• Published 9th Jul 2013
  • 1,971 Views, 242 Comments

Horizontal Lines - horizon



Stories and poems too short for individual publication (including some award-winning minifics).

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Retirees

Author's Note:

Contains spoilers for the Season 9 opener. (Was written before the episode, when spoilers were all we had.)

Fifth place, "Through A Mirror Brightly" minific Writeoff, March 2019.

"Lying doth not suit thee, Tia," Luna murmured over dinner salad.

Celestia let out a breath through her nose. She had figured this conversation was inevitable, but it didn't make it any easier.

She wing-gestured to her ponies-in-waiting for privacy, chewed while they silently left the room, and then swallowed her mouthful of greens and dabbed a napkin to the corner of her muzzle. "Telling Twilight that we'd be retiring wasn't really a lie."

Luna frowned, spearing another piece of asparagus. "Technicalities doth not suit thee, either. 'Twas true only in the narrowest sense of abdication. A lie of omission remains an untruth."

"Luna." Celestia set down her fork and looked Luna in the eyes. "How would she have taken the truth? 'We're no longer immortal now that the Elements of Harmony have found new bearers, we've got five years to live, and if you don't step up as ruler, Equestria will soon dissolve into anarchy'? I defy you to tell me that Twilight Sparkle would have reacted with anything less than a complete meltdown."

Luna rolled her eyes. "If you had put it that way, aye. But do not ask me to believe that you of all ponies would not have broken it to her in a gentler manner."

"Yes," Celestia said. "Which is what I'm doing."

Luna gave her a flat look. "No, you are lying."

"I'm doing exactly what I did for you."

Celestia steeled herself as Luna stiffened. It was a low blow—but also, if Luna was determined to stand on principle, a blow she had to strike.

"I know lying upsets you, but the truth sometimes is the worst liar of all," Celestia added softly, sipping some tea. "If ponies had remembered your actions a thousand years ago and recognized you on your return, they wouldn't have given Luna a chance after Nightmare Moon was cleansed. I won't apologize for privileging the truth of our reconciliation over the truth of our failure. Likewise, please don't ask me to apologize for manipulating Twilight's first impressions so she can approach the truth at an angle she can face without fear."

Luna's face twisted. Then her body sagged, and she let out a long breath. "Perhaps I deserved that. But, sister … my concern is for you, not solely Twilight. The memory left when a loved one departs is far more fragile than a first impression. If your last act is a deception, ponies cannot forgive you it, for you are no longer there to rebuild trust and bury the lie in happier memories."

"If that's your concern, then the idea of retirement is actually less misleading than the truth," Celestia said. "We're no longer immune to aging, but if we follow through on the plan, we'll still be there for her generations from now—and in a way we know she appreciates. Why panic her with talk of death? This will just be…" She waved a hoof vaguely. "Different."


Star Swirl squinted. "Celestia. Luna. You look… different."

"That's time magic for you," Celestia said drily. "Hello from the future."

To his credit, Star Swirl merely scowled. "You'd better not be here to tell me that the portal destabilizes something crucial." He gestured at a trio of stunned sirens to one side, just starting to stir. "You have no idea how much grief these three will cause for Equestria. It's an understatement to say things don't end well unless I banish them."

Celestia glanced at Luna, who simply sighed and nodded. She nodded back.

"Actually," Celestia said, "we'd like to go with them."

That got Star Swirl raising both eyebrows.

"Are you addle-brained?" he shouted. "It's a temporal trap! Even for an alicorn, it's a one-way trip! You'll spend the rest of your existence endlessly resetting and cycling through the same four years of your life as some sort of monkey-thing—" He paused for a moment. "Oh. That gets fixed at some point, doesn't it."

"For those entering in an age to come, yes—but not for us here, no," Luna said.

"But it's alright." Celestia smiled. "You'll understand someday. Drop us a line when you do."

"Speaking of which," Luna said, "you did explain everything in your final letter to Twilight, yes?"

"I did," Celestia said as she stepped up to the portal. "And I look forward to meeting her again for the first time."

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Comments ( 13 )

you cant spell horizontal lines without horizon

Wait, so the human world was in a 4 year timeloop that was ended at some point, by Twilight's Harmony Beam thing or something, in the future?

(five minutes later, with fingers)

"Sister," said Luna with a petulant frown. "Didsn't thou put postage upon that letter? Because without it, the information shall simply be placed in the Dead Letter Office until an eternity from now."

"Oh." Celestia blinked several times. "Oops."

Fascinating on a number of levels, starting with the temporal trap aspect. I need to consider that for looped timeline eternal high school scenarios.

9592162
I figured that was a compelling explanation for the Sirens, Sunset Shimmer, and Twilight all being able to directly interact despite being canonically inserted into Humania centuries apart. It also potentially explained the (initial) problem with the portal only opening every thirty moons or whatever it was. And once the idea wormed into my brain, well.

9591937
Yup!

9591924
wait what

holy crap seriously

9591945
:rainbowlaugh:
derpicdn.net/img/2014/2/28/563342/large.png

9592438

Sunset and Twilight were Modern. Fanon basically has Sirens as immortal teenagers.

No need for timeloop?

But that would mean that EQG Celestia is a horrible horrible troll oh wait carry on.

9592635
Oh, it’s entirely possible to say that the sirens are immortal and unaging and have that pretty much lampshade the whole thing, but if that’s the case then them being high school students never really sat well with me. If they’re thousands of years old, why would they put up with sitting through classes and not being considered legal adults when they could have used a cover identity that would get them into bars and own property?

A time loop resetting the whole world is certainly a weird way to resolve that, but it does solve a lot of the issues of motive and whatnot: they’re just doing it because, as far as they’re concerned, it’s new.

9592741
:trollestia:

9593573

Hmm... Maybe they did do the "Pretend to be adults thing", but we don't see them before Rainbow Rocks.

They sensed the EQ magic, and we dunno what they did immediately after that, but it's likely they tracked it to around Canterlot High, and went in, as teenagers as a disguise, ramping up the mind magic, and using "teenager" to hold the disguise together or something.

So that's why they never graduate...

Fascinating idea. It works to a disturbing degree.

9594464
I'm not sure what it says about me that apparently my default solution to everything is time loops.

9594803
It's certainly a lot cleaner than my solutions. Time loops don't sprawl out all over higher-dimensional probability space.

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