• Published 11th Jan 2019
  • 1,048 Views, 88 Comments

Little Fragments - Skijarama

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

  • ...

End of Time: Apologies

The final day…

The Chasm was growing.

Starlight gazed up at the rift in reality, which was now so large that well over half of the sky had been consumed. The current of magic within was perfectly clear and well-defined now. In the distance, if one were perfectly still and listened closely, they could hear the occasional, low-pitched rumble. One such rumble passed through the air, as if on cue.

It was too audible for Starlight’s taste, and it was only made worse by the profound silence that had fallen over the world. The wind had stopped blowing, water ran slow, and even the birds had opted to silence their songs.

Starlight exhaled quietly, then lowered her eyes from the sky to take in her surroundings. She stood in the middle of one of the many dirt streets of Ponyville, Sugarcube Corner residing not far ahead of her. The plaza was empty of ponies, as were the streets. All of them were inside, spending their last hours with their families.

Starlight had to admit, she had not expected the crowd to react the way it had to the news. When Celestia had given the announcement from Canterlot that the world was due to end, and nothing could be done to stop it, Starlight had anticipated riots, chaos, and utter pandemonium. Shockingly, though, the crowds had remained quiet and motionless, listening to their princess with rapt attention.

When the announcement had been concluded, they had all stood there in silence for a few minutes, and then went home without a word. Shops had been closed, or all of their contents had been put out in front with a makeshift ‘free’ sign planted nearby.

That was just Equestria, though. Ponyville and Canterlot, specifically. She had no way of knowing how the rest of Equestria, or the lands beyond, had reacted to the news, or if they had even heard it. Starlight’s ears drooped at the thought of the Griffins being completely oblivious to why the sky had split open. Her head fell even further so that her eyes were locked onto the dirt below.

An unnaturally chilly wind swept over her, making her shudder and wish for a hoodie or something.

She then glanced back over her shoulder at the castle, its highest spire visible above the roofs of nearby buildings. Celestia was there with Twilight, teaching her some kind of spell. Starlight didn’t really know the details, and at that moment, she was too distracted by everything else to really give it much thought. So, with a deep breath, she returned her attention to the one place of business that was still open.

Sugarcube Corner.

It may not have been closed, but as she stepped into the front room, she figured it might as well have been. The only pony she could see within the colorful bakery was Pinkie Pie herself. The pink mare stood somewhere behind the counter, working on a tall and delicious looking cake while eyeing it with intense scrutiny. She was so focused on her work that she hadn’t even noticed Starlight enter, or if she did, she made no outward indication of it.

Starlight slowly stepped forwards until she was directly behind the counter, waiting to be noticed. However, it seemed that wouldn’t be happening without some direct intervention. Fighting back an impatient sigh, Starlight lifted a hoof and knocked on the counter three times.

That finally got Pinkie’s attention. She blinked, perked up and tore her eyes away from her project to look at Starlight. Her intense expression softened considerably into a more friendly, if solemn look before she trotted over to the counter. “Oh, hi Starlight! I... wasn’t expecting you,” she greeted, the friendly energy in her voice swiftly fading into uncertainty. She lifted a hoof to scratch at the back of her head and gave an awkward chuckle. “So, what can I get you? Ice cream, cupcake, regular cake?”

Starlight shook her head dismissively. “Nothing, thanks,” she said, glancing over her shoulder and into the streets of Ponyville again.

“You sure?” Pinkie pressed alluringly while reaching under the counter and withdrawing a scrumptious looking cupcake. She waved it back and forth in front of Starlight with a small grin. ‘Everything’s free today~”

Starlight sagged and shook her head again. “I’m not here for food, Pinkie… I want to talk to you,” she explained before meeting Pinkie’s gaze again.

“Oh,” Pinkie glanced at her cupcake, then shrugged. “Suit yourself.” she then opened her mouth and popped it in without a second thought. She then spoke through her mouthful of sweet treat. “So, what do you want to talk about?”

Starlight cringed at that and waited for Pinkie to swallow. Once she had, Starlight opened her mouth to speak, but the words caught in her throat. She paused for a moment, chewing on her lip. Finally, though, she swallowed her trepidation, looked deep into Pinkie’s eyes, and steeled herself. “...I’m sorry.”

Pinkie licked her lips of leftover frosting and then tilted her head inquisitively. “Sorry? For what?”

Starlight shifted on her hooves and gestured out the window. “This. All of this. I… it’s… it’s my fault that this is happening… I was ready to make amends, to do whatever it took to do better and redeem myself for all of the wrongs I did to you and your friends, and for my village, and for everything else, but… It’s too late. I’ll never get the chance to prove that I can be better, so... ” she set her hoof down and closed her eyes. “So… all I can do is tell you that I am so, so sorry…”

Pinkie Pie stared at her for several seconds, her face falling with sorrow. After a moment, though, she shook herself and offered Starlight a small, friendly smile. She moved out from behind the counter, came up to Starlight’s side, and gave her a big, warm hug. Starlight’s eyes snapped open at the unexpected contact, and a startled ‘huh?!’ slipped past her lips.

“It’s okay,” Pinkie Pie whispered to her, giving her a firm and comforting squeeze. She then leaned back and lightly patted Starlight on the head as if to dust her off. “This isn’t the end of the world, you know. We’re all still gonna be here. We’re just changing a little, that’s all.”

Starlight frowned at that, one eyebrow flying up. “But… but…” she tried, but it was harder than she had thought to find her words...

Pinkie just grinned at her before starting to head back behind the counter. “I mean, sure, it’s a little scary because I have no idea how my life’s gonna change. I might never meet any of my friends, or I might still be living on the rock farm. It’s all a mystery, and that’s super duper scary…” she came to a stop by her cake and sized it up again. “But at the same time, I don’t think we have too much to worry about. I mean, if things were gonna go super duper badly, then the Tree would have let you and Twilight fix it. But you’re changing, too, so everything is gonna be just fine. It’s gotta be…”

Starlight felt her heart wilt a little more at those last three words. It sounded more like Pinkie was trying to convince herself rather than Starlight. But, despite that, she couldn’t help but let a tiny smile spread on her face. Pinkie Pie… that crazy mare was able to find a silver lining in every situation.

“An admirable trait…” Starlight thought before standing upright and clearing her throat. “Alright, well… I’m glad to know that you’re able to see a silver lining to all this.”

Pinkie smiled back at her. “I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.”

Starlight, from what she knew of Pinkie, had to concede that point. “Heh, I know. So…” she hesitated, not entirely sure if she should ask. But she just had to... “Apology accepted?” she asked hopefully.

Pinkie grinned and gave her a sharp nod. “Uh-huh!”

Feeling at least a part of the weight on her shoulders being lifted, Starlight gave off a relieved sigh. “Whew, I’m glad to hear it… thank’s Pinkie.”

“No problemo,” Pinkie replied in a chirp. “You were all pouty, and I didn’t like it.”

Starlight frowned at that. “Right… well, I need to get a move on. I need to talk to the others, too. I’ll be seeing you,” she then turned and began to head for the door, but paused when she noticed just how intensely Pinkie was staring at the cake, and the occasional adjustments to the frosting or decorations she was making.

As much as she really needed to get a move on, Starlight just had to ask. She turned to face Pinkie one more time and cleared her throat. “Uh, before I go… you’re really taking that cake seriously. What’s it for?”

Pinkie gave Starlight a knowing look out of the corner of her eye, and her face lit up a little more. “Oh, you know. It’s for me and me,” she sing-songed without missing a beat before taking another bag of frosting in her mouth and starting to apply a ribbon of the sweet substance to the edge of the cake.

Starlight shouldn’t have been surprised. If Pinkie had to go out and had any say as to how she’d go out with a cake in her mouth. Made sense. With a small nod, Starlight turned and finally stepped out of the bakery. She paused briefly on the front steps, thinking of who to go and speak with next…

The front door of the carousel boutique swung open, revealing Rarity on the other side. She looked positively exhausted, but despite that, it was clear that she had gone out of her way to make herself as presentable as always. Her mane was well combed, her coat brushed, and her makeup maintained. Her eyes landed on Starlight’s, and she perked up a little in surprise. “Oh, Starlight. I wasn’t expecting you. I thought you’d be with Twilight all day.”

Starlight shook her head. “No. She’s busy learning a spell from Celestia at the moment, and I didn’t want to interrupt the lesson. I figured I’d take the time and stop by. I’ve already been to see Pinkie, so…” she explained in a somewhat awkward voice, one of her hooves reaching up to rub pensively at her shoulder.

Rarity frowned, her lips pursed in thought. She didn’t keep Starlight waiting for long, and stepped back. “Well, would you like to come in? The weather outside is… less than enjoyable,” she offered, her face contorting with barely restrained dread as she unwittingly reminded herself of the rift in the sky.

Starlight cast a brief glance towards the Chasm, and not wishing to be under that reminder of her terrible mistakes, she gave a grateful nod of her head and stepped inside. “Thank you. I won’t be here long, I promise. I just need to tell you something and then I need to get moving,” she said as the door closed behind her.

“Well, then explain it over a cup of tea,” Rarity advised, leading the way deeper into the boutique and to a room that was reserved for living rather than business. “I just got done making a batch.”

As the duo stepped into the dining room, Starlight spotted Sweetie Belle sitting down at the table, her own cup of tea comfortably nestled between her hooves. She gently blew on it before noticing her big sister returning with a guest. Sweetie lifted her head and frowned curiously at Starlight. She didn’t say anything though and soon went back to her tea.

Starlight winced and looked away. Sweetie must have been told already whose fault this all was, and the emptiness in her eyes only served to add more guilt to Starlight’s conscience. With her hooves feeling notably heavier, now, Starlight took a seat on the opposite side of the table from Sweetie Belle and Rarity, the latter using her magic to levitate over a cup and tea kettle from the counter.

“So, what is it you want to tell me?” Rarity asked conversationally as if trying to forget the inevitable doom that was approaching from beyond her walls.

Starlight took the cup and watched for a moment as the tea was poured in. She could tell from the scent that it was a sweet and fruity variety of tea, and the red coloration helped add to that assessment. She took a testing sip and, finding it to be just a little too hot for the moment, set the cup down. She then cleared her throat and met Rarity’s expectant gaze. “...I’m sorry.”

Rarity tilted her head. “...For?”

Starlight sighed for what felt like the millionth time that day and screwed her eyes shut. “...I’m sorry for the ‘weather,’” she elaborated before taking a deep breath and opening her eyes, although they remained glued to her cup of tea. “I brought this on all of us… I know it’s my fault, and there’s nothing I can do to make amends, no matter how much I want to. All I can do is let everypony I’ve hurt know how deeply, truly sorry I am for what I’ve done… and that’s what I’m doing.”

There was a heavy moment of silence, and so Starlight kept going. “I was short-sighted and stupid, and I didn’t think about how my actions would affect everypony else. I was so focused on just getting some catharsis that I didn’t stop to consider what would happen just by going back in time in the first place. Now, time’s changing, and we have no idea what our new lives are going to be like… and it’s all because of me... I just hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me…”

The silent carried on for what felt like an eternity, and Starlight closed her eyes again. When almost an entire minute passed and neither of the two other ponies in the room spoke, she began to rise to leave. It was pretty clear, in her mind at least, that she was no longer welcome here. “I’m sorry… I’ll just go-”

“Starlight,” Rarity called after her, making Starlight pause mid-step. She bit her lip nervously and looked back at Rarity over her shoulder. The fashionista had draped a foreleg over Sweetie Belle’s shoulders, pulling her into a side hug. Both of them were offering Starlight a small smile. “I think, darling, that you have already made amends with me.”

Sweetie Belle nodded slowly, though she seemed a little less sure then Rarity did. “Yeah, me too.”


Rarity stifled a sad chuckle, and she shook her head. “It’s no small feat to willfully carry such a heavy burden on your shoulders, Starlight. To carry all of the blame for this willingly, and going out of your way to express your regret over it all to the ponies you have hurt, tells me that there truly is a wonderful and responsible mare in you. It may have been buried by resentment and bitterness over perceived wrongs, but that is no longer the case. I gladly accept your apology.”

Starlight was taken aback, but soon relaxed and looked away. “I mean… I just… but…” she stammered for a few seconds before sobering up and looking back at Rarity. “Thank you, Rarity.”

“I haven’t done anything for you,” Rarity countered before standing up and trotting towards the other unicorn, though she was sure to levitate both of their cups of tea along for the ride. “How about we fix that, hmm?”

Starlight raised an eyebrow, taking her cup back in her magic as Rarity presented it to her. “Uh, what do you mean?”

Rarity just beamed at her and walked by. “I had been working on a big project for all of my friends before all of this started…” she began while leading the way towards another room of the boutique. “And even though none of them will exist in the next twenty-four hours, I finished them all this morning. “

They stepped through another doorway and into what Starlight could only describe as a workshop of fabrics. Ponequins were set up everywhere, six of them in fact. Each one was dressed in a magnificent dress, and it wasn’t hard to deduce that each one was meant for a different member of her circle of friends. Rarity trotted by each of them, however, and came to a stop by the one that Starlight figured was for her.

It was a gorgeous blue dress with a subtle sparkle near the bottom rim as if to make it look like the mare wearing it left flashes of light wherever she stepped. The fabric reflected the light in a way similar to silk, and subtly reminded Starlight of a deep ocean. There was a pattern of intricate and abstract curves and spirals that were just barely noticeable if one looked close enough, and around the front of the dress were frills of a lighter shade of purple, forming a series of semicircles beneath the hole where the head comes out.

Rarity set her hoof on the ponequins shoulder before giving Starlight a small smile. “I don’t have the time to make another one of these, and I must admit, as I was making these, I may have let my own vanity get the better of me just a little, and put a tiny bit of additional effort into my own dress…”

“The effort shows. It is beautiful,” Starlight complimented sincerely before sipping down some more of her tea. Her brow furrowed in confusion, and she gave Rarity a queer look. “But… why are you showing me this?”

Rarity set her own tea aside on a nearby desk before, with a graceful flourish, the dress was removed from the ponequin. With deft motions and precision, Rarity folded the dress and each of its various components before carefully depositing them into an opaque plastic bag that Starlight hadn’t noticed. With one last fanciful flourish, the bag was sealed and wrapped with a ribbon the same shade as Starlight’s coat… and then Rarity presented it to her. “Because, my dear, I want you to have it.”

Starlight’s eyes widened, and her brain stalled for a moment. She took a step back, her mouth opening and closing repeatedly for several seconds as she tried to think of what to say. “Wha… but… Rarity, I can’t take your-”

Rarity tutted at the display before lightly setting the bag down on Starlight’s back, ignoring her protests. “Just take it, darling. It is one of my best works yet, and I know it will fit you. It’s adjustable, after all. Besides, if my time is almost up, then let me do this last act of generosity. Please.”

That snapped Starlight out of her stupor, and she looked into Rarity’s eyes. The designer appeared almost... desperate, and there was a clear shimmer of moisture in her eyes. After a few seconds of consideration, Starlight gave her head a stiff nod. “R-right… uh… thank you, Rarity. Thank you very much.”

Rarity just leaned forward and gave Starlight a big hug. “You are very welcome, Starlight Glimmer.”

Starlight hesitated, but eventually returned the hug. The weight of the dress on her back was thankfully little when compared to the other weight she had just been relieved of.

Starlight eyed her next destination with a measure of reluctance, one hoof raised a few inches above the dirt path in mid-step while the other adjusted the dress bag slung over her shoulder.

Fluttershy’s home was one of the few places that almost looked normal. As far as Starlight could tell, it didn’t get very much hoof traffic, so the absence of any ponies near the forest-side shack wasn’t that odd. As a result, Starlight felt an irrational worry whispering into her ear from inside of her own skull. A little voice telling her to just go and leave Fluttershy alone, to not disturb this tiny bubble of normality and stability.

She gave a slow shake of her head, though. It may have looked normal, but Starlight had seen how distraught the pegasus had been when the news had dropped a couple of days prior. And besides, Starlight came all this way. She wasn’t going to get cold hooves now.

She took a deep breath to steady herself and pressed on, crossing the small wooden bridge that went over the pristine stream that ran in front of Fluttershy’s cottage. Her ears perked up as, for the first time that day, she heard the sounds of birds chirping. Granted, the sound was muffled and coming from within the cottage, but it was there all the same, and a welcome change from the unnatural silence and occasional rumble.

With only another second of hesitation, Starlight reached up and knocked on the door a few times. A few seconds passed before the door slowly opened, revealing the yellow mare herself. At the same time, the sound of birds chirping and other animals interacting with one another came through the frame, and Starlight caught a small glimpse of the seemingly organized chaos that was Fluttershy’s home. It also came with the potent smell of animals.

She didn’t really give much attention to that, though, instead choosing to focus on Fluttershy herself. Her posture was sagging, her eyes had dark rings under them, and she looked like she could fall asleep right there. Her mane and tail were both a little messy, and the feathers on her wings looked like they were in desperate need of a good preening. She must have not been sleeping very well.

“Not that I can blame her,” Starlight thought, her eyes briefly flicking up to the Chasm. She could just hear another one of the faint, distant rumbles it emitted. “I haven’t been much better… it’d help if we couldn’t see what was coming at night…”

After a moment, Fluttershy got tired of waiting for Starlight to speak and daintily cleared her throat. “Ahem, Um, Starlight? Uh… is there something I can do for you?” she asked in an even quieter voice than usual.

With a start, Starlight came back to the here and now and returned her attention to the discussion at hoof. “Oh, sorry. I, uh… I’m just coming by to tell you something, that’s all,” she explained simply.

Fluttershy tilted her head to one side. “Oh. Uh, what is it?”

Starlight licked her lips, finding it much easier to say the words now that she’d done it twice already. “I just wanted to come by and let you know that I am sorry for… well, you know. All of this,” she said before gesturing vaguely up and behind herself. Fluttershy followed her gesture and wilted a little more at the sight of the Chasm. “It’s my fault this is happening, and if there were a way to stop this, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I can’t, and I won’t get any chances to make up for it, either… so, from the bottom of my heart, I am so, so sorry.”

Starlight bowed her head and closed her eyes. After a few seconds of silence, she heard a soft thump and then felt a pair of hooves gingerly pulling her into a soft but warm hug. No longer surprised thanks to the other hugs she had received that day, Starlight relaxed into the embrace and returned it, burying her face into Fluttershy’s shoulder.

“I forgive you,” Fluttershy whispered before pulling back and offering Starlight a tiny smile. “I know you didn’t mean for this to happen. But thank you for telling me, anyway. I think…” she sniffled, a tiny bit of moisture building up in her eyes. She frowned at herself and wiped at her face with her hoof to clear away the tears “I think I needed to hear it…”

Starlight gave a slow nod. “You’re welcome… and Thank you, Fluttershy… I hope that, no matter how you change, you remain as kind and forgiving in the new world as you are in this one. The world needs more ponies like you...”

Fluttershy got a distant look on her face, her sad smile growing. She let her hoof fall back and looked deep into Starlight’s eyes. “I hope so, too… and I hope that the new you doesn’t have to be alone as long as you were.”

Starlight’s ears drooped at that. She looked down at the ground for a moment, her mind wandering back to Sunburst, her father, and then her village. After a moment, though, she raised her head again and gave Fluttershy a small smile. “Yeah… I hope so, too.”

It was starting to get pretty far into the afternoon at this point. Starlight paused in the middle of the path leading to Sweet Apple Acres to look up at the sun as it drifted through the heavens. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to be directly affected by the Chasm, and it’s light shone down even as it passed in front of the spreading rip in reality.

She then returned her gaze to the path ahead, catching sight of the farm that was her destination a ways ahead. She hesitated and bit her lip when she spotted four ponies and a dog sitting together the front yard of the home. A large quilt had been laid out, and a few baskets were set around them along with paper plates.

“An end of the world picnic…” Starlight thought solemnly when she watched Applejack pull out a sandwich from one of the baskets and bite into it. She then looked down at Apple Bloom, the two of them speaking in hushed tones. Big Macintosh and Granny Smith both chimed in, and Apple Bloom got an indignant look on her face. Some light-hearted family teasing, no doubt...

Starlight briefly toyed with the idea of leaving them to it. Applejack had a family she was with, after all, and Starlight felt it would be poor of her to intrude on their time.

Any thoughts of leaving were dashed, however, when Applejack’s eyes lowered as if in thought, and caught sight of her. The two locked gazes for a moment, and Starlight’s blood ran cold. Applejack narrowed her eyes, said something to the others, and then rose to her hooves to approach Starlight. Apple Bloom watched after her for a second before returning to looking at the sky.

In no time, Applejack came to a stop maybe ten feet in front of Starlight, a neutral but expectant look on her face. “Well? What do ya want?” she asked simply, her expression not wavering at all.

Starlight swallowed heavily and looked down and away. “I, uh… I just… I wanted to apologize to you,” she managed to stammer out, her confidence wavering even more under the farmer’s scrutiny. She gestured up at the Chasm weakly. “For… you know. This…”

The farmer glanced up at the heavens as Starlight spoke, but did not say a word.

“It’s my fault, and this is all I can do to make it right,” Starlight continued, mustering the courage to look at Applejack again. “I don’t expect you to forgive me… but I just felt you should know how sorry I am. I never wanted this, and-”

“Starlight,” Applejack cut her off in a stern voice. She lowered her gaze back to Starlight, her expression relaxing somewhat. “Ah appreciate what yer tryin’ to do, and ah accept yer apology. But…” she turned in place and nodded back towards her family. “...Ah’m tryin’ to make up for some lost time before the end.”

Starlight followed Applejack’s eyes to the others. They were all watching them curiously, and in Starlight’s mind, judgmentally. She looked down and nodded. “I understand…” she mumbled out, her voice quiet and dejected.

She was about to turn to go when Applejack cleared her throat to ask a surprising question. “What about you? Are ya plannin’ on seein’ yer family?” she asked, her tone notably more gentle.

Starlight winced and turned back to Applejack. Her expression twisted into one of morbid amusement. She gave a quiet, humorless chuckle and shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. I don’t have enough time to get to Sire’s Hollow, my home. And besides…” her posture sagged, and she cast a bitter scowl towards the ground. “...I don’t want to spend my last moments with my father. He’s a good stallion, but before I left home, he was still treating me like a little filly. It was insulting and degrading.”

“What about yer mother?” Applejack tried gently, stepping forward a little. “Or siblings? Do ya have any of those?”

Starlight shook her head. “No, I was an only child. As for my mother…” her expression became forlorn and she sighed. “...She left when I was little. Dad never talked about it, and frankly, after Sunburst left, I stopped wanting to know where she went or why. Too many ponies were running out of my life without saying goodbye...”

Applejack’s eyes widened somewhat, and she reached up to pull her hat off of her head. “Ah’m real sorry to hear that, Starlight…” she consoled gently.

Starlight shook her head and waved a hoof in dismissal. “Don’t be. I’ve already got somepony to watch the end of the world with…” she turned and looked back down the trail towards Ponyville again. “In fact, I should probably be getting back. We only have a few more hours, don’t we?”

Applejack was silent for a second, then nodded and replaced her hat on her head. “Yeh. Last ah heard, Celestia and Luna plan to lower the sun and raise the moon at the last second. Somethin’ about harmony and balance…”

“How poetic of them,” Starlight thought before giving a nod. “Right…” she then looked back over at Applejack. “Well… I should get going… see you.”

Applejack sighed, a solemn look on her face. “Right. Ah’ll see ya on the other side, sugarcube… and thanks fer stoppin’ by. It’s nice to know that ya care, even after everythin’ we’ve been through.”

Starlight gave her a tiny smile and then turned to walk away. Applejack waited until she was out of sight and then took her hat off one more time to hold it over her chest. She closed her eyes, mouthed a silent goodbye, and then replaced her hat on her head before returning to her family.

Starlight eventually came to a stop in a small park off to one side of the road. She was in a residential area, now, and looked up to get her bearings. It was just as quiet as before, save for the distant booms and rumbles of the Chasm. They were actually starting to get louder, and Starlight shuddered when one such crack peeled through the air. The dirt beneath her hooves vibrated and rumbled, and she could feel it in her throat.

Her eyes eventually settled on Twilight’s castle in the distance, the tallest spire resembling a beacon or a lighthouse. She stared at it for several seconds, and then set off down the street. Chances were high that Celestia had finished teaching Twilight the spell at this point, or they would be done soon, and Starlight wanted to be in that castle when it was all over. After all, it was the home of the pony and dragon who forgave her before anypony else…

Before she made it very far, though, something caught her eye. The sky had been cleared in its entirety when the news had dropped, at least in Ponyville. There hadn’t been rain or even a single cloud for days, so it was a little odd to Starlight when she caught sight of a small, lone cloud drifting through the air over the park she had stopped in. Curious, she rotated in place to get a better look at it.

There was a rainbow-colored tail hanging off the side of it, occasionally twitching back and forth.

Rainbow Dash… of course she’d choose to spend her last hours in the sky. It only made perfect sense for her. Starlight had also been hoping to not bump into the pegasus on this trek, though. After all, the last time they had seen one another was when Twilight had dropped the news on them, and Rainbow’s anger was still vivid in the unicorn’s mind.

Figuring that it was a safe bet to assume Rainbow’s opinion hadn’t changed, Starlight turned back around to return to the Castle.

“You’ve been busy,” Rainbow’s voice suddenly sliced through the air, making Starlight stop in her tracks with her shoulders hunching up. She shakily glanced back to see that the pegasus had sat up on her cloud, an unreadable look on her face as she glared down at her. “Been all over town. Seeing the sights, since you won’t get another chance?”

The edge to Rainbow’s voice was tangible, and it made Starlight falter and look away again. Eventually, though, she swallowed down the lump in her throat and spoke. “I was apologizing to your friends…”

“And not me?”

Starlight twitched and looked back up at Rainbow. “I just thought, after how our last meeting went, that you wouldn’t want to see me, that you’d want to be left alone,” she admitted quietly, reaching a hoof up to rub at her shoulder.

Rainbow’s intense expression persisted. “Well, you’re not wrong,” she bit back, her eyes narrowing. “But you’re kind of hard to miss. You’re the only other pony out on the streets right now.”

Starlight quietly swore under her breath before looking up at meeting Rainbow’s gaze. “Well… as long as I’m here… I’m sorry, Rainbow.”

Rainbow’s nostrils flare. “And what does being sorry fix?” she demanded, leaning forward slightly.

Starlight didn’t even miss a beat. “It doesn’t fix anything, I know. But what else can I do? I just…” she looked down. “All I can do with the time we have is let ponies know that I never wanted this… and that I am sorry I brought this on all of us. I can’t fix it, I can’t take it back… I can’t do anything about it.”

Several more seconds passed before Rainbow sighed and lowered herself back down onto her cloud, her front legs dangling over the edge. Her expression softened into one of sympathy. “Well… I know how much that feeling sucks…” she said wistfully before setting her chin on her hooves. She stared blankly off into space for a little while before glancing down at Starlight again. “So, you’ve been to see my friends… how are they holding up?”

Starlight looked up at Rainbow again. “They’re… coping as well as they can. Pinkie’s keeping busy by making a cake, Fluttershy’s spending time with her animals, and Rarity and Applejack are with their families.”

Rainbow’s expression darkened somewhat. When Starlight finished, she turned her head to look off towards the distant city of Cloudsdale, just barely visible on the horizon. “...Family huh…?” she muttered before rising back into a standing position and hopping down from her cloud. Starlight stepped back a few paces to give her some space. Once Rainbow touched down, she gave Starlight a sideways glance. “...I haven’t seen mine since Twilight’s castle sprang up… might as well fix that while I still got a chance, eh?”

Starlight blinked in surprise, but then offered a tentative shrug of her shoulders. “I mean… that’s up to you. You have a lot of friends, here…” she pointed out carefully, taking another step back. “And if you go to Cloudsdale, you won’t be with them…”

Rainbow hung her head. “I know… but they’re my folks. I’m not gonna get another chance to see them, so I’m gonna take this one,” she said simply before turning around. “I’m gonna go find Scootaloo and see if she wants to come along. I bet they will get along really well…”

And with that, Rainbow unfurled her wings and shot off into the air, kicking up a cloud of dust as she went. Starlight raised a foreleg to shield her face, coughing a few times before the dust settled and she could see again.

Rainbow Dash had already disappeared.

Only one hour left.

Once Rainbow had left her quite literally in the dust, Starlight had taken some time to make one more trip around Ponyville, taking in the sights and, in her own way, saying goodbye. She hadn’t lived here for more than a couple of days, true, but it was her home, now… a home given to her even when she hadn’t deserved it.

She paused in the middle of the street that led directly to Twilight’s doorstep and gazed up at the heavens once again. Another tremor coursed through the world, making her shudder involuntarily. The Chasm had almost consumed the entire sky at this point, and distant mountain peaks were starting to crumble and dissolve into the abyss.

Standing there, in the middle of the street, Starlight’s view was almost completely unobstructed, to the point that, in her field of vision, there was nothing else except for that abyss. The sheer scale of it… it was truly dawning on her just how tiny she was in comparison. How tiny they all were. But at the same time, despite her dread at what was to come in a little under an hour, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of tranquility…

If nothing else, she could take some comfort and solace in the fact that this wasn’t really the end. Like Pinkie Pie had said, they would still be alive after all of this, just… changed. And there would be a little glimpse of this world in the new one as well, in the form of Starlight and Twilight in Cloudsdale.

So, in that sense, at least a piece of this time and world would survive into the new one. It would be in the form of fleeting glimpses and memories of a small oddity, but it was more than nothing. Thinking of it like that, Starlight couldn’t help but let a quiet smile spread on her face.

Their legacy would live on in that one moment...

A door opened to her right, snapping her out of her trance. Curious as to the disturbance, she looked and saw the occupants of a nearby house silently exiting the building. It was a family consisting of a mare, a stallion, and their two foals, all of them earth ponies. They each gave Starlight a quiet nod before finding a spot not far away and sitting down as well. They all looked up at the Chasm, the foals resting against their parent’s sides while the adults held each other from the sides.

Then another door opened, and another family stepped out. And another, and another. Starlight looked around, completely stunned as what seemed like every single pony in Ponyville silently out of their homes and gathered in the streets, all of them looking up into the sky and the Chasm.

They didn’t say a word or make a sound. They just sat there and watched... Starlight looked around at them all for a few more minutes, then closed her eyes. She took one more deep breath, opened her eyes, rose to her hooves, and began to make her way for the castle.

They were facing their fate… and so would she.

Author's Note:

There will be one more part to this Arc before it ends.

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