by Frission

Chapter 8: A Moment of Reflection

Spike scurried about the library with an armful of books, placing each one back in its assigned spot on the shelves with the practiced care and ease which came from having done this many times before. Around him three more books floated into place, each wrapped in the familiar violet glow of Twilight’s magic. A few beads of sweat collected on her forehead as she strained under the effort, but eventually she managed to float all of the books to their respective shelves without mishap.

’To think, just over a week ago I could’ve done that in my sleep... And just a few days ago I couldn’t have done that at all!’ Twilight smiled a bit, proud of her small accomplishment.

“Phew. I think that’s the last of it, Twi!”

Twilight nodded and looked around now spic and span library. The two of them had spent the morning finally cleaning up the gargantuan mess she had created from her recent fits of research, and it showed. The floor was no longer a maze of towering stacks of books. All her notes and writing supplies had been neatly organized atop her desks. Even the wooden statue which was the room’s centerpiece had been dusted and polished.

“Great work, Spike. Thanks for helping me out today. Here, it should be about time for lunch, and I think you’ve earned yourself a break.” She walked over and ruffled his spines as she spoke, levitating a pair of gems over to him.

“Ooohh, thanks Twi! But what about you?” he asked, grasping a gem in each hand.

Twilight glanced over to her writing desk. “I’ll grab something in a bit, I have a bit of writing I’d like to get done first.”

“Alright, just don’t forget to eat again.” Spike waved absently at the thought and scampered off to the kitchen to enjoy his meal, a little drool already evident at the corner of his mouth.

Twilight rolled her eyes and smiled at her assistant as he ran off. ’Some things never change.’

She trotted over to her writing desk and used her magic to collect a blank notebook from the shelf above it. She then lifted a quill from its surface, dipped it neatly in ink, and wrote in practiced calligraphy upon the cover: ‘Exploration Log: Supplemental.’

Personal log of Twilight Sparkle.
First Entry. June 17, 1002 CR
Coordinates: Home

I’ve decided to start keeping a separate journal of my experiences with our mirror, to record my own thoughts and the goings-on at home between expeditions.

Things have been progressing well so far, for the most part. It’s already been one week now since my experiment landed Trixie and I in our first alternate reality. Trixie has actually been adjusting well to Ponyville, and thanks to the girls, news that she’s turned over a new leaf has started spreading through town.

She’s been staying with me since she came to town, though she still spends a lot of her time holed up in her trailer out back. She told me at first that was because she was trying to figure out what was wrong with our pendants. After we left the world with the violet sun, however, our magic diminished to almost nothing again, making that almost impossible. I wasn’t aware anypony short of a sailor knew so many, erm... colorful metaphors.

Still, I really am impressed with how much she’s changed over such a short time, and I have to admit, it’s been nice having her as a houseguest. She’s been surprisingly pleasant to be around, has a much wider range of knowledge of magic theory than most of my friends, and has even made a concerted effort to reduce her relapses into talking in the third person. She’s succeeded for the most part on that last point. Now if only I could get her to stop referring to me as ‘Sparkle.’

Speaking of the pendants, our first voluntary jump revealed some... issues with them, which Trixie and I both experienced (and which caused us to get split up), so we had them sent to Celestia and Luna to see if they could figure out what’s wrong. I also informed them of Discord’s ability to manipulate (and box up) my mote, which was worrisome; I hope I don’t have to deal with that too often in the future. Which, of course, means I most likely will.

We do have quite a lot of ground yet to cover in terms of motes and other worlds. At first I was upset that Trixie’s mirror used only the most basic representations of each constellation on its frame, but now I see what a blessing that really was. The Orion constellation alone would have had over 24 stars (and thus worlds) to visit had it been astronomically accurate. As it is, there are only seven—the three belt stars, and one for each limb. Averaging that over fifteen constellations, and… yeah, we could be at this for the next four months, easily.

Knowing this, we decided to go ahead and keep trying to at least finish the Orion cluster while we waited for the pendants to be adjusted or fixed. That of course meant we’d have to enter each world and wait it out while our motes came back naturally. The leftmost star on the belt (See: Exploration Log - AR Orion Zeta) was our first stop after the vampony world…

“I don’t get it, nothing looks different!” Twilight grumbled, reaching for the library door. Indeed, so far the idyllic, peaceful, and entirely normal alternate Ponyville had shown no difference between it and their home dimension.

“Are you sure this is a good idea, Sparkle?” asked Trixie, one eyebrow raised apprehensively as she followed Twilight.

Twilight paused with her hoof on the door. “I can’t help it, who knows how long we’re going to have to wait for our motes? The time will pass easier with some books, and besides, I have to know what’s different here. Checking history books is about the only thing left to try.”

“And if we bump into the other you?”

“Well, I guess now’s as good a time as any to find out what happens.”

Twilight shrugged, pushing the door open and trotting inside, with a reluctant Trixie following close behind. The library interior was thankfully clean and organized, with everything looking to be in its proper place. Even the furniture, walls and floor looked squeaky clean and sparkled with fresh wood polish in the sunlight, and a fresh lemon scent mingled with the familiar smell of knowledge.

“Huzzah, mystery solved. This world’s library isn’t a disaster area. Color me impressed,” Trixie deadpanned, eliciting a huff from Twilight.

Twilight’s retort was cut off as an eerily familiar, but kind voice called downstairs in greeting. “Welcome to the Golden Oak Library! I’ll be down in a minute, make yourselves at home and let me know if you need help finding anything.”

“Huh. Doesn’t sound like you, at least. Different librarian in this world?” Trixie half-whispered with a shrug, then headed over to the fiction section to browse.

Twilight furrowed her brow but followed suit, still intent on grabbing a few history books to read. “Strange, that voice sounds familiar…”

The two found the books they were looking for and found comfortable spots to sit and read, Twilight with a few history books and Trixie with the latest Daring Do novel. Then spent a little while like that, letting the time pass by peacefully with only the sound of turning pages breaking the silence now and then. Eventually Twilight couldn’t help but peek over at what Trixie was reading, and felt a smile creep onto her face when she recognized it.

“I didn’t know you liked Daring Do?”

“Mhmm,” replied Trixie, not looking up, “I like adventure stories. Ms. Yearling really does her research on these legends, too. Sometimes I wonder if it’s possible these stories really happened.”

Twilight laughed softly, “Hah, can you imagine? Rainbow would flip out if Daring Do was a real pony.”

“No way.” Trixie looked up now, a grin plastered on her face. “Rainbow Dash? I didn’t figure her the type!”

Twilight nodded, “Yep, I got her into reading those when she hurt her wing a while back. I’m pretty sure she’s secretly started up a Daring Do fan club now.”

While the two shared a lighthearted giggle over that tidbit of gossip, the sound of hooves descending from upstairs finally came to their ears. From the upper loft emerged not the alternate Twilight, but a very familiar unicorn with a yellow coat and fiery red and yellow mane. She was wearing a pair of black rimmed glasses and levitating a short stack of books along next to her in blob of teal magic. An unmistakable red and yellow sun adorned her flank.

“Sorry about that,” she smiled cheerfully, setting the books down on the central table, “I had a bit more to get done than I thought. Anything I can help you with?”

“Sunset Shimmer…” gasped Twilight, at a loss for words.

“Who?” asked Trixie.

Sunset raised an eyebrow at Twilight, “Uhh, yeah that’s me. Wait a minute...” she walked closer to Twilight, narrowing her eyes a little and peering curiously at her. Before Twilight could stop her, Sunset’s horn glowed and pulled back her hood and mask, revealing Twilight’s face.

“Hey, what are you—” Twilight tried to protest.

“Twilight?” Sunset interrupted with wide eyes, “What’re you doing here, kiddo? You’re supposed to be at the symposium in Canterlot!”

“Well, I, that is—” she stammered, but was interrupted by a sudden gentle zap from Sunset’s horn. “Oww! What was that for?”

Sunset frowned, confusion evident on her face. “Well, you’re not a changeling. Which doesn’t make sense, because I just got a letter from Princess Celestia updating me on how well your speech is going right now at the symposium,” she said, restating for emphasis, ”In Canterlot.”

Trixie looked over at the two worriedly, but couldn’t seem to find any words to add to the conversation.

Twilight opened her mouth to say something, but Sunset waved a hoof to cut her off again, then pinched the bridge of her nose. “Alright, which is it this time? Time travel?”

Twilight hesitated. “No.”

“Thank Celestia, I hate time travel. Mirror pool?”


“Cloning spell?”


“Alternate reality?”

Twilight and Trixie shared an uncomfortable glance. However, seeing this caused a wave of relief to wash over Sunset Shimmer’s face.

“Ahh. That’s not so bad, then.” She smiled, wrapping a hoof around Twilight’s shoulder. “Well, welcome to our world! Sorry about giving you the fifth degree there.”

Twilight raised a brow, looking up with confusion at how this version of Sunset was taking such a revelation in stride. “Does... this sort of thing happen often?”

Sunset smiled kindly down to Twilight, a look which, to her, seemed entirely alien on the yellow unicorn’s face. “Kiddo, I’ve been helping tutor you since you were a filly. If there’s anything I’ve learned about you over all those years, it’s to be patient, know where the fire extinguisher is at all times, and to expect something crazy at least twice a week.”

Twilight floated over a cup of tea and took a sip, looking out the window. She smiled, watching the town contentedly while remembering how the rest of that visit had gone. After a while she put down her tea, picked up the quill and continued.

It seems in that world, Sunset Shimmer had never lost her patience and left Princess Celestia’s tutelage. When Celestia discovered me during my entrance exam, Sunset had been given the additional task of helping to tutor and watch out for me, even though she was only a few years older than myself. Cadance had even been a foalsitter for both of us! It’s strange, seeing the results of a world that could’ve been if she had only been able to keep her temper in check here at home.

The three of us talked for a while after that. I introduced Sunset to Trixie (who, strangely, she’d never met), and we had a nice time chatting and reading. Our motes eventually came to us and we said our goodbyes. All in all it had been a nice, relaxing and largely uneventful expedition.

Heh, if only the next world had been that tame. As soon as we moved on to one of the ‘limb’ stars the next day (See: Exploration Log - AR Orion Alpha [HOSTILE]), things got weird…

Dull red light had poured out of the mirror since the girls went through, hours ago, illuminating the room with a malevolent glow. It had been relatively quiet for some time, but now a deep, rumbling roar began to echo through the room from the other side of the portal, sounding like the screech of some monstrous beast.

Moments later a twisted, writhing beam of energy shot through the portal and struck the far wall, leaving a jagged and charred line in the wood along its path of contact. Another roar, and a second beam flashed through the room, sending sparks flying where it struck one of Twilight’s dormant machines.

The mirror’s surface broke when Trixie suddenly dove through the portal, crashing down hard with a loud “Oof!” She struggled quickly back to her hooves, bits of charred white fluff flying from her mane as she looked around in panic for the alicorn who had been right behind her.

“Twilight!” she desperately called while turning to face the mirror, spotting the telltale sign of a growing shadow rapidly approaching its surface. Another twisting beam lanced through the portal, causing her to shriek and roll to the side.

“Twilight, come on!” she yelled back into the mirror.

Moments later Twilight barrelled through and skidded a few feet past the portal in her haste, covered head to tail in more of the charred mess.

“Close it!”

Trixie scrambled back over and slammed her hoof into the star representing the world they just escaped from, causing the gateway to deactivate with a loud pop. Twilight collapsed to the floor, and the two just lay there for a few minutes, panting and catching their breath.

“Sparkle?” Trixie looked back over her shoulder at Twilight, leveling a dispassionate stare at her.

“Nnnh?” groaned Twilight, looking like she was about to pass out. A glob of white fluff fell out of her mane onto the floor.

Trixie continued, maintaining her blank expression despite how ridiculous her friend looked. “If somepony asks… If you’re a god..? You. Say. Yes!

Twilight’s response was letting her forehead fall onto her hooves, while grumbling into the floor. “Least we got our motes.”

“Heh, yeah…” Trixie panted, rolling over on her back. “So, tell me. A marshmallow colt?”

Twilight groaned again, lifting her forehead slightly so she could drop it into her hoof once more. “I thought it would be harmless!”

Twilight frowned and rolled her eyes, shaking her head at the memory and scratching out part of what she had started to write.

Well, the less said about that world the better. Trixie even went so far as to cross that star off with a red marker so nopony accidentally opens it again. Besides, I already went into full detail on it in my official report.

One weird thing I've noticed, though? Ever since we returned, I've been kind of afraid to go anywhere near Rarity, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why. Hopefully that will wear off soon.

Anyways, after that trip went sideways we decided to put further expeditions on hold until we have the pendants again. If we run into another hostile universe, we’ll want to collect our motes and escape as quickly as possible. I’m certain the princesses will come through with something soon.

Speaking of which, Luna sent word that she’ll have news soon about the progress they’ve made working with Rainbow Dash. No indication whether it’s good or bad news, but it would really be nice to have another friend along to help. Rainbow’s due to come home tomorrow, so I’ll find out how it went then.

We’ve recovered four motes now. I’ve gotten back the ability to levitate most objects, though only up to three at a time. I tested my other spells, but the only one I could get to work was the one that grows somepony a moustache. Trixie is up to the same strength with her levitation, and now she can make simple fireworks again. It’s progress, for sure, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Twilight smiled to herself as she tapped the last period into place, then set the book and quill aside to let the ink dry. Finishing off the last of her tea, she picked up her cup and headed for the kitchen, humming softly as she went. Surprisingly, Pinkie and Trixie were sitting at the kitchen table, and waved to her with unusually large grins as she approached.

“Oh, hi girls—” Twilight began.

Then her hoof hit the trip wire and a giant water balloon landed on her head, soaking her while the two broke down into a fit of giggles.


“It was her idea!” said Pinkie and Trixie simultaneously, still giggling their tails off. A wet hoof managed to find its way to Twilight’s face.