The holidays are fast approaching for the city of Canterlot. Snow is on the ground, carols fill the air, and the students of Canterlot High await release for winter vacation. However, its never peaceful in Canterlot for long. Right when things are looking calm, secrets start spilling around the school. With more being revealed each day, all eyes turn to Sunset Shimmer, the former bully of CHS. With the school turning against her and no clues to follow, can she possibly figure out the culprit and clear her name?
A Betrayal Fic using the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) Holidays 2014 comic as the foundation, the story takes influence from other fan works that also did their own takes on that comic's plot. These include Tell Me Baby, Silent Night and Dainn's Anon-a-Miss. Uria and Dainn would later crossover the two fanfics in a one-shot chronologically taking place months after both stories, during the climax of Friendship Games, called Alone Together Some of its tropes are shared below, but be warned that said crossover contains major spoilers for Hell and High Water up to the events of Chapter 16.
Hell and High Water includes examples of:
- Acquitted Too Late: Sunset and Rainbow suffer this and end up hospitalized. It's only through an act of literal Divine Intervention that they don't die.
- Aesop Amnesia: Subverted with Rainbow, who remembers that refusing to look past bruised egos to hear the other party out is exactly how she and the others ruined their friendships years ago, leading her to trust Sunset. Played straight with the others, with Applejack and Princess Twilight later lampshading it.Princess Twilight: No. No, youre not stupid. But clearly, only Dash learned from the last time.
- All There in the Author's Notes: Additional information about the goings-on in Equestria, as well as the contents of the Siren journal can be found in the author's notes at the end of each chapter.
- Alternate Self: Sour Sweet is the native human world's Sunset Shimmer.
- Uria and Dainn's Sunsets meet in the crossover fic, after an attack from their respective Midnight Sparkles sends them to a pocket dimension.
- Asshole Victim: During Rainbow's sleepwalking demon jaunts, they set a few house roofs on fire with lightning strikes. It's clear that the targets are either people that either attacked them, like Lightning Dust, or who abandoned them, like Applejack. None of the houses burn down thanks to good response time from the local fire station, though the damage is more extensive than simple charring.
- Back from the Dead: Sunset actually dies as a result of the injuries sustained in the attack by the CHS students. She only survives because the deceased Siren Queen, Crescendo Avanti, converses with her in the afterlife and transfers over her title and abilities to her with the agreement that Sunset will save her race. Afterwards, Sunset uses her new powers to prevent Rainbow from being permanently comatose herself.
- Bad Powers, Good People: After becoming a siren, Sunset is capable of mind control. She's only used it sparingly so far, only pulling out the trick a few times when attempting to locate the Dazzlings.
- Rainbow is outright able to change into her own Sunset-style demonic form, though only while sleepwalking at first. She's later able to do it consciously, though still struggles to control it due to her new anger problems.
- Betrayal Fic: Sunset and Rainbow are abandoned by the other girls, with the story following the duo as they cope and adjust to everything that occurs afterward.
- Call-Back: In the crossover fic, after Rainbow takes down Human!Twilight in a fight that leaves the latter at the bottom of a crater, she begins to recite word-for-word the same speech Pony!Twilight gave Sunset in the original Equestria Girls movie. Sunset isn't amused and pushes her into the hole mid-sentence.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Sunset and Rainbow both become wielders of dark magic. The journal that Sunset gets on the history of the Siren race even makes a point of explaining the nature of dark magic and why it isn't inherently evil like ponies believe.
- Destroy the Evidence: Gilda steals Fluttershy's phone to lure Rainbow and Sunset into a trap. When it comes out they attacked the wrong people, Gilda destroys it.
- Detect Evil: A variant, as the fanfic's version of the Element of Loyalty gives its bearer the clarity to choose the right side of a conflict regarding their friends. When told that EQG!Rainbow steadfastly stuck with Sunset, Princess Twilight implies that this timeline's version of the Canterlot Wedding similarly had Rainbow stand by her.
- Determinator: Rainbow Dash, who despite suffering a severe knife wound and freezing temperatures, tries to keep Sunset alive and manages to remain conscious long enough for them both to be found. Though if it wasn't for Queen Avanti, both of them would have died regardless.
- Dirty Coward: Scootaloo and Apple Bloom when the former accidentally reveals herself and her friends as Anon-A-Miss to a nearby Misty Fly. In the principal's office, Scootaloo claims that the others blackmailed her into helping, while Apple Bloom plays dumb until Applejack takes her phone by force and finds it logged into the Anon-A-Miss account. Averted for Sweetie Belle, who just tells the truth, getting let off lightly for her honesty.
- Fake-Out Opening: The fanfic begins with Sunset seemingly about to kill Rainbow, while the latter begs for mercy. It turns out that they're just playing a fighting game.
- Fantastic Racism: The Sirens claim that many see Equestria as a very xenophobic country, due to ponies' unwillingness to learn about and understand other species and cultures. When Rainbow questions how "the land of friendship and harmony" can be that bad, Sunset looks away and gives a Not-So-Innocent Whistle.
- Foregone Conclusion: The crossover fic implies that Hell and High Water will end with Sunset and Rainbow never reconciling with Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity.
- For Want of a Nail: The fan fic starts with the basic idea of "What if Rainbow Dash, the Element of Loyalty, believed Sunset during Anon-a-Miss?" and goes from there.
- The crossover fic has both Sunsets discussing the trope, trying to figure out the divergence point before realizing the big difference comes in Rainbow, with Dainn!Sunset's Rainbow having not only abandoned her, but also having helped Gilda with setting up her assault and near-death in that timeline.
- Good Is Not Nice: Despite agreeing to help the Shadowbolts, Rainbow tries to avoid doing so after learning that CMC were the ones behind Anon-a-Miss, demanding that they focus their efforts on getting revenge on them instead. Sunset reminds her that not only is Principal Celestia probably handling the trio's punishment, but at this point, they have far bigger issues to deal with.
- Guilt by Association: Because Rainbow Dash sides with Sunset, the rest of the student body accuses her of being Anon-A-Miss as well. Her pointing out that she's also been attacked by MyStable account doesn't help, with Gilda claiming that to be a poor attempt to avoid suspicion.
- Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: Lightning Dust to Gilda. Lightning participated in the initial ambush, but was only aware of that part, not the murder. When Gilda picks up Lightning from the hospital after Sunset broke her nose in the attack, Gilda lies to her about the murder, claiming that the other attackers took it that far despite dealing the lethal blow herself. What Gilda didn't count on is Lightning feeling horrified and guilty enough about the outcome that she'd confess to her family rather than keep quiet.
- Hilarious Outtakes: The April Fool's Day chapter is structured like this, with the characters being actors in a film version of the fanfic and director Uria being depicted as his dragon namesake.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every chapter title is a song lyric, with the theme of the song as a whole being related to the events of the chapter in some way. For example, Chapter 14 is named "Howling Ghosts They Reappear in Mountains That Are Stacked With Fear" and deals with Sunset Stanza helping Marred Spectrum reign in her anger at their ex-friends, followed by Marred helping Stanza get some remaining worries and secrets off her chest.
- The crossover fic gets its title from the Fall Out Boy song of the same name, with the only chapter ("Do You Got Room for One More Troubled Soul?") being one of its lyrics.
- Implausible Deniability: This is what firmly entrenches Rainbow on Sunset's side, as a slow internet connection has Anon-A-Miss update with a new post while Rainbow is looking directly at Sunset holding their backpacks from across the cafeteria.
- Irony: Rainbow and Sunset have, respectively, fought against demons and sirens. Now they ARE the demon and siren. This is not lost on them.
- Know When To Fold Them: When Sweetie Belle is brought in for questioning about Anon-A-Miss, she realizes that the game is over and tells Principal Celestia everything.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Sour Sweet has the Memory Stone from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Forgotten Friendship, stealing it from Wallflower Blush four years ago. She is perfectly willing to abuse its power and has already done so multiple times in the past in order to become an Unperson and influence the minds of everyone at CHS and Crystal Prep, in part being the reason why everyone at the former was so willing to quickly turn on Sunset.
- Last of Their Kind: The Dazzlings and Sunset Stanza are the only remaining sirens. Had Sunset not agreed to become the new Siren Queen, the species would have died out completely, as breaking their pendants left them unable to feed, condemning them to slowly starve to death.
- Late to the Tragedy: Princess Twilight was away attending a Hearth's Warming pageant in Canterlot and left the journal at the castle. As such, she doesn't learn about the Anon-a-Miss situation until the end of Chapter 13, at which point the CMC have already been outed, and Sunset and Rainbow have already transferred schools. When she finally meets up with the duo and sheepishly admits what she was doing while they were being beaten to death, they're naturally not amused.Rainbow Dash: Hear that, Sunset? No big deal. She forgot the journal. That makes everything alright.
Sunset Shimmer: Mm. Indeed, I can feel my scars healing as we speak. Amazing.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Sunset and Rainbow. The fic opens with them having the closest friendship out of any of the Main Six, with the two of them implied to regularly hang out alone at the latter's home. Rainbow Dash is deathly loyal and protective towards Sunset after the group breaks up during Anon-A-Miss, prioritizing Sunset's safety over her own when both are on the verge of death. Later, Sunset is the only person able to talk Rainbow down whenever she's gone out of control in her demonic form. At one point, Dainn's Sunset uses these exact words to describe their relationship after seeing them bicker, to Rainbow's blushing embarrassment.
- Logical Latecomer: Human Twilight. No one is happy with the idea that they have to deal with bringing her up to speed on top of everything else.Adagio Dazzle: To make this as basic as I believe I can, the girl on our side is Sunset, and the girl you seem to know as Sour Sweet is her counterpart from your world.
Human!Twilight: That implies that Sunset isnt from this world.
Adagio: Look, I said Id try and make this the simple version. That involves skipping a few extraneous details.
- Meaningful Rename: Sunset Shimmer renames herself Sunset Stanza to better reflect her new title as Queen of the Sirens, with everyone referring to her as Stanza from that point forward.
- Downplayed with Rainbow Dash. At one point, in a panic, she calls herself Marred Spectrum to hide her identity and reflect how dark magic altered her appearance. From that point on, the characters jump between using both names when addressing her.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Well, not so much a minor crime given it's a murder, but does set up a more sinister plot involving Equestrian-Human World cult activity and Grogar.
- Out-of-Character Alert: The reason why Rainbow Dash decides to stay with Sunset. When leaving with the others, it suddenly occurs to her that Sunset is an empathetic person who is so obviously regretful about her past, that she wouldn't even think about doing something like Anon-a-Miss. And even in the off-chance that she did go back to being the school bully, this isn't at all how she'd behave in that situation either.
- Related in the Adaptation: Daring Do is Rainbow Dash's mother in this fic. Meanwhile, Indigo Zap is Soarin's sister.
- Secret Identity: Several, mostly among the Crystal Prep students.
- Most prominent with Sour Sweet, who turns out to be the human world's Sunset Shimmer.
- Ship Tease: Plenty between Sunset and Rainbow.
- Taking You with Me: When Lightning Dust realizes how much trouble Gilda has gotten her into with nothing to show for it, she tells her family, knowing full well that she would be jailed, just to bring Gilda down.
- Talking to Themself: Both Sunset and Rainbow each do this once while sleeping, talking with the representation of their subconscious (Demon Sunset and a dream-version of Sunset, respectively). Both imaginary figments are forced to spend a good chunk of the conversation trying getting their person to understand that they aren't separate entities; Demon Sunset because of Sunset's insistence that she must be a Superpowered Evil Side, and Dream Sunset because Rainbow keeps asking unanswerable questions as though she's talking to the real one.Sunset: So... you dont want to... take over or something?
Demon Sunset: Im. Not. Real.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Sour Sweet with Sunset and the others. Sunset demands that they deal with all the problems she caused Sour Sweet once they've taken down the cult, and Sour Sweet begrudgingly agrees due to "get curbstomped by four sirens and a demon" being the only other option.
- The Masquerade: An interesting variation, as we learn that local law enforcement have been the ones covering up all the magical activity that has occurred since the Fall Formal. Learning that everything is coming from an alternate dimension doesn't surprise Captain Lightspeed Barrage, who has come to view these incidents with minor annoyance more than anything else.
- Translation Convention: After the situation is explained to the Dazzlings, they have a conversation amongst themselves over whether or not to trust Sunset and Rainbow. To keep it private, they hold it in their native tongue. After the first line meant to establish that Sunset and Rainbow have been locked out of the loop, it's written in English for the sake of the reader.
- Un-person: On the way back from the hospital, Sunset reveals that this is the status of her human counterpart, with any tries to uncover any documents pertaining to her existence coming up null.
- Void Between the Worlds: Dainn!Sunset and Uria!Sunset meet up in one of these when fighting their respective Midnight Sparkles.
- Witch Hunt: CHS performs one on Sunset over the Anon-A-Miss account. Poor Rainbow is dragged along with her for the sole crime of being a good friend.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Principal Celestia makes a few comments along these lines when Applejack and Rarity downplay the fact that Sunset and Rainbow were assaulted and nearly died.
- You Never Asked: A minor variation. After Sunset explains that Equestria's Creation Myth is wholly factual (Celestia and Luna are the daughters of said creation goddess), Rainbow asks herself why she and the others never bothered to ask questions about Equestria and magic in all the time they spent together. Sunset is equally clueless, as she wasn't exactly hiding anything.