• Member Since 4th May, 2013
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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


As rationales go, you shouldn't allow first-year Gifted School students to have a project fair for the same reason you don't test dynamite by kicking it into the nearest wall. But since everypony else has moved on, the current school staff decided to show Celestia just how they were going to repeat the same old mistake. Because while this day may host ideas waiting for their time to come, that time is not now.

No matter how much anypony wants it to be.

(Part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page and FIMFiction group: new members and trope edits welcome.)

Now with author Patreon and Ko-Fi pages.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 97 )

Ms. Newmaths, the Principal. An incredibly accurate name, and coming from somebody who lived through New Math, I had a terrible feeling where this was going. Or maybe it was a wonderful feeling. Full of fire.

(Added for froggy context)

And so it begins.

Oh... OH!!!


Honestly, when Estee doesn't post a new short story for more than a week, I start thinking she's been kidnapped or something. I am so relieved.

Tfw you're just reading a fic by Best Author to pass the time but then it turns out to be a semi-origin story for Best Pony. Ty Estee! This was amusing.

Excellent stuff!

I thought this story was set before the pilot (starting about the part where C thinks that math isn't her friend) I like it when I guess right, it makes me feel like I'm CLEVER! :pinkiehappy:

Einstein's famous comment "Only 2 things are infinite:
The universe and stupidity -and I'm not sure about the universe"

Great. Now I have to go to work as an emotional unstable mess. Excellent story.

Wow that ending, just wow. I think it completely changes how things work. I wonder why Celestia hasn't had that that much control of her school but I hope she learns from this and chooses her principles better the next time around.

The girl!

I hope she's in a better spot in the Continuum than in canon. It always seemed like such a waste to have her be so well rounded and interesting then use the idiot mind controller as their replacement Twilight when the authors failed to come up with new ideas instead.

Celestia feels so *tired* here. I can really feel the centuries weighing on her. Excellent work as always.

Seinfeld voice "NEWMAAAAATHS!"
I figured that's where this was going. On the other hand, I like the idea that she had a long trail of students as a way to keep an eye on the current premier magical talent. Also as a way to collect wacky specific tricks so as to have a varied bag of them for whatever purpose.

And the sunsnuffer section reminded me of the whole screaming debate about Iron Heart Surge, so thanks for that.

I will definitely not say no to more glimpses of Twilight Zero: Learning From Your Mistakes.

And that is one of the reasons why Celestia decided to leave the throne to Twilight

My my, I do think I see the infamous wing spell & that weird one about oranges.

Oh, and Flim and Flam.

Great fic Estee

Canon(-ish) Sunset trapped herself on the other side of a mirror gateway to another world.

Continuum Sunset has a spell that makes a mirror look through time.

It might be the wrong question to ask where this version ended up.

I actually thought to myself, "Is this before cannon?" And then later "I'll bet that filly is Sunset Shimmer." And guess what?


Oooooooh. I did not expect that ending!

I was about a decade and a half, maybe close to two, too late for the original New Math. I only looked at the textbooks long after they fell out of common use. The unfortunate thing is that when properly taught, most of the New Math techniques- introducing basic set theory, basic logic, that kind of thing- work really well for getting the top 1% of elementary school math students to reason at a deeper level. Done right, it can really accelerate their development. It's just that most elementary school students are nowhere near the 1%, and most of their teachers are just plain terrible at math.

That said, I've also encountered too many administrators like Ms. Newmaths. Had she actually talked to her teachers, most of them would likely have been able to tell her just why a project fair was a terrible idea. But the Ms. Newmaths rarely listen.

My major annoyance with this story is why Celestia doesn't just put her foot down. At the end of the day, it's her school, and she should easily be able to have something in the charter or bylaws like "NO PROJECT FAIRS. EVER. VIOLATION OF THIS POLICY WILL LEAD TO SUMMARY DISMISSAL." And a clause saying she can overrule any staff member or rule as she sees necessary.

Curses, you beat me to posting that.

I have a question, one I notice that Celestia didn’t ask and Sunset wasn’t interested in...

Could it be tuned to go the other way and reflect the future?

I remember that the Mirror Master had a mirror that did that

Bro, with the time thing I was convinced, convinced it was Starlight Glimmer but you pulled off a very satisfying subversion of my expectations. I should have remembered the mirror and made the connection but it's been years since I've watched EqG. Great story, always love time with your Celestia.

"But as the pony who sets your budget, I feel there should be a philosophy class, along with a mandatory one for ethics, so that they can find new morals to go with them."
...I'd already been thinking that Twilight had indeed followed that colt's clues, and started experimenting with the spell.
Then I reached this... and then in realizing she must have ignored those, I remembered her relationship to Starswirl.
And wow did that put a different perspective on that little detail.
(Still laughing quite a bit at this story, though. :D)

Woo. And then the story turned away from comedy. But stayed good. :)

I think that's one of the best opening lines I've ever seen on this site.

This... I... wow.

*speechless* :pinkiegasp: :pinkiehappy:

Well, the surprise appearence of 'Verse!Sunset is the first thing I've encountered today that hasn't tested my resistance to the urge to omnicide the entire of all of every reality, so congratulations, Estee, thanks to you personally, the everything might last long enough to see another dawn.


It was too late. She’d dash the hopes of the students to be judged and it might let sun snuffer and the others free to adapt and implement the dangerous ideas they came uo with without the opportunity to stop or adjust them.

So borrowing from past troubles you’ve overcome is an OK idea, but instead you want to borrow from future troubles that you have no idea how to deal with. That seems like a really bad idea.

The Fair was fun! So many path to destruction.

But Sunset!!! Yes! I can't wait to see how you will torture this version. I think I remember that you didn't like EG and and that in the continuum Twilight never went to another dimension so I wonder what you will do with this one. I just hope it will not be a typical unredeemable villain like Gentle.

Sunset and Celestia relationship always looked like a mother×daughter one to me so I wonder what you will do with it.

-- there was a filly. And a memory which already contained more than twelve centuries of time set aside a space for that first sighting, because it was something the observer would carry with her. A single instant to reflect upon, over and over.

But the question is: reflect upon with what? Regret? Fondness? Love? Hate?

And Celestia seems to consider Sunset to have been a bad idea.

When I saw the Patreon post, a few possibilities came to mind. When I saw the setting, they condensed into one. After all, if Starlight still has her canonical origin, she won't be found anywhere near the Gifted School.

But yeah, while encouraging creativity in the next generation is important, it's equally important to do it in a way that makes sure nopony loses an eye. Or worse. Like snuffing out the sun. Ethics courses are very important when dealing with bright-eyed young reality warpers.
(Speaking of, the young transmuter might be said to have a point. If you can generalize "frog to orange" into "anything into anything else," the possibilities are endless. The problem is that transmutation doesn't work that way in the Continuum unless you're Discord, and going by the "because it'd be funny" rationale, that colt isn't too far off.)

As for the filly of the hour (or forty-five seconds, as it were,) it does make sense to find her where Celestia does. And it makes sense that Tia was absent during that particular entrance exam. After all, she might have seen some warning signs then... though she also might have been too concerned about Luna's impending return to pay heed to them.
And I do have to wonder why she's pursuing this project. Why so devoted to capturing the past?

Brilliant work, with scathing looks at the dark side of encouraging young minds, a reminder of the dangers of magical experimentation, and a fantastic introduction to a particular somepony in the context of the Continuum. Thank you for it.


My my, I do think I see the infamous wing spell & that weird one about oranges.

Clearly, Twilight found those hidden, coded notes--Celestia clearly hadn't.

Nicely done, Estee! That was a good, surprising reveal! :trollestia:

'I want psychological screenings added to all future entrance exams, in perpetuity, for however long that turns out to be.

Too late for Sunset, must have been enacted late enough to JUST miss Twilight, and completely explains why Starlight wasn't just able to go to school with Sunburst. In the latter's case she really could have used that ethics class.

Damn, I wonder what'll happen with her. And hope she can still be saved :pinkiesad2:


So far as we can tell, Equestria (outside of Discordian interference) is fully closed-loop on time travel, so seeing the future wouldn't be terribly useful to preventing it.



There's a ponified version of that video:

Horrible ideas had a life of their own, used ponies as nothing more than conduits for reproduction and raced across the continent twice before the facts could find where the horseshoes had been stored.

reminds me of that line in the Diskworld book "the truth": "a lie can run around the world before the truth has got it's boots on."

Which was an idiom long before Pratchett used it in a book, and has a good chance of being a deliberate reference in spite of that.

Sort of like how propecy is not a preventative measure, it tells you what WILL happen and is always vague enough that you can't really know what it means till the events already happened. In the end it's not useful. Time Travel in Equestria seems to work like Time Travel in Dragon Ball when you able to change the past those changes don't apply to your present, they make a separate timeline. So either your attempt to change things will turn out to be the cause or your own present isn't effect.


No, with the right spell it's not. Starlight proved that

I'd wondered when she'd make the scene. Perhaps she'll figure in the next multichapter story.

Starlight Glimmer hasn't proven anything in this continuity. Not yet.

For a class of bright-eyed potential reality warpers, mandatory psych evaluations and ethics seminars sounds like an excellent idea that someone should have thought of and implemented a lot sooner.
Oh. I see what you did there. :fluttershyouch: Ouch.

I figured this was set before Twilight from the context clues, and yet I still didn't anticipate Sunset appearing until Celestia saw the mirror... then I held out hope that it would indeed be her. I suppose we have to take her at her word that she's only doing this to see if it can be done, but I was intrigued by the question of what she might have wanted to see in the past so badly.

Her invention reminds me of a Denzel Washington film named "Deja Vu", in which the government has invented a time portal that is synchronized to allow them to look through it and view events 4 days prior, which they use to try to solve a terrorist bombing. Of course, it being a Hollywood film, they couldn't stick to their own time travel rules as the film goes on, but the basic idea seemed interesting.

I do love the character of Sunset and look forward to seeing how she plays into the events of your universe.

There isn’t enough pony Sunset. It’s great to see her if only for a moment. I expected her to make an appearance when the timeframe solidified. Very nice.



Other thoughts:

When the 12 foot tall (in human terms) immortal God-Queen of your people sighs and suggest You're Doing It Wrong, and you not only ignore them but are positively condescending in response, you have achieved Epic Self-Absorption.

It's only a matter of time before Photopoll shows up as Equestria's first Mad Scientist.

That ending. I did not see the fact this was set in the past or that the last student was Sunset Shimmer. Her life sure does revolve around mirrors, dont it?. Great story. Another great Estee story. I sure hope the events here are reflected in s future story. Because this little foal needs to see a future story with the other girls at some point.


And then there's SF writer Bob Shaw's "Slow Glass", used in several of his stories, where light takes several years to get through a specially made sheet of crystal.

"Well," the principal made the mistake of saying, "we can consider that a dry run for Next Year. And really, if you knew who could have been here, it might have been so much worse --"

Celestia took a very deep breath, and then let all the air go back out.

Words were included.


The first two were "You're fired."


Starlight didn't prove anything. That wasn't a time travel spell, it was generating alternate realities, as noted by the same "change" producing failures past the first that relied on the Mane 6 actually meeting as if the Rainboom occurred, but falling to a different enemy each time.

In short, Starswirl's an asshole and made a spell for second guessing choices. Starlight, having an ego as large as the Bearded Asshole but none of his research simply thought she could change the past.

Either of them could make Trixie blush.

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