• Published 4th Apr 2019
  • 772 Views, 47 Comments

Errors - The Cloptimist

Three unlikely heroines are accidentally sent halfway across the world. How will they get home?

  • ...

Detective Twilight Makes A Bunch Of Notes

"...Let's go over this one more time."

"I told her to just fly around and keep the clouds away," said Rainbow Dash. "I mean, we didn't need her to do anything at all, the Weather Patrol had already promised us clear skies for all of the candidates' speeches. Celestia demanded it, so she couldn't be accused of favoring one pony with better weather than another. But Derp- uh, I mean, Muffins - aw, she just looked so excited when I told her she could help. Last I saw, she was just doing laps up there, with that big smile on her face."

Twilight continued taking notes, her quill floating in her magical aura.

"...And then, the next thing I knew, there was this enormous BOOM and I was on the other side of the stage, with a sore head."

Twilight paused. "That's it? There's nothing else?"

"...I think Trixie was there, but... yeah. That's it," said Rainbow, rubbing at her bruised head.

Starlight winced as the nurse bandaged her horn even more tightly, expertly wrapping the gauzy, glowing fabric around and around with just her hoof and her mouth, making sure the dressing was tight enough to hold it in place but not so tight that it made the visible crack even worse.

"Now remember, you have to let it heal, Starlight," admonished Nurse Redheart. "That means no magic."

Starlight gave her a look, as if to ask if she was being serious, but the look on Redheart's face was utterly solemn, and the words died in Starlight's throat as she let the nurse continue.

"...I know you're so much smarter than I am when it comes to these things," said Redheart, with a sigh. "I know that removing the enchantment on these bandages would be foal's play to you, but please, Starlight... I implore you, don't do it. Your horn could get worse, or even..."

The nurse grimaced before finishing her sentence.

"...Or even break off altogether."

Princess Twilight, and every unicorn within earshot, visibly winced at those words. Lyra turned an even more sickly shade of green, and stumbled behind a convenient bush, followed soon after by retching noises.

"...And if that happens," sighed Redheart, "well, there's no magic in all of Equestria that can put it back together again. Not as it was before. If you're lucky, you'll be able to give ponies a nasty electric shock, or send some pretty sparks up in the air. If not... you'll have to wear an ivory prosthesis for the rest of your life. Decorative purposes only. Do you understand?"

If Starlight wasn't already pale and woozy, that would have done it. The thought of losing her magical ability, the delicate finesse and precision control that made her so proud, froze her to the core, and rather than argue with the nurse, she meekly nodded in assent.

"I know it's hard," said Redheart, kindly, placing a hoof on her shoulder. "But the earth pony life isn't really suited to those who aren't born with our own abilities..."

"It's not that," said Starlight, dolefully. "I mean, yes, it is that, I guess. But what scares me the most isn't losing my magic..."

She turned to look at the blown-up stage, the scorch marks still visible as the guards picked over the wreckage in a hooftip search for clues. Applejack's crate lay half-destroyed, burned apples the size of kumquats and rapidly-spoiling apple sauce scattered in the mess. A huge, charred FILTHY RICH FOR COMPTROLLER poster lay draped across the podium where it had fallen after the explosion, the enlarged picture of Filthy's grinning face warped by the heat into a terrifying skeletal form, and Starlight turned away with a shudder.

"...what scares me the most is not being able to help fix this."

"Where's Diamond? Stop wasting time, I've gotta find Diamond! Where is she?! What happened to her? Come on! WE'VE GOTTA GO!", shouted Filthy Rich, struggling against the two burly earth pony orderlies trying to restrain him.

"I'm not sure you're going to get anything helpful out of him just now," said Nurse Redheart, sadly. "I'm going to have to sedate him again, before he hurts himself."

Twilight gave a small nod, and left the tent.

"So, to recap... you saw you were about to crash into the stage... you tried to dive for an empty patch of grass... you saw a big bright ball of magic... and you threw yourself in front of the fillies at the front of the crowd?"


"...But one of the fillies was standing too far forward, and you couldn't push her out of the way."


"It was supposed to send me, Rainbow and Applejack to Maretonia, straight to the ducal palace, to meet their delegation," repeated Starlight, blankly, fighting the urge to scratch at her bandaged horn. "But we all stayed here. And the missing ponies... they didn't arrive in Maretonia either. Spike's already been in touch with the ambassador; nopony showed up there."

"And you don't know exactly what went wrong with the spell?!", snorted Twilight, frustration boiling over into anger.

"I already told you. No. No, I don't," said Starlight, her own irritation and panic showing through as Twilight tried to calm down.

"HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW?!" bellowed Filthy Rich from behind the guard cordon, and Starlight turned to glare at him.

"Have you tried casting a spell that complicated while somepony knocks you over and tries casting their own spell on top of it? I didn't do this on purpose!", she spat, tears in her eyes. "I'm already freaking out here. I need to concentrate, and find out what happened to Diamond Tiara, and my best friend, okay?"

Twilight flew over to Filthy for a moment, and Starlight watched as she whispered something in his ear. His growl slowly dissipated, and he nodded in agreement to whatever Twilight had said.

"I'm sorry, Starlight," said Twilight, as she flew back to her side, taking a deep breath. "We're all just a bit upset, and obviously Filthy is very worried, and... I'm sorry if I'm being short with you. I just... We need to find out as much as we can, as soon as we can."

"I know," said Starlight, poking at the ground and frowning. "I just wish I knew what went wrong. I mean... there are some known risks with that particular spell, but without my magic, I can't retrace the steps. And you aren't the one who cast the spell, so you won't be able to follow the magical residue beyond the portal."

"The portal?" asked Twilight, her ears perking up. "How do you know there was a portal?"

"It was either that, or... well, we can definitely say they weren't turned inside out, right? We totally would have noticed the mess."

"I... pjkskfgff... wha...?!"

Both ponies turned just in time to see Filthy faint to the ground with a heavy thump.

Twilight watched the guards gently reviving him and leading him back to the nearby medical tent, before turning back to Starlight.

"Anything else I should know?", asked the Princess, testily.

"Diamond Tiara was standin' right up front. Ah could see her there clear as day, watchin' her daddy make his big speech about our trip an' such," said Applejack, hoisting a bucket of rubble onto her back, the burn mark on her leg already healing itself as her earth pony magic did its work.

"And did you see what happened to her... after?", asked Twilight, her quill scratching away.

"Ah saw her tryin' to get out of the way when Bulk was doin' his crash-landin' bit," said Applejack, "but ah was too busy lookin' fer Apple Bloom and makin' sure she was safe. An' then the explosion happened, an' ah was up to mah withers in apple sauce, an' also there was the small matter to consider that mah leg was sorta, well, on fire, which kinda took up mah attention somethin' fierce for a minute. An' after ah tamped it out, ah looked around to see if'n ah could see where Diamond got to, but... no dice."

Twilight kept scribbling after Applejack had finished speaking, and Applejack waited, patiently, while she kept on writing. And writing. And writing.

"...So, uh, no. Not so much," added Applejack.

"She was meant to be watching from the side of the stage," said Starlight, biting her lip as she watched the guards moving ponies along. "She wasn't even meant to be there at all, but she kept asking me, and asking me, and saying the spell would be boring if we just disappeared... so I told her she could do her daytime fireworks thing, once we'd teleported off to Maretonia."

Starlight looked up at Twilight.

"My best friend is gone because of me," she said, tears welling up in her eyes, and Twilight stopped her writing for a moment, leaning in to hug Starlight closely.

"It's going to be alright, Starlight," said Twilight, stroking her friend's mane. "We're all here for you. And we're going to figure all of this out, together."

Starlight gave a sniffle, and nodded as she disengaged from the hug.

"...But I need to know everything you're thinking right now," said Twilight, gently, "about what went wrong with the spell. Any ideas you have, any of those little Starlight theories you're always coming up with about how spells combine, anything I might not have thought of... I know it's hard, but even the smallest thing could make a difference right now."

Starlight instinctively tried to pick up a handkerchief with her magic, and the bandage on her horn glowed softly as it nullified the attempted spell. She blinked for a moment before realising what went wrong, and wiped her nose on her foreleg before Twilight handed her the handkerchief.

"I think...", she sniffled, "that Trixie was trying to teleport out of the way, and her spell... kinda... maybe... got mixed up with my spell? And then... and the two spells wouldn't play nice together?"

She paused to dab at her damp eyes and blow her nose into the handkerchief, as Twilight continued to make notes. "Or, well, three spells, because mine was already a combo...", she added.

"So we're potentially dealing with a spell combination that's brand new to Equestria, is that it?", said Twilight, trying not to facehoof.

"...Maybe?" said Starlight, tentatively. "I mean... I don't know! I'd calibrated it really, really carefully, but I think being hit while I was casting it made a difference, too - it not only disrupted the flow of magic just as I was about to release, but I got knocked sideways and couldn't aim the beam either. I ended up kind of just firing a... a big, wide blast. So, if it couldn't find me, Applejack or Rainbow, it might have just looked for the closest unicorn, earth pony and pegasus to take into the portal instead."

"So... Trixie, Diamond Tiara, and Muffins?"

"I mean, I don't know for sure," said Starlight, quickly. "But that's kind of the theory I'm working on right now."

"Do you think..." asked Twilight, and she looked up at Starlight with a nervous expression, unwilling to voice the rest of that thought, trying not to set her friend off again, or to think about things she didn't want to think about right now.

"...I think, if that was what happened, then... I think they should be fine, wherever they ended up," said Starlight. "I can't say for sure. But I'm pretty familiar with Trixie's teleportation spell, and it shouldn't have been enough to mess up my spell so much to cause them any harm; it might have just thrown the coordinates out for their destination."

"But, Starlight... what if their 'destination' was the middle of the sea?!", asked Twilight, her eyes widening.

"No, no no. Impossible. Mistmane wrote her spell to let ponies see the stars at night from anywhere in Equestria and even beyond, and she thought of that. The way I combined it with the teleportation spell, it always looks for dry land, and open space."

"Well... that's something, right?", said Twilight, softly, lifting Starlight's chin with her hoof.

"Maybe," said Starlight, morosely, still deep in thought. "But the biggest risk with combining those two spells is that a lot of the framework I had to use is borrowed from the standard banishment spell. If the magic got so confused that it couldn't zero in on a chosen destination, it's possible it might have reverted back to the default setting from that framework, and sent the ponies to..."

"...to Tartarus", said Twilight, her jaw dropping, as Starlight nodded again, before resuming poking the ground and drawing sad faces.

"SPIKE!", yelled Twilight, and her dragon assistant came running over. "Take a letter, to Princess Luna. Urgently. It looks like we're going to Tartarus."