• Member Since 26th Jun, 2018
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Lets Do This

We're going to build an exact copy of Ponyville... right over there! We've got less than a minute!



This story is a sequel to Meet The Sparkles

Twilight and her Advanced Projects team face Discord. And he may have finally met his match. Yet the Lord of Chaos has an ace to play: he knows Twilight's new friends better than they realize. And also how to get rid of them... by showing her it's for the best, really...

For more of this series, see: Who Needs Enemies -- Part II

And also check out the entire series, beginning with Not Exactly Friends.

Chapters (4)
Comments ( 58 )

Oo, new story. Time to start reading.

"I'm just wonderin' when the other three shoes are gonna drop," Applejack said.

...over which early afternoon stormclouds were just beginning to gather...

Well, I've found at least one of them. And I can't help but notice a running trend of showing only the past. Cue the butterflies...

"It does, Moon-Moon. It does indeed. And I hope, like our friendship with Amore and her Empire, that never changes..."

loved it using the canon six in such a way that their friendship is devastating to twilight and ironically discord as well it actually refreshing to have this kind of story where the antagonist wins, even if this is only the first part of the story

Well, that was depressing.

I absolutely hate that you shut down discord with that deus ex machina

Loved the convo between him and the gang

Don't really get any connection from the first chapter and this one tho except that teardrop

Poor Discord . .
Imagine waking up in a reality and realizing he has lost fluttershy.
She was the one who kept him on the good side, so of course he
a.) not be bound by that anymore
b.) try to get her back for himself.

no. matter. what.

Well he's the Question, yes Discord gave them better lives but he really prove they where inferior as the elements? Just because they where diffrent doesn't mean they where better or worse for the positions. Discord also feels guilt for what he did, likely because it was unessicary fr him to do so. The irony here is in his attempt to avoid reforming he has gone an reformed himself. I don't think Discord can escape the guilt of undoing to alternate elements like he did, because he didn't need too because duh Multiverse!

On to the next installment! Congratulations at developing this so fast by the way.

Once upon a time, in a magical land
(soon to be known as Equestria)...

For a opening line this was way more ominous than it had any right to be.

And to top it all off? I now have to deal with this cabal of sorcerers -- led by my very own mentor!"

Oh how very intriguing! Tell me more.:duck: Seriously though, I wouldn't mind hearing some more about who this is supposed to be.

"They are immortal, Discord," Amore said. "Or close enough. Not as if they can take turns, now is it?"

Why not? It's not like either of them is going anywhere. At least they should have all the time in the world to each get their very own special day. (In theory at least.)

"You know," he said, "I hadn't really thought about it like that. I suppose we are friends, of a sort. Hmph! When did that happen? When did I stop thinking only about me?" He stared at Shining Star, and at Amore as well. "You know, until I started visiting your tiny little pocket reality, and met you odd little ponies, I'd never really known anyone I might count as a friend..."

The obligatory rewrite to make Discord look good. Had to happen if he was going to reform. (I am going to assume that's the way your going.)

And it's not terrible? :rainbowderp:

Granted I am not likely to ever warm to the character after what he did in cannon, but it's decent enough to make me at least want to see where this is going, before I come to any decision about his character here.

"Perhaps," said Moon Gleam, "if thou wert not so self-centered, and irritatingly insensitive, thou might have noticed it sooner?"

Discord scowled. "Shouldn't you be off counting the stars or something? I think you missed one last night, Moony. Though I won't say which. Wouldn't want you feeling like you'd slipped up, or anything..."

Moon Gleam refused to rise to the bait. Instead, she looked at her elder sister pleadingly. "Star?"

The fact that he's mostly respectful, and the back and between him and Luna never crosses the line from tense to downright toxic here, already makes him a huge improvement over the original character.*

"It does, Moon-Moon. It does indeed. And I hope, like our friendship with Amore and her Empire, that never changes..."

Well that's some depressing foreshadowing.

*Not sure how I feel about him being tied to cannon lore in future chapters, as it kind of tarnishes the idea that he is a separate character from the one portrayed in cannon, but that is an entirely separate issue.

Oh, Discord.

Reality has a nasty way of backlashing when you pull it out of a rut and try and stick it into an already occupied space.

Besides, if you REALLY wanted that happy life with Fluttershy, you could have just gone and made friends. A nice, peaceful life for your favorite pony instead of getting yanked along on adventure after adventure...where she'd have been a very happy pegasus.

And you too.

It's an old question: if people become stronger when forged in fire, do we then have either the right or the responsibility to put them through those fires?


Trust Discord to be the dimension hopper.

I have no idea how this connects to the canon timeline, or how it works with all of these alternate realities...

I dunno why, but for some reason, this outcome is kind of distressing. Maybe because there feels like an inherent wrongness to the way Twilight's friends all reacted to where they were, especially when most of them only seemed to take into account the modified version of history, including their personal history with Twilight, when speaking with her... thus seeming like they weren't left with anything to compare it to... Tempest in particular felt especially off to me, given her spiel in the scene before her trip through Discord's Bullshit Funhouse Portal of Magic and Wonders™...

You summed up my own thoughts as well. I really don't think Tempest would say she had never been happier. That seemed so... Odd for her.


Oh how very intriguing! Tell me more.:duck: Seriously though, I wouldn't mind hearing some more about who this is supposed to be.

I just assumed that that was (or will be) the dark well in old Hollow Shades where Stygian became the pony of shadows.

"Well, if you still doubt me, Twilight, it's not very likely, is it? But even so, you'd still have a team of friends to serve as the Elements of Harmony. A proper team in my view, but that's only my opinion. So Equestria will never be at any risk. As I said, this is merely a test, to be certain we've got the right crew on board, so to speak."

Actualy I'd argue that this team is even better equipped to defend Equestria than the Main 6. I say this because this team came together as friends over a period of months (if not years) before the elements ever came into the picture and, rather that the Elements who are six differing individuals who unite for one defensive offensive. The AP team are one unit with no member cap that works proactively to mitigate or neutralize any threat before it becomes a truly serious problem. The other benefit is that they have Celestia and Moondancer on demand so they are never running in blind and respect their leaders so they don't jump the gun.

Bear in mind that, throughout, Tempest has had a somewhat privileged perspective thanks to her armor, which blocks Discord's influence on her. So unlike the others, she does recall who's been replaced, and (at least briefly) retains enough of a recollection of her broken-horned life to make the comparison. But being the "Element" of Loyalty here puts her in the unenviable position of having to choose: between defending her closest friend, and accepting and supporting her friend's judgement. Loyalty isn't just about not letting your friends down; sometimes it's about accepting and supporting their decisions even when you personally object to them.

Thanks -- that has been a minor theme in these stories, showing how a group that has been prepared/informed/organized all along fares against some of the same challenges. But the AP team does have its weaknesses. The previous story, Meet The Sparkles, touches on a few of them. And for all his short-sighted capriciousness, Discord does have a knack for zeroing in on the lynchpin that will cause the maximum disruption: in this case Twilight Sparkle and her laser-focus on Friendship and doing right by her friends.

Thanks! And I really appreciate the detailed feedback -- it helps, knowing what works and what doesn't. And yes, I am starting to put a few more of my cards on the table for this series, since this isn't meant to be simply a retread of the canon timeline (though it's informed/influenced by it)...

I see what Discord's plan is... and I love it but I hate it.
His plan is actualy two-fold. Like a used car salesman he is telling the AP members whatever they want to hear even robbing them of choices to affect events that have no relevance to Twilight or NMM's meddling. By keeping Twilight as the control variable and by replacing the AP team with the main 6 he has now actualy ensured not only that Twilight is using the inferior approach but also that the elements are decommissioned because to Twilight these will only ever be replacements. This also removes key trials from the bearers and would allow Tireck an uncontested victory.

"You mean her only student? Nah! She's branched out. She's got me, and you, and all the rest. That's good for her, and it's good for all of us, too. The pressure's off. We can succeed or not, on our own merits. That's how it ought to be. No pony is an island, so they say."

That is literally the AP group in a nutshell.:trixieshiftleft:

"Is this how it is for all my friends, Discord? Am I forcing all of them to be somepony they're not? "

No. He is.

I've always hated this trope.:ajbemused:

Something just occurred to me. the mirror produced the most idealic, perfect little world for all who enter it and the only one who wouldn't be affected would be Twilight being specifically omitted as an observer. Discord is now also in his own perfect little idealic world and has yet to encounter any actual pushback. No fight = No sport = No fun for Discord (or anyone for that matter). Welcome to apathy, you can kill yourself now:pinkiecrazy:

Loyalty also includes noticing and preventing your friends from destroying themselves. Which Twilight has been doing since Cheese left.

Well, there's Twilight's weakness. If you can convince her that she is a hinderance to her friends or the ideals of friendship she will self destruct to "right" the (misidentified) wrong.

She also didn't complete the study. The next step would be to record their responses under Discord's influence, reset everything back to how it was before Discord intervened, and discuss what she saw and heard with each of them individually. Then as a group, discuss the results, the experiment, the variables, and determine a conclusion.

I'll go out on a limb here and say the dark clouds are twilight losing it.
Either she goes complete Midnight or she asks Discord if he can take her memories of the ones she lost away.
Which will both make Discord have to realize how he wronged them and put it back to the way it was before.
Meaning also he will have to say goodbye to Fluttershy. Again. And no take backs this time around.

Always interesting to see a Discord who didn't just pop out of the ether one day, history always makes for rich character interaction.

Discord's playing a smooth game here, very sottle.

Ah Discord, inflicting existential philosophy on innocent ponies. Why you gotta be like this?

And can I just mention how ironic it is for Discord to be insisting on a singular correct answer?

No problem. I recently had to read a story where the writer retconned a key piece of lore via exposition dump, so it was nice to have something more concrete this time around.

I intend to go over the later stuff if I can (since I've speed read most of it yesterday) but not all of my notes are related to the writing, and honestly there's a lot to unpack there. Some of these chapters are pretty comprehensive.

"Ha, ha," Sunset replied. "Sunset Shimmer. And I guess, what with my empathy talent and all, I'd have to be the Element of Kindness, right?"

Really? Sunset, Kindness? Do tell me more, Kindness is my favorite.
...No, I'm not Discord. He's Chaotic Neutral, at best. I'm more of a... Well, True Neutral, with a slight Good lean... Still!

Who might be willing to do evil... For the greater good? Villains typically do evil for evil's sake, and heroes typically prefer to avoid evil-doing...
...But then, there's... Princess Celestia. Good pony, no doubt, I'm not one of those Luna fans (anymore)...

My only guess is, something something Storm King. Didn't see the movie or comics, though, so I could be wrong...

me neither, but from what i pieced together it was just tempest being actually successfull because he promised her to fix her horn that made him somewhat dangerous. And that wasn't even him. Technically he was the main villain, but the main danger only was Tempest.
No broken horn, no Tempest needing him and being basically the pony version of john rambo . .

Yeah, I hate the phrase "for the greater good", because I've so rarely seen it used in the sincere meaning of "the less sh:yay:y of two choices".

I have come to believe that going through hell and coming out stronger is actually a lesser good than having lived a pleasant, contented life over the same span. That said, I recognize several of the flaws with that position which keep me from comfortably advocating it as a general rule. While it works as an abstract ideal, there is no way to know what kind of knock-on effects these changes have. Then, too, what makes her friends so special? Is it so important that these specific ponies not experience bad lives? I don't know; I think that I'm starting to drift from my original point...

And of course one always has to bear in mind whether living a safe, quiet, comfortable life is only possible when someone else doesn't. After all, who makes the shirts, cleans the sidewalks, and ships packages overnight at Kablamm-zon? The reward of hard study and hard work is more choices, of course... but it's important to consider what effects those choices have on others who aren't permitted to make them.

Absolutely. There are some who would say that if 49% of the people have to suffer for 51% to be happy, then that's the greatest good for the greatest number. I'm not one of those people. I suppose I mean that I don't feel that personal suffering is inherently ennobling, even if you come out stronger afterwards. It's one thing to find a silver lining in a dark cloud, but it's another to start insisting that everyone get a dark cloud.

An argument which again, I recognize, drifts a little from the point of the story. To bring it back, I sympathize with Twilight. A lot of her mental anguish stems from her not knowing what the right choice is. In her position, I would grant my friends the quiet content life, although I would also be waiting to find out why I was wrong to have done so.

"Actually, Twilight," the Princess said with an amused smile, "I asked you here to do the exact opposite. I would like you to employ the Field's power... to release Discord."

well, this is weird.
the release is right on cue but releasing him on purpose is 2-3 years early.

"Well, isn't that just my whole point, right there?" he went on. "I mean, look at this group! We have Commander Teapot over here --" He gestured to Tempest, who was scowling darkly at him. " She's clearly the Element of Loyalty. But what are the rest of you supposed to be?"

that fits

"Well..." Twilight said uneasily. "I'm not sure we have a strict assignment of Elements. But I'd say Moondancer is Generosity, given how she slaves away on research for us. She makes me feel I need to read more!"

ok that's a... stretch

"And," Twilight went on, "I don't think anyone doubts that Starlight here is our Element of Magic."

...yeah not even in her dreams.
did the other Twilight never told you- the other Twilight never told her!

"Oh, and Trixie here," she quickly went on, putting a hoof around her, "apart from being a Great and Powerful showpony... is our Element of Honesty!"


"Ha, ha," Sunset replied. "Sunset Shimmer. And I guess, what with my empathy talent and all, I'd have to be the Element of Kindness, right?"

ok that... kind of fits

For a moment, Discord looked stricken. Then he harrumphed, pulling himself together. "You don't look like the tree-hugging, guitar-playing, back-to-nature type to me."

yes, I know Discord this timeline is a mess, but until Tempest reveals her real name you keep quiet, deal?

"All very entertaining, I'm sure. But speaking of entertainment, so far you've left out my personal favorite -- Laughter!"

"Oh! Right here! Present!" Cheese waved eagerly. Then he was suddenly standing beside Discord, holding his accordion. "Cheese Sandwich, party-pony extraordinaire, at your service! Any requests?" He merrily riffed a few bars of a sprightly polka.

Discord gazed down at him, non-plussed.

"I miss Pinkie Pie," he murmured. "I think I understood her..."

as I said, a mess of a timeline

"No, we didn't." Sunset put a hoof proudly around Twilight's shoulders. "Because Twilight's Element is the most important of all, the one that holds all the rest together... Friendship! "

...the other Twilight really should have taken a hot second to talk with this one.

"Can I show you something nice in a disappearing drake-and-eggnog? Or whatever it is you're supposed to be?"

*wheeze* drake-and-eggnog hehe, that's almost as good as the corndog (Sunset) nickname.

You've had your turn at bat. And I'm sorry to say, you whiffed miserably.

quick question does anyone know what's the lowest batting average ever. because I'm pretty sure Celestia's is lower.

"As I said," Celestia replied evenly, "no one tells a Princess of Equestria her business. Let's just say that I'm leaving the decision in your capable hooves, Twilight."

...way lower

Before I even start this, I just want to say I appreciate you breaking it out into multiple, digestible chapters, instead of 1 mega-chapter.

Yes, with this one I was debating how to split it up, since giving each pony their proper time in the spotlight means it runs on the long side. I eventually decided to split it up like one of the cliffhanger two-parter episodes (in particular, The Return of Harmony Part1/2), since that's basically the structure here.

I can see a couple ways this could turn on Discord, but my instinct says that his error is that there's eight of them. (And a half.)

I love this alternate universe you have created so far.

However there is a bit of conundrum with Sunset. In the Equestria girl show and in the comics it's hinted several times that Celestia learned and altered her way of teaching after Sunset betrayal. This of course effected Twilight as well as when she became Celestia next Star Pupil. Celestia had seen what would happen to a pony whom didn't connect with others and made no friends. So she made it sure it wouldn't happen to her next pupil.

For example one of those hints was in "forgotten friendships" where Sunset said. "Celestia with a sense of humor, who knew." There are many more of those subtle hints such as those I noticed. But it is clear Celestia taught Twilight in a different way then Sunset.

That can be seen here as well, though in a somewhat different way. In Sunset Part I, Celestia tells Sunset about the approaching Nightmare straight out, which as a result causes Sunset to isolate herself in her determination not to let her mentor down. Sunset's ultimate breakdown and departure through the mirror causes Celestia to realize she's been both too open and too strict. She's more cautious with Twilight as a result: allowing her to assemble herself a solid set of friends before Celestia even begins telling the group what their ultimate goal is. This differs of course from the canon timeline, where Celestia simply tells Twilight nothing, and trusts that her talent for friendship will help her see how to rekindle the Elements. So, in a way, Nightmare Moon did Twilight a favor, by putting her in a position where Celestia (with Sunset's advice) felt able to reveal the truth in time for the group to make plans.

I'm talking about this new Timeline in this story. Sunset never rebelled so there is no motivation for Celestia to chance the way she did in the canon line or the time line before Discord messed it up with his little challenge, thus Twilight teaching would be different again. However this time it can have serious consequences.

Also her confrentation with each of her now former element bearers is also important for Twilight growth as a character which was already shown in your pre discord time line. Trixie especially had an effect of Twilight as her 1st "rival" cannon time line. So it's even possible she won't be able to handle the next tests Celestia will place on her. The crystal kingdom.

Just food for taught really. :twilightsmile:

Sunset didn't rebel in anger, true, but in her "Discorded" timeline she did essentially rebuke Celestia's approach by saying "I'm not the one". Which causes Celestia to rethink her approach, so she's careful to not place so much pressure on Twilight.

And with the Crystal Empire, canon Twilight did technically "fail" her test, in that she wasn't able to retrieve the Crystal Heart herself, so Spike wound up the Hero of the Empire. But, good teacher that she is, Celestia recognized the selflessness of Twilight's solution.

Changes in one's past can affect outcomes of present events, but if they don't really alter who one is at heart, they might not have the effect on the future that one might think.

"Well... he's got another think coming, huh?"

By Twilight’s star-spangled plot, she used that saying right! Nobody does that anymore! :pinkiegasp:

:ajsmug: Y’all just earned yerself an upvote.


"Thank you, Thank you! You're a wonderful audience. The Grrreat and Powerful Trrrixie actually has no idea why it would be said any other way, but she'll gladly take credit for being right. Because of course she is!"

Yes, precisely, there is no other correct word other than “think” to use there. :twilightsmile:

She fired up her horn, thought for a few moments, and then cast. And the group of ponies was suddenly encircled by a marching phalanx of straw brooms, each broom carrying a pair of oak buckets sloshing with water.

Got it in one. And if that wasn't enough of a clue to the reference, the rest should be:

Starlight casually puffed at her striped forelock. "Just a little something I threw together. Structured magic makes it almost too easy. The real trick," she added behind a hoof, "is not forgetting the banishment check on the recursive call... because then you'd be in deep water!"

She gestured grandly with both forehooves. Brooms, buckets, and water all disappeared without trace.


why does it feel like you're setting up a big "Take That!" to either canon or... idek really

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