• Published 19th Aug 2013
  • 8,389 Views, 148 Comments

A Breakfast of Time Loops - Obselescence



Princess Celestia, in her infinite wisdom, comes to the conclusion that she doesn't have nearly enough time to do everything on her busy schedule. Not a problem for her, though. The solution to having no time is obvious: just make some more.

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Chapter Three: Möbius Bacon Strip

The letters were endless. Unceasing. Infinite. There had been a time once, lost in the mists of the distant past, when this hadn’t been so, but Celestia could not remember it. The letters had always been, always were, and always would be. They were a law unto themselves, greater by far than her petty influence as Princess of all Equestria. Towering mountains of Could-you-please-visits and vast parchment oceans of If-you-could-helps. No longer ink and envelopes, but a complex geography of requests, through which there was no navigation, and never could be.

Such was the nature of correspondence with her subjects.

Why?” she screamed, tearing the current letter in two. She downed the rest of her tea in one gulp and grimaced. “Fillydelphia again? I could’ve sworn I’d seen them only yesterday!”

“A few weeks ago, actually,” said Luna, serenely seated at her own end of the Royal Dining Table. She flipped through a page of her newspaper without looking up. “And volume, Sister. I believe we have spoken about this.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” said Celestia, rubbing her temples in an effort to stave off her own mid-morning crankiness. She racked her brains, trying to recall if her last visit to Fillydelphia had in fact been a few weeks ago. It felt to her like only yesterday, but what had that been in real time? The calendars had said the eighth when she’d visited for a—a what was it—another one of those Spring-Has-Sprung Festivals... “What day is it now?” she asked.

“The twenty-fourth, according to the Foal Free Press,” said Luna, flipping past another page. “Though, beyond that, their reporting leaves much to be desired.”

The twenty-fourth. Well, it had been a while after all. Celestia groaned. Another visit to Fillydelphia then. No doubt a future version of her was already there, but that was small compensation. If anything, it meant even more work. She’d have to work out the details, pen it into her schedule, and then go back to make the visit on her own time.

And there would be five more letters just like it waiting for her when she returned.

“More tea, please!” Celestia called. “I need a drink...”

In a flash, a Future Celestia was there, kettle ready to refill her cup. She poured the tea out and delivered an exaggerated bow before returning to whence she came.

Celestia took the cup and drained it again. Future Celestias. Honestly. They acted like she was demanding the world of them. Yes, she could have relied on the servants, as she had before she’d started time travelling to pour her own tea, but this was faster. Slightly more work, but in her ever-present duties as Princess, time was of the essence.

She took another letter, opened it, and got as far as Ponyville would be honored before ripping it to shreds. Another trip to Ponyville, another Future Celestia dispatched, another mess to go deal with once she became that same Future Celestia. It was practically routine now. Hard for her to imagine that things had ever been another way.

But surely they must have been, before she’d ever even thought of making time into her plaything. How had she managed back then with so many letters, demands, and requests? She couldn’t have possibly dealt with them all as just Present Celestia.

“Gah!” She slammed her hooves down on the table. It was too much, really. Simply too much. “Gaaaaaah!”

“Do pull yourself together, Sister,” said Luna. She took a sip from her own cup of tea, attention still riveted to her paper. “It’s a bit unbecoming of you to act that way.”

“I don’t see you offering any help,” Celestia grumbled, moving to the next letter in the pile. Ninth out of... nine hundred, maybe.

“Ah, well, I believe I’ve offered my solution already, Sister,” said Luna with syrupy sweetness. “And you have, in your great wisdom, chosen to reject it, so I have no further advice. It is your choice to listen, after all.”

“Harumph.” Celestia tore the letter in half, unamused. “Be that way then.”

“Believe me, I shall.”

By the twentieth letter, which urgently requested her assistance for the disastrous marble crop at the rock farms, Celestia was fit to burst. The stress of it all was too great for any one pony to bear. She couldn’t be expected to deal with it by herself, even with all her Future selves to help with the load. And with all the work she’d been doing lately, she didn’t even have time for her creature comforts, like—

“Cake!” said Celestia, her face suddenly brightening. “That’s it! I’ll have myself some cake!” Nothing better for stress than a sweet little treat, she’d always said. Or two... or twenty, even.

“Oh, is that what this one was about?” asked Luna. She folded up her newspaper and levitated it over to Celestia’s end of the table. “I was wondering...”

“Which one?” Celestia took the paper and unfolded it. Immediately, her eyes were drawn to the headline, beneath which was a picture of Her Royal Highness, Princess Celestia... eating cake.

In an entirely unflattering pose, she had to add.

She looked at Luna. “That... This picture... It wasn’t me!”

Luna looked back at her, eyebrow raised dangerously high.

“...Yet,” Celestia admitted.

“Yet,” agreed Luna, apparently satisfied. “Really, Sister, how many of you are gallivanting about Equestria right now?”

“That’s a little hard to say, Luna. I’d have to go over my notes and check the reports to really—”

“A rough estimate, then.”

“Maybe a dozen,” said Celestia sheepishly. The number did feel a little high now that she’d said it out loud. Somehow, for the past thousand years, the land of Equestria had made do with one Princess Celestia. Did it really need twelve of her at once now?

A small pile of letters, one of many occupying the table, suddenly fell over of its own accord, scattering envelopes everywhere and reminding her that—yes, it really did.

“It doesn’t matter how many, though,” she said firmly. “It’s for the best.”

Luna, for her part, did not look quite so convinced. “Well, you know my opinion on the matter, Sister,” she said, shrugging, “so I shall not belabor the point.” She drank down the last of her tea and tapped the cup for a refill. The call was promptly answered by a servant stallion. “Thank you, Earl Grey,” she said, as he poured her a steaming fresh cup of tea.

“A pleasure to serve, Princess,” he said, bowing with—and Celestia couldn’t help but notice—considerably more enthusiasm than a Future Celestia. She was maybe a bit jealous for that, but not entirely unsurprised. The Castle’s staff had warmed considerably toward Luna since the last Nightmare Night celebration... and cooled somewhat toward Celestia, since she’d started replacing them with her own future selves.

“You know I could’ve gotten that for you,” Celestia mumbled as Earl Grey departed. “It would have been faster.”

“Faster, yes,” said Luna, blowing on her tea to cool it off. “But more effort, and a waste of our servants’ talents. Not to mention their pay. Why bother?”

“Well...” said Celestia. She paused, not entirely sure she had an answer to that one. “I’m only saying that I could have, if you’d wanted me to.”

Luna set her tea down and stared at her. “There is a difference,” she said, “between something that can be done and something that should be done.”

“Much like offering you anything,” said Celestia, only half-joking.

“Likewise,” said Luna, likely not joking.

Celestia huffed and settled back into reading her letters. She was far too busy to deal with Luna’s antics right now. How much time had she lost already, bantering with her? Too much, that was for certain. Even with time travel, she couldn’t escape the tyranny of her own schedule. She was due to give an address to all of Canterlot in only a few hours, and she wanted to make a dent, at least, in her workload before then.

To her great relief, two Future Celestias soon winked into existence beside her and began on working through the pile. The Present Celestia was vaguely aware that she’d have to do the same work over again when she became those Future Celestias, but for now she was simply glad for the help. Certainly she wasn’t going to complain about tripling her workpace.

“You’re both lifesavers,” she said to the Future Celestias working beside her.

“Don’t mention it,” said the one to her right.

“No, really, don’t,” said the one to her left.

“Well, I have seen quite enough,” said Luna, getting up from her seat. She finished her tea and made for the door. “I shall be in my chambers if you need me, Sister.”

“Leaving already, Luna?” Celestia asked, ripping open a new envelope. “You normally stick around a bit longer for a Sisters’ Special Breakfast Together.”

“Do I?” said Luna, looking back briefly. “Then kindly inform me when you intend to hold one.“

And with that parting shot, Luna slammed the doors shut behind her.

For a moment, the room was completely silent. The Future Celestia to her left coughed quietly. “Well, I told you not to, didn’t I?”

The Present Celestia stared at the door, wondering if she should go after Luna and apologize. It wasn’t too late for that, was it? If she ran now, it wouldn’t be entirely impossible to say something to the effect of how sorry she was, and maybe plead for Luna to realize how this was all necessary and that maybe if she’d stop being unreasonable for a moment, she’d...

Only...

The thought was interrupted by bright light flared up from behind her, marking the appearance of another Future Celestia. “Another shipment of letters incoming,” she said. "Brace yourself."

“Mmm,” Celestia nodded, distracted. “Yes, all right.”

The new Future Celestia placed a hoof firmly on her shoulder. “I know what you’re thinking,” she said. “Don’t.”

“But—” Present Celestia stopped. In the end, there was no point in arguing with herself. If it wasn’t time yet to reconcile with Luna, it simply wasn’t time yet. Future Celestia would know that better than she did. Better than anyone, really. It wasn’t Present Celestia’s place to alter the future. No, her place right now was still down here, with her letters. With the hundred thousand pleas of all her subjects, and the hundred thousand more soon to follow.

She nodded to the Future Celestia and redoubled her pace. Maybe, if she moved fast enough, she could get through a sizable chunk of unanswered prayers by the time she had to deliver her speech to all Canterlot. A request from a young filly to spend a day with her favorite Princess. A plea from Cloudsdale to preside over the Springtime Races. All wishes she could easily grant, once she’d read them.

And as for Luna... Well. There would be time enough for apologies later. Time enough for another breakfast. Time enough to patch up the damage she’d done this morning. Time, time, time. Whatever else Celestia had given up for the sake of her subjects—her sleep, her sanity, her own sister—she still had time.

If only she knew better how to spend it.

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