• Published 9th Jan 2016
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Distorted Resonance - Tangent

Crystal Synergy used to be a middle-aged brony before she appeared in Ponyville in a bolt from the clear blue sky. She only wants to help...

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Distorted Beginnings: Prologue in Three Parts

A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Self Insert
By Tangent

I don’t actually remember much about how I arrived in Equestria. I have vague memories of being in a car wreck, but after more than my fair share of those, I get enough dreams about being in even more of them to cast doubt on whether I’m remembering a memory or a nightmare. It may have been some other horrifically painful event.

On the other hoof, for all I know, I simply transitioned over while sleeping peacefully in my bed. Or in the middle of a crowd in the mall. Perhaps I had a bad case of the hiccups, or belched so hard I booted myself out of reality? Still, pain on arrival at least implies a traumatic event on departure, and my arrival in Ponyville was certainly dramatic enough for narrative causality to almost require that my exit from my previous existence be appropriately traumatic.

Unfortunately, I may never know for sure.

Oh, I do know some things about my arrival in Ponyville. It was accompanied by a flash of lightning right out of the clear blue sky, and I apparently popped up right where it struck the ground. There was even a scorched outline of my body where I appeared, but that had been cleaned up long before I ever woke up in the foals’ ward of Ponyville General Hospital. Fortunately, I did manage to wake up before they transferred me over to long-term care.

I’m not sure who named me Crystal Synergy, or why. I certainly wasn’t in any condition to tell them otherwise at the time, and I wasn’t exactly very communicative for a while afterwards. By the time I did start talking to other ponies, I had been Crystal long enough that I just didn’t see the point of correcting anypony about it, or (more likely) using Tangent instead.

It also took about that long for me to recover some semblance of mental clarity and emotional stability, during which time I had withdrawn into a shy, introverted fugue. Which was just as well, because it kept my random babbling from being audible as I struggled to come to terms with my new situation.

Tartarus, it took me half a year to fully comprehend that I was not only a pony, but specifically a unicorn, which was when they finally removed the inhibitor ring that had been placed around the base of my immature horn to prevent uncontrolled magic flares from burning it out.

Suffering from a combination of a bad concussion and being electrocuted was apparently bad for my young neurological system. Who knew?

*O o O o O*

Once I could safely access my magic, I immediately started in on figuring out just what I could do with it. Which, as a filly, wasn’t a whole lot.

Seriously, that episode where Pinkie first babysat for the Cake twins? The one where Pumpkin comes across as some sort of unicorn wunderkind? That’s actually fairly normal - for a unicorn foal between one and six months old. After that, the developmental process overbalances in the other direction while the body transitions past the foal stage.

Once a unicorn filly or colt regains access to their magic, it starts out as a weak trickle of power. Maybe enough to lift a pebble or turn a page. Left alone, this will gradually improve on its own to a limited extent. Doing more than just lifting and simple manipulation requires a certain level of focus, and most young minds lack the patience to learn how to properly multitask with their magic until they are older.

That, and apparently most young fillies and colts find the levitation exercises to be tediously frustrating and boring, because until they get the hang of splitting their focus they generally end up stuck in one spot while they try to do anything at all with their magic. This can be very aggravating for an energetic youngster who mainly wants to run around and play, not sit still trying to do a task that can be managed quicker and more easily with a hoof or mouth. It's also why most older unicorns tend to move less or not at all when attempting unfamiliar, more complex, or more powerful spells - they've more or less conditioned themselves to prefer to remain still while doing so in order to better concentrate on the task at hoof.

Well, good for them. I had the opposite problem, not having spent my early formative years learning how to use my hooves and mouth to accomplish anything. I had to learn how to do all those things after that critical developmental period, which left me a bit clumsy whenever I tried to do any but the most basic of tasks without using magic.

Seriously, the doctors still think that I suffered some sort of brain damage from whatever magical event brought me to Ponyville. They also don’t seem to realize that I can understand them when they start talking to each other about my case like I’m not there. I certainly never bothered even attempting to convince them that I hadn’t been born a pony.

I’m getting better, though.


For a given value of better, anyway…

*O o O o O*

*O o O o O*

Two years.



That was how long it took Crystal to learn how to manipulate objects with her mouth and hooves as well as the average filly of her apparent age.

Two years of being called ‘Clumsy Crystal,’ ‘Crystal Klutz,’ or 'Silly Synergy' by Lollypop and Vanilla Swirl, two fillies whom Crystal assumed to be the equivalents of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.

Two years of scheduled physical therapy sessions as she ‘relearned’ how to intermingle the minor level of magic and specialized frogs that most sapient ungulates had in their forehooves, and how to properly handle objects with her lips, teeth, and (if absolutely necessary) tongue.

On the other hoof, two years of essentially having to rely primarily on magic to do even the most mundane tasks put Crystal in the top tier of unicorn fillies her apparent age group. That left her more or less on par with her foster sister, Rarity, and Lyra Heartstrings, with Rarity having a slight lead on fine control while Crystal had the edge when it came to capacity, and Lyra being better than either of them in the part they were weaker in.

Two years of school plays and talent shows to drive Crystal nuts. Mostly because Rarity, beloved foster sister though she might be, reacted with the same overblown sense of drama to her role as costume designer for the plays.

Every. Single. Time.

Honestly, Crystal had given up on trying to be there for Rarity during the Sonic Rainboom three plays ago.

Instead, she had once again wandered off to the outskirts of Ponyville to experiment with her magic. Today’s idea was to see if she could form a ring or loop from her aura and spin it as a way of building up and storing thaumic energy that could be used for another spell later. She already knew that magic could be coiled as a way to amplify a spell before it was fully cast, but the possibility of actually forming a sort of 'mystic flywheel’ that could be separate from any single other spell and put to multiple purposes was intriguing.

Tartarus, Lyra would have loved this problem. Granted, Crystal could have asked to apply to Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns as well, but her experience with living in a crowded barracks in her first life (that she knew of) pretty much soured her on the idea of spending even part of the year in a boarding school. And Rarity wasn’t interested enough in expanding her magical versatility to really want to go herself, although Crystal knew her foster sister most likely would have if she herself had insisted on going.

Crystal didn’t know whether to feel relieved or guilty about that, really.

Besides, it was bad enough she was already living with one of the Mane Six. Hondo Flanks had been one of the ponies present at her abrupt arrival in Ponyville, and had been the one to rush her to the hospital. He and his wife, Cookie Crumbles, had ended up being the first family asked to foster Crystal as a result, and they had readily agreed. That had left Crystal worried that she'd disrupted the events leading to Sweetie Belle's birth, until it happened anyway the following spring.

Crystal could imagine all too well what might easily have happened if she had insisted on applying and ended up causing Twilight Sparkle’s turn in front of the entry exam board to be delayed. Quite frankly, most of the alternate futures depicted in the season five finale were horrifying enough to make her want to avoid any chance whatsoever of screwing up Twilight Sparkle’s affinity with and for magic in general.

No. Better to leave off the possibility of encountering Twilight Sparkle for another eight years, until she arrived in Ponyville for the pivotal Summer Sun Celebration. Crystal could help Purple Smart make friends then. Well, at least be a friend, anyway.

Or, at the very least, have preparations ready for a party of seven mares intent on entering the Everfree Forest under extended nightfall. Because, dammit, the only one of the Mane Six who actually knew anything about even basic woodland survival was Applejack, and Crystal wasn’t about to let her foster sister go off into a dangerous situation without her!

Thus, the Thaumic Flywheel spell that Crystal was trying to form: a way to store up mystic energy prior to and between encounters so that she could respond swiftly without having to gather her mana on the spot.

So far, the experiment was yielding some promising results. Crystal had at least managed to get her aura to form into a loop. A bit wobbly at first, but applying a spin to it had smoothed that out in short order. Carefully, she nudged more mana into the aura hoop, causing it to spin faster as it accumulated more thaumic energy.

A little more…

A little more…

Hold it…

Okay, time to see if she could draw mana back out of the hoop…

Nothing complicated for the first attempt - just a simple spark should do…




“SWEET MOTHER OF CELESTIA! WHAT WAS THAT!?” The unexpected thunder from the clear blue sky caused her to lose control of the thaumic flywheel, which in turn fed all of its collected energy into the tiny spark she had been oh so carefully trying to form.

The resultant shockwave and beam of raw magical energy was not quite as impressive as the fiery rainbow in the sky.

“Oh Tartarus! I hope I didn’t hit anything important!”

It wasn’t until she encountered her foster sister, who had also been on her way home after her own unexpected misadventure, that she discovered that she had acquired a Cutie Mark: what appeared to be a double hoop or shockwave the color of her own magic. Rarity, naturally, acquired her own Cutie Mark later that night at the school play.

The double Cuteceañera was fun.

Being grounded for a month for attempting an unproven and possibly dangerous spell without supervision was not.

*O o O o O*

*O o O o O*

Two years before the thousandth Summer Sun Celebration:

“Pardon me, Princess. It’s another package from that anonymous young artist in Ponyville.”

Princess Celestia smiled and bid the guard approach with a beckoning hoof, wondering what the mysterious young artist had sent her this time. The chosen medium was always the same, and the accompanying writing had thus far proven to be completely illegible, but she thought it was sweet, and had set up a small gallery to display the submissions whenever they came. And then Twilight Sparkle had found out about it, leading to her making her own submissions, soon followed by submissions from her study lab partners. And thus the display had become the Gallery of the Young.

Then the submissions from Ponyville had become less frequent for a while, but each time the quality of both the art and the writing had shown improvement. This time the gap had been nearly three years, and though they were still rendered in crayon, the improvement in skill was striking.

The first depicted Cerberus running free aboveground while a frail-looking centaur was shown in a cave beneath, leaving shackles and cage behind. The legend under it stated only ‘Beware.’

The next drawing, a beautiful rendering of the Crystal Empire, drew a gasp from the princess. While hardly perfect, it was far, far more accurate than any of the attempts to depict it made by various artists over the past few centuries. It was almost as if it had been produced from a memory rather than what little written description accompanied the remaining historical records. The legend for this one said ‘We Shall Return.’

Celestia noted with interest that the next picture was of none other than King Sombra, with a partially smoky form, again with the simple legend of ‘Beware.’

“A seer,” Celestia commented. “Our mysterious young artist is a seer.”

The one after that was a startlingly accurate rendition of a changeling queen and several changelings, with the caption stating ‘We Hunger.’

The next page only had writing on it. ‘The last two pictures come first.’

Almost hesitantly, Celestia lifted it to reveal none other than Nightmare Moon in full regalia flying beneath a pristine moon – a moon without the familiar mare’s head crater pattern it had borne for almost a millennium. The legend for this one was the ominous ‘It Shall be Darkest Before the Dawn of Hope’.

And the last one brought tears to her eyes.

“What is it, my Princess?”

The image, lovingly rendered in colored wax, depicted herself and Luna sitting side by side, with the legend ‘Sisters Once More’ inscribed beneath it.

“It is a message of hope, Sergeant. It is hope…”

Author's Note:

Here's a form study of Crystal...

And, hopefully, this will fix the double posted Author's note... :facehoof: