Equestria Girls Xenoverse

by MythrilMoth

First published

Sunset Shimmer escapes through the mirror portal into a very different, very dangerous world of powerful warriors.

Planet Uma. Universe 6. Age 949.

The Umans are a peaceful race with a passion for the fighting arts, driven by the Saiyan heritage more than two thirds of the population share. At Umajin City's Harmony High School, run by one of Uma's strongest warriors, teenagers learn together, play together, grow together, and fight together.

A new arrival at Harmony High School has a bitter past and selfish ambitions. Sunset Shimmer seeks to topple the social order of her new surroundings and pervert the fierce warriors of Harmony High to her own twisted ends. But she isn't the only one with dark designs...

AU crossover with the Dragonball franchise, set in Universe 6, where the Saiyans are a peaceful race and were never destroyed, in an alternate timeline where the Tournament of Power never took place and Universe 6 was never erased.

Surrounded By Danger?! Sunset Shimmer Arrives on Planet Uma!!

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Sunset Shimmer's vision swam and blurred, lights dancing in her eyes after the onslaught of light and color that was the portal. Hard, unforgiving concrete scratched and scraped at her flesh after a rough, painful landing.

As her vision cleared, she stretched her arms in front of her, brow crinkling in confusion. Rather than hooves, they ended in soft, fleshy, dexterous digits. She curled her new fingers experimentally, scratching the soft tips on the pavement. With a grimace, she pushed herself up; after a moment of fumbling, she was standing on two legs, and felt her center of gravity shift. "What happened to me?" she wondered.

She slowly looked around. The sky above was a bright, clear blue, dotted with a few puffy white clouds. She stood on a circular concrete path which wrapped around the base of a statue. The path branched off in four directions; the broadest path led to a tall iron gate in one direction, and to a massive domed building in the other. The building's gleaming metal dome was painted in alternating shades of deep royal purple, sparkling amethyst, and gold, and had a broad entrance made of smooth, dark glass. The building was flanked by six tall, square metal towers capped in gleaming pyramids cut from sparkling gemstones, each in a different color. A thin, cylindrical tower painted in shimmering pastels rose from the exact center of the dome, taller than all the others. The top of this tower flared out into a squashed golden sphere with black-tinted windows. The narrow side paths led to squat, broad buildings with square bases and pyramid roofs, constructed of more simple materials. A marble wall stretched around the buildings and the grassy courtyard that fronted them.

The statue directly behind Sunset, from which she had emerged after jumping into the mirror back in Canterlot, had a highly polished brass pedestal, seven feet tall, with three perfectly smooth sides. At the top stood a gleaming steel statue of a man with upswept, spiky hair, crossed arms, and a fierce, scowling expression. The words "PRIDE AND HONOR" were engraved into the base of the statue.

Sunset examined herself in one of the polished brass faces of the pedestal. She blinked. "What...what am I?"

All she recognized as herself were her bright teal eyes and her mane of fiery red-and-gold hair, which was shaggier and spikier than the elegant waves she was used to. The creature in the mirror was tall, with hairless amber skin, a flat nose and mouth, and most distressingly, no horn. She wore a lightweight magenta shirt under a sleeveless black tunic, an orange skirt with a magenta sash cinched around her waist, fingerless elbow-length purple gloves, and black boots with purple soles, darker purple laces, and magenta cuffs. An errant breeze stirred her skirt, revealing tight black shorts underneath it. Her biceps and thighs showed firm muscle tone—not too overt, but noticeable.

Sunset ran her new hands over her body, her face, her small, round ears—at the sides of her head rather than on top—and turned this way and that, studying her reflection, the way her new body moved. She bit her lip. "What is this place?" she wondered.

"Hi!" a bright, high-pitched voice called from behind her. She turned around and stared, jaw agape, as a girl of the same species as—whatever she was now—descended from the sky, hovering in front of her for a moment before landing with a soft thump on the pavement. The girl had bright pink skin and a massive mane of long, curly pink hair, bright blue eyes, and a cheerful smile. She wore a pleated light blue skirt, a loose white top with a blue naval collar flap, a bright pink neckerchief, sky blue knee-length socks, and glossy black mary janes. She put her hands behind her back and leaned forward, her eyes shining brightly. "You must be new here, I don't think I've ever seen you before," she said cheerfully.

"Uhh...y-yeah," Sunset said, blinking. She frowned, tilting her head this way and that. *I don't see any wings...or a horn. How was she flying?!*

"I thought so," the pink girl said. "My name's Pinkie Pie!"

"I'm, uhh...Sunset," Sunset said distractedly. "Sunset Shimmer."

"Nice to meet you, Sunset Shimmer!" Pinkie Pie said. "Just FYI though? You should better hide your sentou-ryoku around here." She giggled. "Walking around at full power like that? You're gonna get challenged to fights like...a lot." She tilted her head, then pulled a small device from her pocket and hooked it over her left ear. A green lens covered her left eye; she tapped a button on the device, and it beeped, a readout lighting up on the lens. "Wow," she said. "With that spiky hair I coulda sworn you were an Uma-Saiyan, but your power level's so low..." She took the device off and pocketed it, clucking her tongue. "Yeah, you're gonna get creamed if you aren't more careful."

Sunset had no idea how to respond to any of that. None of what the pink girl was saying made any sense. The only thing she was able to make sense of was that she'd just been called weak by somebody she'd just met...which, for some reason, seriously irritated her.

"Well, anyway, welcome to Harmony High!" Pinkie Pie said, her cheerful smile returning. "And since you're new here, and I'm the first person to meet you, that means one thing! It's time for your official 'Welcome to Harmony High'—"

*Party. She's totally gonna say party.*


And before Sunset Shimmer knew what was happening, a pink fist slammed right into her face.

* * * * *

Two girls stood across a field from each other, knees bent, arms out, eyes steely. A loose crowd of onlookers watched from the bleachers. One of the girls had light blue skin and long, wild spiky hair in several colors of the rainbow, with gleaming rose-colored eyes. She wore black bike shorts, a white tank top with an emblem of a cloud and a tri-colored lightning bolt on the front, a short-sleeved blue denim jacket, a blue denim miniskirt, and knee-high laced-up blue boots. A scouter with a red lens was hooked over her left ear. The other girl wore cutoff jean shorts, cowboy boots, and a checkered green Western shirt. Unruly black spikes spilled down her back, held in a loose ponytail by a coil of thick wire; her black eyes snapped with competitive fire. Her skin was well tanned, her muscles straining with power. A green scouter sat over her left eye.

"Ready to get your butt kicked again, Applejack?"

"Hah! You an' whut army? Y'all forgettin' Ah'm th' only pure-blooded Saiyan at this here school?"

"Oh, really? Your brother and sister might have something to say about that."

Applejack rolled her eyes. "Okay, so Ah'm th' only one that matters," she amended.

"Yeah yeah. So, you wanna do this full power, or—"

Her only warning was a loud yell and a roaring rush of power as a golden aura exploded around Applejack. Her black hair turned golden, lifting on the wind of her power, and her eyes turned a glowing, ferocious green. She flew forward, a challenging roar on her lips as she crashed into her opponent in a fearsome barrage of punches and kicks, which were blocked and countered with showy ease by the rainbow-haired girl. Applejack finished her opening salvo with a massive kick to the gut that drove the other girl back several feet; when she skidded to a stop, she grinned, her eyes gleaming with anticipation.

"My turn," Rainbow Dash said, arms held out at her side, bent at the elbows. Loose debris on the ground stirred as she gathered her power...

Both girls' scouters beeped. Rainbow paused, blinking, and turned her head in the direction of the school entrance, frowning. "That's Pinkie Pie," she said. "But who's she fighting?"

"Danged if Ah know," Applejack said. "Don't recognize that power. Whoever it is sure ain't very strong." She dropped her Super Saiyan transformation and inclined her head in the direction of the fight. "Wanna go check it out?"

Rainbow shrugged. "Sure. But you're not gettin' out of a beating that easily!"

"That's mah line," Applejack said. The two girls flew off for the front of the school.

* * * * *

Sunset's head spun as she crossed her strange new arms over her face, bracing herself against the onslaught of pink fists and feet. *What's going on here? Why is this creature attacking me? Do they know where I'm from? Is she a guard? Do they know about the portal? Am I going to be thrown back through to face Celestia's judgment?*

And suddenly, the rain of blows stopped. Sunset opened one eye to see the pink girl frowning at her. "Why aren't you fighting back?" she asked.

Sunset blinked. "Huh?"

"I mean, okay, so you're not all that strong, but really? Not a single punch? You're not even using the afterimage technique to dodge?"

"Uhh..." Sunset blinked. "I...don't want to fight?" she hedged.

Pinkie Pie blinked. "Oh," she said. She pursed her lips. "Really?"

"Really," Sunset said, nodding.

"Well that's no fun," Pinkie pouted. "Why are you walking around with your power showing then? I mean, nobody does that unless—"

Two new girls dropped into view. One had tanned peach-colored skin, long spiky black hair, and black eyes, and the other had blue skin, wild rainbow hair, and red eyes. "What's up, Pinks?" the rainbow-haired girl asked. "Who's the noob?"

"Hey Rainbow Dash!" Pinkie said cheerfully. "This is Sunset Shimmer. I'm just trying to figure out what her deal is. She says she doesn't wanna fight, but..."

The other girl frowned. "Don't wanna fight? That's crazy talk," she said. "Who doesn't wanna fight? Ah mean, if you're not gonna hide yer power, you gotta wanna..." She narrowed her eyes. "Unless...you don't know how..."

Rainbow made a derisive noise. "Pssh. Who doesn't know how to hide their power? I learned that in kindergarten!"

Being talked about in such dismissive terms was beginning to annoy Sunset. Deciding a tactical bluff was in order, she crossed her arms and fixed the girls with an imperious glare. "For your information," she said archly, "I am hiding my power. If you want to find out how much I'm hiding it, just keep talking like that."

Rainbow Dash and Applejack glanced at each other, their eyes gleaming. "Is that a challenge?" Rainbow asked.

"No, it's a warning," Sunset said. She ran her fingers through her hair. "Look, I just had a really rough day, I just got here, and the only thing I want to do is go to the library and have some quiet time. I don't suppose one of you can manage to tell me where that is without me having to kick your face off?"

"Oh, is that all?" Pinkie asked. "You should've said so sooner, silly! Library's third door on your left past the main intersection," she said, pointing at the building behind her.

"Thank you," Sunset said curtly, turning on her heel and walking briskly up to the building, struggling to keep a cool, disaffected air of superiority.

And desperately hoping to be alone and unobserved before she rubbed the stinging pain out of her certain-to-be-broken arms. That pink girl's punches hurt!

* * * * *

Two women stood by one of the tinted windows in the richly decorated office at the very top of Harmony High School, watching the courtyard.

"So, the portal has opened," the taller of the two said.

"Mmm. Right on schedule," the shorter said. "Only this time, one of their kind has come here."

"Mmm." The two women lapsed into silence, watching for a time. "For an equine altered by the Supreme Kai's magic, she has a decent amount of potential."

"Indeed. So, Sister, what shall we do about her?"

"For now? Nothing. Observe, as we always do." The taller woman smiled. "Watching her try to adapt to our world's ways could prove...interesting."

The shorter woman smirked. "You have a wicked sense of humor as always, Celestia..."

* * * * *

Sunset Shimmer sat at a table in the center of the Harmony High school library, books piled high to either side of her even as she studied information flowing across a thin glowing screen anchored to the table in front of her. Upon arrival at the library, it had taken her a few minutes to figure out the screens and how they worked, and a few minutes longer to decipher the library's filing system and gather the materials she needed.

It turned out that the screens had all the basic information she needed, and the books would simply be a more in-depth study method. As Sunset researched, she began to understand the predicament she had found herself in; the more she learned, the heavier the lead weight in her belly felt.

The world she presently found herself in was called Planet Uma. According to the wealth of encyclopedias and history records she had at her new fingertips, Planet Uma was a peaceful world, but had a long history and culture centered around personal physical combat.

The Umans were a warrior race, yet one that didn't make war. Their global fighting culture had come into prominence some five hundred years into the past with the introduction of an alien colony from Planet Sadala into the population. The aliens, called Saiyans, crash-landed on the southwest continent. There had been eighty Saiyans aboard the crashed ship, all of whom had survived; while they waited for a rescue vessel, they built a village and were welcomed into the community by the Umans. At the time, the fighting arts were a venerated but isolated sector of Uman society; the Saiyans' fighting prowess brought the masters of Uman martial arts to their village, and interest spread quickly across the continent. Many of the Saiyan colonists found life on Planet Uma pleasant and chose to stay behind. The Saiyans who returned to their homeworld carried Uman herbs and craftworks with them and traded them among their own kind, which ultimately led to a thriving interplanetary exchange between Sadala and Uma. Many Saiyans who traveled to Uma for trade ended up settling permanently, marrying into the local population.

Over the next several generations, Saiyan genes permeated the Umans. Now, in the present, an estimated two-thirds of the population of Planet Uma had at least some Saiyan heritage, while pure Saiyans were increasingly rare. As the hybrid culture had evolved, Planet Uma's global culture and heritage became one of noble and honorable warriors who fought to better themselves and deepen their bond with their fellow beings and the world around them.

The rest of Sunset's research explained the entire scene in the courtyard, and told Sunset exactly how much trouble she was in if she didn't hurry and return to Equestria. Facing the music and humbling herself before Princess Celestia would be infinitely preferable to remaining on Planet Uma, she mused as she studied the patina of fresh bruises up and down her arms. The worst of the pain had faded—Sunset had realized quickly enough that the portal had transformed her into an Uma-Saiyan, which apparently made her ridiculously resistant to pain and injury—but the memory of those bone-breaking punches was fresh in her mind.

And that was a friendly greeting.

If the Umans found out she didn't belong here, if she made a wrong move and ticked off the wrong people, she could find herself in deep trouble. As in six feet under deep.

Biting her lip, Sunset closed a book, stood, and briskly left the library, walking purposefully out of the school and across the courtyard. It was completely empty now; she walked right up to the statue and pressed her hand against it. She studied her reflection for a moment, then gave the statue a firm push...

Its surface refused to yield.

Blinking, Sunset frantically circled the statue, testing each surface, pushing against the cold metal. Panic siezed her heart as she tried desperately to push through, only to fail again and again...

"No," she whispered, taking a step back. "No..."

"Excuse me," a cold voice said from behind her. Sunset turned, icy dread rising up her spine. The cold dread turned to sheer terror, surprise, and confusion as she beheld the completely alien being behind her.

Only half a head shorter than her, this being nevertheless radiated a sense of danger and cold menace. Slender but muscular, with an understated and vague feminine shape, the alien wore a short midnight blue dress tied with a black sash. Her arms and legs were banded dark blue except for her pale blue hands and three-toed, clawed feet. Her face, similarly pale blue and framed by darker blue bands, held a stern, forbidding expression and piercing dark green eyes. A helmet which seemed to be part of her body covered the rest of her head; it was made up of some sort of black cartilage or chitin, with short, sharp black horns extending to either side, and a large, perfectly round pale green pearl crest in the center, covering most of her scalp. A long, thick banded dark blue tail lashed aggressively behind her.

"You should be in class right now," she said, folding her arms.

The Terrifying Vice-Principal! The Truth About Planet Uma Revealed?!

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In a remote corner of the courtyard of Harmony High, well outside of the notice of the faculty, two freshmen were goofing off. One was a tall, lanky Namekian with orange skin and droopy, glazed eyes that held a perpetually dim expression; he wore loose white breeches with a dark grey sash around his waist, a forest green tunic, and pointy red shoes that, coupled with his pointed ears, gave the overall impression of a particularly dimwitted elf. His partner in crime was a squat, rotund being with blue-grey skin and a bulbous head. His pudgy face and beady eyes gave him a thuggish look, while the larger pair of wide, small-pupiled eyes on the sides of his head made him somewhat resemble a toad. His squat, bulky body was squeezed into unflattering jeans, bright green hi-tops, and a black T-shirt with a pair of scissors on the front.

Presently, the two had cornered a small purple dog with floppy green ears, who was crouched against one of the school's six towers, whimpering and looking desperately for an escape route.

"C'mon doggie, show us a fighting pose!" the squat, round alien said in a raspy voice. "I bet you've got some fight in you!" He poked the dog with a gnarled stick.

The Namekian laughed. "Heheheh, I bet he can beat you up, Snips!"

"Excuse me," a soft voice said.

"You mean like I beat up your mom last night, Snails?"

"Umm...you boys should really be in class now, and—"

"Hah, you WISH, Snips! My mom could beat up you and your mom and your mom's mom and—"

"—really shouldn't be teasing that poor doggie, he's lost and scared and all alone—"

"I could eat your mom right now and poop you out five poop brothers that are all stronger than you!"

"—belongs to somebody, he has a tag, I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate it—"

"Ewww! Hahahahah, you're gross, Snips!"

Both boys suddenly stiffened as a massive spike in energy registered on their senses. They turned around in time to see a swarm of glowing yellow butterflies hovering all around them.

Their irises contracted to pinpricks.

A yellow blur appeared briefly behind them, disappearing with the dog they'd been teasing. A half second later, a massive explosion left a crater in the courtyard, at the bottom of which lay Snips and Snails, unconscious and battered.

"Let's get you home, you poor little guy," a soft voice crooned to the pup, who barked happily.

* * * * *

Sunset Shimmer stared, a chill running down her spine as nervous sweat beaded on her brow.

"Well?" the alien snapped impatiently.

Floundering for a moment, Sunset finally managed to find words. "Umm...I'm...not enrolled here yet?" she offered. "Just got here this morning, umm..."

"Ah," the alien said, frowning thoughtfully. "No wonder I didn't recognize you. Well then, if you'll—" She trailed off, tensing suddenly. "What in the—?"

Sunset started as an explosion rocked the campus. She followed the alien's gaze and saw a tremendous dust cloud billow up from the west courtyard.

"That can't be right," the alien muttered. Frowning, she barked at Sunset, "You. Come with me." She then rose up and began flying in the direction of the explosion. Numbly, Sunset started running after her. After a moment, the alien slowed down, hands on her hips in mid-air. "And just what do you think you're doing?" she snapped angrily.

"Uhh...following you?" Sunset offered nervously.

The alien snorted. "Che. Whatever, it's not as if she flies either," she muttered, resuming her course at a slower speed. When they rounded the corner, Sunset stared in disbelief at the scene before them.

The pristine courtyard was scarred by a deep, ugly crater; an entire section of the school's grand dome was blasted with upheaved dirt and grass. Two aliens lay unconscious at the bottom of the crater. Near the edge, an Uman girl was playing with a purple dog. The girl had smooth, pale yellow skin and long, lush cherry blossom pink hair, with wide, soft, expressive blue-green eyes and an innocent, unassuming face. Her arms and legs were slender and graceful. She wore a knee-length forest green skirt with a pink satin belt and an off-the-shoulder sweater with horizontal stripes in alternating shades of pale pink and dark wintergreen, which left the straps of her dark pink bra exposed. Open-toed, platform-heel green sandals with satin straps that crisscrossed up her shins halfway to her knees completed her ensemble. She looked up as they approached and let out a soft, terrified squeak. "V-Vice-Principal Luna," she whispered fearfully.

Vice-Principal Luna landed at the edge of the crater. "Fluttershy," she intoned coolly. She inclined her head behind her, punctuating her words with a pointed lash of her tail. "Would you care to explain?"

"I-I'm sorry!" Fluttershy squeaked, trembling in fear. "They were teasing this poor, lost little guy and they wouldn't stop no matter how politely I asked and I just couldn't—"

"Alright, enough," Luna said, massaging the bridge of her nose. "I get the idea." She frowned, peering back into the crater. "Serves these two idiots right for cutting class." She snorted. "The dog, it has tags?"

"Oh! Um. Y-yes ma'am."

Luna nodded. "See to it the dog is returned to its owner immediately, and warn them to keep better track of it," she said. She glanced at Sunset. "You. You're new to Umajin City, is that right?"

"Uh...y-yes ma'am," Sunset said.

"Go with Fluttershy, she can show you around," Luna said. "Besides, I won't have time to deal with you and your enrollment today anyway. I have to...discipline these two fools." She frowned. "And have the courtyard resodded. Again."

"S-sorry!" Fluttershy squeaked.

Luna snorted. "Rainbow Dash does far worse than this at least once a week just showing off," she said dismissively. "Out of my sight, both of you."

With another terrified squeak, Fluttershy swept up the dog and took off running, Sunset hot on her heels.

* * * * *

The Principal of Harmony High sat in her office, fingers flying across the keys of her keyboard, eyes diligently scanning student records, updating data from the tablet on her desk. Her intercom buzzed; she tapped it. "Yes?" she said crisply.

//Snips and Snails were caught cutting class again. I'm assigning them three hours in the Garden this time.//

The Principal's lips pursed. "Three hours? That's a bit...excessive."

//They're idiots. Pain is the only teacher they'll listen to.//

The Principal sighed. "Fair enough. And that explosion? That was them as well?"

//Not directly. It's more they took a beating from one of the other students over a matter of a dog they were teasing.//

The Principal blinked. "A dog...?"

//It seems Fluttershy objected...rather strongly.//


//It's a rather prodigious crater. I admit I'm impressed. I had no idea Fluttershy was capable of that level of destruction.//

The Principal sighed. "Right. What about the other thing?"

//Ah, yes. The new arrival. The portal's closed and she's stuck here, but she's already apparently made up her mind to bluff her way into the school.//

"Well then. I hope for her sake she's a quick learner. What's her name? I need to put her in the system."

//Sunset Shimmer.//

"Sunset Shimmer..." The Principal rapidly typed away at her computer. "Did you get a reading on her?"

//Mmm...I'd say she's about 4.5.//

"Right." The Principal's fingers danced across the keys. After several seconds of typing, a new entry appeared in the student registry:

SRb: 4.5
SRss1: N/A

"Where is she now?"

//With Fluttershy, finding the owner of the dog. She can get a little bit more experience with our world that way.//

"Alright. When she comes back, be sure to send her to my office."

//Of course.//

* * * * *

The two girls stood at a bus stop near the school. Sunset watched the flow of vehicle traffic curiously. She also watched the dozens of Umans who casually flew around overhead. "Umm..." Fluttershy said softly. "S-sorry for making you take the bus. I...I don't really like flying..." she added in a whisper.

"It's okay," Sunset said. "I don't feel like flying today."

"Oh, good," Fluttershy said. "Umm...s-sorry to ask, but...could you please, umm...lower your sentou-ryoku? It's just, umm...it makes me nervous to walk around with somebody who's powered up. Oh, b-but if you don't want to, I mean...it's okay..."

"I can't push it down any lower than this, sorry." It wasn't a lie—whatever fighting power Sunset's new body contained, she lacked the necessary skill to suppress it. That, and a number of other skills she now knew were second nature to the Umans. Which, apparently, included the ability to fly without wings—a skill Sunset was most eager to develop.

"Oh," Fluttershy whispered. "Oh my." She began trembling.

"Hey. Calm down, will you? You're gonna scare the mutt." The mutt in question barked once, showing no trace of fear.

Fluttershy visibly calmed down. "You're right," she said. "Umm...I'm F-Fluttershy. I didn't get your name..."

"Sunset Shimmer," Sunset said. "I'm...new."

"Oh. Um. Hi..."

"So, where are we taking the pooch?" Sunset asked, rocking on her heels casually.

Fluttershy gasped. "Oh my gosh, I forgot to check!" She passed the dog off to Sunset, then began fumbling around in her pockets. She pulled out a scouter with a green lens and hooked it on, then powered it up. It flickered, made an off-tone pattern of beeps, then went blank. Fluttershy frowned. "Oh, this old scouter," she grumbled. "I really need to get a new one but I always keep forgetting..." She looked up at Sunset. "I don't suppose we can use your scouter?"

Sunset shook her head. "Mine broke yesterday, haven't had time to get a new one."

"Darn," Fluttershy said. She sighed and tapped hers a few more times; with a loud beep, it finally began working again. She grasped the dog's tags and peered at them intently through the lens. "Hmm. Northwest District, Block 42, Street C...wow, that's a rich neighborhood. And really far away, I wonder what this little guy was doing way out here?"

"Well, let's hurry and get him home," Sunset said. She honestly didn't care one way or another about some random dog, but the sooner she got back to that school, the better off she'd be—or the worse, she honestly wasn't sure which. She did know that staying close to that statue, the one connected to the portal to Equestria, was her safest bet for escaping this death trap world.

The bus arrived, and the two girls boarded it. It rumbled off down a wide concrete road; Sunset observed the people aboard—mostly elderly Umans, with a few younger women who had small children with them, and two pregnant women. A number of the passengers were giving her odd looks; she met their stares with a cool, dispassionate gaze until they looked away.

"Umm, you, umm...really need to try to push your power down a little more," Fluttershy whispered.

Sunset frowned. "Like I said, this is the best I can do," she muttered.

"Ah! I'm sorry, it's just...people in this city aren't used to, umm, anyone over the age of four walking around showing that much power unless they're in a fight," Fluttershy said. "I mean, I know there are places where walking around powered up all the time is a thing people do, but here?" She hugged the little dog more tightly to her chest. It nestled in, letting out a happy, appreciative yip.

Sunset shrugged. They lapsed into silence for the rest of the long, slightly uncomfortable ride. Eventually, Fluttershy announced they'd reached their stop. They disembarked from the bus; Fluttershy checked something on her phone, then led them down a street lined with comfortable-looking two-story and three-story houses. They stopped at a plain-looking two-story house with a well-tended garden and lawn. Fluttershy approached the door, then hesitated, her hand halfway to the bell. Sunset rolled her eyes, reached out, and pressed the buzzer.

A minute later, a middle-aged woman with pale pinkish-grey skin and lavender hair with broad white streaks down the middle answered the door, wringing a dish towel. "Yes?" she asked. "Can I help—"

"SPIKE!" a voice from inside shouted suddenly. The dog yipped, jumped out of Fluttershy's arms, and rushed into the house. The woman at the door looked confused, her brow furrowed as she looked past the foyer.

"Umm, sorry to bother you," Fluttershy said, wringing the hem of her sweater. "We, umm...f-found your d-dog at Harmony High School. Our vice principal sent us to, umm, to b-bring him home..."

"Huh? But—"

"It's okay, Mom, it's totally my fault," a girl said. She walked into view, and Sunset's eyes widened.

She had lavender skin, expressive purple eyes magnified by black-framed glasses, and long violet hair with a bright magenta streak, tied up in a messy bun. She wore a plain dark blue skirt, a sky blue sweater, and white socks. She looked at the two girls gratefully, holding the purple dog at stomach level. "Thank you so much," she said. "I was in your part of the city looking for a bookstore that has this book I can't find anywhere else and he just got away from me! I came back home to make lost dog posters to put up, but I guess I got lucky and you found him. Umm...thank you."

"It's no problem," Fluttershy said, smiling reassuringly. "I know how it is, sometimes animals just wander off! Do try to be more careful with him, okay?"

"I will, don't worry!" the girl said. "Umm...I gotta go...homework. And gotta feed Spike. Thanks again!" She darted back into the house. Her mother watched her in confusion, then looked back at the two girls on the porch, shrugged, and closed the door.

"Oh my," Fluttershy said. "W-well...I guess mission accomplished? We should, umm...we should get back to school now..."

As they headed back to the bus stop, Sunset Shimmer's mind whirled.

*So...that's what this world is.*

A malevolent smile twisted her face.

*Now that...is interesting...*

* * * * *

"They're gone," Twilight Sparkle said, letting out a relieved sigh.

"Thank goodness," the raspy voice of a young boy answered from behind her. With a muffled explosion sound and a burst of smoke, the little purple dog was replaced by a short, slightly chubby boy with dark purple skin, slicked-back green hair, and bright green eyes who wore baggy red shorts, red and white sneakers, and a puke green T-shirt with the word 'DRAGON' stenciled across the chest in dark green. He took the dog collar he wore around his neck off and massaged his throat. "Don't ever make me do that again, Aneki," he groused.

"Sorry, Spike," Twilight said as Spike handed her the collar. "I'll make it up to you, I promise!"

"Yeah yeah," Spike grumbled dismissively, waving her off with a hand. "Hope you got what you needed out of all this."

Twilight used a tiny screwdriver to pry open the tag, removing a minuscule sensor assembly and a data chip. She fit the chip into a reader and slipped it into her personal computer, adjusting her glasses and pursing her lips. "You did good, Spike," she said. "It'll take some time to go through all the data." She sighed. "Why do I have to do this?"

Spike folded his arms. "Because you're literally useless for anything else?" he retorted.

Twilight glared at him. "Spike..."

Spike snorted. "I'm gonna go take a bath. I think I actually got fleas this time..."

Once Spike left the room, Twilight sighed, rolling idly around the room in her desk chair. She looked over at her bed, where her freshly laundered school uniform was laid out, ready to be put away. She absently fingered the fabric of the black bodysuit and stared at the gleaming purple elasteel armor with her school crest, a stylized purple S with a single wing extending from the top, outlined in gold, emblazoned over the left breast.

* * * * *

Upon returning to Harmony High School, Sunset Shimmer was immediately intercepted by Vice-Principal Luna. "Come with me," she said.

Sunset followed the terrifying-looking alien nervously through the corridors of Harmony High. She was led to a room at the very heart of the school, one which most of the students seemed to instinctively avoid like the plague. It served as the hub of the school, surrounded by a wide circular hallway lined with faculty offices. Stamped above each of the four entrances to the round room was the legend "ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE". The windows were blacked out.

Luna opened a door and ushered Sunset inside. Immediately, Sunset felt a terrible pressure on her body and almost fell down, but Luna caught her in a firm, crushing grip by the upper arm and steadied her.

"Sorry, that was rude of me not to warn you," Luna said in a somewhat mocking tone. "The gravity in this tower is the same as the gravity of Planet Sadala." She pulled a device from her dress and pressed two buttons on it; the pressure immediately eased up, and Sunset let out a shaky breath, her body trembling.

"Follow me," Luna said, floating toward a long, spiral staircase that stretched, to Sunset's dismay, up to the very top of the tower. Sunset swallowed.

*Is she insane?*

"I don't care to be kept waiting," Luna said impatiently. "Nor does the Principal." Sunset gulped, and hesitantly but deliberately followed her, exerting great effort in projecting an air of confidence and easy grace as she put one shaking, all-too-soft, hoofless foot in front of the other, desperately trying not to fall.

Luna floated backwards, watching her with some amusement. "Good," she said. "Good. You're terrified, but you don't want to show it. I respect that." Her cold green eyes regarded Sunset for a long moment as Sunset struggled her way up five steps, then another five.

"Isn't there...a faster way...up?" Sunset huffed after what felt like an eternity of climbing but, in fact, had been less than a minute.

Luna chuckled. "Not for you," she said. She flicked her tail imperiously. "I want to see what you're capable of, pony."

Sunset froze, nearly falling. "Wh-what?"

"We know what you are," Luna said. "The Principal and I. We know you came through the portal. We know you're one of those equines from that other dimension."

Sunset gulped. "I—"

Luna held up a hand. "I admire your bravado," she said. "You discovered you were trapped here, but you chose to hide your fear. You chose to bluff your way into being accepted as one of us. That takes courage."

Sunset faltered, looking down. "I...don't have anything to go back to," she said bitterly. "I made my choice. She...she wouldn't take me back now. Not after what I've done..." She clenched her fists at her sides. "I don't want to go crawling back, kiss her hooves and beg that old nag to forgive me..."

Luna raised an eyebrow. "My my," she said. "Something drove you here, something more than simple curiosity. I see." She chuckled. "Tell me, Sunset Shimmer: would you like to become strong? Would you like to see all your ambitions realized?"

Sunset looked up at her curiously.

Luna crossed her arms. "My sister is content with watching you find your own way in this world, to see how you adapt, to watch you try to blunder your way through learning how to be an Uman. I, on the other hand, think it would be far more interesting to train you personally." She smirked. "What do you say? Of course, no one can know you are my secret protege. Not even my sister. She would almost certainly intervene. I want to see how far I can push you, how far you can grow. We've never had a pony cross into this world before who remained here and lived to tell the tale. I'm...curious. Well?"

Sunset considered it for a long moment.

Whatever her answer was, she was here now. Stuck. She had no idea when the portal would open again, or even if the portal would reopen. Her own choices had led her down this path, and now she was at a crossroads. She had believed her only options were to find someplace to hide and pray she could survive living in this strange deathtrap of a world, or bluff her way through fitting in until she could somehow, on her own, learn to be one of these Uman creatures and survive on their terms.

And now, a third option had presented itself to her. One that was absolutely unnerving and daunting, and yet...

The part of Sunset Shimmer that had led her to secretly studying dark magic and ultimately to rejecting Princess Celestia, the part that had gotten her banished from the castle, the part that had led her here...

That part of her was severely tempted by Luna's offer.

Sunset stilled her arms at her sides, stood up straight, and looked Luna in the eye.

"I'll do it," she said firmly. "I'll become your student."

Luna smiled a cold, chilling smile. "Excellent," she said. "Now, for your first lesson: climb these stairs all the way to the Principal's Office."

Sunset groaned, but sighed and continued the impossibly long climb.

* * * * *

It was dark outside by the time Sunset reached the top of the stairs. Off to one side of the landing was a padded bench; she collapsed onto it, braced her hands on her knees, and panted, sweat dripping from her spiky bangs and every pore in her body, her clothes plastered to her skin. Luna, darkly amused, offered her a bottle of cold water, which she uncapped with trembling fingers and greedily gulped.

"I see we have a great deal of work ahead of us," Luna said with a resigned sigh. She produced a small, pale greenish-beige bean from her dress and offered it to Sunset. "Here, eat this."

Sunset frowned but did as told. The bean crunched as she bit into it. Several seconds later, she felt a surge of fresh energy flood her being. Her eyes widened. All of her fatigue from the long, arduous climb was gone. The pain in her knees and ankles, erased. She felt fresh and ready, as though she'd had a full night's sleep and eaten a hearty, filling meal.

Luna chuckled at her reaction. "Senzu beans don't exist in your world, I take it."

Sunset shook her head.

Luna snorted. "Come, we've kept my sister waiting long enough."

They ascended a shorter flight of stairs into a broad, lavish atrium decorated with columns, hanging plants, and objects d'art. The floor boasted marble tiles; Luna landed on her three-toed feet and walked down a wide burgundy carpet which led to a broad golden door. Sunset followed at a respectful pace.

As they approached, the door opened. "You're late," a voice from inside said.

A familiar voice. One that made Sunset's heart seize up in her chest.

"Apologies, Sister. It seems our...new student...has a bit of difficulty with long climbs." Luna led Sunset to the center of the room, where a massive dark wood desk stood, a tall, leather-backed chair behind it. The chair was currently turned to face the window, which looked out over the twinkling lights of the dark city below.

"I see," that familiar voice said again. The chair slowly turned.

Sunset felt her heart plummet into her toes even as she felt a terrible anger surge up from her belly, raging against the irony and injustice of the universe.

The woman behind the desk wore a crisp gold blazer over a royal purple dress blouse. Her skin was the light, fresh pink of strawberry milk. The massive mane of hair that spilled over her shoulders and down her back shone in thick spikes of pastel pink, green, and blue. Pale violet eyes regarded Sunset Shimmer calmly, curiously.

"Greetings, Sunset Shimmer. My name is Principal Celestia. Welcome to Harmony High."

Sunset Shimmer's New Life Begins! The Principal of Harmony High is Celestia?!

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"Greetings, Sunset Shimmer. My name is Principal Celestia. Welcome to Harmony High."

Sunset cursed mentally. *Of course. Of COURSE she'd be here.*

As soon as Sunset had seen and heard Twilight Sparkle, she had realized what Planet Uma truly was. Even though this world's version of Twilight seemed to be substantially older than the filly she'd seen playing with Princess Cadance, Sunset had long been aware of the ridiculously intelligent little unicorn with magical talent to rival her own. That combined with her unmistakable, distinctive mane coloration and bright, expressive purple eyes...

And yet, even upon realizing that Planet Uma and Equestria were parallel worlds, it never occurred to Sunset that she would run into another version of the old nag here. And now, here she was, right in front of her, and she was the principal.

Sunset laughed bitterly.

Celestia raised an eyebrow. "Did I say something funny?"

Sunset held up a hand, wiping away a tear of ironic laughter as she clutched at her side. "S-sorry," she said. "It's just...you remind me so much of the old nag I left Equestria to get away from. It just...I've had a long day, and the irony got to me."

Celestia's lips thinned. "I was under the impression everyone in your world adored my analogue there."

Sunset tensed. "Y-you know—"

"That your Equestria and this world exist in a parallel state? Yes." Celestia folded her hands primly. "That my analogue there is effectively your world's God-Queen? Also yes." She fixed Sunset with a level gaze. "Interesting that you hold her in such contempt, and that you say you left your world to get away from her."

Sunset grimaced. "We...had a falling out," she said. "I was her personal student. It was...I was ready to learn something she had no intention of teaching me, and it drove a wedge between us."

"Hmm." Celestia considered this. "That troubles me, but it's none of my concern. The portal has closed and will not reopen for thirty months. That means—"

"I have to adapt to this world, and quickly, or I don't have a chance of surviving to go back," Sunset said. "I understand."

"Do you really?" Celestia asked.

"I just watched a girl who can't even look other people in the eyes blow a crater in the schoolyard because a couple of idiots were teasing a dog," Sunset said. "Between that and reading up on the history between this world and Planet Sadala, I've pretty much already figured out this whole world is a crazy death trap."

Celestia raised an eyebrow. "You've been busy," she remarked.

"I don't believe in wasting time being confused and stupid," Sunset said. "If I don't know what's going on, I find out. And then I deal with it."

Celestia hummed thoughtfully. "Nevertheless, this world and its ways tend to be dangerous to your kind." She frowned. "There have been others from your world who blundered into ours. They...rarely survive."

"I can believe it," Sunset muttered. "As soon as I realized what I'd landed in, I tried to go back, but the portal was already closed." She shrugged. "So I have to get used to the fact that for the next thirty moons, I'm stuck in this world, in an Uman body, and this body's fighting power is like...some kind of beacon or something." She pursed her lips. "And that's already a problem, I had to bluff my way out of a situation that could've ended badly for me..."

Celestia sighed. "It's only going to get worse the longer you're here, I'm afraid," she said. She fixed Sunset with a serious stare. "In any event, I'm prepared to assist you to a certain degree. I have more than sufficient resources at my disposal, and whatever falling out you had with my counterpart, I have to believe that she would rather see you returned to her safe and unharmed, so I'm going to personally ensure that." She began typing rapidly on a keyboard set into her desk. "I've already enrolled you as a first year student in class 1-C. There's an apartment I maintain in the southeast district for..." She coughed. "Personal reasons, but I'm not expecting to have use of it anytime soon. For the time being, that will be your home in this world. I'll set you up an expense account for food, sundries, educational materials, and incidentals. Don't go overboard. If I decide you're spending too much, I'll make you get a job." She looked up seriously. "As to the matter of adapting to this world's...customs...that's entirely on you. I expect you to find someone trustworthy, confide in them that you have no idea how to fight or control your power, and have them train you. Otherwise, you won't survive a week at Harmony High."

Sunset nodded, fighting the urge to flick her eyes over to Luna. "I can do that," she said.

"Good," Celestia said. "Tomorrow's Friday..." She bit her lip. "You'll start attending classes on Monday," she decided. "That gives you three days to get settled in." She glanced at Luna. "I still have work to do," she said. "Can you take her to the apartment?"

"Of course," Luna said.

"And Luna? Take the skycar," Celestia said in a pained tone. "I don't think the poor girl can handle another climb tonight."

Luna chuckled darkly. "As you wish, Sister," she said. "Come, Sunset Shimmer." She turned and floated out of the room; Sunset followed her. Luna led her down a side hall, to a room with a wide, shuttered window. A small chariot sat in the center of this otherwise empty room. Sunset studied it, noting the two seats within. Luna settled into the one on the right; Sunset climbed into the one on the left. With a few button presses, the shutters retracted and the window slid open, and the chariot powered up with a quiet roar of turbines, carrying them out into the night sky.

* * * * *

"So that new girl," Rainbow Dash said as she washed the dishes from supper; her scouter was in phone mode and connected to Applejack. "The one who was fightin' Pinkie Pie. What do you make of her?"

"Ah dunno," Applejack responded, her voice scratchy and staticky.

"Well I think she's full of shit," Rainbow said. "This is as low as I can push my power, pah! What a load!"

"It's a mighty bad idea t' write somebody off jes' 'cuz they talk a bad game," Applejack said. "Remember that whole mess you got inta with Bruss an' Sprout?"

Rainbow made a stuck noise. "Wh—well how was I supposed t' know they had a whole gang? What kind of lame-ass Saiyans roll a twelve year old kid anyway?"

"An' if me an' Big Mac hadn't'a been there, you wouldn't'a had yer fifteenth birthday last month," Applejack said calmly.

"Tch..." Rainbow growled, nearly snapping a plate in half. "I coulda beat 'em," she said petulantly.

"You're damn lucky I broke Super Saiyan 2 in that fight," Applejack said grimly. "So am Ah, fer that matter," she muttered almost inaudibly.

"Okay okay, you made your point," Rainbow grumbled. "Just because somebody talks shit doesn't mean they're full of shit. Still, I dunno...I think this Sunset Shimmer's a fraud."

"Ah dunno whut t' tell ya, sugarcube," Applejack said; Rainbow could practically hear her shrug. "Anyway, you goin' campin' this weekend?"

"Hay yeah!" Rainbow said, brightening to the new topic. The girls continued to chatter long into the evening, the subject of Sunset Shimmer long forgotten.

* * * * *

Sunset looked around the tastefully appointed apartment, whistling loudly. "Wow," she said. "This is nice."

Luna smirked. "This is Celestia's love nest," she said in an amused tone. "Her Saiyan lover disappeared somewhere in Universe 7 several years ago, and this other lover she's taken recently...let's just say it isn't safe for them to be caught together so she's had to break it off. So that leaves this place she won't let go of, but nobody to use it." She shook her head. "Sad. Anyway, get some rest. You have a busy day tomorrow." She turned to leave, then paused. "By the way, I suggest you find a student at Harmony High to pretend to be trained by. My sister is likely to check up on that."

Before she could stop herself, Sunset asked, "Why do you keep calling her your sister? I mean, you're...kind of not even the same species..." She immediately felt like shrinking into herself, certain she'd just signed her own death warrant.

Luckily, Luna seemed coldly amused by the question. "I crash landed on this planet a very long time ago, with no memory of who I was or where I came from," she said. "Celestia took me in and nursed me back to health, accepted me, gave me a home and a purpose. I have long since remembered my life before Planet Uma, but I see no reason to return to who and what I was before. I have a good thing going here." She smirked. "Sleep well, my little pony." With that, she left.

"What the heck does she mean by 'Universe 7'?" Sunset wondered idly as she circled her new home, examining the expensive-looking, tasteful furnishings. The chairs and sofas were all upholstered in soft black leather, while all the tables and shelves were a dark, rich hardwood. The kitchen held appliances whose purposes seemed readily apparent to Sunset; she decided she'd need to learn how to use them before too long. A quick investigation revealed an empty refrigerator and a pantry stocked with preserved quick-prep boxed foods, but nothing in the way of fresh fruits or vegetables. Not that she was hungry at the moment; the senzu bean had seen to that.

What she was, was sweaty, stinky, and filthy. Sunset continued her exploration.

She found a large bedroom with a queen-size bed, a pair of large dressers, and a walk-in closet with two sets of clothing, hung neatly to the sides. Various shoes sat in neat rows on the closet floor. Another door led to a spacious bathroom with a pair of compact machines tucked under shelves containing what seemed to be various cleaning products. An empty wicker basket stood in a recess between the machines and a wide, square bathtub, next to which stood a shower stall with a thin plastic curtain. Fragrant soaps and shampoos stood ready for use on a shelf in the shower.

With some difficulty, Sunset stripped off the layers of sweat-soaked clothes she wore and crammed them into the wicker basket, boots and all. Her nose wrinkled as a wave of stench assailed her nostrils. Shaking her head, she padded into the shower, drew the curtain, and spent a few minutes figuring out the taps. Once she had the water at a comfortably warm temperature, she lathered her hair and body, then spent several minutes meticulously scrubbing down her smooth-skinned body and wild, spiky hair. Once she felt reasonably clean, she searched around until she found a stack of thick, fluffy towels, then thoroughly dried herself. Now clean and dry but feeling the chill of night, Sunset padded back to the bedroom, peeled back the thick covers on the bed, and slipped in. The warmth of the sheets and blankets soothed her, and she lay her head back on the fluffy pillows, closing her eyes.

*Well, as deathtraps go, at least it's a luxury deathtrap...*

* * * * *

A freezing cold jet of water striking Sunset in a very sensitive area brought her to full, terrified consciousness with a start. She shrieked in alarm and jumped straight up. Every nerve in her body jangled; her eyes searched the room warily. "WHA!! What, what, what, wha..." She landed on the bed with a soft *fwumf*, heart hammering wildly in her Uman chest. She looked up to see Principal Celestia standing at the foot of the bed, holding a squirt gun in one hand and smirking at her.

"Lesson one," Celestia said calmly. "There's no rule against sleeping in the nude, but most people prefer some sort of sleepwear." Her lips quirked into a smile. "I brought some breakfast. Hurry up and get dressed, we've got a lot to do today." She tapped a pile of clothes that sat on the foot of the bed. "I don't suppose you got around to washing the clothes you arrived in last night, so I'll put those on to wash for you." She started to walk out of the room.

Once Sunset's heart calmed down, she levered herself gingerly off the bed, her face red and severe irritation and humiliation burning through her body. Those were quickly replaced by an insistent pressure, and her face darkened. "Umm...I need to, y'know..."

"The little pink door in the living room," Celestia said from the bathroom, where she was cramming Sunset's sweaty clothes in one of the machines. With a grimace, Sunset padded across the apartment, opening the pink door to find a complicated-looking toilet and a lavatory.

Several minutes later and feeling very foalish, Sunset returned to the bedroom and slowly, carefully dressed, getting used to the way Uman clothes fit onto her new body. When she was done, she ran her fingers through her hair, then walked out into the living room, where Celestia now sat on the couch, several containers of warm food and two large paper cups spread out in front of her. Sunset sat down across from her, the scent of food rousing a hungry growl from her stomach. "Eat whatever you want," Celestia said. Nodding gratefully, Sunset helped herself. Most of what Celestia had brought consisted of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and fried potatoes mixed together with melted cheese and salsa in either bowls or tortilla wraps; Sunset hungrily wolfed down two large wraps, savoring the spicy, salty goodness of the meal, then drained what turned out to be a large cup of orange juice. Celestia watched her, eating gracefully but quickly from a breakfast bowl.

"Ff gd," Sunset mumbled through a mouthful of eggs. She swallowed, then wiped her mouth with a napkin. "There was meat in that, right?"

"Yes," Celestia said. "Is that a problem for you?"

Sunset shrugged. "Not really," she said. "As long as it didn't come from anything sapient. I've had fish, but that's about it. I've heard of ponies eating pig."

Celestia nodded. "Well, that won't be a problem here," she said. "None of our livestock are sapient, and we don't eat horse."

Sunset snorted. "Good," she said, taking a bite of a hash brown. "I've never been this hungry before," she muttered.

"That's to be expected," Celestia said. "For whatever reason, you came out of that portal as an Uma-Saiyan. Saiyan physiology tends to come with a rather large appetite. Get used to eating far more than you're accustomed to."

Sunset smacked her lips. "If it all tastes this good, I think I can live with that."

Celestia nodded. "I've taken the day off today to help you settle in. We're going to go shopping for food and clothes, plus everything else you'll be needing. After that, I'll get you up to speed on the basics of how everything works here. Then we can work on figuring out who you should see about some basic training."

Sunset nodded along, all the while thinking about how strange it was for her to be here, dependent upon Celestia yet again, not even a full day after the raging argument that had led to her banishment from Canterlot Castle and subsequent flight through the mirror portal. *Is this some cruel universal joke? Am I condemned to be at the mercy of some version of Celestia for the rest of my life?*

And yet...this world presented a tempting opportunity.

If a girl like Fluttershy could blow a hole in the schoolyard, what could she do if she mastered the power that came with this new body?

What would she become in the thirty moons between now and the opening of the portal?

What would she do then? Would she return to Equestria and challenge Princess Celestia with a terrible alien power?

Sunset finished her breakfast, wiped her hands, and stood up. "Let's get started," she said with an eager smile.

Awaken the Fighting Instinct! Sunset Shimmer's "No Means No" Battle!

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Excitement and exhaustion warred for dominance in Sunset Shimmer's weary mind as she sat, wearing comfortable shorts and a soft T-shirt, on her living room sofa, eating pizza and flipping through channels on the large-screen television. Most of the offerings seemed to be either news, interviewers talking to what she could only assume to be popular or famous individuals, and some type of comedy variety show which went way over her head.

She'd spent the entire day with Celestia; her pantry, cupboards, and refrigerator were now full of food, the clothes that had been in the bedroom closets had been cleared out and replaced with a significant wardrobe just for her, and dozens of household necessities had been purchased, replaced, and updated. She'd been supplied with a tablet which would, apparently, be her primary (if not only) school supply, as well as a scouter. She'd been curious about the scouters since first seeing one, and now she more fully understood their purpose: scouters detected sentou-ryoku within the user's proximity, including tracking vectors, but they also served as personal communication devices, could scan codes on various objects, display maps, and play music, among other things. They seemed to be a highly versatile tool. She'd also been provided with something called a smartphone, which had a lot of the same functions the tablet and scouter had, but did things a scouter couldn't do, had less functionality for some things than the tablet, and lacked the ability to sense sentou-ryoku. The three devices, near as Sunset could tell, were meant to function in tandem to provide the user complete access to a global information network. Lastly, she'd been given some identification cards and a debit card to use for purchases. "You'll probably be eating out more than you'll be eating at home," Celestia had told her. "Especially once you make some friends, you'll be hanging out with them more than you'll be sitting alone at home."


Sunset snorted. Both Celestias, pushing that rubbish on her. What use were friends? They were just distractions. Anyone who spent more time goofing off with friends than learning and studying and growing would never achieve true greatness. Of that, Sunset was certain.

After all, despite her...current setbacks...she'd become a great unicorn, and all without bothering with Celestia's friendship nonsense.

The next morning, at dawn, Vice-Principal Luna arrived. "Get dressed," she said impatiently. "We're starting."

Sunset blinked sleepily, but quickly changed into the clothes she'd been wearing upon arrival. "Okay," she said. "So, are we gonna...what're we gonna do? How do we do this?"

Luna smiled evilly. She raised one hand. The tip of one long, thick nail glowed red.

* * * * *

Sunset groaned, massaging an ache at the back of her head. She opened her eyes, then promptly squeezed them shut again; the bright sunlight was painful. "What...?"

"I suggest you pull yourself together quickly," Luna said from somewhere above her. "You're going to need all your wits about you."

Sunset slowly opened her eyes, blinking and rubbing tears and spots out, then stood up. She found herself at the bottom of a craggy pit, at least twenty feet deep, rectangular in shape. "What the—"

"Alright, you can take off the blindfold and go in now," Luna called to someone standing out of sight at the top of the pit. She had her arms folded, and a coldly amused smirk crossed her face.

Sunset was beginning to hate that smirk.

A lanky boy with turquiose skin and straw-colored hair pulled up in an ugly, messy bun, clad in loose blue breeches and an open suede vest, dropped down into the pit. His purple eyes lit up. "Well hello gorgeous!" he said in a voice that made Sunset's skin crawl.

"Sunset Shimmer, this is Zephyr Breeze," Luna said. "I've promised him one date a week with you for a year if he can knock you out."

"Heh, and what a knockout," Zephyr said, waggling his eyebrows.

Sunset stared from Zephyr to Luna, a sick feeling welling up in her gut. "Wait. What?!"

Luna chuckled darkly. "Have fun, you two," she said as she rose out of view and disappeared over the edge of the pit.

Sunset's mouth went dry, her eyes narrowing. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me!"

Zephyr Breeze swaggered toward her, arms loose at his sides. "You know, I don't like fightin'," he said. "I especially don't wanna hit a hot chick like you. Not when there's so many, heheh, better things we could be doin' all alone where nobody can see, if you know what I mean." He offered what Sunset suspected was supposed to be a rakish grin, but carried so much sleaze with it she felt disgusted to the soles of her boots. She felt an unfamiliar heat prickling up her back and along her arms and legs, matched by a sensation at the base of her brain, hot and tingling, a pressure unlike anything she'd ever known.

Zephyr was in her personal space now, and slung an arm lazily around her shoulders. "C'mon, Sunny baby. Whaddya say we—"

Sunset drove a fist into his gut, stomped on his foot, spun out from under his arm, grabbed it, and pulled violently, throwing him across the pit. Her chest heaved as she breathed, settling into a light stance her body seemed to instinctively feel comfortable in.

Zephyr stood up, dusting himself off. "Aww, c'mon baby, don't be like that! I know how to show a girl a good time! Whaddya say? Let a little Breeze blow through that pretty hair."

Sunset growled. "Stop talking or I'll break your jaw," she snarled.

Zephyr sighed. "Fine, you wanna do this the hard way?" He suddenly became blurry and indistinct. The hairs on the back of Sunset's neck rose.

A kick caught her in the small of her back, throwing her to the ground with a startled cry. She barely had time to roll over before Zephyr was on top of her, a glowing yellow ball of energy gathered in his right palm, aimed right at her stomach. "I'll be seeing you tomorrow night," Zephyr said. "Wear something sexy."

The energy blast leapt from his palm. Sunset's irises contracted. The heat of it prickled along her stomach.

A massive cloud of dust and smoke exploded around Sunset. Zephyr Breeze turned away, ready to fly out of the pit, a lecherous smirk on his face.

The dust cleared. Sunset Shimmer, face twisted in fury, dashed out of it, slamming her fist into the back of Zephyr's head. As he spun around in confusion, she kicked him in the stomach, delivered a vicious uppercut to his jaw, then swept his feet, grabbed his shoulders, planted him in the ground, leapt up, and descended upon him, driving both feet into his shoulder blades. As bones and cartilage crunched beneath her, Sunset flipped away, eyes blazing, heart pounding like a jackhammer. Every nerve in her body sang; her senses were sharper than she could ever remember as she watched the twitching lump of douchebag lying several feet away. A hot fire burned through her muscles. She felt relentlessly aware of her body and her surroundings.

A cold spike drove itself through her spine. She snapped her head up to see Luna descending into the pit. "Alright, that's enough," Luna said, smirking. She landed next to Zephyr, hauled him up by his suede vest, and threw him high into the air. She then blurred and vanished, reappeared high above, and delivered a spinning kick that sent the unconscious boy sailing over the horizon.

Sunset stared.

Luna dropped back down beside her, arms still folded. "Excellent," she said. "I felt your instincts awaken. Well done."

Sunset floundered like a fish. The tension in her body ebbed away, the jangling in her nerves fading, leaving behind confusion and soreness. "Wh—what the hell?" she demanded. "How could you just...and that creep, and—" She fumbled for words. "What was all this?"

Luna raised a hairless eyebrow ridge. "Why, this was the beginning of your training," she said calmly. "In order to learn to fight, first one must awaken their fighting instinct. For Saiyans and Umans, it's a matter of nature—they're born ready to fight, and learn to temper that instinct into discipline as they grow older. But in your case...you needed to awaken those instincts, to develop the natural fighting edge you'll need to survive as an Uman." She smirked. "I thought perhaps fending off the advances of the most obnoxious would-be paramour in Umajin City would help awaken those instincts."

Sunset let out a long, slow hiss between her teeth. "You're worse than the old nag," she said.

Luna sketched a mock bow. "Oh, I assure you, you haven't seen anything yet," she said. "But for now, we've gotten the first step out of the way. Your body knows what a real fight feels like."

Sunset frowned, looking down at her hands. "Yeah," she said. "You're right. I definitely felt something...change."

"Good," Luna said. "Remember that feeling. Now, we're going to find you a student tutor to fulfill Celestia's conditions, and to get you up to speed on the basics." She frowned. "I expect you to have a decent grasp on fighting by the end of the week, because that's how long I'm giving you until our next lesson. If you can't hold your own in a fight come next Saturday, you're probably going to die."

Sunset gulped.

* * * * *

Flash Sentry was a pretty laid-back guy. He had a handful of good friends, he enjoyed playing guitar, he had a pretty decent car. Even though he had stronger Saiyan roots than most of his peers, his mother being a pureblooded Saiyan, he didn't really care much for fighting—he'd fight for a reason, he'd spar with a friend if they needed a punching bag, but he didn't really care much about fighting personally.

Which is why an urgent summons from Vice-Principal Luna on a Saturday morning had him tense, nervous, and on edge.

He stood on the lip of an old skate park in the older, more run-down part of town, wearing jeans and a dark grey felt windbreaker, his spiky blue hair swept up, hands in his pockets. His scouter beeped, announcing two approaching figures. One was the terrifyingly powerful Vice-Principal. The other was unfamiliar, but not exceptionally powerful.

Moments later, Luna lowered into view before him, feet never touching the ground. A skybike wobbled behind her, landing shakily. The rider, a girl with long copper-and-gold hair, got off shakily. Flash raised an eyebrow.

"Flash Sentry," Luna said, "this is Sunset Shimmer. She may be an Uma-Saiyan, but she has only just arrived on Planet Uma, and her fighting skills are...not exactly up to par. She needs to relearn the basics. All the basics. Do you think you're up to the challenge of teaching her?"

Flash blinked. "Me? Teach someone how to fight? But...I don't really fight, Vice-Principal Luna!"

"Yes, I know, but that makes you an excellent choice for our purposes," Luna said. "Miss Shimmer needs to be trained quietly, in secret. And she needs to be trained quickly. You may not be one of the more combative pupils at Harmony High, but I happen to know your technical skills are satisfactory." Her tail swished. "Consider it a favor for Principal Celestia. Also consider that I'm the one asking." Her words carried the malice of an implicit threat. Flash tensed, the color draining from his cheeks. His eyes flicked to Sunset. He swallowed.

"Y-yeah, sure," Flash said. "I think I can handle it."

Luna smirked. "Excellent," she said. "Then I'll leave you to it." She rose up into the air and disappeared.

Flash and Sunset stood, watching each other awkwardly, for a long moment.

"S-so, uhh..." Flash said, scratching the back of his head. "I guess...I'll be teaching you how to fight?"

Sunset rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I'm dead," she muttered.

The Harvest of Blood! Sunset Shimmer Enters the Garden!

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Days passed.

His awkwardness and generally placid personality aside, Sunset found herself impressed—and challenged—by Flash Sentry's instruction. After the initial period of awkwardness and uncertainty between the two of them, Flash got around to asking Sunset what specificially she needed to learn. Her answer of "everything" seemed to confuse him at first, but it didn't take long for Flash to start to understand what he was working with. He approached Sunset's training with as detached and professional a demeanor as he could, and Sunset got the feeling he was drawing on memories of lessons he'd been learning since he was a small child.

Being taught the way a child would be taught irritated her, and from time to time she was impatient with Flash, even going so far as to snap at him, but he weathered her anger and irritation with nothing more than the occasional frown or mild rebuke. And, after one particularly heated exchange, a cracked sternum which put Sunset in the school's regeneration tank for an hour.

During school hours, Sunset attended her classes, generally keeping to herself and observing everyone around her. When other students attempted to engage her in conversation, she kept her answers even and neutral, neither encouraging nor discouraging the conversation. Rather than being antisocial, she maintained an aloof demeanor, while secretly researching things that came up in conversation and the people she talked to.

She'd also quietly asked around about some of the students she'd met early in her time on Planet Uma. In particular, she found out more about Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack. The latter two, she quickly discovered she would need to avoid, or at least be wary around, because they were two of the most combative girls at school and loved nothing more than to drop a challenge out of nowhere. Both of them had unusually high sentou-ryoku for their age group.

Pinkie Pie was exactly the kind of person she'd made her out to be at first: a gregarious extrovert who loved parties and fun. She had almost singlehandedly planned most of their junior high school's big social events and also had a major role in planning tournaments and judging formal challenges. There had been more than one picture online of a younger Pinkie Pie cheerfully selling popcorn on the sidelines while two or three other students squared off on a battle stage.

Fluttershy, apparently, was a very shy and quiet girl with few friends who preferred the company of animals to people. That fell in line with what Sunset knew of her. She'd also been surprised to learn that the bunheaded creep Luna had thrown at her in the pit was Fluttershy's brother.

Friday afternoon, Flash waited for Sunset at the skate park. For the second time since her arrival, Sunset had flown there under her own power, using her scouter to track him. Flying was an amazing experience, but long distance flights tired her out. As she landed and caught her breath, Flash favored her with a sympathetic smile. "It gets easier," he said. "Once you get used to it, you can fly clear across the city without even thinking about it. Just remember, you're using your ki to fly, not your muscles. Don't strain your body flying. Just ride your energy."

"Got it," Sunset said as she stood straight, breathing steadily. She settled into her ready stance. "Let's spar," she said. "I've got training with Luna tomorrow, I need to be ready because I'm pretty sure she's gonna try to kill me."

"I wouldn't doubt it," Flash said. "There's so much I wanna know about why you're taking private lessons with Vice-Principal Luna, but I get the feeling I'm not supposed to know, so...I won't ask."

"There's not much to tell," Sunset said with a shrug and a roll of her shoulders. "She just thinks I have potential."

Flash snorted. "Well, she might be right," he said. "For someone who didn't know the right way to throw a punch six days ago, you've learned fast." With that, he blurred, disappearing from view.

Sunset felt him behind her. She blurred, using her newfound speed to come at him from the side, hammering his left kidney with a quick snap kick, following with a flurry of punches to his upper torso which he spun around to block. He ducked low and swept; Sunset jumped, charging a small ki blast in her left hand and dropping it on his head. Before it had even exploded, Sunset blurred out of the way of a kick from above, grabbing Flash's other leg and spinning him around before hurling him into the other end of the skate park. She rushed after him in a blaze of ki-powered flight; he recovered in time to meet her charge, and they exchanged a blindingly fast volley of strikes and counters before backflipping away from each other and landing in wary stances.

They both looked up as one as Luna's ice-cold ki made itself known to them.

"Excellent," Luna said, her tail swishing as she lowered into view, arms folded. "You've made rather remarkable progress. I'm impressed." Smirking, she turned to Flash. "Now, show her how far she still has to go," she said calmly.

"What?" Flash asked, blinking.

"You heard me," Luna said. "She needs to see it. She needs to know what it means to be a Saiyan. She needs to feel it with her own broken bones."

Sunset felt a cold dread at that pronouncement. Flash, meanwhile, seemed taken aback. "You mean—"

"If you don't, you'll be fighting me," Luna said calmly.

Flash swallowed heavily, looking between them. His face was pale and sickly. "I...I'm sorry about this," he said to Sunset. He held his arms at his sides and bent forward slightly. Sunset felt a tingling heat and watched air, dust, and debris displace around his feet.

Flash let out a tremendous, throat-ripping scream and threw his head back. His cobalt blue hair turned a bright, shining gold, and his eyes blazed bright green with power. A blazing golden aura whooshed to life around him, crackling with power. Sunset felt her entire body pushed back by the tremendous force of the power Flash was generating. She brought up her guard, squinting her eyes. It hurt to look at him...

She knew what this was. She'd researched it. But she'd yet to see it in person.

*Super Saiyan...*

And suddenly, Flash was gone. Sunset didn't have time to feel his massive ki behind her before she was eating concrete. Then she was lifted off the ground and kicked into the air. She spun, listless and out of control, as blow after blow hammered into her, cracking bones, bruising muscles, making her spit blood. All she could do was curl in on herself as Flash used her as a punching bag before driving her into the cold, hard concrete with a kick.

* * * * *

The cool blue wash of light in the regeneration tank room greeted Sunset. She ached all over and her eyes were bleary. The oxygen mask was clammy against her face.

The tank fluid drained out. With a hiss of steam, the tank opened, and Sunset stumbled out. She immediately felt cold and clammy as she reached up and pulled the mask off. She was naked and slimy with regeneration fluids. Luna leaned against the door, arms folded, that damnable cold smirk of amusement fixed firmly on her face.

"Good morning," Luna purred. "Are you ready to begin your training?"

Sunset glared at her. "You—"

Luna wagged a finger at her. "Did you think learning to fight wouldn't come with some pain?" she asked. "I admit what happened yesterday wasn't nice, but sometimes, an important lesson has to come with a heavy price. Makes sure it sticks." She tilted her head. "Now you know what Saiyans are capable of. What you'll be capable of, once you reach your potential." She flicked her tail in the direction of a small blue door. "Take a shower. I've left a training suit out for you. Once you're clean and dressed, we'll have breakfast, and then..." She chuckled darkly. "I'll put you to work in the Garden."

* * * * *

After breakfast, Sunset followed Luna to a broad, sunken valley a short distance from Harmony High. A massive translucent dome covered the entire valley, filled with thin airslits and reinforced with a steel frame. There were two entrance hatches, both plastered with various warning stickers. Through the dome, Sunset could see row after row of trees, bushes, and crops. Large swaths of the vegetation showed signs of recent upheaval. "So...this is the Garden?"

"That's right," Luna said mildly.

Sunset scratched her head. "So what, you want me to replant trees or harvest crops or something all day?"

Luna laughed. It was not a pleasant laugh. "Oh, you should be so lucky," she said. "The crops and trees you see down there are present for two reasons: camouflage and irony." Her eyes lit up with dark mirth. "Your training, Sunset Shimmer, is simple: I will lock you in, and in six hours, I will unlock the gate on the opposite side. Your objective for today: survive." With that, she unlocked the hatch and punted Sunset through, then locked it behind her.

Sunset landed in the top of a tree, rubbing her sore bottom. "One of these days," she muttered. She frowned, adjusting her scouter. "Still, this place seems peaceful enough. What did she mean by—"


It came from all around her. High-pitched, gurgling laughter. Her scouter beeped insistently and started going nuts, scrolling power level readings and directional vectors all over the place. Eyes widening, Sunset scrambled lower into the branches, scratching up her face and bare biceps. She was thankful for the stretchy, breathable black fabric of the training suit that covered most of her body, along with the thick white boots and gloves she wore, as well as the light vest of body armor she'd been supplied.

Especially once she got a look at what she'd been locked in with.

Swarms of short, squat green creatures walked and flew around the Garden. They had dark green torsos and bright, veiny green heads that were huge and bulbous. Their eyes glowed red above mouths full of needle-sharp teeth. Their hands and feet ended in thick, sharp claws.

Sunset's scouter beeped with an incoming call. //What you're seeing right now are called Saibamen,// Luna's voice said into her ear. //A little gift from Universe 7. The Saiyans there used to use them as living weapons. Later, they were repurposed into a sort of live training dummy. That's essentially how we use them here. The Garden is a place where Saibamen are allowed to grow wild and feral. They will attack anyone that enters their territory. You are now their prey. Good luck!//

Sunset snarled out a curse as she looked around. At least a dozen Saibamen had her surrounded.


Sunset slowly turned around. A grinning Saibaman was right behind her.

With a yell, she grabbed it by the face and shot a pulse of ki through her arm, blasting its hideous green visage as she spun around and threw it as hard as she could. It spun wildly through the air, clawing at its smoking face and screaming. The Saibamen all around them chittered and laughed in that horrible, high-pitched gibbering way, then turned in unison to her, eyes glowing brightly.

Sunset shot up out of the tree and flew along the surface of the dome, a dozen Saibamen hot on her tail. In a blur, three of them shot ahead of her, gibbering wildly as they became whirling green blurs of deadly claws aimed right at her face. She dropped, blurred behind them, and slammed two of them to the ground with a quick double spin kick before bringing an elbow down on the third, then punching it into the crowd behind her, scattering them.

She didn't have five seconds to collect herself before the Saibamen were on her again. Grimly, keeping Flash's lessons firmly in mind, Sunset ran through every kata Flash had taught her, letting her newly-developed battle instincts guide the deviations from the forms as the Saibamen darted and weaved between her strikes and lashed out with their own. She took a number of hits that rent gashes in her battlesuit and drew blood, but for every hit the Saibamen landed on her, she sent three of them crashing to the ground.

//You're hesitating,// Luna said into her ear. //You're pulling your punches.//

"I'm...fighting...for my life here..." Sunset panted, taking advantage of a momentary lull as the Saibamen surrounded her warily.

//I'll give you one bit of advice for today,// Luna said. //There are two kinds of fights in this universe. Fights where you aren't trying to kill your opponent, and fights where you are. Which kind of fight do you think this is?//

Sunset frowned at that. "Kill...?" She shook her head. "I...I don't know if I can..."

//If you don't, I guarantee I'll be dragging your corpse out of there,// Luna said. //The Saibamen aren't sparring with you. They're dead set on ripping you to shreds. If you want to live through this day, you're going to have to kill them.//

Sunset swallowed heavily. "I..."

A Saibaman suddenly lunged at her, its claws glowing with ki. It flung dozens of ki blasts at her; she crossed her arms and braced herself against the onslaught. After several seconds, claws bit into her skin. Sunset blurred behind the Saibaman and grabbed its head, flying up and slamming it into the dome. It wobbled in the air, shaking its head and slapping itself.

Sunset saw the others watching her. Testing her.

Learning her weaknesses.

Her jaw tightened.

Before her opponent recovered, she let out a yell and slammed a vicious kick into its chest, then blurred behind it and hammered punches into its head and back. An axe kick dropped it to the ground. She shot down through the trees, gathering her ki. The Saibaman groggily picked itself up, glaring up at her.

She roared with fury and unleashed her ki at the Saibaman. Its eyes widened in terror as a blazing yellow column of energy ripped through it, shredding its body. Bits of smoking green flesh and splatters of thin green blood rained down.

Sunset panted, staring at what remained of the Saibaman she'd just killed. Her stomach flipped over.

She dropped into the nearest bush and threw up.


She stood up, wiping her mouth, and looked around.

A dozen Saibamen surrounded her, sadistic fury on their ugly little green faces.

She snarled.

* * * * *

When Luna opened the hatch, Sunset limply floated through it. Her right shoulder was dislocated, her training suit had massive gashes in it, caked blood covered ugly scratches, her left eye was swollen shut, and she was drenched in Saibaman blood.

"Congratulations," Luna said mildly. "You completed today's lesson satisfactorily."

"You..." Sunset panted, "...are a monster."

Luna smiled coldly. "I'm glad you finally realize that," she said. "I suggest you learn what you can from other students in between our lessons, because I promise you, it's only going to get worse from here. I will be all your worst nightmares and more, Sunset Shimmer."

Sunset's piercing, infuriated gaze met Luna's cold, amused eyes.

"What's the endgame here?" Sunset asked, doing her best to look intimidating despite her severe injuries.

Luna shrugged. "What do you want it to be?" she asked. "I am giving you the chance to have power—not just the power to survive until you can run away, but real power. What you do with that power is, in the end, your business. If you have the strength to obtain that power." She folded her arms. "Do you?"

Sunset looked down at the ground below. Looked at the dried green fluids crusting over her arms and legs.

"I don't know," she said.

Luna hummed thoughtfully. "Well...think on it," she said. "But don't slack off on your training. Not for a day, not for a minute." She turned away, hands clasped behind her back, tail twitching laconically. "Until next time, then." With that, she took off, leaving a tired, weary Sunset to make her own way home.

The Unbeatable Rhythm?! Sunset Shimmer VS Vinyl Scratch!

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A month had passed since Sunset Shimmer's arrival on Planet Uma.

Between her training with Flash Sentry, her hellish weekend sessions with Vice-Principal Luna, and her interactions with other students, Sunset had grown into a formidable fighter. Her sentou-ryoku had risen dramatically from all the beatings she'd taken, and her hard training had refined and honed that raw power, tempering it with skill and fighting instinct. While there were still students at Harmony High who Sunset was wary of fighting—namely, Applejack and Rainbow Dash—she had rapidly established herself as a formidable presence, and her awkward first days at school had been largely forgotten by all except Rainbow Dash, who still regarded her with suspicion and distrust.

One Friday morning, the students of Harmony High were called for a general assembly. Principal Celestia stood on the stage; rather than her usual business-casual attire, she wore a royal blue bodysuit with pale gold boots, gloves, and golden body armor with the school emblem—six hexagonal gems arranged around an eight-pointed star—engraved over the left breast.

"Good morning, students," Celestia said. "As some of you may know, in two weeks, Harmony High is hosting the Strongest High School Tournament with our longtime rivals, Crystal Prep Academy. This will be the fifteenth meeting of our two schools, and while we have not had the...best record..." She grimaced. "I am confident that we have very promising students right now, students who will give Crystal Prep a real challenge. Participation in the Tournament is, of course, entirely voluntary, but I encourage every student with a high sentou-ryoku who enjoys a good fight, who wants to show the world what they're made of—" She glanced pointedly at Rainbow Dash. "—to compete in the team tryouts which begin in one hour.

"We will have a tournament of our own here at Harmony High. The top eight combatants in this round robin format tournament will be fielded in the main tournament. The top combatant overall will be the team captain." She paused, then added, "The pride of your school is on the line. Please, show the world that Harmony High's students are the strongest on Planet Uma!"

A huge cheer went up in the crowd. Over the din of the cheering, stomping, clapping students, Sunset just barely heard her phone beep in her pocket—in fact, she barely felt the vibration of the text alert. She pulled it out and glanced at it.

I expect you to compete today, and I expect you to make the school team.

It was from Vice Principal Luna.

Sunset closed her eyes and took a deep breath. *This is it. All the secret training I've had over the past month, it's time to put it to the test. In real fights against the other students.*

She espied Rainbow Dash giving her a predatory look. She fought the urge to swallow nervously.

* * * * *

An hour later, a crowd of students milled around on the combat pitch behind Harmony High, with many more students crowded into the stands. Most of the faculty were either seated along the front rows of the bleachers, or sitting at tables on either end of the field. Professor Harshwhinny, a severe woman with short blond hair and dark orange skin, stood in the center of the large, square concrete stage which took up most of the field.

"The entrants have been divided into three groups," Celestia explained over the PA system. "Each group will have eight one-on-one matches, with matchups determined randomly. In order to give the contestants time to recover, we will rotate which groups are fighting on the field at any time. Group A will be up first. When all contests in group A have been decided, Group B will take the field, then Group C, and so on until all eight rounds of combat have been completed. We'll be judging each student on number of victories, conduct, technique, and power. At the end of the tournament, the top eight will be selected. Those eight will defend the school's honor in the upcoming tournament.

"Group A, take the field at this time. Your matches will be assigned by random draw. Groups B and C, please remain in the stands until Group A is finished."

As it happened, Sunset was in group A; she filed with the rest of the students in her group over to Professor Doodle, a sour-faced man who sat behind a table with a ball draw tumbler. Once each student had drawn a ball with a number on it, Professor Doodle entered their names into his tablet; the matches for the first draw lit up on the electronic bulletin board behind the battle stage.

"Group A, Match 1," Professor Harshwhinny announced from the stage. "Contestants Flash Sentry and Bulk Biceps, to the stage please."

Flash Sentry leapt up onto the stage, dressed in loose dark blue silk pants, a black gi top, and thick boots. A moment later, the stage shook as a hulking tower of muscles with blood-red eyes and short blond hair landed across from him. Bulk Biceps wore a pair of purple trunks and a black tank top. He pointed one massive, meaty fist at Flash, then made a thumbs-down gesture.

"The contest is decided by knockout or ringout," Professor Harshwhinny said crisply. "Refrain from maiming your opponent. If you kill your opponent, you will be expelled from Harmony High on the spot." She hovered up to a relative safe distance above the stage. "Begin!"

Flash charged in; Bulk planted a foot and let out an earthshaking roar, a swirling aura of ki exploding away from his body. Flash aborted his charge and braced himself; as the pressure wave abated, he blurred and reappeared behind Bulk, flying at him in an impossibly straight kick parallel to the ground. His foot slammed into Bulk's lower back, knocking him off his feet. Flash blurred again, appearing above Bulk, and dropped a blazingly fast diving elbow on the back of his head just as Bulk was preparing to stand. Flash hauled the stunned Bulk over his shoulder by one arm, spun around, and with a loud yell, hurled him off the stage. He landed in a dazed heap on the grass near the Group B spectators.

"Match over!" Professor Harshwhinny declared. "Winner by ringout, Flash Sentry!" Flash raised a hand to acknowledge the applause from his peers and strode casually off the stage.

"Group A, Match 2!" Professor Harshwhinny called once the noise settled down. "Contestants Sunset Shimmer and Vinyl Scratch to the stage!"

Sunset stepped up onto the stage, her nerves jangling. This would be the first time she'd ever fought any student other than Zephyr Breeze or Flash Sentry, and for the first time, there would be an audience watching her fight, judging her.

Several seconds after Sunset took the stage, her opponent strutted up, bobbing her head to the beat of whatever music she was listening to through the large seafoam-green headphones she wore. She had pale yellow-white skin and shaggy electric blue hair and wore overlarge purple sunglasses. Her clothes looked like a second-hand shop had thrown up all over her, a mishmash of contrasting styles that somehow combined into what could almost pass for a look. She gave Sunset a nod and cracked her knuckles, still dancing in place to her music.

Sunset took a deep breath and reached out with her senses, feeling Vinyl's power. What she felt wasn't especially strong, and seemed relaxed. The girl had no defenses of any kind up. Frowning, Sunset decided to take the initiative. In a blur of speed, she shot toward Vinyl, aiming a knife-hand strike at her ribs, following up with a low kick to her left knee.

Her strikes met nothing but air. Vinyl glided effortlessly out of her path, still bopping along to her own beat.

"What the—?" Sunset shook her head and turned around. Vinyl seemed completely disinterested in her. With a growl, she pressed a second attack, upping her speed and unleashing a volley of punches and kicks. Vinyl danced and weaved out of the way of every strike, never deflecting or countering—and never once changing her stance, facial expression, or the bobbing of her head. Snarling, Sunset jumped up and fired several ki blasts straight down at Vinyl, spread in a tight pattern around her.

She succeeded in leaving a ring of black marks and cracks on the concrete stage, but nothing hit Vinyl. She just kept dancing in place, heedless of the assault.

*What's going on here? Why can't I hit her? Why is she just ignoring me? Is she trying to make a fool out of me?* All around her, Sunset could hear the other students starting to snicker and laugh. Her blood boiled. Her eyes narrowed in anger. *No. I'm not about to let this badly-dressed clown make a mockery of me!* Taking a deep breath, she gathered all her power, focusing her energy into her hands. As her fingertips glowed with charged ki, she dropped down in a blur behind Vinyl, reaching out and grabbing her headphones. With a yell, she released her ki.

Vinyl's headphones exploded into plastic shrapnel which rained down on the stage.

Everything went quiet.

Vinyl slowly turned around, a frown on her face. She reached up, slowly, and lowered her glasses, staring at Sunset with red eyes.

"Those were my favorite cans," she said quietly.

Sunset suddenly found herself on the defensive as Vinyl laid into her, hands and feet floating in a rhythmic pattern of strikes—quick, deliberate, dancelike attacks that took all of Sunset's concentration just to block. Her hands and shins stung with each impact, and she found herself pressed back, heels digging into the concrete.

She tried to find a break in the rhythm, an opening to counter or break out, but there simply wasn't one. She did the only thing she could think to do: She flew straight up, hoping to buy a few seconds to think. She watched Vinyl warily.

Vinyl frowned up at her, then began making record-scratching motions with her hands. Two dark purple discs of ki formed beneath her hands; she made a final 'scratch' to each, and they came flying up at Sunset. Eyes wide, Sunset put on a burst of speed that took her to the other side of the stage, turned around, and loosed a volley of ki blasts at the oncoming projectiles. They exploded violently, lighting up the air with a shower of fireworks that momentarily dazed Sunset.

And then she found herself rocketing down to the stage as Vinyl appeared above and behind her and attacked, literally dancing on her back to drive her to the ground. Sunset managed to let loose a desperate burst of ki to break free just as she hit the stage; she tucked into a roll and rolled across the stage, coming to a shaky stop and rising to her feet. Her knees wobbled as she took a defensive stance and turned back around.

Vinyl was dancing toward her with determination, jaw set.

Sunset frantically analyzed the situation. *I could just yield,* she thought. *Losing one match doesn't automatically knock me off the team. It's not worth it to take this much abuse in my first fight when I have seven more to go. On the other hand...* She was well aware that a sizeable portion of the audience was openly mocking her. *I really don't want to look like any more of a fool than I already do. And this girl is getting on my nerves.* She watched Vinyl drift toward her, seemingly in no hurry, completely unconcerned.

*She moves like she's dancing. All her attacks are set to some kind of rhythm. Rhythm...* Sunset narrowed her eyes, her lips curling into a devious smile. *So all I have to do is kill her rhythm.* A plan formed in her mind—one that would certainly not help her look any less foolish in the eyes of her peers, but it was a small price to pay.

Sunset took a deep breath and started singing loudly, tunelessly, and off-key. "LaLALALALALALAlalaLAAAAAAAALalalalalalalLAAAAAAlaaaaaaLAAAAAA..."

Vinyl faltered, frowning. Confused murmuring filled the stands, along with more snickers and laughter. Sunset tuned it all out and continued singing at the top of her lungs, keeping her voice off key, not settling into any one tune or rhythm. As she sang, she closed the gap between herself and Vinyl. Once she was right in front of her opponent, she drew back her fist, and...


Drove a massive haymaker right into Vinyl's nose. Vinyl flew back, blinking as her sunglasses shattered from the force of the punch. Sunset wasted no time in following up with a powerful forward kick that knocked Vinyl into the air, then an uppercut; she jumped high and drove a series of spinning kicks into Vinyl's unguarded back that sent her sailing over the edge of the stage. Vinyl landed on the grass with a thud; Sunset dropped to the stage, her knees buckling as she gasped for breath.

"Uhhh...match over," Professor Harshwhinny said after several seconds. "Winner by ringout, Sunset Shimmer."

Sunset left the stage to incredibly mixed reactions from her fellow students and the faculty. At the head table, next to Principal Celestia, Vice-Principal Luna smirked.