• Published 14th Jun 2016
  • 1,804 Views, 51 Comments

Den Fjerde Væg - Meta Four

Ditzy Doo meets Ponyville's other secret agent. Twilight Sparkle learns an unsettling fact about her brother. Pinkie Pie meets her older sister. All of them live in the shadow of a wall...

  • ...

Act III. Panic Button

It was delicate work, traveling with a phonograph balanced on her back, so Pinkie Pie kept both eyes open as she bounced down Mane Street. She hummed along with the record. But as she rounded a corner, both her humming and hopping came to an abrupt stop as Pinkie felt the first twitches.

First, three of Pinkie’s hooves tingled and tickled. Then followed the “pancake emergency” signal, but with only two leg twitches, and an extra shudder along her spine. It ended with a complex pattern of eye flutters and ear flops—a mix of the “I left a cake out in the rain!” and “Hey, what’s that over there?” signals, with a backwards version of “Somepony is wrong about bees!” tacked on the end.

When it ended, Pinkie had just enough time to catch the phonograph before it hit the ground. The song continued playing—it hadn’t even skipped.

“Pinkie Pie ...” A mare approached, wide-eyed.

“Hiya, Daisy! Isn’t this the best song, ever?” She shoved the phonograph bell into Daisy Wish’s face.

The flower mare pushed it away. “Was that your Pinkie Sense just then?”


“What did it just predict?”

Pinkie rebalanced the phonograph on her back, not looking at Daisy as she said, “Well ...”

Daisy grabbed Pinkie’s shoulders and shook. “How much should we panic right now?

The record skipped. Frowning, Pinkie reached back and moved the tone arm to the beginning of the song. She resumed smiling as she said, “Oh, that twitchy-twitch? I’ve had it before.”

“And what happened?”

“Nothing at all!”

“Oh.” Daisy’s breathing slowed down. “Wait, you have a Pinkie Sense for ‘nothing is going to happen’?”

“I know! Isn’t it crazy?”

Three days later ...

The faint light of pre-sunrise illuminated two small figures perched at the foot of the bed: a baby alligator and a rubber chicken. Gummy, staring intently at his pony, blinked twice. The lump under the bedsheets stirred and groaned in response.

“Just five more minutes ...” Pinkie mumbled into her pillow.

Boneless fell off his post and sprawled on the floor.

Pinkie Pie’s energy reserves were impressive, but not infinite—and the previous day would have exhausted even an alicorn. There had been Rainbow Dash’s birth-iversary and, to celebrate it, one of the most splendiferously elaborate parties Ponyville had ever hosted. Then Cheese Sandwich had helped make the party so awesometastic—but also skipped town just before cleanup. And meeting Cheese had prompted Pinkie’s own existential crisis—Twilight Sparkle was right! These big words were fun to use!—which had drained Pinkie in an entirely different ...

Pinkie bolted upright, standing up in bed so quickly she flung the sheets into the air. “Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh!” She rushed away before the sheets landed on Gummy.

She arrived at the staircase and grabbed a framed photo from the wall. Her eyes widened as she examined this precious memory, which should have been familiar. It was a picture taken years ago, mere minutes after Pinkie had earned her cutie mark. The scene was the interior of a barn, livened up with colorful decorations and a table of snacks. Six earth ponies smiled at the camera.

Six ponies. Momma and Daddy Pie, then four fillies: Pinkie and her sisters. One of the sisters stood apart from the group, almost halfway out of picture. Pinkie had glanced at the photo yesterday and seen her, but she hadn’t truly noticed her.

“So that’s what that twitchy-twitch meant …”

Pinkie’s rear legs gave out, and she sat on the floor for a while, staring into space. Eventually, she furrowed her brow and twisted her lips into a small smile. With her Serious Face in place, she rushed out of her room, pausing only to free Gummy from the bedsheets. In the process, Boneless somehow landed on Pinkie’s back, and remained slumped across her withers as she galloped out of Sugarcube Corner, onto the pre-dawn streets.

Pinkie was a professional. Without even calculating, she knew exactly how many balloons it took to lift a mare of her weight to the height of a second-story window.

This window was the one above Time Turner’s Timepieces—specifically, the bedroom window. It was only after her hooves left the ground that Pinkie realized the potential downside of appearing at a bedroom window, unannounced, at this hour of the morning. She might catch the inhabitants doing something naughty … like eating snacks in bed!

Fortunately, there was no naughtiness in this bedroom. There was just Time Turner, sprawling across the bed, with the covers tangled around him, and Ditzy doing wing-ups on the floor.

Pinkie rapped on the window, and waited patiently for Time Turner to fully wake up. As soon as he opened the window, she sang, “Weightless, I drift, sometimes I dip down …

Ditzy answered, “Underneath the weight of my doubts …”

Pinkie climbed through, tying her balloons to the latch, then closing the window behind her. But before Pinkie could say another word, Ditzy pointed a hoof at her and declared, “You!

“Yep! It’s me.” Pinkie beamed.

“No, not you.” Flying over, Ditzy snatched Boneless off his spot on Pinkie’s withers. “Him. This chicken and I need to have a little talk.” She glanced between Time Turner and Pinkie. “Will you two be okay if I step out for a bit?”

Pinkie nodded vigorously. Time Turner clenched his teeth, but also nodded.

“Great!” Ditzy glared at the rubber chicken in her grasp as she turned away. She slipped to the side, in mid-air—and disappeared completely, as if rounding an invisible corner.

“So cool,” Pinkie said, staring up at the empty air where Ditzy had just been.

“So …” Dr. Hooves scratched at the floor. “How serious is it, Pinkie?”

“I dunno. Shouldn’t you ask Ditzy that? Sometimes a pony just has to talk to a chicken.”

“That’s not what …” Dr. Hooves shook his head. “I mean your problem. Whatever Service business that made you come to us, of all ponies.”

“Oh, yeah. That. I … I don’t know. It’s not urgent but …” Pinkie closed her eyes and sighed. “Why can’t Equestria just stay saved?

Dr. Hooves gave her a small smile. “You know, sometimes I wish that’s how the universe worked, myself.”

“Just think!” Pinkie continued. “How many times has Ditzy Doo saved us all from icky-squicky things that break the laws of physics? A lot!”

“Um, that’s not how physics works.”

Clutching her head in her hooves, Pinkie looked straight at Dr. Hooves. “And how many times have you stopped big, dumb meanies from the future from dumping trash in the time stream?”

Dr. Hooves rolled his eyes. “That’s not how time works.”

“Oh, right. Dr. Hooves, how many times will you have-been-to-stopping big, dumb meanies from the future from going-to-already-dumped-ing trash in the time stream?”

“That’s not how grammar works.”

“But the universe doesn’t care about how hard any of us work!” Pinkie waved a foreleg in the air for emphasis. “You could fall asleep on the job just once tomorrow, miss a warning sign, then Blammo!” She clapped her hooves. “No more Equestria, no do-overs, and not even a ‘Thanks for the hard work—real bummer how it ended, huh?’”

“So you find yourself wondering,” Dr. Hooves said, “what’s the point?”

“I guess.”

“Well, to begin with, your implied argument is based on a premise that is itself unproven. When you say that our work only has value if it is permanent—you’re also claiming that old things are inherently more important than new things.”

Pinkie squinted at him and tilted her head.

“For example …” Dr. Hooves glanced around the room. “Give me a second.” He disappeared in a flash of green light. When he reappeared a second later, he was holding a rock. “Do you have any idea how old this rock is?”

As Pinkie looked at the stone, a memory surfaced—a volcanic eruption from her subconscious. She spoke along with the monotonous voice in her mind’s ear: “Lewisian gneiss. Mean age 2.4 gigayears, with a 95 percent confidence interval of plus or minus 0.7 gigayears.”

Dr. Hooves blinked.

Pinkie perked up and flashed him a big smile. “Did I ever tell you that I grew up on a rock farm?”

“Oh.” Dr. Hooves held the rock up. “So we both agree this lump of minerals is exceedingly old. Older than any pony, even the Princesses. So, is—”

“So, is that rock more important than a pony? That’s what you’re gonna ask, right?”

“Yes. Took the words right out of my mouth.”

“Well, your question kinda doesn’t prove anything! I mean, sure, nopony is as old as that rock. But rocks are made of atoms, and those atoms are made of quarks and magic. And ponies are also made of atoms and quarks and magic.” Pinkie giggled. “Quark. That’s such a great word. Quark, quark, quark! Three quarks for—”

“Ahem,” Dr. Hooves interrupted. “Is there a point to any of this, Pinkie?”

“No, quarks are round, I think. And Twilight tells me that sometimes they turn into waves when nopony’s looking at them! Tiny things are weird!

Dr. Hooves sighed.

“And they’re old! Most of the atoms in the world date back to the mixing of the galactic supercluster in Princess Nebuloso’s great cauldron. So from a certain point of view …” Pinkie grabbed the rock and held it inches away from her face. “We’re all just as old as this rock.”

“Yes …”

“But that still doesn’t help!” Pinkie tossed the rock back to Time Turner. “Atoms don’t care if Equestria is a beautiful place full of happy ponies, or just a crater where nothing lives. And, and, oh! And what if we have immortal souls?”

“Pinkie …”

“That’ll just make it even more complicated! Nopony knows when souls are made. And what about reincarnation? What about—”

“Oh, no, no, no …” Dr. Hooves threw the rock into the air and put that hoof to Pinkie’s lips. “We’re not going down that rabbit hole.”

He kicked his rear hoof and struck the falling rock in midair. With a green flash, the rock disappeared back to whenever the doctor had originally found it.

“Look, forget about the age argument. You’re right, it’s not terribly useful. Instead …” He pulled his hoof away from Pinkie’s face. “Let’s consider reductio ad absurdum.”

“Ooh!” Pinkie smiled. “I like the sound of that reductio!”

Dr. Hooves smiled. “You wonder what’s the point of saving Equestria if it’s just going to fall back into peril again. Well, you could use that logic to argue against doing anything. Why take a bath? You’re just going to get dirty again.”

“No, I don’t think—”

“Why bother eating? You’re just going to get hungry again.”

“Yes, but—”

“And why throw a birthday party for somepony? They’re just going to have another birthday next year, right?”

Pinkie lunged forward until her snout was mere inches away from the doctor’s. “You take that back!”

He didn’t flinch. “Look, I’m just saying—”

Pinkie grabbed his shoulders and leaned even closer. “There’re so many things wrong with what you said, I don’t even know where to start!

With deliberate slowness, Dr. Hooves pushed her forelegs away. “So, you won’t argue against my point … or you can’t?

“No! Stop it! Stop making my words mean something else!”

“Alright!” Ditzy Doo was back. Both Time Turner and Pinkie turned to look at her—their cheeks were practically touching, so close together they were.

Ditzy landed and held up the rubber chicken. “As I suspected, Pinkie, your new friend, ‘Boneless,’ is really the infamous Gah Lus the Boneless. But he got an early release for good behavior, and now he’s doing strange aeons of community service. And Xanthorgh vouches that he’s turned over a new leaf, so …”

Ditzy noticed Time Turner and Pinkie’s postures. With a groan, she tossed Boneless to the floor in front of Pinkie. “Really?” she said. “I can’t leave you two alone together for even a few minutes?”

Pinkie jabbed a hoof into Time Turner’s chest. “He said birthday parties don’t matter!”

Time Turner retorted, “No, she misinterpreted a perfectly innocuous statement!”

“Yeah,” Ditzy said, glancing between the two of them, “both of those sound completely plausible.”

“What I was getting at,” Time Turner said, “is that the logic for saving a birthday is analogous to the logic for saving the universe.”

“But, but,” Pinkie said, “birthdays aren’t like the universe at all! You have birthday parties inside the universe, and you can’t …” She gasped. “Can you have a birthday party inside a birthday party?

Ditzy and Time Turner exchanged glances. Ditzy said, “Dare I ask?”

“A recursive birthday party ... A brecursiveday party!”

“I have no idea,” Ditzy said.

Time Turner gave Pinkie a wry smile. “And wouldn’t it be a shame if the universe were to end before you could answer that question?”

Pinkie’s eyes went wide. “Oohhhh. You’re sneaky, Time Turner. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky!”

“Thanks, I guess?”

Pinkie returned Boneless to his place on her back, then pranced over to the window. “Seems like I’ve got a lot to think about. Thanks a bunch!” She opened the window and leaped out.

Pinkie knocked a bunch on the big tree library door. Then she shook herself one last time, dislodging as much of the remaining dirt from her coat as she could.

Spike answered the door. He had on an apron—a white one with pink hearts on it and a matching pink frill—and it took all of Pinkie’s self-control to refrain from scooping him up in a hug and gushing over how cute he was. And now he was looking askance at Pinkie, so she spoke first to cut off the inevitable question. “Morning, Spike! Is Twilight awake?”

“Yeah …”

“Morning, Pinkie!” Twilight called from inside. “Come on in.”

Seated at the kitchen table, Twilight was jamming a spoon into a halved grapefruit. When she looked up at Pinkie, her spoon slipped, and grapefruit juice squirted onto her face.

“Morning, Twilight. That looks really yummy!” Pinkie grabbed the other half of the grapefruit and smashed it into her forehead. “Mmmmm, juicy!”

Spike groaned. “Pinkie …”

Ignoring him, Pinkie sang, “Seedless, I drip, sometimes I dip down …”

Twilight gulped. “Under my crepes and blueberry sauce.

Spike glanced between both ponies, incredulous. “What the hay?”

“Heeeey, Spike,” Twilight said. “You know what I’m suddenly real hungry for? Your pecan pancakes! And I bet Pinkie would like some, too. You mind whipping up a batch?”

“Sure!” Spike wasted no time rushing over to the pantry and pulling ingredients out.

Twilight said to Pinkie, “And while Spike’s getting those ready, why don’t we go up to my room for a bit? We wouldn’t want to get in his way.”

“Sure!” Pinkie pulled the rubber chicken off her back and placed him on the counter. “Hey, Boneless, can you stay here and help Spike?”

As soon as the two ponies entered the bedroom, Twilight cast her bubble of silence spell, making it large enough to contain nearly the whole room.

“Alright, Pinkie, what’s the problem? You look like—”

“Oh, this?” Pinkie Pie was covered in scratches and the smudges of dirt she hadn’t been able to shake off. “I jumped out of a second-story window without my balloons. No big deal, just tuck and roll!”

“No, not that. Your smile was off. Like you were faking it for our sakes.”


“Is it related to this Den Fjerde Vægvagt business?”

“Yes …” Pinkie sighed. “Twilight, are we real?

Twilight squinted. “What do you mean by ‘real’?”

“Way back when you saw the fourth wall for the first time, didn’t you say it was a …” Pinkie made a swirly gesture with her hoof in the air. “... a theater word?”

“Well, by now the concept has broadened to literature in general, but yes, it did originate in theater.”

“So that means we’re all just characters in a play or a book, right? Like Little Orphan Hinny, or Chancellor Puddinghead, or Daring Do!”

Twilight shook her head. “Puddinghead was a historical pony, and we met Daring Do.”

“Oh, right. They’re as real as you and me.” Pinkie fidgeted. “So, how real are we?”

“It’s hard to say.” Twilight sighed. “Not long after I learned about the fourth wall, I asked the Princesses everything they knew about it. It was more than I knew, but less than I hoped. It’s … just not conclusive. But there’s no evidence against your hypothesis—that we’re fictional characters, and our author is on the other side of that wall.”

Pinkie raised one eyebrow. “So, is that a yes or a no?”

“It means we don’t know. Isn’t it crazy?”

“Uuurgh.” Pinkie flopped to the floor and splayed there. “There’s good crazy and bad crazy, and this is the bad kind.” Her neck also went limp, dropping her head to the floor.

Twilight sat at Pinkie’s side and scratched the back of her head—Pinkie’s mane and behind her ears.

Pinkie continued, muttering into the floor, “Does anything we do matter? All the good times and hugs and parties—did we really do any of that? Or did we just follow what the author planned for us?”

Twilight opened her mouth to reply, but Pinkie lifted her head off the floor and spoke first: “Are you and me only talking about this because some jerkface with a typewriter wants us to?”

Twilight gave a smile that was probably supposed to be reassuring. “If everything really is predetermined, I don’t think it’s as bad as all that.”

Pinkie looked at Twilight’s face and broke into a giggle fit.

“What?” Twilight asked, quirking one eyebrow.

“You would like it if everything in the world was planned in advance,” Pinkie said in between giggles. “Especially if it was a huge list!

Twilight smiled a bit wider at that. Then she threw one hoof to her forehead and feigned wobbling. “Oh, dear, is that the biggest list in the universe? Oh, my stars!”

Pinkie laughed a bit more at that, but the smile eventually fell from her face. “Twilight, how are you so calm about all this?”

“Well, aside from that breathing exercise that Cadance taught me …” Twilight stood up. “All these implications you’re worried over are things I had to work through back in college. Solipsism is just something that every Philosophy 101 student has to learn to live with.”

“What’s solipspspsism?”

Twilight froze. A few seconds later, a huge grin spread across her face, while she stooped to help Pinkie off the floor. She asked, “How much philosophy have you studied?”

Pinkie shrugged.

“That’s no problem at all! We can just start at the beginning.” Prancing in place, Twilight pulled a blackboard and chalk into the bubble of silence, then a three-legged stool for Pinkie.

Pinkie sat on the stool, scooting as far forward as she could without falling. She wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, but Twilight could be strangely compelling when she went into lecture mode.

Twilight wrote on the board as she spoke. “It all started in the Preclassical Era. The philosopher Pinto believed that the physical world is just an illusion, and that only ideals exist. He even had an allegory about ponies chained up in a cave …”

Twilight could be strangely compelling, but this wasn’t one of those times. Pinkie waved her hoof frantically. “Ooh! Ooh!”

“Yes, Pinkie?”

“Do you have this as a rap song, or a music video?” Pinkie bounced on her chair. “I could follow along a lot better, then!”

Twilight chuckled. “Oh, no. Trust me, you don’t want to hear me rap.”

“Aww, phooey.”

“Hmm …” With a smirk, Twilight pulled her turntable into the bubble. The record began spinning, and Twilight tapped her foot along with the synthesized, new wave melody. As her chalk flew across the blackboard again, she burst into song:

“Staring at the shadows on the cavern wall.
Is anything outside the cave, like Pinto saw?
Is this flesh and blood for real, or nothing after all?
‘I think therefore I am,’ as old Hayscartes once said.
The world might be hallucinations in your head.
If you can prove that you exist, is that enough, instead?

“Weightless, we drift.
Sometimes we don’t exist.
Caught in the shadows
of the fourth wall.
And we don’t know if it’s meaningless,
but don’t let go just yet, don’t let doubt win.

“We might be disembodied brains in alcohol,
or the dreams of butterflies sleeping through the Fall.
Are we the dreamers or the dream, and who can make that call?
But somewhere in the distance is a reason to care,
the blessing and the curse of being self-aware.
Hold onto your doubt and step into the shadow if you dare.

“Formless, we twist
ourselves into some
shape that makes us
feel right inside.
We hope that there’s some point in this,
so make your own reason, let go...
Weightless, we drift.
Perhaps we don’t exist.
Perhaps that doesn’t
matter at all.
We all make our own happiness.
Now make your own reason, let go, and dive on in.”

“Wooo!” Pinkie bobbed her head in time to the outro’s beat. “Such a cool song! What does it mean?”

Twilight drooped. “It’s … what we were just talking about. What part wasn’t clear enough?”

“Well, how do we ‘make our own reason’?” Pinkie fiddled with her forehooves. “If we don’t exist, don’t our friendships and parties and everything we call important also not exist?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean …” Twilight rubbed her forehead and closed her eyes. Upon reopening them, she pushed the blackboard away.

“Let’s come at this from a different angle,” she said as she walked around Pinkie. “What’s your favorite story? One you come back to, over and over, because it’s so good?”

Pinkie put a hoof to her chin as she thought. “I know! Baguette’s Feast!”

“Yes, that’s a good one.” Twilight smiled. “So, why did Baguette spend her prize money on that feast?”

“Because that’s the best way to spend that much money, of course.” Pinkie wiggled in her seat, causing the whole stool to rock back and forth.

“Better even than a whole battery of party cannons?”

“Well … that’s an awfully tough decision. But you can share feasts a lot better than you can share party cannons. And Baguette wanted to share, to show the whole village how much she loved them.”

“So Baguette made that decision herself?”


Twilight stopped smiling. “So she didn’t do it because the author made her?”

Pinkie stopped wiggling in her seat. “What?”

“After all, Baguette’s a fictional character. Maybe the author’s a food junkie who wanted an excuse to write dozens of pages about an extravagant meal?”

Pinkie looked down at the floor. Twilight continued, “Maybe Baguette had no choice. The plot demanded a feast, so she was going to have one, whether she liked it or not.”

“But Baguette felt real.” Pinkie jerked back up, looking directly at Twilight. “Sure, it’s all just a story, and it only happened that way because the author wrote it. But inside the story, Baguette was a real pony. She made her own choices. She had hopes and dreams, and birthdays and funny habits and favorite songs and … everything!”

“Yes, yes …” Twilight’s mouth wasn’t smiling, but her eyes were. “And she made a real difference to her village, didn’t she?”


“She made a big impression on you and everypony else who read her story, right?”


“Well, then …” Twilight walked back to Pinkie’s other side. “As we were saying before, it’s entirely possible that you and I are actually fictional characters—like Baguette.”

Pinkie’s face was blank, while the gears in her brain rearranged themselves, grinding against each other as they shifted. Suddenly, they snapped into place—a configuration that ran even more efficiently than before. A huge, sincere smile broke out on Pinkie’s face, and she leaped across the room to tackle-hug Twilight.

“Thank you thank you thank you!” Pinkie exclaimed. “You’re so smart, Twilight!”

Twilight gasped for breath then replied, “Hey, now. You already knew all of that. I just helped you put the pieces together.”

“That is smart, silly!”

“Well, when you put it that way …” Twilight chuckled. When Pinkie released her, Twilight stood back up and continued, “If you don’t mind me asking, what got you thinking about this? I’d have assumed that you worked out this issue years ago.”

“Oh …” Pinkie pulled the photo out of her mane and held it to her chest. “I showed you that picture from the day I got my cutie mark, right?”

“Yes …”

“And I told you how my whole family was there when I got my mark, right?

“Oh, Pinkie …”

She passed the photo to Twilight. The unicorn scanned it, comparing it to the photo from her own memory. “Yes, she definitely wasn’t there before,” Twilight said, pointing at the purple-maned filly in the corner. “A new sister who you’ve just found out you always had?”

“Yeah …”

“When did this happen?”

“Just a few days ago.” Pinkie swished her tail back and forth. “My Pinkie Sense told me when it happened, but I didn’t know what it meant at the time.”

Twilight set the photo down, then hugged Pinkie. “Are you going to be okay?”

Now I will.” Pinkie rested her head on Twilight’s shoulder. “You know what would really help? Pancakes!”

Two days later ...

In the heart of Manehattan, in a dormitory hallway, Pinkie glanced up at a door number, then back down at the paper in her hoof. She turned the page upside down, then on its side, then folded it into an origami flower and stuffed it back in her saddlebag. She took a deep breath, marched up to the door, and knocked.

The door opened, and a gray face peered out with an utterly impassive expression.

“Hiya, Maud!” Pinkie proclaimed. “I’m Pinkie Pie, and I’ll be your sister for the rest of forever!”

“You’ve always been my sister,” Maud said. She didn’t sound happy as she said it, or sad, or annoyed, or distracted, or melancholic, or even vaguely content. She didn’t sound like anything.

“So …” Pinkie continued, her enthusiasm deflating slightly. “Aren’t you surprised to see me here in Manehattan?”


Maud’s face was like a stone. This seemed oddly appropriate, for reasons that Pinkie couldn’t quite put her hoof on.

“Umm.” Pinkie lowered her head and took a step back. “Is this a bad time? Should I …”

“Aren’t you going to come in.” The words formed a query, but Maud’s monotone completely swallowed the question mark. She opened the door wider and stepped back inside. Pinkie gulped, then followed.

Once inside, Pinkie boggled at the sight. At one point, this had been a standard student dorm suite, but Maud had transformed the living room into a geological shrine. Every flat surface was cluttered with rocks—some mere pebbles, others as large as a pony’s head. Diagrams of geographical surveys adorned the walls. A tall bookcase was filled with rocks, and books about rocks. The only splashes of color in the entire room were a small number of geodes and rough, uncut gemstones.

“Wow …” Permitting herself to smile, Pinkie turned in a circle to take it all in. “It’s just like home!”

She turned back to Maud—who held a small rock up to Pinkie’s face. “Boulder’s almost as excited to see you as I am,” Maud said. Yet the rock seemed the more expressive of the two.

“Awwww …” Pinkie reached out and petted the rock. “It’s good to see you, too, Boulder! And …” Pinkie’s eyes darted to the side, then she reached into her saddlebag. “Look, I brought someone for you to play with!”

She pulled Gummy out of the bag and set him on the floor, at Maud’s hooves.

Maud held the rock against her chest. “Boulder and Gummy don’t play well together,” she said.

What?” Pinkie leaned into Maud’s face. “What does she have against Gummy?” Then she leaned into Boulder’s face. “How can you possibly dislike such an adorable, toothless baby alligator?!”

“He,” Maud said. “Boulder’s a he.”

Pinkie’s ears folded back. “Oh, right. Haha …”

“And the last time they played, Gummy tried to swallow Boulder and started choking.”

Panic was written clearly across Gummy’s face as it grew paler by the second, but Pinkie was in that adrenaline-fueled mindspace beyond fear. Unfortunately, her clear mind wasn’t helping at all. Again and again she squeezed the alligator against her own barrell, but she couldn’t dislodge the rock from his throat.

“Set him down,” Maud said. “On his back.”

Something in Maud’s inflection—or lack thereof—compelled Pinkie to obey. Maud stepped forward, until she stood over Gummy. She raised one hoof, then brought it down on his belly, almost too fast for the eye to follow.

Gummy made a hork sound and coughed up Boulder. As he lay there, alternately coughing and pulling in big gulps of air, Maud remained completely impassive: a monolith of indifference, towering over the alligator she had just saved.

Pinkie, however, finally let herself cry as she rushed forward to embrace Gummy …

A hoof against Pinkie’s forehead brought her back to the present.

“Odd,” Maud said, withdrawing her hoof. “Your temperature seems normal.”

Pinkie shook her head. “Well, yeah! Why wouldn’t it be normal?”

“Your behavior is unusual. Are you feeling well, Pinkie?”

Pinkie blinked at that. Had she heard correctly? Did Maud just inflect?

“Maybe you’re hungry from your trip,” Maud said. She slowly trotted towards the kitchen. “Come here. I made an extra serving of sandstone soup.”

Pinkie perked up at that. “Sandstone soup! Oh, gosh, that’s my favorite!” She scooped up Gummy and pronked after her sister.

The geological theme from the living room continued in the kitchen. Rocks decorated every space that wasn’t necessary for food preparation. A stone served as the centerpiece on the kitchen table, and three of the four chairs were occupied by pony-sized boulders.

Maud waved a hoof at the table. “Why don’t you sit down. Make yourself at home.”

Pinkie stepped up to the nearest chair, then paused. “Hey, Maud, how old are these rocks?”

Maud glanced between her sister and the chair. Without a word, she picked up the rock and threw it out, into the living room. The other two rocks quickly followed, and all four chairs were free.

“Make yourself at home,” Maud repeated.

Mechanically, Pinkie sat down and set Gummy on the table. As she watched her sister trot over to the pot of still-warm soup atop the stove, her mind was elsewhere. Pinkie racked her brain, desperately seeking some explanation for … well, everything about Maud, really.

And then she remembered.

“Ponyville sounds like great place,” Maud said, completely monotone. “I’m very happy for you.”

“Pinkie, I’m feeling a sudden avalanche of conflicting emotions.” Exactly the same tone. “I could really use a hug.”

“Did you hear, Pinkie. I’ve been accepted to study geology at the Manehattan Institute of Research. This is a dream come true.” Impassive, yet again.

“Are you okay?”

Back in the present, Maud set the bowl of soup in front of Pinkie and stared at her sister, with exactly the same expression she wore in all of Pinkie’s memories. But that change in tone—so slight, somepony outside the family would never have caught it—was unmistakeable to Pinkie now.

Maud was concerned. Maud was concerned for her.

“Oh, Maud!” Pinkie dashed forward to wrap her forelegs around her sister. Maud’s entire frame tensed briefly under Pinkie’s embrace, then relaxed. Pinkie continued, “Yes, I’m okay. In fact, I’m better than okay! I’ve got the best sister in all of Equestria! That’s gotta be worth at least a super-duper mega excellent or two!”

“Ahh.” Maud said. She reciprocated Pinkie’s embrace—the force of her hug at once familiar and brand new to Pinkie. “Now there’s the Pinkie I remember.”

This was their first hug, and it was their seven thousand, six hundred sixty-fifth.


Author's Note:

Twilight’s song is to the tune of “Panic Button” by Kevin Max.

Also relevant:
Den Fjerde Væg.
Walls of Darkness.
Walls of Doubt.


“Somepony is wrong about bees,” suggested by Justice3442. The name “Pinto” suggested by Midnight-Blue766.


Comments ( 35 )

What does Den Fjerde Væg mean in English?

I offer only encouragement and a favorite. Love this meta-characterization.

It always provides some whiplash when sight gags and continuity gaffes get played for drama, but you never lose sight of the show's optimistic spirit, so it's all good.:pinkiehappy:

7301836 It's Danish for the fourth wall.

I went with that because it also fits my theme of naming all these stories after songs I like.

You genius you. Welp, now my top two are taken up by the same author.

I think the only other story I've read that details 'Retconjuration' is the web comic Erfworld, and they just skimmed over it, none of this "bend over I'm going in dry" that I just read.

Gonna go rewrite my next D&D game now. Inspiring.

Thank you both.

I swear I've seen this sort of thing explored in-depth before, but now I can't remember where. (DUN DUN DUN!) There was an author's note from The B-Movie Comic:

That kind of retroactive digital meddling is annoying enough for a movie’s fans—but just try to imagine how disturbing it must be for the characters! Realizing that you suddenly remember things that you know didn’t happen must be terribly disturbing, especially if they then go on to retroactively hold profound emotional meaning for you.

I guess this also explains why some comic characters are such tormented souls—take Batman, for example. After decades of constant ret-cons, he probably stumbles through life plagued by foggy visions of his parents being killed by several different, mutually exclusive, villains, as well as vaguely recalling specific events involving several partners called ‘Robin’ he hasn’t even had. I bet by now he’s down to randomly calling the people who mean something to him, just to make sure they’re still alive—or ever have been.

This is so my mindset. In all its twisted glory.
Pinkie and Twi get into things i deal with everyday. They seem to be handling it better then me at the end.

Twilights song, so awesome, someone needs to make that a real thing!

This verse and interpretation of Derpy is one of my favorites.

Love it! A very interesting interpretation of retconning. Your stories are always great reads. I stayed up way too late last night to finish it.

I already mentioned this on the other forums, but I really enjoyed this one. It's the perfect balance of philosophical weirdness and heartfelt emotion, especially at the end.

Reading this is relevant right after Flutter Brutter.

Interesting, and rather funny, and surprisingly poignant at times. Well handled, overall, especially the part with Maud here in the last chapter. :pinkiesmile:

Thank you both.

Heh. Thank 7305409 for the ending scene with Pinkie and Maud. I was leaning towards cutting that scene much shorter, but his feedback convinced me to go for this version.

There are some elements of my own philosophy worked in there. But I hope I didn't turn the characters into my own mouthpieces; that's not fair to them, or to the readers.

Odd timing, that. I was finishing up editing on this by the time I saw "Flutter Brutter".

What's funny is that I don't really mind all these retconned siblings in the original show. In fact, if you ask me, Maud Pie's existence is a much bigger plot hole than Shining Armor's or Zephyr's (it's easier to justify Twilight or Fluttershy just not mentioning their brother, than to justify Maud's absence from Pinkie Pie's flashback)—yet Maud is one of my favorite characters.

7307133 Not knowing your own philosophy I couldnt say if you where unintentionally making the characters a mouthpiece.
For me there are reflections of my own skewed perception of the world and my fluctuating philosophical stance on whatever.
As for the characters themselves, to me they seemed to have what feels like the appropriate philosophical view/understanding of the world around them for them and their personality. And it was great to see Twilight's perception of the world get broken and her having to reconcile/take a different philosophical stance on the world and her place in it.
The whole retconning of the world and no one knowing but a couple of ponies being aware of it is an amazing concept.
I love these kinda fics and you did a great job of it. This verse is really good for exploring these kinds of things.

I didn't figure out what was happening until Pinkie finally called Twilight "Twilight Twinkle". But then, hah! What a fantastic idea for a story. And it fits in perfectly with the universe you've created.

Anyway, great story! And thanks for taking the time to properly edit it, etc., before publishing - it makes a world's difference!

7319652 Mainly I'm lucky to have pre-readers who are willing to be as brutal as necessary in critiquing my first drafts.

7330595 In my dream, I am the sentimental dork. It's me.

Why the hell did I not read this earlier?

7377632 Because your author thought it would be more interesting if you waited a bit?

This was pretty great! It would be awesome to see more of Twilight characterized this way, she and Pinkie are really coming into their own right as characters, as their own characters distinct from the show, but based on it, having grown out of it after the events of this and the other stories.

I don't know why I took so long to read this. It's exquisite. Not quite the same sort of multidimensional hijinks I'm used to from you, but still something that nailed one of my favorite topics in or out of pony fiction. The metafictional metaphysics were magnificently executed, from Ditzy and Pinkie comparing extra senses to Twilight's existential crisis to the true identity of the Key of Laughter. And the message at the end is spot on: The meaning of life is whatever you choose. That choice is as real as you are, however much that may be.

Thank you for another magnificent installment of the series and further evidence that we may in fact be clones. :raritywink:

It's kind of weird to get a comment like this, because the "message" doesn't quite line up with my own thoughts about our world. But shoehorning everything I believe into Equestria's cosmology would make a lot of readers cry foul, and I wouldn't blame them. Incidentally, that's the metatextual reason why Dr. Hooves refuses to discuss the existence of souls—so I wouldn't be forcing my own beliefs into this story. Or at least, so the solution to Pinkie's particular crisis wouldn't depend on her agreeing or disagreeing with me on that issue.

And now I wish that I had worked in a reference to "In a Sweater Poorly Knit":

I do not exist. I do not exist. I do not exist.
I do not exist. Only you exist. Only you exist.

What do you believe in?

Aww! That ending was sweet! :pinkiehappy:

And the story was just what I needed to keep from existential crisising again.

TimeTravelTenseTrouble... lol!

... I just grab epubs and read on my mobile in a big rush!

AlliterativeNames for Ditzy, and Pinkie, and Time Turner...

the “pancake emergency” signal,

I admit I had a second, worse thought about what this meant.

will you have-been-to-stopping big, dumb meanies from the future from going-to-already-dumped-ing trash in the time stream?”

Modal verbs are the best, aren't they?

“You take that back!”


smashed it into her forehead

I am running into that problem of "if I keep quoting lines I like, the entire fic will end up in my comment."

“How much philosophy have you studied?”

Pinkie shrugged.

“That’s no problem at all! We can just start at the beginning.”

…but as someone with a philosophy degree… :pinkiecrazy:

“Oh, no. Trust me, you don’t want to hear me rap.”

Yes I do
and oh gods that was amazing.

A new sister who you’ve just found out you always had?”

i'd go with "whom"

“Somepony is wrong about bees,” suggested by Justice3442.

And now I have to go leave another comment on PoC for an entry on Pinkie Sense.

Baguette’s Feast!”

forgot to ask…does this refer to a real work that's named something else?


…but as someone with a philosophy degree… :pinkiecrazy:

I hope I didn't mess it up too badly, since I haven't really studied the topic since high school...

“Oh, no. Trust me, you don’t want to hear me rap.”

Yes I do

"No, really, you don't. Also, I'd be breaking the law if I did ..."


"Twilight Sparkle, in light of your good behavior and many accomplishments, the Court is willing to drop all charges against you—provided you refrain from rapping, toasting, dropping sick rhymes, or beatboxing, until such time as your rhymes and flow stop being such weaksauce. Are these terms acceptable?"

Twilight gulped. "Well... can I still b-girl?"

"Of course. We're not monsters."

forgot to ask…does this refer to a real work that's named something else?

Babette's Feast.

No, it's good. Rhyming gets a little weak at the end, but overall? I love it (and so does the other philosopher I showed it to)

Not a super-great introduction, though. It's a good review…which makes it even more the sort of way Twilight tends to teach things, in the fashion of a genius who cannot remember true unknowing, ungrasping times.


Then again.....I like that message. "Does being a character in a story make your impact on that story any less important?"

Excellently done. Write more in this series please. I have a personal preference for your work with Ditzy myself, but truthfully the whole series is lovely.

Author Interviewer

So bees were actually wrong about somepony, then?

Also, I really understand what Twilight was going through last chapter. I can envision her as a unicorn perfectly well, but I saw that whole scene with her and Pinkie taking place in Friendship Castle. c.c Unsettling!

...She is an alicorn by this time though, isn't she?

Thank you. My next planned story should bring the focus back to Ditzy, but some real life problems are making it hard to focus on writing.


...She is an alicorn by this time though, isn't she?

Yes. The last chapter takes place the day after “Pinkie Pride”.

One aspect of backstory that I had in mind, but never explicitly spelled out in the story, is the reason why Luna reacted so casually to Twilight’s learning of the fourth wall. Basically, Celestia and Luna were already planning on letting Twi in on the secret—since all alicorns know about it, and those two started preparing for Twi’s apotheosis right after the Crystal Empire returned.

Author Interviewer

Hah! :D That makes a lot of sense.

Sorry for being an egotist, but I can't help but think of my own series here. Since old and conflicting continuity is a theme that comes up a lot.

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