• Published 3rd Feb 2024
  • 610 Views, 77 Comments

Starlight Glimmer Regrets Her Mistakes - MagicS

Now exactly how was Starlight supposed to know that a few changes to the past could cause the space-time continuum to collapse?

  • ...

True, True Friends Help Their Friends in Need

Green and yellow rings of color flashed over Spike’s irises and he shook his head. It was like he had been in a dream, or hypnotized, and the fog in his mind was finally lifting.

“Woah… what happened? What have I been doing?” Spike asked himself as he looked around.

He was inside the castle and from a glance out the window it seemed to be early in the morning. His recent memories came flooding back to him and Spike jolted up straight, the last thing he remembered clearly was all of them confronting that other Starlight Glimmer. Ever since then… it was only vague images and feelings. He knew she had done something bad, something really bad, with Grogar’s Bell, her magic, and the map. What was that crazy magic and what did it do to him and everyone else?

“Ugh, focus, Spike!” He told himself. “Gotta remember what else happened...”

The harder he thought the more he started to remember more clearly. The last day… maybe the last few days… he had spent in some kind of fugue just helping out randomly with anything around Ponyville. He remembered how everyone had changed, how no one had their Cutie Marks anymore, how no one acted differently with anyone else, or how no one showed any emotion. No smiling, no frowning, nothing. All his friends… they acted like this was normal, they didn’t care anymore. Whatever that magic was it had changed him and them completely.

“Wait a minute. So why am I back to normal now?” Spike frowned. He looked down at his body, everything looked alright. “What’s going on? Did it just wear off?”

Suddenly thinking it might have, his eyes shot wide open and he ran throughout the castle, shouting. “Twilight! Twilight are you here?! Are you back to normal?!”

“There’s no need to yell, Spike. I’m in the library,” the cold and emotionless voice of Twilight Sparkle called from ahead.

But Spike was just happy to hear her. He ran straight for the library. “Twilight-”

His breath caught in his throat. There was his precious big sister, mother figure, Princess, and so many other things doing something he didn’t ever expect: taking down books and putting them away in boxes.

“Uhhh, Twilight? What are you doing?” Spike asked her.

“I’m getting these ready for removal. There’s no reason to have these books anymore—they’ll be recycled into something more useful,” Twilight said.

Spike nearly keeled over in shock.

“What are you talking about?!” Spike shouted.

“Books have no value anymore. There’s no reason to learn about anything, or study magic, what purpose does that serve in a world where all are already equal? If I had knowledge that others didn’t, or a capability that others didn’t, it wouldn’t be right. Why do you think eventually the pegasi will no longer fly once we have a different way to control the weather?” She said to him, not even looking up as she continued to randomly throw books into boxes.

The fact she wasn’t even being tidy or sorting the books was yet another red flag.

“I think I need to sit down...” Spike brought a claw to his forehead, feeling woozy.

“There’s no reason to feel upset or strange, Spike. There’s no conflict or reason to ever be upset again in this world,” Twilight said.

Spike frowned. “That’s not you talking, Twilight. This is not the kind of world you would ever be happy about. I know you better than anyone! You would never want ponies to give up what makes them unique and special! You’d never sacrifice everything just to make sure no one ever gets in an argument or gets upset again!”

“It’s better like this,” Twilight said.

“But you aren’t happy. I’m willing to bet my life on that. Neither you or any of the other ponies here are happy,” Spike said.

“Of course I’m happy. Why wouldn’t I be happy? There’s no reason to be sad anymore,” Twilight replied.

“Then why aren’t you smiling?”

Twilight paused for once and looked up, it seemed like the gears might have actually been turning in her head. “Smiling isn’t necessary. You don’t need to smile to be happy.”

“But you’ve always smiled. So has everyone else! Why would that change?”

“I disagree.”

Spike smirked. “Then doesn’t that mean there are two people right now who don’t think the same thing and agree on everything?”

Twilight Sparkle paused again. “That’s not… we’re still equals… it’s still a better world without true conflict.”

“Geez! I can’t believe I’d ever have to argue with you of all ponies over something like this,” Spike sighed exasperatedly and walked up to Twilight, grabbing her by the hoof and pulling her out of the library.

“Where are we going? I have work to do,” Twilight said.

“Just come here for a second,” Spike said and pulled her along. He was looking for something specific, and there were a few of them scattered throughout the castle.

He found one in the hallway—a mirror. And parked Twilight Sparkle right in front of it. He grabbed her by the cheeks and made her face her reflection, the pony now seeing a blank face staring back at her. She didn’t think anything of it. It was her face, so what? She was just another pony.

“What is the point of this?” Twilight asked.

“Twilight, you said you’re happy, right? But you’ve read enough and met enough ponies to know what happiness looks like. Do you look happy?” Spike asked her.

Twilight Sparkle blinked and peered into the mirror. Dull eyes. A face neither frowning nor smiling. Empty. It was true. Though she didn’t care, she had still seen old pictures of her and her friends here in the castle. She still remembered things, parties, moments of celebration and of joy, meeting new friends, overcoming differences, turning enemies to friends. All the smiles and all the reasons she had for being happy were still there for her, it was just like they were locked away in a fog.

“No. I don’t look happy,” Twilight said.

“If ponies aren’t even happy then what’s the point of this world, Twilight?” Spike asked.

“Safety. Contentment. There won’t be any pain, even if there aren’t successes it means there aren’t failures either. No one will suffer,” Twilight replied.

Spike frowned sadly as he looked at her. “Is that really worth it? You’ve been working hard to make the best world possible, even if bad things happen, it’s still a world full of happiness too. Full of friendship and ponies trying to help others.”

“Equality is better. If even a single pony is unhappy or below others, then the world I was making in the past is a failure.”

“That’s not you, Twilight! It’s not!” Spike yelled at her. “You would never give up and throw away your life’s work just because things aren’t perfect. You’d keep trying your best to help and you’d never take a deal like this that throws away everything that makes life worth living in the first place! That’s why you’re the Princess of Friendship! That’s why you made your school! That’s why you’re the Element of Magic and you’ve saved the world a dozen times over with the help of the best friends a pony could have!”

Twilight considered what he said for a moment and she looked from the mirror, looking into Spike’s intense eyes. “I remember I said something once. That everyone has unique talents and gifts. And when we share them with each other, that’s how real friendship and harmony are created.”

“That’s right,” Spike smiled.

“It doesn’t seem important now. Nothing seems important now.”

“It is, Twilight. It really is. Do you remember something else you said?” Spike said as he reached up and made her keep staring at him. “Do you remember when you became a Princess? How your friends had been changed, their lives ruined, and you needed to fix it? That’s just like what’s happened now, Twilight. Except this time you need to be helped too.”

Twilight Sparkle’s eyes widened and her mouth parted ever so slightly. “A true, true friend helps a friend in need...”

“A friend will be there to help them see,” Spike continued.

“A true, true friend helps a friend in need...” Twilight repeated, her body trembling slightly as a tear rolled down the side of her face.

“To see the light that shines from a true, true friend,” Spike finished.

Twilight’s eyes and wings fully shot open, her memories flashing before her eyes and a rainbow light erupting from her body. The color returned to her body and mane, the outline of her Cutie Mark flashed back into existence and filled in. The Princess of Friendship, Twilight Sparkle, stood in her castle with Spike.

“Oh Spike...” Twilight squeezed her eyes shut as tears welled up in them. “Thank you, thank you so much.”

“Twilight!” Spike cried and jumped into her chest to hug her, the two of them tightly wrapping hooves and arms around each other.

“I can’t believe I almost lost everything. Everyone has almost lost everything,” Twilight said, sighing and letting Spike go. “Thank you, Spike. But it’s not over yet and we can’t just sit here and hug all day. Our friends need our help!”

“Yeah!” Spike cheered.

And then calmed right down.

“Er—how? Is the same thing going to work on all of them? And that other Starlight might still be around with Grogar’s Bell...” Spike worried.

“You’re right,” Twilight nodded. “And speaking of—Spike? How did you get back to normal in the first place?”

“I honestly have no idea. It’s like I suddenly just woke up from a bad dream,” Spike shrugged. He thought back on what happened right before the other Starlight unleashed her magic and another realization struck him, he remembered feeling something right before it happened. Something tapped him on the head. “Discord… I think it was Discord somehow. He must’ve used his magic on me so I’d be able to snap out of this.”

“It must have been a split-second decision,” Twilight rubbed her chin. “And Discord… he was turned into a statue again by that magic. It had some sort of an adverse effect on his chaotic nature. We won’t be able to free him until all of our friends are back to normal.”

“This is all still really bad...” Spike grimaced.

“Yes, it is, but we’ve been in bad situations before, Spike,” Twilight grinned. “And we wouldn’t be true friends if we left them like this. Regardless of the danger—we’re going to save everyone!” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, quietly speaking to herself, almost singing. “A true, true friend helps a friend in need…” She opened her eyes and stood up straight and tall. “Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Starlight, just wait for us.”

“Applejack? Can we talk to you for a moment?” Twilight asked Applejack as she and Spike watched the farm pony stand atop a ladder picking apples and dropping them into buckets. It was kind of a surreal sight.

“Not now, I’m busy. Perhaps after the harvest is over,” Applejack replied.

What was also quite odd about her was that her accent and way of speech had completely changed. They lost all character. She was also no longer wearing either her hat or her mane and tail ties. Applejack was doing her very best to blend in and not stand out—and that’s something that she didn’t even normally care about in the first place!

Twilight and Spike couldn’t imagine what Rainbow Dash and Rarity would be like…

“I’m sorry Applejack, but this is important,” Twilight said and telekinetically grabbed Applejack off the ladder, placing her on the ground in front of them.

Applejack actually looked mildly surprised. “Why did you do that? You know ponies aren’t supposed to do things like use their magic or fly unless absolutely necessary. It’s wrong to do something that others can’t do.”

“Is that why you aren’t bucking the trees like normal?” Spike asked.

“Yes,” Applejack nodded. “Also bucking doesn’t work anymore for some reason. But this is better. Now any pony can grow and pick apples, regardless of who they are or where they’re from.”

“They could’ve done that in the first place though. They just would’ve had to do it a little differently than you and the Apple family,” Spike said.

“Differences are bad. They create division, arguments, jealousy. There should only be one way to do everything and it needs to be a way everyone can do it,” Applejack shook her head.

“So you don’t take any pride in your work either and you wouldn’t want the apples you grow to be better than the apples grown anywhere else?” Spike asked.

Applejack had to think for a second before nodding. “Yes.”

“This is really bad,” Twilight grimaced.

“Well you were about to get rid of your books too,” Spike shrugged.

Twilight sighed deeply and placed her hooves on Applejack’s shoulders. “Applejack, I know you don’t really think this. You’ve just been changed. And not for the better so don’t even try and say that. Your apples were the pride of Ponyville, you were proud that they were better than the apples, than all the fruit, grown anywhere else in the world because of the love and care you put into your work. And because of how the Sweet Apple Acres way has been passed down in your family! Each apple you grow is like a story telling ponies about the success of your farm and how much your family has put into it.”

“I don’t think Applejack would put it in quite as poetic a way as that...” Spike mumbled.

“What’s the point of making apples better than others though? It seems more friendly to not care about that or make others feel bad when their apples aren’t as good,” Applejack said.

“The point is to just love what you do and what makes you special! You can be considerate and helpful without being ashamed of what you’re good at and if you’re better than someone else! Applejack, you and everyone else can’t just abandon the things that make them unique, otherwise no one will ever be happy and there won’t be any true friendship or harmony!” Twilight reasoned.

Applejack began to shake her head. “I don’t-”

“Before you say anything, I know that Applejack is a pony who’s always cared far more about her family and her friends than her own well-being. Applejack, if your family and friends are in trouble, you’d help them wouldn’t you?” Twilight asked.

“Of course,” Applejack answered.

“Well guess what Applejack? They need help. They need you,” Twilight told her.

“More than ever pretty much,” Spike added.

“And they need the real you. So what’s more important, Applejack? Being equal, not even just potentially hurting the feelings of others, or helping the ponies you love?” Twilight asked.

“It’s… it’s wrong to care more about some ponies than others...” Applejack frowned.

“You can still care about and wish for the well-being of others without not caring about the true friends you have too. Remember all the times you helped your friends in the past, Applejack. Remember those feelings, remember what a true, true friend needs to do,” Twilight said and hugged her.

“I...” Applejack whispered, a surprised look coming to her face as the old memories resurfaced. Everything she had gone through, that moment when she and everyone else had helped Pinkie Pie out here on the farm and she regained her true self. The moment even earlier when Twilight had saved her from Discord’s brainwashing. It all came flooding back and with it were the powerful emotions and the bonds of friendship she had.

Her eyes and then her body flashed just as Twilight’s had and the color and then her familiar apple Cutie Mark returned as well.

Applejack rubbed her head, mentally exhausted. “Whoa… what in the hay just happened? And where’s my hat?”

“Applejack!” Twilight nuzzled her and Spike pumped a fist in success. “You’re back to normal!”

“Score one to us,” Spike grinned.

“I feel like I’ve been in a dream for days…” Applejack said, still working out of a daze.

“We can explain everything that’s happened on the way,” Twilight said. “But right now Rainbow Dash needs our help!”

“Hey there, Dash! Mind if we talk to you for a bit?” Applejack asked the rainbow pony as they found her walking in the streets of Ponyville aimlessly.

“That’s alright, weather duty is done for the day,” Rainbow Dash robotically replied.

“Don’t you have to fly for weather duty? Aint that not equal with all the ponies that can’t?” Applejack raised an eyebrow while Twilight and Spike stood smiling behind her.

“Yes but we’re working on that. Soon we’ll have an artificial way to work the weather so no pegasi will have to fly anymore. Everyone will stay on the ground where they should be. No flying. No magic,” Rainbow answered.

Applejack winced and looked back at Twilight and Spike. “I was this bad?”

“Yep,” Spike nodded.

Applejack returned her attention to Rainbow Dash. “So you don’t care about being the fastest pony in the world anymore, or the best flier, or being an awesome Wonderbolt?”

“No. None of those things matter, being a winner creates losers. Being the best means someone else has to be the worst. We should all be equal—being more than that just creates a big ego and selfishness,” Rainbow Dash said.

“Well you’re not just not Rainbow Dash, you’re like the exact opposite of Rainbow Dash,” Applejack frowned.

“I’m better like this. No one will ever be sad again because they can’t match up to me. I’ll never make a pony upset by beating them,” Rainbow Dash shook her head.

Applejack scratched her head. “How in the hay are we supposed to deal with this...”

“Well we appealed to you by using your family and friends,” Twilight said.

“Rainbow Dash is the Element of Loyalty, maybe we need to convince her that she has to help her friends too?” Spike suggested.

“I dunno… I’m kind of getting another idea,” Applejack said, narrowing her eyes at Rainbow Dash.

“What?” Twilight asked.

Applejack grinned and put a hoof on Rainbow Dash’s shoulder. “So you don’t care about winning or being the best anymore, Dash? That’s what you said?”

“That’s right,” Rainbow Dash nodded. “We should all be equal, there should never be any competition between ponies, no first place, no last place. Everyone is just as good as everyone else.”

“So you wouldn’t mind in the slightest if I beat you in every Running of the Leaves from here on out? Or won Teacher of the Month every single month from now on? Or beat you every time we competed over anything? Cause I’m certainly a lot stronger and faster than you now. Are you saying that none of that bothers you one bit?” Applejack smugly grinned at Rainbow Dash, really laying it on thick.

“Well...” Rainbow Dash frowned. “I wouldn’t care because I wouldn’t compete in the first place. I’d just be upset because you’re doing something you shouldn’t be. The Running of the Leaves is no longer a competition and the school has no purpose anymore either.”

“Sure, it wouldn’t affect you one bit knowing Applejack is beating you at everything,” Applejack taunted.

“I would only care since you’re hurting others by beating them,” Rainbow said.

“You don’t want ponies to be sad, I know that’s true, but you like winning more than anything. A Rainbow Dash who doesn’t care about winning and being the best at everything she does isn’t Rainbow Dash at all. If you didn’t push yourself you never would’ve done the Sonic Rainboom, you never would’ve made so many great friends, or saved our flanks so many times. Just because another pony might lose doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want to win, Rainbow Dash. Otherwise we get a world like this. Boring and plain and full of inaction where nothing changes and nobody has any fun or can really be their true self. That aint the kind of world for either of us or our friends, is it?” Applejack said.

Rainbow Dash’s mind flashed back to when she was just a filly, when she performed her first Sonic Rainboom and everything that had led up to it. “I...”

“Come on, Dash, let’s have a fun competition again the moment this is all over. I’ll even let you choose what we do,” Applejack smiled.

Rings of color washed over Rainbow Dash’s eyes and the many colors of her mane came back along with her sky blue coat and fantastic Cutie Mark. Her wings spread and she jumped up into the air, pointing down at Applejack.

“No way am I going to lose to you at… wait… what was I just doing?” Her eyes searched around as she scratched her head.

Applejack sighed in relief. “Welcome back, partner.”

“I’m not exactly happy with the way that was accomplished but I suppose I shouldn’t complain given the circumstances,” Twilight frowned.

“That’s just our Rainbow Dash,” Spike grinned and patted her on the side.

“No, seriously, what’s going on?” Rainbow asked as she landed down in front of them.

“We can explain to you in a second,” Twilight said. “But right now Rarity needs our help!”

The inside of Carousel Boutique was far different than any of them had ever seen it. It was so different, so un-Rarity that it was actually kind of disturbing. Every ponnequin had been removed, every sewing machine, every bit of fabric, her inspiration room had been cleaned up, there was no decoration, no flair anywhere. It was just so very, very wrong. As equally wrong as seeing Rarity without any makeup and her normally exquisitely done mane and tail as flat and lifeless as a depressed Pinkie Pie’s.

“Uh, Rarity? You okay with living in a place so… boring?” Rainbow Dash asked her.

“Of course,” Rarity replied, the darling noticeably absent. “However the exterior is still far too flamboyant and unique. We’re going to be tearing this building down and building something much more practical that doesn’t stand out in its place.”

“Okay—I don’t even care about fashion or how buildings look and even I know that’s lame and wrong and totally not what you should want to do,” Rainbow Dash frowned.

“Be like if I burned down my farm or Twilight threw out all her books,” Applejack said.

“Actually that’s what I was going to do before Spike snapped me out of this,” Twilight said.

“And it wasn’t a moment too soon,” Spike grimaced as he watched Rarity. Seeing her like this was terrible—the burning passion and creative spirit inside her were gone. The mare that he was so obsessed with just wasn’t here. “Rarity, you’ve got to get back to normal, you have to realize how horrible this is for you! Please, you have no idea how horrified you’ll be with yourself when you finally realize what you’re saying!”

“Yeah, of all ponies it feels like you’re losing the most of what makes you special,” Rainbow Dash nodded.

“There’s no reason to be special or stand out. It would be better if everyone looked and acted the same so no one feels left out or covets what they don’t have. The clothes I made just created divisions. It’s better without them,” Rarity said.

Spike shuddered. “That’s just so wrong… it wasn’t about making other ponies look worse for you, Rarity. It was about making ponies as awesome, pretty, stylish, and fashionable as possible! No one was hurt or anything by other ponies being unique...”

“Ridiculous,” Rarity shook her head.

“So what? Because you might not be able to raise everyone up you want to bring them all down to the same level instead?” Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow.

“Yes. For equality,” Rarity answered.

Twilight grimaced. “It’s like a warped idea of generosity...”

“Rarity, that’s just stupid! You would never stop trying to make ponies look and feel their absolute best! That’s the kind of generosity you go for!” Rainbow Dash scoffed.

“But they could never all be equal, they’d be wearing different things, or looking different, if we accentuated their unique traits. We can’t have that or it would still stoke divisions,” Rarity said.

“So what?! Forget about equality! Rarity, you need to open up your eyes and see what you’ve become! If all you care about is equality then you’ll just end up with a plain and boring world that never changes or has any fun! You don’t want that, Rarity has never wanted something like that. You want to be creative, you want to bring out the best in ponies, you want to make them as happy as possible. In this world, the way you are, ponies will never be as happy as they can be!” Rainbow told her.

She grabbed Rarity and pulled her over to a mirror in the room and parked her in front of it.

“Look! The Rarity I know always takes her time to look her best—it’s not about winning or losing or being better than others, it’s about being the best you can be!” Rainbow said. “Remember what you really care about, what really inspires you, and how you’ve spent your whole life helping others already without giving up everything that made you special.”

Rarity stared into the mirror and from her mind came the memories of how she used to look, how she used to carry herself, and act, and what she cared about.

It was at such odds with how she looked now.

“Oh,” Rarity blinked and her mind flashed with scenes of working hard in her boutique, making dresses, thinking up ideas, forging connections, giving it her absolute all to accomplish her dreams.

The others had to jump back as light exploded from her as well and the color and luster came back to her body and mane, the Cutie Mark she was so proud of reappearing on her flank. Rarity’s eyes flashed with white light and regained their color and cognizance too. It took her a few seconds before she completely went back to normal—but soon she was looking at herself in the mirror and fully taking in her appearance.

“So it hasn’t all just been a bad nightmare, oh dear...” Rarity grimaced at her mane.

“Yes!” Rainbow Dash cheered. “One more back to normal!”

Rarity frowned and looked at her friends. “I’m still a bit confused over all of this… what exactly has been going on?”

“A lot, and there’s still a lot more that needs to be done,” Applejack said.

“Can I fix up my mane first?” Rarity asked.

“Sorry, Rarity but there’s no time,” Twilight shook her head.

“Don’t worry though, you always look amazing in my eyes,” Spike smiled up at her, his eyes glittering.

“Thank you, Spike,” Rarity smiled back, still happy to hear that.

Twilight hugged her. “I’m glad to have you back but now you’ve gotta come with us too, Fluttershy needs our help!”

“Fluttershy, darling, you can’t possibly think that things are alright like this?” Rarity asked as she looked over the state of her friend and her home.

The animal caretaker was covered in nicks and scratches and behind her the interior of her cottage looked like an absolute mess not dissimilar to the time Rainbow Dash had taken up residence in it. The wave of equalization hadn’t affected the animals of the world and they sure knew something was wrong with Fluttershy. She was still essentially doing the same job she used to but much like Applejack and Rainbow Dash she no longer had the special skills for it. And the animals she had bonded with didn’t respond well to that.

“It’s alright—it’s better this way to not stoke jealousy or divisions. And soon the animals will get used to it,” Fluttershy replied.

“But Fluttershy, look at your animals. They’re miserable!” Rarity said to her.

Fluttershy indeed looked around her cottage at all the various angry and upset animals, especially the very annoyed looking Angel Bunny. But she didn’t seem to have much of a reaction. “It’s alright—the feelings of ponies come first. It’s better to make sure no one else is miserable or feels outdone.”

“She’s kind of creepy like this...” Rainbow Dash grimaced.

Rarity sighed and rubbed her head, feeling a headache coming on. “This is simply outrageous. Fluttershy, you have more than enough kindness in you to want the best for both ponies and your animals. You would never be satisfied with a situation like this if you were thinking clearly.”

“This is the perfect world though. There’s nothing to not be satisfied about—there’s not even really a need for kindness anymore since ponies will never be unkind ever again,” Fluttershy said.

“I can’t even begin to go over what’s wrong with that,” Twilight shook her head.

“Seriously,” Spike nodded.

“If it was perfect you wouldn’t be covered in scratches and your animals wouldn’t be on the verge of revolting,” Rarity frowned. “Fluttershy—you need to open up your eyes, think back on what your cottage should really look like. Think about how happy your animals should be, what a paradise this little home you have normally is. And if you truly care about ponies being happy as well then you need to realize that they most assuredly are not right now. They need your kindness to help them too.”

“But they are happy. Even if they don’t know it. This is really the best for everyone,” Fluttershy said.

Rarity looked back at her friends for help. “I’m a little lost… what do we do?”

“Try and remind her about all the things we did in the past together, how she used her kindness to help us and others,” Twilight said.

Rarity thought for a second and then nodded to herself, a stalwart expression on her face as she stood in front of Fluttershy. “Do you remember when you became more “assertive”? You thought that you had become better, didn’t you? But it wasn’t the case at all because you had lost what truly made you such a great mare. In the end all you really did was hurt those who cared about you. You had gone too far then just like you’ve gone too far now. A Fluttershy with kindness, who would never let her animals feel this way, is the best possible Fluttershy.”

“I…” Fluttershy got a twinkle in her eyes as her memories came back a bit. All the times with her friends, the good and the bad, the tough and the easy, the times when she struggled with her shyness and when she came out of it a better pony than before. There were plenty of hard times where she wished the world was more like this. But not when it came at the expense of so many other’s happiness.

She only had to take one last look back at all the animals in her cottage watching her for the color to wash over her eyes and body and return her to normal.

“Oh…” Fluttershy wobbled a bit. “That was, um, unpleasant…”

“Darling!” Rarity grabbed and hugged her. “Oh it’s so good to have you back!”

“Something very strange has happened again, hasn’t it?” Fluttershy asked.

“I’ll tell you everything in a moment,” Twilight said. “But right now you need to come with us, Pinkie Pie needs our help!”

“Oh dear… you look more like Maud right now. I haven’t seen you this depressed in ages,” Fluttershy said as she looked at Pinkie from across the counter of Sugarcube Corner.

“I’m fine. Everything is fine. I’m not depressed,” Pinkie Pie replied.

It was sort of true. She didn’t exactly look sad, her expression was completely blank and lifeless, her mouth neither up in a smile or down in a frown. But on Pinkie Pie the lack of even just the hint of a smile was very weird. The mane and tail, falling down straight, also brought back memories of the times Pinkie Pie had not quite been herself.

“Somehow this is even creepier than how Fluttershy was,” Spike said.

“But Pinkie Pie, where’s your smile? And the food here has… changed. You loved selling cakes and cupcakes and pies but now it’s all just bread,” Fluttershy said.

“This is better. If everything tastes the same there’s nothing to distract ponies. Nothing to feel good or bad about when you don’t get the meal you want or look forward to. And smiles are unnecessary too, since there’s never a moment when you’ll ever be more or less happy than normal,” Pinkie Pie explained.

“But you should always be smiling anyways, even if you’re just normally happy or even only content. A smile is always normal...” Fluttershy said. “Especially on your face.”

“You don’t need to smile or express yourself in anyway. Not in this world. That’s what makes it better. Ponies simply know.” Pinkie Pie said.

“Yeesh,” Rainbow Dash shivered in discomfort.

“Feeling the same way,” Applejack nodded.

“Perhaps we should just feed her some cupcakes to remind her of what she’s been missing?” Rarity suggested.

“Honestly that’s not a bad idea,” Spike shrugged.

“Let’s talk for now, I think it would be best to appeal to what we know is still inside her,” Twilight said.

“Pinkie, don’t you miss throwing parties? In a world like this there’s nothing to celebrate and no special occasions. You’ll never have those happy days again, ponies want something like that to look forward to. They want you to make them smile and laugh harder than they ever would on a normal day,” Fluttershy said.

“Throwing a party for one pony just means another one isn’t getting one. It’s unfair,” Pinkie Pie shook her head.

Fluttershy frowned and actually raised her voice. “No it isn’t! Because you, for every single pony in Equestria, would always find a party to throw! You would never leave any pony out! It doesn’t matter if it’s for a birthday, or because they just moved, or got married, or a new job, or just for any silly reason you could imagine, if a pony needed a party then you’d give it to them! No one gets left out when Pinkie Pie the party pony is around!”

She breathed out heavily as she finished and clamped her hooves over her mouth. “Oh dear… I’m a little embarrassed.”

“Don’t be,” Rainbow Dash patted her on the back. “It was good.”

“I just don’t see what the point of it all is anymore...” Pinkie Pie trailed off.

“The point is to be happy and have fun. Real happiness and fun, Pinkie Pie. The kind you could never make happen like you are now, in this world where ponies don’t smile,” Fluttershy told her. “Please Pinkie Pie, we, every pony in Equestria, needs your help right now to get their smiles back.”

Pinkie Pie thought back to all the parties she had thrown in town, all the times she had hopped through it while singing, as her memories resurfaced. She could picture all those smiling faces, so different from how things were now. So much more warm and alive and better. Could a world without parties actually be the perfect world? She had cheered up and helped so many with her friendship, smiles, and parties, there was no way the world could lose that.

Light flashed over her eyes and body as her mane and tail poofed back to normal and Pinkie Pie jumped up.

“Yippeee!” Pinkie yelled. “Oh wow, I feel like I totally just had the craziest dream and all my Pinkie Senses are going crazy and I gotta throw the biggest nicest party in ALL of Equestria and-”

Twilight clamped a hoof over her mouth and hugged her. “It’s great to have you back Pinkie but that’s all gotta wait.”

“Yeah, even with all of you back we’re not done yet,” Spike said.

Twilight nodded. “That’s right, now Starlight Glimmer needs our help!”

She turned to lead the rest out of Sugarcube Corner when she paused and looked back at Spike uncertainly.

“Er… where is Starlight going to be right now?”

Starlight Glimmer aimlessly roamed the halls of the School of Friendship that day. What was going to be her school soon, though she no longer cared about that and knew the building was going to be torn down and repurposed for something else later. She couldn’t really find it in her to care about anything. Everything was a daze. A meaningless, grey, daze where nothing seemed wrong or right, good or bad.

There were classes she passed that she recognized. Rooms, courtyards, paintings and statues. Recognized but ignored.

She knew what had happened. But she was content knowing that things were peaceful in the world, everything was equal, there was no more conflict. If others were happy and okay with this, then she was too. There was some part of her deep down, very deep, that seemed to be saying this was wrong—that she shouldn’t be happy or accepting of this. But it was too deep to listen to. Instead, Starlight would now spend the rest of her life in this neutral state, knowing the rest of the world was exactly the same.

As equal as she wished ponies to be before she made her friends.


She turned her head to see that not only had she unknowingly wandered to the front hall of the school, but her friends were there now too. Friends was inaccurate now though. No pony was anymore friends or enemies than with anyone else. But still, there the seven of them were.

“Hello. Can I help you?” Starlight asked.

Twilight smiled. “Not quite, not just yet, but we can help you.”

“I don’t need any help,” Starlight shook her head.

“Oh yes you do—because even at your absolute worst you would’ve been disgusted by this world,” Spike said. “I know that for a fact.”

“I don’t understand what you’re talking about. This is the perfect world,” Starlight said. “Another me even created it herself.”

“Just because she’s another Starlight Glimmer doesn’t mean she’s you. Everyone is their own pony,” Applejack said.

“And every pony should strive to be as awesome as they can be,” Rainbow Dash said.

“Helping others while not giving up what makes them special,” Rarity said.

“Being kind without forsaking the happiness of others,” Fluttershy said.

“And making sure ponies everywhere can be happy—filing up the whole world with smiles!” Pinkie Pie said.

Starlight looked between each and everyone of them. “But it’s all unnecessary. Here you don’t need to do anything anymore. We can just live without worries, without foreboding, without regrets, or guilt. You can’t have a nightmare if you never dream, and now everyone finally sees eye to eye on everything.”

“Just because some things might go wrong, you might get sad, you might make others sad, doesn’t mean you should give up entirely,” Twilight said. “You know this, Starlight. You learned it better than anyone I can think of. Because you never gave up.”

“You became a pony who always wished for and wanted the best for others, Starlight,” Spike said. “That’s why ever since coming to Ponyville you’ve devoted your life to being better and helping others. It’s why you became guidance counselor here and now why you’re becoming the head of the school too. This world doesn’t help, Starlight. It doesn’t make ponies and other creatures happy.”

“It keeps them from being sad,” Starlight said.

“And that’s not the same. And it’s not enough,” Spike shook his head. “It’s not something you would ever be satisfied with or want.”

“You may have not been here the last time I spoke these words,” Twilight said as she walked up to Starlight with a smile. “But I know you’ll understand the importance of them. A true, true friend helps a friend in need—and you are a friend in need, Starlight. So are all your friends and everyone and everything else in the world right now. They all need your help.”

A tear fell from Starlight’s blank face. “My friends need help? I can help?”

“Yes,” Twilight said and hugged her. “And I know you want to—so let us help you first, remember who you’re supposed to be, and then help us save the world.”

“Again,” Spike grinned.

Twilight giggled and rolled her eyes. “Yes, again.”

Light flashed over Starlight’s eyes and the rest of her body. Her color returned, and her Cutie Mark warped back into place on her flank. Unlike the others she seemed to immediately be back into the correct state of mind and know exactly what had happened as a few more tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry… this is all my fault,” Starlight said to her friends.

“It’s not your fault, Starlight,” Twilight shook her head.

“If it wasn’t for what I had done she’d never be here...” Starlight glumly looked down at the ground.

“Then just make up for it again,” Spike told her, frowning as he grabbed her face and lifted it up so he could look into her eyes. “Do what you’ve been doing. Come on Starlight, be the great mare I know you are.”

Starlight looked into Spike’s eyes, confident eyes that believed in her.

She managed a small smile.

“I suppose it’s just one more mistake to fix, isn’t it?”

“Right on,” Spike grinned.

“Okay then let’s do this!” Rainbow Dash shouted and flew into the air, buzzing above their heads in the school’s entrance hall. “Come on! Let’s take her out and save the world!”

“Let me talk to her first,” Starlight said. “I think that’s the only real way we can fix this.”

Rainbow Dash sighed and drifted back to the ground. “Fiiiine.”

“Where is she though?” Applejack asked.

“I don’t know,” Twilight shook her head and turned around, leading them to the front door of the school. “Let’s stick together and search through Ponyville for her.”

She pulled open the doors with her magic and the eight of them stepped outside.

Halfway across the bridge was the other Starlight Glimmer. The Bell around her neck and a cold glare on her face.