The Unintended Psychological Consequences of Inter-Dimensional Travel

by Dafaddah


Sunrise, Sunset

Princess Luna had just left my cell, maintaining until the end a calm optimism that my case would be resolved favourably. Isn’t it just ironic that the time spent in jail with her counted – by a huge margin – as some of the happiest hours of my entire life since Moon’s demise? 

The sound of unfamiliar hooves approaching announced a new visitor. I rose from my bed and faced the door. 

A lavender coat with wings and topped with dark blue bangs sporting a red and purple stripe through which poked a unicorn horn.

“Good evening, Princess Twilight Sparkle. Or should I refer to you as your honor, given the circumstances?”

Her smile was easy, and warm and, the realization made me chuckle, free of any hint of judgement.

“Good evening, Princess Daybreaker.  Just ‘Twilight’ is okay. Feeling positive for your verdict tomorrow?”

I shook my head, but I suspect the smile on my lips cast some doubt on my words.  “I’m no optimist, despite Princess Luna’s most impressive arguments in my defence, Twilight. And ‘Day’ works for me. To what do I owe your visit?”

Her horn glowed and the door opened. She raised her eyebrows expectantly. I gestured for her to enter with a hoof. 

“This is mostly a social visit.”

“Mostly?”

“I’ll get to the business part later. I have to say, when I first heard the report that our dimensional visitor was none other than Princess Daybreaker I assumed I was in for a fight.” Her face practically radiated relief. “I’m so glad that wasn’t the case!”

“I spoke true in court, Twilight. I deeply regret what happened.”

“I have no reason to doubt you, Day. But I do have a favor to ask.”

My eyebrows brushed the sides of my horn under the restraining ring. “If it’s in my admittedly limited powers to grant, I most certainly will. How can I help you?”

Twilight turned her face to the door and called out. “You can come in now!”

The muted sound of padded bipedal feet approached. A dragon the height of an adolescent pony poked her head in. “Hello, Princess Daybreaker.”

It was the dragon from the department store. I struggled a moment to recall her name, and it came to me suddenly. “How nice to see you, young Smolder. You’re by far the youngest dragon I’ve ever met! I’m glad I don’t see any of those bandages wrapping you up in that photo from the trial.”

She rolled her eyes. “Those were like totally wasted effort! The ponies saw soot on my scales and imagined I’d been burnt, even though I told them I wasn’t, and that this was nothing compared to the lava baths I usually take when I’m home in the Dragon Lands. Ponies!”

“We can get carried away with our ideas, sometimes,” I replied with a wink to Twilight Sparkle. “So. How can I help you, Smolder?”

She sighed and looked down at her clawed feet. “Well, you see. I, uh, I asked Princess Twilight if I could see you so I could apologize.”

For the second time in a minute I felt surprise. “Whatever for?”

She scratched the back of one leg with the toe-claws of the other. “Because... I figured since you were basically fighting with fire, and that’s like kinda a thing we dragons laugh off, and that I could just barge in, and well...” I could see the blush deepen her natural orange coloring. 

“Well, what?”

“Well, I kinda just went at you without even trying to make friends first. And that’s just not the way we students of the School of Friendship are supposed to do things.” Her expression was honestly upset. “I’m really sorry, and I would feel better if you’d be willing to forgive me.”

An apology. To me, of all ponies! It took me a moment to find my voice. “Sure, kid. It’s a done deal!” I held up a hoof. “Shake?”

She grabbed my limb and shook it vigorously. “Great!” She turned to face Twilight. “This was hokey and kinda awkward, but I’m so glad you could arrange this for me, Princess.”

“And by the way,” I interjected, “I’m glad you came by, but for a different reason.”

“What’s that?” she asked, turning back to face me.

“I wanted to thank you. You see, you’re probably the main reason I stopped fighting in the department store. Whenever I see a kid like you it reminds me of somepony who was very special to me long ago. You got me to stop and cool off just enough so that I was able to get back in control of my impulses. You helped me do the right thing and stop slinging fireballs at those poor guard ponies, and that, I suspect, is something a friend would do.”

Twilight nodded. “Yes it is. Although I remind you, young Smolder, that jumping into a fight between adults is not something I would ever encourage a youngster to do!”

Smolder stared up at her with wide eyes. “Really? Wow! In the Dragon Lands everydragon jumps into any fight we run into just for the fun of it. Some fights last for weeks ‘cause new dragons keep joining in when the others get tired, or hungry or just feel like doing something else for a change.” She shook her head. “You ponies are so strange!” She waved and exited the cell. “Bye!”

Twilight Sparkle and I stared at each other for a moment before bursting out in laughter. She recovered first.

“I wanted to let you know, I’ve already registered my verdict. As judge, I can certainly declare you guilty of disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest, but... as you are a visiting head of state, in my capacity of Princess Regnant I’m granting you diplomatic status retroactively. Congratulations! So in addition to the social call, I also came here to have you released!”

I heard a series of clicks and the shackles and restraints felt off my body into a heap. 

“So what are you going to do now?” she asked.

“Originally, my only interest in Equestria was to come visit Luna. But after having met you and as well, I hope you will allow me to stick around for a few days more.”

“You’re most welcome, Day. You know we haven’t forgotten what you did for our Luna, and we are grateful!” She led me out of the cell. “If you don’t mind my asking, what will you do afterwards?” 

I scratched an ear and considered. “Go back to the Casino, I guess. Or maybe not. I haven't really thought much about it.”

“Might I make a suggestion?” she asked tentatively.

I nodded.

“Celestia told us about your first lieutenant, Sunset Shimmer.”

“Yes, she... can be a pretty cold blooded one, given the opportunity.”

Twilight looked pained. “I know. I’ve met somepony very much like her under some pretty difficult circumstances, and a lot of ponies thought badly of her. Just like with Luna, most ponies had written her off. But if Luna could be brought back, I think there’s hope for most ponies. Don’t give up on Sunset. She can be so much more, if given a bit of simple friendship to nudge her in the right direction ”

“So, you consider her redeemable? And you’re asking me, a known tyrant, to be nice to her!” A thought suddenly struck me. Maybe this Twilight had another target in mind for redemption! I smiled. “You’re almost sneaky enough with this friendship stuff to merit my admiration!”

She shrugged and with a smug expression on her face started off towards the the cell block's exit. I followed apace.

“So you think friendship can save both me and Sunset? Do you have any idea how many ponies fear, and, justifiably I might add, hate both of us? How can such disreputable characters like us just leave years of bad decisions and worse acts behind?”

Twilight glanced back at me. “What you do and who you are is something you decide every day of your life. All you need to be a good pony is just to sincerely want to be good, and then be that pony: choose to show friendship, and kindness, and generosity, and –”

“honesty, and all the other elements of friendship. Yeah, I know about them, my personal history notwithstanding! Forgive me for saying so, but all that’s a bit hard to believe. Other ponies don’t just change their minds about you so easily.”

Twilight stopped. “I didn’t say it was easy. It hasn’t been for Princess Luna. There are still ponies that won’t trust her and shake in fear in her presence. It breaks her heart, but she just takes it as a challenge to prove them wrong. But still, bad as Nightmare Moon became, all it took to break through her pain and anger was one pony willing to be a friend and not give up on her.”

I thought of how in a single act of kindness Luna had called into question everything I believed about others, and by doing so had changed my entire sense of purpose and what I wanted from life. I didn’t exactly know what I longed for, but I certainly knew what I no longer wanted. So I had come here. And my world changed again. 

As I kept pace with Twilight, I chewed on a thought that seemed very strange to me, but that grew on me the more I thought about it. “Imagine me, trying to help other ponies! It would almost be worth it just to see the expression on the faces of those who wouldn’t understand it and would refuse to believe the evidence of their own eyes!”

We moved side-by-side down the corridor at a leisurely pace in silence. I was grateful that she allowed me time to pursue my thoughts uninterrupted. By the time we reached the actual exit I had resolved on a course of action.

“I guess I can start by making some changes at the Casino.”

She smiled and her ears rotated in my direction. “Oh? Changes? Like what?” 

“For starters, we need a school for the Casino employees’ kids. I might even have just the mare for that. Won’t she be surprised!” I grinned widely at Princess Twilight Sparkle, who nodded companionably.

We left the jail as I pondered who I wanted to be and who I was going to be this day, and I had the beginning of answers to both questions. The Casino no longer felt so dismal. With a laugh I realized that I wanted to go home.