Button Mash didn't show up to take the same route to school as the CMC. Sweetie Belle frowned a little when she realized this. Though she and her friends were all delighted to see Silver Spoon wave at them as they passed. Scootaloo slowed down for Silver Spoon to hop on.
"Hey, girls!" Silver Spoon greeted with a smile.
"Silver Spoon... " Sweetie Belle said carefully. "Do you remember us being on the MoonPearl?"
"Wow! So you had those shared dreams too?"
"Three," said Apple Bloom.
"Four," added Scootaloo.
"Seems everypony had them... I know dreams are Princess Luna's domain, but I wish she'd done her confession when I was awake... I can't... really remember a lot about my dreams at the beginning. It was bad though."
The girls were struck silent for a bit, as they rode on down the road.
Scootaloo said, "Silver Spoon... I don't know if you remember it or not but... I meant what I said in the dream. You aren't stuck being stuck up. You always had a choice. You and Diamond Tiara."
Silver Spoon nearly caused them all to crash when she hugged her, but Scootaloo righted herself.
"Thank you... but you don't need to keep telling me that anymore! I... I know I was a brat but... I've grown! I've already grown so much thanks to your help! Oh, love the new mane style!" Silver Spoon touched her own braid.
"... Uh, thanks."
"And Apple Bloom... surprised to see you wearing jewelry, but you forgot an earring."
"Uh, actually, Ah think the one-earring style looks better. Zecora gave it as a gift, Ah think it's a Zebra tradition thing."
"Well, it could use some polishing, let me see that for a second."
"Hey! Wait-what are ya-"
"Just hold still... and there we go!"
"What did ya... whoa, thanks! Now it's all nice and shiny."
"You're welcome, Apple Bloom."
As the girls got closer to school under the happy sun, they spotted more of their friends and classmates. Archer waved at them as they passed with neither fear nor pain in her eyes. Snips and Snails were chatting about a Countess-meets-Daring-Do crossover fanfiction.
All their classmates they saw were smiling, it was another happy day.
Checkered Flag, Grace Lightning, and Hot Wheels... were enjoying a nice talk with Dinky, who waved at the CMC as they rode to the school... she gave them knowing winks which almost made Scootaloo crash a second time.
Ruby Pinch skipped along with Noi, not a care in the world. Pipsqueak trotted behind them, a letter in his hooves from Canterlot, from somepony named 'Moonlight'. Rumble reached class faster than the others, a little more competitive than usual. Peachy Pie, Sunny Daze, and Shady Daze were snacking on a treat Scootaloo didn't recognize.
Apple Byte got some last minute level grinding on Stallions of Destiny IV (her new Gamecolt game) before school started. Piña Colada and Firelock were reading the Foal Free Press... a mundane normal paper which Sweetie Belle didn't sense any magic from at all.
Tornado Bolt, and her sister Cyan Skies spun in the sky on their way to class, both in an excited chat about Daring Do and what slasher movie monsters she could beat up. Also present for this class was Cotton Cloudy, Bee Bop, Lemon Daze (cousin to the Shady and Sunny), Mango Dash (no relation to Rainbow Dash) and Rainy Feathers.
The CMC+1 came off Scootaloo's red truck and Scootaloo took off her helmet.
"Class is... gonna be packed today," Scootaloo said. Normally the students all rotated classes, as it was less stress for Cheerilee.
"Well, there are a bunch of guest speakers today from around Equestria, I guess they wanted everypony to hear them." Silver Spoon said with a satisfied smile.
"That's... new," Sweetie said.
"Well, we've done this before, haven't we? We've had parents career day, remember?" Silver Spoon said.
"Well, from around Ponyville, but not from all over Equestria," Sweetie quickly covered. Even thought what Sweetie had meant, that hadn't been on the schedule the day before she and her friends had saved the world.
'Ah was all powerful, Ah could literally change anythin' Ah wanted... and we're still here... getting past grade school... just like after we helped save Equestria from Queen Chrysalis... it's just fine-dandy Ponyville... And Ah love it!'
Twist and Truffle took one look at each other when they arrived at the school... and hugged each other like hugs were about to be outlawed. Neither of them had to say anything. Words weren't needed! They both felt like they'd been apart forever... and neither had a clue why. It was enough to make Apple Bloom want to join in the hug too... but... this hug was theirs. But when it finally broke... Twist hugged Apple Bloom. "Huh-wha-"
"Apple Bloom... I... I'm sorry for not stepping in at Diamond Tiara's Cute-Ceañera... that was wrong. That's not what friends do."
After a moment Apple Bloom hugged her back. "We all make mistakes... yer forgiven. Sorry, for avoidin' ya fer so long."
"... works for me Twist... works for me."
"Let's just forgive and forget," Twist said.
"Anypony seen Alula or Tootsie?" Sweetie Belle asked.
Apple Bloom shook her head.
"Why'd you ask?" Silver Spoon asked.
"Just... don't want them to miss the guest speakers."
Scootaloo picked up one of the Foal Free Press issues. There was no sponsor notice of Umbra Breeze. It made Scootaloo feel equal waves of relief and happiness... "No rumors. No lies. No gossip." She smiled. All the horrible stories were GONE... they had never been there! "No Gabby Gums," she whispered.
But there was a last minute addition to the paper.
"Alula and Tootsie are stepping down?!" Scootaloo read aloud. Oh right. They had been on the paper, that was what had started it all.
"What?" Silver Spoon also looked surprised and read it too. "'Thank you for all your support. We had a fun time working on the paper. We couldn't have done it without all of you. Or the rest of the staff. But we both feel that others could do a better job than us, and our talents lie elsewhere. We hope you continue to read the Foal Free Press, and that whoever steps into our horseshoes upholds truth and integrity in the news.'"
"And guess who that is!" Lickety Split grinned, right behind them! The girls turned to look at him; he looked so happy. "And I've got just the thing to fill in those empty spaces on the paper! Everypony is gonna love what my family's got to share about the Age of Myth! Miss Cheerilee says it would be a great way to get the students more interested in legends and history!"
"Congratulations, Lickety-Split!" Apple Bloom said. "Ah know this'll be good for ya!"
"Thank you!" Lickety-Split nodded. "I hope to do the paper proud!"
"Hope Featherweight's okay," Scootaloo whispered.
"When I got in for the paper early, I overheard Cheerilee got news from his auntie that he might miss today for some reason."
"Did you hear anything about Button Mash?" Sweetie asked anxiously.
"Not really," said Lickety-Split. "Sorry, Sweetie."
"... It's alright."
Looking over the paper, Silver Spoon said, "There's no mention of her stepping down as 'acting' class president though." 'Acting', that was what she called it, saying she was keeping it for Diamond Tiara.
With all the overwhelming reveals the CMC had experienced that morning, on top of the emotional shocks and high adventure they'd been on, and the tension of Silver Spoon, Alula, Tootsie, and Button Mash, and more... you can kinda forgive them for forgetting something. Something they failed to remember until after they'd unthinkingly gotten to their desk, and took off their saddlebags.
While looking at another pony's rear wasn't taboo in Equestria, it wasn't something ponies constantly did. Scootaloo's braid got attention, but it wasn't the sort of thing ponies were really going to chat at length about. And Apple's new zebra style earring DID get some foals chatting, and had gotten Cheerilee's attention, and in fact, this had DRAWN AWAY attention from something else.
But something had to give, and in one moment it all went off.
"Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, what happened to your cutie marks?" Cheerilee asked.
Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle looked at each other, and then at the gold lined red and green shields that now surrounded their butterfly and musical note. They blushed. "Well... they kinda... 'got upgraded?' When kinda... that is..."
Apple Bloom stood up.
Silver Spoon said it first. "Apple Bloom! You! You... you... you..." Silver Spoon had to remember how to breath. "YOU GOT YOUR CUTIE MARK!"
The cheers were deafening. The quest of the CMC had gone on for so long... many thought it would last years more... perhaps in vain! But for APPLE BLOOM to now get hers, with her friends' cutie marks changing too? This sent shockwaves through the class, and now that the genie was out of the bottle... all the rest of Ponyville would soon know, as well.
Apple Bloom's memory of the next few minutes was a blur. All she grasped was her classmates tossing her up in the air, cheering her name, and those of her friends. She remembered being hugged by Silver Spoon, Miss Cheerilee, and some of her other classmates. It was like it was the accomplishment of everypony, they were cheering for. Her heart shined like the sun.
Apple Bloom was happy.
"Sorry you won't get to see Bully-Me's face at you getting your mark?" Silver Spoon smirked.
"Ah'm happier to see Friend-You's face anytime!" Apple Bloom hugged her, followed by their friends, Cheerilee: it was a hug explosion. Experts said it caused smiles as far away as Manehatten.
To the shock of EVERYPONY, the CMC didn't ask for the school day off. Being in the classroom with their teacher and classmates they knew and loved was a reward the CMC never thought they'd want.
Applejack was right. She thought. 'Before cutie mark: buck trees, carry water, after cutie mark: buck trees, carry water.' It's just me.
She settled down in her seat, and watched series of guest speakers from around Canterlot recount pieces of Equestria's history. One of the speakers was even Silver Spoon's father representing the royal guard!
The history lesson was shocking to Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, but to Apple Bloom... everything, just fit into place. Even if she didn't remember all of it personally, a part of her knew this was now how the world was.
Now far north of Equestria, beyond the oddly named Crystal Tundra, was the kingdom of Yakyakistan. Isolationists from being caught in the collateral damage from one of Discord's attacks (on a mysterious kingdom), it was forbidden to fly over, or dig under their mountainous domain.
There was also now folklore among the various Zebra tribes, that they too had once an Alicorn goddess, a Zebra named Queen Parabola who had been close friends with spiders and map makers. And had supposedly inspired the tradition of masks in Zebra cultures being used for self expression. She had existed before Equestria was even founded. Miss Cheerilee included a 'recent events' that Zebra who had heard of Kifuko believed that she was the long lost heir to their beloved lost goddess. That there was a story that Queen Parabola had fallen in love with a flutterpony (or changeling depending in what time period you believed it happened) made this not entirely implausible.
Sweetie wondered if Queen Chrysalis talked about this with her in the new timeline, but knowing Chryssy, it would have been only fuel for the fire.
Next an ambassador from the Diamond Dog kingdom had once talked about how his people bore great connections to Crunch the Rock Dog.
Apple Bloom had a vague memory flash of a lynch mob of ponies who had come to murder Bright Eyes the pony while she was giving birth, and had been mislead to the crystal mines miles away, and had been turned into canine slaves of the ghost of a long dead human wizard and driven to find jewels but having no idea why as the ghost finally faded from this world.
She knew, that this memory was no longer reality, it had been rewritten, now the Diamond Dogs had a new origin, one that did indeed connect to the legendary Crunch The Rockdog... but whatever it was, Apple Bloom couldn't remember.
There was a speaker of the Equestrian Games, but all Sweetie caught was that sealing unicorn spectators' magic for potential cheating was deemed treating your audience as criminals and unlikely to win visitors.
There was also a note from Guards who had been abroad about the FEAR that had struck nations outside of Equestria when the sun had failed to rise, and panicked calls to Equestria what was going on. Ironically, this made Celestia's position of Princess of the Sun a much stronger one than before.
As a shock to Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle... the length of Discord's first rampage had been reduced by at least a few centuries if not more!
There was also a tidbit from the griffins. Apparently the lyrics, "Our deity is better than yours"... had indeed been part of Griffin hymns ... but...well...
A flash of darkness blinded the city for a moment. When it cleared, an armored black knight stood with a sword. The tallest griffin city's office buildings barely reaching his kneecaps. His head was literally in the clouds. His helmet was round with spikes pointing outward. Glowing redness was all that was seen of within.
"I HAVE HEARD THY CHALLENGE! AND I, THE BLACK BLOOD OF PAIN, ACCEPT THY CHALLENGE! LET YOUR GOD COME FORTH! LEAST I CLAIM THIS PLANET FOR OUR OWN!"
"Yeah yea! Don't get your panties in a tosh bucket head! I'm here! Geeze! Tone it done a little!" Shouted Boreas as he materialized out of the sky itself, his tail-tuff a light of red flames, and his avian parts looking like the dusk, and his feline half the dawn, and his wings like the northern lights.
-One Epic Giant Battle Later-
Boreas looked to make sure the battle had stayed in the sky and not harmed anygriff of his children. "Okay. THAT'S done! Maybe now I can get back to the astral plane and get back to my nap!"
- One song verse later -
"ME GOD OF YAKS! ME HEAR CHALLENGE! CHALLENGE NOT PREFECT! GOD OF YAKS SMASH!"
"OH COME ON!" Boreas shouted. "Can you ditch the Saddle Rager speak bud? You're not fooling anygriff."
"... My apologizes, brother. Yet I am formally obligated to accept all divine challenges as is in the sacred code I myself inspired the ancient Yak prophets to write down in regards to the Yak Virtue of Valor."
"What happened to the Yak Virtues of Cheer, Honesty, Diligence, Honor, Loyalty, Charity, And Humility?"
"My children have turned their ears from me. You know how it is."
"Yeah, yeah I do. Hopefully they'll get the hint eventually, most of mine have...except Griffonstone, but Mother Deer says to keep faith in them. But I still think Tiamat is an idiot for micromanaging her species in a visible form. I mean at least Mother Deer has the excuse of being BORN here. I wish Astra would accept some of these challenges, it's her turn already! So how about arm wresting to settle this? I don't think we could keep the two of us fighting from actually hurting anygriff given who we are."
"THAT BE PERFECT!"
"What did I say?!"
"Sorry brother, habit."
-One Arm Wrestling Battle Later-
"There, now maybe I can-"
"Excuse me," said Thor politely. "I sensed a formal cosmic challenge of divine might, and my code of honor dictates that-"
"CHANGE THAT LYRIC ALREADY, ME DANGIT! IT WAS FUNNY THE FIRST TIME BUT SERIOUSLY THIS IS GETTING OLD AND I'VE GOT THREE PLANETARY ATMOSPHERES I NEED TO GET TO MAKING!"
Sea Swirl was the sixth of the guest speakers at Apple Bloom's school. "I can't stay forever, since I have a meeting in Canterlot today with the Princess. But I'm here to talk about the kingdom under the sparkling sea, which is our dear friend even to this day. From whom I have an ancestor myself from, and dear Sweetie Belle there, the seaponies."
Sweetie Belle fainted.
- One Unfainted Sweetie Belle later. -
The Seaponies (and Mereponies as they'd be quick to remind anypony) had many of their number turned into buffalo and ponies during Discord's rampage, but many had taken on lovers in the meantime and had chosen to remain in their new forms (some chose vice versa).
Their leader, King Leo, was said to be even older than Princess Celestia, and had supposedly been alive since before the Age of Myths! But during Discord's rampage, he had hidden the rest of his children as deeply underwater as they could, until the day Discord's evil was over. During that time, they'd also come in conflict with the Deep Ponies... but some had made peace, and their hybrid offspring were nicknamed the Octoponies due to their unique form.
Also having evolved in this time thanks to the work of King Leo himself were the Sea-Glow Ponies. The expedition to the surface that remade first contact was now a major event in Seapony history.
Apple Bloom wondered about the flutterponies, but a thought came to her. 'As long as the changelings live, the flutterponies live.'
The last guest speaker... was a very little pony with huge insect wings, antennae, pointy ears... and her cutie mark was so tiny you'd need a magnifying glass to tell what it was. She spoke in an odd accent. "Hello Everypony, my name is Flight Shine from the domain of the breezies." She recounted the origin of her herd and the pocket realm they called home, but that is a story for another day.
The school day ended... as all school days do.
The whole town was going to be abuzz sooner than later of Ponyville having the cute-ceañera to end all cute-ceañeras as Pinkie Pie's newest masterpiece. Right now was the brief calm before the storm. Ponyville had sucked in a breath, and soon was going to be in an uproar. The little fillies had certainly made a name for themselves.
Everypony was going to be there, no doubt, including Button Mash.
Sweetie Belle had separated from her friends, saying she needed to go to the little fillies' room before they left the school grounds. Scootaloo was busy giving Cheerilee extra hugs and promising to visit on Hearth Warming's Eve anyway. Being sisters in a past life was one part of the dream Cheerilee remembered.
Sweetie Belle wondered about making a grave for HER Button Mash. Sure, everypony else would think she was being weird, and this Button Mash might get seriously freaked out, but he ... the other one... deserved SOMETHING! He gave everything. He didn't deserve to be forgotten, he deserved a much better reward than just erased. Not when he'd proven he was as real as anypony!!! Sweetie let go of tears she didn't realize she'd been fighting back all this time.
Sweetie Belle heard Apple Byte, "I wonder where Button Mash is... we were supposed to trade Ponymon today."
Right... she was into video games, and he was into video games. Sweetie Belle couldn't say that about herself before Button Mash had made such a big impact in her life. It made logical sense for them to be together. Heck it... it would make more sense for Button Mash to be with Ruby Pinch instead of Sweetie Belle right?... So why... so why did it hurt so much? Even if Sweetie Belle accepted this was how things were SUPPOSED to be? It would be wrong for her to expect THIS Button Mash to like her like... like that.
"Apple Byte," Sweetie said. "I hope you and Button Mash are happy together."
"Huh?" Apple Byte blinked. "OH! We're just friends! Don't read anything into it!"
Sweetie refused to let her heart flutter. "Oh! Okay! I... that is... " No. It wouldn't be the Button Mash she'd gotten to know. She didn't have a right to just 'replace' him with a different Button Mash. "Well, just be good friends with him, he needs all the friends he can get."
"I know what you mean," Apple Byte smiled and the two fillies waved each other off.
As Sweetie went back to her friends... she... she spotted the first and last colt in the world she wanted to see, and they were the same, and not the same one.
It was him. And... he had his beanie.
Sweetie Belle felt her heart break. 'He really doesn't exist anymore.'
He looked her way. "Oh! Hey, Sweetie!" He said, smiling in total innocence.
"Oh.... h-hi, Button Mash."
I want him back. I'd play video games all day, especially with him. I'd... I'd even wear that Princess Cadence costume to have him back... but...
"So, would you wanna play some video games later?" He asked her simply.
"I..." Sweetie wasn't sure how to respond. She tried hard not to think of this Button Mash as a corpse. He came first. He had a right to exist. "What about Apple Byte?"
"Sure, she's fun to play GAMES with, but you're fun to play games WITH! I like you girls."
Sweetie Belle gulped. They were still friends?
"Button Mash... I..." Sweetie Belle looked at Apple Bloom, who gave her an encouraging nod.
"You just made it a choice: earlier-you and earlier-Button-Mash made the choice on their own remember? Ah saw the whole thing in the big book."
"What are you talking about?" Button Mash scratched his head, reminding everypony he wasn't deaf.
"OH! That's! It's! Just a game, Button Mash! A really scary one. Your mom wouldn't let you play it."
"Don't I know it!" Button Mash nodded. "But it wasn't so bad, if you play with your true true friends." He grinned.
= SAVE The World - Undertale =
Scootaloo knocked him upside the head. "Jerk! You can't fake her... fake her out like that!!!"
Sweetie laughs and cries and hugs him before she even knew what she was doing.
It was just another day of school for Button Mash. His Gamecolt was well hidden. He had Ponymon to trade with Apple Byte. She was nice and everything but all they did WAS play video games... and... for some reason that felt off. Not comics. Not trains. Not cosplay. Nothing.
He had breakfast in his room and he put on his beanie, ready for another day. His parents talked about having odd dreams. As for himself, he didn't remember what he'd dreamt last night at all.
Then Button Mash noticed the horseshoe box he kept his moon rock in. Something inside it was glowing, through the cardboard.
He took it out and opened it. It was the moon rock that was glowing. An adult would have backed away and called a magic expert to keep from being turned into a potted plant or something. But being a curious young colt, Button Mash reached in and touched it...
= 'Ora e Sempre' - The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus =
"So... what do we all say?" Fauna Luster, the red maned Alicorn said.
Those who had existed before the beginning, and would exist after the end, to the perception of some, sat around a round table and was either at the heart of the universe, sat underneath it, or encompassed all universes. There were no courtiers or honor guard, only the fundamental laws of all things.
"I vote yes. Brother-In-Law?"
Phobia shrugged. "My vote's yeah. So yeah."
"I vote yes. It's a worthy reward for making the right choice and helping save the universe," Buddy the colt pony said. "But the vote of all who were involved in this must be unanimous, even an abstain shall count as a vote against."
They all looked at Maud Pie. She said in a calm monotone. "... My vote is yes."
They were all thrown for a loop, Entropy, voting 'yes' for this? For anything? It had been billions of years since she'd voted on anything! It was like watching fire turn to ice or an ocean to stone. But still...
Fauna Luster sighed. "... But that still leaves-"
"wAiT-" Shaped out of the gloom formed the shape of a stallion wrapped in a large yellow cloth, with a crown upon his head, and his body wrapped in chains. "-aZEhOrSe wOuLd Speak, It Speaks: yEs-voTE."
The others stared in awe and shock.
"Let's face it," Phobia then threw in. "The girls and the kid have EARNED it after all this."
A ghostly Button Mash without his beanie appeared in front of the other Button Mash.
Restore Previous Save File?
Overwrite Current Save File?
Combine Save Files?
The two Buttons touched. And in a flash of light. There was one. "SWEETIE BELLE!!!!"
= Dreams Do Come True - Twinkle Wish Adventure =
So yeah, they sure hugged a lot. There was even some happy noogie action at play! What more needs to be said about that? Okay okay, a lot more. A whole lot more! It was a powerful group hug.
"It's, kinda, no, it's SUPER weird to remember two different lives," Button Mash said.
"You get used to it," said Pinkie Pie, riding on a unicycle in the background behind the foals while juggling rubber chickens. Strapped to her back was a long flag that read, 'VISIT DREAMING PONYVILLE!' written in pink glitter. She also had some mounted music equipment that was blaring the song, 'Celebrate good times, come on!' She pedaled away too fast to talk to, but it was another nice reminder that Ponyville was Ponyville again.
Sweetie Belle and Button Mash danced right there in front of the school. This being Equestria, everypony calmly accepted it. Neither foal could stop smiling.
"This is the me I chose to be," sang Button.
"My best friend is all I see," Sweetie replied.
The rest of their song was only for each other.
Scootaloo saw how happy the two were together. Button Mash was here to stay. A sigh escaped against her wishes. Silver Spoon startled her, laying gently on her shoulder. "Hey, why the relapse? Sorry they didn't stay mad at each other for the milk-shake-race thing?"
"What relapse?" Scootaloo asked keeping her voice down.
"I've told you before: don't worry, you're still Sweetie Belle's friend, that's never going to be taken from you."
"Huh-" Scootaloo's eyes widened.
"Upper class ex-bully remember? If there's anything I know how to do, it's read ponies who don't want to be read."
"What makes you think I'm sad?"
"You're not sad, you're just a bit lonely, but you didn't know why since you have other friends. Sweetie was your first friend in Ponyville. You made your other friends together, Sweetie made friends with Button first. So you felt left out. Remember now?"
Scootaloo, being Scootaloo, puffed out her plumage. "I'm not some jerk who can't standing seeing Sweetie make other friends. I'm not Gilda."
'Bluster avoidance tactic 101,' Silver Spoon thought. "I never said you're a jerk. I almost snapped when I was asked what Diamond Tiara might think if she saw me playing with you. I want to be her friend again, and have us all be friends... But this isn't about me. I'm just saying what you're feeling is NORMAL. Remember this time, nothing will ever make your friendship with Sweetie less special. Nothing can replace your first friend."
Scootaloo took in a deep breath, and slowly let it down. "Thanks... again, Silver Spoon."
"Welcome. Want to get ice cream later?"
Sweetie and Button Mash meanwhile were just chatting.
"So why weren't you at class?" Sweetie asked.
"Oh that, heh, the merged memories thing kinda made me super-duper dizzy, and Mom, you know mom. I was finally able to beg and plead for her to let me go see you."
"So... you remember me just walking away before, the day we met?" Sweetie asked.
"Yeah I do... and to be honest? I'm happy I'm living in this world where you didn't!" He hugged her.
She hugged him back. "So... Can you still do the video game magic stuff?"
"Tried it. No go." He shrugged. "Fun while it lasted."
"Don't worry! You'll find other ways of being a hero! I know you too well!" Sweetie Belle gave him a peck on the cheek, his beanie stopped turning for a moment, and the colt blushed.
I stood in the white void. I'd helped save the world. Hadn't I? I stop Diamond Tiara from doing something truly terrible that couldn't be undone. So that was good. Plus I would't have to apologize to Mr. and Mrs.'s Rich, I didn't want to imagine what their hurt faces would've looked like either. But I was happy I hadn't had to hurt Diamond Tiara for her own sake more.
Then two conflicting memories formed in my head. One where ... one where THAT DAY happened how I remembered... and another where... it was a lot like before but... without... without.... without me being hurt while I looked like Mrs. Rich. We just partied like a bad version of one of Pinkie Pie's parties.
"Wha-what's goin' on?" I whispered, holding my head.
"You Were At The Center Of The Great Shockwave Of Changes To Reality. Just Like Before When The World Was Corrupted. You Were Never Touched By The Curse Neither Before Nor After... So Now You Have A Choice To Make."
"Yes, Featherweight, it's me. I'm here to ask you a question. The world is being stripped away of the corruption's influence: horror and misery for horror and misery's sake. Things done for the sake of getting attention or be taken seriously by an unconfident shadow. Ponies have enough ordeals, there was damage done to Equestria that didn't belong here before the curse. That includes, how you were hurt when Chaos twisted you."
"... So that doesn't have to happen?"
"It won't have happened the same way... The same way you don't have to remember all the horrible things you saw in the fog before you came to Lickety Split's house... But Featherweight... You have to make a choice. Filthy Rich won't remember that things had happened differently before, nor will most anypony, and most ponies won't have to remember the curse as anything but a bad dream that will fade away in the sunlight. You can choose to remember both worlds... or you can choose to forget being hurt, but it'll mean that this will all have been just a dream for you. ... You were dragged into this because there was no choice... so it's only right you be given one now. Me and my family was the reason you were even sent there... So the choice is yours. But think carefully. This isn't a choice you can take back once you make it."
"... I'll forget about Diamond Tiara, and helping the others? Helping Apple Button and Button Mash?"
"It'll be just a dream, events pushed into Little Lulu's World. You might remember it, but it won't be things that actually happened. And you'll never have to remember being hurt."
Not having the pain. Not having the hurt. I tucked my wings around myself. I whispered. "Mr. Rich won't have to remember no matter what?"
"No. He won't."
"... I... I..." I could just cut away the pain, the hurt, make it go away forever... I... I want... "I want to remember that I was brave enough to do all that stuff."
"You're going to make a great great stallion one day, Featherweight."
And we were both gone into the white light.
I woke up tired, sick and pale. I stumbled out of bed, and I found Auntie Mayflower in the kitchen.
"AUNTIE!" I coughed out, and flew over to her and hugged her. She was alright! She was alright! She was alright! I, uhh, I feel woozy, happy, but woozy...
Auntie May Flower was worried I was sick, so she kept me home from school.
"Auntie May Flower? Where's the fog?"
"What fog dear?"
"The fog that's been outside for all... sorry... never mind." This honestly made me happy. There was no magical copy of the Foal Free Press, it was just a normal news paper. And nothing about Umbra Breeze. For the first time, in a long time... I was able to sleep, not scared at all, not worried at all. I was safe.
Even crazier was was the little note next to my bed... it was from Apple Bloom.
'Don't worry, took care of the Elements of Harmony finding out about Diamond Tiara, you just get some rest. I might not remember this note later, so much to remember. Featherweight, you're a hero.'
"And that's my story for how I remember," Featherweight finished saying and took a glass of water, REALLY not used to speaking so much.
Button Mash, Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo sat around the table. They'd been waiting for Spike and Silver Spoon, and had been surprised when Featherweight had found them instead. It hadn't been hard, news of the CMC's new cutie marks was spreading like wildfire and they were the hot topic of the town.
"Featherweight..." Scootaloo said. "Thanks... for helping Apple Bloom and Button Mash when ... when me and Sweetie couldn't."
Having finally gotten all the details from Apple Bloom, the girls were willing to let Apple Bloom's stunt go... mostly, Apple Bloom was paying for their sundaes.
Apple Bloom and Button Mash had both decided NOT to tell Sweetie about what Button Mash had almost done. He'd do that on his own, when he was ready.
"I just did what anypony would do." Featherweight smiled.
"But it wasn't 'anypony,' it was you. Never forget that." Sweetie smiled.
"Thank you." Featherweight blushed a little. "And thank you... for the amazing adventure."
"We didn't give anything." Apple Bloom shrugged. "Yer adventure was all yours. You helped us."
"And, if I can help save Diamond Tiara in any way, please let me know... " He took in a deep breath. "And if there isn't a way for me to help. That's fine too. I don't want to be dragged along because I 'have to' be there. I know there are six ponies really good at saving other ponies from themselves. I just want to see her saved, like you."
Sweetie Belle gave the slightist smirked, then wiped it off. "You really do want to be her friend don't you?"
"And I want her to be my friend too."
"I understand." Sweetie Belle nodded and the foals continued to munch on ice cream. Spike and Silver Spoon arriving a few minutes later.
Cheerilee and Rarity sat at an outdoor table at the local restaurant. The two of them were enjoying a pair of daisy sandwiches. Rarity wanted more than anything to socialize with her after her previous visit from before the wedding.
Thinking back on a nightmare she thankfully couldn't remember all the details of, Rarity realized there was something that needed to be said. "Cheerilee, I've just realized I never apologized."
"When you were enchanted by Nightmare Whisper... Applejack and Rainbow Dash didn't react so brashly, and neither should've I. Sweetie Belle wasn't in mortal peril, and you were clearly not yourself."
"It's... it's fine Rarity. I wasn't listening to reason. Some old bones are like seeds, they shouldn't be dug up."
"Good advice. It's just my little sister means the world to me. And... I'd already had to watch one poor foal fall into darkness earlier."
"I know exactly what you mean... I... " Cheerilee shook her head. "Enough. Thank you Rarity."
"'Enough' what darling?"
"My sisters and I spent too long pretending we weren't family. Maybe Berry Punch wouldn't have been trapped by the bottle for so long if we'd been there more for her."
"You're there for her now, and she's fought through it with your help and Ruby's. 'What ifs' do nothing but drive a pony mad. Take it from me, if I thought about how I could have done that dress just a tiny bit better..."
"I know Rarity, I know." Cheerilee sighed and looked at her grade-school friend. "But she's not the only sister I've ignored for too long. Cherry Blossom is my TWIN. And I... I haven't so much as spoken to her in years... It's about time I stop pretending she doesn't exist. Or... or one day, our friends, our little sisters... could be just... gone, poof, like they were never there to begin with." Cheerilee shivered.
Rarity put a hoof on Cheerilee's. "It's okay dear. They aren't gone. And you aren't gone. And I'm certain you'll find they still love you as much as you still love them."
"You're right... there are some dreams that can't be, so we better try our hardest for the dreams that can." Cheerilee didn't remember much about the strange dream, there was the visits with Daring Do and the Countess... but what she remembered the most clearly, was of another life, where Cheerilee and Scootaloo had been sisters. The way Scootaloo hugged her today, she knew that Scootaloo remembered that part of the dream too. 'I still love her. But I can't keep clinging to a dream... but Scootaloo, if you ever need help, even for a moment, no matter how big or small... big sister Cheerilee will be there for you. Looks like I have three sisters now.'
The unicorn turned to see two fillies: Lyra and Bon Bon's adopted foal, and Cloud Kicker's little sister. Pinkie Pie may have known more about everypony than everypony, but this was Ponyville, where everypony knew everypony.
"Alula, Tootsie," Cheerilee welcomed. "Wonderful to see you. It was very nice of you to clean up the press room, but you missed all the guest speakers in class today."
"We... we know Miss Cheerilee, and we're sorry!" Alula said and the two fillies bowed.
"Girls! I'm not berating you, I'm saying that you shouldn't deny yourselves a chance like that again, the basement would've still been there. I know you wanted to make things nice for Lickety-Split, but just remember you're still fillies, those guest speakers were for you, not me."
"We... we understand," Alula said.
"We just both agreed that we should clean it up real good before leaving."
"Well Alula, Tootsie, I'm sure one of your classmates can share what they heard, you'll still get extra credit for the semester, you did a good job at the paper while you were there."
"I... I was holding it for Tiara, and... speaking of which." Alula presented Rarity a Hearts and Hooves Day Card. It was purple and white, and sparkled like diamonds. "Sorry for the delay, this was... this was Diamond Tiara's, but it never got delivered to you, I... I kinda found it... I was holding onto it."
Rarity looked in awe at the card, then she shook her head and smiled.
"I'm flattered dear, and I haven't lost faith in Diamond Tiara returning either. But I'm afraid this card isn't for me. It's for a very important mare who's normally here in Ponyville, but she's in Canterlot looking for clues to Diamond Tiara." After grilling several changeling officers, it had been determined that they had nothing to do with Diamond Tiara, Canterlot being where the filly was last seen. "But it'll be my honor to help make sure it's delivered."
'Well, my dear... it seems you finally have your answer to your question that made you break in the first place... feel like pulling yourself back together?'
I was already broken.
'You give us both too little credit, my princess. You were much stronger than that, and I am much better than that. I have my self-respect as an evil chaos spirit, I don't break what's already broken... So now you know from the horse's mouth, if anypony can tell the details of a Hearts and Hooves Day card and who it compliments, it's the mistress of fashion herself.'
... It doesn't change what I have to do. This just justifies it.
'Justifies it? ... I'd say that proves you love mommy dearest. Perhaps you and me, show for two seconds for the big fight, retreat, and find some other planet in another galaxy full of mindless obligatory happiness where the locals will WORSHIP YOU for making them gloomy.'
That's not what I need to do. And you'd actually end it on an anti-climax? You?
'Would be unexpected, wouldn't it? Wouldn't be so bad if you were there my princess. Still, kudos to the fashion lady, no embodiment of generosity would take something that wasn't hers... So much has changed since you took those scissors. Strange how our ends goals and motives change without us ever noticing isn't it?'
Yes... father, it is.
Another day on the weather team for Cloud Kicker and Thunerlane. It never ceased to amaze them just how fast Rainbow Dash was able to get the job done. Some ponies thought Rainbow Dash was lazy... was she brash and conceited? Yes. But lazy? Personally Cloud Kicker thought Rainbow Dash was WASTED on a town as small as Ponyville! In a big major city, her talents could actually be tested! But well, Rainbow Dash wasn't giving up her dreams of being a Wonderbolt anytime soon!
The two weather ponies respected each other as teammates, but they were not what anypony would ever call close. Both waved each other goodbye without saying a word to each other. Neither could remember much about the dreams last night. Neither one was really interested in ANY kind of relationship right now.
Both Alula and Rumble waved to their big siblings as they flew down to meet them, and the foals flew up to do the same.
That morning, both Rumble and Alula had been extremely happy to see their big siblings, saying, "You're... you," even if they didn't really understand why that was so important, and why it made them so happy, but it did.
Ironically, while waiting, Alula and Rumble had gotten to admit the two of them had a surprising bit in common. Both worshipped the clouds their big sibling walked on. Both of them had their big sibling as their closest family.
"They're great to have, aren't they?" Alula admitted.
"THE BEST!" Rumble concurred.
"Do you... ever wish he could be, ya know? More? They could get more recognized?"
"Sure! All the time! But I'm not worried. Even if nopony else gets how great my big brother is, I know, and I'm sure to tell everypony!"
"... Same here." Alula thought for a minute. "So... I hear you like doing night training to be like your big brother... did you know my special talent is gymnastics? ... Maybe I can show you a few things next time."
Rumble flapped in the air. "Really? COOL!"
Tootsie meanwhile had gone back to her family's house. She saw how Twist and Truffle were happy together. Fit with each other so well. They'd never leave each other, never abandon each other, he was open, kind, accepting to all, so few could see the gentlecolt past his appearance.
Tootsie sighed and looked at the much less painful ground.
A changeling placed her hooves on her shoulders. "You're young, Tootsie, incredibly young, your very special somepony is out there, nothing says you have to meet him today."
"... Thank you... Auntie Moth."
Meeting up where they'd agreed to before (after they had checked in with their families), Alula and Tootsie trotted along. One particular house in mind.
"Greeting!" Captain Pipsqueak said. "Welcome back, crew mate Tootsie! I see you've finally brought us crew mate Alula!"
"Yes I have, captain! It is my honor to present her to you!"
"Rear Admiral Pipsqueak! But Captain will do."
"Alright, Captain Pipsqueak. Crew mate Alula, at your service."
"Very good! These are crew mates Noi, Dinky, Ruby Pinch, and you've met crew mate Tootsie!"
"Uh... nice to... met you, again. Uh, as pirates, privateers I mean," Dinky said shaking Alula's hoof.
"Very good! Now Miss Alula! I'm certain you'e been given the oath! Now recite it and you'll be part of the MoonPearl's crew!"
Alula got on her knees. And she had a blindfold put on.
"I, Alula, in the presence of the great goddess of the night, hereby Pinkie Promise most solemnly and sincerely that I shall serve my captain, my ship, my crew, my princess, and her kingdom, most faithfully and loyally. To Her Nightesty's will and her protection, if it's within my power, I shall work towards most readily. And hinder those who work against them.
"All these points I solemnly Pinkie Promise to observe without exception, under no less penalty than my mane shaved bald, my cutie marks scrubbed away, my tail dipped in glue, and fed to Card-Sharks in the deepest great ocean, so help me Her Nightjesty."
They took off the blindfold.
"Welcome aboard the MoonPearl."
"Ah! But I'm not merely Tootsie!" Tootsie said putting on a mask and hat she'd bought at the corner store. "I am actually Mare-Do-Well!"
Alula put on a mask as well. "I too am Mare-Do-Well!"
"Two superheroes aboard ship, cool," Ruby said.
"DEARS! I made you some cookies!" Called Pipsqueak's mother as she trotted across the grassy backyard to the wooden toy ship.
"Say, Alula," Tootsie said. "want to try some of Bonnie's voice changing candies? I've got some in here that'll make you sound just like a pirate... or a breezie, I always get them mixed up."
Ruby Pinch meanwhile blinked, crossed her arms, and thought 'Oh great,' in Breezie.
"Uh, no thanks. Captain Pipsqueak, didn't you have a second mate?"
"Verily I did, but she was called away back to her native land, though I still receive letters from her regularly, tis the fate of a sailor of Her Nightjesty's navy." Pipsqueak assumed a bold pose and held a letter from his costume jacket to his heart.
After some more fun and games, Alula and Tootsie finally left their fellow privateers, for the day was slowly coming to a close.
"Tootsie, even though it was Diamond Tiara's idea we become friends... I just want to say, I'm really happy we're friends now."
"If Diamond Tiara really gave you the idea, then that's something I have to thank her for," Tootsie said without missing a beat.
"I wonder why she didn't show up in our dreams last night like normal," Alula said.
"Because you're better off that way," Said a wistful voice.
The Nightfilly trotted through every magical alarm, detecting geass, and spell ward in Ponyville Twilight Sparkle had installed without setting them off as if they, or she, weren't even there. She didn't even leave hoof prints, and she cast no shadow, her voice had no echo, and the water of the nearby river did not reflect her. But the two other fillies could see and touch her all the same.
"TIARA!" The two said and gave her hug. She gingerly folded her wings around them.
"You're here!" Alula said. "Does that mean you're ready now to see your mom and dad now?! And explain how Mr. Discord isn't really evil? He just didn't know how to make friends?"
The Nightfilly sighed. "No. I'm here to say goodbye."
"What?" Tootsie gasped. "But-but-why? Don't you know Silver Spoon really misses you?! I know you wanted us to make sure she remembered you're her best friend but-"
"It's not about that," The Nightfilly said. "I... You two are the better friends that I could never deserve. It's better off if we'd never been friends."
"That's not true!" Alula stamped her hoof. None of the adults nearby noticed the fillies. "We've had lots of fun!"
"I just came here to tell you, forget about me. You have each other as friends, and plenty more to make, you don't need me."
"You're... you're not some imaginary friend to bow out when you're 'not needed!'" Tootise protested. "You're a good friend! And your parents want you back! I know they do!"
Alula nodded furiously. "She's right!"
"They're better off without me."
"Don't say that!" Alula snapped.
The Nightfilly sighed. "It's the truth. I poison everything I touch. Just stay away from me and Discord Alula, you too Tootsie. I won't haunt you ever again. Goodbye."
"No!" The two foals gasped, but she had already teleported away. The foals hugged, they'd wait for their friend.
It was just another early dinner at the Silver household, nothing had really changed from the day before. Though Silver Platter had taken every opportunity to tell her social circle how her husband had taken part in the Battle of Canterlot, and had been part of Princess Cadenza's guerrilla group (as had technically her daughter).
For once, Silver Spoon didn't mind her mother's talk. In fact, "Mother? I... can we go to the opera some time this week?" Her mother had been going on picnics Silver Spoon could tell she didn't care for, but did so anyway for Silver Spoon... it felt only right to repay her somehow.
"You... you... of course dear! That would be wonderful!"
Silver Tongue said nothing, but he did smile.
Clean Dishes was no longer at the Silver Household, she'd been given a medical scholarship by Silver Tongue for saving his daughter's life after Discord's day of chaos... her last letter confirmed she'd changed her name back to Clean Bandages. She said she wished to be the family's physician following her graduation.
The unicorn Sunny Day hugged her little sister Moonlight home from school. The two had enjoyed a good, inexpensive vacation in Ponyville, where Moonlight had made a very good friend with the young colt Pipsqueak, and the two were now pen pals.
Sunny Day was a 'go for the jugular' tabloid reporter, with regular funding from the 'Bright Sun Real News' charity foundation that nopony else had heard of whenever payments from the tabloids ran low. While she was a tabloid writer, she just wrote things she felt needed to be said rather than outright lies. After all, who else was going to actually SAY how the chosen heroes of Equestria had DESTROYED the Grand Galloping Gala?
Watching from his patrol route, Flash Sentry smiled as the two went inside. His patrol route 'just so happened' to also take him along the route to an expensive hotel, and the residence of Fancy Pants.
At the former, he saw Golden Tiara get a very out of season Hearts and Hooves Day card... the mare broke down into tears of joy. She was hugged by her former Nurse, now friend, Tender Loving Care. With Golden Tiara declared legally sane, TLC would be heading back to the hospital soon.
At the latter Filthy Rich wasn't worried about having to run his business via transcript for now, Shiny Star and Randolph were still keeping the Tiara household ready for the return of the entire Tiara family, Filthy, Golden, and Diamond. He'd give up his entire little empire to have his family all back together if that's what it took. He and Fancy Pants were slowly piecing together the route Filthy's daughter had taken through Canterlot.
Guard Flash Sentry spotted above him Philomena doing a fly-by around the city, well, she had protected an entire city by herself once, she was now a symbol of comfort and safety to the Canterlot Ponies.
He'd also gotten a promotion from Princess Celestia himself for 'Exceptional Diligence and Dedication To Duty.'
When the white light had come, he'd been sure given what he'd been told, that he would wake up not only forgetting this crazy adventure, but forgetting the world he'd come from too.
He'd met the filly with the clockwork wing again, who told him, "You are written in another world's book of fate, remember?"
"At least you're consistent," he joked to himself.
Flash Sentry's next assignment of the day had him at audience chamber duty.
This let Flash Sentry get a ring side view of the meeting between the seapony/merepony/ugh!-just-say-aquatic-ponies-or-Aquastria's chosen ambassador, Seaswirl the Earth Pony. AND the visitors from the Breezie's domain.
But there was also some startling news from the Changeling Hive's ambassador chosen by Queen Cadenza.
There was news apparently of some changeling eggs hatching infant Flutterponies! Even a pair of twins had revealed one being a flutterpony instead of a changeling! It had taken some (rather ironic) assurances that no, this was not a sign that the changelings were about to be bred out of existence to some.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Princess Celestia and Princess Luna had to provide special instructions and would have to personally teach Princess Cadence how to handle this: while Flutterponies didn't need love, they were much more fragile (and agile) than their Changeling parents and the Hive needed to be properly fitted to handle dangers the Changelings had never considered. And of course, there was the fact the elder Princesses were quite literally the ONLY ponies alive who knew how Flutterpony magic worked (Alicorns embodied all tribes).
But Flash Sentry's personal concerns were that First Base was all right, as was all of Ponyville, from the horrors that had never happened. I never thought I'd appreciate happy-go-lucky "let's all be friends" Equestria so much! He'd been told Twilight Sparkle and her friends were also all well and fine. And to top it all off, he'd been given some free vacation time as part of his promotion. Maybe he'd check out Rainbow Falls for himself, heck, he'd take First Base with him, spend time with him as family.
'Twilight, I finally got to be a hero.'