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Stories about ponies are stories about people. Every challenge is an opportunity to change. My Patrons let me keep writing, at: https://www.patreon.com/RealStarscribe


Starlight Glimmer had the perfect plan: using Star Swirl's time travel spell, erase the Sonic Rainboom and everything it did. After failing to stop her, Twilight was returned abruptly to an Equestria that bears little resemblance to her home, where the other Elements of Harmony don't even know her name.

It should've been simple then: use Star Swirl's magic to return to the past and stop Starlight from changing things. Unfortunately for Twilight, all the magic in the Cutie Map is gone. She'll have to find another way to put Equestria right, and fast. After all, the Elements didn't stop Nightmare Moon...

This story is sponsored by Two Bit as a Patreon reward. If you'd like me to write your awesome story idea, that's the place. Cover by Zutcha.

Chapters (21)
Comments ( 189 )

Looks like someone turned left at Kennebunkport...

This is gonna be interestin', for sure!

I don't think I've seen one of those set after there's a three sided war going on. Interesting, NM will be too busy keeping the country going to worry about usurpers, or to waste the resource that a new Alicorn represents. Maybe she's even willing to help Twilight... After she puts at least one of their enemies down, that is. And with equestria as diminished as it is, that's going to be a tad difficult.

If not for not wanting to leave the real target audience hanging for weeks, this could have made a good canon season. As it is... well, we'll just have to see where it goes. Nice that Twilight at least has one ally already.:twilightsmile:

Things would have been so much easier if Princess Celestia was in power.

About how I expected that meeting to go.

Oh look, Starscribe is in the feature box again. Not really surprising considering he/she is a pretty amazing author.

Twilight has more magic than Nightmare Moon and knows a lot of spells. Meaning, she could teleport herself and Applejack to a location that Nightmare Moon doesn't know about.

Hmn, Nightmare Moon but the country is also at war? Sombra came back as well, perhaps?

Ahh, so all of the above and then some.

I don't think Nightmare missed the princessES that Twilight said, and maybe that's why she mentioned tempting. Curious, curious indeed. And your Twilight doesn't seem to consider betrayal or fighting, only uniting the elements. I wonder if that's possible, given a world at war.

How did you arrive at that conclusion?

When Twilight became an Alicorn, it's obvious she became stronger.

I can see things not being tooo bad with Nightmare Moon in charge in a war...other than I can't see her being excited about assembling the Elements of Harmony.

There's a lot to chew on here!

1) The way Nightmare Moon refers to Cadance definitely makes me want to know more. Applejack knew who Queen Chrysalis was, but it almost seems as if the fake Cadance was never uncovered. Or maybe the real one was never found? Or perhaps NMM thinks the real Cadance never existed and she was just a disguise for Queen Chrysalis.
2) Where are Discord and Tirek? I'd normally just assume that Discord got turned back to stone and Tirek is still rotting in Tartarus (or escaped, took one look at what was going on in Equestria and decided to stay the hell out of it), but you mentioned something on your blog about mashing up all the different timelines Twilight went to. Maybe you just meant the main ones she spent time in and aren't including the ones we saw in the montage.

Anyways I absolutely love Cutie Re-Mark fics and this one looks extremely promising, so I'm definitely subbing to this.

Good thing Twilight didn't mention the unicorn that is as powerful as an alicorn (Starlight)

I can’t help but wonder where Twilight Sparkle is “supposed” to be in this timeline.

Well, that... probably couldn’t have gone better than it did, really.

Oh, so that's what happened with Cadance. Maybe she's even still alive and rescueable?

Well, at least since this Sunset's path to becoming an alicorn would be the same as original recipe Twilight and would have all the same friendship requirements for success. All things considered it probably wouldn't make this timeline even worse, and it might even help.

Ah, Baconmane. Interesting to see her both so nervous and as ambitious as ever. Then again, a healthy amount of nerves has to be par for the course when you’re serving a temperamental night goddess.

Except she was never destined to be an alicorn, so it wouldn't work for her. Not to mention that this Sunset still would have no idea what real friendship is. After all, it took being brainwashed by a rainbow beam to get her to understand,


Pinkie is...intense. I feel like she usually is in darker AUs like this one.

no, ypu didnt get jer onto your dide. she; s just doing it out of loyslty. She needs tp be the Element im ordet fo the epell to work i guess.

Hmm, that seemed too easy. What is in store for twilight?

There is actually no such thing as 'alicorn' magic. Otherwise alicorns would be missing the unicorn magic part of them. Which canon says that alicorns are a mixture of Earth pony, unicorn, and pegasus magic.

Plus canon has told time and time again that there are only 4 types of ponies. Alicorn, unicorn, pegasus, and Earth Pony. Bat ponies don't actually exist. It's only a glamour spell cast by Luna/Nightmare moon. That's why RD had bat wings in that one timeline.

“I have carefully considered your case, Twilight, and determined that your account is accurate. Equestria can use your service—from henceforth, you will be appointed a Duchess of the Realm, with all the rights of that title. Your mission will be to complete the time travel spell you described, and return Equestria to its ruler. Can you do this?”

Dang, Sunset gets results.

“Sure, sure.” She waved one hoof, barely even seeming to be listening anymore. “You can do… whatever it is. Try to save Equestria. End the war in one spell, all that stuff. Maybe you’ll succeed. Hopefully you will… but if not, Equestria’s going to have one more Alicorn. If we can’t win with magic, we can still win on the battlefield.”

It probably wouldn't hurt for this timeline to have another.

Dark timeline Pinkie is always fun.

Time to see just how dark this world is, it seems.

Stories like this make me wish MLP never introduced Tartarus.

Good story so far.

Up next, Pinkamena's Basement.

Rarity made a frustrated sound that wasn’t quite any specific word, then stomped off. The station wasn’t quite inside the castle’s walls, but part of the larger cluster of structures that surrounded it.

Even in fanfic Tabitha is best VA.

Our planet is dying. It’s amazing we made it this far. Whatever Nightmare Moon had done to try and keep everyone alive, it obviously wasn’t working. We aren’t a frozen ball of ice yet, so she must be doing something.

So this Nightmare Moon really doesn't have a plan to keep everything alive.

Saving Sergeant Pie.

“Maybe… a thousand,” Rarity answered. “That’s too many. The more we put here, the more effectively they can… resist. And that’s bad for all the reasons you’re thinking of right now. The more ponies we lock away, the more lives it takes to keep them here.”

So, Nightmare Moon plans her supermax prison as well as she plans successfully replacing the sun.

Interesting, Cadence and Shining Armor were the ones that ended up dealing with Chysalis and Sombra. Granted Twilight and friends made it easier (at least as far as Sombra goes) but I think the couple could have done it without them.

Shame that Twilight wasn't curious what happened to her, maybe she was in the register? Or maybe she'll run into herself out there.

This rabbit hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper...,

Actually, Twilight's friends didn't do a damn thing during those episodes. They were pretty much useless.


Twilight did hear a squealing from just ahead of them, followed by a mechanical rumbling. She teleported out through the wall, just in time to watch as the Flim-Flam Industries engine came apart into a pile of sprockets and enchanted crystals.

Huh....well that's...something. Wasn't expecting their train to explode. Actually, it didn't seem to explode so much as just...fall apart? Still very strange.

I think Twilight's friends kinda gave an initial spark to the Crystal Ponies with the Fair? Ultimately, yeah, they didn't do a hell of a lot, but I think they ended up doing something. Been a long time, and I never looked back to those episodes

Pinkie is playing Go Fish with Tirek, figures.

“Her name is unknown to you, because she bears the corruption of Chronos,” Tirek called, his voice reedy and thin from the other side of the room. “This pony is from another time. Yet here she stands, not torn apart by the forces of our world. It is curious.”

Oh shit, Tirek knows.

Pinkie Pie took up her cards and resumed the game. Tirek was playing too—yet his attention was only for Twilight now.

Not a good plan for winning this game against Pinkie.

“It’s the truth,” Applejack said, her voice loud and clear enough that the whole prison fell silent. Even the monsters in their cages stopped to look at her. “Princess Twilight here showed me what Equestria will look like when this is over. No more King Sombra, no more Chrysalis… everypony living together in peace. Even Nightmare Moon will forgive her sister, let her bring the sun back. It’s the Equestria all of you want to live in.”

Little bit too much honesty there, AJ.

“She won’t,” Pinkie Pie said, before Twilight could answer. “I have a good feeling about her. She’s not afraid about us, she’s afraid for someone she loves. But she’ll decide that the world will be a better place for them if she follows your plan, just like I did. Most ponies don’t have my… sense for these things, she’ll just take longer.”

Well hopefully Pinkie isn't wrong.

Refreshing to see that Twilight isn’t particularly swayed by Tirek’s insinuations. No doubt he’s really just looking for any deal that he can get, whether or not he could actually help... and yet, also no doubt that it won’t be as easy as tracking down Rainbow and Fluttershy and getting them back to the map (even accounting for the last two probably not being as easy to retrieve). So we’ll just have to wait and see.

Of course Trixie would be a black market smuggler.

I wish that we could have faith that this Sunset won't ruin everything, but man, who knows.

He hesitated for a few seconds, then lifted up the binder to read. “The lieutenant was behind enemy lines during a covert mission when her squad was captured. No ransom was asked, nor were there demands for her release. It is presumed she is a prisoner of war in one of Sombra’s Crystalariums, if he did not kill her outright. Her family has been notified, and awarded the customary sum in compensation by the Crown.”

Oh crap.

Hey, maybe Rainbow will turn out to have been organizing a resistance Hogan's Heroes style.

I wonder if they should take this opportunity of spending some time at the castle to take Rarity out to see the table. Then again, they need to keep that process a secret from Nightmare Moon so that she can't go experience it too, so maybe not.

“Besides…” Pinkie squeezed into the tiny couch beside Applejack. There was only really enough room for three ponies in the tiny sitting room, which meant Twilight sat on the floor. But she hardly noticed. Only the documents on Rarity’s little table mattered. “The market might work to our advantage! It’s a shame ponies are giving their bits to somepony as evil as Sombra… but that means they’re crossing back and forth. There’s got to be a way across the border for us too, right? We can… go across to shop, or… as merchants, or something. Then all we have to do is sneak down into the prison, save Rainbow, and we’re done!”

Good point.

Pinkie shook her head. “Better off alone. Then they think I’m desperate. Think they can take advantage.” She lowered her voice, eyes narrowing. “They’re wrong.” She bounced out the door without another word.


Oh god it's Trixie.

I can see this won't end with only uniting the elements... but it might with Twilight going back, defeating Starlight... and then coming back to retake this Equestria.

This NMM's a tyrant, but she's not a moustache-twirler. If the reward for ratting out treason is "a quicker death", there won't be as many rats. And besides, Rarity could fudge the date of her big realization.

There are plenty of punishments guilty people get out of based on the fact that they flipped on bigger fish. If you're in a treasonous plot and start getting cold feet, you're a lot more likely to turn your coat if you have reason to believe the state will allow you to come out the other end alive; therefore the state has reason to make you believe that. It's simple practicality. And we've seen in-story that assassinations are a concern of the state even if NMM doesn't personally fear for her life.

A reasonable argument, but one that's more complex than simply invoking "treason" like I had the impression you were doing. I still think it would depend on how the situation is presented to NMM, but I don't disagree the way I did before.

Trixie is happy to serve.

Yes, but serve who?


So far so good I suppose. They got to Agate without being arrested.
Mostly herself, but I think she likes doing what she can for Equestria too

A "reprisal" is an act of retaliation. A "repeat performance" or a "return performance" would be the usual expression.

What happened to Sombra's mind control helmets? Then again, Sombra has a physical form in this world and has a wife, so he already sounds very different than the one we know.

Or "reprise", which is probably what was intended. Although considering this is Trixie speaking, it doesn't have to be an error in the story. :trixieshiftleft:

Yeah, "reprisal" and "reprise" have distinctly different meanings. :rainbowlaugh:

Edit: then again, it is Trixie talking... :trixieshiftright:

“No no, it’s fine.” Trixie waved one hoof towards Applejack. “It’s quite alright. The Great and Powerful Trixie is used to evoking strong emotions from her admirers. ”

Yeah, that seems like the truth.

The crystal ponies seemed to meet each other’s eyes. Was there some chance that there were still real ponies buried in all of that? Maybe they were enslaved to Sombra’s will by their crystal, somehow.

It feels like they must be in there somehow if they're the upcoming audience for Trixie's show.

The earth pony looked thoughtful for a few seconds, glancing briefly back inside the trailer and then nodding slowly. “I think I’d… make treats for everypony. Play some music, maybe change the lights. Make it a party! Everypony likes parties.”

This is going to be a disaster, or maybe a miracle, or maybe both.

Helpful Trixie is surprisingly helpful.

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