"Twilight did save everypony," Cadence said. "It's a whole new universe. It's outside our domain to set hoof in, but she did create a new timeline. Discord was defeated, put back in stone by the Elements, and all his horrible tortures and twistings of hearts and souls, INCLUDING YOURS was undone. Nopony died. You were all saved. You were yourselves again, you were friends again. And because Discord's reign was over as soon as it began, Nightmare Eclipse never existed."
"Just cause Shy can't ask herself-"
"Fluttercruel still exists, but from what we saw, Fluttershy managed to subdue her," Trixie explained then gave a smirk. "And is currently raising her properly as her own daughter. In a much more accepting and nurturing environment. Our connection to that world faded in a day. It was its own timeline after all. Only Rota Fortuna knows all the details. But that much we did see."
I felt a shudder go through my entire body. A lightness, a true freedom. Twilight, she...really did it. She saved the world from hell. She saved the world from worse than hell. She truly and honestly did beat both Discord and Nightmare Eclipse. All of us...getting to go on with our lives with hell on Equestria adverted. It was enough to make me fall apart into pieces on the floor just from the idea of it smiling. Freedom. Total and true freedom. It had been millions of years since I tasted it. And Twilight had given it all back to that version of Equestria without another mass genocide. She truly was a goddess. Hey ponies! Get building churches and temples to her already! Or at least a library! She's buckin' earned you giving her a 'thank you!'
"How did she do it?" I asked.
Cadence's attitude changed. She did not look comfortable at all. She looked heartbroken.
"Rainbow Dash...Twilight tried every other way."
I almost didn't need to hear the rest of what Cadence had to say after a start like that.
"She completed her duties as goddess of magic and happy endings across time and space, a near impossible task to truly accomplish...she looked for every other possible solution. She had the rest of us look for every other possible solution. She didn't want to make the choice she did, but she knew it was for ...for the greater good. It wasn't something we forced on her, or even would consider asking of her, it was all her choice...and because of it both worlds co-exist, one were Discord's reign ended a thousand years later, and another where it ended in a day-"
"...Answer the question..."
"She tried to use the methods she used on countless other timelines to alter the world line, to let the ponies forge a better tomorrow by themselves by her just showing them they had a better choice-"
"Stop dodging the-"
"But it just wasn't working! It didn't work no matter how many times she tried! Over and over and over and over and OVER! She likely tried as many times as there were loops in our timeline and it just wasn't possible. And she couldn't overwrite her own actions after she tried to nudge something. She tried to get you all to awaken from the one side of the picture and outright lies Discord implanted in your heads. But Discord is a master of his horrid craft, he learned from the master after all-"
"What does Doctor Whooves arch-enemy have to do with-"
"Not him! MORNING STAR!" The two said together.
"-No matter what she tried, your hearts were buried in darkness. She realized that she needed to introduced something NEW to the timeline in order for it to change and create a split. But...all realities have an immune system. They reject any direct meddling and erase any foreign bodies that try to effect things. Here it is unbound. Then she realized the answer. It had to be something, somepony, a person, with no past or future yet, who could then be dropped into the pond and create ripples running forwards and backwards, altering fate. But it also had to be somepony who had traits that could be made TO direct events in the right direction....A light from Mother would not do, a shadow from oblivion would not do. They were ...for lack of a better word, too...independent...there was no way she could be sure they'd have the result she wanted, and if she kept dropping new ponies into events, it would spiral things further and further out of control and ultimately damage the timeline instead!"
"TELL ME ALREADY!!!"
"...She couldn't bear to have any other pony in existence to make this sacrifice. She needed a soul she could completely customize and have the traits she needed when and where she needed it, to completely alter the world line. Once inserted, they'd be assimilated by the timeline since they had no past or future, and the one moment they were created for would be cemented in fate."
"So did she make some puppet she could-"
"APPLEJACK!" we ALL yelled.
I was angry at the suggestion that purified non-evil Twilight would do something like that.
"No. Only that one moment and the traits she desired were hers to control. Every moment of their lives other than that one we all their choice, every part of their self besides those specifics theirs to grow and develop. But always destined to lead to and from that one moment...you could say in exchange for the moment they gave her, they were given the rest of their lives."
"What. Did. She. Do?" If they didn't answer straight, I might open their heads find the answer.
"Oh I know! She just did what Razzaroo did!" Pinkie Pie waved her hoof. "She just cut out a piece of her soul, and gave it the traits she wanted, and sent it into the world. Twilight's a mommy now! And I'm an auntie all over again! This is cool! I know raising a foal takes lots of work! So we all forgive her, right girls? So how about we meet her and her foal already? She must be so proud to be a mama of a foal who saved the world!"
"...Pinkie...that's partly right...but...Razzaroo is Miracles and Wishes...she's the only potential Concept that could do what she did with only a bit of your souls. And programming wouldn't be as simple."
"Oh. So she asked Razzaroo to do it. I wish Razzy had mentioned it when we chatted." Pinkie Pie kept smiling.
Cadence said, "Razzaroo...she had just began her journey to become Concept of Miracles and Wishes. She didn't yet have the experience or power to do that yet...Even after all the time Amicitia completed her duties...in a way, Amicitia's choice is what inspired Razzaroo to realize what what concept she was TRULY becoming and REACH the level TO be able to do what she has for Applejack and Spike. And...you've been in that pocket dimension for far longer than you seem to think..."
"What?" I tilted my head. "Scootaloo and Gilda in Equestria looked fine to me. They didn't look old at all. And I know the were brought back soon after Nightmare Eclipse was beaten and Rarity married Spike. We couldn't have been gone that long."
Trixie looked genuinely sad and said. "Fluttershy kept moving your prison to a different time and space remember?"
My heart sunk straight out of my body, leaving a gaping hole in my chest.
"And time and space flows differently outside of the mortal plain...in a way it's outside the flow...combine these two facts...and I'm afraid that Amicitia performed her choice eons ago relative to us..."
"What?" I lost my voice. I lost my thoughts. I lost my senses. I lost my feelings. I lost everything.
Cadence started crying. "...Amicitia...Twilight Sparkle...I was the last one to speak with her...she...sent one last message to Celestia."
Trixie played back Twilight's voice, Trixie was crying too. "Dear Princess Celestia, this will be my atonement. Look upon this moment my wonderful teacher. This shall be what lights darkness, a chance for everypony to be happy. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle."
Cadence said. "She quadrisected her own soul, Rainbow Dash. It was the only option she had left. She loved Equestria, she loved all of you that much. One pony who'd be the messenger to alter that one moment...and the other three, who'd help it along as it grew up. They have her memories, each one holds traits of her...but her own Persona, her own Ego, were destroyed."
"B-But why? Why...why four? Why not one and the rest of herself?"
"...Because the new universe would see her as an invader...while her daughters, for lack of a better term, have 'duel citizenship'. The Blank Wolf is wary of them, but doesn't see them as invaders as it would her," Trixie lamented.
That was when the camouflage illusion around Fluttershy vanished, and all of us turned in surprise to see the tears on the Kindest of Lies' face. A moment later her illusion over Spike vanished as well. He was crying too.
"Trixie!" Cadence stuttered in surprise.
"Please don't blame her for not seeing me," Fluttershy said. "I've had...millions of years of practice."
"Sorry, Fluttershy, I did sense your illusion. I AM illusions." Trixie admitted. "I stayed silent ...Because you had the same right to know as Rainbow and Applejack."
Applejack looked dizzy. She told me later that she'd not even had the slightest idea that Trixie was hiding that she knew, neither had I.
"So...what makes them up? Which souls?" I heard myself ask.
"...they were not made into groups, Rainbow Dash...they were divided equally, like when red and blue dye are mixed into a glass, and then you pour it out into two more glasses, the result isn't red and blue, but two smaller purple glasses."
"Couldn't she have done it another way?!" Pinkie Pie cried, her make up running.
"If she could have...she would have." AJ said, crying. "This is one cruel truth Ah wish they were lyin' about..."
"Twilight..." Spike sobbed. There was something horribly wrong in seeing a full grown dragon cry. "First Rarity, now you? Why...why does everypony leave me?"
"Rainbow...Applejack...Spike...Pinkie Pie...I'm so sorry." Fluttershy whispered, hiding her face behind her mane and butterfly wings. "If...If I hadn't kept us trapped for so long..."
"Maybe...maybe if I had been there...I'd have done it instead! She wouldn't have had to ask me!" Spike and me looked at each other. We had both said that.
"...I offered, she wouldn't allow anypony else," Trixie and Cadence both said.
I keep my true emotion off my face. What was the point of demonstrating my feelings? I felt worse than when I had gone Nightmare. I felt worse than when Discord had broken me in two. I felt worse than when I learned I hadn't even noticed Fluttershy falling to her doom during the Flight Camp race for her honor. It was all those moments and more.
Sorry if anything I say after this is brief and I skip some stuff. There's some things I was too distracted to memorized and other stuff I'd rather not share. It got...sorry, some parts get a little too much.
AJ asked bowing her head some, looking Cadence right in the eyes, opening her wings. "Queen Cadence...was this really the only way Twilight had to make a better world?"
"To create a completely new timeline without having to sacrifice ours? I'm sorry. Yes."
Cadence wasn't lying. It had been the only way. Suddenly, instead of angry, I felt a little empty.
All of us hugged together. The five of us, Trixie, Cadence, we were all huddled together with our hooves around each other, our tears mixing. We were the same.
Cadence whispered. "I... I know it doesn't change our loss but...they're happy."
"Who?" Spike asked.
"The keystone pony born from Amicitia, Twilight's soul. They're brave, honorable, confident, likes hoofball, Oubliettes & Ogres, handsome-"
"Handsome?" AJ asked. It was a weird word to describe a girl.
"Oh...their name is Shining Armor Sparkle, they're...they're Twilight Sparkles' big brother now in that universe, he became the one variable that changed the course of everything."
Shining Armor...something about that name...Eclipse had us Pinkie Pie Promise not to so much as THINK hard about the cycle where she got her scar.
Pinkie Pie blinked. "A dude was born from Twilight's soul? ... Did little Twilight have issues she didn't tell us about?"
Cadence blushed. "No Pinkie Pie, Shining Armor is...he was born from the part of Twilight's protective instinct, protecting her family, protecting her friends. He's made the Twilight Sparkle of that timeline very happy. Don't worry, he was slipped in without disrupting your lives in Ponyville. He was born for the explicit purpose of giving Twilight the inner strength to resist Discord for just a little bit longer, and that little bit longer was long enough for fate to take a completely different course. He saved everything, and won't ever know it."
"...Don't tempt fate," Applejack pragmatically warned. "We learned the hard way she don't like-."
"Please, no arguing, not right now," Fluttershy whispered, giving AJ a nuzzle. "I'm just happy to hear that Twilight got her friends back, and has a big brother to watch out for her."
"You're not the only one," Trixie whispered.
"You said Twilight divided herself into four pieces," I said became Twilight wasn't here to say it. "Does that mean that Twilight has four brothers, sisters, siblings?"
"No," Cadence said, "Only Shining Armor because a concrete part of the world. The other three became her as a filly of her Earth Pony aspect, her as a mare of her pegasus self," My heart skipped a beat at that one. "And herself as an old mare and a unicorn. Half-Light Dawn, Noon, and Dusk." We all startled at those names. "I know I said they had 'dual citizenship' but that's a poor description. They don't have a past or future in our world, or the new reality. They were created between realities, in a way, they're strangers wherever they go. They're like Amicitia was as a conscience, they're the voice when you ask yourself or speak to yourself. They're collectively a new tarot, Aeon. Happy beginnings, happy journeys, happy conclusions."
"So if Shining Armor is the part of her who looked after her friends, do those three just don't care?" AJ asked.
"No. Shining Armor just embodies that trait the strongest, they're, no offense, no Nightmares."
"None taken," we all said.
"So, if they're not missing parts, if they came back together-"
"Spike. They're not like aspects or avatars, they're separate beings. They're Amicitia's children not split personalities."
Spike lowered his head.
"I see," I said. I saw everything clearly. "Will they ever come back here?"
"Only they know that for certain. They wanted to help as many ponies recover from Discord's Day of Chaos as possible, they wanted to make sure Twilight's sacrifice wasn't in vain due to a random twist of fate. We aren't meant to normally speak between timelines."
"Then why could Twilight save other worlds?" I asked.
"...That's...complicated...Each timeline is meant to be its own. Sister, Auntie Celestia physically interacted with another timeline once as Princess of Equestria that didn't trigger the Wolf and it bred disaster. This is getting into details you can only understand as a Concept. That your brain needs rewired to be ABLE to comprehend.
"When Amicitia, Anarchy, Pandora, and others, have interacted in other worldlines not native to them, they could exist only as a voice on the shoulder, they couldn't enact any authority there. There's a gray area if their concept is still growing there or they're given a native sponsor, Amicitia once helped an alternate Anarchy dismantle a Rainbow Factory for example. But if a version of their Concept already exists there, things can become dangerous in a way even Discord wouldn't have wanted. You can't have two definitions of the same natural law in one universe. Sister Auntie Celestia found out what happens."
Pinkie Pie and me were really not listening. I bucking asked if the Half-Light would come back here. I didn't ask for a metaphysics lecture! Is this where Twilight got it from? Twilight! Not even the chance to say goodbye! She died thinking we were all gone!
AJ looked like she had a headache. And Fluttershy just politely smiled and nodded. And Spike, oy, makes sense after being Twilight's scribe he'd be able to follow that rambling.
I felt angry now. I broke the hug. "You just told us Twilight's never coming back and you're blabbing about the finer points of how concepts can nudge outside their workloads!?"
Queen Cadence shrank back a bit from me.
"She was your bucking best friend! I saw it over and over! You loved her like family! She was like a little sister to you! I saw it thousands of times! So many versions of you, but none of you truly gave up on Twilight no matter how Discord wrapped her! The last time we saw her she was a monster, you tell us she's gone, and she died thinking we were annihilated, and you give us a lesson on between Worldline manners?! WHAT THE HAY IS WRONG WITH YOU!? DID YOU LOSE YOUR HEART WHEN YOU DIED?!"
I didn't give a buck how powerful or important these two were. I didn't give a flying feather at all.
Trixie stood in front of her. "Rainbow Dash! I know you're furious but this happened eons ago for us! Feeling regret is the one emotion being concepts means we CAN'T feel! We can feel sadness, but we can't think about going back and redoing our choices. We'd rip apart creation with our self corrections if-"
"NO MORE LECTURES! I DON'T CARE ABOUT HOW THE FANCY BACKGROUND MACHINERY OF CREATION WORKS! I'VE NEVER CARED! What I cared about was my family! My friends! My herd! Those who counted on me! Those who looked up to me! Those who trusted me! Those I had a responsibility towards! I don't CARE how you quantify all this! I JUST FOUND OUT I'VE LOST MY BUCKING BEST FRIEND WHO'S GONE! I don't care about hierarchies, ground rules, or cosmic regulations! You give us a hug and then bury us with technical details?! You are something-"
Two giant sets of claws that could have crushed me between two of his fingers gently wrapped themselves around. Breath that could melt rock kindly whispered in my ear. "Calm down Rainbow. I'm just as angry as you. More angry than you. Twilight was my mother, big-sister, best-friend, and everything in between. Even without her heart she still cared for me. What I want, more than anything right now, is to rip this place apart until the universe coughs her up."
I didn't raise my voice to him at all. "Then why aren't you?"
"Because I know that won't accomplish anything. You can't change the rules by being angry and macho. That's what we didn't get as Nightmares. We can't brute force things into fairness. That never works out. Discord never corrupted me, I was sane seeing you all as monsters. I was his slave for so long, it didn't matter what I felt towards him. Other dragons hated my guts or wanted to mercy kill me for letting Discord destroy my dragon dignity. I couldn't save any of my friends. Then I generously served their killer. Eclipse thought she could change the rules because she was badflank. What is you blowing up actually changing?"
Cadence looked me in the eyes through own tears. "Rainbow Dash, and Spike, and all of you've been through so much pain, but don't you dare think I didn't mourn Twilight! I knew her since she was just a little filly! I was one of the last few to speak with her, a part of me died with her!" I quivered. "But I moved on! I never said I'd forgotten her..." And I shut my mouth.
Spike spoke, "I never said I was angry at you Cadence... I never could be."
"You're angry at all this?" Cadence asked.
"I understand Spike," she nuzzled the giant dragon. He wrapped a wing tip around her.
Fluttershy, stood up and trotted towards the pair. "Cadence...what Rainbow Dash said to you was cruel. And we can all see you've been through so much pain too. But please understand, you've gone through your grieving . . . we've...we've just found out . . ." Fluttershy began crying.
"I...I'm sorry Rainbow Dash," Cadence said looking me in the eyes again. "I wasn't being callous. It's...it's that when I was Queen...One of the worst things I was always asked was, 'why can't you do more?' Why couldn't I help MORE to stop Discord instead of just contain him? Why couldn't I just go defeat him myself? I was the Temperance wasn't I? I could turn him to stone. Why couldn't I do more? So many ponies, dragons, griffins, they all asked me: 'why can't you do more?' I defeated an Avatar of Discord's father once. Why couldn't I save the world by myself? Why couldn't I save Twilight's soul and those of her friends?...But in the end, I never beat him, and all I could do was buy an escape for my people with my own life...Rainbow tell me the truth...Did Eclipse make sure I lost there?"
I blinked, taking a step back in surprise. "...No...Eclipse didn't care about who beat Discord or when, so long as he lost, and Fluttercruel died...Trixie's the only one she ever actively tried not to let beat him and...well, that was less to do with Discord losing and more to do with her humiliation. And Trixie's Element of Magic still helped Twilight in that last cycle."
Trixie smiled a bit proudly there. Can't say I blame her, she'd been waiting eons to help screw Eclipse over and avenge her worldline.
"Eclipse didn't care if ya were the one to beat Discord or not...but once it got to that point, she tended to copy in ya dyin' to give Twilight an 'object lesson' about how rotten Discord was," Mirror filled in, not really caring I was trying to actually hide that fact from Cadence. What? Bitter or not would you like to tell them the closest thing they had to a little sister murdered them over and over? "...Ah reckon that shows how twisted her heart was by then, seein' as in Trixie's loop...But even then, that didn't stop her."
Cadence let a few tears fall there, but didn't break down crying. I think she'd already known that. "And then there was the Shadows of Oblivion...I know they're only shells of their former selves, but whenever I visited them? And yes, I did, they were my subjects, Rainbow Dash. Every Changeling after I rejoined with Chrysalis? They were as dear to me as my children...and their shadows kept asking me that question, except now about Eclipse. 'Why couldn't you do more?'...I tried, I really did...Why do you think we rescued Fluttershy every loop we could the moment we were back in the Spirit World and could? Eclipse can't copy and paste events outside of time, can she?"
I shook my head. "No, she couldn't...And...I'm...I'm sorry for exploding like that...I'm just sick of being given the run around and told, 'it has to be' without saying 'why.' Why did this have to happen? Why did it take so long for GODS to realize we were still alive?"
Trixie gave a sigh. "...Because you were so well hidden, because you were astral projecting at the time, and we assumed if anypony would know you were still alive, it'd have been Twilight herself...We couldn't find you in the wreckage of the destroyed Nightmare Stable, nor any sign of Flutternice. We assumed she erased herself after you were destroyed when we couldn't sense her. We didn't notice your 'rooms' were missing because...well..."
"We thought they'd self destructed WITH you. Only Twilight telling us even let us know they existed," Cadence explained.
We'd seen the wreckage ourselves. The place had been completely destroyed. Which made sense, considering it was Eclipse's and for all intents and purposes, Eclipse was deader than dead after Twilight ate her and ascended, on top of the magic backlash blowing up the world viewing orb thing with the six fold Harmony cannon...So yeah, I'm surprised there was even a stable LEFT after what happened, so can't say I fault their logic.
I thought about how Twilight Sparkle, Amicitia had split herself into four beings, and I'd never see her again.
"Why didn't you think Twilight would defend all of you Fluttershy? You're her friends. That much was real about her, even as a Nightmare." There was no attack or accusation in her voice.
"I...I thought you destroyed her...We...We couldn't sense anything without her help...so I thought, after all the bad things she'd done, you'd just...make her go away."
Trixie sighed. "I'm sorry. Considering I did hold a grudge on Eclipse till Twilight destroyed her persona, that's an understandable belief."
"I still have a grudge on ECLIPSE," I said. "It's Twilight I'm upset about."
"...Agreed...but that's just it, Rainbow, Fluttershy...Eclipse was gone...there was no reason for us to harm the one who'd done her in," Trixie explained.
"It ain't a sin tah hate that which is evil," Mirror recited truthfully. "It only becomes one when that evil ain't evil no more but yah still hate it just as much. When ya BECOME the evil."
"Well spoken, Applejack..."
"...I did this..." Whisper muttered, whimpering. "Twilight...I..." she started crying. "You just wanted to see us but...I..."
And in that moment, my world became a cold picture of rage. I realized who was the single being to blame that we never got a chance to see her or even say goodbye. There was only one mare whose choices were the end result. I don't care what horseapples she thinks I wanted.
I teleported out of Spike's grasp.
I, Nightmare Manacle, slowly turned towards Nightmare Whisper. My chains animated like they were Nightmare Purgatory's, my shadow looked over her and Nightmare Whisper didn't even try to run, she didn't even shake, she stood her ground, she didn't try to defend herself. She spread out her wings and body so my chains had a clearer shot at her.
Within me was a fury to make Tiamat pause.
I'd be sure to fully 'reward' Fluttershy for making us all miss our chance to say goodbye to Twilight.
Trixie teleported in front of her. "If you want somepony to hate then hate me! It's an old hat for Trixie! I'm the goddess of Trickery who didn't find an illusion crafted by an incomplete concept in a little corner of creation sooner! Who didn't even notice realize what it was until after it was too late! Didn't even recognize it in time! Hate me! Punish me! I failed!"
I startled. Great and Powerful Trixie, putting herself in harm's way for somepony who helped destroy her world?
"I could give a scar to a the ultimate Nightmare she could never be rid of that you think I was 'awesome for' but I couldn't even sense an adaptive illusion barrier around one pocket reality! Go ahead! Futtershy was scared, afraid, irrational with grief, what is MY excuse?! Tell me! Or 'reward' me for my failure. But do it with a clear mind Rainbow Dash! You've lived with ENOUGH HATRED!"
"I . . ." I gritted my teeth. I stood there for a moment, looking at the one responsible for me missing Twilight...and the girl who was standing up for her despite how easy it'd be to hate her...like a friend should. "I KNEW I could never have my life back! Not the life I had! Even that New Equestria we're making is gonna have a million things different! It's NOT the life I had! Not my Ponyville! Not my weather team! Not my Cloudsdale! Not my Wonderbolts! Not my Pinkie Pie or Applejack! BEFORE Discord! BEFORE Nightmare Eclipse! I knew that was never coming back! But I thought at least I could have all my new friends back!!!" I looked at them. "We WERE monsters! But Cadence is right! Our friendship at least was real! We made it real! You're not REPLACEMENTS! You're not copies! You're my friends! And I wanted all my friends back together."
"Rainbow Dash." Applejack said and spread her wings, reflecting us weak and small Alicorns on the inside. "Do you think any of us prefer being the worst murderers in history with no universes to call our own, with only an insanity plea between us and better-not-think-about...over being plain old pony friends in Ponyville? And I know the truth that can't happen. We'll never get back those days. We wanted to be back together too. Be the six of us again."
Pinkie Pie was crying too. As was Spike now.
I looked at Trixie. "Trixie...you've...you've been hurt enough. No being ever deserves to be hurt as bad as you were...to be as alone as we made you...you don't need to be asking to be hurt more. I'm not judge and jury. And if I was...to be honest, even if you'd done that on purpose, I'd understand why one hundred percent. And you don't need to be LOOKING to be punished just...just for the sake of being punished."
I didn't really care if Trixie had actually been asking to be hurt more or was putting that Concept of hers to good use to snap me out of it. Either way, what she said and I said were things somepony in that place needed to hear.
I looked at Fluttershy. "'Shy..." I swallowed.
"You don't have to force yourself to forgive me," she said solemnly. She looked at our friends. "Any of you."
"Forgiving takes time," I said.
"Because that's what friends do." We nuzzled.
Trixie nodded. "...And thanks for in a way showing ME that, Rainbow Dash."
I blinked, looking to her. "Huh?"
"...Scootaloo forgave me for not being able to defeat Eclipse...I admit...that made me feel better than that scar I gave Eclipse ever did...thank you for that...friends forgive...thank you."
"You're welcome," I said breathlessly.
I slid down to the floor on my rump.
We hugged again. This time we didn't let word destroy the moment, and listened to each other's heartbeats.
Cadence took us into her reality. No details mattered except one. It was like Trixie's graveyard in miniature. It was a monumental statue to Twilight Sparkle the Alicorn.
Heh. Yeah, I'm crying a bit.
All those book stacks around her, egghead Twilight. That's her.
We each trotted up in turn and did a little nuzzle with the statue.
Spike breathed his teleport flames on the books. Now all the books were rearranged.
"That's the way she liked it."
"Thank you Spike," Cadence said smiling.
I looked at the likeness of her. Her warm-heartedness, her love to learn, her quirky OCD, her big brain, her love for all of us.
It clicked. I know what I have to do.
There's one little story I need to tell you about, sadly I can't really give any details, since Spike choked up every time he'd talk about it to me and others told me it wasn't their place to tell.
Spike visited Oblivion.
Spike got all 'not so cryptic' when he said, "I need to apologize to all of her." I guess this was his way of letting go. I hope. We all asked him to give our apologizes to our loved ones while he was there if he WANTED to...Generousity, what do you think he did?
Cadence said that her family had to pull strings and call in favors just to get him able to visit. He wasn't a concept yet after all, and Oblivion didn't exactly have visiting hours, mainly because going in unprotected normally resulted in the Shadows trying to steal your Light to replace theirs (the Scootaloos were registered as part of the world). With the oblivion Scoots acts as his chaperons. "To make sure he didn't get eaten by a Tatzlwurm."
I don't know how long Spike stayed in there, the Kingdom of Nada follows its own rules even more so than other realities. Could have been minutes, could have been eons and I wouldn't know the difference.
What? What I've been saying about Discord's family and stuff comes out as gobbly gook? Guess it's stuff you couldn't logically know, sorry. Hey don't look at me! I'd hoof pamphlet if I could! I WANT to help you.
Point is, Spike went in there by himself...and came out with frozen hoof marks all over his body, and with a tiny (for him) frost spot shape like a kiss on his face. "At least...at least that one forgave me."
He also gave Pinkie Pie a message from someshadow named 'Puzzlemint'. She cried when she got it.
Before we got started, Applejack made one final visit to where all the ponies were sleeping to be 'taken home'. Messing with these ponies was the one taboo even Discord was never nuts enough to think he could get away with. I came along only after I asked Applejack more than once Pinkie Promised not to talk about it with the others. No, don't worry, you're fine.
Looking back on it, it was all kinds of stupid ironic, after everything, we were gonna make a new world after all.
And yeah, the survivor from Spike's loop was there too. No, it wasn't anypony important to Nightmare Banneret. He was the The Beautiful Fury Of the Generous Green Flames remember?
She wasn't anypony 'important' to the history books or battling gods. She was Twilight Sparkle's favorite writer. Jade Singer. Yeah. A one-shot wonder author. Spike gave me a copy, it's not bad I guess, just not my style.
Spike gave her the body of a super model, made her twice as smart and creative then she was before, gave an Alicorn long lifespan, gave her a 'horde note' equal to the size of a standard dragon horde, and then turned her into the statue in the Ponyville fountain square for safe keeping until the Golden World was ready. We got her out of there, still asleep, in the happy dreams she was given to dream. Spike let her just continue dreaming and asked Pandora if maybe she'd give her some good inspiration. She'd be a there to give this world's Twilight Sparkle inspiration.
The other survivor from Fluttershy's loop? You've met her already. Nightmare Eclipse intended to erase Flutternice with the rest of the worldline until Nightmare Whisper saved her. That was one of the few times Whisper stood up to Eclipse enough to make her back down (on the condition Discord never know about Flutternice's survival). And that's when Nightmare Whisper became my partner in crime. I don't know if we never told Flutternice because it wouldn't make a difference, or we couldn't break her heart THAT much.
Applejack opened her wings, a light shined, and a yellow filly with a green mane gently rolled out. Her cutie mark was an apple slice and an orange slice.
Using her telekenesis, AJ tenderly put her next to the others.
"There ya go little filly. Ah-Ah promised ya a new world. Here ya go. And it's even better than the one we were gonna make yah...Auntie Applejack loves you."
She kissed the sleeping filly on the forehead. I whispered a thank you to the one who'd helped Mirror finally fix Eclipse's soul/brain surgery on me...To think, after all this, she never stopped believing life was worth living or gone nuts like Flutternice.
She looked at me. "Alright, let's do this." And we left Apple Pie with the others waiting for the new universe to be made. The Gods promised us they'd find a good place for her.
"Alicorn of Judgement," I said, "Before we get started. We have one request. Whatever judgement is given to one of us, happens to all of us. We're all innocent, or we're all guilty." My friends and I all stood together and nodded.
Flutternice was judged to have the mind of a child, and too emotionally and mentally damaged to be judged with us. Who she'd be put under the watch of, depended on how things went with us. But long story short, she was judged not guilty by virtue of insanity as Judgment himself said. And before you think he was just let his potential niece off on a bias, he judged the other surviving Fluttercruel guilty.
The Alicorn Judicium looked down at us. "... As you wish ... The Court asks of you, do you each intend to complete your journey to become Concepts?"
We looked at each other, then we said together: "Yes."
I'd vowed I'd become the goddess of breaking loops, of breaking cycles. And I'd stay true to that promise. I realized that was what I wanted. There were too many worlds trapped in endless loops and stalemates, time to add a new clause to the rule book.
It was the only privilege that came with being a god that wasn't a curse in disguise if you ask me. You got to add a new line to creation's codex.
"To become a concept you give up paradise, never to be reunited with your departed loved ones, you will carry the burden forever: you will become the mantle. And THAT is if you even succeed."
Not me or my friends budged.
"Then so be it...The court judges, that should you succeed the trials to prove worthy of becoming a law of nature, then your labor in creating a new reality for the lost ponies, and everything it entails, bound to it forever, will be deemed your reconciliation. Should you fail, our punishment will be to experience every unhappy fate you inflicted on your counterparts in each loop you destroyed, and every other sapient being. All of their fear, pain, despair, and agony. Afterwhich you may request to have your lights of existence absorbed by your final cycle counterparts to end the pain, or simply to share the punishment Eclipse suffered, as per your request to all experience the same fate."
That wasn't said in an angry 'do what I say or I will smite you!' voice, it was said in a complete fair, completely unbias tone. Not uncaring, just completely and utterly fair.
I'm proud none of whimpered.
"Yes, yer honor," we all said together. Yes, I'm pretty sure we were all doing a mental tally of how many worlds we individually had helpped destroy. Applejack had the most, Spike the least.
You've heard about Fauna Luster a lot before now. How she's infinite, how she's everything around you in the Alicorn's world, how she's indescribable: they're right. She lived in what was the afterlife, but she was the most alive force in the universe.
Lights of existence, they're always coming out of her, from before the moment a single cell begins to divide in a mother's womb, they flow out of her, gaining knowledge and wisdom, self-reliance, sense of self, gaining a shadow, making their own choices, right and wrong, and She couldn't be happier for them.
I was also aware of the fact trying to hurt one of those lights in this moment was a taboo that even Eclipse had never broken. Oh, it wasn't that She didn't care about them after they left, it was that hurting those little lights in Her presence was one of the few things in creation that could clop Fauna Luster off. And just ask the Pain Monsters what happens when you manage to genuinely clop Fauna Luster off.
I"m not ashamed to admit. I'm broke down crying when I saw her. She was the world's everything. She was every world's everything. She was where I came from, where Twilight came from, where Hoops and Score came from, where my dad came from. She was the source of all of us. Us ponies, we're creatures of Harmony, not this crude flesh and bone. The brain in your head? That's not you. That's just a processor the real you uses to interact with the physical world. Just looking at Her, I couldn't deny this was where what let us BE us was born to begin with.
Yeah She's beautiful, like a sunrise.
Funny thing about Fauna Luster. The Alicorn domain is her. So you're inside Her, looking at Her, about to go inside Her. Go figure. Yes, Pinkie Pie made the obligatory joke. Fauna Luster didn't mind, in fact She laughed and told Pinkie Pie she was going to be a great Concept of Joy.
Razzaroo was there. Apparently she was now 'ripe' for becoming the concept of miracles and wishes along with her star-with-a-face sidekick. But my trial was to be first.
"I want you all to be among the Alicorns who welcome the new me into creation," she said smiling.
I think Discord's family wasn't allowed in Fauna Luster's inner chamber. Well, she might be about to give birth.
Starlight and her buddies were there as 'security' but acted more like honor guard, after all, we hadn't caused any trouble since we left the imitation Ponyville.
Discord met us on the way and told us he was proud of us for how we changed and apologized that he wouldn't be there. Apparently because an Alicorn's birth would 'hurt worse than My Dad to any pure draconequus in the room.' AJ kept her mouth shut while Fluttershy said, "We're happy to see how you've changed too Discord." Well, at least we know the new universe will be in good hands with him making it. Better than what our worldline was like with us running it.
I was decked out in my full barding along with the others, it felt fitting.
Big starry sky Father Of Alicorns 'Sane Reality', Pony Heaven, wasn't in sight, not sure what that was about. Maybe He was meant to show up when we were remade or not? Might explain why the place wasn't packed with every single Alicorn in existence too. But oh there were plenty there.
Like good old Alicorns of Justice and Judgement.
I asked to go first saying it was to show the others it was okay, I was loyalty, it was my job to go first I reasoned.
My friends were there with me. Flutternice? Fluttershy said she was being foalsat by the Alicorn she trusted most to look after her.
"RAINBOW DASH," Fauna Luster Spoke, "DURING YOUR TIME IN THE POCKET WORLD. YOU UNDERWENT MANY CHALLENGES AND ORDEALS. AND THE PONIES YOU SAVED. DO YOU CONSIDER THAT TEST ENOUGH FOR YOU TO BECOME A TRUE ALICORN?"
"No way! Just because I did the Sonic Rainboom, save Equestria, makes friends with them at the Gala, and saved the Wonderbolts and my friends didn't give me the right to be a Wonderbolt! I'd want to go to the Academy, and take the examines same as any other pony! I'd want to EARN it the way I'm supposed to!" I meant every word.
"WELL SPOKEN. AS PER MY SON'S JUDGEMENT. ENTER ME, AND YOUR TEST OF YOUR OWN HEART'S DESIGN WILL BEGIN."
Was I scared about doing this? You bet I was scared. And I'm mare enough to admit it. So much rode on this.
But I had to do this. It was my responsibility, as a friend. Who was I kidding? This was my choice and only my choice. But this was for my friends, wasn't much of a choice to begin with. I've decided what I'll be loyal to.
= "Overfly" - Swords Arts Online =
Cadence was nearby. We'd traded hugs.
Of course Abbatissa was here, she always close to one of her Parents, she was the Alicorn of Prayer after all.
Rota Fortuna was here, watching all of us, as still as a statue, no expression on her face, her feathery and clockwork wing both spread.
I told the Scootaloo Army that had wanted to stay with me after I had helped destroy their worlds that they should wait until my judgement was over, wouldn't do good for them to swear themselves to a goddess who was a criminal. I also told Cadence and any other God that they'd become Angels or Yokai for to not let them be there. I didn't want them to see this.
My friends stood by, tense, watching me about to enter the fires of friendship: I think that's Her real form, as close as 'real' gets with a fundamental law, with one of the four Biggest Pillars. She isn't a pony, not even close, She's not even an Alicorn, she only created them with Her other half. She was a fire that was Her own fuel that could never truly go out. Or that's how I saw Her.
Wait, did that mean every light of existence was a tiny fire of friendship? That explained everything.
Applejack looked like she had a headache looking at her. I guess when you're still a mortal in mind, having truth vision looking at something beyond comprehension probably isn't fun. She told me later what confused her most was there was no cruel truth to be found in Her. "Ah'm the Cruelest Truth...She's the Kindest Truth...Ah...Ah don't know what tah make of that..."
I was on the threshold, and I remembered, She didn't have any cruelty in Her, but if she was the fires of friendship...fires couldn't be tamed.
I could back out now, and forget this whole mess, and...I'd wonder forever if I really done everything I could for my friends.
I took the dice and rolled.
Alea iacta est.
I enter Fauna Luster Herself.
Like a virus.
= Fall Of Homura Akemi - Madoka Rebellion -
I felt the fires of burn away at me, burning away at my Nightmare outer-self like Elements of Harmony would. I release the feeling inside me.
It wasn't anger, it wasn't hate, it wasn't greed, and it wasn't the good old self-pity I've kept with me like a security blanket.
Roughly four thousand years ago or more, the fires of friendship, so tiny compared to everything, caused Discord's Mom to feel pain. And that snowballed into the Alicorn-Draconequus war.
Paranoid. All the ponies alive channeling the fires of friendship couldn't have ended The End...then again, one mortal had already killed Cupid, maybe she was worried for more of Her family than just her? She didn't like anypony deciding 'this life ends' other than Her for anything.
I think of Twilight Sparkle. I don't hate her. I never could. Discord was to blame for what happened to us, not her. I fought so hard to see her again. To be reunited with the friend who gave me the inspiration to break free of Discord. And I wouldn't ever. I let the empty waters of that one dream impossible to fulfill on the fire of friendship herself. One drop in the heart of an inferno.
Pinkie Pie cried out in shock at the sight.
Outside, Rota Fortuna said calmly, "So that's the road you chose. What do you hope to find at the end of it?"
"A friend," Fluttershy said. "I'm very very very sorry, and I'm sure Rainbow Dash is too."
"This, this isn't hatred, anger, greed, fear, or despair!" Abbatissa manages to gasp out in stark confusion.
"It's part of what ya made us ponies for," AJ said. "It's what ya made us ponies naturally wired for...it's friendship."
Spike had to use himself as a shield for me against a very angry Justitia AND Venus (a child's love for her mother is powerful too). He'd last less than an eye-blink. Fluttershy unleashed her fog, it would last less than a moment. I would milk that split moment for all it was worth inside the core of every heart that is, was, or will be. I felt the moment wasn't ending by the will of a new presence.
But we had something on our side, what I did, sent a shockwave through her domain, every Alicorn everywhere felt what she felt in that one moment. ...Rarity...Trixie...I'm sorry, but I have to do this.
I didn't do it to be queen over anything, not to remake the world, not out of any grudge or spite. This wasn't out of not being able to let go. It was to repay a friend.
I'm more sorry for that, than I've been sorry for everything else I've ever done. Please...please don't look at me that way. Look, I KNOW how this looks! I promise I...I promise I'm not being...I know what I did was...Please don't hate me: I couldn't bear that again.
I just wanted a chance to find her!
I knew my flank was toast for this. But I'd do all this for a friend. We all would.
I'd unleashed from my heart a hole that couldn't be filled by anything, because friends couldn't be replaced.
And as Fauna Luster's fires burned around me, there came understanding.
If Entropy felt pain by Fauna Luster's touch, then the opposite happened.
And I'd called up Her, just like the fires of friendship were Princess Celestia's mom's, this was Her.
She was a concept, her concept was Her, and she was Her concept, I didn't call on her power or essence, and I'd called Her.
Dragon Spooker? I don't think I read that manega.
She didn't look like a draconequus. She was a gray earth pony with an emotionless face.
"You're beautiful, like a sunset." I covered my mouth, too late. I was still here? What the hay? Wasn't she supposed to erase anypony said a statement about her?
Maybe the queen of the spiritual junkyard liked compliments after all? Naw. This Avatar maybe just wasn't into smiting.
It was WEIRD, meeting an all powerful concept among concepts for the first time, and I didn't anything. Guess for Her that's a compliment.
"Only My Husband has ever called me that before," she said not as the thunder serpent rising from the ocean of chaos, but the gray earth pony mare. She gestured around us. "Look for where you wish to go with your heart."
"Wait, how the heck do you know what I'm after?"
Her face remained lifeless. "You called me up, all your heart is as exposed to me as it is to Her. Find your goal, and you'll have safe passage there. But on one condition."
"Let's hear it."
"You'll oppose my son and my children's mistakes when the opportunity presents itself. Their plans would cause many endings before their time...while at the same time cause suffering without end. That is unacceptable."
"I'd have done that anyway."
"I know. Interesting. Even a small piece of me is all of me, my little light in the dark. Here, in the heart of my...there is no word in your language...but...heh...I can feel Her true feelings. How strange it is this thing you call feeling. Like She can feel yours. She carries no grudge. She knows her pain you didn't intend and forgives you. I don't know of Her Husband. She is Empathy...she once wished to know my pain that drove me to have our children fight."
"To be my friend."
We ponies really are Their creations. Wait.
"Are you saying I'm still following some cosmic scheme?"
"All concepts are dynamic, tis what separates Us from Nightmares my little light in the dark."
"...You happy I gave Fauna Luster a taste of what happened to you?" I sure didn't.
"Nothingness has no grudges. I believe in lasting solutions. If prove in error of this gift of mine, I will have one for you."
"I'll remember I'm a criminal. Whether I meant to cause Her pain or not is besides the point, I knew I came here with less than honest intent."
"That is more honest than some of my own children, or Fauna's have been. If you turned back, the Alicorns will forgive, but if you carry through, they shall not forgive you so easily."
"I'll accept that when we come back. This was my scheme, nopony else's. I just want to experience one thing before I'm punished."
"You intend to come back."
"I never lied about accepting the consequences of my actions."
"This your end of you as a Nightmare and your beginning as a Devil."
My Element floated before us, no longer that dark, giant mishapened mess, but my old red lightning bolt. I guess this place was connected to my soul. It was cracking apart.
My Element shattered to pieces.
"Or Demi-Fiend if you like. A Fallen Alicorn. The third to ever exist. As Fallen Draconequi are Demons. But you are a first: never has a Nightmare become a Devil."
My Element began reassembling itself into a new shape. One I didn't recognize.
"I think I'll go with Demi-Fiend thank you very much."
"I suggest you start looking before this moment ends." She gestured with a hoof at the endless realities suddenly around us. "You have all infinitely to look through after all. And if your moment of opportunity ends, you are unlikely to have another."
And I did look. Fauna Luster, Mother of everything, please forgive me.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean that part to happen. But...I have to see her again. She's my friend!
Across creation I look.
Harmony Queen Rainbow Dash look at Scootaloo, no rebellion or resentment in her eyes, no matter what. She gasped for a moment like she felt somepony else sitting where she was sitting, pushing against her. Where are you Twilight?
Rainbow Dash sat on her crystal throne among the council of friendship, happily chatting about what a great view the castle had after they had saved the world from Tirek. She gasped as she thought. Where are you Twilight?
What...what is this?...It's me...Super-Rainbow Dash fighting Nightmare Eclipse...hugging her even after she just stabbed me with the sword, a thousand lights inside her...beating back the Nightmare trapping them inside...breaking out . . .hijacking Eclipse's time magic while inside her to... summon other Elements... Excuse me! I've got something in my eyes! It's...My Element was gonna crack if I kept looking at them, all so happy.
There was that universe where Discord decided to 'upgrade' us rather than just keep as us minions. I infect that loser of a Draconequus of Apathy that used to be a Rainbow Dash with shards of my Element of Loyalty and Element of Free Will, maybe it'll give the idiot a wake up call. I did promise Entropy that I'd oppose her son however I can.
In the Rainbow Factory, Rainbow Dash looked at the captured Scootaloo with murderous intent. I give her the worst headache I can, making her relive every memory of the time she'd spent with Scoots, and making her remember that this place would have murdered Fluttershy if it had been given the chance.
Another Rainbow Dash cries out as Princess Celestia wraps a wing around her faithful rainbow maned apprentice.
And another one a lot like the last, only here, this Rainbow Dash has a horn in her head, and Celestia is concerned for the daughter she could only recently acknowledged due to tribalism not being as dead here as other Equestrias.
"It's so adorable ya think you're more awesome than us!" A Rainbow Dash says. Once upon a time, I thought those words the epitome of coolness. Now I see arrogance. Here ya go buddy! The worst headache in the history of Equestria, all gift wrapped with a pretty bow!
A Rainbow Dash strapped down with an insane Pinkie Pie. Okay, buck this. Just a prank, as shown after Rainbow Dash tells her off for her completely Un-Pinkie Pie level puns and jokes. End! And yes, it did give me bucking satifaction that it was something Twilight had been doing in endless other universes!
A Rainbow Dash who's a complete loser and loyal only to Fluttershy or some horseapples, the rest of us are pretty much the same way, all our faults played up and our virtues swept under the rug. While Trixie proves herself the hero she could always be if shown some love early enough while Raindrops shows she could have been a hero too if given the chance.
A neighboring universe were Trixie is Element of Laughter...and Rainbow Dash is...actually a lot like me. I'm just friends with Blossemforth who...is Loyalty there? Weird, but...considering I hurt Anasi, good to see a verse where we're on decent terms...
Pinkie Pie and her adopted foals sitting on a couch playing a video game, they hide behind the furniture as I watch. Just pretend I didn't see you.
A Rainbow Dash with a buttefly cutie mark loyally caring for her beloved animals who couldn't care for themselves. Grateful to a kind hearted Fluttershy with a balloon cutie mark who cheered her up after Rainbow had lost the pegasus race to save her life.
She was also grateful to Twilight who had restored their cutie mark after this Rainbow Dash nearly electrocuted herself trying to do Rarity's job. Nice but not what I'm looking for.
A human Rainbow Dash playing her guitar with her friends, wondering about how to introduce themselves to the science nerd human Twilight Sparkle of THIS world, when I shove in. Where is Twilight? Wait. A little bit over.
"Hey guys, am I still banished? It's cold out here," asked a Rainbow Dash to her fellow gang of no-face loser trouble-makers in good King Sombra's Equestria. Too far.
Rainbow Dash couldn't believe that stallion she had fallen in love with turned out to be a changeling! Ugh. And she really thought he loved her back! And now Discord was bent out of shape because Fluttershy had been sleeping with Bulk Biceps. Sure he was 'reformed' now, but that didn't mean he couldn't throw a temper tantrum that would level the town.
Just a bit more this time.
Dressing in style and making dresses for my pony friends and Ponyville's number one fashionista. If only Princess Rarity would stop being such a tomboy.
"Now you just listen to Auntie Pinkie Pie," Pinkie said in a strangely motherly tone I thought only Fluttershy could manage. "I'm going to tell you a bedtime story. And I want you to listen really good understand?"
I nodded numbly.
"Once upon a time, there was a donkey in a barn with two piles of hay. The donkey was the same distance from the two piles, and the two piles were exactly the same size, the tasted just as good, and they were just as nice. The donkey was hungry and wanted to eat them. Except he couldn't decide on which one to start with because they were exactly the same. So the donkey tried to figure out which one to eat first, but couldn't figure out which one it was supposed to eat first, unable to choose between them, so it starved."
"Then donkey never realized that by not making the decision of which piles of hay to eat first, it was failing to make the choice to eat at all. So it was making the choice to starve. So it ended up not having either. By not making a choice...you're still making a choice NOT to make it. And it cost the donkey by not making a choice. The donkey was too stubborn and proud to realize that. And what a silly donkey it was wasn't it?"
"Yeah." For the first time in my life, I longer felt ashamed to cry. "WHAT A STUPID STUBBORN JACKASS!" I turned and hugged Pinkie Pie with tears in my eyes, and I LAUGHED! Pinkie Pie began laughing too. Followed by Fluttershy. Rarity and Twilight just politely chuckled while AJ sniggered.
I FEEL IT! THIS IS THE ONE!
I pointed. "THIS ONE!"
"May fate and chance be kind to you, Rainbow Dash."
I can see myself, my wings aren't black totally anymore, they have a silver lining, like storm clouds. My eyes are no longer draconic, my cutie mark returns to its original colors. My cutie mark remained its old shape, I'm guessing because my 'trial' isn't done.
Devils, or Demi-Fiends aren't that much different from Alicorns, I kept my old barding, I guess again because the 'trial' is still going on, whatever that'll be.
"You are not a whole concept. But you are no longer a Nightmare. You haven't finished the trial. You are indeed a Fallen Alicorn. Welcome to the world, breaker of cycles. Tarot Of The Ace Of Swords."
My Element reformed itself. It's shape was not a Lightning Bolt like before. It was one of those snakes Eclipse loved to use as a symbol, only broken in two straight down the middle. I held it in my hooves and absorbed it back into my heart.
"Would you tell the others, that I was the one who pulled my friends into this? I'll shoulder all blame."
"It will be done,their punishment should come to an end at it's proper time.. I suggest you go, my little light in the dark."
"I accept whatever punishment is waiting for me when this is over."
Fluttershy's illusion around the chains I had wrapped around each of my friends and myself vanished as they grew taut, and pulled them along with me as flew where laid the path between realities for us.
"Please tell Flutternice I'll be back soon!" Fluttershy called.
"I'll be sure to make all of you an Apology Cake later!" Pinkie Pie tried meekly. "...Razzaroo! Please don't delay your big coronation party because of us, okay?! don't delay making ponies happy because of me!"
"Ah'm STILL doin' stupid horseapples cause Ah think the pay off is worth it," AJ said to Cadence. "Reset me when Ah get back, pass or not. I want this idea out of my head!"
"Can I raise you back into an adult Jackie?"
"Uh, Ah'd rather it was somepony else Pinkie Pie."
"Tell my ancestors I apologize," Spike shouted.
They entered Fauna Luster, and we exited Fauna Luster. Except, it's not in the same timeline we entered from. The Dawn of time was if you wanted access to EVERY timeline, this was for more single port flights.
It's funny...nopony tried to stop us on the way out.
The world mirrors were one thing, they assimilated whatever passed through them into the universe they were coming into and still had side effects. We weren't so lucky. We were barely ghosts.
I'd roped all my friends into this. I'd done something truly wrong just wanting to help my friend. I had to see this through to the end.
Yeow...You had a right to shout at me like that. OW! And a right to do that too.
Well, now that's the cat's out of the bag, I guess I can share what lead up to this crazy scheme of mine. I'm sorry for telling you this part before. Please forgive me?...I'll face the consequences of what I did later, there are some things I just have to do first.
Yeah yeah, I guess I was trying to make things a bit more exciting for you.
"Why are we having this meeting in the void between universes again?" Spike asked. Being immortal had it's advantages. A simple force field to protect you from explosive decompression, and okay okay a zillion other 'simple' little spells Nightmare Eclipse had taught us over a million years to keep us from dying every blink.
"Uh, I have to agree with Spike, I really don't like this place all that much," Fluttershy whispered.
"Yeah! There are so many things in the infinite yet zero-dimension state between worldlines that can't even comprehend 'smile' or 'party!' And just want to eat our names, drink our outlines, or want us to play every possible game of Go in existence."
"Ib Shut Ren Ka Ba Ha Akh! Ib Shut Ren Ka Ba Ha Akh! Ib Shut Ren Ka Ba Ha Akh!" A feminine thing in Ponygypt wear made up of a lion, a hippo, and a crocodile raise up behind behind Pinkie Pie, jaws opened wide. Pinkie Pie fired a party cannon shot into it's mouth, and sending it fall over backwards.
"And cause and effect is so liquid you end up hearing discussions of yourself that you never have," Spike added.
"This place has no truth, it doesn't have anything!" AJ declared. "Which is exactly why we're here. Besides, it's impossible to get 'lost' since the distance is infinite and zero at the same time so that's one less thing to worry about."
"Enough exposition, girls. I get it. This place is basically the shorelines of Entropy's home turf. But we can speak 'privately' here. Sort of."
"Oh I remember!" Pinkie said. "Since it's outside of reality, it's nowhere, so it's not anywhere, so it's not part of 'everywhere', so ponies who are 'everywhere' aren't here."
Which also meant there was no death if something killed us...that place always gave everything the creeps.
"Right," I said. "Personally I wonder if the Elders are just being polite and pretend they can't sense what goes on here, but here goes, this is what we're going to do."
So yeah, Fluttershy created her illusions to hide the chains outside of reality, which made Trixie confused since that meant that part of herself was disconnected from the rest of her. And the thing is, nothing I intended or planned was false, it just wasn't all. The idea was that we didn't want to be separated again since we were friends, but it was awkward to have chains visible like that which wasn't a lie. We also had Flutternice play with Trixie and her foal sitter, kept safe. And Fluttershy had no idea that distracting Trixie was why she was asking for that (at the time), so she did it completely honestly...and even that was a big oversimplification. You know those Objective Impossible movies where they spend half the movie planning the big heist? Imagine that times one hundred fifty bajillion, and you got how bucking hard it was to pull this off. There were so many cogs in that machine it'd take me an eon to explain the whole plan, and several eons to come up with it.
I bet we're the only beings besides old Tirek himself to ever pull a 'great escape' on the Pantheon and the Elders...I'm relieved I can say I'm not proud of that.
"...I just...thought we'd see Twilight again once it was all over. She was the one thing I was looking forwards to...and she was gone before I started. She gave up EVERYTHING, and nearly all of her were INNOCENT Twilight Sparkles enslaved by a monster! Why should they have had to 'be redeemed by sacrificing themselves' when they were just victims too? It's not fair!"
"I agree." Fluttershy sighed.
"Me too," Spike said.
"Me three," Pinkie Pie added.
"Ah'd be blind to say it was fair," AJ finished.
Then I said those foalish words we Nightmare, former, or otherwise, are known for far and wide, "We'll make it fair."
Looking back on it now. I think I finally get complete Alicorns.
Nightmares will always answer them the same: 'I'll make it fair.' I think deep down, those are the true words that trigger a Nightmare being born. Alicorns...they...I understand now...they can say 'But that's the way it is,' too. They know how to add to the world without tearing everything else down in the process.
I saw it while looking over the worldlines. AJ's Alicorn? Tries to make a world where all truths come out...but in their own time. Fluttershy's wants to make the world kind by ripple effect, an act of random kindness spurs another. And so on...Mine? She's made herself a steadfast pillar of loyalty (even if being truly loyal meant saving somepony from themselves) to inspire others to be just as loyal, instead of making them unable to betray their friends.
All Alicorns want the same end as their Nightmare...but they do it without bullying. Adding to what is and showing their virtue to inspire others, not replacing it with their own personal 'utopia'. A Nightmare makes the world 'fair', an Alicorn inspires ponies to want it to be. Just like Celestia and Cadence inspired Equestria to be as kind and loving as it always should be. And the Wonderbolts inspired me, I saw a world where Spitfire was an Alicorn and just didn't want the fame and power.
So where does that leave me, a Demi-Fiend?...Honestly, not even I know... I just want to see a friend again.