• Published 10th Aug 2019
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The Infinite Office Of Destiny - Francium Actinium

Being dead doesn't mean you can't get fired. Innocent Winds is certain that the name Twilight Sparkle will see her clearing her infinite desk.

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The Winds of Fate and Chineighs Whispers

The office went on forever. Millions of rows of identical blue cubicles stretching so far into the distance that your mind simply gave up and created a fog about twenty cubicles away to save itself from rendering infinity. Each cubicle contained a curved oak desk, a black ergonomically adjustable chair, a computer tower complete with dual floating glass monitors, keyboard and headset, and an imposingly tall grey filing cabinet with four drawers.

When she started, Innocent Winds had wondered how she would ever find the bathroom let alone find the exit in the perpetual lines of identical cubicles. Her fears it turned out had been unfounded, and yet this raised more questions than it answered. Her cubicle, numbered 5328x9173, was in ‘S’ section, right next to ‘R’ section and ‘T’ Section, and ‘W’ section and ‘J’ Section, and ‘Q’ section and ‘A’ Section. Not only that, her Magical destiny sub-department was right next to Athletic, Educational, Artistic, Horticultural, Technical, Social and Entrepreneurial, all at the same time.

It seemed no matter where she needed to go to in the office or who she needed to see, she was always no more than a few rows away. The bathroom was never more than ten rows away in any direction, the same for the water cooler and the vending machines. The cafeteria was a little different in that it was never more than fifteen rows away, and the exit directly to home was never more than twenty.

Leant back in her chair, Innocent Winds calmly listened to the conversation playing over her headset, her white hoof on her mouse, hovering over the various approved names and their associated destinies. Listening to prospective parents decide what to call their newborn ranged from adorable, to cringe-worthy to downright creepy. Sometimes it would happen as the two ponies snuggled in bed. Other times while they were out walking and talking with friends. And other times while they were having ‘vigorous amorous encounters’, or VAEs as they were known by the water cooler.

Today however the mare had been lucky and listened to a string of pleasant and heartwarming decisions and affirmations. Well, ‘decisions’ in the sense that someone was making a choice, it just wasn’t the ponies/gryphons/zebras/minotaurs/thestrals they thought it was.

“What about Gleaming Armour?” The mare suggested as Innocent listened in. “It would match her nicely with Shiny’s, and make calling for them both that much easier.” She added with a playful sarcastic undertone.

“Maybe,” The stallion replied. “But I feel its too similar. I also don’t want to lose out ‘light’ heritage. I mean, my Great Grandfather had it in his name, and your Great Grandfather, and it's been in there all the way down.”

“Until Shining.” The mare corrected him.

“Well, shining can’t happen without light so it is still there in a way.” The stallion sighed, almost in confusion. “You know, I really can’t remember why we went with Shining Armour. I mean, it never really fitted with our heritage and yet, we went with it. I mean, sure, he is growing into it, all that focus and determination on becoming a Royal Guard and all, but somehow I feel we missed the mark with his name.”

Innocent shuffled in her seat, adjusting her wings and reached for one of the breakfast bars she had purchased from the vending machine earlier. After over two dozen years on the job, her instinct told her this one might take a while so she began settling herself in for the long hall. She didn’t want to miss her window, after all, she might not get another one before the foal was born and at that point, it would be too late.

The mare seemed to ponder her husband's words. “I agree, I can’t recall now either, but we can ensure the ‘light’ legacy lives on. Oh!” The mare suddenly gasped. “I have an idea, I know it will sound cheesy darling but hear me out.” Innocent guessed the stallion nodded a response as there was no verbal reply before the mare continued. “What if we combine our names? Velvet Light? Or maybe Velvet Night. Oh, something about the latter feels so good.”

As Innocent listened to the continuing conversation, the computer before her kept updating with the various names suggested, their associated destinies, and other similar names that might be suggested next. This was the art of ‘Naming’. When the name was selected, it had to happen at a natural point in the conversation as to make it feel to the parents like they had made the choice themselves. Inexperienced Namers might click too late or too early, or even select a name that ended up not being suitable at all. Usually, this was not a major issue, just a few disgruntled discussions between parents or at worst having to intercept at the last minute change after the child was born but before the birth certificate was completed.

Sometimes though, a name could be so miss-matched that it would cause ripples to spread through the family. These could either end up being benign or being smoothed out over time by friends and family. Other times a pony and their destiny could be derailed by those around them creating a ‘dead-end’ destiny. Or at worst, it could cause a pony to change their name. This usually resulted in a pony changing their destiny to one they hadn’t been assigned yet, which wasn’t that bad, but it could cause issues with other matching or aligned destinies.

However, it could also mean one pony stealing or destroying the destiny of another. These were the worst. The damage to the destiny web in these cases could be catastrophic; Nightmare Moon was a perfect example of such damage and was still causing issues to this day, almost a thousand years on. There were signs that the web was getting close to healing that wound, but not for another few decades at the very minimum.

Realising she had tuned out of their conversation, Innocent discarded the wrapper into the (infinite) bin with a flick of her wing and sat up in her chair, focusing again so she wouldn’t miss her slot, her azure eyes scanning the screen to see where their naming was up too. Her heart stopped.

“I do like the idea of reusing Twilight.” Stallion replied. “It would tie her to both of us and her history, but I don’t think that Shimmer or Glimmer really go.”

“I think Twilight Shimmer would be beautiful.” the mare replied, wistfully.

Innocent stared at the screen, her free hoof pinning the headset to her ear so she didn’t miss a single syllable. Every name option before her was flashing red. On the screen opposite the computer was still trying to piece together the destiny paths that would converge on each given name. The paths were so complex they left the screen. Innocent tried zooming out but even when she did so the computer failed to go far enough. The web became so dense that she could no longer read every name that this unborn would effect. Twilight Shimmer was a name that would change the course of Equestria forever.

Heart hammering in her chest, Innocent scrolled up and down the steadily narrowing list of names to find one, just one that wouldn’t completely flip the table of reality. Twilight Glimmer, Sunset Sparkle, Starlight Shimmer, Twilight Glimmer, Twilight Twinkle, Starlight Radiance…

“What about Twilight Sparkle?”

Innocent blinked. As the database scrambled to update itself, she saw the name come into view. Twilight Sparkle. It was benign. Not red. Not Orange. Not purple. Somehow this name would solve all her problems. Before any other names were suggested, Innocent slammed her hoof down on the mouse.

“Hmmmmm, I do like that.” The stallion seemed to smile. “Twilight Sparkle it is.”

Innocent slumped back in her chair, her heart slowing until it was just her laboured breathing that she could hear alongside the usual office ambience. Her eyes slowly focused on the solitary grey name on the screen. Which suddenly turned black.

Her stomach seemed to drop out of her chest as Innocent watched the opposite screen turn from blank to a maze of destiny paths so dense eventually the entire screen was illegible. There was a pause, and the computer crashed.

*** *** ***

Sitting down at her desk the next morning, Innocent Winds was filled with a sense of trepidation that she just couldn’t shake. The IT stallions had taken away her computer shortly after the crash and needed to completely start again with the machine, leaving her to finish the day with manual filing tasks in her (infinite) filing cabinet.

Now, as she booted up the computer once more, she thought back to what had happened yesterday afternoon. All those names. All those interlinked destinies. How the web had completely filled the screen until the machine gave up. Fluffing her wings, she settled back and tried to continue as normal, as if it were just any other day, opening up her emails and feeling her stomach drop.

Thousands of messages. Some manual, most automated, filled her inbox. All flagged with ‘Urgent’ or ‘Immediate action’ in their titles. Innocent gulped. Just what had happened?

“Innocent?” She spun her chair round to see her line manager, a tall but oddly slender minotaur with a complexion like bark, holding out an envelope to her. “Seems somepony wants to see you.” He added with a slightly nervous edge. “I’ve no idea what the hay is going on but judging by yesterday's antics and your inbox,” he added, peering over her shoulder. “Something big just went down.”

Innocent just nodded and took the envelope before spinning her chair back around without a word. Opening it up, she found a very short, but nonetheless clear, letter.

Dear Innocent Winds

You are to have a meeting with our CEO at noon today. Punctuality is advised.

Starswirl the Bearded
Head of Internal Affairs

Innocent gulped.

At five minutes too, Innocent sat on the leather sofa outside the CEO’s office, half hiding behind her curtain of Persian blue mane. Nobody else was around except the gryphon secretary behind her desk, who was filing and polishing her talons to a near mirror shine. ‘She clearly has a lot of time to hoof’, Innocent thought. Finding the office had actually been a task, going from the main office floor, to find the doors to the elevators, which she never knew existed, up ten floors and then to navigate the final floor through several different departments until she found the double heavy oak doors that lead to this waiting room. The doors to the CEO’s actual office were tall frosted glass affairs with no visible handles or even buttons to open.

At that exact moment, said glass doors swung open. Innocent looked to the gryphon who waved her in with a glimmering talon. Getting to her hooves, Innocent wondered how long it would take to empty her desk. Her ‘infinite’ desk, she remembered. That could take a while. It dawned on her that she was keeping the CEO waiting. With a final tense breath, she cautiously entered only to jump as the door closed behind her with a definitive thud. She gulped again.

Innocent looked back to find a very tall and imposing pony standing by the window, staring out at the scene beyond; though what scene Innocent couldn’t fathom. Every other window she had seen in the building, such as those by the water cooler or in the bathrooms, revealed nothing but an expanse of white, much like the view out of the windows in her own home. The mare had fur the tone of new parchment, similar to Innocents own, and a mane of maroon which looked a little washed out; perhaps from age?

The centre of the room was dominated by a gigantic circular table with perhaps three dozen seats around its rim. Off to the sides were a myriad of ancient-looking desks, drawers, counters and shelves, all seemingly made in different materials and styles and even cultures. Some looked hoof made, others manufactured to incredibly high standards. It was a strange mix to be sure, especially when set against the regular white walls and grey carpet, like in every other room she had seen.

“What do you see?” The mare asked making Innocent jump, her voice firm yet gentle, a hint of genuine curiosity, still looking out the window. When Innocent didn’t reply the mare turned to look straight at her. “Come now, tell me what you see.”

Having to set aside the fact that she had just noticed that the mare had both a horn and a pair of very real looking wings on her back, Innocent approached the nearest window and looked out. More white greeted her. Perhaps if she focused she could see, that white fade to a very very light grey as it neared the window but that was all.

“Nothing. I see nothing. Just… white.” She replied nervously to the Alicorn, hoping that wasn’t going to get in trouble. Her eyes flitted to look at the mare's reaction, which to her surprise was a matching expression of raised eyebrows on the cream coloured pony.

“Interesting.” With a huge wing like a vast scroll of paper, the mare gestured to a comfy-looking seat in front of her desk, while she slipped in behind and settled herself down in a very large and tall armchair. Innocent tried not to get too comfortable in her seat, she didn’t expect to be here very long.

Slipping on a pair of half-rimmed glasses, the mare peered down at a sheet of paper before her. “Now, your name is Innocent Whispering Winds, correct?” The mare asked politely. “Died thirty-sixth of Fall, thirty-eight seventy-seven? Innocent nodded. “And it seems your prime age is thirty-two. Unusual for a pegasus.” Innocent just shrugged, looking away. The mare noticed this but decided not to pursue it.

“As you have probably gathered, I am the CEO of Destiny. Do not worry if you do not know my name. This company is literally millions strong and as such most never meet me or even anyone above their line manager, such is the scale of this enterprise.” Innocent continued to sit in silence, listening to the mare intently. “But I digress. I am sure you are wondering what on Equus I called you here for? And please speak, I thought ponies had grown beyond grunting and pointing millions of years ago.”

Despite her rather blunt words, Innocent could just detect a playful undercurrent, and perhaps even a slight smile gracing the mare's lips at her final words. Feeling a little safer and less likely to be fired, Innocent replied.

“Yes. I am.”

“And why do you think you were summoned here.” the mare asked, that playful undertone still present in her voice.

“It's about yesterday. Something happened. Something crazy. Those parents, and their foal. No matter what name they picked, she was going to rewrite the entire web of destiny, no matter what I did. All those names, but one, their webs were so dense I couldn’t even read them any more.” Innocent found now she had started speaking she couldn’t stop. “Then there was one name. Just one that I could pick that wouldn’t affect anything. The window was closing so I took it. I clicked, and then my computer crashed.” She finished, her voice trailing off nervously.

The mare eyed her for a long moment. Innocent felt like the Alicorns eyes were looking right through her, which was very unnerving. After a minute the mare leaned back in her chair and gazed up at the ceiling, which Innocent noted was even more white.

“Innocent Winds, I understand why you would exclude it, but I know that something else happened before your computer died.” The mare took her gaze again and Innocent felt herself freeze solid. “However, since from what I have been told by the team that examined your machine, I know that you could have done nothing to prevent it. In fact, even if you had not clicked, that name would have been chosen.” Innocent sat stunned in her seat, continuing to listen to the Alicorn in a state of numb disbelief. “I don’t understand it, my best Pathfinders do not understand it, but those words make names that defy even my control over destiny. Sunset, Starlight, Twilight. Those three names have always brought about change, even when it's not wanted or needed.”

The mare stood and made her way gracefully around to the vast round table. Innocent leapt up and followed a safe distance behind, noticing how the Alicorns mane and tail now seemed to be floating in an invisible breeze. She knew it wasn’t the air conditioning, you didn’t need that when you were dead.

A flash drew Innocents gaze. The mare had activated something on the table and now a glowing white orb hovered above its polished surface. After a moment it began to shift and change, taking on texture and colour. After a minute Innocent suddenly recognised parts of it, but the rest was foreign.

“Is this Equus?” She asked.

“Correct my little pony.” the Alicorn replied with a smile. “And this here,” She swiped her hoof against the orb, spinning it around until it ran to a stop. “This is Equestria.”

“It looks much smaller than I thought.” Innocent added absently. This garnered a laugh from the mare.

“You are something Miss Winds. Most ponies ask why it’s spherical.”

“I saw that…” Innocent added quietly. “I mean, it was really stupid but we did it anyway.” She looked up to see the Alicorns curious gaze. “Two of my friends and I, we flew as high as we dared. But we all saw it, the curve. It nearly killed us. No pony believed us, except a few professors and scholars over my life but most thought we were having them on.”

“Many ponies over the past few decades have become like that I’m afraid. Knowledge and understanding would seem to be a dying trait, most preferring to focus on what is right in front of them rather than expanding their horizons. Thanks to this Twilight Sparkle though, that will change. In fact, this mare is going to change everything.”

The pair turned back to the orb before them. The alicorn placed her hooves on the table and a small area around Equestria lit up with lines. A few arced across the planet to Saddle Arabia, the Gryphon Lands and a few even to the opposite side where the Innocent believes the Abyssinians lived.

“Tell me Innocent. Have you ever heard of Sunset Shimmer?” The white mare asked. “It doesn’t matter if you haven’t. She is nopony special. This is her Destiny Web. She would live out her life in Canterlot. Be raised by her parents, attend Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, graduate and spend the rest of her life as a teacher and scholar until she died at the ripe old age of one hundred and two, give or take a few months.”

With a tap of her hoof, the planet suddenly changed until the whole globe was covered in thousands of lines in a spectrum of colour, crisscrossing the continents. They spanned the entire globe with a few thousand more dancing across Equestria. Innocent even saw that several lines went to the heart of the planet where they stopped, seemingly at nothing.

“Until yesterday. Poor Sunset now has a difficult life ahead of her.” The mare visibly grimaced. “She will be abandoned by her parents, live in an orphanage, be bullied mercilessly, then be taken in as Princess Celestia’s protegee.”

“It starts horribly but, being Celestia’s student?” Innocent mumbled. “It works out in the end… doesn’t it?”

The Alicorn let out a sad sigh. “In the end, yes, but it will not be easy for her, not anymore. She does get to visit another dimension though. That is pretty cool if I do say so myself.”

Innocent decided not to comment on that particular point, watching as the mare slightly adjusted the planet again, this time with it settling over an area of arid mountainous land quite a distance from the edge of Equestria. Again, a spiders web of lines branched out from a point, and leapt across the planet, This time the range was pretty short, only touching maybe a few hundred points, much more subtle than even Sunset Shimmers original destiny.

“This web is of a unicorn named Starlight Glimmer. She had even less of an impact than Sunset. Born in a tiny village, closer to Saddle Arabia than Equestria. She lives a quiet life, becoming a counsellor and psychologist. Accomplished in Mind Magic while knowing when and when not to use her talents. Now though,” The web changed once more. Much denser and further reaching, and it also included a line to the centre of the planet. “Starlight will be, in her eyes, abandoned by her best friend and set out to rid the world of Cutie Marks; which is a new villainous goal I have never seen before. She gets points for originality. Thankfully, like Sunset’s, her ending is a happy one.”

The Alicorn turned to Innocent and gazed down at her. It was subtle but Innocent could have sworn she saw pain and sadness in the great mare’s eyes as if the pain these ponies would feel was personal to her. Perhaps it was, the pegasus considered, given this mare effectively ran and controlled the destiny of every sentient creature on the planet, and had been doing so for thousands of years.

Looking her in the eye, the Alicorn continued. “I could go on. Bellatrix Lulamoon, Moon Dancer, Vesper Radiance… all have had their destinies irrevocably altered by the mare that will be known as Twilight Sparkle, and as a result, the lives of billions have changed. But I wonder, have you noticed yet? What ties all these mares together? And I will reiterate that they are all mares and in fact all unicorns, born within a few years of one another.”

The scroll white mare returned to her seat and motioned for Innocent to do the same. From a drawer, she withdrew a silver tray and placed it atop the desk. Lifting the lid she revealed an assortment of various sweets and cakes, only some of which Innocent recognised.

“Help yourself, it has been a while since I’ve had anypony interesting to talk too.” The mare smiled, leaning back in her seat.

“But… I’ve barely said anything?” Innocent didn’t want to contradict the mare who controlled the destiny of billions but, so far as she was concerned, she was a very dull mare.

“True, but your eyes and body language reveal rather a lot. You understand your job. You are even good at it despite not naturally having an aptitude for it. From what I have seen of you, you care about the ponies whose lives you affect, you try to match destinies to suit families and communities, not just the individual. You care about the creatures around you, even in death, which isn’t something I can say for most. Many are apathetic but come round to accepting what has happened. Some remain bitter for centuries, even millenniums. Yet you came round in a far shorter space of time than I would expect, given how you died,” Innocent flinched at those words, but she had genuinely gotten over it decades ago. “And to this day you console those who struggle with the end of their life.”

Innocent found her mouth was hanging open in awe. “You… you got all that from my eyes and body language?” She asked in amazement.

The Alicorn burst out laughing, rolling back in her seat. “No no, I got that from your annual reports by your line manager.” She lifted a black folder, which Innocent saw had her name, death day and cubicle number stamped across the front. Innocent scowled at the mare, but she didn’t mean it, and soon she found a grin forcing its way onto her face.

“I apologise.” The great alicorn sighed, her mirth subsiding. “As I said, it has been a while. Now I believe I asked you a question?” She gazed playfully across at Innocent with another gentle smile. “And please, have one.”

Innocent leaned forward and selected a sweet that looked very similar to something she had once had as a young filly; rock candy from a very special farm in the south of Equestria. Innocent felt the memory building inside her. A great storm had broken the city of Cloudsdale free from its magical anchorings and forced it south for hundreds of miles. When it came to rest a local earth pony family had sent up rations of sweets to the city for the foals, something to keep them happy and occupied while the city was repaired and restocked. At the time, Innocent had been terrified, and yet this simple sweet had been able to calm her nerves and restore her vitality.

“I wondered if you would choose that.” the Alcorn smiled. “Left quite an impression on you didn’t.” Innocent just nodded in response, savouring the unique flavour. “Do you know why that candy was so good?” Innocent shook her head, still sucking gently on the sweet. “That particular farm was a rock farm. I won’t go into the specifics, but the farm rests on the crossing point of two magical leylines. The owners of the farm, crushed up magically enriched gemstones to a fine powder and blended it with the sugar rather than adding colouring and flavours the more industrial way. When you ate that piece of candy, you were ingesting pure magic, in the ideal way for your young bodies to absorb it. This meant increased magical energy, which improved health and helped stabilise you mentally. The Pie family even have a part to play in Twilight Sparkles new world. Which brings us back, have you worked out the connection yet?”

Innocent swallowed, setting aside the realisation she had just eaten crushed rocks, and put her hypothesis forward. “All their names are linked to the night. Sunset, moon, stars, vespa, twilight, they are all aspects of the night.”

“Very good.” the white Alicorn smiled. “And what else is there that is linked to the night. I assure you, you do know it, even if it might not seem an obvious link.”

Innocent wracked her brain, but only one thing came to mind. But it surely couldn’t be that… could it? But nothing else matched. Not that she knew of and the mare had assured her that she did, so…

“Nightmare Moon?”

With a wry smile, the alicorn nodded. “Correct.”

“But what does Twilight Sparkle, and all those other ponies have to do with Nightmare Moon?” Innocent asked, slowly feeling like she was swimming out of her depth. “How can what I did be linked to her? Or any of them?”

She stopped as the mare raised a hoof. “I must admit Innocent, I didn’t call you here for idle chat, nor to punish you, or, as you seem to have been so worried about as you waited outside my door, to fire you. You are if you pardon my pun, innocent of any wrongdoing. As I mentioned before, even if you wanted too, I strongly doubt this could be stopped. This event has been almost a thousand years in the making, and Twilight Sparkle was the final piece of the puzzle. There was no other direction left for destiny to go.”

“But we control ponies destinies. We assign them, almost at random, so long as the computer says that it will not clash or cause ripples. That would mean something has been pushing for this to happen. Something has been converging their destinies.”

“You are right, to an extent.” The Alicorn replied gently. “And, I will be honest, that's what I thought too. How could such randomness result in such conversion?”

Innocent felt a numb shock creep through her. Before today, none of this mattered to her. She had lived her life, gained her cutie-mark, she had run her destiny and left her mark on the world. Then she died, and that was that. Or not as the case seemed to be. Experiencing that storm. Eating that candy as a filly. Deciding to see more of the world because of the kindness of the earth ponies, Meeting her lifelong friends Jetstream and Lightning Dawn. Doing that damned dare and almost killing herself in the process. Meeting her to-be partner as she lay in hospital with her broken wing. Her children. Joining the Wonderbolts. Her sudden death by knife in the gut, as she tried to fend off that Celestia damned burglar. Slowly bleeding to death alone and scared on the kitchen floor, unable to cry for help because of her broken jaw. Awaking here… dead, and having to get another job.

“Tell me something Innocent.” the alicorn spoke curiously, interrupting Innocents runaway train of thought. “Do you know why your parents called you Innocent Winds?”

“No I… well, now I do. Somebody here picked it for me. But if you mean the reasons my parents thought they named me as they did, then I think it was because my mother said she loved the Whispering Woods when they had visited Caneighda, and that's where I was conceived, and Winds came from my dad's side of the family.”

“And Innocent?” the mare prompted.

“I…” Innocent started, but she faltered. She couldn’t remember. Why couldn’t she remember? “I… don’t remember.”

The mare held up her hoof soothingly “Don’t worry about it for now. An explanation will come in time, I feel. Now, when do you think your destiny ends?”

Innocent stared back with confusion. “Pardon?”

“When do you think your destiny ends?” the mare repeated calmly.

“When I die?” Innocent replied slowly. “I mean, some pony picked it, and I lived it. The end?” Even saying it with her own lips, the pegasus felt it was wrong. Not that she could explain why, but based on the conversation they had been having. Everything she thought she knew about life, and death, was about to be turned on its head.

The Alicorn stood up but didn’t leave her desk, allowing her to tower over the sitting mare. “Innocent. I will jump ahead to the reason I called you here today. I had my reasons to believe you were the right pony, but after our time speaking I am certain you are the pony we need. The pony I need.”

“Need for what?” the pegasus asked tentatively.

“To research destiny after death. To investigate if even here the web of destiny still exists. Perhaps, even investigate if the web extends above us to the next plane of existence.”

Innocent felt her jaw drop like a brick. “You… you mean… there is life after death? I thought nobody died here?”

“You mean to say you don’t think you are alive now?” the Alicorn asked. “I mean, you may not need to breathe, or eat, or sleep, but you do so anyway, and you still think and wonder and talk and interact with the world around you.” Innocent didn’t respond, the crumbling concept of death becoming more than she could handle. “As for your other point, nobody has died yet. It’s becoming somewhat of a problem.” The great mare continued. “Doesn’t mean they won’t. Doesn’t mean I won’t, and I single hoofedly created the planet you lived on.”

“Wait you mean,” Innocent stammered. “You’re a god? You are thee god? You’re her? You’re… Faust?”

The Alicorn spread her wings to their fullest extent, her horn illuminating and cracking with magic, only to cut off the light show, fold her wings and take on a demure, cute pose. “Surprised?”

It was fortunate that Innocent’s jaw was already open, else it might have cause permanent muscle damage if it could drop any further. She struggled to formulate words for a full minute, in which time the Alicorn - Faust - didn’t move, which didn’t help matters. Eventually, she managed to restart her brain and put her thoughts into words.

“You said the next plane of existence. I mean, I’ve heard of Life after Death, but that was when I was alive.” Innocent took a moment to work out just where she was going with this, it was beginning to break her mind. “So does that mean you are implying there is life after death, after death?”

“I may be a literal goddess, creator of a world and its universe, but even I wonder where I came from,” Faust replied casually. “I mean, I admit I created Equus, but if I can do that, who created me?”

“But, you're a goddess.” Innocent replied, her brain both stalled and going at a mile a minute; which part of her noted was probably why it was broken. “You’re it. You are the creator.”

“In your eyes I am,” Faust replied. “But in my eyes, I am still me and I would still like to know what my purpose of being is. I mean, I’ve done the whole universe building thing, so what is next on my resume?”

To steal some linguistics from the technical ponies who had taken her computer away, Innocent decided to reboot her mind in safe mode and ensure all the vitals were running properly before trying a full reboot of her brain. She took a deep breath, even though she didn’t need to, but it felt calming. After a moment she locked eyes back on Faust before her.

“It might take me awhile to get on my hooves, but I will do as you ask, and I will begin to research immediately.”

Faust grinned. “There is the determined Wonderbolt in your heart. Good to see it’s still alive and bucking. It seems that part of your destiny will come in use for the next leg of your destiny. Such is destiny.” Faust’s grin softened to a smile and she walked around her desk towards the window once more. Taking the hint, Innocent stood and followed, still in awe that she was in the presence of a goddess.

“Given your name,” Faust stated, gazing out the window once more. “I am assuming you have heard of the phrase, Winds of fate?” Innocent nodded. “I also guess you have heard the phrase, innocent until proven guilty?” Again the mare nodded. “And finally, have you heard about Chineighs whispers?” A third nod. “It is interesting to note that Chineighs whispers itself is a distortion. That term actually comes from the game Stalliongrad Scandal, but to one pony in Equestria, they felt that Chineighs was harder to decipher than the language from Stalliongrad. So he changed the name, and it stuck.”

“I feel there was a message, something or someone was telling us about these events. They do not even directly affect us, but somehow I feel I should have seen this coming. So many innocent lives, so many innocent thoughts and beliefs are going to be shaken by this destiny, by this Twilight Sparkle. This web of lives, actions, thoughts and secrets. Somewhere the message got distorted. Or maybe that is how this happened in the first place. Perhaps even, you are the start and end of those whispers” the great Alicorn paused in thought for a long moment before she sighed. “Still, life goes on.”

Innocent gulped. “Where would you like me to start?” She asked tentatively.

Faust gave another soft smile. “Here my little pony.”

Innocent was dazzled as Faust’s horn shone like a beacon. It only lasted a second, but Innocent felt the magic and power ripple through her body. She opened her eyes and looked round to ask the Alicorn what she had done. But her head never got that far.

Sky. Trees. Grass. Birds.

Beyond the window was now a vast beautiful vista, stretching to the horizon. Beyond the glass, other creatures walked and talked and played and laughed. She raised a hoof to rub away the vapour from her breath that she had formed against the pane so she could continue to gaze at the…

Innocent stopped.

Her breath fogged the window pane?

The pegasus drew a deep breath, then exhaled on the glass. The water vapour from her breath condensed on the glass, blocking her view once more.

“Welcome back to the land of the living little one.’

Innocent turned to Faust. “What did you do to me?”

“I gave you life.” She replied simply. “If you are going to investigate this world you need to be able to explore it, and you can’t do that while you are dead.”

“But… but…” Innocent stared back out the window, then back to Faust. “How did you? You mean…? How?”

“I created an entire universe little one. Not the largest I admit, but compared to that, giving life to one soul is foals play.”

“Wait you mean there are other worlds? Other goddesses here? Other gods?”

“In your terms, yes, thousands, tens of thousands. A friend of mine, Magrathea, has become rather popular for his creations. He now takes commissions too.”

Innocent decided her mind wasn’t ready to open that can of worms.

“So does that mean now… I will die?” She asked, a fear rising in her voice.

“Eventually yes, we all die little one?’ Faust replied, the morbid moment not lost on her. “But do not worry, yours will be quite a while away.” She added supportively.

“So, has that always been there?” Innocent asked, looking back out the window. “I’ve just never been able to see it because I was dead?”

“Yes, but there is more to it than that.” Faust glanced down, looking almost proud of the pegasus. “Remember when you arrived, I asked if you could see anything out the window?” Innocent nodded slowly. “When dead ponies look through the windows, most see something, usually someplace dear to them, or part of a foalhood memory, perhaps where they met their partner. But you saw nothing. The difference is that those ponies still had lingering regrets or wishes that they never completed in their life. That might sound strange given their destiny is preselected, but life is wanton to create the details that make living so… full of life.”

“I have regrets, I had lingering wishes.” Innocent replied, confused.

“But were any of them so strong you desperately wanted to return?”

Innocent thought for a moment, but none of them made her heartache or her mind bemoan her inaction. “No, I suppose they weren’t.”

“That is how I knew it was safe to give you life once more.” Faust smiled. “If I am honest, your mere existence is more than proof to me that a web of destiny exists here. You lived one life, lived a death, and yet were perfectly positioned to see and choose Twilight Sparkle, and reshape the web of the entire planet. And now your life begins again, a new goal, a new future where you are not tied to your past and you are perfectly skilled to understand the nature of the task. It would seem even destiny has a destiny.

The two mares shared a silent moment of awe, one dreaming of her future, the other mulling over her past. Faust raised a gentle hoof and, after a slight pause, placed it around Innocents shoulders in a gentle embrace. Innocent closed her eyes, her whole body tingling at the true touch of another creature in over fifty years. After a long moment, Faust released her and began walking towards the doors.

“Now, I insist you take the rest of the day off. Speak with my assistant and give her this.” Faust passed Innocent what looked like a keycard in her magic. “She will get you set up in temporary accommodation before I can sort out your house. I expect you here tomorrow though, to go through some papers with me. Creating a new life isn’t something I've done in a while, and the paperwork is a nightmare.” Faust let her words hang for a moment before she burst out laughing once more at the look of shock on Innocents face. “Oh, you are just too easy. But seriously, I do need you in tomorrow, I imagine you have an awful lot of questions and I will do my utmost to answer them all.”

With the tap of a hoof on the wall, the glass doors swung open, to reveal a much more pleasant waiting room than she had stood in before. Light streamed in from the ceiling, birds fluttered past the windows and other creatures trotted back and forth behind another set of glass doors at the far end of the waiting room.

“Miss Faust.” Innocent stopped and turned to look at the scroll white Alicorn. “You said this was unavoidable. That this has been a long time coming. That Twilight Sparkle was unavoidable. What if I had picked any other name? Sunset Sparkle? Twilight Glimmer? Would they have had the same effect? You said you knew I had avoided telling you about what happened after I picked that name. Do you know what happened?”

“You saw a web of destiny so dense your entire screen turned black,” Faust replied, a little caution entering her voice.

Innocent nodded. “Yes, even denser than any of the other names. My only guess is the computer was still mapping out her destiny web, and until it had an answer it showed her name as a suitable option.” Faust nodded slowly. “So, that would mean that if I had picked any other name, we would have got a different result. But I didn’t, I picked that one. And now Equus is stuck with Twilight Sparkle, and Sunset Shimmer will be orphaned, and Starlight Glimmer will try and erase ponies cutie-marks.”

Faust continued to listen, doing her best to keep her rising fears and confusion off her face.

“So… if your theory is right, my destiny was to create, their destinies? And you created me, so your destiny was to create me? So I could meet you here, and have this conversation, be brought back to life? Wouldn’t it make more sense if none of this was destiny? If it was all just… chance?”

Faust didn’t move, but it was taking all her willpower not to scream and yell at the pony before her. She had just given her life, given her meaning once more and already this pony was questioning her life's work, everything she had ever done. Not that the mare knew, but that didn’t make her words any less destructive.

“Chance.” She finally replied, dryly, trying to keep her voice even. “No destiny, no fate, just pure chance?”

Innocent paused for a moment, thinking back. “At the Wonderbolt academy, I learned two things, that I would use more often in my life than any flight trick. One, the only pony to blame if you fail is you. Now that sounds harsh, but no matter how many friends help, no matter how much training you do, ultimately you are the one who has to put in the effort. I suppose that would be better to say ‘If you put nothing in, don’t expect anything back.’ or maybe even simpler, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. Maybe that is why I had no regrets, no ties. If I wanted to do something, I did it. I didn’t wait for it to come to me.

Faust listened, still trying to appear the regal and benevolent creator she felt she was. This mare though, she was something that she hadn't bargained for, and yet she continued to listen. Innocent wasn’t attacking her directly, she was just thinking aloud, her gaze focused on a point somewhere above her as her mind worked.

“And second, I still mentally refer to this as the Bit Toss, but you may know it by the phrase, ‘Given enough time, anything can happen’. To my mind, you have millions and millions of creatures in your office, selecting destinies, and on Equus, you have millions and millions of creatures living out their lives. That is a lot of events. A lot of choices. Given enough time, every one of those choices is a chance for a ‘destiny; to converge. For a step to be taken towards Twilight Sparkle or away. If we were tossing a balanced Bit, mathematically speaking there's nothing to say that the coin won’t come up heads one hundred times in a row straight away. We might expect it to be roughly even but since every flip is independent there is no way to carry over the previous result. It may not feel random to get one hundred flanks or tails in a row, but there is nothing to say it won’t happen either.”

Faust took a deep steadying breath and forced a smile onto her face. “Innocent, we can discuss this later but I think you ought to get some rest, you really need it now after all. I can even have some food set up to your room. Some local delicacies or maybe tastes of home?”

Innocent nodded vaguely, then turned to the gryphon behind the desk who was shaken from her stunned observance and continued with her job. When she was completed Innocent turned to Faust and smiled.

“I know this is totally inadequate but… thank you. I will do my utmost to repay you for what you’ve done for me.”

“You can do that by focusing on your new job,” Faust replied with a slightly more genuine smile. “Remember tomorrow, at Nine o’clock. Here.”

Faust watched as Innocent nervously left, still getting used to the feeling of touch once again, and the way her ears flicked back and forth to find sounds as she walked into the corridor beyond. It was cute. Almost.

“Faust?” Faust turned to look at her secretary. “That mare… was she from your world?”

“Yes…” Faust noticed just how tight her voice was.

“No one said you had permission. You’ll get into serious trouble. They might even pull you from the program.”

“I know Celaeno, I know.” Faust rubbed her head with a hoof. “I really thought it was worth it, thought she was the one. But now, I’m not so sure.”

“What she was saying…” The gryphon asked. “About coins and chance. Is it possible? Could it just be a coincidence.”

“No. Not on my world. Not when I am in charge.” the Alicorn snapped, turning around and heading back into her office. When the door closed behind her she let out an angry snort “She said It herself. I am a goddess. I created her world. I set their destinies. I choose them.”

“But if that is the case, who chose yours?”

Faust went rigid with fear. That voice. She knew that voice. She had created that voice. But it wasn’t possible. Until her mind replayed Innocent’s words in her head.

‘Given enough time, anything can happen’

Was this it? Was this her time? Her Destiny?

With the willpower of a goddess, Faust took one final breath and turned.

The End

Author's Note:

If you've made it this far, congratulations. Even by my standards, I know this is 'out there'.
That said, I hope you enjoyed it, and that It made sense... mostly. Even I am unsure of where some of those ideas might have gone but in the end, you decide where you stand.
I did run it through Word, GDocs and Grammarly but if you notice any spelling errors, let me know by PM.
Thank you for reading and have a great day!

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Comments ( 4 )

I loved this. I have no other words to discribe how much I liked this story.

9775658 That is more than enough, thank you very much! :pinkiehappy:
A thumbs-up would be greatly appreciated if you want to help others find it . :twilightsmile:

Ooooh, this was nice {draws, though... would they be drawers? I'll need to reread to see if there's any other potential errors}. A rather original wrapper on the whole "is everything chance or is there purpose" conundrum, with some enjoyable characterization along the way.

“In your terms, yes, thousands, tens of thousands. A friend of mine, Magrathea, has become rather popular for his creations. He now takes commissions too.”


9777747 Fixed the Drawers :twilightblush:
I'm glad you enjoyed it. It initially started as a poke at the prophetic naming of characters and it snowballed from there. Clearly still works though :twilightsmile:

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