The universe in which Equus had once turned and in which Equestria had once existed had had a pretty good run, all things considered – give or take a couple of relatively minor apocalyptic calamities – but when the End of All That Ever Was came at last and the stars had winked out of existence as though they had been no more than feeble sparks from a traveller’s failing tinderbox, there remained, quite simply, an airless, matterless nothingness.
And from that nothingness, there came a sigh.
Then there came a pause of immeasurable duration.
This was closely followed by another sigh.
And after that, there came a voice – though the words had always been there; they had simply been reserved until the need arose. It was an old voice and a new voice, a high voice and a low voice, a quick voice and a slow voice. Most of all, though, it was a distinctly put-upon voice. It said, “You’re really not making this any easier for either of us, you know.”
Pinkie Pie raised her head, her frizzy mane bouncing slightly as she did so, and looked deep into what might, with an infinite amount of imagination, have passed for eyes in the fathomless emptiness of the Spirit Pony’s face. A small, nameless sound escaped her lips: it might have been a squeak of fear, it might have been a grunt of annoyance, it might have been a threat. It might even have been laughter.
Considering everything else, it was probably laughter.
Nevertheless, the moment quickly passed and the universe became silent once again as it stood on the edge of oblivion. This was not the quiet of a country lane, nor even the stillness of midnight, but simply the utter absence of sound. No air now existed for it to pass through, no atmosphere remained for it to inhabit. There was the Spirit Pony, the earth pony and nothing else. Pinkie had simply paid this inconvenient fact no heed, but otherwise nothing was all there was.
Well... almost nothing. Just one simple atom of hydrogen – a single, unassuming ionised proton – remained to keep them company, as it had done now for uncountable millennia. It turned over and over in the void, tumbling up and up – or maybe down; who could tell? Pinkie, after watching it with interest for a while, reached out a forehoof and somehow trapped the atom against a handy edge in the edgeless space.
“How do you do that?” came the Spirit’s exasperated voice. “It’s all I can do to get the sigh effect going in a vacuum like this, and I’ve had practice. Yet here you are, this splash of pink in a place where even black should not be. Please, please may I just get this done, and then we can all have a nice rest? I’d even think about offering you a cup of tea later on, though obviously it would just be for the show of the thing. It doesn’t matter now.”
Pinkie shook her head, her mane flowing in strange new ways in this airless emptiness. She rose up on her hind legs, balancing the proton on her left forehoof while she made a gesture with her right. It was a most un-Pinkie gesture in its bluntness and unambiguity. Twilight Sparkle would no doubt have been horrified, had her essence not departed aeons ago along with that of everypony else.
“No,” she rasped. The harshness of her tone was such that the Spirit Pony found itself pushed back momentarily. “No. It does matter! You do not break a Pinkie Promise – and when the pony who’s made that Promise is Pinkie, that’s even more important. And I Promised to keep my Promise forever. And when Pinkie Pie Promises to keep a Promise forever, that does not just mean for a long time. It does not just mean until I die. It means FOREVER. And FOREVER means what it says.”
The Spirit sagged, the endless void of its cowled robe moving against the equally endless void of... well, of the endless void. This was the problem it always had with the End of All That Ever Was in those universes which had once thrummed with magic: someone always came along at the last minute to cause trouble. Well, that and the problem of inadequate vocabulary – but mostly the first one. Surprisingly, perhaps, the troublesome someone hadn’t always been Pinkie Pie. The Spirit Pony had never quite worked that out, but it supposed that an analogue of Pinkie existed in every eternity. There was probably a by-law or something.
In this case, the aforementioned last minute spanned a time greater than the combined age of every other universe that had ever been or ever would be. Admittedly, just about all of them did that. Well, except for the ones with eternal pies. Real pies, that was, not Pinkie Pies. Generally apple pies – apples were, apparently, the multiversal constant that tied everything together. Nevertheless, that endless last minute still lasted exactly a minute. The Spirit Pony had earlier, in an unguarded moment, tried to explain this to Pinkie in the hope that the self-evident mathematical and logical absurdities of all this would confuse her and let it get on with its terminal business.
I really, really should have known better.
“I’ve got my eye on you, Spirit!” shrieked Pinkie suddenly. She stumbled and almost let the hydrogen atom slip; the Spirit Pony’s breath – such as it wasn’t – caught in its throat. Pinkie scrambled back to her hooves and brought the atom back into her orbit. She giggled slightly as she did so, and this time there could be no doubt that the sound was laughter.
“That’s just being unfair,” grumbled the Spirit. “You’re making fun of me! Just for not being able to roll my eyes at you.” It briefly considered raising an illusion of eyes beneath its cowl for this very purpose, but it dropped the idea almost at once. What would be the point? Instead, an idea came to it quite suddenly, and it went on, “Look... if I can help you fulfil your Promise, will you let me get on with finishing up on the End of All That Ever Was?”
“Well, duh! Of course I will! But... do you Pinkie Promise?”
“Um?” Pinkie cocked her head.
“I was just wondering how useful the words of the Promise actually are right now? I have no heart, I need not fly when I can transport myself through the dimensions of all and of nothing at the very glimmer of a thought... er, sorry. Got a bit carried away there. But I also don’t have any eyes... and there are no cupcakes now. None at all, not anywhere. Not even apple-flavoured ones.”
The Spirit Pony summoned up another sigh. “Okay, okay. I Pinkie Promise to help you fulfil your Pinkie Promise. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”
Pinkie’s beam was a remarkable one, even by her doubtless very considerable standards. She lifted the hoof on which the atom of hydrogen still rested and, with infinite gentleness, blew it away from her. As it reached the Spirit, it too winked out of all existence, out of all time and even out of all thought. The beatific smile of relief that somehow flickered across the Spirit Pony's non-face was all that Pinkie needed to see, and her beam widened still further.
“Oh, Spirit, you’re the best! Now I’ve done what I had to. I Pinkie Promised to make everypony smile – and you were the very last one. And now I’ve done it! I've kept my Promise! Just like I told you, Pinkie Pie always keeps her Pinkie Promises – and she always keeps them FOREVER.”
And so it was that the End of All That Ever Was... ended.