• Member Since 21st Mar, 2013
  • offline last seen 2 hours ago

SilverStar7


I'm a go playing brony who reads and writes fan fiction works. That's about all you need to know.

T

Starlight Glimmer was once the head of a cult. She used her magic to control minds, enslave ponies, and nearly destroyed all of Equestria. Such acts are unforgivable, but somehow she was forgiven by Princess Twilight, and has become her student. It is certainly more than she deserves.

While Starlight admires the grace with which Twilight forgave her, and frankly, the grace that the Princess displays in all areas of life, she has to wonder: What's her secret?

Chapters (7)
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Comments ( 36 )

How dark will this story get?

8657604
I'm not sure how to measure that. If I had to give something... I find the idea rather dark, but the rationale of the situation has some gray areas. I actually hope the opinions will vary. To give some bound to it: I think I can safely assume no one will find it as dark as stories like Rainbow Factory or Blink.

What if there really is a pony in that room?

It's a bit unexpected that her next thought wasn't about changelings (yeah, that's most likely wrong, but still is the most probable next thought).

8658888
A fair point. To be completely honest, this never occurred to me, but in hindsight, it does seem obvious. :rainbowderp:

I wrote this chapter the night it was published, as I felt there needed to be more time given to a reaction from Starlight before the next chapter. Had I sat on it until today, perhaps that thought would have come to me. For the next unwritten chapter, I will give myself a cooling period before publishing so that I can consider ideas like that for edits.

Would it be wrong for me to call alicorn Twilight a monster?

8659092
That is certainly a possible interpretation, but I'd be interested to know how you feel at the end of the story.

8659119
Hard to think of a benign explanation that results in a pony being kept chained up in a room permanently.

8659127
I tend to agree. But, if you want some perspective on why I say this... another person I discussed this story with in full felt that alicorn Twilight was doing nothing wrong. In any case, I do think there are some options in between "monster" and "benign."

Huh is Twilight having having a literal split personality, is Starlight crazy or is the real villain here Celestia given the mention of a contract?

8659191
The contract mentioned is the Price Acceptance and Consent Form from the episode Once Upon a Zeppelin that Twilight's parent's signed to agree to the terms of the cruise.

8659225

Ah, well that still leaves the possibility of Twilight having a literal split personality, starlight being crazy, a combination of the two or something I haven't thought of I guess.

Is Twilight implementing some form of "All Bottled Up" on steroids then? :rainbowlaugh:
Also how she hasn't noticed that chains were removed?

Reverse scrying was obviously less useful...

It's crazy useful for espionage: put small plate of water somewhere in the room where it is hard to notice (under potted plant for example) and you know everything that's happening it the room. Cup of tea should work too. I wonder if saliva in pony's mouths is ok? It's useful up to the point that everypony doing something secret should be very paranoid about it and aware of countermeasures. (It's not clarified what properties direct scrying has: it potentially may be even more of a killer feature. Starlight hasn't used it here for some reason, though).

8659307
She simply untangled the chains that had tripped the other Twilight up. She didn't remove them.

Now, if you want to push the limits on such things, the water in someone's eyes basically forms a crystal ball. So, by the logic of scrying, anyone should be able to use it whenever they want without needing a medium.

A lot of the magic in MLP starts to look OP when you take into consideration the implications of how it could actually be used. Like, in the season 4 finale, Twilight is shown in her empowered state to be able to teleport just about anywhere in Equestria. She has also been shown to be able to teleport others with her on other occasions. So, why not touch Tirek, teleport them both to the top of a volcano in the dragon lands, and then let him fall while she flies away? Or so deep into the ocean that he could never come up for air in time and Twilight just teleports back? Or she could use her spell that lets her enter books to put him into a book, come back out, and then torch the book?

A story about how broken the magic in the show actually is when applied to extremes could be amusing, but this is not such a story.

Also: You are spot on, that is exactly what Twilight is doing.

8659380
Oops, looks like I misinterpreted

She simply and diligently worked each chain free.

:twilightsheepish:

... the water in someone's eyes basically forms a crystal ball.

You mean ripping out eyeballs to use instead of crystal balls? That's really metal! (especially in case of using caster's own eyeball) :rainbowlaugh:

Idea with saliva is indeed pushing the limits, but water plate trick is almost as effective and it's exactly the same thing you've described with tear puddle.
Issue with Tirek/teleportation could probably be hand-waved with something like standard Star Wars explanation (powerful guys are protected from some magical abilities if they are aware of threat and their "concentration" is not broken). Or Tirek is just too big.

Twilight is sounding more and more like a monster. It is kinda reminding me of that one episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, The Measure of a Man .

Is this going to be The Measure of a Pony?

Holy shit... :twilightoops: This story definitely earns its "Dark" label. I'm definitely intrigued - and worried - about where this will go next...

poor clone Twilight having to take in all those negative memories with no joy to help ease the suffering. But poor Princess Twilght feeling like she had to cut away part of herself to be good enough to live up to people's expectations of her

8661399
That episode of Star Trek is one of my favorites. There are certainly some parallels here that I hadn't noticed, but overall I think they are quite different stories.

8661535
Well, I'm glad you think so. I was seriously having doubts over whether or not this story was a dark enough concept to earn that tag. It's hard to extrapolate from internal thoughts what another's reaction to an idea will be, and this story doesn't have the disturbing gore or abject horror that most popular Dark stories on the site seem to have.

8661857
This is the sort of reaction I had as I contemplated the ideas for this story. There is a relationship there, and things are not entirely one-sided. I see the construct as an analogy for that part of our minds that holds the thoughts and feelings we don't let ourselves think or feel.

It's the place where the anger-we-didn't-know-we-had comes from, that makes us lash out at a friend for something they did years ago. The place that can make us start crying when we don't want to admit we're sad over something everyone has convinced us is not a big issue. That ties our stomachs in knots from anxiety towards things we refuse to consider, because they are too scary to deal with head-on.

Not that we would ever feel the need to cut off dark parts of our minds to be good enough to live up to people's expectations of us[!]

That's a wrinkle I didn't expect. Though, given that we are dealing with a construct of Twilight, I shouldn't be surprised that her double would still be so devoted to her "duty," even one that's so wretched and horrific.
Starlight is really in quite the dilemma here. I'm wondering just what she'll do next... and hope that the situation doesn't blow up in her face. (But let's face it, with the way her plans usually go...)

Wrong is still wrong. No matter the excuse. You start making excuses, how long before you start doing the same for other situations? I know I wouldn't trust the so called 'Princess of Friendship ', if I knew she did something like this.

Plus it's unhealthy for someone not to face their own problems. She's pretty much just running away from them.

So... what about the problem where bottling your emotions leaves you a drained husk? It wasn't *only* bad because the bottle broke. :facehoof:

Not even getting into the deal where if you don't remember anything that made you feel bad you'll keep making the same mistake over and over like Twilight is doing in this story.

This was very well done. I'm glad I read this story - it was a hard experience in some ways, but it really provoked a lot of thought about the implications of the construct, of the emotions involved, and to that end I say, "Great job!"

8665481
I agree. Everything that Twilight is doing here is full of problems, and I'm sure most folks would think that she was wrong to do this. But I'm also guessing most folks, in the first chapter, felt for Starlight and hoped that she could make her own dark thoughts go away.

Those kinds of thoughts are what I hope this story gets people to consider - the deep thoughts we wish we didn't have.

In our universe, we can't throw feelings into bottles or beings, but we can (and do) try to repress them. How many of us are actually brave enough to face our own demons head on? Isn't it easier when we just make ourselves forget such things? And, in some cases, is it actually better if we let those thoughts fade away? Even if it means we might end up right back where we started?

I honestly can't decide which approach is best. I think it probably depends on the individual case, which is a big flaw in Twilight's set-up: she doesn't show discernment about which thoughts should be given away.

8665488
I'm glad you enjoyed it, and that it made you think. And I hope the process wasn't more difficult than it needed to be.

I really liked the story :) Great job !!!:raritystarry:

8672253
From a certain point of view, the construct was set free. To be set free and to be given the right to choose the course of one's life are the same idea; the latter is essentially the definition of the former. And Starlight did give the construct the freedom to make her own choice. This is the essence of the line "It's different when you choose your chains."

That's probably not a happy way to think about it - it's definitely not a happy ending! - and I did also write "It was not a good solution. It was not even a satisfying one." So I can't fault you for concluding the ending is not satisfying.

As for Twilight being confronted about her actions, that would definitely be a part of the sequel. I'm exploring some options for that. There are many paths it could take, but all of them do have to include Princess Twilight being called out in some fashion for enslaving the construct.

8674428
I agree. I also think Twilight should learn to handle her emotions instead of forcing them onto someone else.

Like most readers, I imagine, I have conflicting feelings about this story. On the one hand, it was written rather well, with my only concern being Spike's Heelface Turn. On the other hand, Spike Heelface Turn felt kind of baffling.

I can accept Starlight's and the Construct's actions, even, to a certain degree, Princess Twilight's. However, I find myself growing increasingly concerned with how Spike changed his mind.

Regardless, I enjoyed the story, and it certainly succeeded in making me think. Good job thus far, and I hope the sequel is as good, if more satisfying, than this was.

8754257
I'll admit, Spike's part was the hardest one for me to write. I didn't see a good way to explain his decision without either dragging out his explanation to Starlight, which felt forced considering Starlight's anger at it, or switching to Spike's perspective for a bit, which didn't seem right as the whole story was intended to be from Starlight's perspective. In the end, I went with what I wrote, intending it to be part 1 of the double plot-twist in that chapter, but I agree that it is a sudden turn that can come off as forced.

The idea I was trying to express was that, in his first conversation, he made an emotional choice to believe that the Construct was real. After a few days had passed, however, and he actually thought about the implications of freeing the Construct, he began to rationalize away his emotional response in the hopes of maintaining the status quo.

Spike's character is supposed to represent the part of us that, when we see our brokenness and/or darkness, has a gut reaction of wanting to deal with it, but after a night's sleep, decides that it is better left undealt-with. When we see that part of ourselves, we often do feel ashamed of or afraid of or even disgusted by it, yet so often we don't want to address it when the light of day comes again. It is easier for us to leave that part of our mind untouched.

As for the sequel, so far it is more about the actual characters and less about the symbolic implications of their roles. This is probably because, unlike this story, I'm not staring from the ideas I want to express, but instead starting from the characters and seeing what they do. Perhaps the ideas will bubble up to the forefront before it's done, or maybe the story will remain character driven. The one thing I really want, that I don't have yet, is an ending, but I'm considering just letting the story write itself toward one. I haven't decided yet.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story overall and thank you for the critique.

8755210
I suppose that falls enough in line with what we've occasionally seen from the show. I can see that, much like Spike, my intial reaction was negative, followed by weary acceptance.

There NEEDS to be a sequel to this. I really want to see Twi's reaction to Starlight knowing about the construct.

8981193

yeah id like to see that too.

First off, I must say, I believe congratulations are in order. Your story really is thought-provoking and so I applaud you for it.

But, I was looking through the comments and then I saw you say something. Namely this part:

From a certain point of view, the construct was set free. To be set free and to be given the right to choose the course of one's life are the same idea; the latter is essentially the definition of the former. And Starlight did give the construct the freedom to make her own choice. This is the essence of the line "It's different when you choose your chains."

The construct was never set free. The construct was never given the freedom of choice from the moment it was born, no matter what the interpretation in this case is. Yes, it made a choice, but that choice was never a true one. The clone has been heavily influenced, impacted and brain-washed by the emotional payload that comes with being an emotion/memory dump. She's a slave that's been born and raised in a life of servitude. A life of captivity. She doesn't know anything different beyond the chains that she's been burdened with and thus doesn't want anything different. She has never known a life outside that room. It is because of this that her choice, no matter how much one might emphasize on it being hers, is wrong. It will always be wrong. There was never an informed choice but one out of ignorance and that is what makes all the difference.

Compare a slave born and raised in captivity to a slave that has experienced life outside of captivity but been forced to work as a slave. Which one is going to choose the chains? The answer is obvious.

There's also to consider, the chain of circumstances that lead up to the conversation. There's also to consider, despite it 'choosing the chains' in the final chapter, that there's no guarantee of certainty that it would have done if Starlight had asked it when she first found it.

When Starlight first discovered the clone, what was it doing? It was crying. Puddles of tears littered the floor of its cell. It was begging for the pain that it'll inevitably receive to be delayed.

"No. Not today."

The mood of the voice startled Starlight the most. It was defeated desperation. Sadness soaked every syllable. The voice knew its plea was hollow. It was a tone that froze Starlight's hooves to the floor.

After several moments of silence, the voice returned. "You said you wouldn't be back for a while. You said the trip would help." Anguish and distress rested upon the surface of the words.

It's been chained since birth and is living in appalling conditions:

A chain bound each of her hooves. Her coat and mane were in disarray, torchlight glinting off of the grease. One side was matted down from sleeping. The other bristled with all manner of cowlick and stray hairs. The whites of her eyes burned red. Dark streaks sat prominently on each side of her muzzle. A black ring rested upon the base of her horn. And upon her back, there were no wings.

Does it get any more clear about what's going on when it's seen next?

"Why did you ask if it was me?"

The Twilight gave a sigh. "I hallucinated again. Another pony came into the room. It felt even more real this time."

The hoofsteps resumed.

"I thought you said you wouldn't need to do this for a while."

Princess Twilight came into view and then sat down in front of the other Twilight, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. She simply sat for a moment. Her mood appeared calm and the only visible movement was the rhythmic rising and falling of her chest.

Starlight was taken aback. Is she actually meditating? How could seeing this possibly help her meditate?!

"Could... could we please wait? Just a day or two? If I just had a bit more time between sessions, maybe--"

"Shut up," Twilight hissed, her eyes still closed. "I have to concentrate."

When Twilight Sparkle walked into that room to unload the emotions that she feared, when the 'construct' confessed to hallucinating and thus clearly showing signs of mental degradation and instability due to her torment and suffering, when the 'construct' begged for Twilight Sparkle to not do it, it was quite clear from that point forwards, that any sense of decency, every shred of empathy and sympathy that should naturally arise from seeing such a being in such a state, no matter how much one would justify it: had been forcefully removed. And all it took was this one line:

Shut up," Twilight hissed, her eyes still closed. "I have to concentrate."

The 'construct' feels despair, hopelessness, sadness, depression. All the negative emotions that comes with. No amount of happiness is being shared here. For it has never felt any. It even begs further before the next wave of brain-washing comes along. I also think that this is when she actually thought for herself for a change that wasn't being heavily influenced by Twilight's brain-washing:

"Please don't."

Princess Twilight raised a hoof and gently lifted the black ring from the base of the other Twilight's horn. When it was a little more than half-way removed, Princess Twilight moved closer.

"I'm getting worse."

She brought her horn's tip into contact with that of the other Twilight.

"Wai--!"

And then, when Starlight attempts to rescue the 'construct', is it not highly convenient that the 'construct' now begs to stay because

"I was just weak the other day. I let myself believe that I could have a break because of my vacation. I won't make the same mistake again. I'll be ready next time! I can do it for my friends. And for Equestria."

And here we reach the crux of the problem. A choice born of out of ignorance rather than an informed one. From the moment she was granted sentience she has been systematically tortured to the point of masochism. But, because she has become an emotion memory dump, she also believes that she is merely the other side of the same coin. That she is also Twilight Sparkle, that her friends are her friends too, and that what is happening is for the greater good... But, is it not highly convenient that any moment of doubt, any amount of longing for freedom that she had, that any slave has, even if born in captivity, was dispelled due to Twilight's latest emotion memory dumping? In essence, to put it mildly, it's the equivalent of a whipping. A reminder of the slave's status in life and that they are destined to forever be in servitude. We as human beings know that this should never be. Everyone should be given a choice: an informed choice. A choice that is theirs to make when you have what you need to make that decision.

But the 'construct' doesn't have that. Starlight needed to give the 'construct' that choice with a strong, valid argument. She needed to dismantle the hold that Twilight had on the clone's mind, piece by piece, and she tried, but failed in the execution. Namely, this part:

But... but I can protect you! You must have the memory of my fight with Twilight. You know my magic is just as good as hers."

Twilight nodded. "Yes, I do. I have a lot of her memories. And even if they are almost all bad ones, I still know how I felt in those situations. And my fears were hardly ever for me. They were for my friends.

"I probably care just as much about those friends as if I was Princess Twilight. I would have gladly sacrificed myself to stop you in that fight. And, when I'm true to myself, I, the me standing here, would do the same."

Twilight isn't being true to herself however. She isn't accepting that feeling those types of emotions is what makes her who she is. She isn't accepting that feeling those types of emotions is what makes a pony, a pony. She isn't accepting that feeling those types of emotions is what makes her alive. She's quite literally locking them away, and in so doing, locking herself away. If Starlight had mentioned this as a retort rather than a protection promise than the conversation would have gone very differently.

Alas, the tragedy of the ending.

9123941
A very good analysis. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

There's also to consider, despite it 'choosing the chains' in the final chapter, that there's no guarantee of certainty that it would have done if Starlight had asked it when she first found it[...]

But, is it not highly convenient that any moment of doubt, any amount of longing for freedom that she had, that any slave has, even if born in captivity, was dispelled due to Twilight's latest emotion memory dumping?

You were paying attention. I was wondering if anyone would notice this. The specific incidents of Once Upon a Zeppelin did, in fact, create this problem. And yes, things may well have gone differently had Starlight acted before Twilight's return.

Why did Twilight agree to go on the trip? It was to relax. To get away from stress of being a princess. What was the result? Stress and princess duties. Attempting to relax backfired. So when the construct processed these thoughts, she came to a simple conclusion: Attempting to avoid stress will not result in relaxation or happiness.

But, as you correctly point out, she is only receiving selective information. She did not, for example, know about Twilight's family showing their love for her to make her vacation better. By knowing only suffering, the construct can assume that life outside involves a lot of suffering. Indeed, she must believe she knows this very well, because it was the whole reason Twilight made her.

And here we reach the crux of the problem. A choice born of out of ignorance rather than an informed one. From the moment she was granted sentience she has been systematically tortured to the point of masochism. But, because she has become an emotion memory dump, she also believes that she is merely the other side of the same coin. That she is also Twilight Sparkle, that her friends are her friends too, and that what is happening is for the greater good...

Untangling the identity of the construct is a main plot point in the sequel. Actually, many of the points you present here come up in the sequel, but this one is central. How is the construct different? Will Twilight's friends accept her as if she were Twilight? (Also, what will Twilight's friends think of Twilight's actions toward the construct?) And, of course, the biggest question of all: if given a real choice, an informed choice, would the construct actually want to stay with Twilight?

As I said before, the sequel will be much longer (it's looking like 40-60k words if I dig into everything I want to look at) and it will take more time to come out once I begin releasing chapters. However, I hope to begin releasing chapters soon. I had been fighting through figuring out an ending, and I think I finally have one. This story was not intended to have a sequel, so I never planned that one out and it has taken this long just to figure out how it will end. I won't say what type of ending I'm aiming for with the sequel, but I will admit that, with this story, it is not meant to have a satisfying ending - the ending is meant to be bitter.

I'm truly glad you found this to be thought-provoking. Above all, that is what I wanted from this: to write something to make others think.

Thank you for reading and for considering this story so deeply.

9124199

Thank you for taking the time to write this[...] and for considering this story so deeply.

Likewise I'm sure :raritywink:

Actually, many of the points you present here come up in the sequel, but this one is central. How is the construct different? Will Twilight's friends accept her as if she were Twilight? (Also, what will Twilight's friends think of Twilight's actions toward the construct?)

I do wonder how you'll go about this point. Many, many authors have tackled the philosophical implications of cloning and this website isn't any different. Most tend to use the infamous "Too Many Pinkie Pies" episode as a foundation due to the ethical issues concerned there. And with that in mind, the reaction that the Main 6 have to such clones can vary from story to story. Will they react with cold indifference much like Spike? Outright hostility? Reluctant acceptance? Complete acceptance? I do look forward to how you handle what happens next. Here's to hoping that they understand Twilight's viewpoint, but also recognize that what she is doing is wrong and chastise her good for it.

And, of course, the biggest question of all: if given a real choice, an informed choice, would the construct actually want to stay with Twilight?

No... No it wouldn't. The 'construct' told Starlight this:

A deep breath was pulled into Twilight's lungs. "That was a moment. Sweet Celestia. To feel for the first time! It was like teleporting out of a stuffy room right into a breezy field. Like breathing deeply when you're finally safe from drowning. You don't realize how much you need the air until you haven't had it. And I had never had it."

Starlight wondered if that recollection would make this Twilight smile, but it didn't. At best her expression was neutral, but it soon became a frown.

"You can probably imagine what happened next. The first emotion I ever felt was curiosity as I sat in front of me building up magic. I figured I'd get more memories, but when our horns touched-- GAH!" Twilight shouted and jumped in place a few times. "Yah-yeh-yuk! Ugh! To go from feeling nothing to feeling every manner of horror that life has to offer is not a good way to get introduced to emotions! And those first few hours of trying to understand what was happening to me were just terrible. Trying to sort through what these feelings were was not straight-forward. And the fact that they were unattached to anything meant that I had to puzzle out why I might feel each one..."

The philosopher Rene Descartes said: Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum ("I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am").

The 'construct' clearly feels. It clearly thinks. If it were allowed more information and realized just what Twilight Sparkle was putting (torturing) her through? That not even her creator feels anything for her (anymore) and simply sees her a lab utensil, as if she's a willing assistant in all of it? To be seen as an outcome of a spell and nothing more? No. It would not want to stay.

If this universe's pony-kind prides itself on the 'magic of friendship' and harmony as much as it advertises and preaches, then the 'construct' must be allowed to choose properly.

I had been fighting through figuring out an ending, and I think I finally have one. This story was not intended to have a sequel, so I never planned that one out and it has taken this long just to figure out how it will end. I won't say what type of ending I'm aiming for with the sequel, but I will admit that, with this story, it is not meant to have a satisfying ending - the ending is meant to be bitter.

If the sequel's ending is just as bitter as this one, I do hope you leave a sense of hope that things will get better. There's honestly nothing wrong with a happy ending, so long as it's well-deserved.

If I were to judge by this story alone, I have full confidence in your writing ability that you'll pull off a satisfying conclusion. I honestly look forward to it.

Best of luck to you and thank you for taking the time to read and reply :scootangel:

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