Only the Best of Intentions

by VanillaWaffle

First published

Starlight goes back in time to stop Ponyville from being destroyed in a disaster. Twilight, having none of that, tries to reverse her meddling, only to realize Starlight may have been on to something.

On a particularly normal morning, Twilight Sparkle learns that Starlight Glimmer has been up to time-altering shenanigans again. She claims that she had to stop Rainbow Dash from performing another Sonic Rainboom in order to save Ponyville from catastrophe, but Twilight had seen enough to know how important Sonic Rainbooms are and how Starlight should absolutely never try to stop one ever again. The future of Equestria could depend on it, after all.

However, Twilight's attempts to fix Starlight's meddling only seem to make things worse. So do her attempts to fix her own previous attempts. As well as her attempts to fix those attempts...

Perhaps Starlight had been onto something.

Twilight Makes a Mess of Things

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Twilight Sparkle had an almost instinctual feeling that something was wrong in the world.

She had no clue what, and no clue where, but there was something pervading the very soul of her being with unease. The random anxiety had brought her breakfast to a halt in an instant. That in and of itself wasn’t unusual for the panic-prone alicorn, but the feeling had come so suddenly and with nothing to prelude her anxiety that she instinctively knew the feeling was abnormal. For a moment, she wondered if this is what Pinkie Pie felt on a daily basis. The moment passed, and she found herself staring intently at her morning waffles.

“Spike?” she called out to the dragon whelp across the table from her.

“Yes?”

“Did something bad happen?”

“You mean this morning?” He poured some more syrup on his waffles and took a bite. “No’ing tha I ‘oh uf,” he said with his mouth full.

“No letters from the princesses?”

“Uh uh.”

“The cutie map hasn’t activated?”

“It wasn’t a minute ago, but I could go check.”

“No, that’s fine.” She gingerly cut a square of waffle out and held it before her in her purple aura. She simply stared at it aimlessly.

“Is everything okay, Twilight? What’s up?”

“It’s… It’s probably nothing,” she conceded, finally putting her fork in her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully and swallowed. “Something just feels... off.”

“Maybe you’re just forgetting something?”

“That couldn’t be it. I check my to-do list every fifteen minutes. I’m sure I couldn’t have missed anything.” She creased her eyebrows, and then lighted up her horn as a scroll popped into existence before her. Her eyes scanned the page purposefully. “Hmm… No, nothing I missed.” The scroll popped away again and Twilight gave a deep sigh, slumping in her seat. “I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m just being worried about nothing.”

“If you say so.” Spike quickly dove back into his meal. After a moment of watching the dragon eat blankly, Twilight smiled and took another bite.

The dining room door opened a moment later, and a noticeably disheveled Starlight Glimmer walked in. “Hello~ everypony!” she called in a singsong manner. “What’s for breakfast this fine morning? Oooh, waffles! Yum!” The unicorn briskly cantered to the table, taking a seat and levitating a pair of waffles onto a plate. Twilight stared at her with an eyebrow raised so high it almost left her face. She was getting the feeling again. Starlight did not return the gaze then. Or at all for the full minute that Twilight stared at her while she shoveled a few forkfuls into her mouth in a daze. “So, yeah, uh, random question. Totally unrelated to anything. Did anything… interesting happen yesterday?”

“Interesting?” Spike asked, putting a claw to his chin thoughtfully. “Not really. Yesterday was pretty much more of the same, I’d say.”

“No… incidents? Or crazy happenings?”

“Nope! Pretty quiet really. Why do you ask? You were here most of the day.”

“Oh. Good. That’s good. Everything's good. These pancakes are good too. Did you make these, Spike?”

“Those are waffles.”

“Oh, right! Waffles. Now that’s an idea! I’ll take three more-”

“What did you do?” Twilight suddenly demanded with an edge in her voice. She stood up from her chair as she said it, placing both hooves on the dining table as she stared with narrowed eyes into Starlight’s now saucer-wide ones.

“Um… nothing? W-why do you ask?” Twilight could see Starlight sweat ever so slightly. The alicorn sized her up again, taking in just how dirty and unkempt Starlight’s mane was. She had a couple minor scrapes as well all about her body.

“I know something’s not right. And I felt like something wasn’t right just before you walked in acting strange and asking questions. So what have you been up to?”

Starlight fidgeted, looking over at Spike as if for reassurance. Spike just shrugged. She looked back at her mentor. “Promise you won’t be mad?”

“That question doesn’t reassure me.”

“Please? Everything worked out, so it’s all fine!”

Twilight took a deep breath and sat in her chair again, taking a beat to calm down. She eventually responded, “Okay. I promise I won’t get mad. Now what happened?”

Starlight tapped her hooves together, looking pointedly anywhere but at her mentor’s eyes. “Well, something bad might have happened, I might have maybe used just a teensy bit, really trace amounts of time travel to stop it from happening.”

A tense silence filled the dining room. Twilight was the first to break it.

“YOU WHAT?” Twilight was once again standing on her chair with her front hooves on the table, staring wild-eyed at a grimacing Starlight Glimmer.

“N-now wait a moment! You promised you wouldn’t get mad!”

“I’M NOT MAD! I’M FURIOUS!” She jumped off her seat and began pacing back and forth. “We talked about this! Time travel is dangerous and-”

“-and one small change could completely change the fate of history,” Starlight finished for her, droning the rest from rote memory. “I know, Twilight. And I promise, I learned my lesson, but this really was an exception!”

“How could this have been an exception? There are no exceptions in the fabric of time and space!” Twilight’s ears were twitching, and she had taken to hovering about a foot in the air. “What could have been so horrible that you had to change it?”

“Well, you see, there was a bit of an incident when-”

“I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT!” She spun on her hooves to face Starlight again, who reared back in surprise. “Who knows what you could have changed because of what you did? Our entire future could have been compromised because of that!”

“I know, I know, but Twilight, you need to understand, the fate of Ponyville hung in the balance!”

“The fate of Ponyville hangs in the balance every other Thursday, Starlight! And yet we don’t time travel every time that happens!”

“Well,” Spike started, holding up his index finger. “There was that one time a couple years ago…”

“And I have since learned from these mistakes, thank you very much.” She turned back to her student, fixing her with a long, hard stare. “What did you change and when?”

“W-well, I had to stop Rainbow Dash from doing a Sonic Rainboom and breaking the-”

“Wait, you stopped her from doing ANOTHER Rainboom? After the last time you did that, WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT WAS OKAY?!”

“Twilight, I think you need to take one or seven deep breaths and calm down.” Starlight backed away from the table with a hoof in front of her.

“I AM CALM!” Nevertheless, she did take a deep breath, held it, and let it out while her hoof echoed the motion on her chest. It only made her feel a little less ready to explode. “My friends and I owe our destiny to Rainbow Dash’s first rainboom. Therefore, I am convinced that whenever Rainbow Dash makes one happen, somepony in the world learns their destiny. Somehow, someway, the future of equestria may be directly tied to Rainbow Dash doing another rainboom just as it was her first. It has to happen, or who knows how the future will be different! So I’ll ask again, when did you go back to?”

“Yesterday around Noon. But Twilight, I really think that-”

“Great! Now go back to your room and write me a three page paper on the dangers of time travel!”

“But Twilight-”

“No butts! Now go!”

Starlight made to protest again, but ultimately shook her head and left the dining room with nothing but a parting “Fine,” and a lot of grumbling.

Twilight watched her student leave with no small amount of anxiety. As soon as the unicorn was out of sight, Twilight turned to Spike. The dragon looked back at her cautiously.

“Twilight, what are you...?”

“I’ll be right back!” Twilight’s horn lit up, and in a blink the purple alicorn was gone.


Twilight rematerialized in a blinding flash in the middle of Ponyville. It took her a moment to regain her bearings. If she cast her spell correctly, it should be noon of the previous day. Indeed, the sun was at its peak in the sky, and ponies were out and about running errands and chatting with each other. She specifically chose to reappear in the square because she never went there yesterday, thus reducing the chances of running into herself. She didn’t need another “Next Tuesday” fiasco.

“Excuse me,” she said, stopping a brown earth pony stallion that was walking by. “If I could ask, what day is it today?”

“It’s Saturday, miss.”

That meant she was when she thought she was. Now to find Starlight and… undo whatever she was planning on doing. “Oh, good. One more question: have you seen Rainbow Dash at all today?”

“Hmm… I think I saw her flying around on the outskirts of town near the Ponyville dam. I’d check there.”

“Thank you very much. Have a good day!” The Stallion nodded his head and walked off into the crowd again. “Okay, to the dam it is.” With another purple flash, Twilight teleported away.


Twilight arrived at the dam after Starlight did. The light-purple unicorn looked just as frazzled as she did at breakfast. She was running in the direction of the dam, and the pegasus stunt flying around it. Twilight studied her intently.

Twilight thought about outright tackling her student, but thought better of it. Time travel could be a fickle thing, and Twilight wanted to avoid unnecessary paradoxes. Thus, the goal was to avoid Starlight seeing her, as well as herself from the past. Also, Twilight didn’t want Starlight thinking she was being a hypocrite by following her back in time. Besides, if Rainbow Dash saw her tackle Starlight, that may distract her from actually doing a Rainboom. That wouldn’t help her cause at all. The alicorn quickly dove into a bush as to not be seen as Starlight ran past.

The prismatic mare in question was in the air doing loop-de-loops above them, flying as close to the dam as possible. She seemed to be using the dam as a way to practice formation flying judging by how close her wingtips came from the large concrete wall. Starlight came to a panting stop just below her. Twilight was just far enough away that she could hear the unicorn call her friend’s name, which prompted the pegasus to pause her practice session to go greet her.

The rest of the conversation was too distant to hear properly, and it was only further muffled by the sounds of the river nearby leading away from the dam.

For a moment, Twilight regretted not tackling Starlight. “Maybe there’s still a way to fix this,” she muttered quietly to herself. She hoped she wasn’t too late.

Twilight suspected that Starlight had resorted to tactics similar to their last anti-Rainboom incident such as freezing the pegasus or otherwise physically stopping her. Her suspicions proved wrong as the unicorn and pegasus simply talked for about a minute. She saw Rainbow Dash cock her head to the side, but then quickly nod with a smile on her face before saying something. Starlight seemed to relax at that and turned around to walk off with a wave as Rainbow Dash launched into the air again. Not long later, the purple unicorn vanished in a blue flash.

That gave Twilight a little bit of hope. If all Starlight had to do was talk to Rainbow to do whatever it is she was trying to do to stop the Rainboom, then that meant she could possibly untalk Rainbow Dash out of it. She smiled. She could still fix this. The alicorn gave her wings a strong flap and lifted into the air, heading in the direction of the stuntmare ahead of her.

“Rainbow Dash!” she called out. The blue pegasus paused again mid loop, hanging upside down for a minute before corkscrewing in the direction of her friend.

“‘Sup, Twilight! Starlight was actually just here if you’re looking for her.”

“Right, about that,” Twilight paused briefly before continuing. “What did Starlight want to talk to you about?”

“Huh? Oh, well, she asked if I could not do any stunts that might be really really loud. She said she needed some peace and quiet to study or something.”

“She said she was… studying?” Starlight risked the fabric of space time for a quiet study session? That was odd. “Did she say specifically why?”

“Naw, didn’t ask. But she did seem kinda weird about it. But that’s cool, I can hold off on Rainbooms for the day.”

“NO! Don’t do that!” Twilight almost shouted. The sudden outburst made Rainbow Dash recoil in the air a few inches.

“O...kay? Don’t do… what, exactly?”

“Don’t not do a Rainboom!”

“Don’t… Huh?”

“You haven’t done a Rainboom in months, and I’m sure one’s been building up inside you, just ready to burst, right?” She leaned forward and elbowed the pegasus, receiving a dubious and confused look in response. “You should go ahead and boom one out right away!”

“Umm… okay? I guess? But Starlight said…”

“Yes, yes, but Starlight studies back at the castle, and that’s on the other side of town. She can just cast a cone of silence spell on herself and she’ll be fine. In fact, I can go back and do it for her. Besides, I bet you’re just itching to practice.”

“Well, if you’re sure she won’t be mad…” Rainbow Dash’s face brightened in an instant, the unsureness vanishing. Okay! Thanks, Twi!” In a burst of wind and a trail of colors, Rainbow Dash returned to her practicing.

Twilight smiled as she returned to the ground alongside the river. That was a lot easier than she was expecting it to be. The alicorn was sure she would need to put up a bit more of a fight. She thought about returning back to the next day, but hesitated. Rainbow hadn’t done a Rainboom yet, instead opting to continue doing loops and spins around the dam. It would probably be for the best if she gave it some time to make sure Rainbow did what she hoped she’d do.

It would also be for the best to give the pegasus some space. When given the option to be right next to a Rainboom shockwave when it occurred or a half mile or so away, it was more pleasant and a little bit healthier to go for the latter. It was easier to regain hearing that way. With that in mind, Twilight took wing and flew away from the dam closer to Ponyville.

She found a good hillside to observe her friend a few minutes later and sat down to watch. It was just close enough where she could still see her the blue pegasus, but far enough away where she was confident her ears were safe.

Sure enough, after about ten minutes Rainbow Dash went into a steep ascent high into the sky. As she reached her peak, she allowed herself to stall and face towards the ground again. She accelerated quickly, and Twilight watched with a wide smile as the mach-cone appeared around her friend while she accelerated.

The flash happened just as the pegasus was at level with the upper rim of the dam. The circular bloom of multicolored light stretched out in all directions, accompanied by a loud crack and a shockwave that knocked Twilight onto her back. No matter how many times her friend did this, it still was a spectacle to behold. She didn’t think she’d ever get tired of it.

She heard Rainbow Dash whoop in happiness at her victory as she came in for a landing on the riverbank. “Well, crisis averted,” she said to herself. “That’s my cue to leave.” The purple alicorn turned around and lit up her horn, preparing to break the time travel spell and go back to the future.

Her horn fizzled out when she heard an uncomfortable rumble resonate in the direction of the dam. She turned her head to look, then promptly froze in place in absolute terror. A large crack was forming along the face of the tall dam. Here pupils shrunk to pinpricks. She spotted Rainbow Dash hovering in place, also looking at it with frightened eyes. If Twilight was closer, she probably would have heard the pegasus say “Uh, oh” before the water burst from the crack under heavy pressure. Twilight gulped.

“Oh, Celestia.”

The dam broke, and all Tartarus broke loose.

The torrential onslaught of water that burst from the dam swallowed Rainbow Dash immediately. Twilight gasped in stunned horror as her friend disappeared beneath the water. She spent a moment desperately searching the waves, ignoring how quickly the water was rushing towards her, until her friend’s prismatic mane popped up out with a gasp of her own, much closer to Twilight than she had been when the water originally came surging out. Relief flooded the alicorn. Then millions of gallons of water flooded her instead.

Twilight struggled underwater as the current tumbled her around until she had no idea which direction was up or down. She opened her eyes briefly just in time to see a tree trunk heading towards her rapidly. In a panic, she powered up her horn and vanished again through time.


Twilight reappeared about twenty hours later with a gasp of air as she plopped onto the castle floor. She coughed and sputtered, forcing the water out of her lungs before looking around to catch her bearings.

She was back in the castle’s dining room, only the whole room now was filled with other ponies that definitely weren’t there earlier. Cots were lined up in rows by the dozens, with some currently occupied with exhausted and bandaged ponies while others were stacked up with personal belongings. A few of the ponies in the room turned to look at her following her sudden and dramatic arrival.

Twilight recognized such as part of Ponyville's emergency preparedness plan. Article 12c of the Ponyville constitution stated that in the event of catastrophic destruction of the town, the Castle of Friendship could be used as a refugee shelter since it was easily the sturdiest building in the valley. Being a magical tree made out of crystal would do that. She had that section memorized as she was the one who wrote it and presented it to the mayor. The only reason it would have been enacted would be if more than half the town had been destroyed…

“Oh, Celestia….” Twilight muttered before galloping out the door and out into the hallway. The entire castle was full of ponies taking shelter everywhere she looked, all with emergency supplies with them. She came up to the banister of the foyer’s upper level and looked down. The foyer was flooded with a couple inches of water. “Oh, nononono. This isn’t good.”

“Nononono!” She heard repeated from the banister on the opposite end of her. Starlight Glimmer was looking down at the same mess she was, seemingly oblivious of her mentor while being just as anxious. “The dam shouldn’t have broken! I thought I fixed this!”

Oh dear. Twilight suddenly understood why Starlight was getting so defensive about her little jaunt through time. But perhaps it wasn’t all that bad. Ponyville had been through disasters before, and it could be salvaged if it meant Rainbow Dash still got to do her Sonic Rainboom. With that thought in mind, Twilight teleported to the middle of town.

Well, she sort of did. There wasn’t really a middle of town anymore. Buildings all around were completely leveled by the water which was many feet deep in some areas. Town hall stayed standing, but not without suffering foundation damage that made it tilt like the Leaning Tower of Pony. She originally assumed that about a third of town was destroyed; it was perhaps closer to three fourths. This was bad.

She looked around and spotted Pinkie Pie floating around in the water in a small wooden rowboat loaded to the brim with… were those pool noodles? The alicorn took flight, hovering near the boat.

“Pinkie! What are you doing out here?”

“Oh, Hiya, Twilight! Just out doing some searching and rescuing.” She picked up a blue noodle and waggled it in front of her. “I always told you that keeping stashes of floaties hidden around Ponyville in case of flood emergencies was a good idea!”

“You never told me you did that.” She shook her head. “Nevermind. Is everypony okay?”

“Yupperooni! Mostly, anyway. My Pinkie sense has been helping me find stranded ponies to send to your castle. A lot of them have some pretty nasty owies. Rainbow Dash is over on the northside of town looking from above.”

Rainbow Dash was okay? Oh, thank Celestia. Then Twilight asked the question she had been dreading. “Has anypony… not been okay?”

Pinkie Pie’s smile disappeared and her mood turned somber. “Well…”

That was enough for Twilight. The alicorn burst out of existence before Pinkie could even get a second word out.


Twenty hours earlier, Twilight Sparkle was pacing in the forest near the dam. “Okay, Twilight. Starlight saved ponies lives, and you ruined it. What to do…” The purple mare looked upwards to her friend making contrails in the sky above her. Starlight should be arriving any minute, and the past version of herself sometime soon afterwards. She’d want to stay out of sight for now, lest she let past-Twilight see her and make the timeline even worse. As if it could get worse, that is.

“Let’s see… the shockwave from the Sonic Rainboom was enough to cause cracking in the concrete of the dam. That’s something I should alert Mayor Mare about, but there’s nothing I can do about that right now…” Twilight began mumbling, barely audible even to herself as she thought things through. She could see Starlight now, running down the path towards Rainbow Dash. Why didn’t she go back a little sooner so she could have more time to think?

The Sonic Rainboom still had to happen. Twilight was sure of that. But surely there had to be a way to allow Rainbow Dash to make one today without her breaking the dam. She patted her temple with a hoof and scrunched her face in concentration. “Think, Twilight, think.”

She saw Starlight walk away and then vanish again, and soon saw herself approach from the bushes. That was an odd feeling, but she didn’t have time to ruminate on that.

Suddenly, the idea struck her. “That’s it!” she loudly whispered. “I just need to tell Rainbow Dash to practice elsewhere. Of course, it’s so simple!”

She moved a little closer to the dam, still staying out of sight. She ducked behind a bush while she watched herself talk to Rainbow Dash about ignoring Starlight. From this perspective, it made her seem like a bit of a jerk. Oops. Soon enough, Past Twilight turned around and walked away with a content smile on her face. The fool.

Twilight knew she had only a limited window of opportunity to talk to Rainbow Dash without being spotted by herself, so she quickly moved in just as her friend resumed her routine. “Wait, Rainbow Dash!”

The pegasus banked down to talk with her. “Yeah, Twi- woah, what happened to you?”

Twilight only then realized that she was still soaking wet, and considering that she had just trudged through the some bushes, she probably looked like a mess. “Don’t worry about it! I have a better idea for you.”

“O… kay? What’s up?”

“I think you should do the rest of your practice session over…” She paused a moment to think. “Over… above Whitetail Woods! Yeah, that’ll work!”

Rainbow Dash looked confused. “Over Whitetail Woods? Why?”

“Because it’s, uh… far enough away from the castle that Starlight or anyone else wouldn’t be bothered if you did a Rainboom?”

“But I thought you said that-”

“Yesyesyes, I know what I said, but I think it’ll be a better place to practice overall. Don’t you think?”

“I… guess?” Rainbow Dash looked around for nothing in particular. “Sure. I guess I can go to Whitetail Woods.” She looked back at the purple alicorn. “Are you sure you’re doing okay, Twi? You look like you’ve been through a doozy.”

“NOPE! No doozies! Everything’s been completely and totally dooziless! Now why don’t you head over to the woods now?”

Rainbow Dash stared at her in silence for a moment more, seemingly sizing her up. Then she shrugged. “Alright then. See ya later, Twilight!” She zoomed off in a rainbow trail.

Twilight Sparkle let out a deep sigh, brushing a hoof through her mane to hopefully make it at least a little neater. She’d fixed it, and everything will now be back to normal. And it had been delightfully easy. She smiled, then lit her horn and vanished.


The castle was still full of ponies, which immediately made Twilight’s heart start racing again. The circumstances seemed to have changed ever so slightly, though. Instead of being soaking wet, many of them were covered in bandages and were coughing fiercely. Many of them had what looked like singed manes.

“Spike?” the alicorn called out worriedly, not knowing exactly where he was.

“Coming!” her assistant’s voice called from down the hall. She wandered out to the foyer balcony again intent on meeting him halfway. The foyer wasn’t underwater anymore, and instead had become another place to house and treat injured and displaced ponies. She saw Starlight Glimmer again on the opposite railing, looking positively befuddled. “What do you need, Twi- woah. Are you okay?”

“What… what exactly happened yesterday?”

“You mean with the fire? What about it?”

“Fire?” Starlight said as she teleported next to them. “What fire? What happened?”

Spike looked to her in confusion. “Did… you girls hit your heads or something?”

“Just answer the question!” both of the two mares said at the same time. Spike backed up a step.

“Okay, okay! It was a firework mishap! Trixie’s firework stand got knocked over when the stampede happened and lit town hall and a bunch of other houses on fire. The fireponies couldn’t put it all out before it started spreading throughout Ponyville!”

“Stampede?” Starlight asked, vocalizing what Twilight was also wondering. “What stampede?”

“You don’t… Seriously, are you guys okay? I know it’s been a rough twenty-four hours, but you guys are freaking me out.”

Twilight groaned. “What stampede, Spike?”

“A bunch of animals - like, a few hundred of them - all came rushing through town yesterday. They made a huge mess of things and made it easier for the fire to spread. They destroyed a lot of the market square and interrupted Trixie’s magic show, causing the fireworks to go haywire. Fluttershy said that they were startled by Rainbow Dash’s Sonic Rainboom yesterday.” Twilight flushed. He pointed at the two mares. “You guys were both there. How do you not remember this?”

Twilight could feel another panic attack brewing. Starlight seemed to notice, as she was staring at Twilight intently. “I… I’m going to look around town…” she said, trying to control her breathing.

“O….kay? Let me know if Applejack needs any help going through some of the embers. I was helping her with that all night.” He walked off, leaving the two mares. Without saying a word, Twilight turned around to go downstairs. She stepped down the crystal staircase with a glazed look. Starlight followed, eyebrow raised.

“Twilight?” The unicorn trotted forward to catch up with her mentor as they crossed the foyer. “Twilight! Why do you look guilty?”

The alicorn froze midstep. She quickly pivoted on a hoof to face her student, wearing an unconvincing innocent look. “Whaaat? Why would you say that, Starlight? Pfft! Why would I be feeling guilty?” She made no eye contact the whole time.

“You’re not a good liar, Twilight…” There was a pause as Starlight studied her, making Twilight sweat all the while. Then she straitened. “YOU MADE RAINBOW DASH DO THE RAINBOOM ANYWAY!”

“What! I… but… you... Like you’re one to talk! I’m just trying to fix your meddling in the space-time continuum!”

“Oh, well that seems to be going quite well, wouldn’t you think? You’ve succeeded in making things worse!”

“That Sonic Rainboom has to happen! The future of equestria might depend on it, and you stopped it! Besides, I doubt this is worse than the flood.”

Starlight’s eyes bulged. “Worse than the… You mean to tell me that this isn’t the first time you’ve fixed things?” Twilight gulped and said nothing. The unicorn rubbed her face with a hoof and groaned deeply as Twilight continued towards the front door. With a push of magic, the door opened.

It was worse than the flood. The majority of Ponyville had collapsed and was smoldering, some houses being nothing but ashes. A thick haze of smoke filled the air. There were ponies out in the streets rummaging through the embered remains of homes and businesses. Twilight closed the door, turning to face her apprentice who was glaring daggers at her. Without a word, Twilight lit her horn again, preparing another spell. Starlight’s eyes widened.

“Nonono, Twilight! You’re just going to make it wo-”

The alicorn blinked away.


“You want me to go practice somewhere else… again?” Rainbow Dash looked at her frazzled friend oddly. “Twilight, is everything okay? You’re starting to freak me out.”

“Yes! Everything’s fine!” She said with a twitch of the eye. She had tracked Rainbow Dash down again over the Whitetail Woods, where she was just warming up after a change of location. “I just realized that… uh....”

The alicorn fidgeted. Telling the truth might make Rainbow Dash skeptical. Or worse, she would tell Starlight. She’d rather avoid the ‘I told you so’ that might arise from that. Again. So she continued to wing it.

“That… that Fluttershy was… taking a nap?” Smooth, Twilight. Like anyone sensible would buy that.

Luckily, Rainbow Dash bought it. With a groan, she muttered “Fiiiine. I’ll go over the Everfree to practice. But if I crash in the forest and get eaten by a hydra, I’m gonna haunt you!”

“Wonderful! Looking forward to it! Have a great day, Rainbow Dash!”

The pegasus could only let out a confused “Wha?” before her friend blinked away again.


There weren’t any ponies taking refuge in the castle anymore. That would have reassured Twilight if the castle was still there. In fact, the base of the castle and the foyer were still in their place, but the rest of her crystal home was broken up into pieces and strewn about like candy in front of the Nightmare Moon statue on Nightmare Night.

Twilight groaned in frustration as her ear twitched.

The alicorn couldn’t find it in her to be more than moderately put out by this. It was only the second time her house had been destroyed. Rather, she was annoyed more by the fact that she couldn’t seem to catch a break. “When this is over, I am never time traveling ever again.”

Twilight soon realized she was hearing screaming near the center of town, which prompted her to turn around to face it. There she witnessed a hulking bipedal giant, at least fifty feet tall with grey skin, toothy upward-facing fangs, and only one eye in the center of its face. It was currently holding Sugarcube Corner upside down, shaking it over its mouth as if trying to get the confectionaries out like a saltshaker. It probably was, now that Twilight thought of it.

“This is just typical,” she muttered. The alicorn flapped into the air towards the Cyclops. From there, she had a much better vantage of the destruction. Everything between the castle and Sugarcube Corner had been absolutely leveled to the ground. It was reasonable to think the cyclops wasn’t done destroying things. Twilight chose not to think about what or who else might be buried under all that rubble.

She flew closer to get a better look when she noticed a screaming pony dangling out from a window in the building the giant was carrying. Twilight gasped as she saw the pony lose grip and fall towards the waiting mouth of the Cyclops. She made a move towards the scene, but the panicked mare was caught just in time in a sky-blue aura. The mare was set on the ground away from the now even more irritated monster, which turned its head this way and that in an attempt to find the brave rescuer.

“I was supposed to be having a normal breakfast right about now!” Starlight said before blasting the cyclops in the face with a sky-blue magical beam. The giant only seemed to find the injury to be a slight annoyance more than a hindrance. Nevertheless, it swatted at Starlight like a pony would swat at a fly.She teleported away just in time. She noticed a blue and multicolored blur flying around the ogre as well, doing even less than Starlight did. Well, at least Rainbow Dash was okay.

Part of Twilight wanted to help. The rest of her was too busy formulating a new plan for the next loop. Twilight assumed the Rainboom had something to do with the cyclops going on a rampage. She just wished she had more information.

“Twilight! You’re okay!” Twilight turned her head to look at Fluttershy, who was flapping up to her as quickly as she could. Twilight practically jumped on her.

“Fluttershy! I need you to tell me everything you know about that cyclops!”

“Everything I know? Oh, dear. I don’t really know much more than anypony else.”

“Did you see where the cyclops come from? When did it show up?”

“Where did it come from? The Everfree, of course. It came out soon after Rainbow Dash did her Sonic Rainboom yesterday afternoon. Don’t you remember?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course I remember. Do you know anything else about it?”

The confused and slightly disturbed look on Fluttershy’s face seemed to be a common occurrence around Twilight, lately. “Umm… Well, my animal friends told me the ogre was sleeping and was woken up by the Rainboom. He wasn’t very happy about it.” She looked sheepishly over at the battle currently raging in the center of town. “Umm… obviously.”

Twilight figured that was enough. All she needed to do was find the cyclops in the past and… handle it. Somehow. “Thanks, Fluttershy! You’re the best!” She made a vector towards the cyclops.

“Twilight? Where are you going?”

“To steal a piece of the cyclops’ loin cloth!”

Fluttershy did not follow any further.


After surviving a very peeved (and oddly embarrassed) cyclops who found themselves without a large chunk of its only clothing, Twilight poofed back to the past. Now she found herself trudging through the Everfree forest. She held the cloth before her, having enchanted it with a scrying spell to guide her to its owner. She was cantering at quick pace, leaping over fallen tree branches to get to her destination before the Rainboom happened. She had made sure to travel a little bit further in the past to give her more time. Hopefully it wasn’t all needed.

After about twenty minutes of watching the dirty rag blink faster and faster, Twilight finally found what she was looking for. It was a large cave naturally cut into a cliffside. Within the darkness, she could hear loud snoring that had to have been from something big. She didn’t even need to hear it as each snore made the ground and the cave walls practically tremble.

“Okay, Twilight. It’s just a cyclops cave. One that has a high potential to destroy entire villages when startled. You got this.” She took three deep breaths, extending her hoof in the way Cadence had taught her each time. Eventually, she adopted a manic smile. “Easy! Here I go!” She lifted into the air and entered the mouth of the cave.

She had an idea on what to do. It was probably a stupid idea, but it was the only one she had. It would have to do. She wandered for another minute, a faint lighting spell guiding her way, when she found it. The giant was curled up on its side, sucking its thumb. “Huh,” she found herself saying under her breath.

The giant rolled over in response, taking its thumb out of its mouth and made a series of loud snores. Feeling just Twinanas enough to buck her fear in the face, she conjured up a glowing pair of oversized earmuffs. With utmost care and delicacy, the alicorn floated the earmuffs over to the head of the beast. The earmuffs ever so slowly squeezed over its ears, causing an extra loud snort in response. Twilight froze, but nothing happened. Finally, she let the muffs free and admired her work.

“Yup,” she said loudly with that terrible smile still on her face. “This’ll definitely work.”


The cyclops didn’t attack this time. Instead Twilight arrived in the castle to find herself being attacked by a pair of…

Were those moles?

Almost immediately after returning, two of them that had been ransacking Twilight’s kitchen had spotted and made a rush for her, holding spears and hoofcuffs while shouting “DOWN WITH THE HOOVED DEMONS!” in an almost adorable squeaky voice. Having decidedly ran out of flying feathers to give three loops ago, Twilight grabbed both of the ugly beasts and slammed their heads together. The two oddly large (and oddly armed) moles crumpled to the ground in an unconscious slump.

“Okay,” Twilight said, taking a deep breath (or twelve shallow ones. What’s the difference?) “Mole-people. With spears. In the castle. I wonder what caused that. Ugh!” She growled in frustration. “This is fine! Everything will be fine. Somehow. Possibly.” In a huff, the twitching mare went outside.

She found the town in one piece this time. The problem was that it was swarming with the abnormally large Mole-people. The eyeless furry creatures were holding many ponies at spear point. The ponies themselves were locked in chains and hoofcuffs, all of them looking less than enthused. The unicorns wore horn suppressors while the pegasi had their wings tied to their barrels. Where did moles even get horn suppressors? Everypony was being corralled into a large group in front of Town Hall. A short podium had been set up along the steps.

Twilight viewed all of this as she hid in a bush, which seemed to be becoming a regular thing over the last… however long it had been for her. The alicorn struggled to keep her twitching wings from rustling the branches. She had a lot of questions about this new timeline. The dam, fire, and cyclops she could understand. But why in Equestria would an army of subterranean creatures invade and enslave Ponyville? It wasn’t like this in her original timeline, so the Sonic Rainboom had to have had something to do with it.

She could see Applejack and Rarity in the shackled group nearby, looking severely put out by whatever chain of events had led to this. Twilight imagined her other friends were probably somewhere else in the thick crowd, though she couldn’t see them. That was a real shame, because at this point all she wanted was for one of them to give her a sitrep so she could go back and fix it. She just needed somepony to tell her what happened over the last twenty-four or so hours.

“Ponies! Let me tell you what has happened here in the last twenty-four or so hours!” Twilight pumped a hoof in silent victory as a stubby mole-person wearing a golden bejeweled crown that fell over where his eyes would have been stepped up to the podium and spoke in his adorable squeaky voice. “For years we have been at peace under the cool, quiet earth of the Everfree. For years we have kept ourselves quiet, hoping you’d be the same. But as the moons have passed, you find it increasingly more common for you to assault our ears and make our underground homes rumble. Yesterday, you ponies dared attack us, making our tunnels crumble under the powerful reverberation of your aerial bombardment!”

Was he talking about the Sonic Rainboom? How would that be considered a sign of aggression? She continued to listen.

“We have suffered such attacks against our people for long enough! We even deigned to give you an ample warning shot by way of a wonderful giant that we contracted in the forest.”

They made a deal with the cyclops? Huh. That was… unexpected.

“Our mighty friend was supposed to rise from his slumber when our home was attacked and give you something to consider. But, somehow, he didn’t wake up. So you have us! And we shall rule over you! Bow before you’re new leaders!”

There was booing from within the audience.

“Resistance is useless! All of Equestria will be under our control soon enough! Bow before us!”

Of all the disasters that had happened previously, this one seemed the most... stupid. It also seemed the most manageable. She’d dealt with much worse than an army of disgruntled oversized-but-still-small rodents. The Storm King’s invasion had been much worse than this. If her day had been a little better, she probably would have done something more reasonable. But she had come so far. What’s a little more destruction to time and space?

“Excuse me? Mr. Mole King?” Twilight said as she waltzed out of her hiding place and towards the army of startled creatures. “Wonderful day we’re having. Great job seizing the populace, I must say. Can I ask a question?”

“Who… what?” The mole king looked over at the alicorn. So did his soldiers. No one moved. “You dare speak out of turn? State your name, pony!”

“Naw, I’m good. I just want to know, are you saying that if the cyclops had woken up, that would have been enough warning without there needing to be a sneak attack?”

“Twilight, dear, what do you think you’re doing?”

“Shh! I got this, Rarity!”

Twilight was banking on the Mole King not being very bright. It helped that they were blind and probably would not notice she was a princess. It’s likely they would have actually been afraid of her if they could see; not so much because of the wings, but because of how many directions the feathers on her unkempt wings were facing. “I… yes? That was the original plan, to have him come by and give you all a mean fright so you’d stop making a racket.”

“Would the cyclops have had to destroy anything?”

“We didn’t order it to. He was just supposed to… Wait, what am I doing explaining all of this too you? GUARDS!” Suddenly all the confused soldiers pointed their spears towards her. She was nonplussed, instead feeling absurdly giddy. “Seize her!”

“Well, this was fun. Thank you very much for your time, your majesty!” The guards lunged for her, only to knock themselves out when it turned out she was no longer there.


When Twilight reappeared in the cyclops's cave, she quickly proceeded to remove the earmuffs with all the care that a pony so deep into a panic attack that adrenaline had completely replaced her endorphins could muster. She waited out in the opening until the Rainboom occurred, in which case the cyclops came sprinting out of the cave in a roaring rage. She had a genius plan for this, though.

With the spectacular failure of Plans A through D, Twilight was certain that this plan had to work. Indeed, zapping the cyclops in the face with a magic laser and insulting its mother had gotten its attention, which let her lead the screeching giant on a wild chase around the outskirts of the Everfree. She hoped this would be enough to appease the Mole-people. It did. The Mole-people never showed up. That part of the plan worked, at least.

Unfortunately, as Twilight was zipping through the trees along the edge of the forest, the giant had found a nice new weapon in the form of Zecora’s house. It had picked up the entire tree hut from its roots and threw it like a javelin at the franticly fleeing alicorn, who only narrowly dodged it with a well timed-teleport. Thankfully, Twilight didn’t hear any screaming, which most likely meant Zecora was out and about. That was good.

What was bad was that Zecora had apparently been experimenting with a new brew which used a heavy amount of Poison Joke. The house had landed in the nearby river. The potion had then spilled into the river, and that river had led into the town’s water supply.

The results the next day were widespread and fairly unpleasant. A few ponies transformed by the pesky blue plant were bad enough, but an entire town hindered by its effects had been a little less harmless than she would have thought. It didn’t help that Zecora’s mysterious potion had only seemed to amplify its effects. Spike had apparently grown actual spikes all over his body, Applejack had grown to the size of a barn, and Rarity had become invisible. That made sightings of her very uncommon, unsurprisingly.

And so Plan E had also been a failure. So had Plan F, Plan G, and Plans H through L. She would have said she was seeing a pattern, but to say such a thing would be a slap in the face of the Scientific community as it was so mind-bogglingly obvious that even Ditzy Doo would say ‘Well, yeah’. Each time she changed something to make the Rainboom still happen, some other disaster occured. Plan J had caused a devastating Earthquake in Canterlot that apparently made it fall off the mountain. Twilight had no idea how that one could have even been caused or prevented, so she just talked Rainbow Dash into moving somewhere else. She had sent Rainbow Dash away many times, miles in every direction, much to the annoyance of the blue pegasus.

No matter what she did, it seemed the Sonic Rainboom always heralded in some disaster. It truly was looking like Starlight’s original timeline alteration might have been the best outcome. The idea made Twilight want to cry.

That might have also been because of the parasprites currently nipping at her mane as she sat with her head face down on a picnic table outside a cafe that was currently being devoured. Without looking up, she grabbed one of the pesky bugs in a purple aura and slammed it into the table repeatedly until it stopped moving. She then sat up quickly and shot a fierce glare at the other offending parasprites, which actually had the wherewithal to look frightened and buzzed off. That might have also been because Twilight looked so ragged and stressed that it appeared that she could spontaneously combust at any moment, taking out any creatures caught within a ten foot perimeter. Good. Those town-scarfing pests could go reproduce with themselves.

Apparently Ponyville had evacuated hours ago and two thirds of the city’s architecture was already gone. Having just scared away the parasprites for the time being, Twilight was alone with her thoughts. As her thoughts were mainly about how Starlight had been right and she had been only making things worse, she told her thoughts to buzz off as well. Unfortunately, Twilight’s thoughts were extra stubborn, which was usually the cause of her common freakouts.

“Maybe the Sonic Rainboom doesn’t have to happen this time,” she said to the table as she plopped her face over it once again. “Maybe it shouldn’t happen.”

The idea flew in the face of everything she had been telling herself for the last… yikes, she had to have been going back and forth for at least twenty-four hours. Likely thirty. Still, the only thing that had kept her going this far was the unchangeable fact that the Sonic Rainboom was important for the future of Equestria.

Now, Twilight couldn’t care less about the future of Equestria. It wasn’t the first time Rainbow Dash had done a Rainboom. It was hardly even the fifth time! Rainbooms had become common occurrences. But there might be six foals out there that will all find their destinies because of this Rainboom, she thought to herself. She kicked herself as a rebuttal.

Twilight let out a long, deep growl of resentment towards the whole situation. Starlight could have doomed all of Equestria by stopping the Rainboom in the long run, but the short run had been a big load of horse apples each way she twisted it. Doomed if she did, Doomed if she didn’t.

A small swarm of parasprites swooped in and ate the picnic bench she was resting on in an instant, causing Twilight to plop gracelessly onto the dirt. “Yeah, well, go to Tartarus, you glorified cotton balls!” She picked herself up and angrily brushed some of the dirt out of her coat. She raised a single hoof upwards in the direction of the parasprites, feeling like the gesture had some weight to it but not quite knowing why.

She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out. She had been doing that a lot lately. She probably should have been doing it more often. She also probably shouldn’t have gone back in time over and over again in a seemingly endless pursuit to repeatedly destroy her town. She probably should have given up a while ago, she thought.

And so it was that Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship and role model to many, gave up. The only problem was that she had already done so much to mess things up that giving up would actually take some effort. Twilight groaned, lit her horn, and disappeared.


She found Rainbow Dash on route to Ghastly Gorge, which had been where the parasprites had come from. The pegasus had been flying all over the central part of Equestria at her friend’s behest, and as a result had spent more time flying than stunting. Her face was locked in a mild scowl as a result.

Twilight teleported nearby and took wing, struggling to catch up with the prismatic pegasus. She soon fell into formation alongside her. “Rainbow Dash, do you think you could…”

“Holy pony-feathers, Twilight! What is it now?!” She stopped in an instant and turned on her friend with a fierce glare. Despite everything that she had been through up until now, Twilight shrank back in response. “All day, you’ve been showing up out of the blue and telling me to go practice somewhere else. ‘Oh, Rainbow, do the Rainboom even though Starlight asked you not too!’ ‘Oh, Rainbow, do it over the Everfree!’ ‘Nevermind, Rainbow, do it near Canterlot!’ ‘Oh, Rain-’”

“I don’t sound like that!” Twilight shouted indignantly.

“Whatever! I’m tired, and you’re driving me nuts!”

“Rainbow Dash, I’m sorry about all that, but I need to tell you-”

“You know what Twilight? I don’t even want to practice anymore! I’m going home” She huffed and turned back the way she came.

“But Rainbow Dash, you…! Oh.” Twilight actually felt herself deflate a little as she flapped to catch up. “Does that mean… you aren’t going to do a Sonic Rainboom today?”

“Nope. Right now, all I want is to find a nice, happy little cloud and take a long nap.”

Well, that was easy. “Great! I mean…” Rainbow looked at her oddly. “I mean… that should be good. I’m sure you need a rest after today.”

“Yeah. I do.” The pegasus looked at her with a hint of concern. “I think you do too. Maybe you should go back to the castle and take a nap as well. You’ve seemed a little… nutzo today.”

“Nutzo?”

“Nutzo.”

In hindsight, Twilight was finding it hard to rebuke that. She hadn’t slept since this whole debacle had started. “Sounds good. See you later, Rainbow Dash!”

“Yeah, see ya.” In a flash, Twilight was gone. Hopefully for the last time.


Twilight popped back into existence eighteen or so hours later. She had her eyes clenched shut, afraid of opening them only to see a destroyed castle and a town swarming with changelings.

“Uh, Twilight?” Spike asked. “What was that about?”

The alicorn opened her eyes. Beside her was her number one assistant, looking up at her quizzically from where he sat at the dining table. A pair of half-eaten waffles lay before him. “Nothing! That was about nothing!”

“Are you sure? Because you’ve only been gone a few minutes and you look like you’ve been through a tornado.”

“Yup, yup! Perfectly fine!” The tornado had been a result of plan H. Twilight was actually a little surprised her mane was still wind-swept, it had been so long. She noticed her own half eaten plate of waffles sitting untouched beside the dragon’s. Realizing she hadn’t eaten somewhere in the span of a few hours or a few days, the princess dove into her seat and scarfed down the remaining waffles in only a few bites. Spike watched in horror at the spectacle. “‘O, di’ any’ing cra’y ha’en ye’erday?” she asked with her mouth full as she loaded her plate with even more of the sugary disks. Spike just stared at her.

A few minutes later, Starlight walked through the door again holding a rolled up scroll. “Twilight, I know you asked me to write a paper on why I was wrong to go back in time, but I really think I’m justified here and wrote a thousand word essay on why I had to…” she trailed off as she looked at her mentor. “What… what happened to you?”

“NOTHINGIMFINE! Let me see that!” She levitated the scroll out of Starlight’s stunned magical grip and held it in front of her. Her eyes scanned it for all of two seconds, not even registering a single word. “Looks great. You convinced me. Don’t do it again.”

“But… you… okay?”

“Now if you excuse me, I feel like taking a nap for, I dunno, fourteen hours.” Twilight shoved another pair of waffles in her mouth, got up from her seat, and left the room. “Bye,bye!”

Starlight Glimmer and Spike watched her go without another word. There was a silence in the room after she was gone.

“Uh... what was that about?” Starlight asked, not taking her eyes off the door her mentor had left through.

“I don’t think I even want to ask,” Spike said, gazing uncomfortably at his waffles.