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Fanfic / Sunset of Time

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Sunset of Time is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic, written by The Albinocorn.

The fic opens with Canterlot under attack from some evil force, the city in ruins and the castle crumbling. Sunset Shimmer, faithful student to Princess Twilight Sparkle, is instructed to run to the Star Swirl the Bearded wing and use a relic there to travel back in time fifty years, and once there destroy the "Dark Regalia". Sunset follows her orders and arrives in Equestria shortly after Twilight's ascension and coronation at the end of Season 3.

Convincing the past version of her mentor of her true intentions, the group discovers what Future!Twilight meant: an evil pony named Vesper Radiance is seeking the Dark Regalia that can transform a normal pony into an alicorn. Somehow, the Dark Regalia — the Alicorn Amulet, the Tempest Crown, and the Obsidian Hoofguards — are responsible for the chaos that will happen in the future, and it's up to Twilight, Sunset, and their friends to stop it. Along the way through, Sunset is plagued by odd dreams and a voice whispering in her head, and not all is what it seems, especially once they come face-to-face with Vesper Radiance.

The fic focuses on a completely alternative take of Sunset Shimmer, disregarding Equestria Girls to build its own story around the concept of Sunset Shimmer rather than the canon's depiction.

Sunset of tropes:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Sunset Shimmer is considerably kinder and more pleasant than in the canon.
  • Adaptational Villainy: On the other hand, Vesper Radiance is far worse than the canon Sunset ever was.
  • A God Am I: Vesper Radiance's goal is to use the Dark Regalia to become an alicorn and rule Equestria as an alicorn goddess of the sun.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: Discord has been watching the adventure all along, but only intervenes to help Sunset reach an epiphany and then abandons her in the snow. When Sunset is enraged at this, Discord replies that watching it all unfold has been too much fun to interfere. Why he does nothing when his only friend Fluttershy nearly dies is never explained.
  • Alternate Universe: Disregards the canon in regards to Equestria Girls to build its own story on the idea of Sunset Shimmer.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Wearing one of the Dark Regalia amplifies a pony's abilities to unrivaled potential. Together, they can transform a pony into an alicorn capable of killing the princesses. However, overloading said artifacts with too much power can actually destroy them, which directly contributes to Vesper's death.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Dark Regalia use dark magic to empower normal ponies, but it corrupts their minds and drives them insane and evil.
  • Ax-Crazy: Vesper Radiance is a power-hungry and murderous psychopath.
  • Beam-O-War: There's three instances of this, with two of them happening back-to-back.
    • Chapter XIV: Twilight has two with Vesper Radiance. The first one is interrupted by Rainbow Dash sucker punching Vesper. The second has Sunset adding her power to Twilight's to push Vesper into a whirlwind.
    • Chapter XXIII: Twilight and Sunset engage in one when the latter succumbs to the corruption of Vesper's memories. The fight ends in an explosive draw, but Twilight is the first to get up.
  • Black Cloak: Vesper Radiance wears one before The Reveal. After she overloads the Dark Regalia and blows herself to bits, what's left of her wears one while imprisoned in Tartarus.
  • Break the Cutie: The reveal of her origins shatters Sunset, making her more hostile to the group and more bitter and cynical. Discord notes she's starting to act more like Vesper Radiance for it.
  • But Now I Must Go: When Vesper Radiance is destroyed, Sunset Shimmer vanishes from time since the events leading to her reincarnation are now undone. However, she is eventually reincarnated yet again.
  • Canon Character All Along: This serves as The Reveal for Vesper Radiance. She's Sunset Shimmer as the canon would recognize her, Celestia's former student who was driven to evil by jealousy over Twilight being made a Princess. The trope is then inverted and played with for Sunset Shimmer, who is actually Vesper's reincarnation and has an entirely different personality and backstory, making her Sunset Shimmer In Name Only.
  • The Chessmaster: Of all ponies to be the trope, Twilight Sparkle in the future. Realizing Vesper's seal was not going to hold forever, she arranged for the relic that would transport Sunset back in time to be ready for her when the seal broke, knowing that Sunset's existence in the past would be the least jeopardizing to the timeline and her powers would make her uniquely suited to combat Vesper. Further, Twilight included a recorded message with the relic to encourage her and explain to her this plan should things become too dire.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Vesper does this to Sunset when the latter is mistaken for the former by the Crystal Guards, and imprisoned. Vesper tortures Sunset mentally and physically before sending her to die alone.
  • Completed Fic: Started in March of 2013, and completed in June of 2015. It includes two epilogues, added in June and December of 2015, and the author has written a postscript to the story.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Vesper Radiance's soul, still with the power of the Frost Lich, briefly attempts to absorb Sunset's own after they both die, but fails and falls into despair. Sunset consoles the shadow and helps her pass on, with Vesper saying "Thank you," as her parting words.
  • Dramatic Irony: Vesper Radiance attempted a time travel spell to go back in time and tell her past self to be a better student, so she could salvage her relationship with Celestia. However, she attempted it just as the Sonic Rainboom hit, the same Sonic Rainboom that got the Mane Six their cutie marks. The shockwave broke her concentration and distorted the spell, and she was flung forward in time to witness Twilight's coronation as Princess. The sight finally drives her off the deep end.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Whatever attacked Canterlot in the future, it's described as a roiling sphere of darkness and red energy. It's eventually confirmed that it was Vesper Radiance, who, without a soul now, is just a being of raw magic that wishes to destroy and kill.
  • Evil Counterpart: Vesper Radiance to Twilight Sparkle. It's even more blatant than in the canon.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: When Vesper Radiance absorbs the power of a frostlich to become a lich herself, she takes on a very unpleasant form. She essentially looks like Sunset Shimmer's demon form as a pony, but with Fireball Eyeballs, a patchwork blood-red coat, and rotting skin, among other things.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Sunset Shimmer in Chapter XXIII, when the memories of her past life fully awaken and she reverts to Vesper Radiance.
  • Grandfather Paradox: A typical example, Sunset is worried that her actions in the past (specifically, Vesper Radiance's fate, since Sunset is her reincarnation) will jeopardize her existence.
  • Happily Adopted: Vesper Radiance by Celestia. At first...
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: Vesper ends up combining both the full power of the Dark Regalia with that of the sun itself in a final effort to kill Sunset, the Mane Six, and Celestia. In doing so; however, she overloads the Regalia with so much magic that they shatter, ultimately killing her.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Vesper is outraged that she can't have Celestia all to herself. Note this is in a paternal sense — she sees Celestia as her mother... mostly.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Twilight tries to bring Sunset back to her senses when her true memories awaken and she becomes Vesper Radiance and succeeds. Played with in that, as Vesper notes, it was Sunset that was the fake personality while Vesper was the "trapped" personality within her.
  • I Just Want to Be Special/I Just Want to Be Loved: Vesper wanted to be an alicorn to rule by her mother's side. When she didn't get it, things went down a dark road...
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Vesper impersonates Sunset in Chapter XXI to get close to the group as they research the Obsidian Hoofguards. Rarity notices something is off though, when she notices a lock of hair that Sunset had chopped off is still intact on Vesper.
  • Inspiration Nod: The story takes a great deal of thematic and visual inspiration from Harry Potter, and at one point, this is all but acknowledged by a joke from Pinkie Pie that leans heavily on the Fourth Wall.
  • Laughing Mad: In a flashback we see Vesper's Start of Darkness when she sees Twilight's coronation and realizes Celestia replaced her after she left. She breaks down into maniacal laughter, and eventually tears.
  • Lich: A Frostlich dragon guards the Obsidian Hoofguards. Vesper herself became one in the original timeline when she absorbed the Frostlich's soul, and in turn Sunset is also one.
  • Loophole Abuse: The defeat of Vesper Radiance causes Sunset to vanish from time since the future was altered and she no longer exists. However, the immortal soul the two of them share still does, and Sunset eventually reincarnates again.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Vesper Radiance loved Celestia as a mother, and she turned to finding the Dark Regalia to become an alicorn when she thought Celestia didn't love her as much in return.
  • Meaningful Name: "Vesper" is the evening prayer in Catholicism, reflecting Vesper Radiance's desire to be worshiped as a sun goddess. It also doubles as a hint to her true identity; "vesper radiance" is an approximate synonym for "sunset shimmer".
  • One-Steve Limit: Even after The Reveal, Vesper Radiance is still called as such to distinguish her from the Sunset Shimmer from the future. Otherwise the fic would be quite confusing.
  • Phlebotinum Overdose: Vesper Radiance ultimately destroys herself when she channels too much energy from the sun and overloads her body with magic.
  • The Power of Friendship: It is a My Little Pony story. Invoked when Sunset fights back after nearly being erased from her soul. Twilight refused to stop believing in her.
  • Power of the Sun: Sunset's cutie mark is a sign that she can use special magic to draw energy from the sun. Vesper Radiance has the same power, and it's ultimately what defeats her.
  • Pride: How Rainbow Dash overcomes the corrupting effects of wearing the Tempest Crown. It claimed that it could make her the greatest flyer ever and millions would chant her name, but she didn't need it for that because everypony knows that will eventually happen one day.
  • Reincarnation: Eventually confirmed as the reason Sunset and Vesper look alike. Vesper's soul was extracted from her body, corrupted by dark magic, and she was reborn as Sunset, to give her a second chance at life and happiness. This happens again in the epilogue, with the current Sunset reborn for her third chance.
  • The Scream: Sunset has one after she's been tortured by Vesper and left to die.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: In the original timeline, after the Elements of Harmony extracted her soul, Vesper Radiance's still-living body was sealed away. It's the entity that attacked Canterlot in the first chapter.
  • Self-Made Orphan: In the original timeline, Vesper eventually tracked down her birth parents and killed them.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The entire reason Sunset travels back in time is to try and stop the crisis that will destroy Canterlot fifty years in the future.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Both inverted and played straight. When the current Vesper Radiance finally obtains all of the Dark Regalia, Sunset's personality is overwritten by future!Vesper's when her memories awaken as a result, but Vesper is the original personality in the first place. Played straight when Twilight manages to bring Sunset back and together they defeat future!Vesper and get Sunset her body back.
  • Start of Darkness: Though she was selfish and ambitious beforehand, what really set Vesper off was seeing Twilight become a Princess after Celestia rejected her.
  • That Man Is Dead: Vesper Radiance discarded her original name when she took her current one, and strongly demands she be called by it.
  • Walking Spoiler: Vesper's true identity slightly turns the story on its head.
  • Wham Episode
    • Chapter XIII — Vesper Radiance is revealed to look exactly like Sunset Shimmer.
    • Chapter XVII/XVIII — We find out why. Vesper is the original Sunset Shimmer, and when she was defeated in the unaltered timeline, her soul was extracted and reincarnated as the new Sunset that became Twilight's student.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Sunset is proven to be immortal due to Vesper absorbing the Frostlich's soul. Her soul is permanently bound to her body and keeps it animated, even though Vesper actually did kill her and her heart no longer beats. Sunset is horrified and enraged by this revelation.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Flashbacks show Vesper Radiance was already going insane before she started gathering the Dark Regalia; wearing them has made her even worse.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Subverted with Vesper Radiance. You might feel sorry for her once you learn her backstory, except by that point she's murdered several beings without hesitation or remorse, and flashbacks show in the unaltered timeline, she eventually killed her birth parents for "abandoning" her, and then tried to kill Celestia and the Mane Six once she got the Dark Regalia. She might have once been sympathetic, but has become so evil that sympathy goes off the table.
    • Played straight with Sunset Shimmer, who goes through a Despair Event Horizon and becomes a dark Anti-Hero teetering on the edge of turning to evil, but she's gone through a terrible Trauma Conga Line due to circumstances that weren't her fault, so she remains sympathetic.
  • You Have Failed Me: Vesper routinely kills off the griffon mercenaries she hired when they don't perform as she expects.