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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.)


This story is a sequel to A Duet For Land And Sky

She knows how to look out for herself: that's why her parents left her in charge of the house. Because they know she's responsible. But Ponyville's adults were collectively incapable of seeing that, and so she's been forced to live with the Apples. Something which made Applejack delusional, because that mare now thinks she has the right to exert control.

Scootaloo disagrees. She takes care of herself. As soon as her parents come back, they'll explain that. Everything will be normal again. And they'll be in Ponyville any day now. They always could arrive tomorrow, and there was a chance that they would have shown up yesterday.

But this is today.

(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.

Cover art from vector capture by Lahirien.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 86 )

is there spoilers for tryparch and duet for land and sky? because this has REALLY peaked my interest and I yet to get to duet


For how Duet ended? Yes. I tagged this as a sequel because you really need to know how the rest came out before you go into this one. I would not advise anyone to approach it before you finish the earlier works. It's a direct followup.

It's also a bridge.


Oh yes, all of the spoilers.

That filly is very, very broken...

Or at the very least, holding herself together with Flex Tape and wishful thinking...

Scootailusion - The belief in something for the sake of believing in something better than reality.

Scootaloo felt Rainbow Dash was underplaying things there

This should tell you something.

Pick out a bow for the day.

"Why? They're all identical."
The glare was enough that Scootaloo wondered if Fluttershy had been offering lessons. "Pick out a bow for the day."

You can't tell me what my mark should be: that's a crime, that's just about the biggest crime there is --

But if she tells herself, well...

...she'd been studying magic.

Oh dear...

"-- pity isn't help!"

:fluttershyouch: I felt that one.

-- the idea came.

Again, oh dear.
... Oh! That actually is brilliant in hindsight.

"It's just like teleporting," he quietly told her. "It's not instant. If they were on the exact opposite side of the planet from us... it's a guess, because I've never tried to send one that far. But maybe ninety seconds."

Hmm... Assuming the planet is the same size as Earth and that the message goes around rather than through, that's (cE/2)/90 = 2226.888... km/s. About Mach 1.8 well over a thousand times the speed of sound when I actually get the conversion factor right. Thanks, B_Munro.
Granted, the description indicates that it's not around or through. At least, not a through that considers only three spacial dimensions.

the briefest flash of turquoise.

Oh. Oh. I suspected as much given the end of Duet, and the recent chapters of Cerea's journey did make mention of blocking aether transmissions...
Yeah, pretty clear where they are.

And that tirade at the end... Applejack's asking the right questions. There's been a lot of yesterdays, with nothing but vouchers to show for all that time, effort, and devotion.

Brilliant work here, especially the yesterday/today/tomorrow theme. Because Scootaloo's framed her entire life in terms of the momentary, the temporary, the delay until her life really begins. For years, her life's been the equivalent of a waitress trying to find the Hollywood mogul who will read her script and get her her big break. And instead... Well, the big break definitely happened. Good thing she has so many ponies nearby who can help hold the pieces together while she mends.

And in the meantime... Well, we'll get to that.

Snowflake kept putting her off on lightning and she didn't understand that:

Twilight and Scootaloo both want to peek ahead in Pegasus training; I don't know which (or both!) will be more shocked by what they find, but I'm sure it'll be hilarious.

(Her vision had been getting better moon by moon, at the same rate she was gaining in wingspan and mass. In both cases, it wasn't fast enough.)

It's kinda weird that there aren't books about Pegasus Vision for Twilight to find.

"What would you know about responsibility?"

Eagerly leans forward.

The adults had decided she'd been abandoned, and that was just stupid because the vouchers kept coming and her parents would eventually be right behind them. They could have come back yesterday, and there was always a chance they would appear tomorrow, but Scootaloo felt somewhat good about today . Just as good as she did before starting any part of the Crusade, assuming the talent they --

Jam yesterday & jam tomorrow, but never jam today :applecry:

Scootaloo, you make me angry. Then you make me sad. Then angry, and then even sadder.

I honestly don't know what to feel anymore. Maybe that was your plan all along.

Estee, you are a cruel, wonderful author, and I hate that I love you for it.

I think I might finally be broken of reading your Crusader related stories

Takes one to know one
Fluttershy should teach Scootaloo flying, she knows about being a late bloomer
& yet I don't think I've ever seen that

IMO, most books are written by unicorns & they
1) can't do it (& most probably don't even know of it)
2) assume that if they can't do it, it ain't important, so why write a book about it?

You can also sort of assume that Pegasus as a specie are more of a jock/warrior mentality. That means while they have their own scholars most of whats recorded is more the history of their experiences than the useful details of their own specie. This is a more taught by others in practice than a scholarly society.

The speed of sound is 343 meters per second: 2227 kilometers per second his a lot faster than Mach 1.8.

10153140 What's Cerea's Journey? I don't get the reference and don't have any idea where her parents are?

Definitely helps express the SHEER FRUSTRATION I felt in the episode about her parents. Their reasoning for leaving their child to be raised by others was garbage. Exploring and adventuring isn't a job that “only we can do”. Being the parents to your child IS.

Yes, that's what I meant when I said that unicorns write most books
(up until, say, last century or so) the other races learned by apprenticeship & most were more or less illiterate.

The unicorns probably looked down on them
Remember how Twilight taunted AJ in "Triptych"?
"What are you going to do, grow things at me?"

I think an important element here is respect. If you want someone to respect you, you need to respect them first. Reasons aside Scootaloo has demonstrated an astonishing capacity for self-sufficiency, if that's not acknowledged she will rebel against this well-intentioned stifling.


That would be this one.

TDaily Equestria Life With Monster Girl
Yesterday, she was a sweet, somewhat old-fashioned exchange student trying to find her place in a strange culture. Today, Centorea Shianus is a new world's greatest terror.
Estee · 714k words  ·  1,333  78 · 14k views

I know where both sides of the equation are coming from and my heart aches for that poor filly :applecry: Please let her get her parents back.

The air broke in half.

It did so with a crack like thunder, like a hoof slamming directly into a heart. It happened with a faint scent of rust, and -- it would take hours before she recognized the next part, moons before the true meaning was known -- the briefest flash of turquoise.

The air broke in half, and a dozen shredded pieces of scroll drifted to the ground.

I'm gonna kill her. Different universe, different Starlight. No need to feel guilty. Scoot's anguish was heartbreaking and the domino effect afterwards nearly.... Oooooooh, I seriously hope that you shove this incident in Starlight's face and make her pay for it :twilightangry2:


I can easily see her running off many times. She has a great mind for secret keeping, plotting, a ton of anger and her blank flank means a good chunk of the ponies of Ponyville manage to think of her as a monster, but also as a child. They underestimate her at their peril. And Applebloom better get over her "I'm older" fun quick if she desires anything salvageable of their relationship

Aha... I suspect we’ve just seen the inciting incident that replaces the map table.

A really moving look into Scootaloo’s character and viewpoint. I loved the build up to the explosive finish, and the incredibly sweet yet heartbreaking resolution.

Scootaloo's field was stronger than Snowflake's: he'd told her so.

Let the power rise.
Air moved anyway. She was just telling it where to go for a little while.

During her first attempt at making wind, a markless, flightless filly created a "dust devil" that could be ranked on the Fujita scale.

Snowflake estimated Scootaloo's field strength as "well above average". That estimate might be low.

"It's just like teleporting," he quietly told her. "It's not instant. If they were on the exact opposite side of the planet from us... it's a guess, because I've never tried to send one that far. But maybe ninety seconds."

Transit time varies with distance. As soon as someone on Spike's end realizes what that means, they can find the receiving end in a weekend. Provided a number of assumptions are true.

Before you get out the torches and pitchforks I'll remind you that Estee tends to make all of the villains nastier than they were in the show. Her version of Discord destroyed civilization and has an unfathomable body count, her Nightmare Moon's Eternal Night would have been the kind where all life froze to death. Both of them are nonetheless reformed.

10153382 Assumptions are easy, once you get the propagation speed of a dragonfired letter established as a constant.

Take a stopwatch. Start at the first casting of Spike's transmitting fire and measure time until the letter is returned. Calculate a Great Circle based on the return delay and you have a near-infinite number of possible points all at Radius X from the casting point. Travel a few tens of kilometers in any direction and repeat the experiment. Your two Great Circles will intersect at two points. The rest is left as an exercise for the student.

(I'm still a little baffled at the parents' ability to pop around as rapidly as they have been, if we assume the vouchers are being returned accurately and not from some sort of remote maildrop. I suppose it will make sense in hindsight later.)

"takes a deep breath"
Thank you.
Original!Starlight used to trigger me until The Crystalling, I'm in a much better place with her now. This version of her is keeping parents away from a heartbroken child and that triggered my Inner Bear. Thanks for reminding me of the silver lining.

Ouch, poor Scootaloo she just can't accept some possibilities here can she? I get the feeling that once she finds out the truth she isn't going to like it. I wonder if she will ever forgive Starlight for this or will she be out for revenge?


once you get the propagation speed of a dragonfired letter established as a constant.

That's one of the assumptions. Aetheric propagation speed could be significantly variable. That may already be known in-universe, but we don't know.

Another assumption is that we're seeing a normal propagation to the recipient(s), the bounce/shred, then normal propagation back. If that's not how it works then the ping doesn't provide useful information.

And if both those assumptions are true, they have to hold still. It's going to take time to get Spike far enough for a useful baseline, do the math, then deploy a response. Everyone is assuming they're in Our Town, but we're not dealing with canon Starlight Glimmer. That assumption may not hold.

You know, Scoot has a point. Yeah, she needs help, but she did essentially live on her own with all the responsibilities of an adult for... years, it would have been. Adults need to recognize that she is far from helpless. Of course, she also needs, or i guess needed, to recognize.... quite a few things. And thankfully she has good people there to help her through it.


Power, knowledge, and confidence are the three pillars of magic. Scootaloo has power, and thanks to her scooter and various other activities she's gotten constant exercise. likewise, she possesses an abundance of confidence, or will, which is necessary for fully expressing one's magic.

The problem here, is that she's skipping the knowledge. Flinging magic about without understanding what you're doing is very similar to foalhood magic surges, but augmented by the foolhardy confidence of one who does not know better.

The mystery surrounding Scootaloo parents deepens. The scroll being blocked really could mean a lot of things and different scenarios... a transition story you said? Can't wait to see where this is leading to.

And gonna be honest, the ending made me cry a little.


However it also brings up the point that she doesn't know when she needs help. If you look at the whole breakfast scene again and think it through Scootaloo could have been not giving herself proper nutrition for awhile becuase she is going off old information and not adjusting for her growing body. The Apple family needs recognize that yes she is independent but they need to get her to understand that what she was doing was not right and something a foal her age had no business taking care of. Scootaloo is beginning to think about some very hard realities and when her world comes crashing down it will be devastating.

I kind of wonder Are they even still on EQ, or have they gone to another dimension? In the comics, the ponies know of several. Yes, everyone assumes that they are in Our Town. (The letter was shredded because their Cutie Marks have changed, thus they both are & are not dead). Be just like Estee to throw us a curve.

Apple Jack
It occurs to me:
1) You didn't answer Scootaloo's question. You evaded it.
2) Your nearest & dearest ALL heard that question. Not one of them asked "Who are you talking to?", said "That's not fair", or said even one word in your defense, or to excuse your actions :pinkiegasp:

You might want to think about that :applejackconfused:

It occurs to me that Too Much Occurs To Me :pinkiehappy:


Sounds to me as if Scootaloo understands nutrition very well, seems that it would be very difficult for her not to understand it, given that she's been working so closely together with Snowflake. You can bet that her diet was one of the first things he asked about when he started working with her, it's part of the job.

Perhaps pegasai simply don't eat as much as earth ponies? It's also a habit thing, if you're used to eating less then you simply won't have as much of an appetite. Doesn't mean you're unhealthy, goodness knows I eat very little, it just means that you don't eat as much. If and when she acclimates to a much heavier workload, (which seems like a not altogether sound idea, as no Pegasus is going to be able to match an earth pony for sheer physical labor) her appetite will expand to match new demands. But trying to hurry it up will just feel bad, no one habituated to moderation wants to suddenly gorge themselves, especially right before sustained physical labor.

Oooh! So good!

Really getting into Scoots' head and stuff!


So... Starlight. Presuming that the vouchers are sent from the actual addresses...

They're working for her, and looking for something. Maybe more Shiftstones in Chaos Terrain, their marks would be good for that... Maybe Platinum...

Or they're funding the op, with some of their earnings...

But, still, why the Lockdown?


EDIT: Maybe trying to break the Secret? She is involving at least 1 mixed race couple. ... Would also be a good anti-Princesses argument, if she's working from the assumption they're omniscient, that they / Celestia let this Inequality stay for centuries.

Ow, my heart. Poor, poor Scoots.

:facehoof: Thanks. Duly corrected, with proper credit given.

"home in a hour, they"
"home in an hour, they"?

"he didn't spent a lot of time around"
"he didn't spend a lot of time around"?

Well, my eyes do seem to be rather moist now...

Poor Scootaloo.
And, just just here, but those pattern of thoughts, they feel like maybe they were intensified by her current living situation, but starting... quite a while ago.

...That said. I do wonder if it would be a good idea to let Scootaloo help out with a few more things. Cooking, laundry. Things she's good at, and considers important, and wants some control back in her life over, and is already confident she won't get a mark in and so doesn't feel a need to spice up. Both genuinely useful to the family and feeling useful to Scootaloo. Might help with bonding, too, if, say, she and Applejack tried cooking together.
But, well. I get the feeling things will be changing on the Acres anyway, after this incident.
...And I worry about what might happen if/when her parents are recovered. Especially if/when Scootaloo finds out what I suspect the circumstances are.

...it was a weird thought. She knew she would have her mark soon, although she'd spent enough time in town that 'tomorrow' was now the safe bet. But to go through life without even the possibility of one...

She didn't like the way that thought made her feel. She really didn't like her inability to stop having it.

The utter irony, given who we all think her parents are working for.

Thing is, in some aspects AJ understands Scoots perfectly. A filly willing to do anything to bring mommy and daddy back.


do most here think her parents are working for Starlight, or maybe trapped by her?

Why the lock down? Could be:
1) The result of changing their Cutie Mark.
The spell is getting conflicting readings on "are they alive?"
2) A security measure by Starlight.
3) The result of carrying a Chaos stone -they do warp Harmony magic.
4) Too near Chrysalis' hive -it stops all non Changeling magic
5) They're in Tartarus (Hopefully, just visiting)
6) They're off dimension

Lots of possibilities


They're working for her, and looking for something.

I think this is right, but that you've got what they're looking for wrong. Estee has teased a motivation, one that ends with the same goal (the elimination of cutie marks) but for a different reason (freeing ponies from the chains of fate, rather than trying to force equality).

Meta-speculation: Triptych is built around a science fiction question — where do alicorns come from? So what big question would Starlight Glimmer be interested in answering? Where do cutie marks come from? Trying to answer that question would lead them to old ruins and Classified locations. It fits their exploration cover story and explains the shifting mailing addresses.

But how are they paying for all this? We know they've got money to make monthly mortgage payments. I have a crack theory for this, but it's one I don't want to type out in case I'm right.

Oof. This is gut-wrenching, but in the best possible way. Estee, you mastermind, you've done it again: created a deep, emotional, thought-provoking story that I absolutely love.

(A quick side note: I'm addicted to worldbuilding and lore, and I'm always so desperate for answers. This does not help, but I know you'll deliver eventually, and in a way more satisfying than I can ever imagine.)

Jesus. Rip my heart out why don't you? God, this was rough. I still can't decide if they're really gone or not. Pretty cool to see how far Scootaloo has come in her development here, both from a magical and personal perspective. Her mindset makes perfect sense for what she's been through, but man, is it sad. Thanks for this one, Estee. It's great.

10153473 Oh, yes, yes, yes! That would be so Studio Ghibli. Starlight Glimmer's Floating Castle.

This is the type of story that black and white turn grey... Who is right and who is wrong? both sides think they are right, and at the same both of them are part right... I for one could want to cheer Scootaloo and suggest to go in a journey of self-discovery but at the same time the others are just worried for her.

The only thing that maintain Scootaloo in Ponyville is the hope that her parents could return, at the same time I wonder what could happen if she just give up that hope and tried to search for them

So......I'm guessing that this version of Starlight isn't going to be as easily forgiven. Were it not for her (and also for Rainbow Dash), the only pony Scootaloo would have been a hazard to is herself. We could thus call her Orange Dulcinea.

It occurs to me:
In Triptych, AJ breached the Rules of Secrecy
There must be some group that enforces those rules
When they find out......
AJ will learn if they still execute you for that
I don't think that Pinkie took the old stories seriously.
IMO, she'll learn better, but it will be Too Late

It occurs to me that Too Much Occurs To Me

Really liked this story. The way Scootaloo thinks makes complete sense given her history even if it isn't necessarily healthy for her. And that little flash of turquoise... tantalizing. I can't wait for the follow up to all of these hints.

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