• Member Since 21st Aug, 2016
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Nancy Janeist


My name is Starlight Glimmer, and I hate bad endings. It isn't fair when some ponies win and others lose, purely by chance. If I had my way, every pony would be equal. Every pony would win. After all, the only other fair thing would be for us all to have a bad ending, and who would want that? This colorless world is bad enough already as it is.

So far, my record is flawless. Never once have I prematurely ended someone's story, never once have I hurt someone more than they can bear. And every time I spare a life, make a new friend? I get stronger for it. Eventually, I'll be so strong I can fix the entire world.

No matter what the world throws my way, I'm never going to give up.

Placed second in FanOfMostEverything's Imposing Sovereigns contest, and featured in the Royal Canterlot Library on 4/21/17. Thank you so much!

Expect spoilers in the comments. Inspired by Undertale, but not a crossover.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 44 )

A two fold time loop? Now THAT is original.

The Undertale influence is strong in this one, but there's much more to it than that. This was a deeply potent tragedy of Starlight's struggle with herself and her need for total control and utter perfection, supplemented with a potent double-Mobius twist. Very nice work. Thank you for it, and best of luck in the judging.

8039237 8040485

Thanks! I'm glad you both enjoyed it. :twilightsmile:

Undertale is indeed what I was working off of. This site has a surprisingly decent number of crossovers with it, but they're almost all of the "character X in world Y" variety. I wanted to see what I could do with a purely thematic crossover under the condition that those themes were all there in support of a different, pony-centric story and never "because crossover" or just for the sake of putting two and two together, and... it sounds like I succeeded!

I'll probably be doing a retrospective/further thoughts blog on this story sooner or later, if anyone's curious or wants to stay tuned.

It's clear that we used to know eachother

each other. Two separate words.

only I would every know

ever know

8052042 You're very welcome.

My head hurts.

8061580 Sorry about that! :scootangel:

Not surprising, though. A lot happened in very few words and Starlight isn't the most reliable of narrators. In a nutshell, here's what went down: Starlight's world is stuck in a time loop that repeats itself every two cycles. There are two Starlights, one Princess of Time and one normal unicorn, and each time they go back they switch places, wings and Cutie Marks, and the one who becomes the unicorn has their memories wiped. It's a never-ending cycle of the unicorn becoming extremely idealistic and the alicorn becoming bitter/vengeful, both in reaction to the other when they learn who the other really is and both with unending stubbornness that prevents them from ever escaping the loop, even when one has (partial) knowledge of it.

Major spoilers for anyone who hasn't read the story, of course.

8061616 thanks for the recap, but just reading it made my head hurt again:pinkiehappy: but that's super okay!:raritywink:. I enjoyed it very much. So, they will go back and fourth till the end of time.

Wow. I came from the winners' announcement blog post...

And then, as a knower of Time Loop and related tropes, I knew that the twist was a logical duplication of the initial idea of a time loop, once I saw the potential for the twist to happen. I kept hoping for a subversion, but no...

But, if there's the table constant... Is it eroding or something, so that changes in that might change the outcome?

Also quantum randomness is a hope, but if it's a perfect timeloop, then that hope is gone...

Such a tragedy! Or depressing! ... One of the two? It's great though... Just really don't want to read it again, ya know?

8066973 The possibility of a subversion was definitely in my mind while writing this, but to fit it within the same words/time limit, I don't think I could have made it anything more meaningful than "This character gets a happy ending because I like them." Besides, toying with hopes is so much fun. You know what's going to happen and you still can't help but have them.

And... yeah, given that it's mentioned both in the first comment and the winners blog, at this point that's not too much of a spoiler. :derpytongue2: But I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket with a big reveal, so the story's intended to stand equally well regardless of when you figure out what's going on: the point isn't the path Starlight takes, it's her reasons for taking it.

Sad stories are typically sad, yup. I know I had issues during editing rereading it and thinking, "Is the fact that I don't like this bit a good thing or a bad thing?" Can't blame you at all.

I'm honestly surprised this wasn't featured.

I'm envious. You beat me to a two-cycle time-loop story, and managed to make it look good.

Congratulations on the second-place contest finish! :twilightsmile:

My only concern is that, by my accounts, this is two separate circles rather than an mobius-strip. Or in other words, the Glimmers never truly become each other. Revenge Glimmer never becomes Despondent Glimmer. This begs the question of where the second Glimmer comes from, and what happened to her Mark?

8121036 Indeed that's so, and there are two reasons for it. First, in earlier drafts I did make them one and the same, with an effectually-perfect repetition each cycle, but that turned out somewhat boring due to seeing the same scene twice at the ending, so I changed it to make them more different. Second, I wanted to leave the possibility of a sequel on the table but had nothing solid planned, so I put this in as a plot thread I could potentially use if it ever happens. Same goes to the other questions; they're not reeeally needed for what the story was trying to do, and furthermore I'd rather leave them open-ended if I think of something better to do with them in a year or two.

A quote from a Star Trek Next Generation book comes to mind: "what the hell is a Recursive Causality Loop?"
a reference to an episode of the series where they got stuck in a time loop with another ship that had been looping for a long time. but they managed to do something different and break out...

Corrections offered without malice.

whoever we're fighting,

Nicely done. Not saying anything about it because it'd spoil the wonderful trick.

8127185 I now just have to say this. 3

8066973 Heh, interesting fact. A quantum state cannot, even in theory, be reproduced exactly from an arbitrary initial state. It's called the no-cloning theorem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-cloning_theorem It's possible to move a state from point A to point B, but it destroys the copy on point A. Now, if B's state is known, a copy can be made if B is either an orthagonal state to A or in a fairly simple relation to A. In other words, a perfect copy could not, in general, be made in one time iteration (not strictly a loop, I suppose), but 2 mutually 'orthagonal' loops? that might be possible to perfectly duplicate. Highly relevant to this story, don't you think?

Of course, as always, we have the question of where the loop comes from and whether anything exists after it.

On a different note:

It's a horrible feeling, knowing you are evil and not feeling bad for it.

I'm going to assume the cognitive dissonance in that statement was intentional. It's not a terrible analogy for how depression can feel, come to think of it.

8066973 On to another part of your statement. If the table really does exist outside of time, then invariably 'errors' will build up.

The 2nd loop's ending reminds me of some Undertale fan works wherein Frisk gives up their SOUL to save Asriel and/or Chara.

Ok, so past this just everything would be spoilered, so... read further at your own risk.

Regardless, there is a solution derived from MLP itself. The equalist mark. It's not a perfect solution, but it's a stop-gap. The Starlights don't know about that here, but given the table's existence in the desert, I was half-expecting one of them to see Twilight and Starlight stopping in from the S5 finale.

Of course, there remains the question of how such a world could come into being. There are 2 bodies with only 1 cutie mark between them. Further, the first Princess spoke of her cutie mark 'not existing'. That MIGHT have been a bluff, of course, if the loop is to be made 'complete'. Regardless, does a looped world like this merely arise ex nihilo, or is there an unlooped past which arises? But this Starlight truly does seem to arise ex nihilo. We are stuck with the conclusion that from a non-linear, non-subjective perspective, either the loop has a beginning (and thus can have an end), or the loop was created AS a loop: that is, this world's existence is SUPPOSED to be a loop. Breaking it would thus destroy the world.... Hmmm... Perhaps in a 3rd loop, the Princess could come to the 'realization' (whether correct or not) that breaking it would destroy their universe? That said, finding a solution would then be a true showing of DETERMINATION. Hmmm...

Of course, Starlight is also speculating that it's a perfect loop. By definition, she doesn't know that. It could be more of a snake shape.

...Actually, you know what? I think I'll PM Czar_Yoshi with my idea so it can stay a surprise if they want to use it. XP


I'm going to assume the cognitive dissonance in that statement was intentional. It's not a terrible analogy for how depression can feel, come to think of it.

That's pretty much what it is. The entire magical lovelessness is really just a blown-up metaphor for what making a choice like Starlight's would actually do to someone, and that was the spark that drove this story.

reminds me of some Undertale fan works wherein Frisk gives up their SOUL to save Asriel and/or Chara.

And that's the difference between this story and a fix fic: fix fics take what the original won't let end happily and make it better, this takes what people (or, at least, I) wanted to fix and breaks it further.

Stupendous. In the beginning I hate the Starlight who was the initial princess, but you brought it to an end where it's sad but I don't know which Starlight to sympathize with anymore. They will both be perpetually wronged in this never ending cycle. Great job.

8130988 Assuming you were looking it as a deconstructed fix for Undertale, I suppose that makes sense. Otherwise, it's a situation you yourself created. XP

Oh and it just occured to me that there are exactly 2 Starlights. They trade places, and the process resets their memories (and apparently keeps their body from ageing), but if you trace it you'll find that there are, in fact, 2 distinct Starlights who never actually overlap. That is, one NEVER becomes the other, per se, but the two swap places perpetually. That continuity means that there is a single hyper-temporal line for each (though how that happened is a different question). That means it cannot, by definition, be a perfect loop, as there is an independently traceable world line... It's more of a double helix.

Ok, now I'm having Evangelion flash-backs. We have, dare I say, a supersolenoid (S2) time continuum?

It is more than a double helix, because the helix is what's looping. It is a mobius strip with two twists instead of one.


Regardless, there is a solution derived from MLP itself. The equalist mark. It's not a perfect solution, but it's a stop-gap.

You know an author affected you when you try to rules lawyer around a conundrum in the story...

Me? I was trying to figure out if they could get a strain of Cutie-Pox as a stop-gap measure... Probably falling into the same trap as the Starlights: They will have a happy ending, even if I have to release a Cutie-Pox plague across Equestria!

8159303 A mobius strip with 2 twists has 2 sides: it loses the special properties. So it's more of a double helix that forms a loop, I suppose.

8164078 Honestly I think I would be tempted to try releasing a cutie pox plague under normal circumstances just to see what happens.

And hey, few rules lawyer like me. In actual games, though, I am even-handed about it. I've had others in my gaming groups note that I rules lawyer against myself as much as for.

There are other loopholes as well of course. I discussed some of them in PM with Yoshi. *shrug* A lot of it winds up about the execution, though.

And this story keeps its two sides distinct as well, even if one appears to turn into the other at first.

8164078 Eh, it's only a matter of time before I fall into that trap too, start writing a sequel to give them one, and remember how much fun it is to mess with them and screw them over even harder.

...Or perhaps I'll decide they deserve a break after all. It'll be quite a while, so who knows?

8164521 My point is it's not a mobius strip at that point. That's all I was saying.g


You know an author affected you when you try to rules lawyer around a conundrum in the story...

You need to rules-lawyer your way out of this; it's actually very simple:

And then the Doctor poked his head. "Hello! I say, that's an impressive piece of temporal engineering you've set up. And you manged this by accident?" He grinned in a way that both showed every single tooth in his mouth and was somehow charming as well as frightening. "It'd be a shame if someone happened to poke it, now wouldn't it?

I might be missing a bit here as I'm not an Undertale player, but I appreciated the twist in the well-worn time loop setup. It did feel a little long, but I guess going over similar ground comes with the territory! Needed some concentration, but it was nice when it all came together in the end.

8241799 A little long? Interesting. It is relatively wordy, but I felt that was necessary because the atmosphere is so important to the story and actually struggled quite a bit during editing to slim it down enough to reasonably for the contest. Many good scenes were cut that weekend...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, though! And I could write an essay on all the Undertale themes and parallels present in this story, but at the end of the day it isn't a true crossover and shouldn't even smell like one, let alone feel incomplete without alternate series knowledge.

I wouldn't go treating my feelings on apparent length as representative -- I have a long-standing bias towards short stories. Also, I';; probably play Undertale one day, and maybe I'll then return to read this again! :twilightsmile:

Never played Undertale, so maybe I ended up missing some things, but this is a really excellent story regardless!

My initial thought was that we would see Hopeful Glimmer loop around to becoming Hateful Glimmer before the loop reset, like some kind of twisted time Mobius Strip. Instead, there's a crazy double cycled time loop that somehow swaps their bodies and positions but keeps their characters the same. Hopeful Glimmer never becomes Hateful Glimmer and vice versa - that is very unique and very impressive.

As far as criticism goes, I guess it's a little odd that Starlight's friends become almost like accessories to her. As the story goes on, the idea of her friends becomes more and more nebulous, to the point where they're sort of just objects, like a chalice or something. This means that when we get to the climactic finish off the story, Hopeful Glimmer's terrible albeit well-meaning actions lose their impact. We can see Hateful Glimmer's sense of loss, but we don't really feel it ourselves, so the focus of the story for me diverts from the tragedy of Hopeful Glimmer's cause to the sick execution of the time loop. Sort of like loving the way the story is written more than the story itself, I suppose. Not to say that the story is bad at all, just that the emotional side seems to end up taking a backfoot to fulfilling the time loop.

Still, an excellent story for sure!

A chorus of nods rustles behind me.

I'm not super confident about it, but I think you should lose the 's' here.

8340457 That's actually how it went in the rough draft, with them switching positions in a single loop. I wound up changing it because it felt too repetitive to write the tower scene at the start twice from different perspectives, and the double loop came about more or less by accident as a patch to that. And yeah, the story's designed to stand on its own with respect to Undertale. It's less of references and crossovers so much as being built around the same core idea.

There are several reasons her friends were written the way they were. First, I wanted to keep the story extremely focused on Starlight and what was in her head by completely ignoring everything that wasn't her. There's also a lot of depression metaphors in here related to Starlight's perception and emotions, and I tried to tie into that by de-personalizing her friends. Starlight de-personalizes them herself, even, by putting them on a pedestal as more concept than people. Then, from a writing perspective, I hoped/intended for this story to get a sequel but didn't have very definite plans, and wanted to write things as vaguely as possible so I wouldn't box myself into any corners or need to do any retcon edits. I still very much want to do that, but it'll likely be a long time as I have a different big story eating my focus right now.

As for the rustles thing, I think it works both ways. Without the S it refers to the nods rustling, but with it it just refers to the chorus instead.

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the story!

This actually had me, admittedly quietly to myself, saying "holy shit that's a fucked up story" but I loved every second of it.

Wow. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started this, but this was definitely not it.

Double loop? Multiple Glimmers? That's already a lot to take in. But then there's: Where's Celestia and Luna? What about Twilight? I know there's an AU tag, but still. What about the Map (I assume that was the map)? How does the double loop break? Can it break? I can't help but think about all of these things, and I'd love to learn the answers.

Sure, those are some really interesting questions, and maybe there's a story in there somewhere. But as it turns out, this story still felt complete. It still felt finished. And it was excellent.

This was one evil time loop. Just when you think she'd break it... Well done! Poor Starlight :(

This was great. I'd love to see a novel-length sequel where the two Glimmers go through hell to finally break the loop and both get their happy endings.

I've had something along those lines planned for... uh... almost four years now...

I like the plan too much to ever give up on it, but between The Olden World and now The Immortal Dream, finding the time to write an additional ~200k Starlight story has just never panned out. But it keeps slowly cooking in my head, so maybe someday!

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