"Half-Light Midnight, how are you enjoying those books I gave you?" Spike The Nightdrake asked coming into the cosmic nursery, given to them by Light World Princess Gaia in her domain. Heathspike took one look and screamed. "AAAH! What are you doing?!" The million year old dragon raised his claws to his head in horror.
Half-Light Midnight giggled... She tore another page out of another book, and created a pretty origami flower. The room was full of books that were now just empty covers, and a museum's worth of origami folded figures and others used as paper to draw pretty pictures on.
Spike pulled her up with his tail, and felt her head for a temperature. Could baby concepts of reality GET colds? If they did, did you need specific concept medicine? The baby unicorn just giggled more at the game.
Then Daddy-Spike used his pretty green fire breath to undo all her beautiful work! All her folded paper and drawings were gone! And were turned back into the boring old books! What did Daddy-Spike do that?! Half-Light Midnight sniffled.
"Uh oh..." Spike muttered right before Midnight started crying. Crystal shattered in the make-shift house.
Princess Fidelitas meanwhile was in her own domain, which realistically speaking meant she was inside herself. An infinite cloud city with no bottom or top, right now only otherwise populated by the Scootaloos who had sworn loyalty to her as her angels and her 'apprentice'. And... the newly reset goddess of truth.
And the rainbow goddess was having trouble... Of all she'd done throughout her million years of existence, this wasn't that big on the epic scale. It didn't even crack the top five (but it came very close). But it was disheartening all the same.
"Come one on Applejack, it's your favorite," Rainbow Dash pleaded. "Applefritters."
"Psssht!!" Said the baby goddess in disgust, throwing them in the larger Alicorn's face, completing the 'mud pack' on her face that Fidelitas wiped off, sighing.
Veritas pouted back at her. Then her horn glowed and she floated over some oranges, and tore the skin off and began to dig in.
"No! You can't do that! You hate oranges Applejack!" She pulled the oranges from her.
Baby Veritas cried, making the ears of the Scootaloo army hurt across the infinite domain and the gems of Fidelitas' barding crack.
Spike's cottage was a gift from Princess Gaia's Light World counterpart just until Half-Light could grow into a proper concept of magic of the new universe the former Nightmares were building with Discord and have a domain-state of her own. Similar with Baby Veritas and Fidelitas.
Thankfully only Fidelitas had so far undergone the trial to become a goddess. So the danger of what happened when two concepts of the same idea existed in the same universe didn't apply to them visiting the Princess Gaia of the Light World worldline.
Right now, Heathspike sat with Half-Light Midnight, along with Fidelitas and Veritas, or simply Rainbow Dash and Applejack as they still wished their friends to call them. Hosting them was the Light World's Princess Gaia herself. Fluttercruel was playing with her building blocks and wanting the baby goddesses to play with her.
Flutternice was no longer there, having been taken back by the former Nightmare Whisper. It was generally decided to not allow the former Nightmare access to her own foal would NOT be healthy nor constructive for either of them, especially given how dependent on her mother Flutternice was. And in general the separation would cause conflict when there was already enough of that to go around.
Heathspike and Rainbow Dash didn't want to share these troubles with their Fluttershy and their Pinkie Pie. Both of them had been through more than enough trauma for one eternity.
"I just don't get what's wrong with her," Rainbow Dash said. "She doesn't like apples! APPLES! She likes pears! PEARS! And oranges! And cherries! And carrots, CARROTS! But she won't touch apples!"
"And Midnight would rather doodle in books than read them!" Spike lamented. "I don't think she's read one book I gave her! And I've given her a lot!"
"Well," Gaia said politely. "It sounds like they just have their own tastes."
"But they're NOT Twilight's or Applejack's tastes!" Heathspike said.
"Oh my," Gaia said sadly, looking over not the two foals but their guardians. "I was worried about this after... after I heard about some of the mistakes you almost made... but... "
"So what's wrong with them?" Heathspike asked.
"There's... There's nothing wrong with them. It's just the way they are."
"No it isn't!" Princess Fidelitas snapped.
"I'm afraid it is," Princess Gaia sighed, seeming unusually assertive.
There was a knock on the cottage door. Gaia opened it with her telekinesis to reveal Queen Cadenza. "I'd say I'm sorry I'm late, but I've arrived exactly when I meant to. Hello Spike, Hello Fidelitas. And hello Gaia. And hello Vertias... and hello... little Midnight."
The babies giggled at the sight of the big pink mare, even if she wasn't as funny as the OTHER big pink mare they often saw.
"Spike, Rainbow Dash after... after you told me what was worrying you about Midnight and Vertias... I thought that Cadence could offer some perspective."
"Perspective on what? How to fix them?" Spike asked.
"That's what you need to understand... There's nothing to fix," Cadence said, looking uneasy.
"That's horseapples," Fidelitas said.
"It's the truth," Cadenza said. "And it's what you need to understand." Cadenza came in and sat down on one of the other couches in the replica of Fluttershy's cottage. "Once upon a time, there was a goddess of harmony and music named Cadenza by her parents, the Tarot of the Temperance. There was also once upon a time a goddess of night named Luna, who was aloof, indifferent, and cold to the mortals she was supposed to be watching over. She did some terrible things in her cool detachment from mortals. While Cadenza... once tried to murder Magic Itself believing that destroying magic would protect freedom of will among mortals from being tampered with...
"Then Luna helped her sister enact a foolish mistake... And her Father, seeing how little Luna truly thought of mortals... reset her for her crimes. And Cadenza's light and her shadow separated from each other, both becoming their own entity, both being reborn as a new version of the rules of reality they embodied. They could REMEMBER what they had done before... but they looked upon the world with a different perspective. Their attitude and outlook were a blank slate to be written upon, and new traits emerged ... I can remember everything I did before I was reset... but I am no longer that concept of music... It's the closest to death that a concept can come without being undone."
"What are you saying?" Heathspike asked, folding his wings around Midnight who snuggled against them.
"... Forgive me," Cadence said sincerely. "It means, that your Twilight Sparkle, and your Applejack are gone, and aren't coming back. Midnight was born from the essence of Twilight's children, and Nightmare Mirror was reset. The truth Vertias becomes may be one that is multiple layered, rather than a singular absolute or faceted. The magic Midnight might become could be one that is more art than science. The one thing they won't be, the one thing they can't be, are carbon replacements for the friends we lost."
"So...there's no chance?" Rainbow Dash asked, her tone unreadable.
"...Only Morning Star has ever done it, and trust me, somepony THAT hardwired and obsessed that even resetting won't change them is horrible, and terrifying. There's a reason Morning Star had to be locked in a prison tailor made to hold him. And it's a reason not worth what you're wanting back."
The former Nightmare and Nightdrake said nothing. Princess Gaia gently put her wings around Fidelitas and nuzzled her neck tenderly. Cadenza waited a few moment...taking in the looks she got.
"You think this is easy for ME to say?" Cadence asked. "My Twilight Sparkle is gone forever too! I'll never see her again. Not even as a spirit or a shadow that can be given its light back. Remember? She's just GONE. And... if I... or you... try to superimpose who they were on them... I... " Cadence fought back tears.
Spike and Rainbow Dash looked at each other, and carefully let Midnight and Vertias go so they could play with Fluttercruel.
Princess Gaia whispered, "Twilight and Applejack asked you to look after their new selves because they trusted you to raise them right... But trying to make anypony into a replacement for somepony else, only ever ends in misery, because nopony can truly replace anypony else. Are you going to teach Vertias to speak with an accent you don't have? Are you going to make Midnight read books she can't stand? They'll never be that perfect copy, and when you see they can't be that perfect copy you wanted them to be... you'll see them as broken, and they'll see themselves as broken, since all they'll want is your approval... In the end, that just leave both of you miserable."
Silence dominated the adults in the room, while the two baby goddess played in the corner without a care in the world, barely yet understanding the universe they were a fundamental part of with Fluttercruel, who herself was growing and changing and maturing at her own pace.
The Alicorn Princess and former Nightdrake thought desperately of something to say. Something, anything, to hold onto that last grasp, that last sliver of hope... but was it hope? Or was it just a refusal to let go and move forward?
Fidelitas Moksha Equestria, the concept of loyalty and breaking circles, remembered what she'd been told when Midnight and baby Veritas had first been born.
"I... I didn't want to clone her... I'm already through with that nonsense. I thought... I thought I was doing what Applejack would have wanted... I thought she'd have WANTED to be the way she was before... I forgot what she really wanted was a fresh start. She wanted me to break her cycle of making the same mistakes . . ."
Spike said articulately, "Maybe I thought it would make Fluttershy, MY Fluttershy, HAPPY that she'd get to see Twilight again after all... Or that Twilight would have wanted to be a scholar again... But she's not Twilight is she? No more than Shining Armor or her daughters... And Twilight would NEVER want her foals to be just copies of her. All we were doing was trying to prove old tentacle-brains right that we hadn't lost anything...Twilight became Happy Endings...and that ISN'T a happy ending."
"You and Rarity truly are worthy of Generosity Spike," Cadenza said, "You both only wish to help, and both think of others. You're not perfect, only My Parents are. But you prove better than your nature, and Rarity only wished to share what she has."
Gaia said, "They trusted you, to do your best to raise them. They trusted the gods of a new wold to you. And for you to help them become who they chose to become."
Spike smiled, "Never imagined Twilight's last request would be so contrary."
"We're concepts, two conflicting sides of the coin comes with the job," Fidelitas said. "Them being in balance is what separates us from..." Fideltias look uncomfortable.
"From Nightmares," Spike finished calmly. "So do my best huh?" The dragon stood up. He breathed green fire, and out materialized a stack of young foals comic books. Twilight Sparkle wouldn't have been caught dead reading them. Spike showed them to Midnight, she giggled at the bright pictures and began reading them, the others gathered around her.
Fidelitas took a hint, and presented baby Veritas with a tray of orange slices that she gobbled right up. The rainbow Alicorn said, "Heh, if we can handle this, we can handle the terrible twos!"
"Um...I wouldn't be so sure...they're goddesses," Gaia admitted. "From what I've heard, their magic surges...well, Discord said one of his created the realm of magic talking rainbow squids."
The goddess and Nightdrake both grew slightly pale.
"The Scootaloo angel army is gonna earn their keep I guess..."
Cadenza smirked darkly. "Just wait until they hit their teenage years."
"Uh... wanna take up foalsitting again?"