• Published 19th Apr 2013
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MLP Time Loops - Saphroneth

Twilight Sparkle has been here before. In fact, she's been here so often she's thoroughly bored. Time Loop stories for Equestria.

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Loops 50

50.1 (Misterq)

"Look, Applejack, you can't remain scared of them forever," Twilight told her friend as they both casually ambled through the apple trees on a sunny Sunday day.

"I know, Twi. It's just that I'm a normal down-to-earth earth pony," the orange farm pony punctuated her statement with a hoof stomp, causing a small pillar of earth to jut out of the ground, "and they are just so gosh darn plum loco!"

"That's not what I meant," the purple unicorn shook her head, "I fairly sure Yggdrasil, the multi-verse, or whatever has a perverse sense of humor. It took me countless loops before I was over my fear of snakes, but until that happened, the loops kept doing things to me. I was placed in situations. Snakey situations."

Twilight took a deep breath as she remembered, "There was the time I was the archeologist Twilight Jones, a chakra ninja named Anko who had a snake summoning contract and used them in her martial arts, and a flight attendant on a airplane that was filling up of dangerous and venomous snakes. I think I finally broke out of my fear when I awoke as the Hogwarts basilisk."

AJ stared at her friend and anchor, "And how did that turn out?"

Twilight shrugged, "Well, despite the fact that those kinds of basilisks are actually legless lizards related to wyrms and not real snakes at all; once I calmed down from my endless freak out, I asked Harry in snake speak for a house elf to bring me some food. Then I, uh, sequestered myself in the library."

"Heh, figures," Applejack smirked.

"My point is that until you overcome this fear, you'll get placed in more and more compromising situations until you Awake as one of them."

Applejack just shivered at the thought, "But what do you recon I can do?"

"Well it isn't consistent, but occasionally in some loops - including this one, there is an expert I can introduce you to. If you're willing to wait until the changeling invasion, that is."

"I suppose I can do that," the earth pony looked at her friend, "Thanks, Twi. It's just that with the loops, I've seen and done so much. I shouldn't be letting this bother me so much, but I just can't help it."

"Don't worry about it, Applejack. It's what friends are for.”

"Listen every pony," Twilight stood on top of a small crate in the Ponyville train station. It was the day after she and her friends came back from Canterlot. "I know you are all worried about the changelings. We stopped their invasion in the capitol, and we can deal with any remaining ones here. If it would make you all feel better, I can cast a spell that will reveal any hidden forms. If there are changelings hiding amongst you, you will see them. Okay, here goes."

There was a loud cheer as Twilight's horn lit up. A burst of magic enveloped the crowd and quickly spread out through the entire town.

Only one pony's form changed.

"Oh, kelp weed!" Lyra Heartstrings cursed as the seapony flapped and floundered on the ground.

Applejack's mouth opened in shock. The air noticeably dried as a sphere of water formed around Lyra's lower body and tail, growing until she was able to right herself.

The sea-green seapony looked around at the assembled crowd members before her gaze stopped at a smiling Twilight and her friends. Only Applejack had a startled look on her face, "Judging by your expressions, I'm going to guess and say some of you haven't seen a mer-mare before."

"Don't worry, every pony. I've got this," Twilight said as she, her friends, and Lyra walked (or rode a water ball) into town.

Every pony was clustered in Lyra's house. For a few moments there was silence, before Lyra broke it, "So, I suppose you have some questions?"

Pinkie Pie jumped up like a school filly with one hoof raised in the air, "Oh! Oh me! My question is, do you like parties?"

"Yes, Pinkie. Especially your parties," Lyra answered without any pause.

"Yay!" the pink pony blew a noise maker and then promptly sat down, "I'm done."

Twilight nudged Applejack. The orange earth pony coughed and then asked, "So, er.. You're a seapony. How in tarnation did that happen?"

Lyra rolled her eyes, "Well, when a mommy mer-mare and a daddy sea-stallion like each other very much, and the daddy agrees to take care of the sea foals while the mommy goes out to fight..."

"Not like that!" Applejack snorted, "I meant why were you here, in Ponyville, hiding out as a unicorn?"

The seapony sighed, "Because I didn't want to constantly receive reactions like yours. I grew up in Oceanapollis, which is fairly close to the front lines. I decided that I liked music more than mayhem and had a sea-witch change me into a unicorn. Then I attended the Canterlot Royal Academy of Music specializing in lyres, harps, guitars, and stringed instruments. After that, I moved to Ponyville because it's not as mind-numbingly boring as the capitol. And I also met Bonbon here. So everything was coming up Lyra, right until Twilight's spell."

"Wow! You went to CRAM? One of my little sisters went there. Or at least sometimes, she's my little sister. Hold on," Pinkie Pie tilted her head, remembering, "Yep, Octavia's one of my sisters this time around."

"Right," Twilight stopped staring at her random pink friend, "Oh I get it! That's why you sometimes sit so strange. Because it reminds you of how you were aligned as a seapony."

"No," Lyra slowly shook her head, "I have to sit like that to play the lyre. It's like stretching. If I don't do it frequently enough, it starts to become uncomfortable when I perform."

"Oh," Pinkie said sadly, "I thought it had something to do with your fascination with humans."

"You know about humans!?" Lyra had a mad glint in her eyes while her tiny fins fluttered excitedly, "Mythical technologically-advanced apes from another dimension? They have hands! They're like five little legs attached to one long leg!"

"That's what I said! Hand bump!" Pinky spoke up and held out her hoof. A tendril of water shaped like a fist lightly impacted it.

Lyra continued, "I heard that there was a magic mirror that could let a pony enter the human dimension. Who knows what amazing mysteries lie beyond?"

"Boring, boring High School," Twilight said before her brain caught up with her mouth. She gave a sheepish smile as all the other ponies started staring at her, "Uh, I mean, how did you convince a sea-witch to change your form? I've read that they tend to be proud, manipulative, and stubborn."

Lyra looked at her and slowly spoke, "Because. I. Am. A. Seapony. Everything under the water is utterly terrified of us, hippocampi; or wants to kill us horribly. Usually both. I just asked nicely."

"So you just asked?"

"Well, I may have been casually tying her electric attack eels into balloon animal shapes while I was doing so, but yes. I just asked. And smiled." Lyra gave a wide, toothy, and very, very disturbing grin.

Applejack whinnied slightly in fear, before reigning herself in.

"I have a question," Bonbon, who until now had been staring quietly at her roommate, spoke up, "At which point did you think casually saying, 'Hey Bonbonbonbonbon, I'm actually a seapony in disguise! What time is dinner?' to be a valid way of letting me in on your secret?"

"See Applejack," Twilight said while the roommates were arguing, "She's just like any other pony. Nothing to be scared of."

"I suppose so, Twi."

"That's why I'm locking you in here for the night."

"That's fair I suppose," Applejack said while staring at the seapony, who had now grabbed her roommate in a water tendril and was holding her upside-down in mid-air. Bonbon didn't seem the least bit put out and just continued arguing right back while in her new position. Then Applejack suddenly registered what Twilight had said, "Wait! What? No Twilight!"

"Yes, AJ. It's called immersion therapy. See you tomorrow."

Applejack tried to grab hold of the unicorn, but was too late as Twilight and all her friends vanished in a purple burst of light. She slowly looked back at the two ponies in the same room with her, who were now both staring at her. She gave a timid little wave. Lyra gave a matching wave with her little fin.

"Now let me down so I can start cooking for three," Bonbon spoke up. She then blinked and gave a wry smile at Lyra, "And I suppose I need to find you a stock pot or something to sleep in."

The seapony blinked in realization, "Ugh, I forgot to ask Twilight to change me back into a unicorn. So Applejack, you want to go on an undersea adventure with me to track down a sea-witch?"

The farm pony rapidly shook her head no. Then she stopped and spoke, "I think I'll go help Bonbon with the cooking."

"Oh fine," Lyra huffed. Then she took another look at the frightened farm pony and sighed, "Do you want me to show you how to make the tastiest seaweed salad ever? Sliced apples are one of the ingredients."

Applejack thought about it and then nodded. She was going to have to overcome her fear sometime and it looked like Lyra was making an effort to help her, "I.. I'd like that."

"Great!" Lyra smiled as she rolled on her water-ball into the kitchen ahead of the earth pony, "I'm just glad you didn't ask if the Heartstrings part of my name refers to actual severed hearts."

Applejack froze in mid-step, her ears laid back flat on her head and her eyes opened wide with fear.

"That was a joke," came a cheerful voice from the kitchen.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Applejack put one hoof in front of the other and walked through the door.

50.2 (Masterweaver)

Bonbon stormed into the library, slamming down a letter. "Alright, how much to send this through your dragon?! Celestia's making a big mistake, and--"

Twilight sighed. "Bonbon, check the hive mind."

The earth pony blinked, her rant completely derailed. "Check the-- check... you knew?!" She pointed at the librarian. "You're one of them! You've been feeding off Celestia for--"

"No, I'm not a changeling. Just..." The librarian facehooved. "Just trust me, the truth is complicated and unbelievable and you really should check the hive mind."

"...You're brainwashed!"


"...Celestia is brain--!"


Bonbon sat down. "I don't see how Chrysalis could have suddenly become reasonable! It must be some sort of trick--"

"Time loops."


Twilight rolled her eyes. "Check the hive mind, okay? You can pull out and run if I'm wrong."

As Bonbon stared off into the distance, Twilight prepared some sugary tea and set the tray out. It wasn't long before her guest snapped out of her trance and collapsed into the couch.

"....that... what?" she managed.

"You're always surprised," Twilight commented. "Well, at least when you're a changeling. No you're not looping and, well, the changeling thing varies too."

"...I just..." Bonbon waved a hoof. "She just... and.... what? That doesn't work..."

"Tea?" The librarian nudged a cup forward. "Oh, and since you are a changeling, you get free access to Macintosh's bar. Lots of changelings have trouble adjusting to the sudden shift." She giggled. "Sorry, bad joke."

50.3 (Stainless Steel Fox)

Princess Luna trotted up to the statue of Discord, which crumbled as she approached. The dust reformed into a purple alicorn pony who waved a hoof in greeting, then gave the pedestal a very dirty look with glowing yellow eyes, causing it to regenerate a replacement statue out of sheer embarrassment. She cricked her neck and flexed her wings. "Awakening as Discord, now there's something new."

"Be there any other loopers present? My sister for certes not, but I may have missed some-pony." Luna looked around to check no-pony was near, even as her other senses confirmed it.

"Nope, looks like it's just you and me." Twilight glanced up at the starlit sky. "And unless you've been rearranging things, I'd say we're within a dozen years of your banishment."

"That doth check with mine own reading of the dates." Luna grinned, "Not that I will allow it to happen this time. You have plans?"

"Well, I thought I'd hole up somewhere for a few centuries and give this chaos magic a thorough study. It's one thing to have studied it from the outside, another to have it to hoof. Of course, if you need anything, all you have to do is ask."

"Thank you, good Twilight." The lunar mare grinned. "However, I have a scheme of mine own. As it was before, my sister's day doth garner all the attention, while my night languishes unappreciated. This time, I have a better solution than throwing an epic temper tantrum and being banished to the moon..."

The night had turned to day, by Royal decree, and the two princesses were enjoying a meal together, for Celestia it was breakfast, for Luna supper.

Over the remains of a slice of cake, Celestia asked, "Luna, I was wondering about some of the initiatives you are sponsoring through the Night Court. Funding for magical research into better light sources, later opening hours for taverns and theatres, and a series of art exhibitions and poetry commissions?"

"Yes, I'm inviting a number of our more famous artists to render some of my night skies in their varying styles. I may even hazard a painting or two myself. My true canvas is unfortunately wiped clean with each dawn. T'would be nice to have something less ephemeral. As for the funding, it comes from my own purse, so it should not be a charge on the treasury. I dids't capture and render down a metal rich asteroid of some hundred thousand tons to acquire the necessary precious metals."

"But to what end?" Celestia asked.

"Dear sister, I know how busy the Day court gets, indeed that is part of the problem. Even so, surely you must be aware of a certain inequity in how day and night are perceived. Ponies appreciate your day, but for the most part they sleep through my night. While I also have my duties as Dream Guardian to keep my occupied, but over the last few decades I have come to feel diminished, as if my efforts were of less worth than your own. My Night Court is almost empty, while your overflows."

Celestia made a moue of disgust. "You can have them, some of the drivel I have to put up with from some nobles... But I had no idea you felt that way!"

"Tis only recently that I was able to put the creeping malaise I felt into words. Had I continued to suffer it without respite, I don't know what would have happened. However, I have a solution. All these measures are to engage our subjects, to enable them to appreciate the night. Better light sources, cheaper and more powerful than beeswax candles and oil lamps or expensive mage lights, will give ponies greater freedom to thrive and play after your sun sets. Not just mages, but alchemists and even natural philosophers are involved. And of course, if we can promulgate those habits to the courts, I can help take more of the load off your shoulders.

"The other part of the equation is to give ponies things to do. If they can enjoy themselves of an evening, they will stay up later, and of necessity be awake to enjoy my night. While currently it will simply be a matter of enabling existing entertainments, I have the idea for something I call a Night Club. It would combine elements of a festival with musicians and dancing, combined with refreshments and places to eat and relax. Though I may sponsor some night-time festivals and provide meteor showers for a truly spectacular entertainment first."

Despite the fact that she'd planned it all out, she found herself getting excited. "The arts I'm funding will help raise awareness of my night sky, and hopefully get ponies to appreciate it more. I have a side project related to light research to develop better lenses and drafting methods, so I can try and popularise astronomy, beyond it's mundane uses in magic and alchemy..."

Celestia smiled, "My goodness, you certainly seem to have a lot of ideas..."

"The choice was simple, mope about it, or do something to change it." Luna replied with a flip of her ethereal mane. "I hope it meets with your approval."

"I wish you the best of luck."

Luna knew her sister well enough to know that while honest, her sister didn't quite believe that it would be as easy as Luna had made it out to be, and she was right after a fashion. But Luna had one big advantage, she already knew what would work, and could guide things to progress things far more quickly than Celestia imagined. And if she kicked off an industrial revolution a few centuries early, so what? Then things would get really interesting. She gave an unfeigned yawn, "But for now I must to bed. May your day go well, dear sister."

Twilight Sparkle was late. She'd gotten even more involved in her studies of chaos magic than expected, and completely missed the last few centuries, stuck away in a Geofront under the Macintosh mountains, where some of her more energetic experiments wouldn't scare anyone. She'd had messages from Luna that things were going well, but they'd been short on details. When she'd finally checked the time, she realised she'd missed her friends being born, and it was almost time for what would have been the thousandth Summer Sun Celebration after Luna's banishment in the original timeline.

She teleported to the railroad near Ponyville, on a sunny afternoon, only to find it wasn't the normal twin tracks. A single rail floated above the ground on wide spaced cloud supports, and as she watched a mag-lev train whooshed past almost silently. Looking back towards Canterlot, she saw that as well as the familiar castle city, the lower parts of the mountain were built-up with sky-scrapers that were cunningly built into the rock to avoid ruining the sky-line.

At least Ponyville looked much the same as she approached, and she could sense some of the others were Awake. She entered Sugar Cube corner in something of a daze, having seen Lyra in her usual spot, but editing what sounded like her lyre music on a thaumo-electronic laptop computer with a holo-projection screen.

"Twilight!" Pinkie appeared in front of her with a cup-cake. "Every-pony was wondering where you were!"

"I'm wondering where I am too!" Twilight replied. "Is the Summer Sun Celebration going on as usual?"

"Of course, silly! Princess Celestia is coming to the Summer Sun Celebration, but Princess Luna can't make it, she's on the moon."

Twilight felt a stab of disappointment. "But I thought she'd managed to avoid becoming Nightmare Moon this time!"

"Nighmare Moon?" Pinkie Pie giggled. "That's not why at all... c'mon, it's time for sunset, it's easier to show you."

They stepped outside to watch the sun go down, and Twilight noticed a number of small rectangles in the evening sky, light against the dusk. She sent out a magical probe to scan the sky... photo-thaumic power satellites, a string of them in orbit, and other satellites, with them, even a large space station with floating space-docks co-orbiting it. Then the moon rose, absent the shadow image of an alicorn, but with a scattering of stars inside its crescent.

"She's dedicating the newest habitat dome at the Lunar colony in Mare Noctis, and then they'll do a joint holo-cast from Ponyville and the moon when they'll announce the launch date of the Celestial Voyager. Luna named it for her sister even though it was really Princess Luna's project. Dash has a place on the flight crew. They'll be visiting a dozen star systems this trip. I even baked a special 'You're going to go faster than light' cake for them, but when I tried to carry it over to Dash's, I went a bit too fast and it attained infinite mass and vanished down a self-created singularity. I knew I'd been too heavy on the unpaired quarks..."

Twilight tuned Pinkie out as she stretched out her senses and enjoyed the view. Space industrialisation, Lunar colonies, interstellar travel, out far beyond the circle of fire light cast by Celestia's sun. It looked like Princess Luna might not be Nightmare Moon, but had her eternal night after all.

50.4 (Masterweaver)

Twilight would have sighed if she could.

Her loop memories were vague fragments, but even worse was the fact that she was in complete sensory deprivation. She couldn't see, smell, hear, feel... even her magic was stymied, with only her connection to the Elements to tell her that her friends were Awake. She couldn't move, or rather... didn't feel anything to move. Which was really weird.

Buck this. Twilight Sparkle summoned the element of magic and, relying mostly on faith, cast the spell for ascension.

Instantly the world overwhelmed her with the cool touch of air, the light of the sun, the scents of grass and burnt out homes, the faint creaking of ruined wood... she shook her head, taking a moment to get her bearings and focus on the world around her.

Which apparently consisted of posed skeletons in a half ruined Canterlot.

"....oooookay, this is... disturbing..." Twilight poked out with her magic, carefully examining the skeletons; she winced when she found a soul-lock in each one, preventing the ponies inside from truly dying. "Ah. Right. Going to have to apply regeneration magic-"

"Live? Alive!"

The purple alicorn spun around, catching sight of a wild-maned black pony hopping eagerly over the rubble. "See?! See?! I told you, sister! I told you they would be alive, so HA!" The crazed pony pointed mockingly at the largest of the skeletons, which Twilight belatedly realized had both wings and a horn. "Ha ha. Ha. HA!" She whirled around and grinned madly as she galloped over to Twilight, jamming her muzzle into the anchor's face. "So pony pony pony, you come back because you like me right?"

Twilight smiled calmly, pulling on her psychology training and patting the pony in front of her. "Of course I like you dear. I loved to look up at the stars every night-"

"And the moon, right?"

"Oh, yes, the moon was one of my biggest inspirations!" She sighed, sadly. "Alas, dying does terrible things to memory. What exactly happened here?"

The black alicorn giggled. "Made the ponies see my moon. Made it BIG! One night, really big moon. Oh, but I put it back after," she quickly reassured. "And I even started raising the sun after sister fell asleep! Bad lazy sister. Bad." She sapped the large skeleton and glared. "Mean too. Had all these ponies locked up and wanted them to send me away again – WAIT! You have the bad star!"

Twilight rolled her eyes up to see what... Luna? Nightmare moon? Whoever she was was pointing at. "Oh. I needed that to come back. I'll make it go away." She slipped the Element of Magic into her subspace pocket. "See? Gone. Can I bring back the others now?"

"...alright." The black alicorn backed up warily. "Um... when you're done... can we play? I'd like to play with another pony. These ponies don't play very well, except that one." She pointed at a wide-hipped earth pony skeleton with a larger grin then any other. "That one always has fun games."

"...sure thing. We'll... play."

50.5 (LordofBones)

"TWILIGHT SPARKLE!" Celestia roared out. The guards, Bearers and her own nephew flinched back at the scorching heat of her anger, but the unicorn herself, who'd just run in after vanishing the instant she entered Canterlot, was too busy wrestling Princess Cadance to the ground.

"Spike, the tranquillizers! HURRY!"

Gulping, the little dragon hurled the syringe towards his caretaker/sister-figure/business partner. Grabbing the Alicorn of Love in a headlock, the lavender mare seized the syringe in her telekinetic grip and jabbed it in. The pink alicorn shrieked, before her struggles began to die down as the chemical did its work, and soon the Queen of the Changelings was peacefully asleep on the floor of the room.

Twilight brushed the sweat off her fringe. "Well, that's the last one. Now, about my payment..." She looked meaningfully at Blueblood.

The Prince nodded and levitated the sealed envelope with his personal seal stamped on it over to Spike. "A cheque for fifty thousand bits, plus expenses. Are you sure that's the last of them?"

The Bearer of Magic nodded. "We cleaned them out pretty thoroughly. Make an appointment with Spike if you want me to do a second run through the place." She turned around, and jolted back at the look on her mentor's face. "Princess Celestia, I didn't know you were there! I'm really sorry, but I'm kinda busy, so we'll have to catch up later."

Celestia's jaw opened and closed soundlessly, as her student, still faithful but no longer as reverential, levitated Spike over. "What's next on the schedule?"

"Let's see..." Spike flipped open a notebook and began reciting; "You have an appointment in two hours with the Minotaur Council about some boats disappearing out the coast; then the Storm King of Griffonia wants to see you in the evening about getting rid of something haunting his youngest daughter; Grogar's offering two hundred thousand bits for the safe return of his Bell – that's tomorrow, by the way; and Zecora's hiring you for some ingredient hunting near Tartarus."

"If we hurry, we can make it to the Tauros States in an hour!" gasped Twilight as she ran out of the room, leaving her speechless friends and mentor. Blueblood shrugged and turned to leave. "If there's nothing else..." he trailed off as his guards opened the door for him, only for it to be shut tight again by a golden glow.

"Nephew, what was all that about paying Twilight?" Celestia demanded, too frazzled to be polite.

In response, Blueblood simply rolled his eyes and levitated a small newspaper clipping over. "Don't you read the papers, Auntie?"

The Sun Princess just stared at the advert, mouthing the words incredulously. "Twilight Sparkle...Professional Troubleshooter...Monster Hunter...Ancient Evils...Adventurer...appointments with Spike the Dragon...fee doubled if usage of Element of Magic is required?!"

50.6 (Stainless Steel Fox)

Twilight giggled as Spike sent off her follow-up letter. If the Princess didn't want her to take the Nightmare Moon prophecy seriously, who was she to argue?

"Dear Princess Celestia,

My apologies for having bothered you earlier. I clearly have been working too hard if I ended up turning a bunch of old pony tales into an imminent threat to Equestria. Obviously, if there was anything to the prophecy, you'd have known it and spent the last few years doing everything in your power to prepare, from alicorn level magic binders to specially trained troops and equipment. You wouldn't need the help of a student unicorn who's still learning magic. Spike says I over-reacted again, and I guess he's right.

Thank you for organising for me to be the overseer for the Summer Sun Celebration in Ponyville. A few days in the country, away from my studies will do wonders for my stress level. It was nice of you to arrange for me to stay at the library, but I promise not to read anything more taxing than a Daring Doo novel. As for making friends, I thought I had done. There's Spike, my brother and Princess Cadence, and I hope, if it's not too presumptuous, yourself. But if you feel I need more, I shall do my best.

P.S. I had a wonderful idea! Moon dancer invited me to a party this evening in the West castle courtyard. I was going to continue work on deciphering the old legends, but I realised it would be perfect practice in making friends, for when I go to Ponyville tomorrow. Besides, I think Spike has a crush on Moondancer, and he deserves a chance to have some fun too. Don't worry, I'll make sure everything is packed and ready so I can leave for Ponyville on time. From the list, it doesn't seem like checking on things will take that long anyway.

Your faithful student,

Twilight Sparkle."

Princess Celestia looked at the letter in consternation. It seemed Twilight had taken her instructions a bit too much to heart. For a moment she considered intervening, then decided against it. As long as Twilight was there in Ponyville, she would quickly come to change her mind and go find the Elements. Best not to meddle and make things worse.

"Does my crown no longer count now that I have been imprisoned for a thousand years? Did you not recall the legend? Did you not see the signs?" Nightmare Moon declaimed.

"I did, and I know who you are... Princess Celestia. I know I got all over-excited about those mouldy old prophecies, but don't you think this is a bit over the top?"

"What?" the nightmare actually looked confused, then enraged. "You dare confuse me with my sun-loving sister? I am Nightmare Moon, returned from my exile after a thousand years, and now my night will last forever!"

"With all due respect your highness, this isn't really the time for Nightmare Night pranks. Ponies are waiting for you to raise the sun... unless it's Princess Cadence under that disguise, but I don't believe Cadence would pull something like this. But then I didn't think you'd pull something like this. Everypony at the palace knows your fondness for practical jokes..."

She raised a shield as Nightmare Moon flung lightning at her. "PRINCESS! What are you... that could have hurt some-pony!"

"I am not Celestia! I am NIGHTMARE MOON!"

Twilight called out to the Mayor, "Get every-pony clear. Princess Celestia has had some kind of mental breakdown. She thinks she's the pony from the legend of the Mare in the Moon, my dredging up of the old stories must have triggered something..."

The mayor acted even as she spoke. "Of course, but what will you do?"

"Try and contain her while you get ponies to safety!" Twilight called out, letting a pair of thick anklets she'd been wearing all day unlatch and drop to the floor. "Guards, assist her!"

She flung out shields and counter spells to block and neutralise the energy blasts of the raging Nightmare Moon, while manoeuvring around to get a clear shot at her legs. When she did, the anklets shot forward to clamp themselves around Nightmare Moon's fore-hooves. Instantly, her ethereal mane diminished and the bolts she’d been throwing fizzled.

"What... what have you done!" she asked, staggering.

"Slapped magic limiters on you until you calm down." Twilight replied. She blushed, "I came up with them when I started having accidental bursts of higher power recently... They feed off power surges above a certain level, so the more powerful the magic you throw at them, the stronger they are. Right now you're limited to the power levels of a filly unicorn."

Then the sun rose and Princess Celestia appeared, looking almost as confused as Nightmare Moon. Twilight looked back and forth, feigning confusion of her own. "Wait, what... okay, what's really going on? Princess?"

Princess Celestia sighed. Things had just gotten complicated.


“Hiya, Twilight!” Applejack said cheerfully. “Got a moment?”

“Sure.” Twilight sat down on a hay bale. “How are things?”

“Oh, you know, same as usual.” Applejack punctuated the comment with a sharp rap on the grass with her hoof, resulting in the nearby apple trees fruiting in seconds. “Just a simple farmer, me. And speakin' of farming, ah've got something for you t' try.”

She plonked down a bottle between them. “You know that potato project ah had goin'?”

Twilight nodded.

“Well, this is after bein' potato cider. Made th' same way as regular cider is made, just... with potatoes. And then ah let some ferment fer a bit, just t' see what happened.”

Twilight looked slightly apprehensive, but shrugged. “Well, I suppose that's the point of experiments.”

“Good on yer.” Applejack took out two shot glasses, and filled them with a glug of liquid. “Health.”

“Health,” Twilight parroted, and they both drank.

“Ah, that hits the spot,” Applejack said, rolling it around her mouth. “Bit of earthiness, bit of tang – Twilight? You okay, Twilight?”

Twilight finished a coughing fit. “Has it gone dark all of a sudden?”

“Er... nope,” Applejack replied, confused.

“Ah. Then it would appear I have gone blind.”

The earth pony frowned at the bottle for a moment. “Ah well. Back to th' drawing board.”

“No, I'm sure there's some use for it. Just... not as a drink, except for ponies with a strong earth affinity.” Twilight stood, slowly and carefully. “I'm going to go Ascend now, and fix my eyes. Er... which way's the barn?”

Applejack pushed her shoulder gently. “Turn a bit... bit more... there.”


Berry Punch blinked. “Okay, that's certainly an... interesting little number you've got there, Applejack... I can really taste the solanine.”

“The... ah, hay.” Applejack kicked the floor. “Now ah know what ah forgot. Y'all gonna be fine?”

The drinks-mare gulped, shook her head, and belched a cloud of green smoke which brought with it an earthy tang. “Yeah, I'll be fine. My tolerance is positively metaphysical.

Zecora put down her retort, in which a testing potion was hissing alarmingly as the drops of potato cider fell into it.

“My apologies, fair mare of earth. I fear I have no use for this poisonous beer.”

“What, none? Not even in a potion?”

“I said none, Applejack, and I meant it. If you think there is a way, invent it.”

Applejack sighed. “Okay. Thanks anyway, Zecora.”

Flame shot out of Spike's ears and nose.

When Peewee was induced to try some, he promptly exploded. The adult phoenix which reformed from the cloud of smoke and feathers looked mildly peeved.

“I see.” Discord downed the glass.

Then caught fire.

“I like it,” he pronounced, licking his claws and using them to extinguish his burning beard. The rest of him, he just left on fire.

“What, really?” Applejack blinked. “I plumb didn't think anyone would. Well, you'll have t' fight over it with Applebloom.”

Discord looked intrigued. “What does she do with it?”

Applebloom grabbed a spanner, and used it to tighten a couple of bolts on the quad-cycle she was working on.

“Ah, fiddlesticks...” she muttered, blipping the throttle to no response. “Somethin's blocking up the fuel line.”

She picked up a small jar of potato cider, and dribbled a few drops into the engine tank before trying again. This time, it picked up beautifully.

“Best all-natural engine lubricant ah've seen in a while,” she pronounced. “Hmmm... wonder if ah might try that all-wood an' plant products car project again...”

50.8 (Richardson)

"Don't worry, Rainbow Dash! There are plenty of things you can do in the hospital!" Twilight cheerfully remarked as she rummaged through the hospital book cart. She knew it had to- Ah-HA! It was always wonderful to watch Dash fall in love with books whenever the mare wasn't Awake. It just felt right to add- err, enraptured another with the wonders of reading. "Here, try reading this! It has everything, traps, adventure, ancient mysteries!"

"Jack Sparrow and the Sapphire Stone?"

Twilight's mind crashed to a halt that some would say could be heard all the way in the world tree itself. "What the bark?!"

"Ya okay, sugarcube? Ya went really pale just then." Applejack asked as the farm mare came up beside her.

"Uh, I just thought of something, that's all. Oh, by the way, Dash, there is something else. The events of the book actually happened. He actually exists, and the book is a way for him to make enough money to survive off of. Adventuring for a living doesn't pay well. He just publishes it under a pseudonym. "

"What? No way!" Dash looked at her book in a new light and her eyes lit up as she looked over the grimy and tussled protagonist emblazoned on the cover. "This guy is for real?"

"Yeah! He goes on way more adventures than us, but even I don't know how to find him. Maybe he'll come through the area looking for an ancient treasure, though. It's fun to read!" Twilight looked to the door, wondering when she could get away to have a long talk with a certain looped

"Oh hey! 'Guest starring Commander Cane, The HERO OF EQUESRIA'. He's real, too? I thought he was just propaganda put out by the Guard!"

Twilight ran for the door as urgency struck her. Either one of the two was enough to cause a rough loop. Both of them, together!? "Be back later, girls! I have to go water my tree, 'kaythanksbye!"

"What's eatin' her apple?"

"No idea. Hey! This actually is pretty good!"

Of course, if Twilight had any inkling of what she had been about to stumble into, she would have stayed home and hidden herself within a great fortress of books...

50.9 (Masterweaver)

Cheerilee and Zecora almost – almostshared a birthday.

It was a weird cosmic coincidence, honestly. In fact, it was one of the few stable elements of the loop – which, as Twilight pointed out, was really strange. True, the dates of their birth would slide up and down the calendar like any other Looper's, but Zecora's birthday was always the day before Cheerilee's.

The fact that they had started looping together only compounded their friendship. Well... almost started looping together.

"So, it... it turns out that Liz! The lizard! She was the anchor for the loop." Cheerilee snorted as she threw back another mug. "Heh. She gave me, blue, blueprints for the bus, after I told her what Harry had told me about the loops back in Hogwarts. Liz the Lizard." She giggled.

"The phrasing is amusing, that is true." Zecora waved a hoof in a broad arc. "Like Rainbow Dash... something something blue!"

"Something something blue?" The earth pony nudged the zebra with a grin. "You are totally drunk!"

"I may be intoxicated, but at least I'm not domesticated." Zecora shot a sly grin at Cheerilee, waggling her eyebrows.

"Oh, no no no. Not the Pony thing." The schoolteacher pointed. "There are! Are worlds out there where ponies roam free and, and people ride zebras! I know it! I've never been to one but, but..." She sighed. "Why did I start out with fused loops, Zeccy...? I don't understand."

"Fate works in mysterious ways," the alchemist intoned sombrely. "Especially in repeating days. But the fact is that you're here now and let's not bother with the whys or hows. It's our midnight drinking bash! Take a tablecloth and make a sash!"

"Oh, I'm not quite drunk enough for that yet.... MAC! More booze, no love poison!"


“...alright,” Mayor Mare sighed. “You can give it a go. No use of pegasus magic or wings, Dash, neither of you are to Ascend – it's a pain handling the press – and you're not going on the leaderboard.”

Dash and AJ exchanged glances. “Buck yeah!”

“Just what ah was thinkin', crash.

“It's SO on,” Dash pronounced. “You know how on it was before? It's more on now.”


Dash launched herself forward, blowing leaves every which way as she shot out ahead of the rest of the herd.

Sure, AJ was fit. Sure, everypony including Berry had beaten them the first time because they had been so focused on fowl play. But Dash's thing was speed. Even with her wings bound and no magic, Dash had far more experience as an athlete than Applejack did.


Dash blinked. “What?”

With a rumbling roar, Applejack surfed past.

She was running at a little more than half the speed that Dash was. And the ground she was running on was moving, independently, at a little more than half the speed Dash was.

“Aw, come on!” Dash shouted. “That's so cheating!”

“Rules don't say nothing about Earthbendin',” Applejack replied cheerfully. “Guess you're plumb out of luck, huh?”

“Like hay!” Dash dug deep, focusing on her training, and accelerated.

“Hey, AJ?” Dash called. “I had a loop where I was something called a Rapidash.”

“So?” Applejack replied, still working her artificial landsurf.


A blue blur caught up to Applejack, and resolved into Dash. “Hey. I've not done much foot racing recently, but... don't you think we should be going a bit faster?”

With that, Dash accelerated away.

“Tarnation.” Applejack scowled. “Right. No more missy nice pony.”

Twin blurs of motion shot past the finish line.

“So, how'd we do?” Dash asked the photographer.

“Vell...” Photo Finish shrugged. “It is, as zey say, appropriate that you asked me, little stormcloud.”

She held up the photo. It showed both of them exactly in line as they passed the posts.

“Ah...” Applejack searched for something to say. “Laurel.”

“You have got to be kidding.” Dash gaped. “Dead heat?”

“Ja.” Finish shrugged. “Now, I go.”

She vanished in a blur.

“Wait a sec,” Applejack said, looking after her. “...she your mother again?”


“Ah see where y'all get th' speed, now...”

50.11 (Anowack)

Twilight Sparkle was not very happy with this loop.

The grim city that had replaced Canterlot was overshadowed by a bright, white building that was much less pleasing to look at than Celestia's palace. From her position in an empty, overgrown lot that should have been the park beside the School For Gifted Unicorns, Twilight Sparkle could see three lines of text carved into the wall in large letters, though the angle wasn't right for her to read them.

She didn't need to, because the slogan beneath the poster of a bearded crimson male alicorn pasted on the wall of a nondescript warehouse across the street from her was all she needed to identify what the basis for this fused Loop was. (Twilight desperately hoped that there were no Loopers native to that universe.)

Fortunately, she was not completely alone this time. Only one Element was Awake, but she was exactly the pony Twilight needed, and she was standing right beside her. “Pinkamena Diane Pie,” she said seriously.

“Yes, Twilight?” the other mare replied.

“You know all those things I ask you not to do normally?” Twilight asked. “Do them.”

Pinkie blinked. “You sure, Twilight?”

“I'm completely serious.” Twilight smiled slightly. “Don't do anything that'll get me an angry eight-legged visitor next Loop, but other than that, do your worst. Go full Chaos Goddess. Liven this place up.”

There was a bright pink light, and Pinkie ascended, her body swelling a moment later to a stature only slightly smaller than baseline Celestia. The Element around her neck was dim for a moment, then began to shine. She looked down at Twilight. “Are you coming?”

Twilight summoned her own element and ascended, but she still shook her head. “No,” she said, “I think I'll just go... study the moons of the outer planets while you do your thing. I'll check back with you in about a year, okay?”

Pinkie nodded, rising into the air with two powerful beats of her wings. She brought her forehooves together, somehow making a popping noise like she was cracking non-existent knuckles and turning her attention back to the poster across the street.

Twilight followed her gaze, reading the slogan one last time. BIG STALLION IS WATCHING YOU. “Have fun,” she told her friend, opening a small portal.

“I will,” she promised, her horn glowing.

Twilight was fairly certain that she closed the portal behind herself just in time.

When Twilight came back, she was surprised by what she saw. The once-overgrown lot was now again a well-maintained park, though one smaller than the baseline version. The city, from what she could see from her own position, was perhaps a bit brighter, but still recognizable from what she'd briefly seen before setting Pinkie loose. The same white building stood over the city, and there was still a poster on the wall across the street.

Though it was now a poster of a female, pink alicorn. “Friend Pinkie Is Watching You,” Twilight read, more than a little perplexed, and then she saw a smaller line of text underneath the slogan. She squinted her eyes, read, “But Only When It's Not Creepy,” and then smiled slightly.

The park was empty, but a moment later two earth pony stallions galloped down the street, skidding to a halt when they saw Twilight. She realized that she hadn't reverted back to a unicorn and opened her mouth to try to explain, but one of the two interrupted Twilight before she could begin.

“Hey, didn't you hear?” he asked. “Miniboredom is throwing a doubleplussuperawesome party and everypony is invited! You don't want to miss it!” Without waiting for an answer, the pair raced off.

Twilight stared after them for a moment, then with a shrug took to the air and followed them. It probably would be a fun party.

50.12 (Masterweaver)

"...Girls? Can we talk?"

The cutie mark crusaders looked up from their starfighter blueprints and smiled at their... well, former teacher.

"Sure thing, miss Cheerilee!" Scootaloo rolled up her own plans. "Not like there's anything here I don't know already."

"Heh, Scoots, Ah'm pretty sure Ah'll surprise ya once Ah'm done." Apple Bloom slid her own sketches to the side.

Sweetie Belle shrugged. "Honestly, I'm waiting for Tiara to get her, she understands this better. So... what's got you down?"

Cheerilee took a moment to mentally readjust herself. Even knowing that these fillies were technically older then the princesses... in their own way... it still took some effort to deal with them as equals. "It's just... well... I'm a teacher and..." She sighed, sitting down. "Well..."

"Nopony else is learning?" Scootaloo suggested. "Nopony besides us, Diamond, and Nyx?"

"Don't forget Silver Spoon," Sweetie pointed out. "She's looping now too."

The mare shook her head with a melancholy smile. "Got it in one. And... I can't even teach you all properly, you've already... learned so much." Cheerilee's eyes drifted skyward, watching the clouds meander by. "The first few loops back at home I tried... I did what I usually do, and... well... now it's beginning to wear on me. I..."

Apple Bloom nodded. "Ah'm pretty sure Ah get where you're coming from. It's hard ta carry tech between loops, and that means lots of rebuilding based on what Ah know just ta get back ta inventing. You've got it worse since your thing is tied up with nonloopers..." She tapped her chin thoughtfully. "...What if... what if ya spent a few loops teaching somewhere else? Like Fillydelphia or... tha Crystal Empire, actually, that could be good. And tutoring Silver during tha loops should be a mutually beneficial thing..."

"There's also the 'multiple interpretation' thing cutie marks have," Sweetie pointed out. "You could take up gardening! Or... terraforming!"

"And we'd always be ready to learn something from fused loops we haven't been to!" Scootaloo added. "Just think, you could have your own private lecture hall!"

Cheerilee giggled at the pegasus's enthusiasm. "...Thanks. I... I guess I should try those things out."

"You're welcome." Apple Bloom grinned. "Oh, and by the way?"



50.13 (LordofBones)

Spike gulped at the expressionless look on Twilight's face as he confessed his desire to meet his own kind, even after the disaster that had been the Garble incident. The unicorn seized him in her telekinetic grip and marched out towards the Everfree, and for a moment the little dragon felt that old terror that he was going to be abandoned by his best friend. Twilight didn't bother looking at him, but simply marched onwards, deeper and deeper into the Everfree, until they stood at the mouth of a cave.

Then Twilight walked in.

The cave opened up into a large complex built into an open-topped mountain, and it was filled with dragons. Huge wyrms with purple, blue, black, red scales held court with fascinated younger drakes; a giggling young dragoness was leading an interested cyan male on a merry flight; several couples waited at the alcoves, tails entwined lovingly, as they watched their children play; a sinuous green was muttering to itself and comparing long sheaves of parchment with a grizzled white and a dignified blue. Hot springs dotted the huge cavern, with half-asleep dragons simply relaxing in the waters.

And everything came to a screeching stop when Twilight walked in, most faithful assistant in tow.

The lavender unicorn noticed Garble and his lackeys immediately. True to form, the sneering trio immediately lunged, claws and fire at the ready, and were smacked away like rag dolls by a huge azure-scaled tail. A behemoth with gigantic wings rose from the darkest shadows of the mountain and strode forward, its footsteps created small earthquakes with each passing. Fearlessly, Twilight met the cold, crimson gaze and said something in a low, deep language that Spike had never heard before.

The monster halted in its tracks and stared. Those penetrating red eyes grew large in disbelief, and a voice that sounded like mountains grinding boomed across the complex. "Where did you learn the language of the First and Last, horse?"

"I read a lot," Twilight shot back snarkily.

Gasps rose from their draconic audience. Spike shut his eyes and prayed that Twilight hadn't just snarked at a dragon thrice the size of the library.

The wyrm threw back his horned head and roared with laughter. The laugh was surprisingly warm and pleasant, even if it rattled the floating drake's bones, and when it finally stopped, the visibly amused winged serpent nodded. "Very well, proceed."

Twilight bowed respectfully and gently set Spike down. "Hello everydragon, my name is Twilight Sparkle, student of Celestia Sunbringer and Bearer of the Element of Magic. This is Spike, my faithful assistant, helper and little brother!"

The little dragon's eyes went huge at the announcement, and through his joy at Twilight's words he noticed that every eye was fixed on him.

"Through the years I've known him, Spike has stood alongside me against the Eternal Ever-Changing Serpent himself, as well as the power that drove Luna Dreamwalker to madness, and he did so because his friends were in danger!"

Murmurs rose from the crowd as they looked at each other and back at the blushing drake.

"In addition to that, Spike is an excellent chef, gemhunter, jeweller, musician, actor, emcee and accountant! He has ties with the Equestrian Crown and the elite of Equestria! Dragonesses and drakes, he even cleans up after himself!"

An appreciative "oooh" went up from the audience. Twilight heard one dragoness comment to her friend, "That's just what we need, you know? None of these macho fire-breathers; we want someone who can run a household and manage the hoard responsibly."

"But, alas, Spike is an orphan. Nopony, not even Celestia herself, knows who his parents are. He knows nothing about his people, his culture, his history. In fact, thanks to three young drakes, he believes that his people murder babies! He is terrified of being a monster, because three of you sullied all of dragonkind before an impressionable, lonely CHILD!"

"Was it worth it?!" Twilight spat, stalking closer towards a dazed Garble as the dragons roared and screeched in outrage. "Was it worth crushing the dreams of an orphan, just so you could get your jollies off? Was it worth forcing Spike to think that dragonkind murder unborn children in front of their parents for ENTERTAINMENT?!

"WHAT?!" boomed the azure titan. A triad of nervous dragons snatched the trio and backed off at the furious look on the patriarch's face. "I'll deal with you three after this!"

"I implore you, dragons of the Everfree. I implore you, please, teach my little brother, because I cannot," Twilight ended with a whisper. She kissed Spike's crest and backed away.

"Twilight?" Spike's voice was tiny.

"I'll be back in a week, Spike. I promise. Have fun," she smiled at him as she trotted away, making sure to keep the young dragon in her sights until she heard wingbeats. A young dragoness with a startling resemblance to Rarity scooped the surprised drake up and cuddled him, followed by several others.

"Look at these adorable cuddly cheeks!"

"Don't hog him!"

"Sing for us, cutie!"

"Look, he's blushing! Isn't that just sweet?"

50.14 (SpaceKGreen)

Cheerilee smiled as she looked over her class. Her students were diligently working on their schoolwork, and she had a bit of time to herself.

The Loop had been quiet so far; Nyx was Awake, so the Nightmare Moon situation hadn't occurred, and Twilight had headed off most of the other usual Ponyville crises. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon (surprisingly an Earth Pony this loop) were also Awake, so she hadn't had to deal with their bullying either.

There was a sudden commotion outside, and Cheerilee frowned, as the children craned their necks trying to look out the windows. This was new; normally this was a quiet week...

The schoolhouse door burst open, and a large pony made of black crystal, shedding drops of dark magic, strode in. Fanged jaws parted open, and a terrifying voice boomed forth.


"Excuse me!"

The crystal golem paused. It took in the classroom; the children were riveted to their seats, wide eyes staring at both the golem and the teacher, who was currently glaring at the intruder.

"I don't know WHAT you were thinking, but class is currently in session! If you wish to talk, you can wait outside for class to end."


The golem was interrupted as the teacher seemed to flicker, and a piece of chalk bounced off its head hard enough to rattle its crystalline brain.

"I SAID, class is in SESSION right now!" growled Cheerilee. "Wait OUTSIDE, and I will get to you AFTER CLASS."

"YOU STUPID SLAVE. RESISTANCE WILL BE MET WITH DEATH." the golem boomed, as it strode towards Cheerilee menacingly, the dark magic dripping from its body having increased to a torrent. "YOU AND ALL THESE BRATS SHALL-"

Again it was interrupted, this time as an eraser hit it hard enough to carry it out through the door and across the road.

Cheerilee sighed, feeling the stares of the students on her. "Well, class, it seems school is out early today due to a national crisis. Please line up in an orderly fashion and move to the emergency bunker. It should hold up against the golem until the Royal Guard shows up."

At that moment, a large rainbow wave of magic exploded from somewhere inside Ponyville. The golem, attempting to right itself, collapsed into an inanimate pile of crystal as the blast wave passed over.

Cheerilee watched it for a few moments. After determining that it wasn't about to get back up, she turned to the staring students with a bright smile.

"Well! It seems the national crisis has passed. However, following standard procedure, you children should wait here for your relatives to pick you up."

Seeing the students continue to stare, she smiled again. "Tell you what. Since you've been such good students, I'll let you have the next... 3 days off."

This broke the silence, as the students cheered. As far as they were concerned, Cheerilee was now officially the Best. Teacher. Ever.


“It is time for you... to fulfil... your destiny,” Celestia said grandly.

Twilight, in what probably shouldn't have surprised anypony, pulled out a list. “Which one?”

“...pardon?” Celestia frowned. “Which one?”

“Well, I've got quite a few of them by now. Let's see... be the most powerful unicorn in my generation, that's done. Gain the Element of Magic, done. Beat Discord? Done-a-roonie.”

She began making tally marks in the floor, under the gaze of an increasingly bemused Celestia and all the other Elements. “I'm fairly sure the thing with Chrysalis was something involving destiny as well. Rematch with Trixie? Yeah, sounds about right. Oh, the time travel thing – and all those Pinkie Sense incidents. If those had gone wrong, I might have broken time, so that all sounds destiny-y.”

Twilight unrolled the scroll further. “Sombra, yeah, that sounds good... aha!”

Celestia looked hopeful. “Yes?”

The unicorn rolled up the scroll. “I've got it! I'm ready to become the best high jumping unicorn in history!”

Even Pinkie looked confused at that.

Seeing their expressions, Twilight shrugged. “Well, what else am I going to do with these wings?”

She dropped the perception filter she'd put on them back when she'd really ascended, dealing with Sombra, and everypony jumped.

“Where'd those come from?” Dash demanded.

Twilight shrugged. “Around.”

Author's Note:

50.1: Finny friendship lessons.
50.2: Among the more common loop-variant topics is the species of several of the background ponies.
50.3: You go away for just a thousand years, and you can't recognize the place.
50.4: Bit grimdark, here.
50.5: Monetization.
50.6: A take on Turning the Tables from a rather more experienced Twilight.
50.7: Potatoes produce toxins. They are not apples, despite what the French language thinks.
50.8: Oh dear.
50.9: Is there a designated trotter?
50.10: The eternal race.
50.11: Nineteen eighty-fun.
50.12: A trying issue, especially after a couple of centuries.
50.13: Not a looping Spike. But probably quite a confused one.
50.14: Great Teacher Cheerilee.
50.15: There really is quite a lot of choice.

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