by Lady Aubernon

First published

Tirek is dead, but not everything is as it seems in the aftermath.

With Tirek defeated by the combined forces of the Shepherd and her allies, the Equestrians and Star Tracer -- the sole Atlantean to survive the final battle in Palladia -- awaken to a world in transition, shaped by Avalon's will.

Above the ruins, a beam of light pointing toward the south prompts Princess Luna and the others to follow the beam to its end, unaware of the destinies Luna and the surviving Atlanteans will soon converge upon.

WDTP: S2/3

* * * * * * * * *

This is the fourth story of the Timeline-42 series, and the final part of the Terminus & Exordium arc.

For best results, please read the first three stories of the arc before undertaking this one:
* "A Rainbow in the Dark"
* "Ad Mortem, Ad Vitam"
* "Darkness Before Dawn" (not linked; rated Mature)

Act I

View Online


No sound. No light. Once more, she was plunged into the endless obsidian sea.

This again? she asked. Hah! No need to panic this time, champ. You got this. Just find the light like you did before, race out of here, and you'll... wake... up...

Where will I wake up?

The emptiness answered. A slit of violet light opened, spotlighting her multi-colored mane. Muffled sounds echoed around her, growing louder until the point of origin drew her full attention.

Let's do this!

Her wings outstretched, she shot forward into the line on the horizon with a sonic rainboom in her wake, and a determined gleam in her eyes.

* * * * * * * * *

The sound of waves softly crashing on the silent shore entered her ears, perking up when a familiar, concerned voice calling her name broke through. A blurry figure colored in twilight shades appeared in her eyes, gently yet urgently shaking her aching body. Details blinked in and out of view for an eternity, finally locking onto the sight of a purple unicorn bathed by a small point of light in the early morning sky amid a rolling tide of sparkling black water in the background.

"Wh... where am I?" Rainbow groaned, struggling to her hooves upon the fine black sand.

"Take it easy, Rainbow," Twilight said, easing her friend onto her flanks. "Are you okay?"

"I... I think so, Twilight. Are we in Avalon? Did we... did we save Avalon?"

"Judgin' by the trashed scenery 'round here," Applejack answered, slowly walking toward the duo, "I'd say we're still in Palladia, RD."

"Twilight!" another voice called out, drawing everypony's attention to the top of the lowest marine terrace surrounding Emerald Harbor.


Spike held on as he and Star Tracer quickly descended upon the trio, appearing no worse for wear. Twilight grabbed him as soon as he leaped down from his mount, giving him the biggest hug she could muster.

"Don't I get a hug, too?" Star Tracer teased.

"Big hug!" Pinkie said, glomping onto the surprised general.

"Pinkie! Where did you come from?!"

She giggled. "From Avalon, silly!"

"I don't think I've seen so many stars in the night sky," cooed Rarity, walking from the west with Fluttershy and the princesses. "And the silver aurorae with Galloway standing in for the moon, lending its gorgeous beam of light upon the beach, is a beautiful touch!"

"If only it were my work, Rarity," Luna replied. "Not only have I not yet regained power over the night, but I can't help but feel something isn't right about what I do see... even though nothing is out of the ordinary... I think."

"You're not the only one, Luna," Celestia said.

A glint of light caught the corner of Fluttershy's right eye, stopping her in her tracks.

"Oh wow! Look, everypony!"

Specks of starlight blossomed from the obsidian sea, ebbing from one color to the next. The celestial tidewaters washed over everypony's hooves and feet, leaving behind rainbow galaxies upon the blackened beach.

"Hey! That tickles!" Pinkie said, giggling from the errant snowflake landing on her muzzle. Everypony looked up to see more glittering flakes fall from the star-filled pre-dawn sky, despite the complete lack of clouds to deliver such precious cargo.

"What is going on here? And why are the snowflakes singing?" Rainbow asked, her ears catching wind of a faint melody.

"Y'all can hear it, too?" Applejack replied.

"It doesn't sound like the song we heard earlier," Fluttershy said. "It sounds like-- "

"A waltz!" she and Rarity said in unison.

"And a mournful one, at that," Rarity added.

"A mournful waltz?" Luna asked no pony in particular. "Did we... did we really save Avalon? Is this all a dying dream? Tirek can't still be alive after all of this, can he?"

A flash of light and shadow caught Star Tracer's eyes. "I believe the answer is coming to greet us."

All eyes turned toward the blinding glow in the west. A dark figure slowly walked from the horizon toward everypony. Glittering mists of white and silver raced ahead of her in every direction, rays of light filtering around the mysterious shadow.

"Could it be?" Rainbow wondered, shielding her eyes with her front right hoof.

The shrouded light evaporated into the chilling air, revealing an unusual silver alicorn mare with ice blue eyes. Her flanks bore an equally icy cutie mark of a flame-like quill bent into a waning crescent, cradling a field of diamond-shaped stars great and small. Her shimmery mane and tail danced and flickered like the ghostly flames they were.

Everypony gasped. "Pandora?"

"Indeed," Pandora replied, her voice warm as always, yet darker in tone.

Rainbow rushed over to her. "Your wings! And your legs, too! They're not metal anymore!"

She glomped onto the Shepherd as if channeling Pinkie herself. Pandora returned the favor, catching Rainbow off-guard in a peculiar manner.

"Uhh, not to be rude" -- looking up into her reptilian eyes -- "but where are your hooves? And why do you have a pair of horns curving backward instead of the long pointy one?"

"Not to mention the dragon eyes, crest feathers, and flaming split tail," Spike said.

"Because she's a kirinix, duh!" Pinkie answered. "Part alicorn, part dragon, part phoenix, and all totally awesome!"

Pandora chuckled. "Reincarnation is a funny thing. I suppose Avalon wanted to leave a little more of herself with me as a token of her appreciation.

"However" -- meeting everypony's eyes with a warm gaze -- "my appearance is the least of your concerns, if I'm not mistaken."

"Is Tirek really gone?" Twilight asked.

The first inklings of dawn shimmered in Pandora's wistful stare over the southern horizon. "Tirek is as one with the Gulf of Elegia's infinite celestine waters as tears are in rain. No trace of his disfigured spirit remains linked to our collective heart."

"Shouldn't there be a bunch of metal bones or somethin' juttin' out into the sky like a sore hoof, though?" Applejack asked. "Tirek wasn't exactly hard to miss, after all."

"The ultimate manifestation of the Pythia's absolute hate, fueled by the lost spirits, realms, and magic corrupted by his heart" -- sand and water slipping through her claws back into the sea -- "all dissolved in Avalon's purifying flames like gold in aqua regia. Nevermore shall Tirek, nor the unbearable pain his soul sustained, be."

Thunder boomed behind everypony, drawing attention to the highest peak in the Frozen North.

"Was that there before?" Rainbow asked.

"Of course it was, darling," Rarity said. "That's Mount Ever... hoof. How exactly do I know that?"

Pandora gazed upon the countless stars shifting into or away from each other, fading one by one from the ever-rippling sky. "Under Avalon's wings, the world you knew passed away. The phantom echos of her cry still reverberate through every degree of the Grand Veil, destroying the old order in ways great and terrifying.

"Those echos also affect you, reshaping both your universe and your memories so they may resonate in harmony.

"For how long this shall last" -- her eyes locked upon a faint reflection of herself lit by the swirling galaxy of silver stars enveloping her claws -- "even I know not the answer."

"Pandora," Celestia began, "my sister and I... our connection with the day and night remains lost-- "

"And never shall they be restored," she said, "for they were never meant to be intertwined with the mortal coil."

Framed in blue smoke, Pandora's icy stare fell upon the spot where the pillar once stood. "Pegasi shaped the weather for the benefit of all. Earth Ponies brought life from the barren earth. The Unicorns used their magic to render day and night subservient to their will. Even when harmony and their great nation were lost, the tribe never let go of the reins. Everyone suffered with every unicorn who followed the past sins of their forebears, centuries after Palladia was purged of its darkness through divine fire.

"Through fate did you, Celestia and Luna" -- turning her smokey eyes upon the princesses -- "fulfill the will of Avalon by reclaiming day and night from the Unicorns, exchanging those sins for deliverance. Yet, the past sin remained, one whose absolution was still out of reach until you gave yourselves over to her to save the Grand Veil from our past sin."

An eastern breeze carried the otherworldly smoke into the heavens, restoring Pandora's eyes to their original state. Fog rolled in from the south, enveloping her in its embrace. The falling snow glittered against the wall of silver light emerging from within the veil, rendering her figure a ghostly shadow. The glowing shroud then swept over everypony, obscuring the Shepherd entirely from view.

"Tetelestai, my children. A new gold dawn shines brightly upon you all."

The ethereal blanket lifted and dissipated as quickly as it arrived. The harbor returned to the lifeless state it shared with Palladia, devoid of the fallen starlight which briefly graced everypony with their presence. No music but the crashing of waves and gentle frozen winds filled their ears. Snowflakes caught in the cold light of dawn continued their ceaseless descent to the earth, steadily burying the ruins and surrounding mountains.

* * * * * * * * *

Rainbow stared out into the distance divided by night and day, sitting on the spot where once an unusual silver alicorn stood. An errant silver cloud caught her eye as it drifted over the destroyed lighthouse tower jutting out from the harbor into the North Luna Ocean. Déjà vu entered her heart amid the desolation from the scene playing out before her eyes.

"Pandora?" she asked the black water rolling onto shore, hoping to hear her voice one more time.

A soft wing of yellow wrapped around Rainbow. Its gentle warmth filled the cracks in her breaking heart.

"Don't worry, Rainbow," Fluttershy said. "A part of Pandora will always be within each of our hearts."

"Literally," Pinkie added, "since we all became one with her for a brief moment back there."

A glimmer out of Rarity's right eye caught her by surprise. "I think Pandora may have left more of herself in the Princesses!"

Confusion in their eyes and those of everypony else, both princesses looked at their cutie marks. Luna gasped upon the sight of several glittering stars great and small filling the clouds on her flanks. The crescent moons, too, were decorated with such stars, including four large ones placed around the crescents.

Celestia was taken by her revised cutie mark, as well. The formerly golden suns now shimmered in compass points of silver surrounding a starburst heart of gold, overlaid by four spiraling arms of blue, green, purple, and pink.

"What could this mean?" Luna wondered.

Icy gusts swept down from the north, chilling everypony to the core without mercy.

"I don't know about y'all, but it sure is gettin' cold 'round here," Applejack said.

"We need to find a way out of Palladia before we're buried by this blizzard," Twilight added.

"Funny you should mention that, Twilight," Spike said. "General?"

Star Tracer nodded in agreement. "Follow us, everypony."

The group followed the general and the dragon back up the hill to where the dragonfly breathed its last. To the shock of everypony else, the craft was not only unscathed by the horrific battle, but glowed with life. The group rushed toward the warm confines of the dragonfly, not wanting to spend another moment caught in the growing blizzard.

"After blasting Tirek into dust," Spike began while Star Tracer conducted a final system check, "Star Tracer and I woke up inside the dragonfly. We thought it had been melted by the same magic that Princess Luna deflected back in the castle tower, but as luck would have it, the dragonfly survived!"

"The cherry on top of this sundae appeared when a warm voice entered my ear," Star Tracer said, "telling me to meet up with everypony on the beach. I looked around to see who said that, but saw no one. Spike said he heard it, too, so we decided to check it out. You all know the rest."

"Fluttershy, the Princesses, and I were near part of the ruins when we heard her voice, as well," Rarity replied.

"Applejack and I woke up on one of the old docks near the beach where Rainbow was," Twilight said. "She told us to be there when Rainbow comes to, and to wait for all of you."

"I was in Avalon!" Pinkie sing-songed. "Pandora told me to go on ahead."

"Pinkie," Applejack said, "how exactly did ya end up at-- "

"All systems 100 percent operational," the dragonfly's mare-voiced AI interjected. "Manual flight control activated."

"Where shall we go, everyone?" Star Tracer asked as she buckled herself into the left pilot seat.

A beam of light from Galloway fell upon the dividing line between dawn and twilight, terminating far beyond the southern horizon. The celestial answer to the general's question held everypony's attention, though none were as intrigued by the display as Luna. An urging to follow the light to its end entered her heart when four star-like objects emerging from the icy planet's position in the sky began moving south at a gradual pace.

"To wherever Galloway and the stars are suggesting we should go, General," she ordered.

"Understood, Your Grace," Star Tracer replied. "Hang on, everypony."

The dragonfly lifted off from its resting place amid the ruin. Flurries swirled in the blade-generated maelstrom, some melting in the exhaust heat from its turbojets. The bluish-white neon lines outlining the dragonfly's shape glowed in harmony with the blanket of snow muting its already quiet, ghostly thwacks.

"Luna?" Celestia asked.

"I think our godmother has one more surprise for us."

"But... Pandora-- "

"I know, Tia," Luna warmly replied. "I know."

The dragonfly flew south over Emerald Harbor toward the North Luna Ocean, behind which thick clouds of snow descended from the northern mountains. Within moments, Palladia's remains at last took their place in history, three millennia after the nation's tarnished spirit bathed in the cleansing fires of the divine.

Act II

View Online


Hundreds of ponies gathered along the tip of a lush peninsula jutting into the dark sapphire waters of the North and South Luna Seas. A few dozen dragonflies stood sentry a short distance from the beach, left behind by the remnants of the Atlantean Royal Guard.

The first light of an irrevocably changed world crept up from the horizon, held at bay by the twilight. The soft glow of Galloway swept across the peninsula and the ponies below the star.

One spot stood out from the rest of the beach. Silver flecks ebbed in Galloway's light, a glimmering beacon to those drawn to the peninsula far, far away from the scarred remains of Ponyville and Canterlot.

The quiet wind carried a whispering howl from ear to ear.

The silver beach reflected off of Luna's eyes.

"There! That's where we're supposed to land!"

"Are those... ponies?" said Star Tracer.

"I don't think I've seen so many gathered in one spot before."

"It's only the biggest welcoming party ever!" said Pinkie Pie. "Those are your ponies, Star Tracer!"

"Welcome home, General," Luna said.

"... Indeed."

The dragonfly gently settled halfway between the glittering beach and the breaking waves as twilight collapsed into the first gold dawn of the new world to come. The last whispered howl faded into the song of the sea, Luna and Star Tracer led the rest of the crew to the remnant of Atlantis gathered under the light of Galloway.

"Where are the Princesses?" one pony said.

"Is General Firestorm with you?" said another.

Star Tracer turned to Celestia and Luna.

"It's your time to take the reins," Celestia said.

"My fellow Atlanteans," said Star Tracer, "it is with great sadness that I must inform you all that General Firestorm and our Princesses Minerva and Pandora made the ultimate sacrifice against Tirek."

Waves of sadness and breaking hearts swept through the crowd, only for hope and the rising sun to drive the pain into the shadows.

"But let it be known that their sacrifice, along with the sacrifice made by those left behind, was not for nothing. Though we have lost so much--our leaders, our loved ones, even our very home--and though our allies have lost what we have lost and more, we are still here.

"We all woke to a new gold dawn, one where the sun and the moon, the day and the night, are free of our control, a control which was not our to have at all. But we... we all... woke to a new destiny.

"It was destiny which brought my new friends and allies here. It was destiny which called you all to gather upon the shores of new land which did not exist before, and yet, always has. It was destiny which placed the reins of power into my hooves...

"And now, it is destiny which mandates I give those reins to their rightful inheritor."

From Firestorm's saddlebag rose a scroll sealed with the royal colors of both Minerva and Pandora, held aloft in the deep pink aura from Star Tracer's magic.

"Princess Luna," Star Tracer said, "a long time ago, your godmothers carved out a destiny for our empire. In the event of their passing, whether together or one after the other, whomever was in command of the Atlantean Royal Guard at that moment was to reveal their destiny for Atlantis to its successor.

"That honor falls now to me, Your Grace."

Luna took hold of the scroll, carefully breaking the seals, then gently unfurled the document with her magic.

"'To our dearest Luna,'" Luna said, "'If you are reading this, it is because we have returned to Avalon once and for all. Whatever events transpired to grant us our exit from the stage of life, it leaves our kingdom with no one to govern.

"'No one but you.'"

Luna's eyes widened.

"'From the time of your return from exile, we knew you would be the one to rule in our place. Like you, we've existed in shadow and starlight for many, many moons, distant from the rest of the world.

"'It is time for Atlantis to return to the light. You are the only pony meant to guide our kingdom to it.

"'Therefore, as of the day the seals are broken, you are now and forever Luna, Princess of Atlantis.'"

"Brand New Princess Party!" said Pinkie, firing a barrage of confetti and streamers upon the gathering from her party cannon.

"Congratulations, dear sister," said Celestia, tightly hugging Luna amid the cheering crowd.

Luna looked around at the happy faces gathered upon a single, silver spot on the tip of a western peninsula between two seas under the light of the sun and a star that would not set, a place that that, as her new general had said, both did not exist before the events tied to her godmothers and Tirek, and always did exist.

'Am I ready?' she thought. 'Is this truly meant to be? All of these ponies... under... my rule?'

"Speech! Speech!" said Rainbow Dash, bringing Luna back to the present.

"Speech! Speech!" said Pinkie, getting everypony to chant with her.

"You've got this, Princess," said Applejack.

Blushing from the encouragement, Luna stepped forward from the rest of her friends. Silence rushed over the crowd like the waters upon the glimmering beach.

"I don't know where to begin," Luna said. "Am I really meant to govern over all of you? And Celestia, if I do leave to rule my own empire, what will happen if I'm not at your side to rule Equestria?"

"Luna, for a thousand years, I've done exactly that," Celestia said. "Every day and every night, I raised and lowered the sun and moon, and took care of everypony under my rule. It was hard at times, but I think you see how everything turned out. I can rule on my own once more, and I think it might even be a bit easier this time.

"When Twilight and her friends brought you back from the possession of Nightmare Moon through the magic of friendship, it was not only the best day of my life, but the start of the journey toward this moment."

"You... you knew?"

"Our godmothers and I spent a good while sorting the details of when Atlantis would become yours from just before... before the Nightmare began. Everything after was a plan to release you from your darkness so that you would one day release Atlantis from its own shadows.

"Today is that day."

"But... there's no Atlantis to free from the shadows now," Luna said.

"The island may be no more, but Atlantis is still here, Your Grace," Star Tracer said. "Look upon the eyes of everyone before you, and see in their hearts the spirit of our empire. No beast or eldritch abomination or army, no corruption of any kind, can ever snuff out the flame began in Palladia so many millennia ago.

"Take hold of the flame, Princess Luna of Atlantis."

Luna looked toward the silver star still maintaining its place in the morning sky.

"How did everypony happen upon this spot?"

"We followed Galloway from Equestria," a random pony said.

"A voice told us to follow the star to the beam of light in the horizon," said another.

"All of us arrived a few moments before you all did," a third pony said.

Luna continued to look upon the star when a flash of light raced across her eyes.

"Did the voice say anything else?"

Everypony shook their heads.

"Everypony, I cannot be your Princess of Atlantis," Luna said. "We must start anew. Therefore, as my first and final act as Princess of Atlantis, I declare Atlantis to be renamed in honor of the star above us now, Galloway."

"And, since I am still General of the Royal Guard, Your Grace," Star Tracer said, "my second act is to dub thee Luna, the first Princess of Galloway."

"Are there any objections?" Luna and Star Tracer asked to a resounding "no" from the crowd.

"Then let us begin again," Luna said, "and let us build Galloway upon this spot."

Pinkie gasped. "A new empire! A new princess and general! A sunny beach? Do you know what this means?"

"I think we all do, but we'll let you say it, Pinkie" Twilight Sparkle said.

"A New Princess, New General, New Empire Beach Party!"

Twenty-one party cannons from nowhere showered everypony in glitter, cakes, streamers and confetti, kicking off the celebration.

The party was still going strong as the sun gave way for the moon. Galloway continued its watch over the ponies below, glowing brighter than it ever did before.

"How long do you think it will take to build a proper capital for Galloway?" asked Luna.

"A few moons, perhaps," said Star Tracer. "How long did it take to build Canterlot?"

Luna gasped. "That's right! Canterlot! All of Equestria! They need to be rebuilt, too!"

"We can certainly use the help, dear sister," Celestia said, "but I think we've got it under control."

"Although, there's a lot of us who can help get ya up to speed here, too," Applejack said. "If us Apples can raise a barn in a day, a new castle and town shouldn't be too much to handle, Princess Luna."

"Indeed, Your Grace," Rarity said. "I can come up with ideas on decor and livery that would be suitable for such an endeavor."

"I'm sure some of the woodland animals can help wherever they could," said Fluttershy.

"And somepony's going to have to organize your new library," said Twilight Sparkle.

"And I'll definitely plan a big party for the grand opening of Galloway's new castle and town," said Pinkie.

"Just one piece of advice, New Princess: Leave the creepy stuff behind," Rainbow said.

"And no city-sized bombs, either," Spike said.

Luna chuckled. "I think I can do that."

"Speaking of libraries, Your Grace, our vaults were aboard the Aria before she was possessed," said Star Tracer. "We're not sure if they were cast out like we were, but we will need to search for them either way."

"If we find the vaults, what should we do with them?"

Star Tracer looked toward the east. "Not keep it to ourselves... if Princess Celestia allows for our knowledge to spread, of course."

Celestia nodded. "I won't make that mistake again, Luna. I always feared Equestria would lose its magic if it became anything like Atlantis, but I can see that fear was unfounded. Our godmothers proved magic and technology can co-exist, and so as it will be in Galloway, shall it be in Equestria."

"Your Grace, I have one more thing for you."

Star Tracer lifted out an amethyst top from Firestorm's saddle bags.

"Princess Minerva said you might know what this is."

Luna's magic interacted with the top, causing both to glow violet in harmony.

"Minerva... this is you giving me the key to your world, isn't it?"

"Take hold of the flame, Dreamwalker," Star Tracer said.

"Need help reaching those clouds, Scootaloo?"

Shrouded in the rainbow mist enveloping the Winsome Falls gazebo, Luna watched the pegasus attempt to take flight to be with her idol, her wings struggling to lift her body only a few inches off the ground.

"Princess Luna?" Scootaloo asked. "What are you doing here?

"Getting used to one of my new roles. What about you?"

"I just want to be up there with Rainbow Dash," tears welling up beneath her eyes, "but my wings are too small to fly with her."

"I think I can fix that," Luna said, directing her subject's attention to a descending Rainbow.

"Hey kid!" Rainbow said. "Would you like to come fly with me around Winsome Falls?"

"Would I?" Scootaloo's eyes widened.

"Come on! I can carry you on my hoof so you can let those bad boys gets some air," pointing to her admirer's wings as they rapidly buzzed in excitement.

Luna watched her subject beam with pure joy as the pegasi duo zoomed and arced through the rainbows and clouds of the falls, her heart warmed by the feelings of Scootaloo's dream.

"I'll catch ya later, kid!" Rainbow said after dropping Scootaloo off at the gazebo moments later before departing back to Cloudsdale.

"Isn't she amazing!" Scootaloo said.

"She definitely is," Luna said.

"Thank you so much for making this happen! I don't know how you did it, but thank you!"

"You are quite welcome, Scootaloo."

"Will I see you again?"

"For as long as I'm needed," Luna said, wrapping Scootaloo in her wing.

"For as long as I'm needed."

A rainbow-feathered phoenix and a silver-feathered dragon flew toward the rising sun, looking briefly upon the two ponies before vanishing in a flash of violet light.