• Published 18th May 2016
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Only Time will Tell - meanderingNekomata



A side story to Even Stars can Fall about Minuette, Moondancer, Lemon Hearts, Twinkleshine, and Lyra.

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Time After Time

Dear Minuette,

If you are reading this, I have either finally chosen to die or I have been struck down by something beyond my control. As your mother, it is important that I explain to you the true nature of the world, the true nature of time. Time is not cyclical, but branching. It splinters outward in an ever expanding tree of alternate worlds following alternate timelines which do not terminate after the death of all life in the world, or even in every world, but only once the individual universes themselves cease to exist. For you see, life can spring from anywhere and anything. But that is not the point of this tale. Time is immutable, nothing of the past can in fact be changed and though for any who attempt to do so may see positive results, all they have succeeded in doing is shifting themselves to another timeline.

Somewhere out there, it is theorized that there is a timeline where everything goes right, life prospers as best it can, science and magic reach their peak while nature continues to thrive, all diseases have been cured and all beings live in harmony with each other and the universe. We call this timeline Shangri-La. It is thought to be a veritable paradise for all life. We also believe there to be a complete opposite to this timeline, a universe which has come to ruin in every way imaginable. It goes by many names: Pandemonium, Purgatory, Perdition, Hell, Tophet, Hades, Niflheim, the Netherworld, Sheol, Abaddon, and many more besides. This is said to be the realm where monsters first originated, where the first murderer in all of existence dwelled, where anything and everything considered wrong or depraved got its start, the birthplace of all evil, and a land without hope. In between are timelines too innumerable to count which even now grow in number with each choice made by any and all creatures in every timeline.

It is no extraordinary feat to shift timelines, no. Any time a creature makes a decision; through action or inaction, they in fact take all possible courses of action and inaction, and in so doing split off into multiple versions of themselves and give birth to as many timelines as their choices allow. What is extraordinary is finding individuals who can make these choices, then move backwards along their timeline and make them again, ultimately ending up in a separate branch entirely. While it may not allow for the manipulation of alternate instances of the worlds themselves, it does allow for beings who manage to harness this ability through science, magic, or natural processes to explore more of the landscape of time and space than they may otherwise, reveal hidden possibilities or branches in a timeline based on their knowledge, and become more or less immune to death by old age through the process of continually moving backwards before such a threshold is met.

Throughout our family’s history, the Gift has been passed down for generations. My mother had it, and her father before that, and his mother before that, even down to some of your uncles and aunts. All of us have had the ability to move backwards across the span of our own lifetimes, and so too shall you in time. I have taken the liberty of compiling our ancestral logs into a single unified tome. This book contains all that our ancestors have discovered over the ages in their travels, though it reads a bit more like a collective journal than a research log. It may appear quite daunting now. I assure you that you should have plenty of time not only to read this book in its entirety, but even enough to memorize and add to it with your own journey so long as you spend your time wisely and don’t get yourself killed. And please know that though I may be gone, I live on through you, so try not to mourn me too heavily.
To the best daughter in any and all instances,
Strange Aeon

Minuette sat for a minute, then two. The whole month had been a blur for her what with learning that her mother had passed, helping arrange the funeral, and of course the month was twice as long for her trying to ensure that the proceedings went perfect and taking time to handle her own grief. She pondered a few times whether she should go back and talk to her again. She didn't want to get caught up in that cycle, but it was harder not to now that she had so many questions.

Then there was the fact that her mom hadn’t told her, even if she went back it seemed almost in violation of her mother’s wishes. On top of that there were the things she had learned from her mother’s letter on the inside cover of the book. Revelations came to her one by one. She wasn’t the only time traveler, she hadn’t changed anything by going back in time. The only thing she managed to change was her own timeline. She hadn’t saved her friends on their trip, she just went to another reality where the tragedy was avoided. She'd merely run from a cruel reality. As the dots continued to connect in her head she remembered the sickening crunch of Lemon Heart’s body colliding with a tree, the sight of deep wounds with blood seeping out of them in waves. She was still dead, Minuette hadn’t saved her, hadn’t saved any of them, hadn't even saved that version of herself.

For a moment, she considered going back, saving who she could, but then what about this Lemon Hearts? She was the same pony, the only difference was that she hadn’t died that day. Do I really want to live in a world without her when I have a choice? Maybe I’d just die trying for a reality I can’t change. Is it selfish of me to want to live in a world where my friends are all alive? Is there another me back there going through it all in my stead? Would my ancestors have done the same? Did they? Or maybe they lived through all their realities regardless how brutal they may have been.

Glancing up from the book, she realized she was still in the post office. She’d gone there to see what her mother had left her after being hoofed the key to her mother's safety deposit box by the lawyer disseminating her will. She placed the book in her saddlebags along with the other effects her mother had left in the box and headed home. Along the way she took no detours, she didn’t even bother to grab lunch. When she reached her home she fumbled the key twice before she finally got inside and shut and locked the door behind her.

She opened the bag and took out the book before depositing her saddlebags on the couch and plopped into her reading chair. Opening the book, she noticed the first few journals were written in Old Ponish, and it took Minuette a bit to remember her mother’s lessons on the subject. Flipping through the book, it began to click in her mind why her mother had been so insistent on teaching her several different languages as a kid. She saw passages in Ancient Roaman, Prench, Neighponese, and even some depicted entirely in alchemical diagrams which hid their meaning in various depictions of fantastical images meant to hide their secrets from all but the practitioners of the ancient art. Fortunately for Minuette, her mother had thought to include a key stating what some of the symbols or in some cases the lack thereof meant.

She stared at the book, turned back to the front page, and began reading.

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From the Diary of Testament the Learned*

Translated into Old Ponish by the scholar Lost Rune

*The following pages were all that could be recovered from the ruins of the Library of Alexandrimare

27th of August, 962*

I remember a time when it used to be quiet and peaceful this time of year. Ever since Grogar plunged the world into darkness with his monstrous creations, I hardly get a wink of sleep. I constantly find myself going back these days, reminiscing on realities in which I wasn’t able to save my friends who even now struggle to bring down the mad goat and his accursed bell. Of course I say friends, but some may be confused by this, it is a strange situation I find myself in, giving up friendship for the safety of the ones I wish to protect. There was and will always be a reality in which Harmony prevails against evil at every turn, it could be several realities, or hundreds, or thousands, or quite possibly even some unfathomable number far beyond our comprehension. Still, it feels as though the opposite if true for just as many. Maybe if I hadn’t made this sacrifice, I could’ve found another way, but I’ve just seen too much death. Maybe if I couldn’t run from it all, I would face it head on. I only hope that future generations may never face such a struggle, though I doubt that will hold true.
They have plans to steal… for their sake… wish I could… my love… endless torment… cursed.

*962 in this context refers to the year 775 BE (Before Equestria)

Beyond that point it became a series of incomplete quotes. Several footnotes denoted what scholars believed was meant or implied by the remnants of coherent thought but regardless, it all pointed to a sad and incomplete existence. At the end of this journal, it was mentioned that this was only the first in a 10 volume set of journals, the rest of which were burned beyond all recognition by dragon fire along with the library itself.

She looked up at the clock and noticed the day was almost over. Her stomach grumbled, she’d already missed lunch and it was getting to be about three hours past the time she usually had dinner. Minuette sighed, closed her eyes, and found herself once more in her hallways of images, her timeline. She trotted down a little ways and quickly found an image of herself walking past Donut Joe’s. Placing her hoof to the image, she concentrated for a few moments and when she opened her eyes she found herself in the same location the image had displayed.

Abruptly, her trotting hooves came to a stop before making an abrupt turn towards the confectionery in question. As she entered the familiar place, the smell of fresh donuts flooded her nostrils and the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach seemed to lighten, if only a little. “Minuette, haven’t seen you around lately.” Donut called out. Then, as she approached the counter, he added in a softer voice, “Hey, listen, I heard about your mom, she was a great mare. I’m not gonna go through all that ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ stuff, but I’m here if you need to talk and I’ll go ahead and get you a baker’s dozen on the house. How’s that sound?”

Minuette looked up into his eyes and saw the sincerity in them. “Th-thanks, Joe, I really… I really appreciate it. It’s been a bit of a long month.”

He passed a box of assorted donuts her way. “Hey, it’s no problem, just, what was that again? Don’t say I did nothin’ for ya?”

She smiled, “Close, it’s ‘don’t say I never did nothin’ for ya.’” She started to turn to leave, then thought better of it. She turned back to Joe and said “Seriously, thanks for this. It means a lot.” Then she headed out the door.

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September sat on a bench and stared with a blank expression at the bakery across the street. He licked at his ice cream cone. Vanilla. The gray unicorn stallion with no mane was conspicuous enough with his peculiar, maneless appearance and by all means the fact that the aura around his horn and cone was clear should’ve attracted some attention, but somehow nopony noticed. It was as though he wasn’t even there.

He’d been sitting there for roughly half an hour, five minutes earlier he’d picked up an ice cream cone from a local vendor. A mare with a blue and white color scheme and an hourglass cutie mark exited the bakery with a box of donuts. The stallion dropped his cone, not out of surprise or shock, but as though it had fulfilled its purpose and he had no more use for it. He got up and calmly followed her at a slow, but even pace.

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Doctor Whooves was in Canterlot on business. At least that’s what he told anyone who asked. His real purpose was a rather personal matter. And while it was true that he had a job at the Canterlot College of Applied Sciences, he was off during the Summer.

The truth was that he’d heard rumors of a mare who somehow shared his cutie mark. Given what his cutie mark denoted, he initially found the claim far fetched if not impossible. He bet a colleague fifteen bits that nopony could find this mysterious pony because she didn’t exist. So certain was he in his assertion, he gave a generous time frame of a year to find her. Admittedly he’d been half joking even then, but three months later he found a picture on his desk along with a gloating colleague. Needless to say, he was now 15 bits lighter.

He had to wait another month before his investigation began in earnest. Though “investigation” gives a bit of the wrong impression of the search, as he found her almost as soon as he started looking. Minuette, graduate of Princess Celestia’s school for gifted unicorns, currently residing in a townhouse near the corner of Mane Street and Sunset Avenue, regularly frequents Donut Joe’s, friends with Moondancer, Twinkleshine, Lemon Hearts, Lyra, and even Princess Twilight Sparkle if the rumor of the recent visit the Princess had made to her home roughly a month prior bore any truth, all these were clues he had been able to gather quite easily. He even knew that her mother had recently passed and that she was used to work as a dentist but had more recently started up her own business selling time pieces of all things. Regardless of what he’d learned, it’s one thing to investigate someone and quite another to actually own up to it and ask her the questions he really wanted answers to.

He sat in Donut Joe’s, eating a glazed donut, drinking black coffee, and pondering what to do when the mare herself trotted through the door and nearly made him choke on the bite he’d just taken. He quickly took a swallow of his coffee and washed it down before glancing around to ensure nopony was staring. A few ponies gave him worried glances but he waved his hoof in such a way as to try to indicate he was okay. Somehow, Minuette had remained oblivious to the whole event. Pony Joe handed her a box of donuts, she thanked him and left. Doctor Whooves left the bits for his meal on the table, put on his scarf and windbreaker, and walked outside in time to see Minuette walking off in the direction of her home.

He sighed, debated with himself for a moment, then came to a decision. It’s now or never. The sooner I confront her, the sooner I can have my answers. Besides, I can’t just keep following her forever. As he trotted along after her though, he started to notice a gray unicorn stallion without a mane. The stallion kept a calm, even pace, yet somehow was always right behind them. When they turned their fourth corner and still he saw the stallion on their tail, he came up with a plan.

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Minuette was walking by the Quillden Books bookstore when suddenly she felt herself enveloped in a telekinetic aura and thrown into the alleyway. She landed flank first in a heap of garbage bags which softened her fall. When she got up, she had several apple cores caught in her mane and a bag stuck to her leg by some sticky substance, probably syrup. She sighed, levitating the cores from her mane and ripping the bag off her leg like a bandage, removing a small patch of fur from her coat in the process. Seconds later, a brown unicorn stallion in a multicolored scarf and what appeared to be a light gray windbreaker.

He locked eyes with her and for a second they both sat there silently, staring each other down. When he didn’t pull out a shovel and his horn didn’t pulse with magic energy, Minuette released a breath. “Look, dude, I don’t know what it’s like where you come from, but around here, shoving mares into piles of alleyway trash is frowned up…” He had a hoof over her muzzle before she could finish her sentence.

“Shhhh! He’ll find us.”

“He who?” Minuette whispered when he took his hoof away.

“Gray unicorn stallion, no mane, blank ominous expression, kept showing up around every corner despite going at a virtual snail’s pace, started following you when you left Donut Joe’s.”

She looked down at the crushed box of donuts, then saw the gray stallion at the entrance to the alleyway. “Great idea! Let’s talk there!”

“What?” he asked incredulous but she had already closed her eyes.

Minuette swiftly found the memory of herself about to leave Pony Joe’s, put a hoof to it, and focused. There she was, a few feet from the exit, moving towards it when suddenly she stopped. She peered around the room, searching for somepony. When she spotted the brown stallion, she trotted over, took the seat opposite him, and set down her box of donuts. “Hey there, so what I’m about to say may sound a bit crazy. You ready?” she asked.

The stallion nodded.

“My name is Minuette, and I’m from the future. Well, not that far in the future, like maybe five to seven minutes in the future.”

“Wait, so you’re…”

“A time traveller, I know, it’s…”

“just like me.”

“Wait what?”

“What?”

Author's Note:

Welp, this has taken forever to put out. Sorry for the long wait, inspiration has truck at last and I ended up writing this in a day. Anyway, I have the next chapter on the way already, so expect that soon. Also don't trust my announcement blogs, but then, you probably knew that.

Comments ( 1 )

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Welp, it's been 3 years, and nearly 2 months but I'm finally getting back to this.

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