• Published 4th Aug 2016
  • 2,326 Views, 51 Comments

A Solid Soul - DEI Caboose



A routine magical experiment goes awry when a magical manifestation and animate duplicate of Twilight Sparkle gains sentience.

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Alive

“This has got to be the worst idea ever, of all time. There has never been a worse idea than this in the history of Equestria. If the plan was to go back in time to the foundation of Equestria, manipulate historic events for centuries with the sole purpose being to prevent this day from ever happening in the first place, that would still be a better idea than this. That is how much your idea stinks, Starlight!”

“And yet you're going along with it anyway.”

Twilight’s shoulders sulked. “Only because she is,” she replied sorrowfully, her gaze lifting upwards towards the prancing pony to their front, the large saddlebags strapped to her back shuffling about as her ethereal legs kicked upwards in her stride. The rain was still pouring heavily even this late into the day, but the group consisting of Twilight, Starlight, Spike and the magical duplicate Twilight were somewhat thankful for it, as it provided a natural deterrent against the ponies of Ponyville, whose prying eyes would not be appreciated at the moment as the group maneuvered their way through the empty village and towards their harrowing destination.

“There has to be something else we can do!” Twilight proclaimed with a start, rushing forward to her magical doppelgänger, who looked to her with a raised brow. “You can't think this is the best way to go about this, how is this any better than just giving up?”

The duplicate looked away, shaking her head in disagreement at Twilight’s words. “I understand that you don't think it's ideal, Twilight, but this is my decision not yours.”

“But Twi-” Twilight paused, remembering her copy’s refusal to be addressed as such. “This is too risky! I mean… It's the Everfree Forest!” Twilight shouted in distress, rushing ahead of her copy and halting her from continuing any further, disallowing her to near the wooden bridge only a little way down the path from where they stood. The rain trickled through their manes, dampening them across their foreheads. Neither took notice of the discomfort, instead choosing to focus on the expression of the pony who shared their face.

“Twilight…” The copy softly said, it's head tilting warmly to the side. “Starlight’s theory is solid, you can't deny it just because you want to,” she said softly, her gaze every so often shifting to peer over Twilight’s shoulder into the forest behind her.

Twilight shook her head rapidly, firmly denying what her duplicate was saying. “We don't know for certain, it doesn't even matter if it's true! You shouldn't have to do this, you shouldn't have to leave like this!” Twilight was shaking, her body was trembling and her eyes dampened as she met the copy’s gaze, her smile never appearing to falter for a moment despite the reality of their situation, despite what was about to occur.

The copy laid her hoof against Twilight’s tensed foreleg, rubbing it up and down in an attempt to comfort her. The copy knew what she was doing, she trusted Starlight’s judgement. “The natural magic of the Everfree can provide for me, sustain me for as long as I want it to. It's the only solution that's long term and makes logical sense. I won't have to be a burden on anypony, I won't need to be a disruption to anything. I can-”

“You won't be a burden!” Twilight interrupted in rampant disdain. “There's always an alternative! It's too early to just settle for this! I've been thinking, what if we gave you a magical artifact like the Alicorn Amulet? It can provide you with a constant supply of magic, we just-!”

“You know that wouldn't work, Twilight,” the copy stoically interjected, further degrading Twilight’s composure. “Magical artifacts feed off the inherent magic of their user, I would only burn myself up faster.” As Twilight attempted to mutter out a retort, the duplicate pressed her hoof against Twilight’s lips. “It doesn't matter if there's another way anyway, Twilight. This is what I want.”

Twilight pushed the hoof away, squeezing her eyes shut in turn. “But why?” Twilight weakly coughed out, almost inaudibly.

The copy smiled wider. “Because it's what I want, and that should be enough.” She placed her hoof under Twilight’s chin, raising her eyes it to meet her identical own. “I choose to do this, not you, and that's all that matters. I can live my life however I want to, never having to be afraid that I'll fade away or cease to exist, never needing to worry about the effect I'll have on the rest of Equestria. There's magic here and the magic is all I'll need.”

“But our friends,” Twilight sobbed out. “Your friends, they're just as much yours as they are mine, you deserve to be with them just as I-”

“Let's not kid ourselves, Twilight,” the duplicate replied, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. “They're not my friends, they never were. I've already told you that I'm not you, I'm not Twilight Sparkle and Twilight Sparkle’s friends aren't mind.”

“But they could be!” Twilight continued to refute, her despair beginning to weaken as anger started to swirl within her. “You could have just as much as a life here in Ponyville as you could anywhere else! And it would be a far better option than just running off into the Everfree Forest for the rest of you life!”

“Says who?” The duplicate shot back, the rain flying of her foreleg as she directed it towards Twilight’s chest. “You? How do you know how my life's going to go? You're acting like I'm walking off to die, when you should be seeing this how I see it!” She pushed ahead, eagerly galloping towards the bridge while the others ran after her in pursuit. She placed her forelegs upon the wooden planks, already feeling the magic of the Everfree radiating. “A fresh start, a new life! I may have your memories Twilight, but all they are to me are pictures; slideshows of a life I never lived. There's no meaning behind them, no substance! Pinkie, Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow, Fluttershy, Starlight, Spike, they're just pictures to me! They're not mine!”

Her weakened smile returned, hopeful, joy leaking off her form as prevalently as the rain. “I'm not leaving anything behind in Ponyville because they were never mine to leave! In the throne room… When I thought it was over for me I thought about them all, when I went to Spike I thought it would matter to me more than it does… But the feelings aren't there, they aren't mine! Don't you see? We don't need to be sad about this! I'm not, because just think…”

She turned back, peering into the winding maze of trunks, looming branches and obtrusive thickets of shrubbery; the gateway to her next destination. “In there, just think what awaits. The adventure, the uncharted mysteries. The Everfree stretches further than we realise, past the Badlands and maybe even beyond. The magic runs wild down there, in the stories they say it flows like rivers of light, that the clouds stretch so far no pony could ever hope tame them, the same as the wide life, the foliage and all the things we can't even begin to comprehend. Ever free for evermore.”

Standing triumphantly, the duplicate’s ethereal hooves etched ever so slightly farther over the wooden planks. She turned back to the two ponies and the dragon and gave them a grin as bright as her eyes. “And that's what I'm going to be guys, ever free for evermore in the Everfree for evermore!”

The rain continued to pour, the mood was still dampened by the hastily approaching goodbye, but the ponies present still could not help but laugh at the enthusiastic telling of the joke, sharing in a collective chuckle which resonated across the water.

But then the laughter stopped, as each pony realised that the moment was almost here. Delaying it was pointless as the decision had already been made, but Twilight refused for this to be anything other than something to be valued, a joy to treasure and to reflect upon forever more. Her hooves stepped forward one after the other and before long she was stood upon the bridge the same as her copy, the only visible difference between the two being the saddlebags that lay upon the duplicate’s back, housing several books and basic survival equipment, food was not a necessity, it was not the sustenance she required.

Twilight held herself steady but could feel her composure cracking more every second, she laid both her forelegs across the other’s shoulders, feeling the need to say some final poignant words. “Never forgot, you are welcome in Ponyville, you always will be. It's your home and we will always be here for you.”

“Thank you,” the copy responded with a now shaky voice. “But I'll see where the world takes me.” She blinked once, her lips started to twitch into a smile as she patted the bulky exterior of her saddlebag. “But then again you did loan me some of your books, and they are library books so maybe I will come back some day, to renew them.”

The pair shared a hopeful laugh but it was quick and hollow, the moment passing by far too quickly. Neither felt like saying anything else after that, electing instead to do what they felt was customary of the situation. Their hooves interlocked and they pulled each other close into an embrace, each taking note that while they appeared identical, the feeling of the other’s coat was something neither had anticipated. With reluctance on both sides the hug was ended, with the copy Twilight waving to Starlight and Spike stood on the other side of the bridge, who waved back to her in turn.

With that, the duplicate Twilight turned away towards the Everfree, unwilling to turn back around lest she decide not to go through with this. She could feel something circling within her, a new feeling she could not recall experiencing before. She dismissed it being fear as she didn't find herself to be particularly afraid by all this. Perhaps it was excitement? Possibly, but there was something else there too, something she could not lay her hoof on.

But the feeling of ignorance served in providing the clone with a realisation; it was a mystery which she was going to discover. That was her life now, a series of mysteries and uncharted destinations of both the physical and internal realms of existence. That was what awaited her within the Everfree, it was what awaited her beyond and farther beyond even that.

She was not one of them, she was not a simple pony or an alicorn of flesh and blood, she was the embodiment of another's magic, a projection of their own self essence which had gained independence over its own identity. It was a gift, a privilege never before bestowed upon anything else, and she did not intend to quell this gift or dismiss the possibilities that laid before her.

She had wanted the life she now led, all that remained was the voyage onwards.

Her hooves carried her swiftly across the wood, the looming branches darkening her sight and shielding her from the rain above. She gasped as she neared, the magic of the Everfree soaking into her very form from all around her being. It was in the dirt, it flowed within the trees, leaked off the plants and was even lingering within the air, intoxicating, so pronounced that the clone found herself momentarily dazed. The sensation carried her through the branches and in time her glowing figure disappeared from view entirely, concealed amongst the trees and for intents and purposes; gone for evermore.

Twilight could not bring herself to turn her head away, her sight lingering on the disappearing body identical to her own, until it eluded her completely and simply ceased to be. She then found it to be strangely quiet all things considered, the rain padded along the wood and the dirt but that was all she could notice, nothing else seemed of relevance, just the rain and the ever growing feeling of regret.

Hooves sounded out, disrupting the relative silence. Twilight didn't even need to turn to know it was Starlight who had approached her, her pupil’s pace halting at her side, Spike remaining silent upon her back, contemplating everything he had witnessed thus far, putting on a brave face despite his internal turmoil.

“What do we do now?” Starlight asked, uncertainty clear in her tone. She did not speak again, unwilling to given the unique circumstances her teacher had been subjected to.

“Where do we draw the line, Starlight?” Twilight spoke aloud, her voice dazed and her expression a mystery. “Whose right is it to decide who’s really alive and who isn't? Who's the one who gets to deem others as anything less than alive? We have our theories and we have our hypothesise but how can we ever really be sure? After everything we've seen today…”

“She was different, Twilight,” Starlight responded with assurance. “She was made to be different.”

Twilight found herself smiling, realising that Starlight her called her copy ‘she’. “But what about all the others? Every other copy I created, every copy you've created, the ponies from the mirror pool. I decided that they weren't real, that they didn't have the ability to be real. I decided based on fact, on observation and yet… I never considered the possibility of what it would be like if I was wrong.”

Starlight refused to say anything, allowing Twilight to say what she felt needed to be said with zero interruption of threat of dismissal. Her voice was hollow as she continued to speak, her stare never leaving the path into the forest. “What if I was wrong, Starlight? What if I don't really understand this magic as well as I thought I did? Those ponies… They were simple, puppets on strings, but what if they weren't? What if they were more too and I just didn't consider the possibility?”

The tears fell freely, the collective regret of Twilight’s supposed actions forcing Starlight to respond, her forelegs reaching around her teacher and cradling her as as wept, but she still never ceased to speak for more than a moment. “I need to do something about this, Starlight! I can't just ignore this…” The two remained where they stood you, doused in rain and frozen in an embrace. Spike leaped off of Starlight’s back and held Twilight also, desiring to comfort her just as she would him.

Then as if a switch had been flicked, Twilight gently shook them both off, her head rising high and her shoulders spreading wide as she looked out over the forest once more. Silently decreeing to herself a course of action. “I won't ignore this, Starlight. Synthetic magical ponies, being conscious and individual are no longer theories. They're real and they are going to need support, support I as a princess can provide for them. Others like her…” Twilight pointed out towards the trees. “Will follow, maybe not tomorrow but one day, and on that day they need to know they they are protected, that they don't need to fear what Equestria will think of them, that they are equals among us.”

Her wings flicked out and Twilight’s height appeared to double, her back arching high as she stood upon the bridge. “And on that day she'll return, I know she will, if not I'll find her, somehow I will. She will be just as free as any of us, as will the others that follow her.”

“Twilight…” Starlight ever reliantly interjected, feeling what she had to say was worth the risk of disapproval. “Equestria might not be ready for this kind of magic. Yes it is the right thing to do, I don't disagree with you. But are you sure?” She stated firm and absolute.

Her response was immediate. “Aren't we judged by how we treat others? Equestria will adapt, ponies will learn and change, that's the essence of what makes us us. There will be some that disagree but they're only doing what they feel is best for everypony else, however misguided they are, we weren't any different than them in that regard, Starlight, never forget that.”

The three remained in the rain for such a time that none could recall how long. The rain continued to fall, the sky grew ever darker, but nopony wished to be the first to leave, their stares fixated towards the forest, vainly hoping to see a figure emerge from within.

Twilight Sparkle had dedicated her life to magic, towards its study, towards its guarding. Magic was a fickle thing, devoid of simplicity and shrouded in mystery. The products of magic walked the earth of Equestria everyday yet some were considered more culturally acceptable than others, a norm Twilight intended to rectify. A magical external manifestation of her own individuality had succeeded in gaining a conscious of its own, deciding to walk the earth unbound and discover the mysteries that roamed it for herself.

And on the day when that individual would return, Twilight would ensure that she entered an Equestria where she truly felt ever free for evermore.

Author's Note:

Well there we go, all done! I feel like I should say something poignant or something...

Instead I'll just say that it's probably not the ending you were expecting, bittersweet yeah, but hopeful. That's what I was aiming for.

Anyway, thanks to you all for reading! Seriously this story blew up and if I learnt one thing from all this...

People like Twilight stories.

Any final thoughts?

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Comments ( 18 )

i wanna read about that clone twilight please?

I enjoyed this a lot.

ending was disappointing.

The end reminded me of this:

That was a really good story. A nice little commentary on what the definition of "life" really means.

I stand corrected.

Wow... That was really amazing, you really made a great story!

You know... You could make the sequel where Twilight makes an Ultron like character, that would be very cool.

No strings on me!

7461433 Ok after thinking for a while...

This story feels like Mewtwo! I mean come on it just has the feelings of the origin story for MewTwo in the movie.

I was half-expecting it to turn out that Twiclone knew that the idea wouldn't work and was just getting out of sight so Twiriginal wouldn't see her fade away, so I'm glad that didn't happen. :rainbowlaugh:

I'm left wondering if Twi will continue to work on a means to permanently sustain projections like this; I assume she would, given her decision at the end. I also wonder what the long-term effects of Everfree magic will be on Twiclone...

Overall I liked it! It's a poignant reminder to think before you act. :twilightsmile:

Edit: So... what happens if Twiclone trips and falls into the Mirror Pond? :twilightoops:

Okay. I read this over, and the premise started out as interesting, but the follow through left much to be desired. Reading about Twilight needing to recharge her duplicate every few hours made me believe that a comparison would be made to having and raising a child and taking responsibility. We don't see any of that.

The cover art lead me to believe the copy would turn evil or something. Oh well. Great story. Thought provoking and well written, barring a few typos. Good job!

Beautiful work! Have a like and fave!

I love stories that focus on things like personal identity and what a life really is.

Copy Twilight: Goodbye, Twilight. Goodbye, Starlight. Maybe our paths will cross again someday. *walks off into the Everfree Forest*

Twilight: Look at her go. Free in a world of her own kind where she can finally reach the full potential... *a manticore pops out and eats the Twilight Copy* Oh my God! She got eaten by a manticore!

7464290
I would expect the magic in the manticore would be drained into the clone and split the beast into a bat, lion and scorpion with the clone just fine afterwards

How could others like the magical duplicate of Twilight come into existence if Twilight destroys her research, though

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