• Published 11th Jan 2019
  • 961 Views, 80 Comments

Little Fragments - Skijarama



When a young Rainbow Dash spotted a mysterious alicorn and unicorn from the future, history was changed.

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End of Time: Royal Meeting

Before Rainbow Dash was adopted by Princess Celestia…

Before she and Twilight grew up together…

Before the flashes…

...Yet at the same time, after all of them.


Starlight Glimmer’s mouth stretched open into a wide, ugly yawn. Her drowsy eyes closed for a second before opening back up to stare out at the scenery as the Friendship Express carried her and Princess Twilight up to Canterlot. The large rolling foothills at the base of Canterlot Mountain steadily passed them by, and the morning sun could be seen hovering above the horizon, casting its gentle golden glow across the world.

It was a pretty sight, to be sure, but it did little and less to quell Starlight’s drowsiness and displeasure with the situation. She groaned tiredly and rotated in her seat to glare at the happily smiling princess of friendship who sat next to her. “Do you want to explain to me again why we took the earliest train you could book a seat on?” she asked, her tone grouchy and sleepy.

Twilight just shot her a perky smile. “Because Princess Celestia and Princess Luna want to see you, of course!”

Starlight’s expression flattened considerably. “That doesn’t tell me why we left Ponyville at seven in the morning for an appointment in a city just up the mountain,” she grumbled in irritation before another tremendous yawn escaped her. She groaned under her breath and went back to sulking and staring out the window. They were gaining altitude, now, and the hills slowly began to fall away from her line of sight.

“I’m sorry, but they said we should come as soon as it was convenient,” Twilight responded in a gentler voice, reaching a hoof out to pat Starlight on the back. “I can’t say I blame them. If I heard that Spike had gotten caught up in a weird time travel loop, I’d want to see him and prod him for details, too.”

“At seven?

“Oh, that was just for your sake,” Twilight rebuked lightly. “I probably wouldn’t wait at all for Spike.”

“Oh, lucky me,” Starlight deadpanned before a weary sigh slipped out of her. Her shoulders sagged, and she sat back to look at Twilight more directly. “I’m sorry, I’m just anxious is all. And waking up so early to face the source of that anxiety is only making it worse.”

“I understand, and I’m sorry, too,” Twilight continued as well, a look of understanding on her face. “But I just think it would be better to get this out of the way sooner rather than later. If we let it hang over us, it’s only going to get harder and harder to do it. And with the princesses, we don’t want to keep them waiting for too long.”

Starlight just gave a loud and defeated groan, allowing her hooves to fly up and cover her muzzle before turning and looking out the window again. She let her mind wander while these last few minutes of being on the train passed, thinking back on the last few days and just how much her entire life had been flipped around.

Two days ago, she had heard of an upcoming presentation being put on by Twilight Sparkle at Celestia’s School, the topic of which was cutie mark magic and how ponies can be connected to one another by their cutie marks. Yesterday, she had attended that presentation, learned of the Sonic Rainboom, and then went to Ponyville ahead of Twilight to get ready. She used a modified version of a spell by Starswirl the Bearded in combination with Twilight’s ‘Friendship Map,’ then went back into the past to the day of the Rainboom.

From there, she had stopped the Rainboom and watched with a sickening sort of sadistic delight as Twilight tried time and again to stop her, but every effort only ended the same way. No Rainboom, Twilight gets hurled back into the present, comes back to try again, Starlight gets pulled along to stop the Rainboom all over again. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum.

But then Twilight had pulled her back to the present, and she had seen what happened to Equestria because of what she was doing.

She closed her eyes tight and shuddered as the memory of a barren wasteland entered her mind. For as far as the eye could see, the world was devoid of life. Just dead soil and a perpetual wind that lashed at a few empty husks that had once been trees. The sky had been smothered in a thick layer of smog and smoke, filtering away all but the dreariest of colors. The dust picked up by the winds had stung at her face, at her eyes, and had filled her nostrils with a scent she did not dare try to identify.

The sight had been too horrible to comprehend, to horrible to believe or imagine. She’d wanted to deny it and reject it outright, but she had been unable to look away from all of it.

“Is this really what I’m doing?” she had thought, her chest tightening with despair. She had wanted to ruin Twilight’s life, yes, as revenge for ruining everything she had built, but… not Equestria. Not her home.

Thankfully, that tiny seed of doubt was all Twilight needed to talk some sense into her. Starlight had relented, and the two of them had returned to the true present, the Rainboom having gone off without a hitch and ringing in their ears as the tunnel through time closed behind them.

That had been yesterday. And now they were on their way to see the royal sisters, who had been informed of Starlight’s actions by Twilight herself. They wanted to speak with her, and Starlight felt a pit of anxiety and fear growing deeper in her heart at the thought of facing them.

That anxiety only grew several times worse when she heard the wheels of the train screeching through the window. She opened her eyes to see that they had pulled into Canterlot, and the train was coming to a stop at the platform, where a surprisingly small number of ponies were waiting to board.

“Come on, time to go,” Twilight said simply before hopping down from her seat and awaiting Starlight in the central lane.

“Right…” Starlight nodded along. She reluctantly tore herself away from the window and followed her new mentor as they walked side-by-side out of the train, and into the morning streets of Canterlot.


Canterlot.

The last time Starlight had been here, she’d been spying on Twilight. Now she was following her through the streets and for the palace. The tall and immaculately constructed structure appeared far more massive than it actually was to her, making her feel like an ant about to be stepped on. Her ears folded back against her head on their own, and she lowered her gaze to the stylishly-paved stone streets, doing her best to reign in her frantic thoughts.

“Okay, Starlight, keep it together,” she thought to herself while taking a few deep breaths. “It’s just a meeting. Twilight told them that you’re better now and that no harm was done. It’s fine, it’s okay. They just want to talk…”

Be that as it may, she began to formulate at least seven different plans of escaping. Just in case things went awry.

The two mares crossed the threshold of the city proper and passed into the front castle courtyard. Stallions with either white or brown dyed coats in gold-colored armor could be seen standing at or making their way to various posts. Normally, this would be nothing to write home about. It was just the solar guard going about their daily duties.

But Starlight found herself taken aback as they trotted into the courtyard when she saw the pony to her immediate right. He looked back at her, and the narrow slit pupils of his icy blue eyes shifted slightly from the movement. Leathery bat wings twitched on his medium gray-colored back, while a short pale-blue tail could be seen poking out from under his dark blue armor. If he had a mane, it was not visible, as he was wearing a helmet that obscured much of his face and head.

Starlight just stared at him for a moment, taken aback. After a second, though, she caught herself and kept moving with an apologetic nod. The stallion didn’t seem to mind her staring too much, or if he did, his stoic expression hid it very well.

Starlight mentally kicked herself in the butt for being so stupid. “It’s still early. I shouldn’t be so surprised to see bat ponies around while the lunar guard is still out and about.”

Another stallion trotted by her, this one a white-coated member of the solar guard. He nodded at Twilight as he passed, gave Starlight a curious look, then made his way for the bat pony that Starlight had passed. “Squall, I’m here to relieve you,” he stated matter of factly, his voice gruff and gravely.

The thestral, now identified as Squall, nodded and visibly relaxed. “Oh, good. My legs were starting to kill me, and I don’t think I would have been very effective today if something went wrong,” he admitted before shuffling to the side to give his relief the post.

“Something bugging you?”

“You could say that. When I woke up this morning, I… I thought my little sister was missing.”

“What? But you don’t have a little sister, do you?”

Starlight tried to tune the conversation out, not wanting to risk getting caught eavesdropping. But she just couldn’t resist. Her curiosity had been peaked. Her pace slowed down, and her ears stood up on their own to listen in.

Squall shook his head while taking his helmet off, revealing a short and neat mane of identical color to his tail. “Not living with me in the city, no. I have three of them, and I thought I had a fourth sister named Wind Whisper, too. I spent all morning looking for her, checking what I thought was her room. I was starting to panic and about ready to run out and look for her in the streets when I realized I don’t have a sister with that name. All of my sisters are back in Hollow Shades, and none of them have that name.”

Starlight’s pace ground to a total halt, her eyes widening somewhat. “Waking up with a false memory?” she thought to herself, her eyes anxiously flicking over her shoulder to look at the two.

The solar guard just rolled his eyes and gave Squall a thump on the shoulder with his hoof. “I think you need more sleep, buddy. Musta just been a dream and some of it carried over when you woke up.”

“Maybe…”

“You hearing this, too?” Twilight’s voice suddenly said in a quiet whisper next to Starlight, making her jump. She looked over and saw Twilight had backed up so they were side by side, her ears also standing at attention, and a confused look on her face.

Starlight swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and nodded. “Er, yeah, I am…” she replied in an equally hushed voice. “Do you think it’s anything serious?”

Twilight’s frown deepened. “I dunno… only one way to find out, though.”

And with that, Twilight turned and began to head for the two guards at a casual and relaxed pace. They spotted her approach, and both stood at attention without hesitation. “Princess Twilight!” they greeted in unison.

“At ease, gentlecolts,” Twilight said amiably with a smile and a nod. “I’m sorry for eavesdropping, but I overheard you two talking about some kind of memory issue?”

Starlight blinked, then shrugged and made her way over as well. Hey, if Twilight was doing it, and Twilight was leading her, what could it hurt for Starlight to join her?

The bat pony shifted uncomfortably, then nodded. “Er, yes, your highness. I woke up this morning, and… I dunno. It’s strange. I could have sworn that I had a little sister named Wind Whisper who lived with me here in Canterlot, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a pony with that name.”

“He does have sisters,” his solar friend chimed in helpfully.

Twilight glanced at Starlight, then back at Squall. “Do you think it could have been like what your friend suggested? A dream or something that stuck with you after you woke up?”

Squall shrugged his shoulders helplessly. “I don’t know… maybe. I just… I could tell you almost everything about this ‘Wind Whisper’ filly. She was small and didn’t even have a cutie mark. She had this dark green fur, a pale blue mane, and tail, eyes a few shades darker than mine. I could tell you that she’s energetic, hyper, lovable and very persistent, and I know she has anxiety issues. But… she’s not real. And if it was just a dream, it must have been pretty vivid and long for me to know that much.”

Twilight and Starlight shared a curious glance before Twilight cleared her throat and gave the guards an appreciative smile. “Alright, thanks for telling me. I’ll be sure to let Princess Luna know about it. Maybe she can check on you while you sleep and see if there’s a problem?”

Squall and his friend respectfully bowed their heads. “I would appreciate that very much, Princess Twilight,” he said humbly before standing up and straightening himself out. “Is that all? I need to get back home. It’s been a long night, and I’m due for some sleep.”

“Yes, that’s all. As you were,” Twilight acknowledged with a nod before turning to go. She nodded at Starlight, and the two began to trot away. After a few paces, Twilight paused and glanced over her shoulder at the guards one more time. “Have a good day, you two!”

The solar guard puffed up a bit and nodded with a smile, while Squall just let out a chuckle. “No offense, but I’m going to bed.”

“Then I hope you sleep well,” Twilight replied without missing a beat.

Squall chuckled and smiled back at her. “Heh… can do. Thanks, Princess. You have a nice day, too.”

And with that, Squall spread out his leathery wings and took off into the air, soon disappearing into the distance and fading from view.


In a weird way, Starlight found herself thankful that they had bumped into Squall out in the courtyard. His odd predicament was enough to occupy her mind for the entire trip to the throne room, allowing her to put aside her fears and anxieties for the time being.

“I mean, how often do you hear about something like that?” she thought to herself even as the tall and imposing double doors of the throne room loomed over her. “A dream so vivid that you forget it’s a dream after you’ve woken up? And you go on like this long enough to panic when you see that things are different?

It had happened to some ponies before, she was sure, but it wasn’t exactly a common occurrence. Plus, Squall was a member of the Lunar Guard. Now, she may have been wrong about this, but Starlight suspected that there was some pretty intense mental health screening for would-be recruits. Vivid dreams that could warp somepony’s perception of the waking world that intensely struck her as a particularly noteworthy red flag.

So, either this was a recent development in the thestral, Squall slipped through the cracks somehow, or there was some serious revamping required in the recruitment process for the lunar guard.

“Of course, given how easy it was for me to steal Starswirl's spell, the whole Royal Guard could use a bit of a revamp,” she thought to herself with a small twinkle of vestigial mischievousness in her eyes. “Of course, maybe it’s because I’m just that good. I mean, I’m almost as powerful as Twilight, and she’s an alicorn. The guard is probably not meant to try and stop ponies like me…”

Before Starlight could ponder the matter any further, the loud creaking sound of the throne room doors swinging open in front of her drew her back to the present. She lifted her gaze, her heart suddenly pounding in her chest as she remembered why she was here.

The two royal sisters could be seen on the other end of the room, with Celestia comfortably seated on her throne, and Luna standing beside her. Both of them looked up from a hushed conversation they had been having a moment ago, and their gazes locked onto the approaching mares. More specifically, they locked onto Starlight.

She came to a stop roughly in the middle of the throne room and bowed deeply before the sisters while Twilight took up a position in front of her. The Princess of Friendship cleared her throat, then stepped off to one side and gestured at Starlight. “Celestia, Luna, I came as you requested. This is Starlight Glimmer.”

Luna and Celestia shared a glance. It was Luna who spoke first, one of her eyebrows flying up to become hidden under her starry mane. “You came indeed… far sooner than either of us had thought.”

Twilight’s jaw fell open a little, and Starlight took a moment to selfishly savor the smugly satisfied grin she wore, which was thankfully hidden by the floor. She knew that coming this early wasn’t necessary!

“But we are glad all the same for your expediency,” Celestia spoke next, her tone appreciative and gentle. “Now… Starlight Glimmer, rise.”

Starlight wiped the smug look off her face, swallowed heavily, and did as instructed. She rose to her hooves, though she kept her gaze locked firmly on the floor. There was a moment of silence before she heard Luna clearing her throat. “Look at us, Starlight Glimmer.”

Starlight flinched, but again, did as she had been told. She lifted her eyes, and they were soon met with the sight of two alicorn princesses who were staring at her with no small amount of skepticism and scrutiny. Twilight looked visibly uncomfortable, glancing back and forth between the sisters and Starlight with a restless look on her face.

Celestia rose from her throne with her wings spreading out wide in all of their regal glory. Her movements were slow and deliberate, and every step she took towards Starlight made the unicorn feel more and more like a pitiful gnat among titans. As powerful as she was, she was not so delusional as to think she could hope to defend herself against one of the sisters if they decided to take things seriously, much less both of them.

She shrunk down a little but did her best to keep her gaze locked on Celestia’s as she approached. Twilight lifted a hoof and opened her mouth to say something as Celestia passed, but decided against it for the time being. She set her hoof down and shot Starlight a strained and forced attempt at a reassuring smile

After what felt like an eternity, Celestia stood directly in front of Starlight, gazing down on her with a critical eye and a thin-lipped frown. Starlight shifted uneasily under that piercing gaze, and could no longer look into Celestia’s eyes. She looked down again, a tiny tremor starting to work its way into her body.

That was when the solar princess spoke. Her voice was cool, calm, and calculating. “I have been told, miss Glimmer, that you broke into the private archives here in Canterlot Castle, stole a spell written by my teacher, Starswirl the Bearded, modified it, broke into the castle of Princess Twilight Sparkle, and then used your stolen and vandalized spell in conjunction with her map of Equestria to travel back into the past and prevent the Sonic Rainboom. Is this true?”

Twilight blinked in surprise, but Starlight grimaced in understanding. After a second, she gave a stiff nod of her head. “Yes. Every word… and the spell was destroyed when we finally came back to the present.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow at that but chose not to comment on it for the time being. Instead, she continued on. “I see. I was also told that Princess Twilight visited many alternate worlds during her time trying to stop you. Worlds that came to be, and yet have never been. But they persist in Twilight’s memories, and so to discard them as events that never happened would be a disservice to worlds and ponies now gone.

“I was told of a world where Equestria was in a brutal and prolonged war against King Sombra and the Crystal Empire. I was told of a world where the Changelings successfully overthrew my sister and I, taking over Equestria and crushing all resistance. I was told of a world where Nightmare Moon reigned supreme as a tyrant and brainwasher, and the world was shrouded in eternal night. I was told of a world where there was no life, only a freezing wind, and a barren wasteland.

“All of these worlds, whether they happened or not, survive in the memory of Princess Twilight. To her, they happened. She lived them, and so their existence can not be denied. In a sense, Starlight Glimmer, your actions not only created several worlds but destroyed each of them in turn.”

Every word was like a gavel strike sentencing Starlight to a worse and worse fate. Her ears drooped, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep her hooves under her. Her eyes had long since found a very specific spot on the floor and were studying it with unrivaled intensity.

“Do you have anything to say to me?” Celestia finally asked, taking a step back to give Starlight some room to breathe.

After a moment, Starlight sucked in a deep breath, and then looked up at the princesses. ”...Only that I had no idea what I was doing, and I had no way of knowing how much damage I was causing until…” her gaze drifted from Celestia to rest firmly on Twilight. “...Until Twilight showed me.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Go on,” she urged bluntly, her voice remaining skeptical.

Starlight lowered her gaze again, idly scuffing the red carpet beneath her hoof. “I never saw any of those worlds. Every time Twilight was sent back to the present, I was left behind. Then, when she would come back to try and stop me again, the spell would plant me a few moments before she would show up. I never saw where she went, or what she saw, until she dragged me with her. And… that was the barren world…

“I never wanted to hurt anypony like that,” she went on, her eyes misting up just a little. Her body shuddered involuntarily at the morbid memory, and she found herself in desperate want of a warm, fuzzy blanket. “I… I wanted to hurt Twilight and her friends, yes. I wanted revenge on them for uprooting everything I had spent so many years trying to build. For destroying my way of life… but… I didn’t want innocent bystanders to get caught in the aftermath. I didn’t want Equestria to suffer because of me. I just…”

She closed her eyes and let off a shaky sigh. “I just wanted Twilight to understand what she had put me through. Maybe I was wrong with my village, maybe I wasn’t. That doesn’t really matter anymore… what mattered to me was that I had built it, from scratch, with my own two hooves… and when Twilight and her friends came along, they tore it all away from me… and I was left with nothing. All over again, I was all alone…

“I know that there is no excusing what I’ve done… and I’m not asking for anything… just understanding.”

A heavy silence fell over the throne room as Starlight finished talking. She could just imagine Celestia and Luna sharing a critical gaze, and then a portal opening up to punt her into Tartarus. She could just hear somepony shifting, and she imagined it was Twilight, looking back and forth between the alicorns hopefully.

The silence dragged on and on, and it was feeling more and more like the air was starting to suffocate her. Starlight screwed her eyes shut and tried to keep her breath even and steady, tried to force herself to stay calm and dignified.

Finally, after what felt like forever, the silence was broken. “Under normal circumstances, such testimony would warrant a severe punishment indeed,” Princess Luna said in a voice that was far softer than Starlight was expecting. Starlight’s eyes opened, and she looked up to see Luna trotting up to stand by Celestia’s side. “However, I do not believe these are normal circumstances, are they?”

Starlight blinked, looking back and forth between the two alicorns in shock. “Huh?”

Celestia’s face softened considerably with a small smile. “You are not wrong when you say your actions are not excusable. However, that does not mean they are not redeemable.

Luna nodded and added in, “And Twilight Sparkle has already vowed to take you under her wing, meaning you are her responsibility now. Your punishment, if there is to be one, will be hers and hers alone to decide.”

Celestia then gave Twilight a sideways glance and a small, knowing nod. “And, if I am recalling her letter correctly… she has already decided what is to be done with you. Is that correct?”

It was only then that Starlight realized that Twilight had been looking increasingly like a statue from a horror book with how pale and mortified she had become. But as the mood in the room suddenly lightened up, so did she. Twilight let off one of the loudest sighs of relief any of them had ever heard and then nodded emphatically.

“Yes, absolutely! Starlight chose her path because, like she said, she was alone. She lost her nearest and dearest friend when she was just a filly, and never made another friend since then because of growing insecurities and a crippling fear of losing them, too. She’s spent so many years completely on her own, and that lack of companionship led her here.

“As Princess, my duty is to spread the magic of friendship wherever I can. With how powerful Starlight is, and with the good mare that I can see in her, I hold no doubts that with the proper guidance, she can become a wonderful friend to many ponies in need, and Equestria will be made all the better for it. That is why she is going to be my student, and I will teach her everything I know about friendship.”

Celestia nodded again, and then returned her gaze to Starlight, who was currently having a hard time processing everything that had just happened. Celestia’s wings slowly folded back up at her sides, making her seem far less threatening. “And there is your sentence, Starlight. I do hope you have no objections?”

There was a moment of profound silence before Starlight found her voice. “N-none.”

Really, it was more of a quiet squeak.

All the same, Celestia smiled brightly. “Then I do not believe there is any further need for my sister and I to hold you here. You are free to go.”

Starlight stood there like a statue, her brain catching up. Finally, with a loud sigh of relief, she crumpled to her haunches. A giddy laugh bubbled out of her without her control, and her hooves flew up to cover her eyes. Her giggles slowly devolved into sobs, though the immense smile lighting up her face made it clear that this was a cry of joy.

While Starlight sat there, taking some time to rejoice the fact that no, she was not going to Tartarus, Twilight just watched her with a charmed smile. Then, she turned and made her way over to Princess Luna, who was watching the scene with a similar look on her face. The dark blue alicorn noticed Twilight’s approach and craned her neck down so the two could speak in hushed voices. “Yes, Twilight?”

“Before Starlight and I go, I just felt I should let you know. On our way in, one of your lunar guards, Squall, told us that he woke up with a set of false memories. We speculated it may have been from a dream that he mistook as being real, but I’m not the expert on sleep or dreams. I told him that I would ask you to look into it.”

Luna’s face hardened in thought. “I see… I will check on him after you and Starlight have departed. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”

“You’re welcome,” Twilight nodded before turning back to Starlight. She couldn’t help but giggle when she noticed the unicorn had fallen onto her back, still laughing and crying with relief. “Heh. Alright, Starlight, get up. We should probably get you back to Ponyville. I think you could use a little rest after all this.”

Starlight shot her hooves up to point at the ceiling. “Are you kidding?! I feel like I could run a dozen laps around Canterlot right now!” she declared before sitting up, a goofy grin on her face and the tear lines on her cheeks all but forgotten. “Do you have any idea how relieved I am?”

“Careful,” Luna said in a teasing voice. “You don’t want to push your luck too far, do you?”

“After all,” Celestia added in with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “It’s not very polite to roll on the floor laughing and crying in front of royalty who just spared you a terrible fate.”

That was all Starlight needed to hear to clam right up.


That night, Starlight found herself overlooking Ponyville from one of the many balconies that hung off the side of Twilight’s castle. The sun had set a long time ago, and there was nopony else out and about. Twilight and Spike had gone to sleep a while ago, but Starlight had been unable to follow them into the realm of dreams. There was just too much on her mind.

For one thing, she couldn’t help but think back on the questions she had answered up in Canterlot, and how terrified she had been. But after that, her day had gotten so much brighter. Somehow, Pinkie Pie had known where she and Twilight were going and what the outcome was going to be. She had managed to prepare a colossal party to celebrate, and Starlight had met a lot of ponies during the chaos of that.

It had all been a blur, though, and she was ashamed to admit that she couldn’t remember practically any of the new faces she had seen. Not long after, the sun had gone down, and Twilight and Spike turned in for the night. Now, Starlight was alone, wondering what the future had in store for her.

“So… a new beginning, huh?” she whispered quietly to herself while draping her hooves over the rail and resting her chin on them. A new beginning in a new town with new friends.

Friends… real friends. It was still hard to believe that Twilight and her friends had all accepted her so readily. Even after hearing of what she had done, what she had tried to do, they had welcomed her into their lives with open hooves. It had felt nice…

Somewhere deep in her mind, the memory of Sunburst leaving her behind and in the dust resurfaced in her mind. Her ears drooped, and she screwed her eyes shut in an effort to force the thought down. “No!” she scolded herself. “It won’t end that way this time. I won’t let it!

After a minute or two, she opened her eyes again and looked up at the skies, and at the stars that had served as her namesake. She couldn’t help but crack a tiny, nostalgic smile when she thought back on long nights with her parents where they would sit out on the front lawn, and they would point out the various constellations and stars in the sky. Of course, that had been before her mother had left, and before she had gotten old enough to be… dissatisfied with her father’s childish treatment of her.

But she didn’t let her mind wander to those negative aspects of her foalhood, for now. Instead, she just lay on her back, rested her hooves over her chest and belly, and gazed at the heavens. Every so often, she would recognize a constellation or cluster of stars, and she’d whisper its name while pointing it out.

She was starting to lose track of time. Before she knew it, she’d just been stargazing for over an hour, and she was, at last, starting to fall asleep. A tiny, content smile spread across her face, and even though she wasn’t in her bed or covered in a blanket, she didn’t have it in her to mind just then.

She was just happy to feel like she had a place that she could call home. Whether or not it would work out in the end, she didn’t know, but she supposed it was just like Twilight had said. “It’s up to me to make sure things don’t end the same way…

With a content home, her eyes slowly began to close, and she felt herself falling into the gentle, soothing embrace of sleep.

...

But all hopes of rest were dashed when something unfamiliar appeared in the sky overhead.

Confused, Starlight opened her eyes a little wider to get a better look. It was strange. It was as if a long and jagged white crack had appeared across the night sky, contrasting sharply with the blackness of space. Starlight slowly sat up, her face scrunching up and her eyes narrowing. “What the…?”

Her eyes then widened in shock and awe when she realized that the crack was expanding. As it grew, she could see an endless abyss of white on the other side. And in the heart of it all, a long current of multi-colored magic could be seen weaving around in a series of intricate and graceful curves, spirals and loops.

A cold feeling began to spread out from her chest, and Starlight stood up, her ears falling flat against her head and her heart rate suddenly accelerating. “What in the world…?” she choked out. She remained there for a second, her eyes fearfully glued onto the slowly growing chasm in the heavens before she lit up her horn with magic and disappeared from that balcony in a flash of light.

She re-appeared inside of Twilight’s bedroom with a loud burst of sound. The princess, who had been slumbering peacefully, shot upright with a startled shout. She looked around for a moment, then glowered at Starlight as she calmed down. “Ugh… Starlight, what are you doing?” she asked groggily, raising one of her hooves up to rub at her eyes.

Starlight took a deep breath, then affixed Twilight with a firm and intense look. “Twilight, look outside.”

Author's Note:

And so begins
The End of Time Arc.

Also, some of you may have noticed that I changed the chapter names for the 'Orphan Rainbow' Arc to reflect that it was a multi-part affair. As this story is an anthology, it seemed prudent for the sake of organizing things to make sure that multi-chapter arcs are clearly labeled and easy to see.

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