Can Sunrise Come After Sunset?
“What… what happened?” Sunset Shimmer stared out and the open, empty, dark landscape before her, her eyes wide with horror, her face ashened.
She had gone through the portal to see what information she could gather during the three day time limit the portal would be open.
However, the moment she’d passed through, something had felt off. The world just felt… wrong.
Her point of arrival had been off too. Normally, she’d find herself coming out in a room within Canterlot Castle and it was merely a matter of navigating through it to avoid being spotted while gathering what information she could.
This time, though, the portal had revealed her to be in what she could best describe as a crumbling stone building, like a barracks or something.
The place had clearly seen better days. In fact, she’d been surprised the ceiling hadn’t already caved in.
What awaited her outside was not something she ever could’ve expected. Not even in her worst nightmares.
She wasn’t even sure where she was in Equestria, because it had nothing to compare to her previous ventures back.
If this was Canterlot, it was completely unrecognizable.
Aside from the small building she’d arrived in, there were no buildings. It was as if the entire city had been turned to sand and ash.
The sky was wrong too. She had no idea what time of day or night it was, because all that was visible of the sky was grey emptiness with the faintest wisps of cloud.
A cold, lifeless wind was blowing, causing occasional puffs of the dirt to rises up and pass her.
“This… this is wrong!” Sunset whispered, her voice hoarse. “Princess Celestia? Anypony? Hello?!”
All that answered was the wind. No sounds to indicate life came back to her.
Panic filled Sunset’s body. This was all wrong. Her body was screaming that everything was wrong.
Turning tail, she hurried back through the empty landscape to the crumbled remains of the building she’d arrived in and ran towards the mirror.
However, her horror only grew as, instead of passing through the reflective surface, she slammed head on, bouncing right back, skidding along the ground for a moment.
Once her head stopped pounding from the blunt force impact, what just happened caught up with her.
“No!” she screamed, running to the portal and placing her hooves on the cold surface. “It can’t be closed already! It’s not even been half a day!”
Lighting her horn, she tried to force the mirror to activate, to make the portal reopen. Maybe it just needed a magical push. Maybe… maybe…
Her eyes widened further as, right before her eyes, the mirror in her magic lost the magical glow of her aura.
“What in the…?” the unicorn looked up at her horn and tried to cast the spell again… only for her fear to magnify as the magic on her horn flared, right before fizzling out.
For several moments Sunset tried desperately to cast a spell, any spell, but it did nothing. It was like her magic was gone.
“No,” she whispered, before frantically pawing at the mirror, hoping, pleading for her hooves to pass through the reflective surface. “No, no, no, no, NO!”
She probably spent hours trying to light her horn and pawing on the mirror, only for her efforts to yeild nothing.
“Princess Celestia!” she scream in absolute panic, leaping to her hooves and galloping away, desperately looking for anything, anyone. “Princess Cadenza? Anypony?!”
Sunset lay where she was, atop the pile of ragged blankets that counted for a bed.
The empty structure she was counting as a dwelling was the best of the few remaining structures in what was once the grand city of Manehatten.
She only knew it was Manehatten though, because of an extremely faded sign that was buried halfway through one of the far worse off remaining structures, barely able to make out “Manehatten Beauty Salon” due to the missing letters and how faded those that remained were.
She would’ve had no clue she was in Manehatten otherwise, the world looked the same, no matter where she went, grey, lifeless. In a word, empty.
Sunset had no concept of time anymore. With no sun or moon visible to indicate the time of day, it all had blurred together. The only way she could vaguely tell the time anymore was when she ate and when she slept.
Beyond that, time was meaningless.
She could’ve been travelling for days, maybe months, she just couldn’t tell.
Sunset had hoped she could find someone, anyone, anything living, to help her understand just what had happened to Equestria since she last came through the portal, but… nothing.
She lay there, not knowing what else to do.
A small voice in the back of her mind told her it was pointless, that she must be the only living beign left in Equestria. She had no purpose anymore, no reason to go on.
She should just… end it.
The thought terrified Sunset… but it was so sound as well.
What point was there in living when you’re literally the only thing left in the entire world?
She gave a slight shake of the head, faintly pushing the thought aside… though with more effort than she liked to admit.
She had to keep hope that somebody was out there. She couldn’t be the only one left. There just had to be others.
She gave a dry laugh. Even she was sure if she was telling true or just lying to herself.
Her stomach sent a signal that she soon would have to eat again. Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? She didn’t know. It didn’t feel like it mattered anymore.
She looked up lazily, her eyes moving slowly over the empty grey sky. She’d give anything to see it blue again, just once, even if only for a moment.
Suddenly, two ponies appeared right before her eyes. One was pink, with a mess of purple and white for her mane and tail and what looked like a screw and baseball for a Cutie Mark. She was wearing some kind of propeller beanie on her head.
The other was a more purpleish-pink, with a purple with turquoise highlights mane and tail and a Cutie Mark that looked kind of light a shooting star.
Sunset leapt up, if a little clumsily, in fright, her eyes wide. Then, her eyes began to water as joy and desperation filled her heart and she rushed forward, hugging the two tightly.
It took everything she had not to start bawling her eyes out as she felt them in her forelimbs.
The feeling of holding others close to you, the warmth of another living being… she thought she’d never get the chance to feel this ever again.
“Sweet Celestia. I thought I was the only pony left.” She pulled back with great difficulty (she’d gone so long without contact with anything else, the urge to hold them forever was so strong), looking from the purplish pony to the pink one, both she realized now were mares. “What happened to Equestria? Where’s Princess Celestia? Why won’t my magic work? Where’ve you two been? What’s going on?”
The pink mare glanced at the other, who looked down, her expression showing shame, of all things.
The pink mare sighed, looking to Sunset and put a hoof on her shoulder. “Sunset… I’m sorry. This world is dead.”
Sunset just stared… failing to understand. “What…? What do you mean… dead?”
Yes, that was something she had considered more times than she liked to admit, but surely it wasn’t true. Equestria couldn’t actually be dead. There was no way.
There had to be something, someone else out there. Someone who could fix this somehow. Get the world back on track… restore her magic.
The pink mare sighed again, looking to her companion once more. “There was a very misguided pony.” She looked back to Sunset. “A unicorn. She led herself to believe Cutie Marks are evil and wanted to make all of Equestria equal.”
Sunset felt like making a snarky remark. Cutie Marks, evil? Who would be immature enough to come up with a stupid idea like that?
“One day, Princess Celestia and her long lost sister, Princess Luna—” Princess Celestia’s sister came back? “—went to stop her after a single pony managed to escape in the dead of night and made it to Canterlot. When they arrived, the unicorn took both their Cutie Marks, taking away their ability to keep the Sun and Moon moving.”
Sunset’s eyes widened in horror. Even Princess Celestia lost her Cutie Mark to that crazed mare? Just how powerful was this pony?
“And, with day and night out of sync… the whole world suffered. By the time the unicorn realized her mistake…” the pink mare’s voice grew heavy, “it was too late.”
Sunset just stared at the mare… not wanting to believe a single word she’d just uttered.
“No…” she took several steps back, shaking her head. It couldn’t be true. It just… it just wasn’t possible. “No, you’re lying.” She tried to force her to admit to it. “It… it can’t be true. It… it just can’t.”
“It is… Sunset,” the other mare murmured quietly, before everything else fell away.
Sunset stood there, her last words to Princess Celestia ringing in her ears.
You’re a hypocrite! You don’t even have friends!
All through her travels, she’d hoped—no, needed to find Princess Celestia. She needed to apologize. To beg for her forgivness. If Equestria was truly dead and Celestia with it.... “I… I can’t…”
Her head darted up as she felt a hoof on her shoulder, only to see it was the pink mare, giving her a firm, but sad expression with... Sunset could see her eyes. They had no pupils. They were just purple spirals. How had she never noticed that before? How had it happened to this mare?
Any plans to ask any relating questions were halted by the mare’s next words. “This world is gone. You’re only hope is the other world, the one you went to after you abandoned Celestia’s teachings.”
Sunset just stared at her, the words slowly processing through her mind… before her body sagged. She slumps to the floor, her legs having lost the will to keep her up as the weight of everything came crashing down around her. “I… I should’ve stayed there. The portal won’t open anymore. Nothing I do would open it. I can’t go back… I don’t even have anything to go back to.”
Sunset flinched as the pink mare gave an angry snort, stomping a hoof. “You do have something and someone to return to, Sunset Shimmer,” she said with a firm resolve Sunset couldn’t understand. “I will take you back there myself. It will be the last time you travel between the two worlds, but you will be far better off there than if you stayed in this dead world.”
Sunset gave the smallest of frowns. “How? You said so yourself. This world is dead.” Her voice went quieter as the words came out, the reality they spoke of causing what little was left of her spirit to fall as the hopelessness of it all finally caught up to her. “There’s no magic left. The portal is just an ordinary mirror now.”
The two mares started talking, Sunset wasn’t sure what and, frankly, it didn’t matter.
The two were clearly insane if they thought it was possible to just step itno the other world without a portal
The only other remaining living being in their world besides her… and they’d bone gone insane.
Sunset was suddenly taken aback when she felt one of them grab her hoof and looked up to see the pink mare, before her eyes widened as the mare reverted into a filly.
The next thing she knew, she felt a familiar senseation… that made her very soul weep.
Magic. The magic of the portal. The filly was speaking the truth. She was going back.