• Member Since 24th Mar, 2014
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Empirical Deduction


Please, call me Ed.


E
Source

This story takes place during the Season Five finale, "The Cutie Re-Mark". As such, there are spoilers ahead.


Starlight Glimmer's plan is working. All she has to do is upset Rainbow Dash's rainboom-creating race in the past, and Twilight Sparkle's connection with her friends will be severed. And she's done it. Repeatedly. Sure, Twilight can go back in time to try and stop her, but Starlight will always be brought back as well. No matter what Twilight tries, no matter how many times she returns, she can't stop Starlight. They're evenly-matched, and it's much easier to disrupt events than it is to preserve them.

That means Starlight wins, right?

Chapters (5)
Comments ( 576 )

Wow This Is Amazing!

6828775 I know, right?

Great story. Well written and logical... except one small problem. Twilight isn't eternal. It has been clearly stated by Lauren Faust that twilight will die of old age before her friends. Alicorns like twilight aren't eternal, they grow old at the same speed. A critical flaw, perhaps?

6828881
That and Starlight could still just destroy the scroll.

... FFOOOOOOOORRRRRRRREEEEEEEEVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR ... :twilightangry2:

6828881

Actually, if you're referring to what I think you're referring to, it's a tweet by Meghan McCarthy, not Lauren Faust (who left the creative team prior to Twilight's ascension) and it doesn't confirm nor deny immortality, instead stating that "Twilight will not outlive her friends." This gives us several options: If Twilight is immortal (or long-lived), either her friends will become immortal (or as long-lived) as well, or she will perish first - probably in self-sacrifice, given the theme. Alternately, she may not be immortal.

Delightfully, none of this has to matter for the story at this point: Twilight could believe she is immortal even if she is not. She could believe that she's longer-lived even if not immortal, and be playing it up. Or she could be bluffing.

And that's besides questions of whether tweets are cannon and artistic license. :scootangel:

6828923

That is addressed, if briefly, When she takes time to think and put her plan together, she adds protective spells for the scroll itself, the bag it's in, and Spike - impermanent, but enough that it would be very hard for Starlight to successfully fight her way through without the loop ending. Since her gambit requires her to be able to constantly return, she had a reason to prioritize the scroll's safety.

So Twilight goes with a bluff knowing that she'll eventually win, and since Twilight conveniently enhanced the scroll without affecting the spell, it's not indestructible. But what is Starlight doing when all this is going on? Doesn't she return to the actual present whenever Twilight doesn't go back in time?

Well Ponyville's existence seems to imply average pony lifespans are REALLY long, in Winter Wrap up Twilight says Ponyville has been doing winter wrap up the same for hundreds of Years.. and Granny Smith was part of the founding generation of Ponyville. The Ponies also don't seem to have large numbers of kids so they breed slow... I expect a normal pony lifespan is maybe 200 to 300 years.

This story reminds me of the Mentally Advanced Short when MA Twilight points out this same problem, she's Immortal so she can just wait for Starlight to die. Course she gets Starlight to give up for an appropriate reason for the MA series and gives her the worst punishment she can think of...

6829079

Very good question!

In the episode, it seemed that she was unaware of the "bad" alternate timelines until Twilight grabbed her and pulled her along; she was surprised to wind up in the wasteland-present (which is the point of divergence for this fic), and it was strongly implied that she hadn't seen Nightmare Moon's victory or any of the others. Hence the denial of the importance of the Mane Six's friendship. What seems most likely is that she remained there in the past without the portal to whisk her away, only to be yanked from there back to just before Twilight's arrival in the past again each time.

Or if not "most likely", it's certainly the one that is least objectionable to the premise of the fic. :trollestia:

In all seriousness though, that's what I figured was going on in canon; as to what she does during the time between Twilight going back to the present and getting drawn back to the start of the race, the answer only needs to be "nothing important" so far - it could have an effect on what sort of future Twilight winds up in, and might anyway as a butterfly effect, but it could be anything from talking to the foals about equality to reveling in her victory. Of course, It could become more important, depending on how you imagine she answers at the end. Come to think of it, it would also depend on whether the same amount of time passes for her as for Twilight-in-the-present.

6829002 I'm actually of the opinion that the Mane 6 are all immortal, Twilight Sparkle because of being an Alicorn and all the others because of their links to the Elements of Harmony. Each of them, as seen in the show itself, is now directly linked to their Elements, being summoned to bring harmony to the world and also currently able to simply summon the power of Harmony at will. I doubt that anypony in the history of Equestria or beyond has ever been so linked to any magic like that before, let alone magic as powerful as Harmony.

6829125 I'm pretty sure that's just an inconsistency in the show, not proof that ponies live hundreds of years.

What I've always wanted to know is just HOW Starlight managed to become more powerful than an alicorn.

6829603 What I've always wanted to know is WHY do you believe that alicorns are so much stronger than normal unicorns, that no unicorn can overpower them.

I probably missed where this was addressed but how does antagonizing a pony that can destroy the only thing keeping the bad-end time lines from becoming the new present actually help any-pony (unless the one doing the antagonizing is putting their ego ahead of the greater good) and if we are keeping mostly to the actually story then that means Twilight does not have the knowledge (among other things) to manipulate the time spell. (unless she had hindsight and that's not the case)

Ok, I'll bite. This looks interesting.

6829002
THANK YOU. I've had to explain this over and over and people still keep bringing that tweet up as if it were an invincible argument-ender. There are so many possibilities:

1. Twilight immortal, friends immortal.
2. Twilight mortal, friends immortal.
3. Twilight mortal, friends mortal.
4. Twilight immortal, friends mortal, but Twilight dies first by other means than age.
5. Twilight immortal, friends immortal, but Twilight dies first by other means than age.
6. Twilight immortal, friends immortal, but "friends" means Discord and the other alicorns, not the rest of the Mane6.

I tend to favor #6 because the other options imply Twilight might never make any close friends outside the Ponyville crew.

Anyway, thanks for a nice little exploration of the futility of Starlight's (admittedly batshit insane) struggle.

Honestly, the safest way for Twilight to win would have been to wait until she's in a future where she could have time to herself without being accosted (like in the NMM timeline had she not introduced herself to Rarity), then spend a couple days/weeks/however long it takes to figure out how to modify the spell herself so it doesn't take Starlight back with her.

Even if the scroll gets destroyed in the past, if Twilight managed to keep Starlight from following her for a while, she could just go to the Canterlot Archives and grab the original scroll and spend some time recreating Starlight's work; she said that the modifications were easy compared to Starswirl's original work, so I'm sure Twilight could pull it off too if she had time.

6830100
There's also the "loophole" possibility where Meghan was talking about how the show would end before any of the six get even close to dying of old age, which would mean that in the show itself, she doesn't outlive her friends regardless of whether she's immortal or not.

6829125

Maybe they count in base four? That would mean the founding is sixteens of years ago. :trollestia:

More seriously, ponies living for centuries does work as an interpretation. Of course, there are several other possible options: Aside from "the writers messed up", it may be that Twilight was exaggerating or unaware of Ponyville history, that Granny Smith was stretching the truth or misremembering, that long life is part of the Earth Pony suite of abilities rather than indicative of all pony lifespans, or that Granny Smith is uniquely or unusually long-lived (though that might imply that she's further up on the family tree than "grandmother").

6829280

It's a valid interpretation, and one that has been more popular ever since they got the "Rainbow Power". I tend to lean towards alicorn ascension, but that's just because the idea of alicornhood for everyone amuses me. Of course, you can have a little fun with that tweet depending on how you interpret "friend". I mean, to use the easiest example, what about Moondancer?

6829480

The easiest explanation is that alicorns take time to develop their powers. Whether that means advancing the magic of all three tribes to incredible levels naturally or through practice or having an independent "alicorn magic" which amounts to phenomenal cosmic powers is still open to interpretation. It could be both of course.

6829767

I presume you're referring to the scroll. This was indeed addressed, if only briefly: when Twilight and Spike wind up in the wasteland-present (in this case, without Starlight) and she takes the time to think and plan, one of the things she does before returning is apply protective magic to the scroll, the bag it's being stored in, and Spike. If you're wondering why she did that in this fic but did not in the episode proper, it's because her plan here required that she be able to continue to return, and thus it makes sense to secure her ability to do so. This is part of the divergence of the fic, since in the episode Starlight winds up pulled to the wasteland-present with them, and Twilight's not planning on actually doing it forever. Or she's just flying by the seat of her metaphorical pants, and the scroll as a vulnerability doesn't occur to her until after Starlight reclaims and threatens it. And yes, I'm holding to canon in that Twilight doesn't know enough to mess with the spell herself at this point - the important difference here is that she's warding the physical scroll rather than trying to alter the spell it contains.

6830100

I tend to favor #1, but that's mostly because "befriend Twilight, become alicorn/immortal" amuses me. Of course, you can play with this further still; perhaps Twilight is immortal, her friends are mortal, but she's going to use magical (or perhaps technological) means to preserve them (in some sense) far beyond their years - this would also satisfy #1.

At any rate, you're quite welcome! I'm glad you liked it. Now the only question is what, if anything, to do with it from here. Which reminds me, I think I have a blog post to write.

Technically, if Starlight is still stuck in the past every time the time line is changed, she's still subject to aging, right?

So even if she and Twilight were to keep at this scuffle for eternity, eventually Starlight would lose from aging, right?

6830228 No! Because Starlight will suddenly also become immortal! :pinkiegasp: And learn to make alicorns mortal! In 10 seconds flat!

Because, hell, the episode already expected us to believe all her other plot-convenient powers. Would we be surprised if that had happened? :applejackunsure:

6830223 You can chalk that up to 'the writers don't pay attention to the world's continuity all that well'.

We've seen that a number of times, you know. It's also made more difficult by different episodes being written by different writers. Some may not know a good portion of the history as stated. Most shows that seriously consider such things keep a diagrammed historical timeline to keep track of events.

To solve this particular dimple, though, a simple change in the Twilight's statement is all that's needed. Just have it changed to 'Earth ponies have been doing it for hundreds of years', and the conflicting Ponyville history disappears.

Lol. Immortal alicorn card is op, yet logical.

6830228

That is, in fact, the very premise of the fic. :yay:

6830319 Did I seriously just guess the story before reading it?

Well, guess I don't have to go on then. Bye!

...

Ah, go on then. I came this far and the least I can do is take a gander at it.

6830324

Much obliged; I hope you enjoy it. :twilightsmile:

6830274 What powers?

To be honest I'd actually like to know HOW magic works in the show. Because apparently ALL living things possess magic, such as pegasi using magic to fly and manipulate weather patterns, or earth ponies to be more attuned to the land.

But with unicorns and alicorns, do they create magic, or is magic an invisible essence that is ever present and they simply have the power to manipulate it to certain extents? Or do they generate their own flow of magic and utilize that into some metaphorical shape or form with which to cast the desired spell and or effects?

Also I say this on other fanfics based on the episode, but I blame Starswirl for creating a time travelling spell in the first place because that's just careless. People say he could have made it to do something in the past like save someone or whatever, but even then you just don't leave a thing that powerful and dangerous laying about.

Starswirl, your creations do more harm than good. Bearded dipstick.

6830334 I'm not really a big fan of Starlight to be honest, but I did kinda spoil the concept of this fanfic for newcomers so the least I thought to do to compensate my stupidity is to give it a look. Besides, I actually like alternate takes on official plots so let's see what your ideas do, shall we?

6830355

I don't think not being a fan of Starlight will be an issue. :scootangel:

As an aside, if you do feel bad about potential spoilers in your comments, you could always go back and edit in a spoiler-field over those bits.

Well, Twilight has Starlight beat on time.

They both look like mermaids in the cover art.

This is literally amazing. I love it!

I like this.

Actually, Twilight just goofed. Why? Because she told Starlight that she'll appear in the 'present', plus a few minutes have passed by.

Starlight knows what day it is in the present. All she has to do is blast Twilight into the time portal one more time, then stay in the past, and WAIT until the present day, and trap the heck out of the area where Twilight will reappear at. She doesn't know down to the precise second when Twilight will appear, but she knows it'll be in the afternoon of whenever Starlight travelled back in time.

Boom. Twilight just got captured by Starlight who has five or ten YEARS to plan out a trap for Twilight and prevent her from returning to the past. Unless you're going to pull a deus ex machina out, Twilight's few minutes of planning during the last few timelines won't match the time Starlight has.

6830594

An interesting idea indeed, but one with potential flaws - including timey-wimey ones. Or to put it differently, whether or not that's a viable tactic will depend on the nature of the spell and how time travel works, as well as what happens in the intervening time.

To begin with, there's the question of the timing of Starlight's return to the past. She returns every time Twilight does, and earlier. Since she doesn't age decades in the show, I'm assuming that whatever portal draws her back does so from where Twilight left her in the past, or possibly after a like amount of time passes as Twilight spends in the present. And it's implied that her return is linked to Twilight using the spell. So, the first and most important question: does Starlight have a choice? If she does not, if the spell brings her back to the past every time Twilight casts it, then it's rather moot.

So let's assume it's avoidable. Or, perhaps that it wouldn't occur at all if Starlight's new past-plan succeeds in the present and she stops Twilight from returning to the past again. There's the first potential paradox, actually; whether or not the portal for her return would form - after all, if it forms and she avoids it, it implies Twilight went back to the past and she lost her chance to do so, which would then change the past-present she was in. Unless of course we dip into multiverse theory and each cast of the spell puts them in a different version of the past (which would also explain why they don't run into themselves). But I digress!

Setting aside potentially paradoxical actions, let's assume that Starlight can stay in the past, and goes on to set up traps and such for Twilight as you suggest, since she knows where and when she's returning to. There is one major issue there: Starlight would be exposed to the "bad" future - whichever one - in the process. Now if it's Flim & Flam's Economic Conquest she winds up in she'll surely be appalled but she may still be able to set up her traps or ambushes. If she still wants to. However, if it's another wasteland-present...well, whatever did in Equestria may well do her in too. The same goes for several other villains winning.

Of course, one could imagine her trying to be the hero as the past unfolds into a bad future - that could make for an amusing spin-off, come to think of it.

And I suppose if she were thinking carefully and capable of surviving whatever disaster hit Equestria that time, she may still have the option of regaining the ability to travel through time herself if she can get another copy of the scroll. Of course, when it comes to further time travel shenanigans, there is the question of how The Map would react. The forces of Harmony work in strange and manipulative ways, after all.

At any rate, to sum up: for this to work out, she must have the option not to return to the past, must survive through the bad-present, and must still want to break up Twilight's friends by the time Twilight arrives. And must successfully execute her trap, of course. All together, I don't see it as a very large threat if only because of what seeing the bad-present arrive is likely to do to her will to fight. None the less, it is quite the clever idea, and does sound like something Starlight may try if given the option since she doesn't know about the bad-present by the end of the chapter.

6828881 It was stated on a tumblr post that Twilight would not outlive her friends (not necessarily by old age), which may or may not be considered cannon.

Also she did technically die once already, when she became an alicorn she was pretty much vaporized by the elements and forced onto what looks like either the astral or ethereal plane.

Also as an off topic side note for why Starlight is doing so well against Twilight, is that maybe Twilight actually got weaker when she became an alicorn. That is her magic stayed the same and got divided up between pegasus, earth, and unicorn magic. Since she does not really know how to use those other abilities she is effectively a third as powerful as she was as a unicorn. Though being an alicorn pretty much would allow her to train herself to become as powerful as she wanted, especially since the show showed what type of power her body can hold, but that takes time.

why are we assuming that a unicorn as magically talented and revenge obsessed as Starlight did not plan for an eternal battle with Twilight and consider her clear skill with time based magic, i don't see any reason why she could not stop her aging also she has seen a bit of Twilight power and has observed her for a period of time, the princess magical power and knowledge does not seem to have put much doubt in Starlight on whether her plan might succeeded.

6830660 You're throwing a number of 'ifs' out there, though, when as it stands there's really nothing that contradicts what I said earlier.

Of course, I've always thought that Starlight DID stay in the past and DID fight all the villains that came upon Equestria, since she would have been the only one with foreknowledge, but she would always fall to one villain, and that villain would control that timeline. A dynamic Starlight is a better explanation for why there's such large permutations between each timeline, instead of 'oh because Rainbow Dash got zapped instead of slowed down X now is the Big Bad of the future instead of Y', even going off of Zecora's chaos theory explanation. In Timeline 1, she sealed Nightmare Moon away and beat up Chrysalis but fell to Sombra, and so on.

Then Twilight drags Starlight along for the ride, and because Starlight WASN'T there to fight any villains, NOBODY had foreknowledge and the villains had a free-for-all destroying the world basically. Of course, that's my headcanon, and it could very well be that Starlight had always meant to trap Twilight, but always got offed by a villain first :rainbowwild:. In which case, in this scenario Twilight would've just broken it further since Starlight would've been less focused on villains and more focused on trapping Twilight in the future.

My first reaction- time travel gives me a headache. Especially when its with as vague rules as the episode followed. Though most of the finale was devoted to what-ifs, if this villain won or that one, etc, anyway.

Interesting take on the time travel part of the finale. So every time Twilight is pulled back to the altered present, Starlight just hangs around in Clousdale until Twilight makes another attempt? Unless its her off-screen future actions in the past that causes each different future too, hm. And that now Twilight is threatening (or bluffing) that if this drags on for decades (or longer) ,Twilight will wear Starlight down like that? Although I wonder about food and sleep too (if they just have to wait until Starlight collapses), but then I might be thinking about it too much. Another relatively recent episode of a popular show did a time travel loop and showed time for meals, so that's probably influencing me.

As long as Twilight lands in a relatively quite future (even if it is a barren, dead world), at least that gives her more time to plan and prepare rather than running from whatever villain won. Just as long as she doesn't land in an even worse future she can't escape from. And I always thought Twilight's magic should either increase with her ascension, or rather, I'm not happy this other unicorn shows up out of nowhere to upstage Celestia's personal student (Sunset at least was a former student too). And Twilight did fight Tirek to a standstill, though she had the power of four alicorns at that moment, but Tirek had Discord's magic too, so apparently Cadence and Twilight's magic matched the energy of every other pony in Equestria too.

So there'll be a continuation, right? Although I could see this fic work as a standalone too. In some ways Starlight was quite prepared, in other ways, she was just being a mean revenge-obsessed overpowered petty villain.

6830828

Another relatively recent episode of a popular show did a time travel loop and showed time for meals, so that's probably influencing me.

That wasn't a time loop. It was a closed-energy loop; the rooms were constantly recycling, and time passed as it normally did. The character even mentioned the passage of time.

Twi has The Patience of the Mountain

“Starlight, you’ve powerful. So much so that I can’t stop you now. But unlike you, I can wait. And I only need to win once.”

I found small mistake for you.

As for Starlight winning everytime, I never liked it. Not only it means that Twilight being an alicorn is pointless since self-levitation works far better than wings and being an alicorn doesn't give her advantage against Starlight, but also the fact that Starlight win every single time is stupid.

I mean, sure, it is harder to prevent Dash form failing to do a Sonic Rainboom then to cause it, but considering that Twilight fail over and over, it just make her look terible. When you play a geneoside run in Undertale and you fight Sans, he is crazy powerful and kill you over and over, but overtime you adapt and start to evade all his shots, and after a certain ammount of deaths, you can actually beat him a few times in a row thanks to muscule memory.

The fact that Starlight Glimmer not only win against an alicorn who could fight of Tirek with power of Discord and entire Equestria (sure, she had power of 3 other princesses on her side, but 1/4 of it is still a loooot), not only win in air-combat where she constantly need to maintain her levitation to not fall, but she also win over and over. It is like having two players play basketball where a smaller and weaker player score 20 times in a row against a bigger one, just because the plot demands it.

Though I do like that in this story Twilight and Spike can outlive Starlight, and the idea that alicorns get stronger with age.

And it's still an incomplete fic?
As it stand, it looked like a great one-shot and I sincerly doubt there is really more to add. Maybe debate a bit on how time travel work and how headache-inducing that whole thing is.

For all intents and purposes, I’m immortal. It’s the same for dragons, so that goes double for Spike.

Fun fact: no, she's not. That one head writer person said in response to this particular question that "Twilight will not outlive her friends." So yeah, not happening.

6831271 Not outliving them doesn't mean she is not immortal. They may join her in immortality.
Both are possible with the information avaible at this point.

6831271

Never seen a cryptic answer before, have you?

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