He approaches me wordlessly. Calmly. Clearly he had been expecting me; I couldn’t even begin to say the same thing. I don’t say anything, either, and we simply stare at each other for a few moments when he reaches us.
He’s taller than me. His horn is longer. I have a sneaking suspicion he’s much, much older.
Other Silver finally breaks the silence. “Before you ask,” he says with a small smile, “I’m not a fork of you. Not exactly. I am, unambiguously, a copy of you. I don’t have all of your memories. You are the original Silver Star.”
I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding in. “Okay.” We fall silent again for a moment. “Then who are you?”
He sits down in front of me. It puts us at the same eye level. “I’m the Silver Star who never had to care. I’m the Silver Star who woke up in Equestria with nothing tying me to our old life.”
“Celestia created you when I emigrated?”
“You asked her to. You knew that part of you wanted to leave everything behind… friends, family, your own humanity. So you gave that part a voice.”
Gingersnap looks between us. “So… you don’t know who I am?”
Other Silver turns his gaze onto her. “No,” he says after a moment. “But I could probably guess.”
I simply stare at him. I don’t remember asking Celestia to create him, but that’s not surprising. I would definitely have asked not to. “This is Gingersnap,” I say, gesturing to the pegasus. “She’s… my soulmate.”
Other Silver gives a small bow. “Pleasure.”
Snaps nods to him mutely.
“What do you remember?” I glance over at my daughter. She hasn’t looked over, yet. Frosty is still trying to point something out through the telescope insistently.
“I remember our life before emigrating,” Other Silver replies. “I remember the end. Then I woke up with Celestia. She explained what you had done. Explained that I was created to live my very best life, without the burdens you carried. No family, no existential worries. I don’t care that I’m not the original Silver. That lack of insecurity is built right in, by your design.” He winks. “Pretty genius, really. I have to thank you for being so thorough.”
“You don’t remember our family?” I frown a little.
“I remember. I just don’t miss them. I know they have you.”
“This is bizarre,” Snaps sighs. “If you don’t care about your old life, why are you here?”
Other Silver just looks at us with a smile. It dawns on me. “He wanted to meet us.”
“I was curious,” Other Silver shrugs. “I wanted to know how you turned out. The last millennium has been great for me. What about you?”
“I’ve been living simply. Building a home. We had a daughter a century and a half ago." I stop to think. "We've travelled around Equestria. Snaps is a photographer, and I take on... passion projects. Writing. Producing." I pause. "And it’s only been a quarter millennium."
“Oh. Wow. No wonder you look so young.”
"Yeah. Celestia didn't want me to age too much before... well, before we came here." I nod at the Earth behind me. "What have you been doing all this time?"
"I... hm." He cocks his head. "That's really it? In two hundred and fifty years, you've... travelled around a little and written some books?"
"...Yeah. I mean, I lived in a pub for a century or so. Had a daughter, then went travelling. We have a house of our own, now, built to my own design."
Other Silver frowns a little. "I guess I didn't expect to have lived so much... more than you."
I roll my eyes. “I’ve enjoyed taking things slow.”
“I’ve enjoyed not taking things slow,” he states frankly. “I had no idea you were this… boring. I thought we’d be more similar. At least after the first few years. Honestly? I think you’ve made a mistake.”
A mistake? I frown more deeply. “How so?”
“I mean… you could have been me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I got to be me. But I could talk for weeks on end and you wouldn’t know half the things I’ve done. I've started revolutions. Toppled empires. Built cities. You could have done the same. And only one foal? In over two centuries? I must have had half a dozen by the time I was a hundred.”
“And?” I let irritation creep into my voice. Why is he here? To gloat?
“And you’ve just settled down like a middle-aged desk jockey from Ohio. Didn’t we escape Earth for a reason?” He stands back up to his full height.
“Big talk from someone who wouldn’t exist without me,” I growl. “What the buck are you trying to say? I thought you wanted to know about my life, not shit all over it.”
“I expected more,” Other Silver says simply. “I was actually afraid you’d be happier than me.” He gives a small chuckle. I go from irritated to infuriated in about half a second.
“I am happier than you,” I say. “You know what? I don’t even care what you’ve been up to. You’re a shadow of me. You are my insecurity. The part of me I threw away, because I knew I could do better.”
He lets a scowl cross his face for a moment as Gingersnap moves herself between us subtly. “You clearly don’t understand what Equestria has to offer.”
“Okay, Silvers,” Snaps says. “Chill. I don’t know why you,” she glares at Other Silver, “thought coming here was a good idea. And you,” she adds, looking at me, “shouldn’t goad him.”
“I’ll goad him all I want,” I say, my anger somehow rising further at the sight of Other Silver rolling his eyes with an amused smile. “You’re right: why the fuck is he here? He didn’t want to know about my life. I know myself well enough to know that’s bullshit. He came here for a rival, and he's pissed off that I don't care enough to rise to it. Isn't that right, Silver Star?”
Other Silver’s smile disappears, and his eyes harden. “You don’t know me at all,” he says. “You’re a quarter my age. Maybe that shouldn’t surprise me. Probably living in one of those mega-shards. Probably all teary-eyed about Earth being eaten. Scared of change.”
I laugh. “You know I’m not scared of change. I’m just not scared of things staying the same, either. I love my life. I love Gingersnap. I love my daughter. And still get to know ponies you didn’t get to. Go back to your perfect world and leave me to mine.”
He snorts derisively. "I already told you I don't miss our family."
I glance around, and grin as I see three ponies approaching. Eve, Frosty, and right on time, Steady Path and Amber Glow. I give my double a smug look. "Can you guess who they are?"
Other Silver looks at the newcomers as they approach. “Ty…” He says it disbelievingly as the trio reach us.
I grin as Steady looks warily between us. He’s an earth pony, tall, with a chestnut-brown coat and a sandy mane with green stripes. “Sssssilver...s?” He blinks. “Is this you from the future?”
“Something like that,” I say. “He came here to pick a fight with me.”
"No, I didn't," Other Silver says shortly.
“What the buck is going on?” Frosty deadpans.
“Dad?” Eve says quietly to me.
“Eve, meet Silver Star. The arsehole vers—.”
Other Silver ignites his horn, and the words die in my throat. I’m completely mute, and when Gingersnap tries to say something, she is too. I realise that Snaps, Eve, Dark Frost and I are all paralysed in his grip. My double ignores us and focuses back on Steady Path. “Tyler… Camille... you made it? You emigrated?”
“...Yes. My name is Steady Path she's Amber Glow.” Steady glances at me, and his gaze hardens. “Let them go.”
Other Silver snorts, and looks at me. “And you believe it's really them, do you?”
“Hey—!” Steady takes a step forward, but Other Silver takes hold of him, too, stopping him in his tracks.
“I don’t know what I expected,” the silver unicorn says as my blood starts to boil. “I don’t know why I came here. Maybe I did just want a fight. Not that you could give me one.”
There’s a flash of light, and I can move again. But it wasn’t Other Silver ending his spell. I see him stumble backward, shaking his head roughly, and when his eyes refocus they aren’t fixed on me.
“I can,” Evening Rose growls, glaring murderously at my double, horn glowing blood-red.
This is getting out of hoof.
“Woah, woah. Everypony calm down.” I put myself in between my daughter and the older Silver star, wings spread in a calming gesture. “I think we can all agree this is about how we’d expect a meeting between two Silver Stars to go. Let’s just walk away.”
“No,” The other Silver and Eve say at the same time. Eve grins, her own horn-glow dancing in her deep red eyes.
“Snaps is right,” Steady says, trying to gently push Eve backward. “You’re not really going to fight your dad.”
“He’s not my dad,” she growls. “He’s an arrogant bucker who came for a magic duel that I intend to give him.”
“You don’t want to fight me,” the older Silver says dismissively. “Neither of you could win.”
“Then leave,” I say angrily, but my Silver Star laughs openly.
“You think you’re that powerful, huh?” Silver taunts.
“I know I am,” the other Silver responds shortly. “I’ve had centuries. I’m an expert at battle magic.”
“Then fight Evening Rose,” he says. What the fuck is he doing?
“What the fuck are you doing,” I hiss.
"Silver..." Amber shakes her head.
Silver just smiles reassuringly at us, giving the other Silver a sneer. “Well?”
The other Silver looks at him cooly. “I know what you’re thinking.”
“Yeah. Pride cometh before the fall.”
“You don't know anything,” he responds. “This is my story just as much as yours.”
“What are you talking about?” Steady asks, rubbing his temple with a sigh.
“He knows how this ends,” Silver says. “If he’s smart, he’ll walk away.”
The other Silver stares, calculating coldly. Then he takes hold of me in his magic and moves me out of the way, so that the two unicorns have direct line of sight to each other once more.
My heart leaps in my chest. I can feel the power gathering, between Eve’s red aura and the much older unicorn’s silver one. I realise we’re alone, now, on the viewing deck. We’re in our own instance. “No-!”
“Don’t worry, Mum,” Eve says quietly. “I’ve got this.”
"Kick the shit out of him, Evie," Frosty says, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek and flying out of the area.
“I’m so confused,” Steady mutters, taking several steps back and dragging me and Amber with him, until I let myself walk out of the immediate danger zone.
“Don’t worry,” my Silver says confidently, quickly joining us. “She’s more powerful than him. I can feel it.”
"Yeah, come on. It's just another Silver." Frosty shrugs.
“He’s a battle mage!” I say angrily.
Then the power snap hits.
All of us stumble back as the raw power from Eve’s spell explodes outward. Her mane blows wildly backwards as Silver Star summons a shield, deflecting her powerful beam of raw magic out into the endless night. The two of them hold that position for several seconds, testing each others’ strength, before suddenly both of them disappear in flashes of teleportation.
I barely have time to react before they reappear in midair, casting at each other, and then disappearing again in the blink of an eye. Then again. Then again. And again. In the last encounter, I see Eve hit Silver squarely with one of her spells. His shield shatters instantly. Then they appear on the floor once more, regarding each other warily.
“Still confident?” Eve says cooly.
“You can’t beat me with brute power.” the older Silver closes his eyes and concentrates.
There are flashes all over the deck. With each flash, another Silver Star appears. Two, then three, then five, then ten.
All of them start firing spells at Evening Rose.
“Shit.” Steady takes a step towards the fight, but Silver holds him back.
“Are you sure?”
It’s certainly not over yet. I can barely see my daughter through the magical haze and flashes of light, but she’s still standing.
“Give up!” the attacking Silver Stars shout in unison.
Eve doesn’t respond in words, instead, she gives a scream of effort, and eleven lances of energy explode out of her. Every single one of the Silver Stars has to stop attacking, and concentrate their energies into a shield. I can see their teeth gritted through the silver bubbles as my daughter stares at the ground, eyes glowing white as she concentrates, chest heaving as each shockingly thin beam holds a copy of Silver at bay.
“You can’t keep this up.” Only the original Silver Star speaks this time, getting each word out with effort.
“Longer than you,” Eve replies calmly. I realise she’s getting her breath back, rather than running out of it. The older Silver seems to realise this, too, and blinks in disbelief.
“You… you’re impossibly strong. I admit it,” he pants. “But I know I hit you a few times, at least. You haven’t touched me.”
“And you needed a gimmick to achieve that much,” Eve responds, looking up now, glowing eyes burning into him. “Didn’t think anypony could launch this many attacks at once, did you? If even one of those shields drops, you will seriously regret coming here. Getting tired yet?”
He glares. He seems to be thinking hard. Then, against all my expectations, he smiles. “I yield.”
Eve’s spells dissolve in an instant, along with the shields of the eleven Silver Stars. Then all of the copies disappear with flashes, just as they'd appeared.
Silver bounds over to his daughter and embraces her proudly. She hugs him back with a wild grin as her eyes return to normal.
"That was INCREDIBLE," Frosty shouts, flying over gleefully. "Why did you accept his surrender??"
“Is it just me or did all that happen really fast?” Steady says in a tone of faint disbelief. “I got to the space station, like, five minutes ago.”
“I don’t even know,” I say, shaking my head. “I’d like to be mad at Silver for goading his alternate self into trying to kill our daughter, but I guess it worked out.”
"I feel bad for him," Amber says. "It's hard for Silver to lose."
Steady snorts. "It's his own fault."
The older Silver Star walks over to us as his counterpart goes blow-by-blow with Eve and Dark Frost over the duel. He looks… frustrated. I glare.
“I’m just apologising before I go,” he says, putting up a hoof. “I shouldn’t have come here. I hope you make him very happy.” He looks at Steady, who returns the gaze cooly, and Amber, who regards him sadly. “All of you.”
“We do,” I respond curtly.
"I hope you have ponies who make you happy," Amber says softly.
The older Silver's gaze softens. "I... I do. I promise." With that, he turns to the approaching Eve and his younger counterpart. Eve is limping slightly.
“I should have backed down,” the older Silver says to them as they stop before him. “I knew I had no place winning. Not here.” He ignites his horn, and Eve's singed coat and mane return to normal, and she sighs in relief as some invisible pain disappears.
“I tried to warn you,” Silver shrugs. “I’m glad you didn’t back down.”
The other Silver nods. “Yeah, I bet.” He looks at Eve. “Maybe we’ll have a rematch one day.”
She snorts. “Go home, Silver Star.”
He nods again, and walks back to the middle of the viewing platform, where a portal appears. Through it, I can see a balcony, with a view very much like the one we have at home. Maybe the two Silvers are more similar than he thought. I almost raise my camera, but think better of it. He steps through, and the portal disappears, leaving only us, the Earth and the sky once more.