”

“Whether you choose to call the Gatewatch or not is your decision,” said Celestia. “But don’t forget that you are a planeswalker as well, which puts you at just as much a risk. Whatever choice you make, I advise you to take utmost caution.” Her eyes crossed the room, turning to look at each of us. “And that goes for the rest of you as well. You are all, directly or through association, connected to the Elements of Harmony. That makes each of you a likely target for our unknown enemy.”

The fear that swept through the room was almost palpable. I could hear Spike loudly gulping. I tried to mimic their trepidation, but honestly I was just relieved that the Gatewatch wasn’t going to be coming. By the time Twilight finished her considerations, I’d have already won.

Before I could speak further, a pegasus royal guard entered through a window that had been left open, and whispered something into her ear. A crease formed on her face as she frowned at the message. “I am sorry,” said Celestia, “but I must return to my duties for now. In the meantime, I pray that you will all remain safe.” I followed the guard’s path as he led Celestia out the window, where a flying chariot awaited them both. In short order, she and her guards had taken off and disappeared into the distance.

All things considered, that meeting had gone less badly for me than I had expected it to. And that meant I was free to continue working towards my goals.


Sunset didn’t really know what she doing.

Oh, sure, she might have known what her goal was, but how to actually get there remained a mystery. Returning to the Twilight’s castle wasn’t an option, as her double was still waiting for her and would have easily stomped her into pieces. She couldn’t die, not before getting a chance to save her friends. Besides, the only entrance she could reach was the front doorway, which her tiny body couldn’t possibly open.

That left her to wander the streets of Ponyville, hoping to find something that would bring her an answer. Unfortunately, it also ended up with her being nearly crushed by passerby on at least ten different occasions. Sunset had tried to get their attention, tried to call to someone who could possibly help her, but her tiny voice was easily drowned out by the pattering of hooves and the chattering of ponies going about their daily business.

All of it built up to the slow, creeping realization that she was completely out of her depth. She was lost, desperate, and completely powerless. And yet, despite all of it, she refused to let herself give up hope. She would find a way to make things right.

If only she knew how to begin looking for it.


Eventually, we’d all decided that it was better not to spend the rest of the day hanging out in the castle. Rarity seemed reluctant to leave the safety of her friends, but Applejack wanted to get back to her farm, and Pinkie said the Cakes needed her for something. Rainbow, meanwhile, was eager to go off and ‘find the bad guy.’ She didn’t know that I would be the one finding her.

I’d told Twilight that I needed to go for a walk to clear my head. When I left the castle, I tried to see if I could find any sign of Rainbow. Sure enough, the moment I stepped out the front door, I could see a multicolored streak of motion zipping around the skies above Ponyville. No doubt trying to cover as much of town as possible in the hopes of catching something suspicious. Following her when she was moving so fast was going to be a royal pain, so instead I opted to climb up onto the highest hill in the town. After a short trip, I was able to see all of Rainbow’s motions from my vantage point. I sat patiently on the grass and waited, looking for the first opportunity I could find.

Eventually, after what was probably nearly an hour, the blur came to a rest on a massive cumulus cloud near the outskirts of town. Far away from any witnesses, and if I knew Rainbow Dash I knew exactly what she was doing. Perfect.

Slowly, I made my way through the town, towards the western edge. The many houses and streets grew sparser apart as I trotted, until eventually I was led to a simple dirt road leading into a field. The only settlements as far as the eye could see were stretches of farmland. I continued following the path, until I located the cloud that I had set out for.

The sound of loud snoring made it clear that I’d reached my destination. There, collapsed onto her stomach, was Rainbow Dash. I figured she would have fallen asleep: while the Rainbow Dash I knew was a stellar athlete, outside the school’s track and field she was practically a narcoleptic. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a classroom where she didn’t fall asleep at some point. This Rainbow must have tired herself out from nearly an hour of nonstop flying.

Calling upon my magic, I held my own body in my telekinetic grip, and began levitating myself upwards. With both Luna and Fluttershy’s soul inside of me, I was also able to draw from their pegasus magic to mimic their cloudwalking ability. Strangely, I could feel Fluttershy squirm within me when I tried to syphon her power, but Luna put up almost no resistance whatsoever. Not that it would have mattered, but I thought she of all ponies would be the one trying to fight back from within. Just what is going on with her?

Putting that thought out of my mind for now, I lifted myself onto the cloud. Rainbow’s snores were so loud that my ears reflexively folded back at the noise. I steadily approached her, and then gently prodded her shoulders.

“Mmhhnnn... What?” Rainbow’s eyelids slowly crept open. When she realized it was me standing just before her, she nearly jumped out of her coat. “Gyah! Sunset Shimmer!”

“Glad to see you’re awake,” I said. “Have any luck finding our little soul snatcher?”

Rainbow’s eyes instantly hardened, as though only just reminded of what she was doing. “Not yet,” she said, “but you’d better believe I will! Why, did you find something?”

I could feel the corners of my mouth turning upwards. It was a smile, but it wasn’t a forced smile like most of the ones I’d given this week. “Oh, you could say that,” I remarked.

Then, to illustrate my point, I called upon the dark magic that had bound Fluttershy’s soul to me. A swirling cloud of darkness surrounded my horn, so terrible and powerful that Rainbow Dash immediately stepped back at the sight. Then, from the darkness, a translucent white wisp spiraled out. It pooled into the space next just between me and Rainbow, expanding and coalescing into a more coherent shape.

Rainbow’s eyes went wide, while her pupils dilated to the size of pin pricks. There, standing just in front of her, was the translucent image of Fluttershy.

Fluttershy’s spirit let out a gasp, as though she’d been holding her breath for an entire minute. Her head frantically darted around as she took in her new surroundings, before finally settling on Rainbow.

“Rainbow Dash! Oh, thank goodness you’re here! Please, you have to help me! I—”

My horn flared with dark energy once again. With a yelp of surprise, Fluttershy was sucked back into my own mindscape.

It had taken a moment for Rainbow to snap out of her slack-jawed stare, as though she was only just beginning to understand what she just saw. Slowly, her face began to shift, morphing into the perfect image of pure, unadulterated rage. Her teeth gritted, her wings flared, and her body became so tense that she was practically shaking.

YOU! It was you!

“That it was,” I taunted. “So what are you going to do about it?”

Rainbow responded exactly the way I’d expected her to, immediately charging forward with as much force as she could muster. Fortunately, I’d already prepared a teleport spell to move out of the way. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as Rainbow’s movement speed proved to be several orders of magnitude faster than my reaction speed. She tackled me with immense force, enough that it should have instantly shattered every single bone in my body. Somehow, though, I managed to remain intact, although winded. Drawing from Luna’s magic must have increased my body’s natural resilience.

As she tackled me, her hooves implanted themselves firmly on my stomach, carrying me along with her as she flew through the air. I’d expected her to carrying her momentum to kick me into the ground, but she didn’t seem to be even trying to hurt me further. Instead, she dragged me along with her as she flew, her constant push against me keeping gravity from pulling me down.

My stomach turned as Rainbow’s flight path abruptly curved upwards, then downwards, then upwards again. She was flying in a vertical ring, looping around faster and faster with each subsequent pass, until it felt like the g-force would rip my face right off my skull. I began to wonder what Rainbow was doing, but then I saw it. A disturbance, created by a difference in air pressure, forming around both of is. It was a mach cone.

Panic flooded into every part of my soul as the realization dawned on me. Rainbow Dash was planning to planning to slam me into the ground at supersonic speed.

The crushing pressure of the g-force made it nearly impossible to concentrate, but somehow I managed to focus long enough to channel my magic into a spell. It wasn’t a complex spell, in fact it could hardly even be called a spell at all. More like a sudden burst of magical power send out from my horn in all directions. It would be barely strong enough to even mildly stun a pony, yet it was enough for what I wanted to do.

The sudden burst of magic broke Rainbow’s focus, and with the speed she was going at, the consequences for her were dire. She veered wildly off of her flight path, causing her grip on me to falter. My momentum combined with the pull of gravity, and I was sent flying diagonally downwards, towards a massive corn field. No longer under immediate threat by Rainbow, I was able to apply my telekinesis to myself, slowing my fall enough for me to land gently on the field.

I stared up through the large corn stalks, and saw Rainbow quickly right her careening trajectory. She furiously beat her wings, slowly bringing her to a halt in midair. She briefly darted her head around, trying to see where I’d landed. When her eyes rested on me, she immediately charged down at me, intent on tackling me once.

This time, however, I was ready. I responded with a powerful concussive blast aimed straight at her head. To my lack of surprise, Rainbow didn’t even bother trying to dodge, instead attempting to meet the beam of offensive magic head-on.

What was surprising, though, was that it actually seemed to work. Stretching her front legs out, she collided hooves-first with the end of the beam, somehow managing to push herself against it, pushing the beam back and becoming every closer to me. It quickly developed into something akin to a tug-of-war match, as both my spell and her body attempted to push back against each other.

It almost looked like our contest would be a stalemate, until I decided to draw from Luna’s magic once again. Not a whole lot of it—I didn’t want to vaporize Rainbow—but enough to nearly double my concussive blast’s power. The added force immediately broke through Rainbow’s assault, sending her flying upwards from the force of impact. A beat of her wings brought her to a halt once more, just below a large cumulus cloud. She shook her head, attempting to shake off the sudden disorientation from the blast.

A second beam of magic shot forth from my horn at my command. Rainbow flinched as the spell zoomed towards her, only for it to miss her by several feet. A prideful smirk appeared on her face.

“Hah! Missed me!”

“Oh?” I said. “Did I?”

A loud, violent rumbling came from above. Rainbow froze, save for the wings on her back keeping her hovering in place. Her neck slowly craned around, towards the source of the noise. The cumulus cloud that had hovered above her, struck by my magic, had transformed into a massive black cumulonimbus, filled with so much electrical charge that sparks were already crawling across its surface.

There was ear-splitting roar of thunder, paired with a flash of light. Then, a shriek of excruciating pain. An intense bolt of lightning struck Rainbow Dash in the dead-center of her back, right between the wings. With its charge expended, the storm cloud reverted to a normal cumulus, leaving Rainbow’s singed body to plummet to the earth. There was loud whump as she fell onto the cornfield, smashing several corn stalks and kicking up a small cloud of dust.

When the dust cleared, I approached Rainbow Dash to see her lying curled-up on the ground. Her injuries were fairly minor—pegasi were extremely resistant to lightning—but her wings were charred enough that she likely wouldn’t be able to fly with them for at least a few days. Her eyes pried open as she slowly staggered to her hooves, legs wobbling as she barely managed to hold herself upright. My eyes narrowed as I approached her, baring my teeth as I smiled.

“Aww, good try,” I said. “But not good enough, I’m afraid. You’re just a sniveling little weakling who thought she could play the hero. Now why don’t you be a nice little pony and hold still?”

My horn once again pulsed with dark magic, and Rainbow Dash let out a feeble cry of protest as her soul was sucked out of her body. I could feel the panic and fear in her as she dropped into my mindscape, her constant thrashing sending little bursts of pleasurable sensations down my spine.

And then, once again, I was struck by a sudden and powerful headache. I tried to fight back, tried to resist the sudden flood of memories, but they all came pouring into me nonetheless.


GAH! Stupid bottomless pits!”

Rainbow Dash’s shout of frustration was so intense that it nearly burst Sunset’s eardrums. She’d been invited for a sleepover that Friday, which she figured was one of the best chances she’d have to get to know one of her new friends. That, and try to do with any bad blood that might have remained between them. Rainbow had stayed up well past midnight, sitting down in the living room and playing with one of the bizarre video games that Sunset had heard so many other students talk about. While Equestria did have arcade cabinets of its own, Anthropia’s video games were so much more advanced that it was hard to believe they were the same thing. The graphics were so detailed that during certain parts (’cutscenes,’ Rainbow called them) she could see every hair on the characters’ bodies. It truly boggled the mind that such images could be created without the use of magic.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be boosting all the time, Rainbow,” Sunset chimed in.

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Yeah, sure. That’s always the excuse Modern-Era apologists give. If they didn’t want you to boost as much as possible they wouldn’t make it so easy to fill the boost gauge. You used to have work for speed, but now you just zoom forward at the press of a button! Where’s the reward in that?”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t you say the series is more than twenty years old? You don’t seem like you’re old enough to remember these supposed glory days.”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Rainbow, “it still sucks!”

Sunset shook her head. “I guess I just don’t understand why you even bother with this game if you hate it so much.”

“Whoa, what!?” Rainbow paused the game as she interjected. “Who told you I hate the game? That’s ridiculous! I’m like, the series’s biggest fan!”

“Could’ve fooled me,” said Sunset. “All you ever do is complain about it.”

“Well yeah, but that doesn’t mean I don’t actually like the games,” Rainbow responded. “I’m pretty much contractually obligated to complain about every new entry. That’s how being a fan works!”

“That makes absolutely no sense.”

“You just don’t understand ‘cause you’re not a fan,” Rainbow shot back. She hesitated for a moment, a thoughtful look crossing her face. “Although... this game does have a multiplayer mode. You wanna try?”

Sunset gave a noncommittal shrug. “Sure, why not.”

Rainbow handed her the second controller. It had taken a bit of coaching on Rainbow’s part for Sunset to figure out how to hold it, but in short order she found herself gripping it comfortably. Rainbow reset the game, and before Sunset knew it they were both zooming around with their own characters in a split-screen match. It was a lot like racing, only it involved a lot more fighting than any races that Sunset had seen in the real world. Before she knew it, a large grin had broken out on her face.

“Hey,” said Sunset, “this is actually pretty fun.”

“Told you!” Rainbow boasted. “Now that you know how great the series is, why don’t you come with me to the official fan convention this summer? I hear Smash 180 is going to be playing live! It’ll be so awesome!

Sunset leaned back and held up a hand. “Whoa, there. Let’s not get too carried away.”


I blinked as the memory finished playing before my perceptions, once again finding myself standing in the cornfield. The sickness I felt after each previous memory returned, my stomach feeling like it was doing backflips within my abdominal cavity.

I... I don’t understand. I thought getting rid of the parasite would get rid of these flashbacks, but it still happened. If anything, it felt more real than ever before. Just what is happening to me?

No. No, focus. I can’t let this get in the way. I have to keep going. I can’t let doubt hold me back. I am rage given form, I am vengeance personified. There is nothing in the world that can make me second-guess myself.


I breathed in hard through my nostrils, and exhaled sharply from my mouth. I needed a clear head. I need to think about what I’m going to do next. I’m on the western edge of Ponyville, which means that Sweet Apple Acres should be just to the south of here.

And that meant I knew exactly whose soul I was getting next.


Rainbow Dash’s Defeat 1R{w/b}


Rainbow Dash’s Defeat deals 3 damage to target creature or player and you gain 3 life. If a creature named Rainbow Dash, Wonderbolt is dealt damage this way, its controller loses 3 life.

“Live for the ‘Bolts, die by the bolt. Or something like that.”
— Sunset the Exiled


Sweet Apple Acres was a very large farm, much larger than I’d expected it to be. While the orchard took up the vast majority of land, there were also strips of land dedicated to secondary crops, such as wheat and corn, as well as a pasture for cows to graze. I had to wonder how that arrangement worked. Were the cows given a place to live in exchange for milk, or did they have to pay rent?

Either way, locating Applejack wasn’t especially hard. It took a fair bit of wandering about, but I eventually found her tending to some of the trees, carrying a pair of saddlebags. Harvest season wasn’t quite here yet, so she mostly did work inspecting the apple trees and making sure they were healthy. Any trees that seemed weaker or injured she would gently place a hoof on, and its colors would very subtly become brighter. If I squinted I could almost see them growing in response to her touch. It was actually kind of impressive: I’d known earth ponies had some kind of magic connecting them to the land, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it in use.

As I approached, Applejack’s ears swiveled, alerting her to my presence. She turned around and gave me a friendly nod.

“Howdy, Sunset. What can Ah do for you?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I said. “I was just thinking about stopping by, stealing your soul, maybe having you show me around the farm for a bit. I don’t think I got to look at much of it last time I was here.”

“Why, Ah’d be happy to!” said Applejack. “There’s lots to see around— Wait, what did you say?”

I love it when they have that moment of dawning comprehension. It never gets old. A grin broke out across my muzzle, and judging by Applejack’s astonished stare it must have looked truly vicious.

“Sunset, just what in tarnation are you trying to do? Is this some sort of sick joke? Because if it is, it ain’t funny!”

“There’s no joke here, you silly pony,” I said. “I’m going to take your soul. And I’ll tell you right now that resisting me won’t work out for you. So why don’t you be a good little mud pony and cooperate, hmm?”

For a moment, Applejack looked like she had been slapped across the face. That moment ended quickly, and her eyes narrowed, anger burning beneath them so intensely that it looked like she could kill me with a glance. Calling an earth pony a ‘mud pony’ was a big no-no, especially in this day and age.

“Ah should have known it was you,” said Applejack. Her voice was quiet, yet the words were harder than diamond and sharp enough to pierce a dragon’s hide. “Twilight was right about you the whole time.”

A short laugh escaped my throat. “Ha! Twilight? Seriously? Do you honestly think she has any idea what’s going on here? None of you even have any idea who I am.”

“Ah don’t rightly care who you think you are,” Applejack countered. “You stole mah friends’ souls, and Ah’m taking you down here and now.”

I’d almost started to laugh again. What was she going to do? Then I got my answer. Applejack swiftly turned and bucked the tree she was just inspecting. A rain of apples, still not yet ripe for harvest, began falling down. What happened next was almost too ridiculous to believe.

As the apples fell, Applejack spun around, and somehow manage to buck dozens of them in a row with perfect precision, her legs moving so fast that they were practically a blur. The result was me being pelted with a stream of rapid-fire projectiles, almost like a machine gun that had been loaded with apples instead of bullets. And since none of the apples were ripe, each of them was nearly as hard as a rock.

When the assault finished, I was left barely able to stand, my face bruised and bloodied, and my head spinning so fast I could barely see in front of me. I was genuinely surprised that I still had all of my teeth. In fact, I was surprised that my horn hadn’t broken off from the force of impact. If the souls inside of me hadn’t increased my resilience, that might have been a different story.

Just as I finally got my bearings, Applejack reached into her saddlebag and pulled out a lasso. Holding the end of it in her mouth, she rapidly twirled it around, before throwing it at me. The loop went around my body before landing. Applejack gave the lasso a short tug, and the loop tightened around my legs, sending me crashing onto my side.

I let out a short cough as I stared back up at Applejack, my legs still bound by her rope. “Oh, come on! Do you honestly think hog-tying me is going to—whoa!

Applejack tugged at the lasso mightily, sending me flying into the air. Still tied by the loop around my legs, I was slammed against the ground with incredible force, giving me a mouthful of dirt. Applejack repeated this process, lifting me up in the air and bashing me against the ground with each subsequent tug of the lasso. After several iterations, I’d lost count of them completely. I couldn’t even begin to focus on casting a spell through the pain.

Finally, after what felt like forever, the assault let up. I was lying on the ground in a disheveled, crumpled heap, pain wracking every single part of my body. I couldn’t tell if any of my bones were broken, but it definitely felt like I’d broken something. Applejack approached me, glaring down at me fiercely.

“Here’s what’s going to happen, Sunset. You’re going to release mah friends’ souls. Then you’re going to apologize for all the things you did.”

Despite my desperate situation, I looked back defiantly, lips twisting into a sneer. “Oh, really? And just what are you going to do if I don’t? Kill me?”

“No,” said Applejack. “But Ah can make things a whole lot worse for you than they are right now. So I’ll tell you again: release mah friend’s souls. You don’t wanna know what’ll happen to you if you don’t.”

It was then that I realized something. Applejack had let go of her lasso when she approached me. Though her strength was overwhelming, she’d allowed herself to get sloppy in her anger. My eyes darted around as I looked for an opportunity to retaliate. There, on a tree not too far from me, was my answer. A very large hornet’s nest, hanging from one of the branches.

For a moment, my horn glowed. Applejack noticed this immediately, and then stomped her hoof against it, interrupting the spell. The impact sent a sharp spike of pain into my skull, but thankfully my horn didn’t break from the attack.

“Nuh-uh,” said Applejack, “don’t you even think about trying your fancy magic. Now, Ah’ll say it again. Release. Their. Souls.”

“You’re not in a position to be making demands of me,” I said back. My lips curved upwards into a smirk. “Especially since I don’t need a fancy spell to deal with you. All I need is a single nudge of telekinesis.”

“Telekinesis? What the hay are you talking about?”

As if to answer her question, a sharp chorus of buzzing sounds came from behind Applejack. Her head swiveled to see a hornet’s nest laying broken on the ground, and its very large and very angry inhabitants swarming together into a cloud. Her body seized up in sudden, comprehending fear. With the hornets’ nest destroyed, they would immediately attack the closest living thing, believing it to be responsible. Unfortunately for Applejack, that happened to be her.

The swarm of insects closed in towards the two of us, and I quickly surrounded myself in a shield spell to protect myself, in case the hornets decided I might also be a viable target. Protected from the cloud, I watched as the hornets surrounded Applejack, repeatedly assaulting her with sharp painful stings. Applejack let out a yell of pain, desperately flailing about in the hopes of shaking the hornets off of her, but no matter what she did they wouldn’t relent.

Eventually, the cloud of hornets finally calmed down, flying off into the distance to find somewhere to build a new nest. Applejack was left lying on the ground, groaning in pain, her entire body covered in large, reddened welts. I managed to untie myself, and slowly stood myself up to my hooves and approached her. Her body shivered as she looked up at me, barely able to open her eyes through the swelling.

“Wow,” I said. “That’s the second time today one of you fell for the misdirection trick. I guess I overestimated your intelligence. Now, hold still.”

Dark magic pulsed into my horn. Applejack didn’t even let out a protest as her soul was sucked out, as her body was far too weak to even speak. As her soul spiraled into my horn, the injuries on her body rapidly healed, the spell working its magic to ensure it would be kept alive.

Afterward, I felt yet another pleasant tingle from Applejack’s panicked soul struggling within me. I felt rejuvenated, and I quickly realized that all of the injuries I’d sustained in my fight with Applejack had been healed by the spell as well. I felt like there was nothing in the world that could possibly hurt me.

At least, until the headache came back, and the memories returned.


On some level, Sunset had a very rough idea of what to expect when going out to get to know her new friends. Even Pinkie Pie she could expect to see something completely unexpected. But with Applejack, Sunset didn’t even expect what not to expect. Sure, she lived on a farm to the southwest of Canterlot City, but that was about it. Having lived her entire life in both worlds as a city-dweller, Sunset had no idea what a farm life was like.

So when Sunset arrived at a fenced pasture and saw Applejack riding the largest, ugliest pony she’d ever seen, she very nearly jumped out of her skin in fright. It didn’t even really look like a pony, aside from vague similarities. It was some giant, brown, pony-shaped thing, with beady little eyes and a grotesquely elongated muzzle.

Yaiiee!” Sunset shrieked. “W-what is that thing!?”

The not-pony let out a startled whinny, jostling slightly until Applejack placed a hand on its withers. “Whoa, easy girl! It’s okay, she won’t hurt you.” As the equinoid thing calmed down, Applejack shot Sunset a baffled stare. “Just what in the heck is up with you? Surely you of all people would’ve seen a horse before?”

“I...” Sunset opened her mouth, then closed it again. “That’s a horse? No, no way. That can’t be right. Horses are supposed to be smaller than that. And way less ugly.”

“So you’re saying the horses in your world are different?” said Applejack.

“Way different,” said Sunset. “They’re like ponies, but larger. You see them mostly in Saddle Arabia. That... that thing you’re riding isn’t a horse. I don’t know what it is, but it’s really, really disturbing to look at.”

Applejack shrugged her shoulders, not letting go of the reins on the so-called horse’s muzzle. “Must be some uncanny valley thing. And now that Ah think about it, seeing a horse as livestock must be mighty disturbing from your perspective.”

“Right,” said Sunset. “Kind of like how you’d feel if I had a pet human. And it couldn’t talk.”

Applejack cringed. “Yeesh. You’re right, Ah don’t think Ah’d like the looks of that.” She relaxed for a moment, a warm smile appearing on her face. “But enough about horses. Just what brings you over yonder?”

“I...” Sunset looked down, rubbing her arm with a hand. “I... I don’t know, really. I feel like I should spend some time getting to know you better. And maybe offer you an apology for the things I did.”

“Well shucks, Sunset,” said Applejack. “Ah’m flattered you came to visit, but you really don’t need to apologize again. You’ve come a long way from where you were before the Formal. Ain’t no need to dwell on the past.”

Sunset let out a sigh. “I know. But no matter what I do, I can’t get rid of this feeling that my past won’t let me escape. Like some part of it’s still inside me, just waiting for a chance to come back. I know it’s ridiculous, but I just can’t help it.”

“Hmm,” said Applejack. “Well, Ah don’t rightly know what to say to you about that, but Ah reckon maybe finding something to keep you occupied will help keep your mind off it. There ain’t a whole lot to do here on the farm that ain’t working, though. Unless you like horseback riding, but Ah’m not so sure you’d be up for that.”

Sunset blinked. Horseback riding? It definitely sounded crazy. She didn’t like the idea of riding a non-sapient creature that only barely looked like the horses she knew about. And yet...

“You know what?” said Sunset. “Sure. I’m in.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Really? You certain about that?”

“I came here to see if there was some way I could connect with you,” said Sunset. “If riding on a horse’s back is what it takes, I’ll do it.”

Applejack smiled warmly. “Well, if that’s what you want. Here, why don’t you come over and Ah’ll introduce you?” She carefully dismounted and walked over to the door in the fence, opening it just long enough for Sunset to enter the enclosure. Sunset followed after Applejack as they approached the horse.

“Sunset, this is Lulu,” said Applejack. “Lulu, this is Sunset Shimmer.”

Sunset slowly stepped forwards, towards Lulu. There was no higher intelligence to be found beneath her small, side-facing eyes, yet they still carried a surprising gentleness. Despite the crawling sensation running down her spine, Sunset felt a strange warmth in her chest. Kinship, perhaps? It was a weird mix of conflicting sensations that she had a hard time separating enough to understand.

Lulu lowered her head, while at the same time Sunset reached out with a hand. She gently touched Lulu on the bridge of her muzzle, feeling the soft coat against her fingers. Lulu responded by stepping forward, gently nuzzling against Sunset’s arm.

Sunset let out a giggle. “H-hey! Stop! That tickles!”

“Well Ah’ll be,” said Applejack. “Ah ain’t never seen Lulu take to someone so quickly. Ah guess she knows you and her ain’t too different.”

Sunset wanted to roll her eyes at the remark, but couldn’t bring herself to even be annoyed. There was a warm, fuzzy feeling spreading out inside of her as she became close to Lulu, one that melted away any anxieties she might have had about the human world’s horses.

For the next hour, Applejack had taught Sunset the basics of horseback riding. She learned the ropes very quickly, and throughout it all Sunset somehow knew exactly how Lulu was feeling at any given moment, and exactly what to say to get her to understand. Before long, she was already riding Lulu in short laps across the enclosure.

Then, while circling the enclosure for the fifteenth time, Sunset was nearly blinded by a sudden flash. The burst of light startled Lulu enough that she reared back onto her hind legs, forcing Sunset to grip tightly to the reins.

“Whoa! Easy there!” Sunset cried out. Lulu lowered back onto all fours, and Sunset carefully placed a hand on her withers. “It’s okay, see? Everything’s safe. I’m here, remember?” The words were exactly what Lulu needed to hear, as almost immediately she calmed down, coming to a complete stop.

Sunset turned her head towards the source of the flash, and Applejack’s own gaze followed. There, standing just behind the fence, were Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle. Apple Bloom stood in the center, wedged between her two best friends, holding a camera with a large lens.

“Apple Bloom, what have Ah told you about spooking the horses?” Applejack scolded.

Apple Bloom smiled sheepishly. “Sorry Applejack, Ah was just taking a picture for the school paper. Pipsqueak even gave us this special camera and everything! Just look at how fancy the lens is!”

“I can see the headline now!” Scootaloo added. “Horse riding a horse! So wrong! It’s unnatural!”

Hey!” Sunset cried out. “I’m not a horse!”

“Well, sure, not anymore,” said Apple Bloom. “But you’re still a horse on the inside, right?”

“Pony,” said Sunset. “Calling me a horse is like me calling you a talking chimpanzee.”

“To be fair, that’s not too far off,” Sweetie Belle chimed in. “We do share ninety-eight percent of our DNA with chimpanzees.”

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo both turned to face Sweetie Belle, each giving her a deadpan look.

“What?” said Sweetie. “It’s true! Look it up!”

“No offense to you girls, but don’t you have something better to do?” said Sunset.

“Well, we do already got all the photos we need for this story, so Ah guess we can probably head off now,” said Apple Bloom. “In fact, we might even be find some other stories for the paper, too!”

Scootaloo excitedly raised her hand. “Oh! Oh! I know! I have an idea!”

“We ain’t doing another story on Rainbow Dash,” Apple Bloom said firmly. “Forty-seven in one year is more than enough.”


As the three girls continued their argument on what to do for their next story, a smile crept its way across Sunset’s face. She turned to look down at Lulu, seeing the contentedness in her eyes. She then turned to look at Applejack, the one who had made all of it possible.

Despite her initial reservations, Sunset couldn’t have been happier to be there.


I opened my eyes, and found myself standing back on the farm. I... I don’t know what to think of these flashbacks anymore. I know that they happen, but I don’t know why. Is it some kind of feedback from the spell? Is there some other power that’s trying to influence me? Just what is going on?

And that wasn’t even going into the nausea I felt. With every flashback it grew more overwhelming, more and more it felt like I was making a mistake. But I wasn’t making a mistake. I knew I wasn’t. Everything I’ve done is exactly what I was made to do.

I mentally fought against the nausea, against the sickness that crawled and writhed inside of me. I reminded myself of what I was here for, and what I came to do. Celestia and Twilight. I came here for them, I came here not just to destroy them, but to hurt them. Twilight especially, having utterly ruined my last attempt at taking back what’s mine, and stolen the title and power that I had rightfully earned. Words could not describe how much I hated her. I had worked to earn Princess Celestia’s favor where she relied on her natural gifts. I had risen from poverty and destitution, where she was born into a family of wealth and privilege. I was turned away and left to starve in an unfamiliar world for trying to unlock the secrets of magic, while she was rewarded for it with incredible power.

And the worst part? Twilight didn’t even want that power. She claimed to be a princess, but who does she rule? She could achieve so many great things with her strength and authority, and she wastes it all by pretending to be no different from anyone else. It disgusts me. I spent so many years and untold amounts of effort trying to reach greatness, while she stumbled into greatness completely by accident, and then proceeded to squander it.

It wasn’t enough to take her friend’s souls. I had to hurt her. To do that, I had to not only hurt her friends, but take away all the things they cared about.

A fire burned within me as I turned to look at the orchard. Blistering flames inside my soul, burning with enough heat to reduce an entire countryside to ash.

Perhaps it would be fitting if there was a fire on the outside, too.


Applejack’s Defeat 1GG


Create a 1/1 green insect creature token with flying and deathtouch. When a creature named Applejack, Orchard Tender dies this turn, its controller sacrifices a land.

“I’ll admit, your trees make for excellent firewood.”
— Sunset the Exiled


The time Sunset spent aimlessly wandering the town had so far proven to be fruitless. It was impossible to get anyone’s attention, and at her tiny size the streets had proven not only difficult to navigate, but outright perilous as well. So many times she’d been nearly crushed, and throughout it all she had no idea where she was going.

Just when she felt like nothing would happen, a sign came. A crowd of larger ponies had stopped in the middle of the street to gawk at something in the distance. Sunset weaved through their legs, pushing through the crowd, until she saw it. A sight that made her entire body go rigid in sudden dread.

A massive pillar of smoke was billowing from the land in the southwestern edge of town. Sweet Apple Acres was on fire.

Sunset didn’t even think twice about her response. She immediately bolted off, as fast as her tiny legs could carry her, towards the site of the fire. She weaved through the crowds of ponies, jumped across the cracks in the pavement, and ran through more of the town than she could have ever guessed was possible for someone of her size. The crowds of ponies thinned and the houses went by in a blur as she made her way to Ponyville’s outer reaches.

By the time she reached Sweet Apple Acres, a team of pegasi were already hard at work, extinguishing the fire with a series of rain clouds. Though most of the fire had already died down, rows upon rows of trees were reduced to charred, leafless husks of their former selves. It was immediately clear what had happened: her other self had attempted to burn the Apple family’s entire livelihood to the ground.

If Sunset had a stomach, it would have twisted itself into a knot. What she was seeing didn’t make any sense. Even in her worst moments, even when she’d made all of Canterlot High her plaything in a bid for social dominance, she was never this cruel. There were always lines she’d never have crossed. There was always a little voice in her mind telling her to stop before she went too far. But the pony claiming to be the real her wasn’t just crossing those lines, she was going so far beyond them that she was practically at the horizon. It was like there was nothing left inhibiting her cruelest desires, nothing holding her back from committing every single atrocity that came to her mind.

As Sunset stood there and watched the extinguished trees smolder, an understanding dawned on her. A burst of intuition, perhaps, but it had also felt like she’d known it all along. Maybe she just didn’t want to know it until now.

I... I think I get it. She and I used to be the same person, Sunset thought to herself. The voice in my head telling us to do that right thing was me, and my other self was... everything else. The part of me with all the rage, bitterness, and jealousy. And becoming a demon... that must have been her becoming separate from me. That’s what she is without me there to guide her. Being hit by the Elements gave me an identity and put me in control.

The thought of such a vicious person ever being a part of herself made Sunset feel sick. So much pain her other self could have caused, so many people who would suffer further had she not been there. And yet, at the same time, she only found her resolve hardening further. Any fatigue remaining in Sunset’s porcelain body was pushed away by the newfound determination pouring into her entire being. This was no longer just a matter of saving her friends. It was a matter of saving herself.

With renewed vigor, Sunset turned around and began heading on the path back to town. She’d put a stop to this. There was no doubt in her mind left about that.

Hit // Run

View Online

I was starting to think I’d done something wrong.

Trying to burn down Sweet Apple Acres was supposed to be cathartic, but ultimately it didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t advance my goals in any way, and it didn’t even look like I’d gotten most of the farm besides. Not to mention that my little stunt risked damaging Applejack’s body, which could have been bad news. If she died, her soul’s connection to the physical world would be severed, and I’d no longer be able to keep her inside of me. Thankfully, nothing like that seemed to happen, and the fire was put out quickly thanks to the response of Ponyville’s weather team. Of course, that also meant the general population was also much more likely to know that something’s up.

Ugh, I don’t know what’s going on anymore. I thought that acting on my impulse would help me feel better, but instead it’s doing nothing for me. I don’t feel more satisfied, all I feel is the increasing sense that I’m just one misstep away from losing everything. And I’d nearly allowed myself to be either killed or critically injured twice, just because I was more focused on tormenting Twilight’s friends than actually stealing their souls. Was I being irrational?

No, I... I can’t be irrational. I’m a magical prodigy, the greatest unicorn since Star Swirl himself. I’m just doing what I need to in order to get back at Celestia and Twilight. Stealing their souls isn’t enough, I want to make them hurt. I... I’m just doing what I need to do to accomplish that.

But maybe this does call for a change in tactics. I’ll save the toying for Celestia and her little teacher’s pet. I need to move quickly now, so I’ll just hit Twilight’s remaining friends and move on. I won’t be able to steal their souls without subduing them first, but with my power that shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Move quickly, hit hard. That’s the plan. Wandering back on the road through town might look a bit suspicious after a fire just suddenly appeared in the direction I was coming from. I already had to hide in a bush a few times to avoid being spotted by the weather team. So if I wanted to move quickly without being noticed, I had to teleport.

Teleporting long-distance is always risky, of course, but I’d memorized enough of the town layout to do it. I was careful to take in the minute details of every single home or building I’d visited during the past week, so I could even teleport directly to a place where I’d find one of Twilight’s friends. Hopefully I wouldn’t teleport directly into one of Twilight’s friends, but that was exceedingly unlikely.

The only question was who to hit next. I quickly ruled out Pinkie Pie, as I really didn’t know how I could possibly catch her off guard. If anything, she’d be the one catching me off-guard with something unexpected. Thinking about it further, it was probably a good idea for me to go after her last, at least before getting Celestia and Twilight. That way I’d have more power so I could deal with her.

Rarity it is, then, I thought, my horn already enveloped in a surge of light. The thing next I knew I was standing right in the middle of the Carousel Boutique, judging by the elaborate ponnequins with dozens of gaudy gems on their clothes. Rarity didn’t seem to be present at the moment. Most likely she was in her workroom, putting together yet another of her dresses.

Of course, her business being her entire life’s pride and joy, she wouldn’t have made it far if she didn’t know when to service a potential customer. Just like her human counterpart, she always somehow knew when someone had arrived. Right on cue, her voice called from upstairs.


A gentle trotting of hooves signaled Rarity’s arrival. Her eyes brightened as her muzzle split into a sickeningly cheerful smile. Good. That meant she still didn’t suspect anything.

“Oh, hello Sunset! What brings you here today?”

Almost immediately, Rarity’s eyes went wide. By that point, my horn was already igniting as I prepared to cast my next spell.

Unfortunately, I yet again managed to underestimate just how much of a fight my target would put up. Just as I launched a concussive bolt from my horn, Rarity yanked a diamond from a nearby ponnequin’s dress, holding it just in front of her with her telekinetic grip. My blast immediately rebounded off of the gemstone, reflecting at a low angle and striking me right in the center of my chest. My breath forcibly evacuated from my lungs as I was sent tumbling backwards and sprawling onto the ground.

...Dammit, of course she had to be the one to use the environment to her advantage. There must be some force of cosmic irony that’s laughing at me right now.

As I slowly picked myself onto my hooves, I could get a closer look at the absolutely furious expression on Rarity’s face. Her impossibly beautiful appearance was somehow tarred by her own emotional state, and I could suddenly see the individual wrinkles and blemishes written across her features, as well as... hold on, are those fangs? I could have sworn she had fangs one moment, only to lose them as soon as I even blinked. Did I just imagine that?


I closed my eyes briefly and sighed. “No sense hiding it now,” I said. My brow narrowed fiercely as I locked eyes with my prey. “Alright you wannabe debutante, here’s the deal. Right now, you have your soul and I don’t. I’m here to rectify that.”

Rarity’s eyes went as wide as dinner plates. Her mouth worked silently, as though she was struggling to process what I’d told her. Her eyes quivered slightly, and I could already see her makeup beginning to run.

“It was you,” she said. Her voice started as a whisper, but almost immediately grew to a full shout, wavering heavily as she struggled to hold back her sobs. “You did this! You’re the one responsible for everything! I... I can’t believe you’d betray our trust like this! How could you!?”

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. “Oh, spare me the drama queen act. I’ve already taken the souls of nearly all your little friends, and most of them are either ten times as athletic or a hundred times as powerful as you. So why don’t you be a good little miss prissy-pants and give yourself up? It’ll save you a lot of trouble.”

I wasn’t entirely sure whether to be surprised when Rarity did cut the melodramatics. Her human counterpart did seem like a living mood swing at times. The blemishes and wrinkles on her face almost seemed to vanish as she narrowed her eyes at me.

“I don’t think you’re in any right to be boasting about your superiority, given that you just blasted yourself with your own spell.”

“A simple mistake,” I countered. “And I don’t make the same mistake twice.”

As soon as I finished my sentence, I shot another concussive bolt from my horn. Rarity once again moved to intercept with her gemstone, but this time I was prepared. Just as the bolt reflected off the gemstone, I rapidly grabbed another diamond from the same ponnequin’s dress, and moved it in the path of the attack. The bolt reflected a second time, back towards my intended target, and Rarity matched her movements with mine. The bolt reflected a third time, back towards me.

For longer than I could bother trying to keep track of, it continued like this. Given my vastly superior power, I expected that Rarity would eventually slip up and be hit by my attack. To my utter astonishment, however, she not only kept up with every rebound of my spell, but soon began to outpace me. With every iteration, my telekinetic movements grew sloppier and harder to control, despite my best efforts.

It suddenly began to dawn on me that, while her raw strength was pathetic, Rarity’s precision with magic was virtually unmatched. In all my life I don’t think I’ve ever seen a unicorn use telekinesis so smoothly and effortlessly. And as luck would have it, that in turn meant I’d picked exactly the wrong way to deal with her.

That realization struck me not one second before my own concussive bolt followed. This time it his me right between my eyes, and my entire world was subsequently launched skywards. I was certain that I’d done several backflips in the air by the time I’d landed, and the excruciating headache I had when I stood to my hooves didn’t help matters any.

As the pain faded away and my vision came back into focus, I could see Rarity facing me with the most obnoxiously haughty grin I’d ever seen. “I believe that makes the score thirty-love,” she quipped.

My jaw clenched so hard that I could practically hear my teeth grinding. Every time, every time I tried to take the soul of one of Twilight’s friends, they’d find some way to humiliate me in the process. It was beyond aggravating. It was infuriating. And I’d had enough.

What happened next had happened so quickly that I barely even realized what I was doing. My mind was enveloped in a haze of rage as a deep, primal bellow escaped my throat. My head lowered, the tip of my horn brandished like a dagger, and I charged forward with reckless abandon.

It wasn’t until I heard the scream of pain that I snapped back to reality. I pulled myself backwards, feeling something slick and lumpy against my horn, and watched in horror as Rarity’s body slumped to the ground. My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach as I saw the deep, gaping wound right in the center of her.

“Oh... Oh, no.” My voice quivered slightly as panic began to creep into its edges. “No, no, no! This wasn’t supposed to happen! I wasn’t supposed to kill her! I can’t take her soul if she’s dead!”

My breath grew quick and shallow as I began to comprehend the many ways in which I’d potentially screwed myself. Calm down, Sunset, I reminded myself. It’s not the end of the world. You can still get the others. Just take a deep breath.

As my breath steadied, I could feel my body’s shaking begin to calm itself. First things first, I had to make sure this wouldn’t catch up to me later. A simple spell, and the disgusting splatter of blood was completely scrubbed from my horn. Now, I just had to figure out what to do next. My eyes darted about the room as I looked for a way I could hide the body.


My head swiveled so fast it nearly gave itself whiplash, and I turned to see Rarity slowly standing to her hooves, apparently completely unfazed by the small detail of the massive, gaping wound in her chest. A wound that, assuming I wasn’t seeing things, was getting smaller by the second.

Almost immediately, my jaw dropped. “W-what? How? How are you still standing? No other pony would survive that kind of injury!”

A desperate, hacking cough escaped her throat. Somehow, despite her still-ragged appearance, she managed to give me another smug grin. “Well, I wouldn’t be much of a Rarity if I were like other ponies, would I?”

As soon as I heard that line, I could feel my right eye twitching slightly. Hundreds of ideas of how to respond to that flashed through my mind, and nearly all of them were violent. Ultimately though, I decided to go with the more sensible option.

“You know what?” I said. “Fine. If I can’t beat you by breaking your body, I’ll just have to go after your mind.

Rarity blinked rapidly. “Wha—”

Whatever her thoughts were, she didn’t get to elaborate on them further. My horn pulsed with power, as I channeled the same spell that I’d used on Canterlot High’s students, on that fateful day of the Fall Formal. With her stamina thoroughly exhausted by our scuffle, and her magic too weak to prepare a counterspell, her mind fell like a house of cards. Her eyes glazed over as she stood silently, her expression utterly vacant.

My lips curved upwards into a grin. “Excellent,” I said. “Now, let’s see about that soul of yours...”

Another pulse from my horn, and I began the process of absorbing Rarity’s soul. There was a truly impressive amount of resistance to the extraction, and on the edges of my magical sense I could just barely make out the presence of black magic tethered to her soul.

Was... was Rarity undead? No, that couldn’t be right.

A grunt of exertion escaped as the last smidgen of resistance gave away, and her soul escaped through her mouth, spiraling inwards into my horn. It definitely looked different from the other souls, less of a white and wispy presence than a grey and oily mass. It looked almost greasy, if that was even possible.

Either way, I decided it wasn’t my concern. When she landed within my mindscape, I could still feel her struggles, which meant that her soul was still tethered to her body. Good. That meant my work was done.

Just as I turned to walk away, a sudden flash of pain erupted within my head. A groan escaped my lips, as I immediately knew what I was in for.

“Here we go again...”


”Ow! Careful with those pins!”

Sunset’s complaint didn’t seem to register, as Rarity continued her work. Sunset stood atop a small, raised pedestal specially built for modeling, holding her arms to her sides as Rarity carefully took the measurements. Measurements which, much to Sunset’s dismay, involved a lot of pins.

“This wouldn’t be an issue if you held still, darling,” Rarity countered. Despite the two remaining straight pins precariously held in her mouth, she managed to speak with perfect clarity. “And you wouldn’t even need tailoring if you hadn’t ordered your dress online. You know they never get the sizes right.”

Sunset’s gaze briefly drew downwards, to the new dress. It was a simple white strapless evening gown with, nothing overly extravagant, yet classy enough to be suitable for the higher-end clubs in Canterlot City. And while her fake ID had proven reliable enough to sneak into plenty of dive bars, she’d always failed to meet the dress codes of fancier establishments.

“Well, excuse me for not being familiar with your world’s bizarro future technology,” Sunset countered. “Ow! Hey, watch it!”

“Oh, hush. I’m nearly finished,” said Rarity. She carefully placed another pin in Sunset’s dress. “There! That should be it. Just give me until the end of the week, and I’ll have your gown all fixed up.” With a broad grin, Rarity’s eyes briefly scanned Sunset’s form. “And I must say, I think you’ll look positively stunning when it’s finished. It really is a welcome sight to see you wearing something other than that old leather jacket.”

Sunset smiled, glimpsing a slight flush in her cheeks in a nearby mirror. “Thanks,” she said. “I do like that jacket, though. No idea what it’s made from, but it’s really tough. It saved me from some pretty nasty friction burns in a motorbike accident.”

Rarity paused. “You... you don’t know what leather is made of?”

“I’m pretty sure I’d heard the term in Equestria before,” said Sunset. “All I really knew was that it’s strictly contraband there, so it felt pretty rebellious wearing it all the time. It’s... kind of embarrassing to say it, but that jacket really made me feel like a badass.”

Rarity cringed, letting out a slight hiss as she sucked in air through clenched teeth. “I... I suppose that would explain things.”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Explain what?”

“Well...” Rarity placed a finger to her chin, anxiously tapping her foot. “Oh dear, how do I put this lightly? You’re a vegetarian, correct?”

“Duh,” Sunset replied. “Most of the animals you eat are sapient where I’m from. You try eating a burger when you’ve held entire conversations with cows.”

“Yes, and that’s exactly the issue, Sunset,” said Rarity. “Leather is... it’s...” Her words died off, and she let out a sigh. “There’s no way of sugarcoating it, I’m afraid. It’s made from cow hide.”

The statement hit Sunset with the force of a eighteen-wheel truck. Almost immediately she doubled over, lapsing into a prolonged coughing fit as her lungs fought to steady themselves from the initial shock. The many needles in her dress poked, prodded, and in some cases punctured her skin, but it was only a minor irritation compared to the absolute horror that had struck her.

“Easy there, Sunset!” Rarity cried out. As swiftly as she could without sacrificing her careful touch, she grabbed Sunset by the shoulder, holding her steady. “Easy. It’s alright. You’ll be okay.”

“N-no!” Sunset shouted back. “It’s not okay! Nothing about it is okay! I... I... Oh, dear Celestia, what kind of horrible monster am I?”

“Sunset, you’re not a monster.”

“Yes I am!” said Sunset. Strands of red-gold hair obstructed her eyes, and between them and the rapidly-forming tears she had trouble making out Rarity’s figure. “I’ve been wearing the skin of a cow! Those are people where I’m from! I... I’m like some sort of demented serial killer!”

“Sunset. Look at me.” Rarity’s hands moved upwards, firmly yet gently grasping Sunset by the cheeks. As Sunset glimpsed the deep compassion shining through Rarity’s eyes, her rapid, agitated breaths began to steady. “You’re not a serial killer,” Rarity reassured, “and you’re not a monster either. You are a good person, and don’t you dare for a second think otherwise.”

Sunset shivered slightly at Rarity’s touch. Memories of unpleasant times were brought up to the forefront of her mind. “B-but...”

“Yes, even with all the bad things you’ve done,” Rarity answered, as though she knew exactly what Sunset would say. A gentle smile crossed her face, as she brushed the stray hairs out of Sunset’s face. “If you weren’t a good person at heart, you wouldn’t have worked so hard to change everything for the better. You’ve done so much for all of us, and we couldn’t be happier to have you as a friend.”

Sunset sniffled slightly. “You... you really mean that, huh?”

“Of course I do,” said Rarity. “Are you feeling better now?”

“I... I guess so yeah,” Sunset replied. “I might need to get a new jacket, though. It just... feels gross, thinking about wearing it now.”

“Well, there’s no need to worry about that,” said Rarity. “I’m certain you’ll be able to find plenty of faux-leather jackets to replace it.” She turned her head downwards and glanced at the dress, looking at the mess of loose fabric and undone pins that it had become. “Now then, if you’ll hold still for a while so I can start over...”

“Oh no,” said Sunset. “More pins?”

Rarity flashed Sunset a smirk. “More pins.”


...Well. That certainly wasn’t a horrifying moment to relive at all.

Sure, I may not be at all interested in being nice, but the mere thought of wearing actual cow hide is just... gah. I feel gross just thinking about it, and I’d been wearing that leather jacket for nearly three years. Thank god Rarity told me, or I’d probably still be wearing it as a human. I just wish she’d told me sooner.

I blinked rapidly as a sudden epiphany dawned on me. In my mind, I’d referred to an event that parasite experienced as thought it had happened to me. And I thanked Rarity for it, as though she was actually my friend. This... this feedback, it’s messing with my brain. Something’s happening to my mind.

Thinking about how my mind is being altered without my consent, I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. With every soul I absorbed, I became less like me, and more like... like that parasite. Like her. And I didn’t know why it was happening. Or at least, I didn’t think I did. There was a possibility in the back of my mind that’d been starting to form, one that I could only hope wasn’t true.

The feedback isn’t making me more like the parasite. I always was like the parasite, and these visions, they’re... they’re making me remember that I’m like her.

I... No. No, that couldn’t be true. I’m nothing like that goddamned thing that took control of my entire life. If I were like her, why did she spend so much time pushing me away? Why did she keep me bottled inside, trying to pretend I wasn’t there? Why didn’t she let me be a part of her?

No, that... that’s ridiculous. I’m thinking complete nonsense. I can’t let myself be distracted by nonsense. One last pony before I moved on to Celestia, and then Twilight. I could do this.

...Just as long as I ignored that growing feeling that I’d soon screw up.


Rarity’s Defeat 1{u/r}B


Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap that creature. It gains haste until end of turn. If that creature is named Rarity, Gem Weaver, sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step.

“You remind me of your clothing. Pretty, but useless.”
— Sunset the Exiled


It had taken far too much time for Sunset to return to Ponyville proper. At her tiny size, a walk that would have taken her minutes was made almost five times as long, and judging by the sun’s position it was already well into the afternoon. By then, her other, darker self could have already absorbed the souls of all her other friends, too.

No, don’t think about that just yet, Sunset reminded herself. Don’t assume the worst. I have to hold onto some hope that I can fix this.

Eventually, Sunset’s path brought her back to the main square of Ponyville. The traffic had thinned out considerably from earlier that day, though there was still enough pedestrian traffic that she had to carefully navigate her way between the moving hooves of ponies too large to notice her. Thankfully, by then she had already grown adept at maneuvering through the potentially-lethal crowds, no doubt helped her body’s inability to tire.

Of course, Sunset still had no idea where she was going, or what she would do next. At first she hadn’t even considered her lack of a plan, but soon a temporary lull in the traffic left her standing in an open space on the pavement. Without her routine of weaving through other ponies’ legs, she was left only to consider how unprepared she was.

Get help. I need to get help, was the first thought that had popped up into her head. But from who?

Twilight was her first choice, but in all likelihood she was still in her castle, behind doors far too large for her to open. Its crystal architecture seemed almost designed to be hostile to someone of her size, with no opening she knew of within her reach. Princess Celestia was her next choice, but she was in Canterlot, far too distant for her tiny form to ever reach in time. After that, she could only draw blanks. There was nobody she could think of whose soul wasn’t already stolen, or who wouldn’t be at risk of having their soul stolen by the time she’d gotten there. She couldn’t predict where her counterpart would go yet.


The word lingered on her mind well after the initial thought was finished. That was it. Unpredictable. Pinkie Pie was the one. If her other half was anything like her, she wouldn’t be able to guess what Pinkie would do. That meant going after Pinkie was one of the biggest risk. And that meant Pinkie stood a greater chance of standing up to her. By the time the pedestrian traffic picked up enough to force Sunset to move, she was already heading towards Sugarcube Corner.

The trip, thankfully, was far shorter than her trip back from Sweet Apple Acres. Sugarcube Corner was only a few short blocks away from the town square, its bright and colorful architecture unmistakably visible from very far away. Sunset soon arrived just outside the pastry shop, smoke wafting from its chimney as its stove was no doubt hard at work baking its delicious treats. Sunset instinctively tried to sniff the air, hoping to catch a scent of the pastries, only to be bitterly reminded that she no longer had any nose or respiratory tract to speak of.

Forget the pastries, she reminded herself, I need to find a way in.

The door was the first option, but closer examination revealed the crack between itself and the ground too small for her to fit through, and either way she didn’t want to risk being shattered by standing to close when it was opened. That left the next option, the windows. As she circled the building, she examined each of its windows in turn, dodging the hoofsteps of other ponies along the way, only for disappointment to escalate with each passing window being closed.

Finally, just as she was about to give up entirely, Sunset glanced the last window, left hanging open just enough for a pie to cool on the kitchen windowsill. But then came the hard part, which was actually reaching it.

Ducking closer to the building’s edge, Sunset moved out of the way of the traffic, positioning herself just beneath her target. Magic, she realized, was her only chance. Turning her mind inwards, she dug deep within her shallow magic reserves. While most of it had already recovered, it was still barely anything at all, only just enough for even a rudimentary spell.

Stepping backwards from the building’s side, and positioning herself at just the right angle to enter, Sunset looked up and cast jump. Almost immediately she came to regret her actions, as while she soared straight through the window and into the building’s interior, she quickly realized that she had no magic left to cushion her impact. As the floor rapidly approached, Sunset screwed her eyes shut, bracing herself for what she could only assume would be her end.


As Pinkie’s voice called out from the blue, Sunset felt herself land, yet her body remained entirely intact. As she opened her eyes, she realized she was lying on top of a large, cushy pillow, held up by a gigantic pink hoof. Standing up, she found herself staring directly into the enormous eyes of Pinkie Pie herself.

“Wow, Sunset! Nice outfit!” Pinkie said. “I gotta say, I am loving the new look!” A very Pinkie-like giggle passed her lips, one that involved a noticeable amount of snorting.

“Uh... yeah, thanks,” said Sunset. Even going in expecting to be surprised, Pinkie had managed to act before Sunset’s mind could catch up with what she did. “Listen, Pinkie, I need your help. I know who’s stolen your friends’ souls.”

“You do?” said Pinkie. Her gargantuan smile shrunk into almost nothing, and the twinkle in her eyes seemed to dull just a bit.

“Yes,” said Sunset. Somehow, even without any lungs, she could feel a sudden tightness in her chest as she recalled the atrocities committed by her own likeness. Images of Sweet Apple Acres burning, of Fluttershy’s body lying in the hospital, and of the terrified look on Luna’s face as she was dragged away by tendrils of evil magic. “It’s... it’s me, Pinkie. Or half of me. I... I’m not sure how, but the darker part of my personality’s been split off from me, and is now going out of her way to hurt everyone you care about. I... don’t know how to stop her, Pinkie. I don’t know how to stop my other self. Please, you have to help me! I can’t let her hurt anyone else!”

Pinkie’s expression remained unreadable as she watched Sunset intently, listening closely to her every word. When Sunset finished, Pinkie sat on her haunches, folding one of her front legs across her chest while the other thoughtfully rubbed her chin. Somehow, the pillow Sunset was sitting on remained suspended, even without Pinkie’s hoof to hold it in place.

“Hmm...” For several seconds, Pinkie sat in place, lost deep within her own thoughts. “Okay, I think I got it. Evil half of your personality takes control and tries to cause a bunch of pain and suffering for no reason, because apparently some part of the universe wants you to be dark and edgy, right? I’m familiar with that myself. Well, maybe not myself myself, but I have a pretty solid hunch some other myselfs are.”

Sunset blinked. “I... I’m sorry, what?

“Don’t worry about it!” said Pinkie, quickly standing back on four hooves. In the corner of her eye, Sunset almost swore she could see a fifth hoof holding up the pillow. She tried to ignore that thought and spare herself the headache. “I’ve already come up with a plan. I’m getting some weird vibes from my Pinkie Sense right now, and it’s probably trying to tell me that evil-you is coming. So here’s what you’re going to do.”

Sunset leaned forward, listening intently and ignoring any questions she might have had about ‘Pinkie Sense.’ “Alright, shoot.”

“You need to get out of here,” said Pinkie. “Let me deal with evil-you for now. You focus on trying to get to Twilight, because if this is about what I think it’s about, there’s probably some grudge going on about her replacing both evil-you and you-you as Princess Celestia’s student. Am I right?”

Sunset nodded, a phantom lump forming in her throat. “I... Yes. From what I can tell, my darker half hates Princess Twilight more than anyone else. She’ll probably try to take everyone else’s souls first so she can hurt Twilight as much as possible. Make her feel the loss of everyone she cares about.”

“Right,” said Pinkie. “So that means what you need to do is find Twilight. But more importantly, don’t reveal yourself to her.”

Sunset’s eyes went wide. “What!? Pinkie, I-I trust you, but why? She needs to know what’s happening! Everyone she cares about is in danger! Twilight’s in danger!”

“I know that!” Pinkie snapped back. For the first time, there was a slight edge to her voice, a subtle hint of anger pushing its way to the edges. “I’m just telling you what you need to do to save everypony, okay? So are you going to listen or not?”

“I-I...” Sunset stammered. A twinge of shame crawled into her porcelain chest cavity, nesting in a place far deeper than her body. “Yes. I’m sorry, I’ll listen. Just tell me what I need to do.”

Pinkie gave Sunset a nod. “Alright good. Here’s what you need to do. Find Twilight, but don’t reveal yourself to her, or to anypony else. Instead, wait for evil-you to come back, and let her get into her fight with Twilight.”

Sunset’s jaw dropped. “What!? Pinkie, no offense, but that’s crazy! If that happens, Twilight—”

“Just listen!” Pinkie interject. “You need to let them fight. Then, just when it looks like evil-you is about to win, you need to distract her. It doesn’t have to be a big distraction, just something that can draw her attention away from Twilight. Once you’ve done that, I’ll move in with my part of the plan, and everypony’s souls will be free. Got it?”

Sunset mimicked a gulp, in an effort to swallow her apprehension. She had to trust Pinkie, she reminded herself. She had to have faith in her friend. “...I think so, yes. But what’s your part of the plan?”

Pinkie grinned widely, the overhead lights glinting off of a set of teeth that was unreasonably perfect for how many sweets she ate. “Well, it won’t work if I tell you, silly! There’d be no tension!”

“What? Tension?” said Sunset. “That’s... Pinkie, this isn’t a game! Everyone’s lives are at stake! Twilight’s life is at stake! If we don’t stop her, then—”

Before Sunset could even finish her sentence, the voice of Mrs. Cake called from the other room.

“Pinkie dear, I believe your friend Sunset is here to see you!”

Pinkie gasped. “Oh no, she’s here! Quick, you’ve got to get out of here! And don’t forget what I told you! Just stick to the plan, and everything will be okay!”

Before Sunset could even respond, Pinkie reached out with her hoof and grabbed her. In a single smooth motion, she leaned out the windowsill, her front leg stretching an impossibly long distance as it gently lowered Sunset to the ground. By the time Sunset looked up again, Pinkie had already retreated back into the kitchen.

Sunset sighed. “Right. I guess I have a plan now,” she said. “I just hope you know what you’re doing, Pinkie...”


If there’s one thing I’ll give Sugarcube Corner, it’s that its name couldn’t be more appropriate. Just stepping into the kitchen made me worry I’d catch diabetes. The air was so heavily saturated with the aromas of sweet-smelling pastries that I could actually feel the airborne sugar granules traveling down my windpipe. Stepping in, I fully expected to be greeted by the divine apotheosis of a sugar rush, as I’m pretty sure Pinkie is by this point.

What I found was... not that. It was, in fact, the very last thing I expected to see from Pinkie. I fully expected her to defy my expectations in the most bizarre possible way, and somehow she found a way to defy even that.

The pink pony I was looking at was not the Element of Laughter. The pony I was looking was the most depressed pony I’ve ever seen. Gone was usual pink mass of curls for a mane, instead replaced by a straight cut that drooped like a wilting flower. It could have just been an optical illusion, but it looked like the very color in her body was fading, becoming duller.

“Pinkie?” I said. It was only a guess, as the pony before me didn’t look like Pinkie at all. “What happened?”

Pinkie, or so I assumed, looked up at me. Her eyes had no trace of tears, yet just at a glance I could see this unbearable sadness to them, like all of the weight in the world was dragging them down.

“I know what you did to my friends,” she whispered. “And I know you’re going to do it to me, too.”

My entire body froze. She knew. Somehow, she’d found out about everything. I don’t know how she knew, but it explained everything about what I was seeing. Pinkie’s friends were almost literally the entire world to her. She based the whole of her identity not just on having friends, but on making sure that they were living the happiest, most fulfilling lives they could.

Take that away from her, and she has absolutely nothing left to live for.

My face split open into the widest grin I’d ever had since regaining control of my body. “So you do,” I said. “And you I already have the souls of most of your friends. You’d like to see them again, wouldn’t you?”

Pinkie sniffled slightly. “Y-yeah,” she said.

“Good,” I replied. “Then hold still.”

My horn pulsed with dark power, and right away Pinkie slumped onto the ground as her soul exited through her mouth, spiraling its way into my horn, and then into my own mind. I didn’t even feel her bother to wriggle as she went down. She’d just... given up.

A part of me was suspicious. It was too easy, I’d thought. There had to be something I was missing. Something that I’d overlooked. But the thought of an easy victory was soon contrasted against my memories of victories that were anything but easy, and all the embarrassment I had to suffer in order to win them.

In the end, I decided that I’d take it. A victory is a victory, and a chance for breather was much appreciated. I didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy that breather, however, as I once again found myself being pulled into a flashback.

This one was... different, though. It wasn’t a memory of anything I recalled ever experiencing, either as myself or when I was controlled by the parasite. In fact, I was only half-certain it was something that actually happened in real life. On the positive side, I know what a fursona is now. On the negative, I also never want to hear about fursonas again.

Seriously Pinkie, that’s just disturbing.

When my initial revulsion wore of, I was left wondering why the flashback here was different. My best guess was that Pinkie surrendered herself willingly, so it didn’t have the same effect. Then again, Pinkie also completely defied the logic of how my magic geode as a human worked, so I figured it wasn’t worth questioning too deeply.

Now that only left Princess Celestia and Twilight to deal with. That was where the real fun would begin.


Pinkie Pie’s Defeat BR


Destroy target creature. Then, if that creature was named Pinkie, Joyful Hedonist, exile all cards from its controller’s graveyard.

“Oh, don’t look so glum. I’m smiling, aren’t I?”
— Sunset the Exiled



As the spiraling rollercoaster of the soul drain spell abruptly wore off, Pinkie found herself landing within the confines of Sunset’s mindscape. It was a tiny, boring chamber of boring grey in a boring plain cube shape, boringly devoid of even the boringest non-boring features that would make it anything less than boring.

And as if that weren’t bad enough, Pinkie didn’t see any trace of her friends anywhere.

“Helloooooo?” she called out. “Is anypony else in there?”

“Pinkie Pie, is that you?” Applejack’s voice called from beyond the walls. “She got you too, huh?”

“Yuppers!” Pinkie replied. “But don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan! So, how many of us has she got so far?”

“Plan?” Rainbow Dash’s voice called back. “What plan? Pinkie, you’re not telling me you got caught on purpose, are you?”

“Rainbow, don’t be rude,” Fluttershy’s voice replied. “I’m sure Pinkie’s come up with a wonderful plan to get us all out of here.”

“I would certainly hope so,” said Rarity. “I’m not even strictly alive to begin with. My soul’s attachment to the living world is more tenuous than anypony’s. If I’m away from my body for too long, I... I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay in the living world.”

“Re-lax,” Pinkie reassured. “I’ve totally got this! So who else do we have right now? I need a good headcount before we begin. Princess Luna’s here too, right?”

“That I am,” Luna’s voice replied. “But, and I mean this without any offence, I can hardly see the cause for your optimism. The last time I was trapped within the mindscape of another was when the Nightmare consumed me. Even with my considerable power, there was naught I could do but wait for an opportunity to wrest myself free. It had taken one thousand years before such an opportunity presented itself. We simply do not have that kind of time now.”

“Well yeah,” said Pinkie, “I totally get that. But this is different! I’m pretty sure Evil Bad Guy Sunset isn’t some abstract parasitic force of darkness that manifests through the jealousy and rage of its host, she’s just the sad and angry half of an ordinary pony!”

“I see not what difference that makes,” Luna said glumly. “We are still trapped either way.”

“But you’re the Princess of the Night!” Pinkie called back. “You can walk through into other ponies dreams, right? And aren’t dreams are just windows into our own minds?”

Luna paused for a moment, creating a brief lull in the conversation. “...Yes, that is correct. May I ask where you are going with this?”

“Easy-peasy!” said Pinkie. “We don’t need a window into Evil Bad Guy Sunset’s mind because we’re already in her mind! That means you should be able to influence it the same way you influence dreams, right?”

“I... I hadn’t thought of that,” said Luna. “But I cannot directly control the mind through dreams. I may be able to subtly influence a pony's subconscious thoughts, but ultimately they are still the master of their own mind.”

“No no, it’s nothing that complicated,” said Pinkie. “No mind-control or anything. I just need you to plant an idea in Sunset’s head so that she thinks it’s her idea. Can you do that?”

“What? Pinkie, that’s...” Luna paused, clearing her throat. “What I mean to say is, what you speak of is theoretically possible, but it has never been successfully attempted in practice. I may be able to accomplish such a feat, but there is no guarantee it will work.”

“But you’ve got to try!” Pinkie pleaded. “It may be our only chance of escaping!”

There was another pregnant pause, as the mindscape fell silent. The weight of their situation pressed down on Pinkie like a mountain, letting the seriousness of everything her friends had seen sink in.

“...If that’s what we must do, I will try,” Luna finally spoke up. “It will take more than half an hour of continuous spellcasting on my part, but I may be able to pull it off. But first, I must know of the idea you wish for me to implant.”

“Okie-dokie, loki!” said Pinkie. Leaning against the wall from which Luna’s voice had emanated, she began speaking to her fellow captor in a stage whisper. “Here’s what we’ll need you to do...”


Incepted Insight U


Search another target player’s library for a card and exile it. That player puts that card into his or her hand, then shuffles his or her library afterwards.

Ideas are only as valuable as the person who has them.

Spitemare's Sun

View Online

A flash of light. A pulse of magic. The gap in my perceptions as I exited reality and entered through another point in space. Even after my extended stay in Anthropia, teleporting was an intimately familiar sensation to me. It was something I’d practiced so thoroughly and routinely that I didn’t even notice how it felt. Yet this time, it was different. This time there was a far, far greater purpose behind it. I had become so intimately familiar with my destination that I didn’t even need to make a mental map, even with a long-distance teleport.

I flashed back into existence, and appeared within Princess Celestia’s throne room. She was sitting atop her throne, surrounded by a pair of guards, sipping daintily from a cup of tea as she carefully read from a scroll longer than her entire body. Just what exactly was she doing, anyway? Doesn’t she have any governing to take care of?

The guards immediately assumed a fighting stance the moment I appeared inside. I’m guessing they didn’t know I’d discovered a way around the room’s teleport lock years ago.

“At ease, gentlemen,” said Celestia, and the guards instantly relaxed. Her scroll disappeared in a puff of smoke, and she set her teacup down on a tiny foldable table next to the throne. The scintillating aura of mane reflected off of her teeth as she smiled at men. “It’s good to see you again, Sunset. What can I do for you today?”

“A few things,” I replied. My eyes darted over to the guards, and back to her. Looking at them, I felt... something. Something strange in my chest which I couldn’t quite identify. “First things first, get them out of here. I’d like to speak to you alone.” Why did it matter? Did I actually care about them?

“Is that so?” Celestia dropped her smile, her voice adopting a slight intonation of concern. Her eyes flicked over to the guards, who immediately straightened to attention. “Gentlemen, would you please leave Sunset and I to speak in private?”

Both guards gave a salute, quickly scurrying out, leaving to the door to slam shut behind them.

“Now then,” said Celestia, “what is it you wanted to talk me about?” She paused, her head tilting slightly as she regarded me. “Is something the matter, Sunset?”

I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. Memories flashed within my mind, memories of the absolute lowest I had ever been, of the winter days I had sleeping on the sidewalks, without even a single spell to stave off the cold. My muscles tensed, and I could feel smoldering flames within me begin to rise .

My eye snapped open, locking fiercely with Celestia’s. Her own eyes went wide, startled by the sudden ferocity behind my gaze.

“Yes,” I said. “I have a problem, and her name is Princess Celestia.

Celestia’s mouth briefly hung loose before closing. “Sunset, what are you saying? Please, if there’s anything you want to talk to me about—”

I don’t want to hear it!” I blurted out. Celestia very nearly jumped back at the sudden volume. I could plainly see from the subtle quivering in her eyes that she’d been hurt. Good.

“Do you have any idea, any idea what I’ve been forced to go through because of you? I spent almost six years in a world I didn’t understand because you left me with nowhere in Equestria to go! You were the closest thing I’ve ever had to a real family, and you turned me away like I was nothing!

My vision had already become blurred with tears, yet through it I could see them forming in Celestia’s eyes as well. She visibly struggled to look me in the eye after what I’d said.

“Sunset, please—”

No!” I interjected. The fire within me reached a fever pitch, and I could already feel it crawling its way through my chest, towards the tip of my horn. It took an active effort to stop myself from blasting her at that moment. “I don’t want your excuses! I can’t believe I ever looked up to you, you pathetic mare! Just look at you! You’re one of the most important ponies in all of history, and yet you... you degrade yourself by pretending to be no different from anyone else! You could have the entire world bowing to your hooves if you wanted! You could have every pony in Equestria worshiping you as a god, yet you don’t even have the spine to call yourself a queen!”

Celestia’s hurtful expression shifted, too slightly for most ponies to notice, but I could see the sudden flash of anger just beneath her eyes. I’d just struck a nerve. Now I just needed to keep digging.

“I could do so much more with your kind of power,” I snarled. “I could become something greater than you’ve ever imagined being, all because you’re too cowardly to try. That’s why you abandoned me. Not because you were angry at me, but because you were afraid. Because you knew that I would one day surpass you.”

“Sunset, that is enough.” Celestia’s eyes narrowed as she locked her stare against mine. “I can understand if you’re still having difficulty dealing with your feelings, but what you just said is uncalled for. I don’t know what’s gotten into you—”

“Luna’s soul.”

Celestia froze. Her jaw hung loose, and she stared at me like she’d just been slapped across the face. “W-what?”

“I’ll tell you what’s gotten into me,” I said. “Your sister’s soul. Because I took it.”

Celestia’s wings shifted by her sides, her brow narrowing into a glared. “That is not funny, Sunset!”

“The only joke here is that ponies still put up with you running things after how much you’ve failed them!” I shot back. “You practically have the biggest losing streak in Equestria! Just how many times have you gotten your butt kicked by someone you were supposed to protect your precious little ponies from? You lost to a mare who didn’t even use any magic! So why don’t you just cough up your soul, because it’d be better off with a pony that’s actually willing to use your power!”

An uncomfortable tension hung in the air as I finished my rant. Celestia closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, pausing to straighten herself. When she looked my in the eyes again, her muzzle was pressed into a pencil-thin frown, though her eyes burned brightly with a fierceness and determination unlike anything I’d seen from her before.

“I hope you understand the gravity of what you’re saying, Sunset Shimmer. I may have once considered you a pupil and a friend, but if you’re telling me the truth, then I will have no choice but to regard you as the greatest threat Equestria now faces. Do you understand what precisely that entails? I will give you one last chance for you to reconsider your words. Make your choice carefully.”

“My decision was made the moment you decided to hurt me,” I growled back. “And now I’m going to pay you back a million times for what you did to me.”

I closed my eyes and reached in, to the souls contained within me, and drew upon their magic once more.


The walls of Luna’s mindchamber were illuminated by the gentle glow of her horn. The spell was complex, requiring deep concentration, but her work remained uninterrupted as her thaumic touch she delved deeper into her environment, pushing further and further downwards. Pinkie’s idea, as unbelievable as it had sounded at first, was strangely genius the more she stopped to consider it. The pink mare’s strange way of thinking had seemed to grant her insights that most other ponies would miss, even when they seemed obvious.

It was then, in the middle of her spellweaving, that Luna felt something powerful tugging at her. It pulled deep into her, siphoning away at her magic, sucking it up through her soul and out of the mental realm. She let out a shrill cry at the sensation, one that immediately brought to mind the memories of Lord Tirek’s unstoppable rampage.

“W-what’s happening?” Rainbow Dash’s voice called from beyond the walls.

“I... I’m suddenly feeling awfully drained,” Rarity remarked. “Like I shouldn’t have enough strength left to stay attached to this world at all. Yet I feel like there’s something else keeping me from dying.”

“I cannot say for certain why that is,” said Luna. “But if I had to guess, I’d say your bond with the Element of Generosity is the most likely cause. Unfortunately, if that were the case, that would mean that Sunset can draw upon that magic as well...” She paused, suppressing a deep shudder that had begun to form within her. “I suddenly dread what would happen if the magic of Harmony was used for evil purposes.”

“Well, what about you, Princess?” said Applejack. “If she’s taking magic from all of us, Ah reckon that means she’s taking it from you, too. Do you think you can still finish the spell?”

“I... I think so, yes,” Luna replied. “It is a difficult spell, but it uses very little mana to cast. Even now, I should still be able to complete it.”

Luna gave a sigh, and then continued. The plan would work, but there was one thing that it absolutely depended on.

“I just hope I have enough time before she reaches Twilight...”


The unanimous squirming of the souls within me as I drew upon their strength let me know that I was doing something right. I’d drawn from them much more deeply than I had previously, not enough to fully drain them, but more than enough to get what I needed. Even Princess Luna finally showed some reaction to my siphoning act, to my surprise. Her magic was more resistant to being drawn from than before, like it was trying to move in a different direction from where I was pulling it. Was she actually fighting back? I didn’t have much time to think about it, however, as I almost immediately began to feel the magic transform me.

The power was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I had known that Luna’s magic was immensely strong by any ordinary pony’s standards, and having the magic of five other ponies to back it up would add to that somewhat, but that alone couldn’t explain what I was feeling. It was an incredible power, power far beyond that which even an alicorn would achieve through their own efforts.

As the raw power flooded into me, my stomach lurched at the sickening feeling it brought to my skin, like there was an entire carpet of maggots writhing and crawling just beneath it. I looked through rapidly narrowing pupils and saw the hair on my body take a darker shade of red, while felt my muzzle elongate as my jaw morphed into a predatory maw. My horn grew further outwards, and I could feel its base drilling deeper and deeper into my skull. Finally, an incredibly sharp pain shot across my back, as I felt a pair of entirely new limbs forcefully bursting out of it. I was almost certain I had screamed, but the pain had blurred my senses so much that I couldn’t even tell.

After what seemed like eternity, the pain dulled, and my perceptions became clear again. I briefly looked over my body, and observed the changes. I was far taller, for one, easily as tall as Princess Celestia herself. My coat had taken on a deep shade of crimson red, and a pair of menacing, leathery wings adorned my back. What I could see of my mane and tail was a mass of red-and-gold that flickered and flowed like a dancing flame. This wasn’t a power unlike anything I’d felt before, I realized. It was the exact same power I had felt at the Fall Formal.

Only now, it was more than five times greater than what it was before.

I looked back at Princess Celestia, and saw her staring at me, eyes and mouth wide with both revulsion and fear. Dust swirled around me as I locked my gaze with her. She took a slow step backward. I took a step forward in response, my mouth splitting open to reveal a grin of murderous, razor-sharp teeth.

The moment my hoof touched the ground, a small spiderweb of cracks grew out from the point of contact. Another step forward, and tiny pieces of the floor that had been created by the cracks began rising upward, as though gravity itself was fleeing from me. I saw a flash of lightning in the corner of my eye as a bolt of electricity arced across my body. Then another. And another.

Then, I made my first move. I shot a single spell, barely strong enough to stun a mouse in my base state, out of my horn. Celestia instantly moved out of the way, jumping up and taking to the air. The bolt soared past her previous location, striking her throne dead in the center.

Almost instantly, it collapsed into a pile of ash.

My grin grew wider. A complete disintegration, with only the slightest touch of my magic. I turned upwards, and fired another bolt, slightly stronger than the last. Celestia’s horn flared the instant mine ignited, and she teleported out of the way.

The bolt that shot out of my horn was nearly as wide as my entire body. Its power roared as it traveled upwards in the direction Celestia had been in just a moment before, blasting a smoldering, alicorn-sized hole in the roof of the castle.

A flash of light, and Celestia appeared on the ground. As she looked at me, she gave me another fierce glare, though the way her legs slightly quivered betrayed her true fear.

“You’re lucky that there isn’t anything above the throne room,” I said, glancing at the hole in the ceiling. “It would be an awful shame if your precious subjects got caught in the crossfire while you fought me.”

“You...” Celestia looked me in the eyes, tears now freely streamed down the sides of her face. “Sunset, I... I don’t know what has happened to you, but please, stop this!”

“No, I don’t think I will” I taunted. “Because I know you won’t stop me. Because I know how much you fear your own strength. You live in a city of thousands of ponies that you could crush without a second thought. All it takes is one destructive spell out of place, and someone could die. Either you can risk all of their lives, or you can defend yourself from me. It’s your choice.”

Celestia closed her eyes. I wasn’t entirely sure, but I could almost hear her stifle a sob.

But then she did something I didn’t expect. She took a deep breath, and her entire figure steadied. When she opened them again, her impenetrable confidence had returned. I... I don’t understand. She cares about her little ponies more than anything. Is she really willing to sacrifice them just to stop me?

“You are correct,” she said. Her voice was quiet, yet was so firm and powerful that it seemed almost thunderous. “But your mistake is thinking that I won’t learn from mine. I’ve been defeated many times because I felt I had to choose between unleashing my strength and preventing collateral damage. But now you’ve done the worst thing you could do. You’ve told me about the flaw in my thinking. And now I realize I don’t have to make that choice.”

Wait, what? I leaned backward, blinking rapidly. What is she—

Celestia’s horn pulsed with magic, and everything disappeared in a flash of light.


It hadn’t taken long for Sunset to reach Twilight’s castle. The gleaming, tree-like crystal architecture was striking enough that it could be seen for miles in all directions. There was no way she could have possibly failed to find the right path towards the most iconic landmark of Ponyville.

The hard part, of course, was actually getting in.

Even if she had enough energy left to cast jump a second time, there were no windows anywhere close to her spell’s maximum reach. Several trips circling the castle proved that were no back entrances she could readily take advantage of. That left her with only one option: the front door.

The crack between the bottom edge of the door and the ground was too small for her to fit through, at least at first glance. It was hard for her to gauge with any certainty without getting closer, more than close enough that the swinging door would crush her if anyone else were to exit through it.

After the fifth trip around to survey the castle, Sunset could only conclude that the front door was the only way in. She let out a groan, coming to the painful realization that she just as many ideas as her body had organs.


When my vision finally came to, I realized that I wasn’t standing in the same place I was before. Blistering heat pounded down from the sun above, and all around me was a harsh landscape consisting of nothing but tan-colored rock. An assortment of stony buttes and plateaus jutted out from the ground in all directions, as far as the eye could see. There were no other living things within sight, save for the occasional shrub, tumbleweed, or anthill. That, and Princess Celestia herself, who stood on the ground a short distance in front of me.

The Badlands. Celestia had teleported us both to the Badlands. Instantly, she’d robbed me of any leverage I had from threatening civilians. It didn’t even matter that I was bluffing, there wasn’t even any pretense of a threat any more.

Sure, I could teleport us both back to Canterlot, but she’d already demonstrated in the throne room that her reaction speed with magic was much faster than my casting speed. She could just as easily teleport us to the Badlands again the very moment we arrived, and I’d have gone absolutely nowhere.

I ground my teeth together, the sound of their scraping resonating on the inside of my skull. “Y-you...”

“You wished to fight me,” Celestia said. “Now we’re free to fight on even ground.”

The corners of my mouth began to twitch, followed by the rest of my face. A strange, light feeling began to build up within my chest, clashing against the burning rage that continued to smolder. Before long, I’d found myself laughing uncontrollably. How could I not, in the face of such absurdity?

“You... you actually think this will make a difference?” I said, wiping a tear from my eye. “Newsflash, Sunbutt! I’m still stronger than you!”

“There is more than one kind of strength,” said Celestia. “That is what my former pupil failed to understand.”

My body instantly seized up. Did... did she just snipe back at me?

“O-oh yeah!? Well, let’s see how good your ‘other kinds of strength’ are when I blast you to itty bitty alicorn pieces!

My horn lit up, and small pieces of stone began to lift upwards off the ground as I spread my wings, rocketing upwards into the air. Celestia mimicked my own movements, her horn ablaze as she shot into the air as well. It was then, when she rose up to meet me, that her entire body ignited. What was once an aurora localized entirely within her mane became a blistering fire that burned and crackled with every flap of her wings.

Wow. Celestia wasn’t kidding. She really is going all out. And judging by the strength of the tingle of magic running down my horn, she might actually be able to hurt me.

...Well. That makes things a bit less certain.

It was Celestia who made the first move, launching an intense beam of solar energy in my direction. I tried to move out of the way, but my sudden swerve in the air failed to clear me entirely. I let out a sharp cry as the beam grazed my left wing, singing me with a heat that had to have been a dozen times hotter than the sun’s surface. And that would have been a low estimate.

In that instant, I could feel my heart skip a beat from sheer force of realization. She was willing to kill me to free the souls I’d taken. Princess Celestia was trying to kill me. I only ever intended to incapacitate her long enough to take her soul, but she decided she’d rather have me dead than lose her sister.

The mare who raised me from the day I obtained my cutie mark. The mare who cared for me when no one else would. The mare who made me feel like I actually mattered, like I was more than just a street urchin. And she wanted me dead.

I let out a scream so intense that the air itself seemed to quake. Every coherent thought I had was drowned out in a sea of flame and fury I charged forward, moving to tackle Celestia out of the air. She simply blipped out of existence with another teleport spell, leaving me to hover as I rapidly swiveled my head back and forth to look for her.

Another, smaller blast struck me, this time right in the square of my back, on the space between my wings. I turned around and craned my neck upward to see Celestia hovering above me, glaring daggers straight at me as if to challenge me.

By then, the sudden pain had snapped me out of my blind rage enough to realize it was a trap. Instead of charging up at her again, I countered with a teleportation spell of my own, reappearing right next to her. Before the flash of light even fully registered, I had already spun around and bucked her square in the jaw. Her trajectory sent her flying backwards, and I followed up with another teleportation to repeat the maneuver.

This time, however, Celestia managed to anticipate my movement. Just as I appeared beside her and swung around to buck her again, she dived beneath me in the air, and then swiftly kicked upwards with her hind legs. Her attack caught me square in the gut, forcing the air out of my lungs from the impact. My wings halted their movements from the shock, and I felt myself plummeting to the ground.

Before I landed, I regained my composure enough to right myself again. I charged upwards straight towards Celestia, mentally preparing myself for another assault from her. To gauge her reaction, I fired off a quick burst of destructive plasma from my horn, forcing her to roll to the side in the air. When I caught up to her, I followed up with another swift kick, hitting her on the side of her body. She quickly recovered and redoubled her efforts to take me down.

Our movements after that became difficult to track, even for ourselves. We zipped through the air at blinding speeds, our rapid movements paired with our teleportation spells making it nearly impossible to observe. We danced across the skies, our parrying strikes cracking like thunder with every impact, and our blasts of magic kicking up clouds of dust as their explosions rocked the wasteland. And throughout it all, my frustration only grew stronger and stronger. I never expected Celestia to fight like this. As immensely powerful as she was by most standards, I didn’t ever think she had the skill to fight like this. Hell, she lost to a unicorn without a horn! How is this even the same pony!?

Finally, a beam of magic from my horn blasted an enormous, gaping hole straight through the body of a nearby butte. The natural structure quickly imploded on itself, kicking up an enormous cloud of stone dust that had to have been several hundred feet tall. And of course, the attack completely missed Princess Celestia, who had just managed to dive to the side of the beam as it passed by her and rocketed off to destroy the butte I wasn’t aiming at.

STOP! DODGING!” I screamed. “Just who the hell even taught you how to move like that!?”

A slight smirk crept its way onto Celestia’s face. “A recent journey taught me the value of thinking on one’s hooves. As well as a few other tricks.”

Oh. Oh, no. I know that face. That’s her mischief face. That isn’t good.


Any question I might have asked was abruptly cut off by a painful shriek, as another flash of light erupted from Celestia’s horn... and only a flash of light. Sure, that might not sound so bad on paper, but there’s a good reason parents teach their children not to look directly at the sun. In that moment, Celestia’s horn had become something that was exactly as bright as the sun, only much, much closer.

My vision didn’t even have time to recover from the blinding assault, as I immediately felt the most powerful strike against me Celestia had made yet. I wasn’t sure if it was a spell, or if she’d just kicked me really hard, but it hurt. Badly. So much so that I barely even felt myself hitting the ground by comparison, and when my sight finally recovered I found that I’d left a crater.

My knees wobbled as I slowly crawled back onto my legs, coughing up the dust that had lodged itself in my lungs. I was, for the first time ever, starting to think this was a bad idea. Stealing souls, trying to get revenge on Celestia and Twilight, all of it. My raw magical strength my have been much greater than Princess Celestia’s, but she still had more than a thousand years of experience on me. And like the absolute idiot I was, I prodded at her greatest weakness — her fear of collateral damage — until she found a way to overcome it completely. When I finally uprighted myself, I could see Celestia staring at me sadly.

“It’s... It’s not fair.” I said, voice quivering. “I’m not supposed lose to you! I’m supposed to be better!”

“This has gone on long enough,” said Celestia. “I don’t know what’s gotten into, Sunset, but I don’t want to fight any further if you don’t want to. If you release all of the souls you’ve stolen, then I promise I’ll give you another chance.”

I DON’T WANT YOUR PITY!” I bellowed. The earth shook with the force of my cry, and right away I shot upwards into the air. Celestia followed, and we both resumed our skyward dance.

As my rage and frustration grew to new heights, I’d found myself channeling them more and more into my attacks. My physical strikes were vicious, wild, uncontrolled — and my blasts of magic were so numerous and frequent that the battlefield was covered in a curtain of projectiles. Magic bolts, destructive spheres, and massive beams of devastation blasted large swaths of the into oblivion, punctuated with the occasional teleport to strike with my bare hooves. As my unrelenting assault continued, Princess Celestia was forced to make ever more precise dodging maneuvers. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t match my sheer aggression or destructive power, and the vertical, rocky features of the Badlands were quickly being leveled into a flat plain. As I continued, her movements began to grow sloppier, more narrowly missing my continued assault.

It was just as the old saying went. Eventually, there’s always a level of brute force that no amount of precision or strategy can overcome. It’s possible I just made that one up, but it definitely should have been a saying.

My continued assault proved fruitful as one of my blasts just barely grazed the side of Celestia’s right wing. She let out a cry of pain as she was sent spiraling towards the ground. Before she had the chance to right herself, I teleported right below her and delivered in powerful kick to the bottom of her jaw. The attack launched her back in an upwards direction, flying skyward, and that’s when I made my move.

I teleported again, this time several hundred feet above her. My horn went ablaze with immense power, a flame forming at its tip. It rapidly grew, expanding outwards into a sphere of incandescent plasma. Larger and larger it expanded, until its size and mass eclipsed my own by several dozen orders of magnitude, a miniature sun at the tip of my horn. As she rose up to meet my position, Celestia’s eyes opened wide. The moment of dawning comprehension hit her, followed by my attack.

My destructive sphere slammed mightily against her body as I launched it diagonally towards the ground. The entire battlefield turned to a ghastly silence as it descended, as though sound itself was holding its breath in anticipation.

The explosion that followed was so intense and powerful that it nearly blinded and deafened me immediately. It burst into an truly gargantuan pillar of flame, more than a hundred feet wide and thousands of feet tall, no doubt visible across all of Equestria. Then, just as quickly as the roaring column had erupted from the impact, it vanished.

What was left was a gigantic crater of obsidian glass and superheated rock, vents of steam rising from the points where the molten stone had yet to fully cool. My wings flapped as I descended into the crater. There, in its center, was of Princess Celestia. Her mane was ragged and and reduced to its usual pastel colors. Though her wings and coat were somehow only slightly singed by ash, her body was clearly unfit for any more fighting. Her eyelids opened wearily as she craned her neck up to meet me. I could feel my body shrink and my wings retract as I reverted to my base form.

“S-sunset...” she groaned.

“Don’t worry,” I reassured. “You’ll live.”

Dark magic sparked across my horn, and Celestia let out one last pained yelp as her soul was forcibly yanked out of her body. I exhaled deeply and brushed a hoof across my forehead, wiping off some of the thick sweat that had become matted in my coat. After all this, I’d decided my first order of business was to take a bath.

I let out a shriek as a sharp pain pierced through to the very center of my skull. White tendrils flickered across the edge of my vision, and within moments my awareness was yanked into the depths of my own memory.


Canterlot Castle was an imposing structure, its gleaming spires standing tall above every other building in the already-massive city. The front gates to the palace were an immense, ornate pair of gilded doors that were monitored at all times by fierce-looking Royal Guards. Any other possible entrances were hidden behind a large white wall that surrounded the castle grounds, regularly patrolled by further regiments of guards.

Yet despite the guards’ presence, Sunset found that the castle’s overall security was surprisingly lacking. All it took for her to enter the grounds unauthorized was to climb up an untrimmed set of vines on the side of the outer wall. Upon descending to the other side, she promptly found herself inside of the castle garden, where a fanciful assortment of flowers, hedges, statues, and vine-covered trellises formed a winding grid of different paths.

Sunset inhaled deeply. Now she just needed to get to the castle proper, and find the Princess.

Navigating the garden proved to be difficult, thanks to the maze-like layout of the hedges. She’d passed the same statue at least twice while attempting to find her way, a strange singing creature that appeared to be a mish-mash of different animals. Looking at it too closely sent a shudder down her spine, for reasons she wasn’t sure she wanted to understand.

There were guards patrolling the garden, of course, but Sunset was astonished by their sheer level of incompetence at being an actual patrol. They circled around the garden pathways in disinterested, predictable patterns, always leaving enough gaps in their positions to allow her to sneak through. Canterlot may have known peace for centuries, but that hardly excused the number of glaring holes in their security.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Sunset stumbled upon another white wall. Judging from the castle rising up closely behind it, it appeared to be an auxiliary courtyard of sorts, separate from the garden proper. There were no visible vines she could climb, no cracks in the stonework she could fit her hooves into, but beyond it was the closest to the castle itself she had ever gotten. If she wanted to reach the Princess, she realized, this was her best chance.

Lighting her horn, Sunset cast a simple levitation spell, and lifted herself up over the edge of the wall. Self-levitation, as she learned the hard way from her effort, was substantially more difficult than simple telekinesis, and by the time she’d landed on the other side she was practically on the verge of collapsing from exertion.

“Hm?” Said a voice crossing Sunset’s ears. It was a gentle voice, one that she would never forget after hearing it last year, during the annual Summer Sun celebration.

Sunset looked up, and found herself staring googly-eyed at a large picnic blanket, packed to the brim with small cakes and pastries. There, sitting on top of it, was Princess Celestia herself.

“Now, what’s a little filly like you doing here?” she said. “Are you lost?”

Sunset’s heart raced. This was it. She was here, exactly where she wanted to be, yet she found herself struggling to speak. The Princess was absolutely majestic up close, the warm aura of her magic bringing a slight, soothing tingle to Sunset’s thaumatic senses. It was nearly enough to take her breath away.

“U-um...” Sunset swallowed a lump that had appeared in her throat. “M-my name is Sunset Shimmer, and I... I-I came here to see you.”

The Princess cocked her eyebrow slightly. “Oh?”

“I-I wanted to apply to your School for Gifted Unicorns,” said Sunset. “B-but I they wouldn’t let me apply without my parents.”

Princess Celestia’s expression remained unreadable. “I see. And where are your parents right now?”

Sunset felt her ears press against the back of her head. Her lip trembled as she pawed at the ground with her front hoof.

“...I don’t have any.”

Both of Celestia’s eyebrows darted upwards. As her eyes opened wide, there was a softness to the gentle gleam of her irises that Sunset hadn’t noticed before.

“B-but I’m still really good at magic!” Sunset blurted out. “I’m still good enough for your school! L-look!, I’ll show you!”

The fatigue from her previous attempt at levitation seemed to melt away. Though she never had a chance to fully practice the routine, she had memorized it down to the most minute detail. This was it. This was everything she was here for. This was her one chance to win the Princess’s favor, her one chance at a life beyond begging on the streets.

Her horn ignited with a brilliant glow, and all around her, the fireworks began to rise. Magical firecrackers, conjured by nothing but her own power, crackling, fizzing, and popping as they shot upwards into the sky, their elaborate patterns exploding into a vibrant mural of shapes and colors. As she continued conjuring fireworks, she gracefully danced between the magical swirls as they rose up from the ground beside her, twirling and kicking like a ballerina. Then, with one final push of her magical strength, she conjured dozens of rockets simultaneously, which streaked upwards and covered the sky in a symphony of light, color, and sound.

When her horn’s light finally died down, Sunset could barely stand. Her lungs burned and her inner magic felt raw with overexertion, yet there was an even more powerful feeling within her, an inner warmth that pleasantly tingled within her. That warmth moved through her entire body, coating her in its magic, until it came to rest on the surface of her flanks.

Sunset let out a gasp of sudden epiphany. Her head turned backwards, glancing at the side of her body. There, she could see the newly-formed image of her own cutie mark. She then turned to face Celestia, towards the Princess’s radiant smile.

“Very impressive,” she said. “You are a truly extraordinary unicorn, Sunset.”

Sunset’s entire body began to shiver with excitement. Tears began to form on the very edges of her vision. She had never been happier in her life. “Y-you’re going to let me into your school? For real?”

“Better than that,” Celestia replied. “Sunset Shimmer, how would you like to be my very own personal student?”


The pain subsided, and I found myself standing back in the crater I had created. My eyes darted around, gazing at the destruction I had caused. So much of the natural beauty of the Badlands had been utterly ravaged, the layered sandstone pillars being reduced to little more than dust. And before me, lying soulless on the ground, was the broken body of Princess Celestia, every bit of her awe-inspiring warmth and light burned down to nothing. The mare who I owed my entire life, the mare who single-handedly saved me from a life of squalor. And she was gone, kept alive only by a touch of dark magic.

My legs trembled beneath me. I felt a dampness beneath my eyes. Crying? N-no, I’m not... I’m not crying. S-she hurt me first, I’m not crying, dammit!

Argh, t-this isn’t how I’m supposed to feel! There’s got to be some reason for this... all this sentiment! It can’t be me, there has to be something el—

Twilight. This is her fault. I don’t even know how it’s possible, but it has to be her. I wouldn’t have even had to come here if she and her little human friends didn’t humiliate me at the Fall Formal. If she hadn’t stolen my wings and title, I might have been able to come back to Equestria in her place. If she hadn’t replaced me, Celestia could have let me back in. She’s the one responsible for everything.

My teeth clenched with rage and determination. I’d be visiting that so-called princess shortly. But first, it’s about time I let Equestria know who really holds all the power here.

My horn lit up once more, and I drew upon Celestia’s own magic. At its touch, I watched as the sun itself was transformed into my image. Satisfied that I’d made my point, I teleported away.


Celestia’s Defeat 2W


Exile target creature with power 4 or greater. If that creature was named Celestia of the Dawn, you may search your library for a basic Plains card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. If you do, shuffle your library afterwards.

“I’m sorry, Princess, but you’re the one who made this happen.”
— Sunset the Exiled


“Spike, hand me that notepad over there, will you?”

“Sure thing!”

As her young assistant passed down the notepad, Twilight quickly jotted down a series of calculations with her pencil. She and Spike had remained in the castle’s library for some time, books upon books stacked against the table as Twilight poured through their contents. Carefully, Twilight flipped through the pages of the notepad that had already been written, quickly reviewing her own writings.

“Okay, I think I’ve got it,” said Twilight.

“Got what?” said Spike. “I’m still not entirely sure what you’ve been studying. You’ve been so wrapped up in it that you haven’t even gotten the chance to tell me.”

Twilight blinked. A slight flush crossed her face at the sudden realization that Spike was right. “Oh. Oops. Guess I should have told you. I’ve been working on developing a spell that will track the location of the souls currently connected to the Elements of Harmony. Time Turner used a similar technique to track me across the multiverse, but somepony has been remarkably unwilling to tell me about what he knows.” Twilight coughed loudly, drawing a raised eyebrow from Spike. “Sorry, I just get frustrated with how cryptic he is sometimes.”

“But this does mean we’ll be able to find the one taking our friends’ souls, right?”

Twilight nodded. “That’s correct! And with any luck, we’ll be able to stop them before they can hurt anypony else, and free the souls they’ve captured.”

A loud, thumping knock came at the door of the castle library. Before Twilight could answer, Starlight Glimmer pushed her way through. Her eyes darted rapidly across the room, her entire body shaking.

“Starlight?” said Twilight. “What’s wrong?”

“T-twilight! Outside! T-the sun! It’s...”

Twilight blinked. “What? The sun?”

“J-just look!” Starlight insisted.

Apprehension crawled its way into Twilight’s chest. Slowly, she lifted herself off of the ground, hovering over to a nearby window. When she saw what was outside, she let out a horrified gasp.

Even barely glancing at it to avoid being blinded, she could tell it no longer had the same shape and color as the sun she knew. Instead of a bright, blazing yellow, it was now a duality of colors, a swirl of crimson meshed with a swirl of yellow, forming a solar taijitsu that blazed with red and gold. The sky itself was painted by its new light, its gentle blue shifting to a bright, blazing orange. Below, the ponies of Ponyville looked to the skies and trembled, scurrying to take shelter in their homes.

Twilight’s heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. She had seen a sun with those colors before. Not in the sky, but on one of her closest friends. Her wings went limp in disbelief, as she slowly lowered herself to the ground.


“Twilight?” said Spike, his voice shaking slight. “W-what’s going on?”

Twilight’s head whipped around to face the two others in the library. “Starlight! Take Spike and get out of here! Run as far as you can!”



Just go!” Twilight shouted back. “Run away, and don’t come back until I tell you! I... I-I can’t lose you, too!”

Starlight didn’t hesitate before hoisting the startled Spike onto her back and bolting out of the door. As Twilight turned away, she looked up at the window, barely managing to hold back a sob.

“Sunset... why?”


The sight of the sun itself taking the appearance of her cutie mark let Sunset know immediately that things had gone south.

Time was running out. She had still yet to find a way in the castle, and if she knew herself, Twilight would soon be next. All she could do was stand a good distance away from the castle’s front door and watch as everything came crashing down around her. It had all seemed hopeless.

But then, just as she was about to give up, the front doors to the castle slammed open. A panicked Starlight Glimmer quickly sprinted out, carrying an equally-distressed Spike on her back. Sunset had to dive out of the way just to avoid being trampled underhoof.

But then, as she picked herself up, she realized the door was still hanging open. It began to swing closed again, but the hinges of the door provided just enough resistance to slow its inward movement.

Without any hesitation, Sunset galloped towards the front entrance fast as her tiny legs could possible carry her. She made her way past the threshold not a moment too soon, as the door very nearly smashed against her as she ran inside. As she stood now just inside the building, a new resolve built up within her. She could find Twilight. She could rescue her friends.

And maybe, just maybe, she would succeed at it, too.

Dusk // Dawn

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“There. It is finished.”

Celestia could hear the muffled voice of her sister calling from an indistinct location. Her eyes gently pushed themselves open, and found herself sitting inside a plain grey room, devoid of any other distinguishable features.


“Tia?” said Luna. “Is that you?”

“Luna!” Celestia cried out. “Oh, thank Epona! Please, tell me you’re alright!”

“Everypony here is unharmed... though perhaps only for a given definition of ‘harm.’ Fortunately, I have already completed a spell which I believe is our key to being restored to our former selves. Miss Pinkie was the one to come up with the idea for us.”

Celestia blinked. “A spell? What kind of spell?”

“Planting an idea within Sunset’s mind, of course!” Pinkie Pie’s voice called from afar. “See, the Sunset that we’re in right now is just a manifestation of her rage and anger, but there’s also a good Sunset, and this idea will totally help the good Sunset take back her life! Just you wait and see!”

“I see,” she said. “If you don’t mind me asking, just what is this plan of yours, Pinkie?”

“Easy!” said Pinkie. “Right now, we wait. Later is when it gets really interesting.”


I found myself standing inside the throne room of Twilight’s castle. I was really getting the hang of this long-distance teleportation thing. And now it would all come to its conclusion here.

But even as I observed my surroundings, a distinct sense of unease crawled up my spine. I felt like there was something I was forgetting, but couldn’t quite say what it was.

The gentle fall of hoofsteps approaching from the far side of the room put that thought aside, for now. I looked up and saw Twilight approaching from the hallway, her body drooping like she’d just had the most miserable day of her life. She looked up at me with wide, tear-soaked eyes.

“Sunset,” she said. “Is it true? Are you the one who stole everypony’s souls?”

“That I am,” I replied. “You’re very perceptive. I can see why they call you the smart one.”

Twilight shrunk back, looking as though she’d just been swatted. “B-but... why? Why would you hurt so many ponies like this? What about our friendship? Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”

My mouth split open into a grin. “Friendship? Come on, you didn’t actually fall for that, did you? I’m astonished those crocodile tears at the Fall Formal managed to fool you. It was easy to get you to lower your guard by palling to you like you weren’t the one who stole my entire life.

“So, it... it was all a lie, then?” Her voice shook and quivered as she only barely managed to hold herself back from sobbing. “I... I thought...”

I gritted my teeth. Anger clutched at my heart as I shot the fiercest glare I could muster at her. “You stole the wings that should have been mine to begin with. You took your place by Celestia’s side and replaced me. I’m not going to suddenly forget that after being blasted by some magical rainbow laser. I’ve been playing the long game, Sparkle, and it’s a game that I intend to win.”

A pathetic whine pushed past Twilight’s lips. It must be hard, having someone you trusted so thoroughly hurt you so badly. I certainly knew the feeling. She sniffed loudly, and then stared me right in the eye. “I... I’m not fighting you, Sunset. I don’t believe our friendship was never real. It may not have been real to you, but it was to me. I’m not just going give up on that.”

My spine stiffened. What Twilight had said to me felt like a joke, like some sort of mockery. I’d taken away so many people she’d cared about and she still isn’t going to try to fight back? I wanted to yell at her for it, but then something unexpected happened.

I had an idea.

It wasn’t a very strange idea, given all that I’d done, and it wasn’t too different from the things I would normally do. But what was strange was how it just... popped into my head. I couldn’t really explain it, it just felt like it didn’t have a logical connection to any of my previous thoughts, even though it very much was in line with all my others. But it was such a good idea that I couldn’t help but take it.

“Actually, you know what?” I said. My grin broadened further, and my horn right away began to ignite with dark power. “I’ll humor you. Because I won’t be the who’s fighting you.”


The flash of light within the throne room immediately alerted Sunset to the presence of another magic user, and right away she found herself staring at her own body, standing further in from the door. Instinctively, she shrank away, huddling back against the edge of the door to make herself as small as possible. The last thing she wanted to do was let her other self notice her.

It was shortly after the flash of light that another set of approaching hoofsteps echoed across the crystal chamber. As Twilight approached, Sunset felt her heart drop. She looked absolutely miserable. Miserable, scared, and alone. And as she listened to the ensuing conversation between Twilight and her other self, she was horrified. The other Sunset twisted her words like a knife, speaking exactly the things that she needed to in order to hurt Twilight the most.

If the other Sunset was a part of her, then did that mean that a part of her truly felt that way? Could any part of her have ever been so spiteful and petty? It was unthinkable, and yet...

Her memory went back to the fire she’d felt within herself in Canterlot High, after reforming her old ways. The burning resentment whenever she thought about Princess Celestia, and about how Twilight had taken her place as Celestia’s student. She’d spent so much time and effort pushing it away that all it could do in response was push back.

What happened next was even more horrifying than any words her other half had said, no matter how cruel. The other Sunset’s horn flashed with a black veil of magic, and all at once, all of the souls that she had absorbed up to that point came spiraling out. Their bodies were translucent and devoid of substance, and each of their eyes were each glazed over and blank, entirely under the control of dark magic. They approached Twilight from all sides, closing in as the other Sunset grinned with killer teeth.

Twilight didn’t even stand a chance, Sunset realized. If she fought back in any capacity, she could risk damaging her friends’ souls permanently. What Sunset saw was not a fight, but desperate attempt by Twilight to run away as her own friends tried to attack her.

The first thing Twilight did was take to the air, attempting to flee out the nearby window. She was almost immediately intercepted by Rainbow’s soul, which tackled Twilight out of the way so fast that she appeared only to be a blur.

As Twilight wrested herself free from Rainbow’s unexpectedly solid grip, she dove in the air to the side, only to be surrounded from front and behind by both of the Royal Sisters. Beams of energy erupted from their horns, and Twilight was immediately struck on both wings, shrieking in pain as she spiraled out of the air and collapsed onto the floor.

With her wings injured, she turned to run towards the door, only to be instantly stopped by Fluttershy, who stared into her with empty, lifeless eyes. Twilight froze in place, then quickly turned in the other direction, only to freeze when Rarity appeared in her path. She turned around again, and came face-to-face with Pinkie. Then, one final turn, and she was cornered by Applejack.

With a single swift kick, Applejack sent Twilight flying through the air, only to crash-land right on top of the now-inert Cutie Map. When she struggled again to her feet, a blast from the other Sunset’s horn knocked her back again. She tumbled backwards, and lay prone against the ground.

Twilight groaned in pain, placing a hoof against her forehead. She cracked open her eyes as the other Sunset approached.

“I’ll admit, I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t even try to fight back,” said the other Sunset. “But I guess that’s what friendship does to you, isn’t it? Now, hold still.”

The other Sunset’s horn pulsed with dark magic, and Sunset gasped as she watched her own body from the distance. Twilight shrieked as the magic tugged against her, and the white, wispy presence of her soul began to exit through her mouth...

But then, as Twilight’s soul poured out of her body, it began to shine with a brilliant inner light. Almost instantly, the dark magic surrounding the other Sunset’s horn dissipated into nothing. There a loud snap like the release of a rubber band sounded through the air, as Twilight’s soul retreated back into her now-unconscious body.

“W-what? How?” said the other Sunset. She let out a sharp groan of frustration. “You think you can save your soul, huh? Well, think again! I’ll just keep trying until I get it right!”

As the other Sunset’s horn ignited again, Sunset found her fear melting away, replaced by sudden understanding. The planeswalker spark, she realized. Twilight’s spark saved her. And this is the moment Pinkie told me about. Steeling her nerves, she shouted as loudly as her tiny voice would allow.


As Sunset called out, her other half froze, jaw nearly dropping in astonishment. Sunset’s tiny porcelain hooves clacked against the crystal floor as she galloped at full speeds, past the ethereal forms of Twilight’s friends and under the legs of her own true body. She positioned herself directly between her other, larger half and Twilight’s unconscious form.

You!” the other Sunset snarled.

“S-stop! Just stop!” Sunset cried out. “Please, don’t do this! I know you think you’re getting what you wanted, but you’re making a huge mistake! Please! I’m begging you!”

“Shut up, parasite!” said the other Sunset. “You don’t know anything about what I want!”

“But I do!” Sunset replied. “I lived as a part of you for most of our life! You want to hurt Twilight because you think she hurt you! But this isn’t going to solve anything! You’re not going to make it any better for yourself!”

“Gah!” the other Sunset grunted in annoyance. “Y-you... gah... Why can’t you just leave me alone, huh!? It’s not enough that you constantly hang out in my head and tell me how to feel, you have to keep doing it outside of my head! I ought to crush your miserable little body into powder!

“You will be doing no such thing.”

Both Sunsets turned their heads around to face the source of the voice. There, Princess Luna stood tall, her eyes restored to their normal brightness. All of the other souls stood beside her, each one glaring angrily at Sunset’s darker half.

“W-what!?” the other Sunset exclaimed. “No, that’s... that’s impossible! I was controlling you! Y-you’re not even supposed to be able to think right now!”

“You were controlling us,” said Luna. “Because it was I who planted the idea in your mind to do so. But by projecting us outside of your body, you risked losing your command over us should your concentration be broken. And as it so happens, the other half of your personality was more than happy to provide such a distraction. Now we are free, still tethered to the mortal realm, yet untethered to you.”

“See!” said Pinkie. “I told you guys it would work! And check out how spooky and ghosty we are now!” She stood on her hind legs and leaned over Rainbow Dash, waving her front hooves. “OoooooOooooOOoooo! I’m hauuuuunting youuuu!

“Hey!” said Rainbow, swatting Pinkie’s hoof away. “Cut that out!”

“Darlings, can we please not spend too much time dallying?” said Rarity. “I would very much like to get back to my body before it starts, er... well, suffice it to say it could get rather disgusting.”

“You’re not getting back to your bodies,” the other Sunset shot back. “Because I’ll just absorb all your souls all over again! Now it’s time for you all to be good little ponies and get back inside of me!

The other Sunset’s horn came alight with dark magic once again. This time, however, Luna intercepted with a spell of her own. A flash of blue light erupted from her horn, and Sunset was knocked off of her hooves as her own spell was instantly suffocated.

Celestia approached her younger sister and smiled softly. “Excellent counterspell, Luna. Shall we?”

“Indeed,” Luna replied. “Everypony, we must lend our strength to the smaller Sunset Shimmer. Join me, and let our souls all unite as one!”

Both the Royal Sisters stood by each others’ sides, crossing their horns together as they both erupted with blazing light. The other ethereal ponies circled them closely, and as the magic enveloped them all, each of the freed souls became a single mote of colored light. Sunset’s legs flailed as she found herself rising into the air, the seven souls circling around her as they came closer and closer to her porcelain body.

Then, with one final flash of light, all of the souls at once entered her own body. Powerful magic, brighter than the sun yet as warm and soothing as a well-stoked hearth filled the entirety of her being, and she felt her body expand, growing larger, more complete, more alive.

When her hooves finally touched the ground, Sunset was restored to her original body. Only now her entire form glowed softly, like a living lantern, and her mane and tail flowed with an ethereal form.

The other Sunset crawled back onto her hooves. When she looked up at her counterpart, her body froze instantly.

“No!” said the other Sunset. “No! This wasn’t supposed to happen! You were supposed to be completely powerless!”

As Sunset stepped forward, little spots of light appeared on the crystalline floor beneath her, flowing outwards from her steps as though her body was dripping with liquid radiance. “I used to think strength only came from having bigger spells,” she said. “Back when I was a part of you. Back when we were the same person. But strength isn’t just about that. It’s about being willing to do what it takes—”

Can it!” the other Sunset shouted. “I don’t care what you think strength is! It’s about time someone dealt with an annoying little parasite like you properly! I by ‘dealt with,’ I mean die!

A blast of teal magic burst outwards from the other Sunset’s horn. Sunset countered with her own burst of magic, a beam of light that flashed between orange, yellow and gold. The beams pushed against each other mightily, and for several seconds they remained even with each other. Slowly, however, the darker Sunset’s beam began pushing further, the full force of the attack coming closer and closer. Sunset grunted in exertion as she attempted to push back but despite her best effort, she could only slow the rapid encroach of her double’s attack.

Then, just as her resolve began to falter, a series of voices spoke out in her mind.

You can do it, Sunny! Pinkie cheered. Show that big bad evil-you who’s boss!

Yay, Sunset! a soft voice that was nearly a whisper said. U-um, hold on, let me try that one a bit louder...

You’re doing fine, Fluttershy, Rainbow’s voice chimed in. Just as long as she knows as we’ve got her back!

Don’t you give in now, y’hear? said Applejack. We’re with you a hundred-and-ten percent!

And when we’re through with this, I’ll be happy to treat you to a spa trip, said Rarity. Anypony could use some relaxation after having to deal with an evil inner self on a rampage.

Sunset felts a great warmth building up inside of her, tugging at the edges of her heart. “M-my friends...”

Sunset Shimmer, said Princess Celestia. Never think for a moment that I have not believed in you. You have always had the potential to do great things.

And never forget that your darkest side does not define you, Luna added. You are a pony of many facets, and all of them are a part of who you are.

The warmth within Sunset Shimmer intensified even further. Her eyes narrowed, and the power within her grew even stronger. She narrowed her eyes, and her beam of magic intensified, expanding to nearly twice the width and strength it was before. The beam pushed forward, cutting through its opposing beam like a knife as it rapidly barreled towards her counterpart.

The beam struck the other Sunset Shimmer square on the center of her horn. She was sent skidding backwards across the floor on her side, eventually coming to a halt near the far wall. Her body twitched and shivered as it came to a halt, and she slowly rolled over onto her belly.

As the darker Sunset covered her eyes with her front hooves, a soft, quiet sob escaped her throat. “I... I...” The sobbing intensified, and the once intimidating pony was left little more than crying, quivering heap.

Sunset approached her darker counterpart. A pang of sympathy struck at her heart, yet the thoughts of all the atrocities that had been committed still wait heavy on her mind. Conflicting emotions clashed, of judgment and of forgiveness, leaving her mind in turmoil. In the end, she opted to reach out to her other self with a hoof. The other Sunset instinctively reached out and held on as Sunset pulled her back to her hooves.

“Sunset,” she said, looking into the eyes of darker half. “Before I do anything else, I just want to know one thing. Why?”

The other Sunset sniffled, her eyes already slightly reddened. “You know why.”

Sunset shook her head. “I know you think that Celestia and Twilight hurt you, but—”

BECAUSE THEY DID HURT ME!” The scream came out of nowhere, its shrieking desperation piercing through the air as it echoed off of the walls. “Y-you’re supposed to be part of me, aren’t you? Then you would know!”

“I-I...” Sunset stammered. She sighed, letting out the tension that had built within her lungs. “...Yes. I know. But those feelings, they... they aren’t right. I can’t be mad at Celestia after all she’s done to care for me. I can’t be mad at Twilight after all she’s done to teach me the meaning of friendship.”

“N-not right?” said the other Sunset. “Not right!? Is that why you gave all of those feelings to me? Because it wouldn’t be right for you to have them?”

“W-what?” said Sunset. “What are you talking about?”

“You know what I’m talking about!” the other Sunset shouted back. Her words were choked with tears, barely able to hold back her sobs as she continued. “Ever since we became separate at the Fall Formal, you’ve been saddling me with all of your emotional baggage just so you wouldn’t have to deal with it yourself! But we didn’t have to stay separate! I could have known what it was like to feel love, or joy, or compassion, or empathy, if only you just let me in! Instead, I’ve never known anything but anger and resentment and... and spite, because that’s the only thing you’ve ever allowed me to feel!”

Sunset’s mouth opened. As the words crossed her ears, they slammed directly into her mind, leaving her shaken by the impact. “I... What?”

“Do you have any idea— any idea just how much pain and resentment I’ve been having to deal with while you were out frolicking with your friends? I had to be the one to remember how Celestia turned us away, and left us all alone in a world we didn’t even know how to survive in! I had to be the one to remember all of the times we nearly froze to death sleeping outside in the slums! How many times we had to go hungry because we were too young to find work, and too unimportant for anyone else to care! I had to be the one to remember how Twilight robbed us of any chance we had left of returning and becoming Celestia’s student again, how she replaced us in the eyes of the only family we’ve ever had! I had to be the one to remember how she stumbled upon her wings by accident, when we’d worked so hard just to be good enough to earn Celestia’s attention in the first place! Because instead of learning to cope with any of these feelings, you passed them onto me, and then kept me imprisoned in the back of your mind so you could pretend I didn’t even exist! How was I supposed to feel about that, huh!?

Sunset felt her stomach do a near-backflip. With every accusation her counterpart leveled at her, she shrank back further and further, barely able to look herself in the mirror she was standing in front of. And the worst part was that it was true. All of it. Every single word.


“Sunset? I-is that really how you felt about me?”

The voice came from within her, yet she heard it from all directions, and was certain her counterpart had heard it too. There was a brief glow from Sunset’s horn, and the phantasmal image of Princess Celestia projected itself out of it. She stood, very nearly driven to tears, surrounded by the images of all of the other souls that Sunset had housed within her. All of them stared at both Sunsets with wide eyes, astonished, saddened, and some even appalled.

“I... I think I’ll let you go back to your bodies now, Princess,” said Sunset. “I need some time alone with... with myself.”

Sunset’s horn pulsed with energy, and right away she could feel the presences within her fly out, as the images of the other ponies’ souls collapsed into motes of light and flew out towards their unattended bodies. The glow that permeated her own body faded, and for the first time in a long time, Sunset felt like she was truly herself again. Except, as she quickly realized, that wasn’t true. There was something else that was still missing.

“Hey,” said Sunset approaching her counterpart. The other Sunset was now holding her head low to the ground, sobbing quietly. Sunset moved in, and gave the other her a quick nuzzle, which prompted a started squeak from her double.

“You’re right,” Sunset continued. “I shouldn’t have forced all of my negative emotions on you just because I didn’t know how to deal with them. Not when I didn’t let you experience what it’s like to love your friends, or be loved by them. I... I hurt you just as much as anyone else. And I’m sorry.”

“R-really?” The other Sunset sniffed, brushing her hoof against her nose. “I-I... I guess I’m sorry, too. I always knew what I was doing was wrong, I just... hurting people was all I ever knew. Making them feel what I felt. I didn’t know what it was like to care about anyone else. A-at least I think I didn’t.”

Sunset placed a hoof on her counterpart’s shoulder, smiling warmly. “But you don’t have to not know anymore. And you won’t have to be the only one to carry all of your pain.”

The other Sunset gazed back with hopeful eyes. “Y-you mean?”

“From now on, we’ll be facing this together,” said Sunset. “Do you need a hug?”

The other Sunset returned the smile. “Y-yeah. I think I’d like that.”

Sunset pulled in close, and wrapped her front legs around her counterpart’s torso. The two held each other in their mutual embrace, sharing each others’ warmth as they drew closer and closer together, their hearts beating together in complete sync... was then that Sunset felt a new warmth wash over her, one more profound and comforting than any warmth she had ever felt in her life. It tingled against her skin, lifting her into the air as it enveloped her, like a cocoon spun from the light of purest Harmony. When the warmth faded, Sunset found herself standing alone.


The voice in her mind was her own, but she could right away that it was her other self speaking to her. No longer was there another Sunset separate from her. They were, and would forever be, as one.


The gentle groan alerted Sunset to Twilight’s presence, some distance to the side. As she stepped towards her waking friend, Sunset could somehow feel the shifting air currents flowing all around her, no doubt moved by the heat produced by her magic. The floor itself provided a new sensation as well, a gentle tingling under her hooves that seemed to extend her sense of touch deep into the ground.

Twilight’s eyes blearily pried themselves open as Sunset stood over her. “...Sunset? What happened?”

“It’s... complicated,” said Sunset. “Long story short, all of my repressed anger split off into a separate pony, then started taking it out on you by stealing the souls of everyone you cared about. But the other half of me confronted her, and we learned to accept each other and became one.”

“Oh...” said Twilight, still only half-conscious. “Are my friends safe?”

“I released all their souls,” said Sunset. “They should already be in their bodies by now. The Sunset that you saw can’t hurt you or anyone else any more.” Looking down, Sunset reached towards Twilight with a hoof. She cringed outwardly, remembering everything her darker half had said as though she had said it herself. “Still, you look like you took something of a beating. Need a lift?”

“Yeah, thanks,” said Twilight. As Twilight lifted herself back to her hooves, Sunset couldn’t help but notice Twilight’s eyes were exactly at her eye level.

Wait... wasn’t Twilight taller than me before?

Twilight let out a gasp, cutting sharply through the air. Her eyes bugged out wildly, and her jaw dropped so low that it looked like it had almost fallen off of its hinges. A high-pitched noise escaped her throat as she seemed to struggle with articulating a coherent thought.

“Huh?” said Sunset. “Twilight, is something wrong? You’re acting kind of, uh... strange.”

Twilight said nothing. Another noise came from her open mouth, and her hoof slowly raised up from the ground, shaking uncontrollably as it pointed to a space just behind Sunset’s neck.

“What? My back?” Sunset reached behind her, feeling around to touch her body where Twilight was pointing. “Is there something on my—”

Sunset cut herself off abruptly as a shockingly unfamiliar sensation revealed itself to her, a very soft sensation pressing against her frog.

That isn’t hair. That is definitely not hair.

Sunset felt another odd sensation, like a part of her was moving that she couldn’t move before. She slowly turned her head around to get a closer look. Her mouth fell agape when she saw the massive, feathery pair of wings that were now flaring from her shoulders.

“Oh,” said Sunset. “Um... I think those are new?”


Sunset as One 2RWB

Legendary Planeswalker — Sunset

+1: Sunset as One deals 2 damage to target opponent and you gain 2 life.
-1: Target creature gets +2/+0 and gains first strike and deathtouch until your next turn.
-8: Create a legendary 8/8 red, white, and black Avatar creature token with flying, first strike, haste, vigilance, deathtouch, lifelink, and indestructible named Sunset Equinox.


Epilogue: Oneness

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Sunset’s hoofsteps pattered ceaselessly against the throne room’s crystal floor, pacing back and forth without pause.

“I don’t understand! Why an alicorn? Why me? Why now? What did I even do to deserve this? It just makes no sense!” As she continued her diatribe, Twilight stood off to the side and stared, a slight frown crossing her face.

“Sunset, I should know more than anypony that it’s a lot to take in,” said Twilight, “but you’ve been doing this for nearly an hour. I’m starting to get a little bit worried about you.”

Sunset stopped in her tracks, a soft sigh pushing past her lips. “I just don’t know how I’m supposed feel about this. Princess Celestia always told me that an alicorn’s ascension warranted some great deed, but what did I do? Steal all my friend’s souls and try to take over Equestria, and only just stop myself at the last minute? What’s so great about that?”

“But that wasn’t you,” said Twilight. “You can’t blame yourself for that.”

“Just because it was only half of me doesn’t mean it wasn’t me,” Sunset countered. “It may have only been one part of myself, but it was still ultimately myself doing that. I just... I don’t know. Just before I left Equestria, I pretty much demanded that Princess Celestia make me an alicorn. But now that I finally am one, I couldn’t feel less ready for it. Just what am I supposed to do now?”

Twilight stepped forward, approaching Sunset with bright, compassionate eyes. They really are beautiful, Sunset thought.

“To be honest, I don’t know how to answer that question,” said Twilight. “What you do with your new wings is up to you. But whatever your choice is, I’ll always be here to help you figure it out.” She smiled softly, placing a gentle hoof on Sunset’s shoulder.

Sunset felt a sudden warmth in her cheeks. She reached up to her mane, brushing it away as a smile crept onto her lips. “Thanks, Twilight. I... I really appreciate it. It really does mean the world to me, having you here with me right now.”

The two stared into each other’s eyes, and Sunset’s heart fluttered as she saw Twilight cheeks begin to flush. For a moment, she could almost swear that her face was moving closer to Twilight’s.

A sudden knocking came at the door, and Starlight Glimmer walked in, carrying Spike on her back. “Is everything okay, Twilight? We got your message, and— WHOA!

Sunset’s rapidly around to face their two new visitors, gazing back at the astonished glares she was receiving.

“Oh, right,” said Sunset. “I guess I have some explaining to do, huh?”


Later that evening, Sunset had been brought to a field in Ponyville’s local park. By then the sun had already returned to its normal state, and the ponies of the town had returned to their daily lives as though nothing had happened. If Sunset had to guess, they’d all just gotten used to seeing strange things since Twilight moved in.

Of course, that didn’t stop Sunset’s new wings from receiving stares from every pony she passed. Everywhere she went, the attention was squarely on her, she couldn’t help but feel her stomach crawl at it.

The field itself was set up with a quaint celebration, several picnic tables arranged with apple cider, cupcakes, at least two regular cakes, and balloons. In the center of the gathering was a pair of plastic poles, with a banner hung between them reading “CONGRATULATIONS ON LEARNING SELF-ACCEPTANCE AND BECOMING AN ALICORN, SUNSET!” She wasn’t sure how Pinkie even managed to fit the entire message on the banner, given its dimensions.

Regardless, seeing the celebration her friends put on for her brought a warmth to her heart. It wasn’t anything large or extravagant (though Pinkie would have certainly done more if she had more time to plan it out), but it was enough.

“You really didn’t have to do this for me,” said Sunset. She stood with a circle of ponies, Twilight and her fellow bearers of the Elements joined by Starlight and Spike.

“Nonsense!” said Pinkie. “You did great out there, Sunset! All’s well that ends well, right?”

Sunset winced, recalling to mind the spiteful streak that her darker half had committed. “But I’m not so sure it did. I tried to burn down Applejack’s entire farm, remember? And I did so many other things to hurt you, too.”

“Shucks Sunset, is that what you’re worried about?” said Applejack. “It’ll take a heck of a lot more than a little fire to kill them apple trees. All they need is an earth pony’s touch, and they’ll be right as rain!”

Sunset blinked. “W-well okay, yeah, but what about Fluttershy? I stabbed her! With a knife!

“U-um, it actually wasn’t that bad,” said Fluttershy. There was still a bandage wrapped around her chest, as she’d only just been let out of the hospital. “It didn’t even hurt, strangely enough. I was just so shocked by the whole thing that I couldn’t help but pass out.”

“It... it didn’t? But that makes no sense! How could it not—” Sunset exhaled loudly, shaking her head. “I’ll worry about that later. Rainbow, what about what I did to you? That had to have hurt, right?”

“Well yeah, of course it did,” said Rainbow. “But do you have any idea just how many times I’ve been struck by lightning while practicing? That wasn’t even in, like, the top one hundred worst lightning bolts I’ve felt.”

“I... But...” Sunset felt her words try to slip through her grasp as she desperately reached in to find them. “Rarity. I-I impaled you with my horn!”

“Yes, you did,” said Rarity. “And unless your horn is either made from silver or a wooden stake, I don’t see how that could possibly leave any lasting damage.”

“What?” said Sunset. “What does that have to do with anything?” Now that she thought about it, Rarity didn’t even seem to have any sign of injury on her at all.

Rarity grinned, baring her teeth. As she did, Sunset noticed a pair of sharp, piercing fangs that she was absolutely certain hadn’t been there a moment before. “You tell me, darling.”

“I... A vampony. You’re a vampony,” said Sunset. “Right, okay. Vamponies are real now. As if my day wasn’t weird enough already.” She placed a hoof against her forehead, nursing a sudden pain that had formed just beneath her horn. “Are none of you mad at me? Not even a little?”

“Well, Sunset,” said Applejack, “the way Ah see it, that half of you weren’t in the right mind while you were separate, so there ain’t no sense acting like you’re the same way now that you’re one pony.”

“We’re still your friends, Sunset,” Twilight reassured. “And we’re still here for you. And besides, everything worked out in the end. That’s what matters, isn’t it?”

“I...” Sunset sniffed slightly. She could already feel a dampness in the corner of her eye, but there was no sadness to be found within. “Twilight, I...”

Before she could even speak any further, Twilight moved in, wrapping her hooves around Sunset in a tight hug. Sunset eagerly returned the gesture, and the two shared in each other’s warmth. Butterflies formed in Sunset’s stomach at Twilight’s slightest touch, and as they embraced she felt almost giddy with an excitement she couldn’t quite explain. She had a pretty good guess what it meant, though.

“Um,” said Fluttershy. “N-not to interrupt your moment, but what about Discord?”

A chill ran down Sunset’s spine. She pulled away from the hug, her entire body going rigid as she stared at Fluttershy’s wide, vulnerable eyes.

“I... I heard he disappeared after I was injured,” said Fluttershy. “He... he’s not gone forever, is he?”

A lump began to form in Sunset’s throat. “I... I don’t...”

Au contraire, mon petit poney! Heeeeeeeeeeeeee’s back!

A flash of light and magic pierced through the air, and Discord popped into existence, brandishing a brass trumpet and dressed in a full mariachi outfit, complete with a comically wide sombrero. A full band of mariachi ponies had appeared alongside him, backing him up as he blew a loud, celebratory note that sounded more appropriate coming out of a plastic vuvuzela.

Sunset jumped back in surprise, only to find herself immediately surrounded by two identical clones of Twilight Sparkle. On her left was a clone Princess Twilight, who wrapped her wing around Sunset’s shoulder. The second clone was a unicorn, with a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and her mane tied into a bun. Both clones smiled, their half-lidded gazes bringing a wide variety of less-than-appropriate suggestions to Sunset’s imagination.

The real Twilight’s face became so reddened that it could have been reasonably mistaken for a tomato. “Discord! You put them back where you found them this instant!

Discord rolled his eyes. “Alright, fine.” With a snap of his fingers, both Twilight clones disappeared.

All of it,” said Twilight.

“Bah! You’re such a killjoy.” Despite his complaints, Discord complied, and with another snap of his fingers, all of his other conjurations disappeared. Now without his band or mariachi gear, he turned to face Sunset.

“So! It looks like you’ve changed a fair bit since I last saw you. Tell me, are you a pretty pony princess yet, or does the coronation come later?”

“W-what!? No!” said Sunset. “I’m not a princess! I don’t even want a coronation! And how are you even here?”

“Really? I honestly thought you’d have guessed by now,” said Discord. He bent over, his body snaking out like a crazy straw his head approached Sunset. His hand followed, poking Sunset on the snout with an audible ‘boop’ noise. “Spoiler alert: I was only humoring you with the disappearing act.”

“Wait, really?” said Sunset.

Discord’s body retracted to his normal length, making the sound of a zipper as he stood upright. “Well, obviously. I’m the Spirit of Chaos! I can see into a pony’s true soul just by looking at them. And as soon as I saw your little personified id, I knew she was up to no good. So when you tried to hurt my dear Fluttershy, I cast a spell to protect her vital organs and shield her from any pain you might inflict. Then I phased myself out, so I could come back when you least expect it!”

As he said the words ‘least expect it,’ Discord’s suddenly donned a bright red outfit consisting of a cloak and matching wide-brimmed hat. Around his neck was a gold necklace, carrying a small golden amulet shaped like eight arrows in a radial pattern.

“Hasn’t that reference already been done to death?” Pinkie chimed in.

Discord’s eyes went wide. “Reference? What are you talking about? You couldn’t possibly even know what I’m referring to!”

“Nope!” said Pinkie. “But I have a feeling there are a loooooot of nerds out there who probably do.” She turned, and pointed in a direction that didn’t appear to have anything of note, but brought Sunset an odd feeling of being watched when attention was drawn to it.

“That’s... What... Oh come on!” said Discord. “You couldn’t possibly know about that! That makes no sense!”

“Nope! But it’s more fun that way, isn’t it?”

“I...” Discord held up a finger and opened his mouth to speak. When words apparently failed him, he reversed the gesture. “Touché. Anyway, since I no longer have any need to return for my dramatic rescue, I think I’ll be on my way. That, and I clearly need to spend some time working on my routine. I’ll leave your order of Wings Sunny-Side Up to deal with your little party.”

Another snap of his fingers, and Discord vanished. An uncomfortable silence hung in the atmosphere.

“So, uh... are there going to be any more party crashers?” said Rainbow Dash. “’Cause there’s a whole bunch of cider waiting out there with my name on it!”

“Just remember to save some for everypony else this time,” said Applejack. “You remember what happened last month, when...” She paused, her ears twitching as they swiveled around, as though searching for something that they couldn’t quite pick up. “...Hold on, do y’all hear something?”

Sunset’s own ears twitched as she paused to listen to whatever sound Applejack was talking about. Sure enough, just on the edge of her hearing was a distinct, metallic scraping sound. As it grew louder and louder, Sunset’s mind for some reason jumped to the image of a house key scraping against piano wire. And she was certain she’d heard the sound on television before, but couldn’t recall where.

Before she could question the source of the sudden noise, the image of a stallion began fading into view. He had a brown coat, a darker brown mane, an cutie mark shaped like an hourglass, and wore a disembodied white collar with a green necktie. All the other ponies could do nothing but stare as he materialized, seemingly from nowhere.

His eyes gleamed in the sunlight as he turned to face Sunset. Despite their brightness, Sunset had the unexplainable sense that they were impossibly old.

“Ah, hello Miss Shimmer! Or Sunset, if you prefer.” He reached up and offered a hoofshake. When Sunset took it she was astonished by how powerful his grip. “Glad to see I made it on time. How are your new wings, by the way?”

“I... I’m sorry,” said Sunset, “have I met you before?”

“For a given definition of ‘you,’ yes,” said the stallion.

Twilight loudly cleared her throat, approaching the pair. “Sunset, this is Doctor Time Turner. He’s the other planeswalker I told you about.”

“Oh,” said Sunset. Now that she had the chance to look at him again, there was no denying it. She could feel the magic radiating off of him, magic unlike any other earth pony she had ever seen. A mild tingle of anxiety welled within her as she recalled what Twilight said of his age. “It’s, uh... nice to meet you, Mister Time Turner.”

Doctor Time Turner,” Time Turner corrected. “Or just Doctor. Either way, the doctorate’s the important part, and I’m willing to correct other ponies as many times as I need before they get that drilled into their heads. But enough about that, there’s another reason I came here.” He grinned widely, and turned to face Twilight. “How are you feeling, Twilight? Is everything alright?”

“Um...” Twilight’s eyes darted back and forth. “W-well, I’m a bit bruised from a recent scuffle, but I should be okay. Why?”

“Hmm...” Time Turner paused, looking to be deep in contemplation. He then reached into his mane and pulled out a tattered, yellowed piece of parchment, eyes narrowing as he scanned its contents. Then, placing it back into his mane, he turned to Twilight.

Without any hesitation, Time Turner trotted up to Twilight. “Now then, Princess, would it be alright if I took a look at your chest for a moment? There’s something I need confirm, for the sake of your health.”

Instinctively, Sunset’s body seized up. “H-hey! What do you think you’re doing!”

“Now, now, no need to get defensive,” said Time Turner. “She doesn’t have a human chest, so nothing inappropriate to look at there. Not that I’d be interested in that kind of nonsense anyway. Much too messy for me.”

“Now hold on just a minute!”

“Sunset, it’s fine,” said Twilight. “Most ponies don’t have the same, er... paraphilia for the body part you’re probably thinking of. The Doctor may be odd, but I trust his intentions.” She turned to face Time Turner. “So what exactly do you need to look at, anyway? Do you even have a medical doctorate?”

Time Turner grinned. “I do, actually. Granted, it’s probably useless now, given the rapid advancement of medicine in the four hundred years that have passed since then, but I’m not going to be strictly looking at your body. I’ll need to see what’s happening with your soul, and aside from the brain, the heart is the point where the soul is most concentrated. Would it be alright if I took a closer look?”

“My soul?” said Twilight, a slight edge to her voice. “W-well, if you think something might be wrong with my soul, than you can go ahead.”

“Twilight, hold on—”

“It’s okay, Sunset. I said I trust him, remember?”


Despite the objections she wanted to raise, Sunset watched as the doctor pressed an eye uncomfortably close to Twilight’s chest, right above her heart. Several tense seconds passed, and Sunset wished for the routine to end with every passing one.

Finally, Time Turner pulled away, a grave expression written on his face. “It’s just as I thought, I’m afraid. Your planeswalker spark’s been damaged.”

What!?” The cry came simultaneously from several ponies at once, not least of which were Sunset and Twilight themselves.

“Now, calm down,” said Time Turner. “It’s not extensive damage by any means, and it’s not irreversible. In fact, given your soul’s proximity to Harmony, I believe it should naturally heal itself within in three months. But until then, I would strongly recommend you avoid any sort of planeswalking, as the consequences could very well be lethal. You wouldn’t want your spark to stop working while you’re still out in the middle of the Blind Eternities, after all.”

“N-no,” said Twilight. “I wouldn’t.” As Twilight’s ears folded against the back of her head, Sunset recalled seeing Twilight’s memory of being trapped in interplanar space without the Planar Amulet, and how she sincerely believed those would be her last moments.

“Then it’s decided!” said Time Turner. “You’ll just stay in Ungula for the next three months, and before you know it you’ll be ready to walk the planes again. Now then, I must be off. I believe Miss Doo has been waiting for my return.”

Without another word Time Turner trotted off in the direction of Ponyville’s residential districts, leaving Sunset and her friends to stare as he disappeared into the horizon.

“Guess I’m not going to be visiting you in Anthropia for a while,” said Twilight. “Especially after the portal’s been destroyed. I’m sorry Sunset, I was really looking forward to seeing you more frequently.”

“That’s okay, Twilight,” Sunset reassured. She hesitated momentarily when a thought came to her mind. “Actually, now that you mention it, I actually don’t know who destroyed the portal. I just told you I did it to throw off your suspicions.”

Twilight’s eyes went wide. “Wait! So someone knew about the connection between our planes, and went out of their way to eliminate it?”

“Apparently so,” said Sunset. “And now that I think about it, that’s... probably not a good sign. I need to go back and investigate, especially since my friends don’t even know what happened to when I left.” Her eyes glanced backwards, over to her very non-clothed pony body. “I’m definitely going to need some clothes, though.”

Twilight giggled. “Oh, well that’s an easy fix,” she said. “I have an illusion spell that—”

“Nope, nuh-uh,” said Sunset abruptly cutting Twilight off. “No illusions. I’m terrible with illusion spells, and I’d still be naked even if nobody can see it. I’m not going to risk having someone accidentally touch me in... places.

A look of dawning comprehension slowly began to fade in on Twilight’s face. “Oh,” she said.

“What’s the big deal?” said Rainbow Dash. “Not wearing clothes is awesome! No itching or chafing, feeling the wind between your legs... Um, no offense, Rarity.”

“None taken, dear,” said Rarity. “Although I do have to wonder why you need clothes to visit the human world. You’ve never really seemed like a pony interested in dressing up, outside of maybe a few fancier occasions.”

“Humans have very little body hair, Rarity,” Sunset replied. “We’re pretty much entirely exposed to the elements without clothing. That, and we don’t have any magic to hide our, uh... parts when we’re not using them.”

Everyone went silent, and their faces went very, very red. All of them except Spike, who simply stared.

“Wait, ‘parts?’ Twilight, what is she—”

Starlight suddenly clasped her hooves against Spike’s ears. “Oh, would you look at that! I just remembered Spike and I have to go over to the other table and, um... eat some cake! Wouldn’t that be fun, Spike?”

“What? Hey! Put me down!” Spike’s protests were ignored as he was carried onto Starlight’s back as she trotted over to the farthest picnic table. “I’d better be getting an extra big slice of cake for this!”

Another tense silence followed. Rarity was the first to speak up, a slight cough breaking the tension.

“Right. I suppose you’ll be needing some clothes, then. I can make something for you if you give me a reference, but it will probably take a week for me to finish it and get it to you. Would that be alright?”

“I...” Sunset paused. A slight shudder ran down her spine. The last conversation she had with her friends at Canterlot High replayed through her memory, and she recalled in particular the vial of glistening oil. “I’m not sure. I have a feeling something bad will happen if I don’t find out who destroyed the portal. But I can’t go back without clothes either, so... I guess I’m stuck here until then.”

“Well hey, look on the bright side!” said Pinkie. “That means you get to spend more time with us! Ooh, maybe we could go to the skinnie convention later this week! It’ll be a blast!

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “’Skinnie?’”

“Yep!” said Pinkie. “It’s when you’re super into fictional characters that don’t have fur, feathers, hooves, chitin, or scales! Why, just last year I went with Lyra and—”

“Aaaaaaand I suddenly don’t want to know,” said Sunset. “Maybe there’s something else we can do instead. Plus, there’s someone else I want to talk to before I leave. Someone I...”

Sunset’s chest suddenly felt unbearably heavy. She couldn’t bring herself to finish her sentence.

“You want to talk to Princess Celestia?” said Twilight.

“Yeah,” said Sunset. “I do.”


The rest of the week was spent among her friends. She’d spent time studying magic with Twilight, learning how to fly and preen her new feathers from Rainbow, relaxing at the spa with Rarity, planning parties with Pinkie, and even going out birdwatching with Fluttershy. Applejack had little time to spare, as the harvest season was approaching, but she was more than willing to have Sunset over for dinner.

In many ways, spending time among them felt just like spending time among their human counterparts, but every so often an oddity popped up that reminded her of how different the two worlds she’d spent her life being tossed between were. It was strange how much better hay tasted when she had the body of a pony, how nobody minded at all if you were completely naked, and how much the animals seemed to be able to think and reason on a similar level to ponies.

Everywhere she went, of course, she received the same stares from passerby at her new wings. Many inquisitive ponies asked her if she was the latest princess, and when the invitations to her coronation would be coming out. Sunset replied that she wasn’t a princess, and that there wouldn’t be any coronation, but nobody ever seemed to believe her. Didn’t they think Equestria had enough princesses already?

It was at the end of the week, after she’d received her full set of clothes from Rarity, that her final appointment came up. It was the one that she was most looking forward to making, but at the same time was the one she most dreaded.

When the train reached its destination in Canterlot, she slung her saddlebags over her, and departed into the city proper. She walked through it at a leisurely pace, observing the scenery of her childhood for one last time. A commotion rapidly formed everywhere she went, as the ponies who no doubt heard the rumors of a new princess gathered just for a chance to see her. Ignoring them, Sunset pushed her way past the crowds and towards the palace.

She was escorted into the doorway by a pair of Royal Guards, who she had to specifically instruct not to bow to her. Similar incidents occurred with most of the castle staff she encountered along the way. She would have been lying if she said it didn’t bother her, but her mind was focused on much more important things.

Finally, she reached the door to the throne room, flanked by one last pair of guards. She gave them a nod, and they responded with a salute. Sunset held her breath and reached out with her magic, pushing the massive doors open. Her eyes remained closed as she walked in.

The doors echoed cacophonously behind her the moment she entered the chamber. Sunset opened her eyes, and gasped at what she saw. There, Princess Celestia sat on her throne, though her body was covered in multiple signs of injury. Several bandages were wrapped around her chest, her right wing was encased in a cast, and a temporary eyepatch had been placed over her right eye. Yet somehow, despite everything that had happened to her, the smile on her face seemed no less serene, and no less genuine.

“Ah, Sunset! It’s good to see you at last. I would have contacted you earlier, but I was momentarily occupied in the Royal Infirmary.”

“Princess! I...” Sunset gaped in horrified shock. “I... Did I do this? I’m so sorry!”

“Don’t be,” said Celestia. Despite her injuries, she left the throne with the same grace as ever, approaching Sunset with gentle, yet profoundly saddened eyes. “I have suffered many injuries across my lifetime, Sunset. But the pain you’ve inflicted on me pales in comparison to what I’ve inflicted on you. If anything, you are the one who deserves an apology.”

“M-me?” said Sunset. “B-but, I...”

“I turned you away because I thought I failed you as a teacher,” said Celestia. “Because I failed to teach you how to think of others just as much as you think of yourself. But I didn’t stop to think how I’d be leaving you without anypony to truly care for you. I didn’t fail you as a teacher, but as a family. And I’m sorry.”

Without another word, Celestia leaned over, lowering her head in a nuzzling gesture. But before she could make contact, Sunset involuntarily flinched away, a small whine escaping her lips.

Celestia’s eyes went wide as she pulled away. “Sunset?”

“I-I’m sorry Princess,” said Sunset. “But the reason I came here is because I wanted to say that... I-I need to get away from you for a while. My darker half was right about how much you hurt me. I just... I can’t just forget about that, no matter how much I want to. I-I still love you dearly, but I just... I need some space until I can sort these feelings out. Do you think you could give that to me?”

Celestia’s uninjured eye closed deep. For the briefest moment, Sunset could see a single tear trailing down her face. With a deep breath, she looked down at Sunset once more.

“I understand,” she said. “If that is what you need, I will give it to you. Do whatever you need to heal, and do not think for a moment you are obligated to forgive. Your friends have forgiven you because, in their deepest hearts, that is how they truly feel about you. But I cannot dictate how you should feel, nor can I demand you change those feelings for me.”

“I...” Sunset felt a tear form in her own eye. “I just... maybe I’ll come back to your side someday, but not right now. We’ll see. But right now, I have to go. My friends in Anthropia are waiting for me, and they’re probably really worried about where I went. I need to go back to them.”

“Then I will not keep you any longer,” said Princess Celestia. “I wish you well on your travels.”

Sunset wiped off the corner of her eye. “Thank you, Princess.” She turned to face the doorway, and departed without another word.


After her meeting with Princess Celestia, Sunset quickly made her way to the castle’s changing room, where she had spent many nights before formal events under her former mentor’s tutelage, putting on obnoxiously frilly dresses to meet the lofty social expectations of Canterlot’s high society.

Thankfully, the outfit she’d packed into her saddlebags was much less unnecessarily fancy. It was a simple purple t-shirt with her cutie mark on it, a pair of socks, some sneakers, and a pair of blue-jeans. They very clearly didn’t fit her pony body at all, especially not so with her wings painfully tucked beneath the garments on her torso. Even straining to bend her spine to stand upright didn’t help matters any, but she was confident that her human body would accommodate her outfit. Of course, there were also the especially uncomfortable undergarments she wore, the very concept of which she had to explain to Rarity multiple times. It was a miracle she managed to create a bra and panties that were otherwise indistinguishable from human-produced ones, but Rarity was very quick to boast about being a miracle worker.

With her clothes fully donned, Sunset gave herself one last look over in the mirror. Unable to stand the discomfort any longer, she planeswalked away, keeping the image of Canterlot High firmly in her mind. Her perceptions faded in a burst of light, and felt her form dissolving into nothing, before reconstituting itself afterward.

When she arrived, Sunset gave one quick look over herself. She was human again, thankfully, and her clothes were a perfect fit, making her think briefly that pony Rarity really was a miracle worker.

But Sunset wasn’t prepared to see what stood before her when she lifted her eyes off her body.

Superficially, it resembled Canterlot High. The same general building shape was there, and she could see all of the windows in the places that they normally were, as well as the space in the front where the portal had been removed. But all the bright assortment of colors had faded to a uniform concrete grey, and there were now multiple smokestacks coming out of the rooftops, pouring out so much pollution that the entire sky had been blotted out by ashen grey clouds. And worst of all, there was no sign of any other living person. The entire building had been transformed from a vibrant, bustling high school to an oppressive, brutalist work of architecture.

And then, Sunset saw the symbol painted above the front entrance. A single letter phi, scrawled across the building in slick green ooze. Below it, a single sentence, written as both threat and promise.



Phyrexian High School


T: Add C to your mana pool.

5, T, pay 2 life: Target creature gains infect until end of turn. (It deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)

Where independent thought goes to die.