[MLP:FiM] Crossroads (Starlight Glimmer-centric)


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[font='Open Sans', Arial, sans-serif]Starlight won, or so she thought. Never waiting for Twilight to return to the Castle, she went back in time and changed it on her own, before heading back through the time portal.[/font]

[font='Open Sans', Arial, sans-serif]Where she steps out is a time she's never seen before.[/font]

[font='Open Sans', Arial, sans-serif]Fortunately, more than one pony in Equestria's history has fiddled with time.[/font]
In the many months since the town she had built with her own sweat and blood had fallen apart around her, Starlight Glimmer had thirsted for revenge against the six ponies who had brought about the end of Our Town as a vision for the future. She had searched high and low for a method of payback that was certain to succeed, even accounting for the fact one of those accursed mares was a genuine Alicorn, and the most recently coronated Princess of the realm, and Starlight had finally lucked out.

With the time spell she had located and revised, Starlight only needed a specific time to go back to. She had hemmed and hawed over it: she had wanted a symbolic period in time where she could break those six girls and hurt them the most. A chance hearing about Princess Twilight Sparkle delivering a lecture at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns had paid off.

As Starlight sat in the Castle of Friendship, there was only one last internal struggle for her to war over: should Starlight wait for Twilight Sparkle to return so she could gloat about her revenge to the leader of the band of ponies that her ruined her precious utopia, or should Starlight return to the past right away and change it with no other pony ever the wiser?

Every second that ticked away would make that debate moot, as Twilight would eventually return home. Eventually, Starlight’s pragmatic side won, mere minutes before Twilight would have entered the throne room that hosted the Map of Equestria. Holding onto the scroll, she activated the Cutie Map, and travelled back in time to mere minutes before Rainbow Dash, as a filly, would first activate the Sonic Rainboom.

It had been easy for Starlight to stop the Rainboom, after she first took a loop to observe the exact circumstances of what had happened that day and come up with her plan of attack. All she had to do was levitate around the fillies and colts, all of them visibly impressed at a unicorn who had mastered the rare power of self-assisted flight through her magic. Starlight didn’t stop there, however: recognising the younger forms of Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, she preached to them and the other pegasi. Starlight had had little time for self-reflection in the last few months, but she was willing to admit her views on Equality had been slightly skewed. Bringing everyone down to the level of the lowest-performing might be Equal, but bringing everyone up to the level of the highest-performing was a better Equal.

Starlight Glimmer went against the grain of pony society, but even she had morals: she would not kill a pony unless it was in absolute self-defence, and she was not even sure she could then. Starlight was uncertain whether her intervention meant that Rainbow Dash would merely perform a Sonic Rainboom tomorrow instead of today, instead of never pulling one off. Because of this, she had to come up with a different method to stop it. By getting Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy to make up with the bullying colts and form their own clique on what was apparently the last day of Flight School, Starlight Glimmer was certain that even if Rainbow Dash eventually pulled off the Sonic Rainboom, its timing would no longer lead to the simultaneous discovery of six different Cutie Marks.

And if circumstances contrived to make it still happen, then Starlight would be certain to swing a bigger sledgehammer against ‘destiny’ to gum up time’s spinning gears. 

Satisfied that the Sonic Rainboom was no more, Starlight snuck away from the happy colts and fillies, and activated her scroll to return to the present.


The time portal opened, and Starlight fell.

Her magic solved that problem quickly, and she started floating down gracefully, contacting the cobblestone floor with her hooves. Then she frowned.

Where was here? As Starlight looked around, few answers were forthcoming, but more questions were piling up with every passing second. The purple unicorn was on a golden-brown floor, with railings around the perimeter, with a single set of stairs going down. What was more, there was no discernable sky to be seen. Outside of what appeared to be a floating island that Starlight was standing on, all was a haze of stripes of black and twilight blue. There was no separation between indoors or outdoors, the sky or space: it simply was.

“Ah, another guest.”

Starlight jumped as she simultaneously yelped in surprise.

“Don’t be shy now. You’ve come a long way, or should I say a long time, to get here.”

The mare approached the stairs with caution, putting one hoof on the first step before putting the next one. Starlight Glimmer had not gotten as far as she had in life by being careless, so she held back on using her magic to float herself down. She was in a strange place built out of a strange material, the colour which all too strongly resembled the extremely rare anti-magic metal mined from near the centre of the Earth.

As she trotted down, she found herself at another island. Here, there was a door to one side, with nothing visible on the other side but for open space. Starlight expected that the door straddled dimensions, otherwise there was no point to it. A few other odd knick-knacks littered the island, but none quite caught her eye like the centre of the island.

“So this is the latest one from Equestria? At least, I assume you’re from Equestria, given your Cutie Mark.”

A figure in a dark cape stood at the base of a lamppost of all things, most likely a male going by his deep voice. She wasn’t certain what he was, but by his height, he certainly was no minotaur or yak. Starlight crossed several species more off the list as she saw his limbs, which ended in hooves. “Who are you?” She asked, before deciding that was the less important question. “No, better yet, where am I?”

The creature chuckled. Starlight held her tongue. Whatever this male was, he held the answers she dearly needed. “Why, you’re at the End of Time, of course.”

“The End…of Time?” Starlight asked, anger turning to confusion as she puzzled over those words.

“Why yes, of course,” The creature continued, mirth all-present in his speech, “Every so often, throughout the ages somepony or somegriffin or somelizard will toy around with time without knowing what they’re doing, and end up here.”

Starlight didn’t like being confused. While this male’s words didn’t clear up the fog that had settled over her, she knew what he was insinuating, “I knew what I was doing!” She yelled, stomping the floor with her hoof. “I improved on a time spell! Star Swirl himself couldn’t do what I did!”

“Star Swirl, you say?” The creature asked, cryptic meaning obvious in all his words, before he continued, “Never mind that. The End of Time, well, it isn’t really the end per se. It’s more like, a single weak point in time you could say. If you push against time too much, time will push back against you. The End of Time is the point of least resistance, where time drops you off for a time-out, pardon the pun.”

Starlight felt like she was swimming through syrup trying to understand the math and physics behind what the male was saying, but Starlight thought she understood the ramifications all too clearly. “So you’re saying…I’m stuck here, then,” She said, trembling as her life finally caught up with her.

He clicked his tongue, “I didn’t say that. From here, you can travel to most points of time and space using an anchor.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Long ago,” He said, “I came to this place. In life, I thought I understood time, but in death I began to realise just how naïve I was.”

Starlight took a hoofstep back.

The figure seemed to realise what he had said, and hastened to correct himself, “No no, I’m not really dead or anything! I’m still a living, breathing stallion, thank you very much.”

“Cut it out!” Starlight yelled, fear turned to a subtle mix of anger and indignation. “So I’m apparently stranded out of time? If that’s the case, tell me, and in Celestia’s name stop being so bloody cryptic!”

“Celestia, eh?” The creature continued to mumble, “I haven’t heard that name spoken in a long time.” He cleared his throat, “Well, I suppose you have a point, but fair’s fair. I’ve given you information already, and you haven’t even told me your name yet, or where in time you came from. That hardly seems equal.”

Starlight nearly choked at that last word.

Breathing in and out for a few seconds, the purple mare said, “My name is Starlight Glimmer. By Equestria’s calendar, I came from four years after Luna’s return, or a thousand and four years after her banishment to the moon as Nightmare Moon.”

“Ah, that’s interesting. So many travellers seem to come from around that time period,” The mysterious stranger said, “Ponies from that time seem to be less formal, too. Only one of them makes certain to call Luna and Celestia Princesses.”

Starlight growled, and he appeared to hasten by the slightest fraction. In this place, however, time was already feeling off to Starlight, so she couldn’t be certain. “But you’ve been second most spirited of my guests so far! And you did mention something to pique my curiosity, so I may as well show you…” The creature brought up his hoof to finally bring down his hood, revealing his features to the short-tempered unicorn.

Starlight Glimmer’s jaw dropped.

She was aware that historical details changed as time passed. The changing morals of a society between generations could lead to a reinterpretation of an event. Rare books were never copied, and then lost to theft, to fire, to flooding, to any number of things that could rid the world of bits of knowledge forever. Even the presence of immortal beings such as the Alicorn Princesses did not prevent relics of a past civilisation from fading into dust. 

Despite the many different artists throughout the years with different ideas, the stallion before her was undeniably Star Swirl the Bearded.

“So, you said you improved one of my spells,” said Star Swirl. Starlight noted there was a reason Star Swirl had been given the title of ‘the Bearded’. “I suppose there’s no reason for you to really lie, either. I’ve had ages to think my spells over. Of all the texts I actually left behind, they would never have led one to the End of Time. A pony would have to actually modify one of the spells and make it more powerful for time to push back.”

Starlight continued to stare.

Star Swirl rolled his eyes, “Oh for-ah, what do we have here?” He asked, as his horn glowed, lifting the scroll Starlight had held in her hoof out of her grasp.

That finally did the trick to arouse Starlight from her near-catatonic state at meeting face-to-face with one of the legends of unicorn society. “Hey! That’s my…er…” She trailed off in her protest, for once feeling slightly embarrassed, as she remembered exactly whose spell she had modified.

“Yes, yes, hmmm…ah, interesting…I see, I see…ohoho, you are a clever little one! Tell me, did either of the Princesses train you?”

Starlight glowered, before it occurred to her that that might not be the smartest idea. Historical details on Star Swirl the Bearded were most likely distorted or flat-out wrong, and she simply didn’t know what was truth when it came to the Archmage of Old Canterlot. For all Starlight knew, he would somehow wipe her out from existence if she told him she resented the Princesses.

Star Swirl sighed, looking down at his hooves, “Why must I always get the obstinate ones?” Looking back up at Starlight, he said, “I pass no judgements here over your past. Several of the travellers who came here sought to ‘fix’ time for what they intended to be a better timeline. So long as you only intend to mend time from now on or tweak the timeline to avert certain disaster in the future, your past is not today.”

Starlight gulped. She didn’t want to explain what she had done, and why she had done it, to one of the few idols she had that adulthood hadn’t crucified with disappointment and ideals. So she explained why she disliked the Princesses. Starlight went on longer than she had intended, going from her dislike of ponies with titles that automatically set them above others, to her dislike of Cutie Marks and the social ladder in general, to her past, all the way up to the present day where she had embarked on a scheme for revenge.

During all of it, Star Swirl sat still. To say his expression was stony would be incorrect. Even a rock would be affected by time’s currents.

At last, Starlight was done. She trembled, waiting for a judgement from one of the few ponies she looked up to. Even through her ideals, Star Swirl the Bearded was a pony it was difficult to sort as an Equal.

“There is no need to forgive, young Starlight Glimmer.”

Starlight nearly choked on her tongue.

“However,” And here Star Swirl was more intimidating than anything Starlight had ever seen before. If Celestia were to bring out her alternate ego the Daystar, She who fought Nightmare Moon and won, Starlight would have defied her to the last breath. Star Swirl, with six simple words, had disarmed her more than any number of ridiculous friendship speeches over an infinite period of time could have hoped to achieve. “What do you intend to do now?”

Starlight faltered, “What do you mean?”

“You said as much yourself, you intended to get revenge on Princess Twilight Sparkle and her friends by ensuring they never became friends in the first place. In essence, you pushed on time’s stream. Time didn’t like that, so it pushed back, relocating you to the End of Time.”

Starlight’s back hooves collapsed, and she landed on her haunches. Her front hooves were faring little better, supporting the weight of the front of her body, but still trembling, “Wh-what does that mean?” She asked, and then cursed herself for stuttering in front of Star Swirl.

“It means that those six ponies becoming friend is an essential part of time. Destiny is a nebulous concept. We truly are controllers of our own actions, but some things are just meant to happen, and all our free will can’t push it aside,” Star Swirl said, gazing skyward. In this realm, it made no difference if he looked up or ahead, but as a pony, it was genetic instinct to look towards the sun and the moon and the stars. “I have a theory that if you push too hard, time pushes back just as hard.”

She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. That bucket of water looked good right about now, “What happens then?”

“I don’t truly know,” Star Swirl admitted. “In the worst-case scenario, I think the agent of change may be wiped completely out of existence, in a chain reaction going all the way to the person’s birth, and readjusting the timeline so events occurred as if he or she never lived.” Stroking his beard, he continued his horrifying contemplations, “It’s possible that it could even have already occurred, and that nobody remembers because time has wiped all our memories of that person.”

Starlight gulped, “So my plan for revenge…” She trailed off, a dawning horror settling in.

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that!” Star Swirl said cheerfully, taking Starlight aback with his sudden mood change. “You absolutely cannot change the past the way you wish, but the present is still open to your hooves! The future isn’t written until you act in the present. Time won’t push back against you if you stay in your own proper place in the timeline.”

Plans were already forming in Starlight’s plans even before Star Swirl finished speaking. If she couldn’t break up Twilight Sparkle and her friends in the past, then she would just have to do it in the present. But try as she might, Starlight couldn’t shake off a nagging feeling, a tinge of annoyance that felt like ants crawling along her skin.

Her eyes widened, and Starlight suddenly needed to slake her thirst with knowledge, “Star Swirl the Bearded, creator of over two hundred spells, including several time spells,” She slowly said, “If you’re still alive, then why are you here at the End of Time?”

In response, Star Swirl pulled his hood back down, and then started to chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Starlight asked, feeling a little bit of anger come back on.

“Ah, it just tickles me,” Star Swirl said, “That a unicorn who managed to improve one of my spells would take so long to ask one of the most important questions.”

This time, she stayed silent, holding her tongue and her temper. Starlight had an inkling if she loosened her tongue, it would morph into a whip to give the other unicorn a proverbial lashing of the tongue.

“Starlight Glimmer,” he said, rolling the name over his lips, familiarising himself with the newest time traveller, “In your era, there are two new alicorns. One ascended through mastering a spell based on love, and the other ascended after finishing an old spell of mine, modifying it to be based on friendship. I created over two hundred spells, and yet here I am, still a unicorn.”

She wanted to make a remark about how he had chosen to stay equal to other ponies, but knew in her heart it just wasn’t the truth. Starlight poured over the possibilities, and pinpointed one of them. “You and Celestia didn’t see eye to eye with one another.”

Confusion dawned on Star Swirl’s face for the first time in this odd conversation, “Eye to eye? What does tha-oh, that we disagreed with one another. You’ll have to forgive me, I’m used to most modern phrases of speech and vernacular, and I talk so casually because everyone else is the same, but that’s a new one for me.” Clearing his throat, he continued, “But you’re essentially correct. In my time, I achieved many feats, created many spells, spearheaded multiple treaties, and essentially shaped a large part of your more modern society.” He shrugged nonchalantly, “I don’t mean to boast, but it’s essentially true. Despite all I did, including befriending one villain who came from a faraway land and imprisoning his treacherous brother, Celestia and Luna never did see eye-to-eye with me.”

Starlight was enraptured. This was history she wasn’t certain anypony had heard before in over a millenium, outside of the two Royal Sisters themselves.

“In their minds, time was not something to be trifled with. They had it mostly right, but they were more rigid than what the rules of time actually allowed. From what I understand, they had most of my work burned after I ‘passed away’, leaving only a small fraction of my work behind. What they did spare was held in a secure library wing in Canterlot. The most dangerous spell that remained was one that let you travel back in time a single week in a stable time-loop, and which could only be used once a lifetime per pony.” His eyes, which had been looking up the whole time, finally trailed back down to Starlight. “Well, until you actually improved it, of course. I’m impressed, young Starlight Glimmer.”

Starlight didn’t like being called young, but given Star Swirl’s relative age, she accepted the compliment, cheeks blushing slightly as she averted her gaze.

“But I digress! While I had many other passions, time was the one field that I was too ambitious to appreciate the restraints they attempted to place on me. One spell too far later, here I was,” Starswirl said.

“And then what?” Starlight asked, certain this was not the end of the elder stallion’s tale.

Star Swirl chuckled at her sudden enthusiasm. “There was a lot of work, but most of it was monotonous research. Essentially, I figured out how the mechanisms of time functioned better, and appointed myself as a Guardian of Time. Now I sit here, watching the world pass me by, helping the occasional time-traveller who shows up here, and stitching back together frayed timelines. I may not be an alicorn, but here in the End of Time, there is no time to affect me.”

Starlight’s mind feverishly worked over the implications of what she had just been told, but two questions popped up as her intellectual side took over. “Does time for you pass at a rate parallel to the Earth itself?” She asked, and then added, “If you returned to Earth, would you be the same age as you were when you first appeared, or would time act on you at an accelerated rate?”

“Both good questions,” He said. “The first question is essentially yes. Fifteen hundred years ago, I disappeared from Equestria. Fifteen hundred years has passed for me in the End of Time since. Approximately,” He added, “There’s a potential error of a few percent, but essentially just about the same.”

For the first time in the conversation, Starlight genuinely gasped. “Fifteen hundred years?” She exclaimed, “But you must have been so, so bored!”

The older pony shrugged, “Shortly after I appeared, I devised a spell that allows me to observe what occurs in Equestria in what would be the ‘present’ time. More than just acting as a guide for lost time travellers, Starlight, I also monitored Princesses Celestia and Luna to make certain the world stayed, if not peaceful, then at least that it continued to exist.” He winced, “When Luna fell under the influence of the Nightmare, I wanted to leave so badly, but at the time I decided not to. It’s a choice I still don’t know if it was correct or not.”

Only once in Starlight’s life had she felt like this before: when she had been shaken by her own realisation that Princess Celestia was truly not an all-seeing, all-benevolent goddess. She had never expected to be deeply affected a second time in life, but seeing Star Swirl the Bearded struggle over his personal choices was even more shocking for her. “Would you…would you have died?” Starlight asked, then grimaced at how impersonal it had sounded as soon as the words left her muzzle.

He laughed, and Starlight was unsure if it was a mirthful laugh or a bitter laugh. “No,” He stated, and it was the simple truth. “I could have easily defeated Nightmare Moon with a surprise attack. I never answered your second question, and the thing is, I don’t know. I am ninety percent certain I won’t, but the last ten percent has held back my hoof.”

“That’s…” Starlight Glimmer struggled to find a word to fit. She felt real empathy for the legendary Archmage, He Who Had Banished Tirek and many other creatures to Tartarus and supposedly even other worlds. That he had achieved such a legacy, only to be relegated to a role that only a handful of time travelers knew about was…”Sad.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Star Swirl agreed. “But I got over it some time ago. Like I’ve said before, there are a handful of others who can travel through time’s currents, and although they don’t come every day, they make sure to fill me in on the current events.” He barked out, surprising Starlight who took a step back, “Princess Celestia once told me I needed to make more friends. I wonder what she would say if she knew my friends were all time travellers?” Even through his hood, Starlight could make out his twinkling brown eyes.

“You’ve mentioned these other time travellers before,” Starlight said slowly, “Just who are they all exactly?” 

He sighed, and pulled his hood down again, his sage-like features once more exposed.

“Like I said, you aren’t alone,” Star Swirl added. “There are a few other creatures who live beyond time as well. Some of them were practically the chew toys of fate before they persevered, and in doing so became capable of traversing time’s currents. One is a tan earth pony who creates clocks as his career in Equestria. Another is a gryphoness from a century ago who wears a braid of lavender and saved her fellow countrygryphons from an earthquake and fire. Then there’s the remarkably interesting Changeling engineer who was thrust back in time a thousand years ago to the time of the Crystal Empire, shortly before Sombra took over. There’s also a zebra inventor who created a machine that took him almost a million years into the future, when the face of the planet itself had changed. Perhaps the worst-affected is a pegasus mare who survived a magical apocalypse that wiped out all other ponies in an alternate timeline, who eventually traveled back in a stable timeline. The last that I know of is a blue-furred hyperactive unicorn from your own era, who came across this place and is now an agent of time first, and an agent of Celestia second.”

Starlight noticed a common thread amongst all of the mentioned ponies and other creatures: Star Swirl didn’t give a single name out. “And when will I meet, well, any one of them?” She asked carefully, not wanting to push her luck too far. Starlight wasn’t certain, but she suspected Star Swirl didn’t entirely trust her.

“Eventually. Sometimes, two of them will come at the same time, and meet one another. You could stay here for a while, if you really wanted. While that scroll of yours will return you to your present time, I expect you will want to hold off.”

“Oh? And why’s that?” Starlight challenged him.

“It’s simply,” Star Swirl met her head on, “Even if this is the End of Time, time still progresses linearly in the present. You’ve spent nearly an hour in here. Between the End of Time and your sojourns into the past, perhaps two hours have passed, two hours that also go by in the present. Who’s to say Princess Twilight Sparkle isn’t currently in her room in her castle right at the moment?”

Starlight Glimmer froze.


It took Starlight several minutes to reassess her life. All she had wanted to do was get revenge on Princess Twilight Sparkle and her friends by altering the past, but instead she had gotten pushed to a place out of time. There, she had met a historical legend, who had told Starlight her plan was unfeasible in its current form. Speaking of which…”What do you think I should do about those six ponies I told you about earlier?” She asked. Starlight didn’t know why, but she was seeking approval from Star Swirl. Perhaps it was because he was still one of the very few ponies she respected, in his case given the mythology that swirled around his character.

“Drop it.”


“You said it yourself, it was your plan to alter the event that gave them their Cutie Marks that brought you to the End of Time,” Star Swirl elucidated. “There are very few things that labels like ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’ can be thrown at, but that sounds to me like one of them. Even trying to break them up in the present could have disastrous consequences for the future, especially if they’re the Elements of Harmony.”

It was unbecoming of Starlight Glimmer, who had trained for several years in magic, political theory and administration, all to the day that she would build her own society for the outcasts of Equestria. Unlike her reaction when Our Town fell apart, however, she didn’t hold back the tears here. Feeling ashamed at showing such a reaction before a pony as esteemed as the Archmage, Starlight curled up on the floor, hiding her red face and tear-streaked cheeks. It didn’t sufficiently muffle her choked sobs.

What Starlight didn’t expect was for the other unicorn to drop down as well, and hug her.

“There, there,” Star Swirl said, patting her on the back with a hoof. “I held similar resentment against Celestia and Luna for a long time. As I understand it, many unicorns just about deify me, but I’m not a god and never will be a god. I can, have, and will continue to make mistakes. I don’t think any less of you for continuing to hold a grudge, or for getting frustrated that you can’t really harm them.”

“R-really?” Starlight looked up, choking down another sob. “No, you’re just saying that.”

“I am not,” Star Swirl said. “We all have our own problems. Besides, you appear to be a talented, powerful unicorn, if you were capable of modifying my spell, researching the map created by the Tree of Harmony, and then realising the two could be used together. Become strong and make true friends,” He proclaimed, “Stay here at the End of Time for a while. As long as you promise not to meddle with parts of the timeline that shouldn’t be meddled with, and not to become a villain, we’ll train you up with what we’ve learned over the years, and perhaps you will even meet one of the others.”

“We?” Starlight asked, cluing in on the curious use of the pronoun twice. As far as she knew, Star Swirl was not royalty, and his informal use of the Equestrian language through her stay so far in the End of Time would have precluded his possible use of the Royal We anyways.

Star Swirl raised a hoof, pointing it at the door in the far wall. Starlight jerked, having honestly forgotten about the door until now, “In this door beyond me is a friend of mine, who over time became a master of war. His name is Scorpan.”

“Scorpan, Scorpan, Scorpan,” Starlight clicked her tongue. “Why does that name sound so familiar?”

“Scorpan was Tirek’s brother. The two came from a land from far beyond Equestria to conquer all of ponykind. I became friends with Scorpan, who attempted to turn his brother back from his lusts for power. Scorpan failed, and so he helped us to put Tirek away in Tartarus.”

Starlight’s eyes widened. “You’re sure he’s still, uh…”

Star Swirl shook his head, a fierce glint in his eyes, “Miss Glimmer, I have been unfailingly patient with you, but I will not allow you to insult my friend.”

She blushed at that, turning her head aside. “Sorry,” She mumbled. It had been a very strange day, and she wanted to rest. She thought that was a good question to ask her host about. “Do you have any, erm, beds around here?”

“Through that door. Not just time but also space works odd at the End of Time. When you approach that door, merely think that you want to enter the Guest Room, and it will take you there. I suggest you think over what you want to do with your life now. I don’t expect you to figure it all out in a single night, but you can start.”

“I…thank you,” Starlight said.

“No, thank you, Starlight Glimmer,” Star Swirl turned it back at her. “It’s incredibly rare for somebody to come to the End of Time. The more who come, the easier it becomes for the rest of us, ensuring time flows as it should, and that we prevent a cataclysm from befalling our world.”

Starlight didn’t know what to say, so she said nothing. Nodding her head at what was apparently one of her two mentors, she moved to the door, and hesitated.

She had awoken in the morning, what seemed like a lifetime ago. Given what Star Swirl had explained about the temporal mechanics of the End of Time, it probably was a lifetime ago, an infinite number of lifetimes ago. Now, she was going to bed in this strange, alien world, and her life had been turned completely upside down. Revenge against Princess Twilight Sparkle and her friends was no longer possible.

Friends. Such an odd term, one that Starlight struggled to articulate the weirdness that permeated the very concept. She had friends. In her fillyhood, she had known a colt named Sunburst for a brief time, before he had left for Canterlot to attend magic school there. When she had grown up, she had befriended the ponies of Our Town.

In that instant, Starlight knew what the first thing she wanted to do would be when she left this strange End of Time. Even if the remaining residents of Our Town thought Starlight had betrayed them, she still thought of them as her friends in her own twisted way. They had all bought into her vision of Equality, and it was only when those six mares came that she had forcibly stolen a pony’s Cutie Mark. Even if it took her months, perhaps even years, Starlight desperately wished to make amends. Was making up not something friends did? It was bound to be a treacherous road full of pitfalls, but if Star Swirl could befriend a former villain, he could advise her on what to do and what not to do. That would have to wait for whatever passed for morning in this place, however. 

Opening the door, Starlight approached her new path, defying her old destiny.

Princess Celestia: "Something even a great unicorn like Star Swirl the Bearded was not able to do, because he did not understand friendship like you do." (Magical Mystery Cure)

In what constitutes a continuity for a show aimed at little girls, this is one of the most bothersome lines of the series, given a season later it's said Star Swirl befriended Scorpan, who was subverted from his mission to conquer Equestria as a result. It would be better to say he could make friends, but he wasn't socially outgoing enough to really consider it a priority, or even to consider 'studying' something like friendship. However, Star Swirl was still a famous unicorn who made over 200 spells according to Twilight in Luna Eclipsed, and created time spells used in It's About Time and The Cutie Re-Mark. Who's to say he really died?

And then along comes another unicorn much like him: a magical prodigy (able to fly under her own magic, capable of stealing Cutie Marks) who can tinker with time spells (Twilight says Starlight altered Star Swirl's spell, whereas Twilight only ever used one of Star Swirl's spells straight up in 'It's About Time'), and who is CAPABLE of making friends (Sunburst, Our Town in a twisted sense) but doesn't understand friendship all that well. To me, it seems a rather astounding parallel.

Writing this was mostly fun, as it STRONGLY deviated from Cutie Re-Mark right from the beginning instead of just an alternative ending, as well as being a pretty big Chrono Trigger reference. The hardest part was trying to get Starlight Glimmer to step away from her revenge. She truly is an evil pony. Every time I thought I could wrap this story up, she decided to get even more nuanced and force me to write yet ANOTHER five hundred to a thousand words about her. This was originally intended to be a sort of teaser about a motley crew of time travellers keeping the timestream stable with Starlight Glimmer reluctantly pressed into doing the exact opposite of what she set out to do at the start of Cutie Re-Mark, but then character development took over. Her being a little bit snotty and crying about not being able to get her revenge surprised me, but there it was.

And yes, this is complete, even if reading a full-sized fic of this sounds rather enticing now. One of two Starlight one-shot ideas I have rolling around in my head, we'll see if the other one gets written.

The creatures Star Swirl talks about are all references, either ponies from the show that fandom has hyped up as being involved with time, a couple of FIMfic references, and a few ponified versions of famous regular fiction.

Tan pony – Dr. Whooves obviously

Gryphoness who wears a braid of lavender – The Girl who Leapt Through Time

A Changeling Engineer Who Landed in the Crystal Empire – both a reference to Bucking Nonsense’s ‘The King is Dead, Long Live the Emperor’ FIMfic and to Mark Twain’s ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’

A Zebra Inventor – a zebra version of the main character of The Time Machine

A Pegasus Who Survived a Magical Apocalypse – Scootaloo from ‘The End of Ponies’ FIMfic

A Unicorn from your Own Era - Minuette


Well-Known Member
A bonus silly chapter inspired by a comment on the FIMfiction version of this story

If the image at the end of this post ever breaks, refer to this

Dear Princess Twilight Sparkle,

  I write you this letter today on the advice of my new teacher. He says it’s important that I at least try to settle affairs before I learn from him, as it’s very easy to lose track of time once he starts to lecture. Double Diamond and the others will get similar letters from me. They deserve it at least for believing in my vision for so long. I miss them

  I wish to apologise for the way I’ve stalked you the last few months. I’m guessing you didn’t even notice most of those times, which isn’t surprising. Most stalkers normally don’t want the pony they’re stalking to know she’s being stalked. I did deliberately let you see me at the School, though. I was going to unsettle you before pulling off my elaborate revenge scheme, you see. Man, was the look on your face as you did that double-take hilarious! Tell your dragon he looks cute with shades. I hope that doesn't sound too creepy. 

  However, things changed, and I found myself saved before I went too far. It’s rather funny, isn’t it, that I was denied acceptance to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, and yet I went on to create entirely new spells from scratch. Subpar my plot While researching you, I heard about how your ascension was triggered by completing one of Star Swirl’s old spells. Well, I have news for you: you’re not the only one to successfully modify one of his works. You should tell Celestia that her security sucks, it was honestly too easy to get into the Star Swirl Wing in Canterlot. A couple of swiped books later to get into elementary Chronomancy and I was in business. Honestly, I’m surprised nobody’s been able to do anything new in the field since Star Swirl’s time. Then again, he tells me the sisters weren’t all too fond of him. I guess they don’t like being upstaged in a field they still don’t understand even today.

  Yes, that’s right, he. Star Swirl is alive even today. Well, ‘today’ isn’t quite the right term, but neither is ‘yesterday’ or ‘tomorrow’. Star Swirl likes to call it wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, he says a stallion from his own time coined in, but time moves on even for him relative to the real world. I modified a spell of his, and I ended up finding where he was located in a time outside this world. We talked. He gave me the understanding I needed. For me, it’s been several days since that lecture at the School. What he’s shown me so far is just amazing, the kind of stuff that would revolutionise magic if it were ever allowed to be spread about. It scares me to think how close I came to abusing this skill of mine.

  You should thank him really. If it weren’t for him, I might have upended this world and you might not have been pushed to use magic so intense and ended up getting overweight from all that food you gobble. Seriously, it made me want to vomit watching you eat sometimes.

  In the event you don’t believe me, make sure to ask Celestia or Luna about Scorpan’s Bargain or Star Swirl’s Seventh Soliloquoy. Unless there’s some obscure book that they’ve locked away somewhere, which wouldn’t really surprise me, the only beings that should remember them that aren’t here in the End of Time are those two. 

  Please give my regards to Fluttershy. I thought I despised her for the longest time, but of late I came to realise I actually like her. She may have betrayed me, but in retrospect, I like her. She was willing to stand up for her beliefs even though she must have been terrified. That takes real bravery. She would've found a place in Our Town.

  I still hate you though and hope you choke on a dash of horseradish.


Starlight Glimmer

P.S. I would seriously recommend you lay off the hayburgers, fatty! And wipe your cheeks after you consume a litre of ketchup! Seriously, you eat enough to supply a-

“A what, Spike?”

“Er…” Spike had lived with Twilight Sparkle long enough to get a good gauge on her moods at any point in time. When Pinkie Pie had popped up with a letter that she retrieved from her mane, saying she had gotten it from the mailpony who had gotten it from Discord’s home in his realm of chaos who had gotten it from a certain somepony Twilight was interested in, Twilight had shown interest. Then upon seeing the seal on the letter, she had freaked out before casting several spells upon the letter.

Spike knew those spells. Important unicorns had a seal combined with a magical signature to prove the authenticity of letters they sent, and a receiving unicorn was supposed to doubly verify it with a spell, and Twilight always used a few more to make sure it was safe. Right after she had cast the spells, however, Twilight had hopped around wildly, going “Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh” in a manner more reminiscent of their mutual friend the pegasus Rainbow Dash.

Then Spike had started reading it aloud to the distracted alicorn, and upon realising what it was about, the vim had left Twilight’s mane entirely, flabbergasted at the mere possibility of Star Swirl being alive and Starlight learning from him. Having never met the unicorn himself, Spike couldn’t comment from first-hand experience, but even from the letter it sounded like Starlight Glimmer was a work of art in nastiness.

“You eat enough to supply a minor nation and bankrupt your own,” Spike said, hoping that he could ‘accidentally’ burn the letter before Twilight could read it herself. Sure, it could be traceable, but the last line would surely do her in.

“Oh,” Twilight said, before she shook her head. She would have been amused at such a filly-grade insult, but the excitement of Star Swirl the Bearded still being alive and then the subsequent finding that Starlight Glimmer was a pupil of his had thrown her off the emotional rollercoaster. Personally, Spike found it a lot more likely that Starlight had figured a way to fake Star Swirl’s magical signature for a scroll seal than inventing a time spell and finding Star Swirl. “She’s just jealous. I suppose I can’t blame her though, if she spent months and months eating those terrible muffins.”

Then she asked Spike the question he didn’t want to answer. “Did she write anything else?”

Spike gulped. He didn’t want to, but if he burned the letter now Twilight would give him more chores than he ever had before, no matter if he claimed it was for her own good. Well, here went, “P.P.S. Star Swirl says that due to their unique biology, it’s impossible for an alicorn to visit this realm unless they prior visited it as a unicorn, and that he intends to never leave here either. So ha, you'll never meet your childhood icon who I'll be learning from for the next several years!”

Looking up, the baby dragon asked, “Er, Twi?” He gulped again, and immediately backed away, hoping to get away quick.  He recognised the signs all too well. First, a twitch. Next, denial. Then, anger. Following that, bargaining, then depression. And instead of acceptance, anger again. And then-