Starlight ran. She ran as fast as she could. She paid no attention to the staring ponies. She paid no attention to the concerned yells of Fluttershy or Rarity. She simply ran. She had to get back to the castle. She had to be sure.
It couldn't be right, but there was no other explanation. She had been given precognition of today. There was nothing Starlight knew of, no magic in Equestria, which could do that. Sure there were spells that allowed you to travel to the past and even change it. But the future was off limits to even the most powerful of unicorns and magicians. Had she been given the paper to prevent the accident? Some form of time travel before the time to travel had occurred. Had she missed her chance? Had she failed?
Somepony yelled out from nearby. It was Trixie. She was running after Starlight trying to get her attention having seen her during her magic practice.
“Starlight! What are we running for?” Trixie yelled, struggling to keep up.
“I need to get back to the castle,” Starlight answered, between breaths. She was already tired but ran through it regardless,” Something happened, something bad. And I think it's my fault.”
Trixie caught up and bumped into Starlight's side, concern for her friend clearly evident on her face, “I thought you were past this, you can't keep blaming yourself for what you did to Twilight and Equestria.”
“No not that.” Starlight clarified, “Look, I read about an incident and then it happened. I could have prevented it but I thought it had already happened so I didn't!”
Trixie eyed Starlight for several moments trying to work out if her friend was joking until she almost tripped over a stray rock. Correcting herself, Trixie replied, “Trixie is not sure she understands. How did you know about the incident?”
“I read about it in a newspaper that I got this morning from an owl.”
“I see,” Trixie didn't, “and this magical newspaper is at the castle?” There was an emphasis on the 'magical' that did not go unnoticed.
Starlight nodded, “I could be wrong. I hope I'm wrong. I just need to check it again to be sure.”
When they reached the castle Starlight levitated herself straight up and into the window of her bedroom. Leaving behind a particularly irritated Trixie who now had to take the long route through the front doors to just follow.
Starlight landed on her bedside table before hopping down onto the floor. She was out of breath but wasted no time stumbling over to her desk and pulling out the wooden container underneath it. It was empty. The paper had been right there this morning, she was sure of it. Starlight started lifting every object on and around her desk. Perhaps the paper was just behind something, or under something else.
“Oh hey Starlight, wasn't expecting you home so soon,” Spike said from the doorway, having heard all the commotion she was making. “How'd the lunch go?”
“Spike!” Starlight yelled frantically. She blinked over to him and grabbed Spike by his shoulders, “Have you seen a newspaper anywhere? It was in my room earlier and now I can't find it.”
Spike smiled proudly. “Oh, I was cleaning up before Twilight returned and just thought I'd clean your room as well. After what you did for me yesterday I couldn't leave you sitting in filth!”
Starlight placed him down on the floor and started pacing. “Oh no, no no no...”. She had lost the paper. The once chance and one lead she had was gone.
“Is, is something wrong?” Spike asked, genuine concern in his voice. He placed his claws on Starlight's shoulder, stopping her mid pace.
“Well did you find it, Starlight?” Trixie asked, having made her way through the rest of the castle to meet them.
“No,” Was all Starlight said, unsure of what to do or say now.
“Was it really that important?” Spike asked, “I'm sure you could go get another from the market stand. Paper Plate always has extra. I know because Twilight always likes to grab one for her Ponyville timeline,” he suggested.
Trixie answered for Starlight, “According to Starlight it was a magical newspaper. Told the future or something to that effect.”
Spike was taken back, “Woah really? That's so cool!” He cried, looking to Starlight with genuine excitement in his face. “You could do all kinds of things with that. Like predict the weather or win the lottery!” He cupped his face, eyes sparkling, imagining all the possibilities.
“No Spike, somepony was hurt today. I was given the chance to stop it but I ignored it.” Starlight said firmly. It wasn't a toy, it had been a warning.
Trixie placed a hoof on her friend's shoulder where Spike had placed his a minute ago, “So you messed up, moping about it in Twilight's castle wont help anyone. Especially not that hurt pony who needs all the joy they can get right now.” Starlight looked towards Trixie's comforting smile. She was right. Starlight might have messed up but that didn't mean she couldn't do her best to set things right now.
“Besides, it's a newspaper. So you'll get it tomorrow, right? Maybe you'll have another chance?” Spike suggested in an attempt to cheer up the clearly distraught Starlight.
“Maybe,” Starlight began, “We don't know where it comes from though. It might have ended up with me by mistake or maybe it was supposed to be delivered to Twilight? I think I'm just going to help Roseluck where I can for now. Just fix the damage I already caused before thinking about that paper anymore.” Starlight looked to Spike, “Is Twilight back yet? I think I need to talk to her about this.”
Spike shook his head, “Not yet. Which is perfectly fine for me because there are no more chores to do until she does.”
Starlight nodded, “I guess we wait until tomorrow then.”
HooHoo....*tick* *tick* *tick*
Starlight's eyes shot open. She looked at the clock on the nightstand. Six O'clock right on the dot just as the night before. Starlight leapt from her bed and threw open the window. Owlowiscious hopped into her room without a second thought before again making himself at home in her sheets. Starlight didn't even pay attention to him, as right where Owlowiscious had just been standing, sat a brand new newspaper. She had to know. With a trembling hoof she picked up gift from the owl and observed the date printed in the top right had corner of the first page.
Spike awoke to silence. Twilight wasn't preparing her daily notes, which meant she was still away. He jumped into the air. Excitement ran through him as he thought of all the things he was going to do on his chore-less day off. Throwing the blanket from himself Spike ran for the kitchen. Breakfast was before anything. As he ran past the map room he noticed a magic glow coming from inside. Placing a claw on the door he pushed it open slightly to reveal Starlight Glimmer leaning back on Twilight's chair, a newspaper wrapped in her magic glow was spread out in front of her.
“Is that it? It came?” Spike asked excitedly. He ran over to her and started reading the page the paper was open to.
“It came,” Starlight said evenly without looking away. She wasn't unhappy, but certainly not cheerful. No, Starlight was determined. She had another chance to change things. To make them better. Spike could see it on her face. He grew excited. If his time with Twilight had taught him anything, that was a look of an adventure in waiting.
In truth, Starlight had spent the majority of the morning thinking over what the paper meant. And how much she could do with it. She had ideas, made a plan, and most importantly, she found a direction.
“So what's happening today? Another market accident? Someone fall off a cliff?”
Starlight smiled almost sadly, “Cat stuck in a tree.” She closed up the paper and folded it up to carry with her. “If you want to do good you've got to start small I guess.” Starlight hopped off the chair and up on to her hooves. “Want to come with, Spike?”
Spike puffed his chest up and saluted, “I've got your flank, sister!” he exclaimed.
“Then hop on up.” Spike didn't need to be told twice, he skilfully jumped onto Starlight's back as he had done with Twilight for years and they shot off towards the door.
Blue magic engulfed Lost Penny's cat and gently carried it from the top branch of a tree just out of town to the worried owner. The cat's gentle purring could be seen as it disrupted the waves of the magic holding it. The cat put up no resistance and even stretched out its arms as it neared its worried owner. Penny took the cat in her hooves and gently calmed it with a loving pat.
“Thank you so much, young lady, for getting Ruffles down from the tree; he was in such distress. I don't know why he insists on going up there,“ Penny said in her croaky voice with a huff. “Is there anyway I can repay you?”
“Oh it's no problem at all, we're just happy to help,” Starlight replied, a retail smile on her face. Spike and Starlight waved to Ms Penny as she started her walk back home, rescued cat in tow.
“Well, that was easy,” Starlight said flatly.
“Almost too easy, I thought it would be at least a little exciting.” Spike was laying with his back over Starlight's. “You sure there's nothing else in that paper?”
“I'm afraid not. Although I do have something else to get done today which involves the paper.” Starlight started trotting towards the markets at a brisk pace. “Come on Spike, we've got some bits to win.”
”So your plan is to win the lottery and give the bits to Roseluck?” Spike asked as he watched Starlight put her newly bought ticket in-between page 4 and 5 of the newspaper.
“Of course not Spike, ponies might suspect something if I just give her the money straight up. I'm just going to pop in and give her the ticket as a,” Starlight thought for a second for the right word, “get-well gift. I'll just say I heard about what happened and that I wish her all the best,” She explained.
“But, isn't that unfair to the other ponies with tickets?” Spike raised his eyebrow despite Starlight not being able to see his face while on her back. Starlight smiled, it was something she had considered but was glad Spike raised the issue. He wasn't going to let her get away with doing the wrong thing.
“Oh I'm sure they wont mind, even if they did know. It's only a few hundred bits anyway, somepony won it just last week. Besides, I can't just leave her how she is without doing something to help.” Starlight looked downcast, reliving the moments from yesterday in her head.
“Cheer up, Starlight,“ Spike reached out a claw to lift her head, ”If you feel like you have to do it then it's probably the right thing to do.”
Starlight looked over her shoulder at Spike and smiled to him, “I hope you're right.” Spike was always a good source of motivation. She was sure he had helped Twilight through some tough times.
Starlight unrolled the newspaper in front of her, ”Do they put the hospital's address in the newspaper?” she asked, flicking through the pages, stopping only when she noticed something strange. Her brow furrowed in confusion. She checked the page before and after the current one before accepting what she had found wasn't just her being confused. The article about the cat was missing. As in completely gone. She had the right page and everything. Only in place of the article which she had read just this morning was an article covering a lost foal.
“Oh no, it's gone...,” Starlight said, alarmed by the change.
“Erm, what's gone?“ Spike asked, confused by Starlight's confusion.
“The paper, article, about the cat. It was here and now it's not.” Starlight pointed to the altered spot on the paper.
“Well that makes sense, you saved that cat so now they wont write about it in the paper tomorrow,” Spike offered.
“I know but I didn't think the paper was real time. But look, it's been replaced by another story.” Starlight floated the paper over to Spike to allow him to read.
Little Filly Missing in Big Town
Yesterday Dream Wave and Star Sign experienced something no parent should when they found their unicorn filly, Nova Glow, missing. It is assumed the child was separated from her parents when they departed their train in Ponyville during the trip from Baltimare to Canterlot. Due to the finales of a Buckball game between Ponyville and Canterlot, which we will be covering, an overly crowded station may have made it difficult for the young filly to follow her parents. Speculation currently places the child on the train to Canterlot, however when Canterlot authorities were contacted they reported seeing no foals of Novas description.
If anypony has information regarding the whereabouts of Nova Rings please immediately inform authorities or our staff at Early Equestrian so we can contact her parents.
Beneath the article was a picture of Nova Glow happily playing some sort of chasing game with her friends. Starlight had taken in all the details. A small filly, unkempt hair, unicorn. The note on the picture described her as 'Yellow maned, lilac coat/eyes, cutie mark of magic flair'. The decorations around the filly hinted the picture had been taken during her Cute-ceañera.
“Missing filly? So, a foal went missing because you saved a cat? How does that work?” Spike scratched the back of his head trying to process how the two were connected.
“I guess this would have happened anyway.”
“And they thought a cat was a better story than a missing child?”
“Maybe they had already pushed it to print before this story came to light? Or maybe it's because this story is about a kid from Baltimare whereas the cat was local. Whatever the reason is we need to do something about it. The kid could be hurt or worse,” Starlight said, reading over the details of the article once more.
“And what about Roseluck? If you don't give her the ticket today you'll win the bits,” Spike pointed to the paper where the ticket was kept, reminding Starlight of her previous goal.
She thought for a few moments before levitating the ticket out and passing it to Spike, “Think you could do me a favour?”
Starlight stood on the train platform. It was busy today, exceptionally so. The paper had certainly been right about the Buckball match attracting a crowd. There were as many team coloured shirts and oversized novelty hooves as there were characters on a page. Starlight could hardly hear her own thoughts over the cheers and 'whooping' of the crowd, the excitement of the upcoming game on every face.
She recalled the missing foal article. The filly went missing while traveling with her family from Baltimare to Ponyville. She was with them on the train, however after leaving the station they were nowhere to be found. Starlight looked around the crowd of ponies. It wouldn't be hard to imagine losing an adult in all this noise, let alone a tiny filly.
“Excuse me ma'am, do you need a ticket?” asked the station manager from his booth. He was looking towards Starlight through tired eyes, it had clearly been a busy day for him.
“Oh no thanks, I'm waiting for somepony,” Starlight replied with an awkward smile. The old stallion nodded and shifted his attention to a pony just arriving who was head-to-hoof in Ponyville's purple and green team colours.
Starlight wasn't really sure what she should be looking for. She just hoped she would be able spot the filly in all this chaos and help her find her parents.
From nearby the rhythmic *tunk*-*unk-*tunk*-*unk* of rotating metal wheels could be heard. A wisp of smoke wafted over the nearby hill. The train was almost here. Starlight stepped back and into a position where she could see as much of the station as she could. She didn't want to miss anything.
The train pulled up to the station with a loud screech and the hiss of grinding breaks. The doors opened smoothly and small lines were dug through the crowd by the ponies exiting the carts like ants digging into the ground. Starlight looked around desperately at each of the passengers leaving but couldn't see any fillies among them. Ponies walked around her to leave the station allowing her to get a better look. However still none of them looked close to the paper's description.
As the Buckball fans started boarding the train, Starlight still had not seen any filly leave. She was definitely still on the train, Starlight had to get on as well. Dashing over to the station manager, Starlight quickly threw some bits forward, “One to Canterlot, thanks!”, grabbed her ticket ran in behind the last ponies getting on.
The door shut behind Starlight and she had to scrunch herself up as small as she could to avoid getting her tail caught. This was awful. A pony could hardly turn around without bumping into somepony else. There was a flag poking into Starlight's side and scarf tickling her muzzle. She scowled, she had to move to where there was more space, there was no way she'd find anyone like this. The train suddenly lurched forward and the occupants were thrown backwards before catching their balance. The disruption allowed Starlight to at least move to a larger pocket near a wall. Leaning against the wall, Starlight was able to prop herself up and look over the train cart she was in. It was a jungle of colours. Greens, Blues, Reds, Purples. All except yellow.
Carefully, Starlight levitated herself to the roof, and ducked her head down to avoid bumping into the metal supports. Up and over several other ponies, Starlight floated herself through the cart and over to the door to the next one. As she floated over the other occupants she kept an eye out for the filly. There was nothing but rowdy fans and cheap merchandise everywhere she looked. None of the occupants noticed or cared about the glowing unicorn floating above them. Starlight overheard discussions of defenders, new tactics, and coach changes. None of which was of any interest to her. She finally made it to the door where she lowered herself down to step through it to the next cart.
This next cart was as much of a mad house as previous. The spew of colours moving and shuffling around was as before, maybe even worse. Again Starlight floated through, keeping a look out. Upon finding nothing she moved to the next cart.
Among all the disarray in this one Starlight was immediately able to make out a single point of calmness. A fixed point which she honed in on and immediately levitated herself directly over to. The young yellow maned filly sitting by herself had been looking out the window sadly, almost oblivious to the chaos around her. There was a noticeable absence of other ponies around her, the seat she sat on occupied by only her bag. Nova then noticed Starlight approaching her and moved her saddle bag to make space. Starlight floated down into the now clear spot next to the filly and smiled in as much of a friendly manner as she could manage.
“Hi there, I'm Starlight,” Starlight began.
The filly hesitated, her attention fixated on Starlight's horn, but managed to reply after a moment of watching Starlight lose her magic aura.
“I..I'm Nova Glow. Are you a spirit?” asked Nova in a light, scratchy voice. Her mouth stayed open in awe of Starlight's magical display. Nova held a hoof out and pushed Starlight's foreleg, checking if she was really there.
Starlight giggled, “Unfortunately not. Although I do know one. Did you miss your stop?” Nova withdrew her hoof and looked back out of the window.
“No, I haven't reached my stop yet,” she said.
Starlight was confused, “Then, where are you stopping?”
Nova held her saddle bag close to her. “Canterlot,” The filly replied simply. It was clear she didn't want to talk about whatever plans she had.
“Do your parents live there?” Starlight asked, fully aware of the real answer.
Nova's eyes desperately looked around for something to focus on, anything except Starlight. “Um, no.” At least she was being honest
“What made you want to go to Canterlot?” Continuing the conversation. Starlight was starting to get an idea of what was going on. Nova didn't answer her. The shoulder of a pony in the isle bumped against Starlight's head. She ignored it and asked Nova in a calm voice, “why did you stay on the train?”
Nova continued to look straight ahead, her eyes becoming damp, “Be-because mother wont let me stay in Baltimare.”
Starlight leaned forward, trying to catch Nova's gaze. “Well why not, is your family moving?”
The filly sniffed and wiped her muzzle with a hoof. “Yes, we're moving to Canterlot.”
“You don't want to move to Canterlot, so you catch a train to Canterlot?” Starlight raised an eyebrow at the strange train of thought by the filly.
“Um, yes?” The filly held her bag close to her. “I just wanted to get away, and maybe go back to Baltimare later.”
Starlight changed her tactic. “So, why don't you want to leave? Canterlot is a nice place.”
“They want me to join Celestia's school. Be-because of my cutie mark. But that mMmeans I wont get to hang out with my friends anymore,” Nova explained. Starlight wasn't sure what to say anymore. She was staring straight into the other side of her childhood. The thought of leaving her friends clearly upset her, the little tremors as she spoke were growing worse. Starlight knew the pain well. She had to fix this.
“Nova, you will see your friends again. But your future is important too. Do you want to learn magic?” Starlight placed a hoof on Nova's shoulder to get her attention.
“Y-yes, I enjoy using magic,” she replied between shaky breaths.
“Good,“ Starlight took a deep breath in and thought back to her lessons with Twilight, “Sometimes friends need to split up to do things they want to do. There are some things that have to be done by ourselves. That doesn't mean your friends will be gone forever, or that they aren't your friends anymore. When I was around your age my best friend left to learn magic just like you.” That caught Nova's attention. She looked directly at Starlight, now hanging on every word. Starlight continued, getting lost in her own reminiscence, “When he left I was broken, I thought the sun would never shine in my life again. We were silly foals and never wrote to one another. He was too shy too initiate letters, and in my anger I just straight out swore off friends in general.” As Starlight explained Nova was growing sadder and sadder, her fears being confirmed by the magic mare.
“So, y-you're saying I should stay in Baltimare and never leave my friends?” Nova asked.
Starlight shook her head, “No, because even though I thought I'd never see my friend again, I did. And now we're friends just like before, just with our own lives.” Starlight saw Canterlot station was coming into view out the window behind Nova. “Why don't you tell your friends your worries, and tell your parents too. Then when you leave you can write to your friends to let them know how your studies are going, and of all the new magic you'll learn.” Starlight gently bumped against Nova, “Maybe even go for visits between studies, you certainly know how to use the train.”
“I...I could do that,” Nova was in thought, deciding whether or not to follow Starlight's advice.
Starlight left the choice to Nova, “We're almost at Canterlot station. You can stay on board if you want, or you can get off here and come back to Ponyville with me. I'm sure your parents will understand that you just got stuck on board, I wont tell them otherwise if you don't. Please.” Starlight smiled at her hopefully, unsure what she'd do if Nova didn't come with her.
The train came to a halt and the doors slid open. “Canterlot Station!” a cry from the station manager rang out. The Buckball supporters flooded off the train leaving the two in silence. Nova made her decision.
At Ponyville Train Station two ponies and the station manager stood nervously, two of which were slightly shaking and leaning against one another. The station was eerily quiet, the army of game supporters now gone. Right on queue, under a billow of smoke, the train from Canterlot to Baltimare showed up right on time. It pulled into the station and opened its doors with a thud. The ponies on the platform waited with bated breath, which was released as soon as they saw a little yellow unicorn exit through the door on the middle cart with a saddle bag slung over her back.
“Nova!” The mare yelled out, galloping over to the filly and squeezing the breath from her before Nova even had a chance to say anything. The stallion wandered over afterwards and scuffed up Nova's hair. Despite his calmer demeanor his glassy eyes and the small streaks under them gave away how he felt.
On the far side of the platform, unnoticed by the other ponies on the station, was a unicorn reading a brand new article in the newspaper she received this morning.
Ponyville Buckball Team Wins 6:5 Over Canterlot.