To say Twilight was giddy would have been far beyond a simple understatement. To say she was giddy would have been like saying Pinkie Pie was always smiling often. Or that Fluttershy was a teensy bit nervous around strangers.
It had been three days since Sunset had told her about the experiment. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study what Sunset called ‘the human Elements of Harmony’, their friends as well as the crystals. Twilight had gathered every book on the Elements she could get her hooves on and was ready to leave. Today was the big day after all.
She took a moment to sit down in front of the portal, Spike right next to her. “Are you as excited as I am Spike?” She asked with a smile so wide it should not have fit on her face.
Spike for his part shrugged and stretched like a cat. “I don’t think anypony is as excited as you about this. In fact I don’t think it’s possible to be more excited than you right now.” His back produced a few popping noises and he let out a sigh of relief.
Twilight smiled at him and walked towards the mirror portal and the machine she used to power it. “Well, it’s not every day you make history Spike.”
The little dragon gave her a snort and rolled his eyes. “Twilight, I’m pretty sure you already made more history than a dozen ponies combined. You and the girls went up against Nightmare Moon, Chrysalis, Sombra, Tirek and Discord. If that doesn't guarantee an entry in history books for the next two to three thousand years I don't know what will.”
Twilight choose to ignore him. This was a great day and no matter how much Spike attempted to play it down, she wouldn’t let him rain on her parade.
With slow and deliberate pace Twilight reached for the lever to activate the portal when strange hooffalls reached her ears. She didn’t expect any visitors today and she was pretty sure the hoofsteps sounded off. It was definitely the sound of a pony walking along the, unnervingly loud, crystal floor. But still, it sounded not quite like it should. The sound had a slight metallic ring to it, almost as if the pony was armored or something. But then again, it wasn’t actually as heavy and cumbersome as a soldier in armor would have been.
With a slight frown Twilight turned and walked towards the big double doors of her library. “Who is that? I made sure the others knew I was going for a research trip and we even posted a sign at the front door. We did post the sign didn’t we Spike?”
Before the young purple dragon could answer a soft yellow glow enveloped the door and pulled it open. “You indeed posted your sign Princess Twilight, but there are important matters we have to discuss.” Princess Celestia explained in a neutral tone as she walked into the room.
Twilight was baffled. What was her old mentor doing here and why today of all days?
She cleared her throat. “Prin… ahm Celestia? What exactly are you doing here?” Twilight asked in a slightly irritated tone, but did her very best to remain polite.
Celestia neither looked back nor did she care to reply to Twilight's question. She continued her way towards the mirror, her eyes fixed to the silvery surface.
Twilight was about to repeat her question when Luna made her way through the door. She stopped next to the younger princess and looked at her with a sad expression. “I’m sorry to say so Princess Twilight, but today is a day my sister and I must insist on formalities. We are here with heavy hearts, since we are not here as friends … Princess Twilight Sparkle. We are here as the ruling princesses of Equestria.” Luna’s voice was heavy, her speech slow and deliberate.
Twilight’s ears dropped. This wasn’t a good sign. Something was wrong, very wrong.
Celestia had ignored Spike as she walked by and now stood in front of the portal. She looked at the journal which’s magic was used to break the barrier between worlds. She heaved a heavy sigh as her magic flickered to life and she plucked the book from its pedestal. For the first time she could remember, Twilight thought that the princess’ eyes looked old.
The golden magic of Celestia took hold of a quill and an inkpot nearby and floated them towards her. She then put the journal down, laid down in front of it and started to write.
Twilight watched the scene and was torn between confusion and the almost desire to hug her old teacher. She turned to Luna and whispered. “Princess Luna, what exactly is going on here? I understand that some things admit no delay. But if all this is so important why is Princess Celestia taking the time to write Sunset a message?”
Luna looked at her sister and closed her eyes. Her voice was gentle but once again filled with a sadness Twilight didn’t understand. “She does what has to be done. She’s making a decision no princess ever wants to make, but we all have to make at some point.”
Twilight grew a bit agitated at the cryptic answers she received. “Princess Luna, I must insist on you giving me a proper answer. I too am a princess of Equestria and I have the right to know what is going on.”
Celestia rose from the journal and turned towards her fellow princesses. Her eyes were red, tears ran down her cheeks and yet she didn’t even attempt to wipe them away. “Please my fellow princesses. Let us retreat into a more private place.” She suggested with a soft tone before she turned towards Twilight. “I’d like to explain everything over a nice calming cup of tea if that is fine with you.”
Twilight looked at Spike and nodded. “Spike? Would you please prepare some lavender tea and bring it up to my bedroom?” She said with a bit of remorse for her rather harsh tone.
Without a word her assistant headed for the kitchen and Celestia gave Twilight a sad smile. “I thank you for your consideration Princess Twilight.”
Ten minutes later all three princesses sat around a small table in Twilight’s bedroom. They all had a steaming cup of lavender tea in front of them and said nothing. Twilight looked at the princesses of night and day and waited.
Celestia took a small sip of her tea, tears still running down her cheeks. “Well, it is time we answer your questions.” She put her cup down and took a deep breath. “I’d like to start with your first and most obvious one. You asked what we were doing here earlier. Well, we came for three reasons. The first is to keep you from going through the portal today.” Twilight was about to interject when Celestia raised a hoof. “Let me finish please. You’ll understand soon enough.” She cleared her throat. “The second reason was for us to preserve the proper course of time. And finally there was the personal matter that I wanted to say one last goodbye to Sunset Shimmer and tell her how proud I am of her.”
Twilight’s mouth fell open and she looked at Luna with a puzzled expression. “Have you ever heard the true story of how Equestria came to be Princess Twilight?” Luna asked in a neutral tone.
“I read a lot of stories and theories on how Equestria was created and all claimed to be the one and only true one. Personally, I lean towards the more scientific explanations. Why do you ask?” Twilight replied somewhat hesitant.
Celestia sighed. “Because the events that created Equestria are linked to what happens today.”
Twilight took only the fraction of a second to make the connection Celestia and Luna were hinting at. “It’s Sunset’s experiment?!”
Luna and Celestia nodded. “Yes.”
Sunset had finished her set up as her friends pointed out that her journal was glowing and vibrating. She still chuckled at their faces when they said that. Maybe a book that behaved like a mobile phone was something they would never get used to.
She walked to her backpack and reached for her journal. After a few seconds she had found the new entry and was a bit disappointed.
Dear Sunset Shimmer,
I’m very sorry to interject with your and Twilight’s plans for today, but life tends to get in the way of things. Anyway, I’m sorry to tell you that Twilight is currently needed here in Equestria.
Twilight told me about your experiment on your Elements of Harmony so I will spare you the details. I don't want to occupy your mind with other things when you should be concerned with your own work.
But nevertheless I’d like to wish you the best of luck. I hope you will be able to learn something new about the magic of your world.
On a more personal note:
I’m so very proud of you Sunset. You’ve become everything I ever hoped you would. You are at the cusp of exploring something no pony, or human, ever had before. It's obvious that you are one of the brightest and best ponies I’ve ever known.
Good luck Sunset.
Sunset cocked and eyebrow and reread the message. “This is strange.”
Twilight Sparkle came up next to her and gave the book a curious look. “What’s wrong Sunset? Anything we need to know?”
Sunset shook her head and closed the book. “Princess Celestia wrote in the journal and explained that Twilight won’t be able to join us. Some urgent princess business I presume.”
Applejack sat down on the chair Sunset had prepared for her. “Wasn’t Princess Twilight all crazy an’ stuff ‘bout that fancy ‘xperiment o’ yours?”
Sunset nodded. “I'm sure she would have killed to be here right now. Besides, her first hoof knowledge about the Elements would have helped us out quite a bit.”
Fluttershy, who currently tried her best to hide behind Applejack’s chair, cleared her throat. “Shouldn’t we, you know, wait for her? It would be much safer to have her supervise this wouldn’t it?”
Twilight shook her head. “There is no need for her personal presence right now. Sunset and I made sure we have everything set up. But since we only want to make some first measurements today there's no need for her supervision. Besides, even if something goes wrong.” She pointed towards the ceiling. “We have a device similar to my old magic detector in place. If any reading goes beyond the predefined threshold this thing will activate and absorb the magic.”
Fluttershy looked at the big circular object above them and her voice became even quieter than normal. “Ok then.”
Sunset shook her head, slapped her face to bring herself back to the here and now and then smiled at her friends. “Ok girls, since the princess isn’t joining us today we have nothing to wait for. Get ready, strap yourself in and prepare to make history!”
As Sunset stepped into the middle of their test chamber the other girls one by one took place in their respective seats. Each of Sunset’s friends had a chair with the gem that represented their Element of Harmony embedded in it. The individual chairs then were linked to a central pedestal which carried Sunset’s gem.
Sunset and Twilight had come up with the idea to use Sunset’s magic to direct the magical energies of their friends. Like this they hoped to channel said magic into a special chamber that was outfitted with every piece of sensory equipment they could get. In the chamber they would then be able to measure the properties and behaviour of magic with way more accuracy than ever before. Twilight argued that a more combined effort from scientific and mythic points of view should work. At least since magic appeared to be a form of radiation in this world.
While her friends took their places Sunset ran a last series of checks. “Ok, the power supply works normal. The emergency generator is running and ready to take over. The battery back-up is charged and operational.” She crossed out three points on the checklist Twilight had prepared. “The measurements of the optical cabling are good, as is the electrical one. No matter which one the magic chooses we should be fine.” Another point on the list got crossed out. “The magic-absorber is primed and ready. Capacity steady at nominal level.” She looked to the measuring chamber, the centrepiece of their experiment. “Sensor tests successful. Measuring chamber switched to idle.” She looked to Twilight and smiled “We are golden.”
Pinkie sighed and attempted to bounce in her chair. “My chair isn’t comfy. Can I have a pillow?”
Rarity cleared her throat. “Please Pinkie Pie, I don’t think this is the time to complain.” She shuddered for a slight moment. “I hate to say it but this room was build with practical thoughts in mind … comfort and aesthetics have to stand back.”
Rainbow Dash blew a raspberry. “Anyway, can we get to the action already? Sitting here watching Sunny go over her Checklist is as boring as it gets.”
Before the argument could even start to escalate Sunset cleared her throat and stared at her friends one by one. “Ok girls, I understand that this isn’t exactly what any of you has in mind for a Friday afternoon, but please calm down. We will all go to the Spa tomorrow to relax, have a nice snack at Sugarcube Corner and then have a nice movie evening. My treat of course.”
As so often with the promise of sweets and an overall enjoyable day all complains were silenced and Sunset couldn’t help but chuckle. She took her own gem and looked at it for a second. “My very own Element of Harmony. ... I never would’ve thought I’d get one after what I pulled with Twilight's crown.” She shook her head to clear her thoughts and pressed the stone into the prepared setting. With her finger hovering over the green start switch, Sunset smiled. “Ready or not, here … we … go!” She flicked the switch and with a gentle hum the machines all around the seven girls came to life.
Principal Celestia was at her office and trying to finish of the paperwork for this week. She didn't want to but had to before she could call it a day and start into her well-deserved weekend. She looked up as the lights flickered for but a moment, but mere seconds later the lights were back to normal. “Am I imagining things?” She shook her head and shrugged it off as nothing important.
Vice-principal Luna was about to finish her round through the chemistry labs and had only the gym left to check before she could lock down the school for the weekend. Her sister should be ready with her paperwork by the time Luna locked up the back door so the two of them could head home together.
Luna hummed a small tune while she headed to the gym and checked the changing rooms for any items left by the students. As she closed the door to the boys’ room she felt a slight vibration. Her humming stopped immediately and she raised an eyebrow while she gave the floor a suspicious look. “Did I just witness the world’s most pathetic earthquake?”
As if on cue the ground vibrated again, but so gentle that she almost couldn't feel it. “Something is going on here.” Luna decided to head to her sister and ask her if she knew anything about this.
Two minutes later Luna opened the door to Celestia’s office to find her sister staring at a glass of water. Another of the miniature earthquakes ran through the school and send ripples through Celestia’s glass. “Sister, do you have any idea what is going on?” Luna asked with an agitated tone.
Celestia for her part indicated her little sister to wait a moment as she continued her one-sided staring match with the glass. When a few moments later the building had one more of these mini earthquakes Celestia raised her head. “Luna, I have no idea what is going on here but the individual tremors come at very regular intervals.” She pointed at the glass of water that still vibrated from the last shakeup. “I counted the time between these small earthquakes. They are coming every 34 seconds, one second give or take since I’m no stopwatch but very regular nonetheless.” Once again the vibration ran through the building and the water rippled. “Yeah, 34 seconds once again. This definitely isn’t normal.”
Luna looked at the glass, then at her sister and her voice became dead serious. “You think it’s something magical?”
Celestia nodded. “I don’t know what else this could be.”
“We could need the Rainbooms if this is another magical crisis. Do you know where they are?” Luna asked, paying no attention to another earthquake shaking up the building.
Celestia shook her head and pulled open one of her desk’s drawers. “I have no idea where they are. But I have Sunset’s phone number. I’ll call her right away.” Before she could unlock her cell phone a more powerful earthquake ran through the building and threw both Celestia and Luna to the ground.
Before they had the chance to get back up the door of Celestia’s office flew open once more and Sunset Shimmer stood there, panting. “Please, I need help!”
Luna was the first to stand and gave Sunset an angry look. “Sunset Shimmer, I assume you know what’s going on.” Again the building shook and slowly but surely the tremors deserved to be called earthquakes. “Mind to enlighten us?”
Sunset looked from Luna to Celestia and back, a desperate look on her face. “We wanted to get some data on the magic we have since Camp Everfree. Twilight and I built a machine that's supposed to focus minute amounts of magical energy into a special chamber so we could try to get some readings on it.”
Celestia grabbed Sunset’s shoulders, a mixture of fear and anger on her face. “You experimented with magic on school grounds?”
Tears started to run down Sunset’s cheeks as she looked at the woman that was so much like her old mentor. “We planned to have Princess Twilight oversee the experiment and tell you afterwards. We hoped we could present you with some data afterwards.”
Celestia closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission I guess.” She mumbled.
Luna reached for her sister's hands and loosened her grip on Sunset. “Have you any safety measures in place? You can’t tell me you experimented on magic without any kind of precautions.” Her voice was way calmer than her sister’s, almost cold.
“I severed the power couplings to the machines but it seems that whatever is going on is already self-sufficient. I activated a larger version of Twilight’s magic absorbing device, but it only manages to keep the power in check. At least for the moment.” Sunset explained.
Celestia and Luna exchanged a few glances and the nodded to each other. Luna immediately ran off, while Celestia looked at Sunset. “We’ll see what we can do. Until then, go back and do your best to keep the reaction in check.”
Without a second thought Sunset ran off, back to her friends and the mess she created. Celestia however only looked after her and sighed. “I hope this isn’t turning into the magical version of Chernobyl.”
Twilight had her front hooves on the table and looked at her fellow princesses with desperation and disbelieve. “I don’t understand. How can you know the details of Sunset’s experiment when I never told you any? And furthermore, how can you expect me to believe you know the outcome? Have you cast a spell to look into the future or something like that?”
Luna heaved a heavy sigh and indicated Twilight to sit back down. “This matter is at the very heart of this conversation Princess Twilight. Even though my sister and I possess the power of divination and can steal glimpses at the future from time to time, this is not such an occasion.”
Anger flashed across Twilight’s face. “Then tell me what is going on. I don’t understand why you have to be so cryptic.”
Celestia looked at her tea and sighed. “My dear Twilight, it isn’t all that simple. Luna and I agreed a very long time ago to keep this hidden. What we have to tell you was not told to anypony in more than 20 millennia.” She took a long sip from her tea before she put the now empty cup down. “To make it as short as I can. Luna and I were born 20793 years ago, in Canterlot, as humans.”
Twilight’s jaw dropped and she shook her head. “That can’t be. Are you…?”
Celestia rose from her place, pulled Twilight in a gentle hug and whispered into her ear. “I’m sorry Twilight. I couldn’t tell you before today. As much as it pains me, the flow of time has to remain untouched.”
The moment Celestia had wrapped her wings around Twilight the younger princess pressed herself against her. She rubbed her tears into Celestia’s warm white coat and all that could be heard were muffled sobs and sniffles.
After a few minutes Twilight raised her head and asked with a sore voice. “What happened?”
Celestia and Luna stood in the laboratory and watched in awe at the magical energies streaming towards the big machine at the ceiling. Sunset stood in the middle of the contraption and hammered commands into a computer. All around the room sat six teenagers, all unconscious but each pulsed with unknown energies.
What had started out as small vibrations and miniature earthquakes had turned into a mixture of constant rumbling strong enough to make the entire building shake as if it was in fear.
Celestia walked up next to Sunset. “It’s ok, we’re here now. How’s it going and have you any idea how we stop this?”
Sunset didn’t dare to take her eyes of the screen as she explained their situation. “I’ve managed to stabilize the energy flow a bit, but this only buys us some time till this thing goes critical. I don’t know how but instead of a tiny amount of energy the machine started to draw in as much as it could almost immediately after we started.” She nodded towards a glowing red crystal embedded in the command console next to her. “We directed the energy towards my crystal to focus it into the measuring chamber. It somehow started to suck in more and more magic from my friends.”
Luna gave the crystal a suspicious look. “Have you tried to remove it manually?”
Sunset shook her head and her breathing grew heavier. “No, and I wouldn’t do that if I were you. It’s currently the only thing keeping the magic in check. If we remove it everything might go haywire.”
Celestia looked at the magic absorbing device over their heads. “Can we change the polarity of that thing? If I understand it correctly it’s somewhat of a capacitor. It should be able to give the energy back to the girls shouldn’t it?”
Sunset nodded. “Theoretically yes, but at the friendship games I had to break it and then absorbed all the stored magic into myself. If we get it so release the magic we have to somehow use it, otherwise it might do whatever it wants.”
Celestia looked at her sister and pointed at the six girls. “Ok, before we think about a way to disperse the magic we have to cut the flow of power.”
“Be careful, I don’t know how the energy might react to interference. With the girls being unconscious they have no control over their powers.” Sunset added.
Without another word, Celestia and Luna got to work and examined Applejack’s chair. It appeared to be made of metal, probably steel, without any outstanding features except the glowing gem near the top. “It almost looks like a throne.” Luna noticed.
Celestia scrutinized her student and nodded. “She doesn’t seem to be bound or held in place.” She reached for Applejack’s hand. “It should be easy to…” As soon as Celestia touched Applejack she felt something punch her. She was thrown back a few meters and crashed to the floor.
Sunset turned her head and looked in shock how Celestia was thrown around like a puppet. She felt urged to help her and almost gave in to the instinct to run over and help her. “Are you alright?” She asked with a scared tone.
Luna was almost immediately next to her sister and offered Celestia her hand to pull her back to her feet. “That looked painful.” She remarked with a sly smirk.
Celestia gave her sister a small smile and rolled her shoulders, producing a series of audible cracking noises. “It wasn’t half as bad Lulu. Why don’t you try it for yourself?”
Luna shook her head. “No, thank you. But I have another idea.” Without another word Luna bent towards the wiring that connected Applejack’s chair to the main console in the middle of the room. She grabbed one cable and before Sunset could warn her she gave it a firm tug. Contrary to Luna’s expectations the wire came off rather easy. She only heard a small popping noise before she fell over, the wire still in her hands.
Sunset looked at her monitor and panic shown from her eyes. “Ohhh, you shouldn’t have done that.” She started to frantically hammer commands into her console in an attempt to stabilize the flow of power.
Luna for her part stood back up, thru the wire aside and looked at Sunset. “Why not, I thought we should cut off the energy? Isn’t that exactly what happens when we separate your friends from the machine?”
With an angry grunt Sunset stepped back from her console and knelt down in front of it. With desperate courage she then started to tear open its casing and attempted to rewire its inner circuits. “It’s not that easy. We didn’t know if the magic of this world was more akin to electricity or light when we designed this machine, so we planned for both cases. We had two different sets of wires connecting each chair with the central console. One copper cable and one made of optical fibres. It appears that magic used both of these to flow to my gem.” Tears started to drop from Sunset’s eyes and she blinked a few times to clear her view. “It seems you destabilized the magic’s flow by pulling that wire. It looks like the system can’t handle the sudden shift in load distribution. The machine is burning out and it’s burning out fast!”
Celestia looked at the girls all around her as well as her sister and Sunset. “What are we going to do now?”
Smoke started to rise from the big magic absorber on the ceiling and a few monitors started to display a series of error messages. Sunset withdrew from the console she had worked on and slammed her fist against the keyboard. “Damn it.” Her tears still ran across her cheeks but her eyes looked furious. She looked towards the magic absorber, then to some of the machines along the walls and finally to Celestia and Luna. “Ok, I have an idea.” She pointed at a big control cabinet in the corner of the room. “Principal Celestia, open that cabinet, inside are two big switches. Open them both if I tell you to.” Celestia just nodded. “No problem”
Sunset then turned to Luna and nodded to Twilight's chair. “Vice Principal Luna, we still have a toolbox lying around. I need you to get something heavy, a hammer or something. If you got it throw it at the great glass circle in the middle of the absorber. You can hit it, right?”
Luna hesitated for a bit. “Sure I can, but are you sure you want to break it? Won’t that set all the magic inside free?”
With a heavy sigh Sunset looked at her friends. “Yeah, I plan to absorb the magic as I did at the friendship games. If I cast enough spells, and powerful enough ones at that, I should be able to dissipate it.”
Celestia looked at her student and shook her head. “You can’t be serious. That sounds dangerous.”
Sunset nodded. “Oh believe me it is. But it’s either that or letting it run wild and risking anything from turning us all into potted plants to the destruction of the very fabric of reality.” She looked at her friends and wiped away her tears. “This is my fault and I will take responsibility.”
Without another word, Sunset walked up to the console that held her gem, put her hand on it and looked at Celestia and Luna. “Get ready!”
Moments later Celestia had her hands on two large switches, both glowing from the magic that flowed through them. All the while Luna had grabbed a crowbar and aimed it like a spear at the magic absorber at the ceiling. Finally, Sunset stood at the centre of the room, surrounded by error messages, smoke trails and wild beeping noises. It was obvious that the very small experiment this was planned as had gone from bad to worse. She raised her hand, took a deep breath and screamed. “DO IT!”
Celestia threw all her weight into the pull and almost ripped one of the switches of its hinges. The magic radiating off Sunset’s friends stopped flowing through the machines and now rose like smoke towards the ceiling.
Luna took a second to aim before taking her shot. Accompanied by a scream of pure rage she sent the crowbar flying. Its sharpened end crashed through the glass in the middle of the absorber and pierced the heart of the machine. The impromptu spear instantly began to glow white hot as energies beyond imagination were set free.
Sunset watched the events unfolding and as Luna pierced the machine and set the magic free she ripped her gem from its place and held it up high.
Like tentacles the strands of magic seemed to grope their way through the room, searching for something to latch on to. As the first of these strands touched Sunset’s gem it connected with a bright flash. Moments later dozens and dozens of other strands also connected with the gem and send their magic into it.
Sunset’s eyes began to glow white with power. Unearthly wind began blowing all around her and her hair transformed from a red and golden tuft into a mass of flame and light.
Time seemed to slow down and freeze as more and more energy gathered inside Sunset. She writhed in agony as her mind, body and soul got flooded with more magic than she ever felt before. It was at this moment that Sunset realized the power that was coursing through her veins right now was beyond anything she could imagine. There was no controlling this power, no chance to save the world and even less of a chance to survive.
Sunset knew this was the end. She looked at her friends and apologized silently to each of them. Finally her gaze fell onto Celestia and Luna, the reflections of the princesses of Equestria, so familiar and yet so different. Her mouth moved and she formed the words without speaking them. “I’m sorry.”
Celestia and Luna barely managed to get into cover before a massive explosion shook the foundation of Canterlot. The building on top of them was blown away like a leaf in the wind and the thunder was as if an angry god had smashed the world.
The force of the blast had thrown both women onto the grass in front of the school. Luna felt as if a few of her ribs were broken while Celestia has trying her very best to throw off her now burning blazer. From the middle of the crater that, mere moments ago was Canterlot High School, a multicolored sphere of energy floated towards the sky. In its centre seemed to stand a figure made of various shades of yellow, orange and red.
The sky darkened and Thunderbolts started to hit Sunset’s magical energy bubble. The sphere expanded, slowly at first but with each heartbeat it grew faster and faster. It swallowed the ruins of the school, then the surrounding district and the city itself. Within mere moments all that was left of the earth was a planet sized sphere of magic that still grew.
Luna sat down next to Twilight, nuzzled her mane and started to explain in a gentle tone. “We don’t know what happened after Sunset absorbed the magic. We were hit by a wave of energy and when we regained consciousness everything was changed. Sunset and her friends had vanished. Celestia and I were transformed into our current forms and large parts of humanity were gone. What was left of the population was also transformed into ponies.”
Tears ran down Twilight’s face as she looked up to Celestia. “Wha… What did happen to Su… Sunset and … and my friends?”
Celestia stroked Twilight’s mane with a hoof and gave her a sad smile. “Well, as you can see you and your friends are here and as far as we can tell you aren’t doppelgangers or something. I assume Sunset knew that she couldn’t save you. But at the time she was the most powerful creature to ever exist. She had the very power of creation and destruction at her fingertips. It’s very much possible that she saved your souls and arranged your rebirth at the right time and place.”
Twilight took a few deep breaths and withdrew from Celestia’s embrace. “If she was all-powerful why didn’t she remake the world as it was?”
As she returned to her place at the table, Luna spoke in a neutral tone. “Well, she was almost all-powerful. But as long as you are part of the universe you are still bound by some rules. True omnipotence can only exist if you can detach yourself from reality itself. Exist outside of existance if you will." Luna slowly shook her head. "Anyway, in the same way we can’t change the past Sunset couldn’t change it either. Thing is, if you change the past you create a paradox, a situation that cannot be. So instead of unmaking the events Sunset changed the world so that it would survive. While the human world could not handle magic of that magnitude, Equestria could. While humans are easily overwhelmed by magic, ponies are magical by nature. In short, Sunset changed the human world to Equestria so it could handle the huge amounts of magic that were set free.”
Twilight reached for the teapot with her magic and shakily poured herself a new cup. She wiped her tears and took a long sip. She knew she was merely buying herself time to process what she heard and that no matter how long she drank, it wouldn’t change the facts.
Luna turned towards her sister, a questioning look on her face. Celestia answered with an almost imperceptible shake of her head.
Finally Twilight heaved a heavy sigh and put her, now empty, teacup down. “So Sunset transformed the world into what it is today. What happened next?” Her voice was cold, emotionless. It was as if Twilight was unsure if she even wanted to know.
Celestia gave it a few moments thought before she answered. “Well, at first it was complete chaos. The newly transformed ponies didn’t know what happened and how to live with their new bodies. Operating human technology was almost impossible and society degraded to a level it hadn’t seen since almost a thousand years. In an all too human way the ponies formed new societies based on prejudices against others. Earth Ponies gathered in large groups, tended the land and tried to recreate what they remembered from before the transformation. Unicorns declared themselves royals and scholars and tried to rule over the filthy peasants that were the Earth Ponies. Pegasi fled the land and fought for what they needed. For a time they did even raid villages of the other tribes. It was the beginning of the time of the three tribes.” Her voice was calm, almost back to her normal tone.
“Over time the newly transformed ponies forgot their past. Magic took the place of technology and humans turned from memories to stories. Then from stories to legends until they had become a mere myth to most.“ Luna explained in a calm tone before she pointed at herself. “All the while we tried to understand what happened. We explored our new abilities and the new world that we found ourselves in. We attempted to comprehend the nature of magic and for a time we hoped to regain our human forms.”
Celestia looked at her hooves and shook her head. “We learned that the sun now orbited the earth, that magic was everywhere and that we were immortal. It took us about a thousand years until we could accept that our hope for humanity to re-emerge from the depths of time was futile.” Celestia said with a remorseful expression.
”But when we had accepted it we … made ourselves comfortable in this new world.” Luna explained with a slight smile. “What had happened was a great tragedy true, but it was also a chance to start over.” She cleared her throat and blushed a bit. “I’m a bit ashamed to say so but at this point we decided to enjoy our new lives as best we could.” Luna gave Celestia a look that seemed like she was reliving a few very fond memories.
Celestia, for her part, chuckled and nodded. “Yeah, we travelled the world, mingled with ponies, gryphons, dragons and whatever else civilization we found. At that point we knew that we were different from other ponies and so we didn’t interfere too much.” She made a dismissive gesture with her hoof. “A few small advices here and a bunch of slain monsters there but nothing major.”
With a sombre tone Luna took over. “Sadly ponies still carried a spark of humanity in their hearts and wars broke out. It was an endless cycle of one tribe fighting the other over resources, food, privileges and what else not. We still thought it would be best to let ponies work it out by themselves.”
With a heavy sigh Celestia interjected. “When the Windigos came and started to freeze the world we finally realized we had no choice.”
Twilight raised a hoof and asked the most obvious of all questions before any of the royal sisters could react. “Did you defeat the Windigos?”
Celestia chuckled and shook her head, a gentle smile on her lips. “No, the story of the first Hearth’s Warming Eve is quite accurate when it comes to that. The credit for defeating the Windigos belongs to Clover and her friends.”
With anything but subtlety Luna cleared her throat to cut her sister off. “We might have used our magic to guide them so they’d be at the right place at the right time though.”
Another chuckle came from Celestia as she continued to explain. “We had a vision of Clover, Smart Cookie and Private Pansy. We saw them in a cave burning away the cold the Windigos brought to the land. We then just made sure that these three arrived at this cave.”
“After that, we decided to simply play our parts in history” Luna concluded with a shrug.
Twilight looked at the table, then at the two sisters and sighed. “It’s … a lot to take in.”
It was late at night and Twilight was sitting on her balcony, watching the stars in the sky. Celestia and Luna had left hours ago to give the younger princess the chance to sort out her thoughts and feelings.
The first thing Twilight had done was to check the mirror. She had to see if there was still time left to at least try and do something. Her scientific side insisted that the past could not be altered, but her emotional part refused to stop hoping that Celestia and Luna were wrong. When she had arrived at her library with the mirror portal in it, her hopes died. The mirror was clouded and spider web like cracks ran across the entire surface. The portal was destroyed and a single tear rolled down Twilight’s cheek.
Now all she could do was to sit on her balcony and stare at the night sky.
Twilight had to admit, now many things made sense. Foremost amongst them the fact that Sunset and her friends had found gems that seemed like a very crude version of the Elements of Harmony. At this point it was safe to assume that those were the actual Elements of Harmony. They must have formed from the magic Sunset and she herself had brought to the human wor… to the past. It was a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Equestria came to be because they travelled back in time, brought equestrian magic into a world without magic and ultimately transformed it.
The most pressing question however was Sunset herself. All of Twilight’s friends were reincarnated. All students she saw at Canterlot High currently lived in Equestria. The only exception was Sunset Shimmer. Sunset had lived in Equestria years ago, but she had no human counterpart, at least not that they knew. Based on that, Twilight assumed that Sunset hadn’t lived back then. The Sunset Shimmer she knew was no reincarnation. And now, she was gone forever, destroyed by an attempt to save her friends.
Twilight stood in front of the Tree of Harmony. The elements were shining peacefully from the ends of its branches while the tree itself radiated comforting warmth. This was where Celestia and Luna found the elements. Was this the place where Sunset’s experiment had taken place?
With a deep breath twilight put her hoof to the tree and whispered. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you Sunset. But I hope you know that you are at peace wherever you are now and that you know that I’m thankful for what you did. You gave me and our friends a second chance.”
Twilight’s wings shot outwards and she nearly jumped three feet into the air as a voice came from behind her.
“Ahm … sorry. I wasn’t trying to scare you.” Sunset apologized.
Her wings still unfolded Twilight took deep breath, counting to ten. When her heart rate finally dropped back to an almost normal rate she looked at Sunset’s image with wide eyes. “Are you real?”
The transparent image of Sunset Shimmer shrugged. She gave herself a thorough look. She was no pony that much was clear from the fact that she had hands and stood at almost twice the height of Twilight. She wore the same outfit she always picked for school, a black leather jacket, an orange skirt, a shirt with her cutie mark and neat leather boots.
Twilight’s mind finally kicked back into gear and her eyes teared up. “You can’t be real. You’re dead since that day.”
“I don’t know if I’m real or not nor do I know if I’m dead or not. What I do know however is that I feel quite good and that I have a message for you.” The imaginary Sunset, as Twilight dubbed her, said with a cheerful smile. “Maybe I’m just a really sexy mailbox. Who knows?” She winked.
“A message?” Twilight asked with a cocked eyebrow and a slight frown. “You, some echo from a friend I lost yesterday, have a message for me?”
Imaginary Sunset chuckled, walked over to Twilight and ruffled her mane. “You’re adorable you know that?” She chuckled again as Twilight snorted. “But you’re correct. I have a message for you.”
Twilight shook her head to fix her mane and then looked at the image of her friend. “Well, then let’s hear it!”
Sunset nodded, cleared her throat and smiled at Twilight.
I hope you have learned of what happened to us when you get this message. If not this is going to be really awkward for the two of us. Anyway, our experiment went horribly wrong. The magic went completely bonkers and flooded our entire world with so much energy that it was about to break the fabric of reality.
Of course I couldn’t let the world go to hell. I’m pretty sure that would’ve ruined my reputation.
Anyway, I absorbed the magic into my body and tried to contain it. It didn’t work well though. But at least it gave me a new … perspective on some things. I imagine it was how you feel when you and your friends use the Elements of Harmony. I had all this power at my disposal and I could see what was happening. The magic was chipping away at the seams of reality, unmaking anything and everything. So I simply reinforced it.
The power of my gem, my Element of Harmony if you will, was to focus and unite the other elements. It balanced them against each other and mediated their interactions so none could overpower the others. I took this unique power and wove it into the structure of the world. I hoped to create a place like Equestria, harmonious, happy and peaceful. In short a real utopia. I was a tad bit surprised when I actually turned the world into Equestria.
I can’t go into all things I did since most require an intricate knowledge of the space-time continuum, special and general relativity and quantum mechanics. But in summary it was the mother of all transfiguration spells.
Anyway, what’s important is that I want to tell you that I’m happy to have met you. I’m thankful for what you did for me and I hope you and our friends now have the lives that you deserve.
And please believe me when I say I’ll always be by your side. I’ll always be by your side.”
Twilight’s mind was overflowing with questions battling for the chance to be asked first. But instead of saying anything, she started to cry and mumble incoherently. The image of Sunset for her part extended her hand, once more ruffled Twilight’s mane and smiled at her. “Goodbye Twilight”
Half an hour later Twilight leaned her head against the Tree of Harmony. With her tears dried up and her throat no longer sore from constant sobbing she whispered. “Goodbye Sunset.”