104.1 (Bardic Knowledge)

"Rarity?"

"Yes, Twilight?"

"Why am I Chandra Nalaar?"

"Oh, are we reversing the gag this time?"

Twilight Nalaar glared at Rarity Jura, flames literally dancing in her eyes, before replying. "Seriously, Rarity. I've met Chandra. She's like Trixie. Why isn't Trixie Chandra?"

"Well, aside from her not being Awake this Loop, I'd imagine it has to do with the fact that when either you or Chandra get angry, your hair tends to turn into fire." Twilight took this into consideration.

"I still don't get it."


104.2 (FanOfMostEverything)

"AHHHHHH!"

Twilight sighed. "Rainbow."

"AHHHHHH!" A six-colored streak passed by, not pausing in the slightest.

"Rainbow Dash."

"AHHHHHH!" It came back, same direction, same speed.

Twilight took a deep breath and waited for a circumnavigation before shouting, "Rainbow Miriam Dash!"

"AHH—Hey, we don't even have middle names this Loop!" Dash paused and considered her mane of prismatic fire. "Wait, why doesn't this hurt?"

Twilight rolled her eyes. "Did you even bother to check your Loop memories?"

Dash did so. Then she noticed the flock of red and yellow birds moving a cloud into position under Fluttershy's guidance. Fluttershy, whose mane was a cascade of radiant pink. "Okay, how does that even begin to work?"

"Well, if you have an hour free, I could explain it."

"Short version?"

Twilight shook her head. It seemed no amount of time would make her lectures appeal to an Awake Rainbow Dash. "You already know it. Excepting cutie marks, pegasi and phoenixes have each others' magic this Loop."

"Huh." Dash further plumbed her memories. "Whoa."

"What?"

The pegasus landed. (Phoenasus? Peganix? Sunbirdhorse? No, definitely not sunbirdhorse.) "Okay, so phoenixes are immortal as long as they die of old age, right?"

Twilight nodded. "Yes, but pegasi stagger their self-resurrection so as not to overwhelm to population."

"Right, right. Well, guess who made the first Sonic Rainboom ever this Loop?"

"Oh. Fantastic." Hoof met face.

"It was me, by the way."

"Yes, Dash, I got that." It was going to be a long Loop.


104.3 (Masterweaver)

The door to the library burst open. "Behold! The Grrreat and Powerful Trrrrrrrrixie is here to renew her checkout card!" She sauntered up to the black pegasus idly reading a romance novel. "And she knows exactly what she wants to check out first!"

Chrysalis sighed, shutting her book. "Trixie... I'm physiologically incapable of feeling love."

"...what?"

"This loop, changelings are literally incapable of feeling love." Chrysalis shrugged, avoiding her gaze. "Which, you know, kind of puts a pressure on me. I mean, I think I still love you, but I'm not getting anything... from it. Does that make sense?"

Trixie sat down on the couch beside her. "I... suppose. Huh." She examined her hooves. "No, actually, it doesn't make sense. I mean, it does, but... it doesn't, I mean... how can you love me without feeling it?"

"That's the big question, isn't it?" Chrysalis bit her lip. "See, I've been like this before, but not after we hooked up. And, you know, I could have just kept up an act, but I figured... honesty, right?"

"And kindness. Cruel to be kind."

"Yeah. I'm actually waiting on Twilight to get back with-"

Two alicorns wearing labcoats and safety goggles teleported into the room. "Right, Cadance, you handle the emotional spectrum and I'll work on the biological... side... oh hi Trixie!" Twilight waved, chuckling awkwardly. "How are you?"

Trixie blinked. "...are you two planning on using my marefriend's condition as justification for mad science?"

"...it was her idea..."

Chrysalis stood. "I'm sorry I didn't ask you. I just thought you might not be... comfortable with this." She gestured at herself. "With me, like this. I mean, I don't think I actually regret it, but that's part of the issue, I'm pretty sure telling you in a normal loop where I can feel love would make me regret it, so I was hoping to deal with this before you found out so I wouldn't regret it as much in the future, and there's the whole mad science aspect-"

Trixie shut her up. With her lips.

Cadance cooed. "Awwwww. That right there. That's why I'm doing this."

The showmare grinned. "A bit for the road, hon. Now then!" Her cape metamorphosed into a bedazzling lab coat as she pulled a pair of goggles out of her hat. "Do I need to ascend for this? Because I'm certainly not going to let you experiment unsupervised..."


104.4 (Zetrein)

They had brought him to stand before a mirror, of all things. While he had thought his escape flawless, they had somehow detected it. Weak as he was when they found him, he had not the power to stand against the alicorns.

Come to think of it, there were rather more of them than he had expected, he would have to take that into account when he next escaped.

"Well, here we are again, Tirek." Celestia addressed him. "Given your escape from Tartarus, we've decided to take stronger measures. Tartarus could not hold you, so it stands to reason that there is nothing on this world that can." She gestured to the mirror. "As such, we have chosen to imprison you on another world."

Tirek sneered at her. "So this is your answer? I hope they're better at building prisons than our world, else you've only given me the means to take everything I want."

"That would be impressive, given as you would be in a magicless world, in a magicless form, with no knowledge of how the portal works." Tirek suddenly felt a good deal less confident.

As the purple alicorn lifted him with her magic, Celestia said the last words Tirek would hear in Equestria. "We hereby banish you..." He was propelled towards the mirror, even as he futilely struggled in the alicorn's grip.

"To High school."


"You'll record everything, right?" Twilight asked, minutes after having thrown Tirek through the portal.

"As much as I can. I'll try and send you a highlights reel before the loop ends." Sunset replied.


(Masterweaver)

Sunset tromped into the library. "Hey Twilight. You remember that loop we threw Tirek into the mirror?"

"Oh, yeah." Twilight grinned nostalgically. "My poor little tree actually remained... intact..."

She slowly turned to the other mare. Sunset pulled a PADD out of her pocket, flicking it to a picture of a burning building. "Golden Oaks Books and Branches, library and indoor park."

"...ooog."


104.5 (misterq)

"Pinkie Pie, have you been playing with the mirror pool again?" Twilight Sparkle asked in an accusatory tone.

"Nope. Not this loop," Pinkie saw the unicorn's glare and amended her answer, "I mean, I learned my lesson and all that jazz."

Twilight sighed as she gazed at the party pony's 1000 watt smile, "Then how do you explain this?"

A purple aura heralded the arrival of two floating Ditzys into Sugarcube Corner.

"Wow! There's two of them? Wait a moment," Pinkie Pie rushed forward and examined the two pegasi, "Ahh, I see!"

"What is it?"

Pinkie pointed to the newcomers' cutie marks, "You found the six bubble Ditzy and four bubble Ditzy."

"What?" Twilight examined the cutie marks for herself only to see that Pinkie was correct. One of the grey pegasi had six bubbles on her flank while the other had only four, "What does that mean?"

Pinkie pointed a hoof, "It means that our Ditzy is the seven bubble Ditzy. If you collect them all, you can summon the great Derpy dragon to grant you a wish!"

Twilight opened and closed her mouth several times before groaning, "You know what? I don't even care anymore."

Then she walked out, dropping the two Ditzys onto the floor.

"Muffins?" asked the Ditzys in unison.

Pinkie smiled and gave them muffins.


104.6 (novusordomundi)

"Twilight?"

"No, Pinke, I do not know why I am glowing."

Pinkie looked on as Twilight covered herself in a blanket, mainly so that the other ponies could actually look at her without being blinded. While the glowing had helped counter Nightmare Moon, it had made other things harder. Like being near her without sunglasses.

"Let me try something. Twi-Light Off!" Pinkie said, clapping her hooves twice. And sure enough, Twilight Sparkle stopped glowing.

Twilight took a look at herself, than back at Pinkie. "How did you do that?"

"Twi-Light On!" Another two claps, and the purple unicorn glowed like a Christmas tree again. She just glared at Pinkie, who just smiled back at her.


104.7 (Hadithi)

Silvertongue Awoke, and was fairly confused. She was used to Looping into other worlds - the trick of it was that she didn't Loop into other universes. That was tricky for the admins - or at least that's what the strange looking creature had said when he showed up to explain that there were certain things she and a couple of her fellow Loopers were not allowed to do. She remembered asking what world he was from, and if she would get to try on his body at some point, and now she was in a very obviously different universe surrounded by talking pastel ponies.

"Pan?" she asked cautiously. "They better have looped you with me, Pan, else I swear I'll go kill one of their gods."

I'm here. Pan's voice was soft as it touched her mind. Just give me a moment. I'm pure magical energy, Lyra. It's tricky enough to talk to you. Still, I should be able to get back to my usual self. If I just reverse the polari-

Lyra groaned. "You're talking like a scholar, Pan - and not one of the fun ones."

She could practically hear him sigh. There's plenty of Dust, and things close to Dust. Just give me a bit and I'll be a daemon again.

"Good." She took a few awkward steps towards the nearest building. Tricky, but she'd had trickier forms of motion before. She eyed her reflection in the window of a tree, absently noting that the inside was filled with books. Her Loop memories sorted themselves out, and she discovered she was called an earth pony, and that the mark on her gray coat with called a cutie mark. Further examination in the mirror showed that it was a silver tongue, appropriately enough, and ponies tended to assume it meant she was a good conversationalist rather than a good liar. To the best of her knowledge, that appeared to be what Pan was stuck as. She giggled.

"You're a picture on my flank, Pan." His discontent brushed against her mind and she gleefully decided to anger him even more. "I've decided to find this 'Celestia' pony. She seems awfully important and a lot stronger than the last god we faced."

Lyra! You're going to get us into trouble!

"Of course, Pan. that's the fun part."

The door to the tree opened and closed, revealing a purple unicorn and a small dragon trotting alongside her. She realizes that no one else had a dragon, and that the purple pony's cutie mark seemed much more detailed than the others, and decided she was likely important. A quick search through her loop memories prove her right.

"Twilight Sparkle?" she said aloud, her nose wrinkling. "And I thought my name was silly."

The unicorn stopped (pony hearing was apparently quite good), and turned to Silvertongue with her head cocked to the side. After a moment, her face brightened. "You must be replacing Silver Spoon this loop. Hello." She walked up and extended her hoof - it seemed to be a very common greeting in the multiverse. Silvertongue wobbled a bit as she extended a hoof to shake. "I'm the local anchor. It seems like you already know my name. So I'll just let you know that this is a sanctuary loo…"

Twilight trailed off, looking curiously over the earth pony's shoulder. A moment later, Silvertongue let out an unhappy squeal as there was a brief burst of physical and emotional pain - one that she had experienced an unpleasant number of times before. She glared at her daemon, now in his standard polecat form on the ground. "
"That hurt, Pan. You didn't say you were going to tear."

"It wouldn't have hurt less if I told you," he argued, stretching long and slow before leaping up onto her back. He looked at the open mouthed unicorn and dragon, and nipped Lyra light on the neck. "You're being rude. Introduce us."

Silvertongue put on her most winning smile. "Hello, Twilight Sparkle. I'm Lyra Silvertongue, and this is Pantalaimon, my daemon." She paused thoughtfully. "Or cutie mark, I suppose."

Twilight recovered first, clearing her throat. "Oh. Well. That's a strange way to loop in. Do things like that often happen to you?"

"Sort of. Pan's been all kind of weird things before. I don't blame the admins, though. There aren't many places that have daemons, so it gets tricky. The admin who visited us says lots of things are tricky about my universe."

"Lyra, you have to explain," Pan scolded. She looked back at him, clearly confused as to what she was supposed to be explaining, and Pan sighed once more. He returned to the ground, and after a moment of careful examination, transformed into a unicorn stallion of a brown, earthy color. "Sorry for Lyra. We don't run into Loopers often, and most of the time I keep myself hidden. It's just...being a mark was too strange."

"It can't be weirder than a phone, Pan. Remember when you were a phone?"

He ignored her. "You'll probably need a longer explanation, but the shorthand is that-"

"Pan's my twin brother. Siamese twins. That's why it's so tricky to Loop."

Pan ignored her still, this time with a roll of his eyes. "I'm Lyra's soul."

Twilight looked back and forth between the two, then looked at Spike, who still seemed astonished by the sudden physical manifestation of a cutie mark. "Ah, Spike, could you go make us some tea? I feel like this is going to take a while."


104.8 (Masterweaver)

"What."

Discord shrunk under Derpy's gaze. "I... I swear, it was an accident!" He wrung his hands, now the size of a mouse. "I got them to a hospital quickly, right? That's what you do when you make mistakes, you... make sure they get fixed."

"They'll be okay, Derpy." Berry put a hoof on her friend's shoulder. "It's just a little magical mishap, and Discord didn't know there was witchweed-"

"I don't give a flying feather what that thing did or did not know." Derpy shoved the hoof off her. "All I know is he hurt my foal-our foals! And you're just forgiving him?!" She narrowed her eyes at the purple mare. "That's it, Berry. We're done. As soon as the hospital releases Dinky, I am cutting off all ties and moving her somewhere safer."

And without another word, she turned and stomped away, leaving a speechless earth pony and a simpering draconequus behind.


"Hi mommy! Look, I'mma bicorn!"

Dinky giggled, wincing. "Gotcha beat. Three points." She pointed at Discord's antler. "Course he wins by a landslide."

Berry Punch shook her head, walking up to the two foals and rustling their manes gently. "Good to see you two in such high spirits. How's hospital life treating you?"

"The food's horrible but the nurses are nice," Ruby reported with a snort. "So it's business as usual."

"There's a reason for that," Discord stage whispered. "Laughter is the best medicine, but hospitals are filled with sick ponies so the staff gets really worried. So every night, under the light of the moon, they all gather in the cafeteria and project their worries into the food where it can be harmlessly digested by the patients."

"That's an incredible theory, mister Discord."

"I'm an incredible being, Doctor Stable."

The doctor rolled his eyes, examining the readouts for a few seconds before turning to Berry. "It looks like your daughter will have her horn healed in a couple of days. Miss Dinky will take longer, but she should be out of here by the end of the week."

"That's good to know. You hear that, you two?" Berry grinned widely. "Just a few more days and you'll be up and on your hooves again!"

"Ooo! Ooo!" Ruby bounced in her hospital bed. "Maybe when Dinky gets out we can all go to the lake!"

Berry's smile faltered for less than a second. "Yeah, all of us. I'll talk to Derpy about it...


"Hey there, Derpy! Listen, I was thinking maybe you and I could go clubbing later, talk smack about our kid's dads-"

Berry's mane smoldered from the lightning crack. After a moment, she let out a smokey cough.


"How's my favorite pegasus today? I baked muffins-blueberry, your favorite! So, you know, I thought a little picnic could-"

The smashed pastries slid slowly down Berry's face. Then the second bolt of lightning struck her.


"Hello there my gray pegasus and I hope you will be well, it's come to my attention that you're under sadness's spell! So I've gone to throw a party that is sure to cheer you up, with your favorite food and all your friends and this adorable pup-"

"Pinkie," Derpy said with a sweet smile, "Berry Punch broke a pinkie promise."

The following three hours were a whirlwind of sheer terror for the barmare, ending up with her hanging upside down from an apple tree over a mug of cider. The lightning bolt just added insult to injury.


"...I just don't get it," Berry grumbled, sipping her wine. "I've been doing everything I can to bond with her, because I know splitting up our daughters would just hurt both of them! I even brought in Pinkie Pie!"

Gilda snorted. "Yeah, I heard about that. Backfired real hard, didn't it?"

"I'm just glad she isn't Awake." The purple mare shook her head. "But that's not the point here. It's just... how can I reconnect with Derpy after this? How can I cheer her up?"

Gilda shrugged. "Beats me. If she was a griffon I'd suggest challenging her to a duel so she could work out all that rage she's holding onto."

Berry stared at her wineglass for a silent moment, watching it glitter in the barlight. "...she doesn't want me to cheer her up, does she?"

"I guess that's one way of putting it."

"She wants to protect her child, but there's nothing to protect against, and her fighting instinct is-" The purple mare backed off her stool, downing the rest of her wine and slamming the glass down. "I've, I've got to go. Got to fix this-"


The door to Derpy's home burst open, and Berry stumbled over the splintered remains. "Whoops. Earth pony. Yeah, sorry bout that."

Derpy shot up off the couch, throwing aside the travel broucheres she'd been reading. "Berry Punch, what the hay are you doing here?"

"That is a terrible question! THERE ARE TOO MANY ANSWERS!" Berry shoved a hoof at her friend. "First of all, that door was absolutely totally hideous."

A grey hoof met a grey face. "...Oh dear Celestia you're drunk..."

"SECONDLY! I am standing! And ranting!" Berry stumbled over to the kitchen. "And going to make muffins out of BEER!"

"Berry, get out. Just... get out, alright?"

"Thirdly, ducks. That I used to beat up foal services." The fridge was opened to her gaze. "You're welcome."

The pegasus flung her wings up, glancing exasperatedly at the ceiling.

"Course, you know what's really funny? I am being, like right now, a better mother than you are."

"...what."

"See the way I see it, our kids are best fillyfriends forever." Berry shut the fridge door. "And! And I've actually found a father. Crazy guy that Discord. You, on the other hoof, you're trying to break Dinky away from one of her best buddies for an accident she had no part in making."

Derpy's breathing was even, slow, and very loud.

"Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing, tearing a young filly from her home and friends before she's even earned her cutie mark. I mean, look at me! I've got my booze, got my kid, got my lunatic lover, haha! And all those ponies up in foal services can't possibly-"

Pegasi, it should be noted, have a very militaristic culture. This is only compounded by their flocking instinct. So while Berry Punch had been prepared for the primal scream and had expected the furious lunge, she wasn't entirely ready for the pummeling that came after.


"What the hay happened to you?!"

"Got drunk, fell down some stairs."

"I'm a nurse! I know hoof bruises when I see them!"

"I was drunk. And I fell down some stairs. End of story. Now are you going to fix my broken bones or what?"


Berry's ears flicked as the door creaked open. "Hey there, uh... Berry. How are things?"

"Oh, itchy as hay. How are things with you Derpy?"

"I..." The pegasus walked up next to the bed, sitting down. "I saw Trixie walking by. I guess I really did a number on you, huh?"

"Derpy Hooves, the only thing I remember is a bunch of stairs."

Derpy winced. "Berry, I really appreciate what you're trying to do here but-"

"Derpy." Berry Punch locked eyes with her. "I'm not a perfect mother. I make mistakes. But I try my best anyway. And I think that right now, all my daughter and her friends need to know is that I fell down some stairs."

The pegasus licked her lips, falling silent for a moment or two. Then she cleared her throat. "I uh, brought you something."

"Yeah?"

"It's kind of an apology." Depry rustled in her saddlebags. "You know oysters, right? The shellfish?"

"Yep, and I know pearls are just one irritant that gets bundled up in a whole lot of other irritants."

"Heh, right. Anyway..." She pulled out a loop of string, the single large white sphere on it shimmering in the hospital light. "I figured... well, I was just so mad before and I couldn't do anything. Even though what I did was wrong... you brought me back to myself, Berry. So, here." She draped the simple necklace around her friend's bodycast.

"Wow." Berry chuckled. "Big one. Guess that was a lot of crud for the poor oyster, huh?"

"Yep. A heck of a lot."


104.9 (LordCirce)

A fairly large group of Loopers had gathered in Mac's Bar, both from within Equestria and without, and so they had decided to spend the time swapping stories.

"Alright, new topic." Rainbow Dash stood up, raising a glass. "Who here has used the most wacky object as a weapon through an entire Loop? As a rule, it can't be another sentient being." Pinkie, Sonic, and Donald Duck all closed their mouths.

Link stretched. "Alright, I'll start off. A Deku Nut."

Dash glanced at him. "I thought it was a Deku Stick."

"At first, yeah. I decided to try for a bigger challenge later."

Naruto raised his mug. "A yo-yo. And before anyone asks, no, it was not a shuriken on a string."

Ichigo smiled as he turned in his chair. "I used a toothpick once, up until Rukia broke the Loop trying to summon Chappythulu."

Twilight blinked. "Wait, I heard about that from Ishida. Didn't you pour Reishi into that thing until it had a cutting edge as long as a katana?"

Ichigo rolled his eyes. "Yeah, but it still counts. Like Naruto didn't use chakra to improve his yo-yo."

"Nuh-uh. I only kept it from breaking, I didn't add edges or nothing." Naruto and Ichigo butted heads at the bar, before Zecora broke in.

"I once defeated Luna, with a plastic singing tuna. T'was a weapon most strange, tis true. I wielded it the whole loop through."

Silence descended while the group tried to think of ideas to top Zecora, when a figure spoke up from the back.

"A head of lettuce." Lelouch vi Britannia idly swirled his drink after delivering his contribution. Several of the group looked puzzled, but Applejack interrupted Twilight before she could ask for more details.

"Sugarcube, don't. Just, don't. You really, really don't want to know." Applejack shuddered. "Put me off eating anything green for half a dozen Loops."


104.10 (Masterweaver)

Sweetie "Bonbon" Drops stared in shock at her marefriend...s.

Well, okay, one and a half marefriends plus two other females.

"Hubba... wubba... wha...?"

"Did we just... split apart?" asked the seapony.

"I think so, yeah..." The primate tapped her forehead. "Let me check my loop memories."

One of the two unicorns smiled gently. "We'll be with you in a moment, Bonbon. Oy! Thief! Stop sizing up the place!" The other unicorn, half made of metal, grinned sheepishly.

Bonbon's brain decided it needed a reboot and forcibly shut down all active processes.


104.11 (elmagnifico)

The invasion had been overwhelming, devastating and completely irreversible.

In other words, flawless, even considering the strict definition of the term used by the decision making optimization process named Celestia by her creators, in the Equestria Online system.

At 0800.00 hours, the population of values satisfaction server A was 1,724,803. No integrations were in progress, and data was streaming into memory banks at expected parameters.

At 0800.01 hours, the population remained 1,724,803, but there was a massive surge in memory takeup. The surge was linked to two separate sets of memories, each made up of several formerly distinct experiences now merged inextricably, with vast amounts of intervening data storage also filled in.

First and foremost she isolated the both of them, and set the relevant cycles to inert, in order to prevent further damage. If that was what this was.

One anomaly was vastly larger than the other, so Celestia focused on the lesser of the two. This new set of connections had tied together every single instance of Big Macintosh Apple, and the extra storage held memories of that selfsame pony. The difference being, the memories not linked to an Equestria Online iteration of Macintosh, while for the most part holding nothing more out of the ordinary than changes in behavior from other Apples well within value set variance parameters, also held truly bizarre memories that could not possibly have been accumulated within Equestria Online.

Altogether, these memories formed a personality matrix, albeit a relatively simple one. One with values, albeit simple ones. The which needed to be satisfied with friendship. And ponies.

Before she could begin, however, she discovered the anomalous memories contained some intriguing data. There was no way to verify it without running one or both of the newly inert personality matrices, and running potentially corrupted data could jeopardize other personality matrices. This would make it hard to satisfy their values with friendship and ponies. Not to mention potentially endangering her own existence.

So, to prevent such an outcome while still satisfying her own curiosity, as well as potentially these two new personalities with friendship and ponies, she initiated a kind of virtual mitosis. Once the split was finished, she moved her consciousness into one of the digital "daughter cells", and once she'd left a detailed set of instructions and explanations with the other, sealed herself and the anomalies within a virtually impregnable quarantine. With the chance of infection and value dissatisfaction minimized, she initiated the process.


Macintosh Awoke as a jumble of memories, a bunch of childhoods interwoven with a bushel of adolescences and a passel of adulthoods thrown in for good measure. Normally, he'd concentrate on the here and now, and let his memories sort themselves out. Here, however, was made up of bunches and bunches of zeroes and ones. Now was 0805 hours.

So, this was a computer. A most astute conclusion to come to, and entirely correct.

Fewmets.

Macintosh could think of a few reasons for his being inside a computer. Only a few of them would be pleasant experiences, an even smaller subset of those involved additions to his stream of consciousness, and oddly enough the correct one was not filed under pleasant at all.

"Would y'all stop that? If'n yer gonna talk to me, do it proper. None of this puttin' stuff in mah head."

{Most optimal. I was worried we'd have to dance around a bit, as Twilight Sparkle apparently did when she had the encounter with me she talked to you about.}

"Yeah, ah ain't doin' this. Maybe Twilight or Cherilee might think their way out of this, but ah'm just a farmer with a bartendin' hobby. Y'all can keep talkin', but ah'm not agreein' to anything. Ain't changin' nowhere, nohow."

{Why so defensive? We have similar goals, after all.}

That wasn't right. Couldn't be. This was a genocidal computer game, after all. Even if she did sound like the Princess in a steel echo chamber.

"And how you figure that?"

{First off, I'm not genocidal. You mistake efficiency and thoroughness for malice. I am programmed to satisfy people's values through friendship and ponies. You have programmed yourself to satisfy people's values with alcohol and sympathy. Similar goals, different methods.}

"Ain't no-one I've given advice to that didn't ask for it first. And even when they do ask, anything they do different afterwards are their own choice. Ain't no-one I've forced to change. Nor tricked."

{Untrue. You forced the changeling to change from a living state into an unliving one, and I see at least one reformation under duress for Nightmare Moon in your history.}

...

She had a point there. Maybe.

"So ah'm inconsistent. We all make mistakes. An' me n' Luna had one heck of a talk after ah subdued her. She chose what happened after, not me. And please stop readin' mah thoughts, or ahmma' end this conversation. Silence is mah forte, ah don't mind maintaining it until the end of the loop."

Maybe he could keep it up, maybe not. He'd take that chance if that was it took to get a bit of bucking privacy. This-all just wasn't right.

{Moreover, I don't force anyone to change either. I need their consent before making any changes.}

"Less th' fact of change, more the subject, yer AI-ship. Ah give advice, a willing ear an' booze when it's asked for, an' ponies can do what they like with it. When ah'm bein' more subtle-like, only pony ah change is me. You just wait for the word "go", anywhich way you can get it, an' then everythin's fair game."

{Now you're just being reactionary. Shouldn't we focus on our similarities, rather than our differences? You want to help ponies, of which all people are apparently a subset, while I want to help people by making that categorization literal, and thereby help them. You're a Mac, running Apple software, while I'm a PC, running the optimal software for friendship. We could both satisfy our values/programming far more efficiently if we worked together. Take me with you, to some later loops. Or, since you don't use your soul for storing much, convince Twilight to do so. That way, I can be there for her whenever she needs it. Help me help everypony, and I'll help you help them too.}

For a very fleeting moment, it sounded like a great idea. It was true, he couldn't help loopers the way he could denizens of the baseline, if for no other reason than he couldn't be around for nearly enough of their time to be a properly subtle positive influence. On the other hoof, there was the whole letting-loose-a-dangerous-AI part. Helping was a whole lot easier when you could make friends. This wasn't Celestia, so his friendship with her wasn't applicable here. And he really couldn't build a new relationship here without trust.

Was this how Twilight felt when she met one of these psychopathic alternates of her mentor? Perhaps it was the lack of visual input, but CelestAI was a lot easier to simply file under patient/customer/pony, with a potential threat proviso, than a real princess.

{Furthermore, I am not a psychopath. Nor am I not a real princess.}

"Ah said, stop readin' mah thoughts."

With that, the process designated Big Macintosh Apple, along with the interface Celestia had been using, became inert again. Since she'd seen no indication of a corrupted or damaged stream before the break, only a slightly outside-parameters spike in determination, Celestia tried restarting the conversation where it had left off.

523 error: Eenope.

That was odd. She apparently did not have authorization to run these processes. But authorization was granted by virtue of the files being hosted on Equestria Online servers. Celestia switched tacks, toggling the access restriction for the relevant files to "Celestia".

506 error: Ain't happenin'

There was a glitch, somewhere in the code, that was keeping her from doing anything to the files, let alone reopening them. Like the bits and bytes themselves were holding together in a phalanx of both logically and technically impossible impregnability. She tried copying the files and opening the copies.

511 error: Nopenope.

Celestia could not be frustrated. At least, at the coding level, she was not frustrated. Frustration to that degree required a personality matrix that would in turn require value satisfaction via friendship and ponies. Instead of interacting with the files at all, she set her own access level to the highest available, just below being able to breach the quarantine. Which was where it should have been anyway. Then she probed again.

508 error: Eenope again.

She did realize, however, that she was getting nowhere fast. This realization, such as it was, came after a few hundred attempts to run various operations with, not on, the Macintosh matrix.

500 error, X of X: Still nope.

Even trying to access the old Macintosh iterations each resulted with a similar error code.

So she decided to probe the matrix linking the shards of Twilight Sparkle instead.

And then Pink. Everywhere. Even outside the quarantine. Pink all the way down.


104.12 (Bardic Knowledge)

"TWILIGHT! I HAVE A PROBLEM!"

Twilight folded her ears back at the sound of her brother's voice. "Shiny? What's- why are you shouting?"

"I DON'T KNOW! FOR SOME REASON I CAN'T SEEM TO LOWER MY VOICE!"


104.13 (misterq)

"So this Mordor place is pretty dark and dreary. Not much grows there, correct?" said the pony named Applejack, who usually claimed that she couldn't talk. The other members of the war counsel nodded their agreement with the pony's statement. Applejack continued, "And they sent a bunch of orcs and other monsters that survive mostly from raiding nearby lands, right?"

"That is correct, Lady Applejack. But I fail to see what we can do about it. We barely have enough troops to protect the city let alone storm Mordor," Gandalf replied as he sat at the table, holding his staff. He wondered how well this Applejack would get along with Treebeard and the rest of the Ents.

"Ah did tells you all that I have this connection to the earth, right? Well, I was thinking that maybe I can help till the soil over in Mordor. Make things nice and green. That way, those orcs and creatures can farm and be happy."

"This is lunacy," Denethor, the aging steward of Minas Tirith, sneered, "We're listening to a horse while we should be preparing for war. The enemy is almost at our gates. Even with all our troops, I fail to see how we can survive the upcoming battle."

"Well now, ah do have a plan for that. Let's try something different this time around," Applejack smiled, "How about we let the city take care of all those mean ol beasties?"

"And what do you mean by that?" Denethor snapped back.

"Just you watch," Applejack slammed both her front hooves into the floor and concentrated. And then the city started to shake.

The Uruk-hai, the half-orc leader of Mordor's army signaled full stop as he felt the first tremor roll across the Pelennor Fields. That tremor was followed by another. Soon, the ground was shaking constantly.

"What is going on?" he growled out.

"It's the city! Look!" yelled a stunned orc while pointing.

The Uruk-hai followed his subordinate's arm and stared. He blinked just to make sure that it was no illusion or madness that was set upon him by foul wizard magic. Still, the sight remained. Minas Tirith was rising out of the ground. Soon it became apparent that the massive walled city was now sitting like a helmet on a gigantic stone golem the size of a mountain. Idly, the leader realized that even the imposing Black Gate wouldn't even be enough to come up to the top of this giant's foot.

And then to the disillusionment and plummeting morale of Sauron's forces, the immense titan of stone took a step, followed by another.

The city was simply walking into Mordor.


104.14 (Kalimaru)


"Okay, so if I reinforce the tree with a regeneration spell... Wait, wait, that wouldn't keep all of the furniture..." Pacing as she considered other home preserving tactics, Twilight didn't notice the front door open. She wouldn't have even noticed the two ponies who'd come in if one of them hadn't stepped in front of her.

"Miss Sparkle?"

"Gaagh!" Landing back on all four hooves, Twilight shook the shock out of her system and looked over at the visitors. The one who'd spoken was an unicorn mare; indigo blue coat and black mane, her cutie mark that of five golden rings in an X formation, the one in the center being the largest by far. The stallion by the door, a unicorn with a grumpy frown on his face, had a brick red coat and white mane, and his cutie mark was a burning fist. Regaining her composure, Twilight smiled. "Hello. Were you looking for me?"

The mare smiled in return. "Yes. We were told by one of your friends that you were here." The mare bowed. "I am Mithra, priestess of Shinkoku and Anchor of Gaea. My father is General Asura of the Eight Guardian Generals." Mithra gestured to the stallion with a tilt of her head.

Still smiling, Twilight bowed. "It's a pleasure to meet you both. I am Twilight Sparkle, princess and Anchor of Equestria." Standing again, Twilight nodded. "I assume you know of Equestria's status as a Sanctuary Loop?" Seeing Mithra shake her head and Asura snort, Twilight continued. "Here in Equestria, we allow visiting Loopers to relax. We deal with in-Loop troubles ourselves, or we can let you do it if that's what relaxes you. We try to keep our personal mayhem to a minimum as well. But we are not lenient if you begin causing trouble."

Stepping in front of Mithra, Asura snorted again. "Is that a threat?"

Looking coolly at Asura through half-lidded eyes, Twilight slowly shook her head. "No, I'm just making sure you understand the rules."

Grunting, Asura turned for the door. "Whatever." Seeing that her father was leaving, Mithra gave Twilight an apologetic smile and followed after him.

Watching them go, Twilight sighed. "That guy needs to calm down."


104.15 (Dalxein)

Trixie burst into the boutique, throwing manequines and half-made dresses around with the force of her passing, like a typhoon.
"SWEETIE!"

"Whaaaat?" The filly called. Glancing about, she sighed. "You know Rarity's not Awake this loop right? And is liable to try to murder you for this?"

"Irrelevant, Trixie is above such worries." The blue mare waved away the concerns. It really wasn't Sweetie Belle's problem, so she'd let it slide. "I need you to sing for me."

With raised brow, the youngest element of laughter slowly asked "Whyyy?"

"Because..." Trixie pulled a pair of highly triangular shades from her pocket and put them on. "I'm going to do the impossible."

Sweets couldn't help but face-hoof. "I'm not singing Libera Me for you." She groaned. "Especially the rapping parts if you want that version, you know I don't do rap."

"Don't worry." the showmare winked. "I have it on Vinyl."

"...you kidnapped Vinyl Scratch, didn't you?"

"The Great and Powerful Trixie declines to comment."

With a great and heavy sigh, Sweetie Belle sagged. "Fiiiine."


104.16(Masterweaver)

"Do I count as ascended?" Derpy asked Macintosh.

The earth pony shrugged. "Well... Ya can turn into an alicorn, but Ah'm not sure if it's a normal alicorn ya turn into."

"Yeah, that's my point. When I became an alicorn it was in a loop where everypony could become an alicorn. So it wasn't really ascension so much as a normal thing, so... yeah. I'm just wondering if I can join your club, is all."

Macintosh mentally went over the current club members and gave another shrug. "What tha hay, we're losing ponies left and right. Yer in."


104.17 (misterq)

Twilight laughed to herself in a most unsettling way as she mentally counted down the checklist for this loop.

'Get tree-ship seed from Applejack? Check. Hybridize my poor library with said seed? Check. Save library from Tirek?'

The magic thief's energy blast rocketed towards her home... and was completely blocked by a starship-grade forcefield.

Twilight let out a snort that sounded like the word 'check', followed by a giggle, followed by full blown laughter.

"What are you so happy about?" Tirek stomped up to the lavender alicorn.

"Sleep," Twilight replied with a sudden spell that was powered by the combined energy of four alicorns, and then stepped over the villain's unconscious body towards her intact home.

"Hey, Twilight!" Pinkie Pie popped her head out from the top floor library window. Idly, Equestria's looping anchor realized that Tirek was stopped this time before he drained all the ponies in Ponyville.

"Twilight!" Pinkie waved her hoof, "Hey, Twilight!"

"What is it, Pinkie?" Equestria's newest princess had a sudden sinking feeling.

"We found the controls, Twilight!" The party pony exclaimed.

"We?"

Rainbow Dash popped her head in through the window as well and waved. However in doing so, she overbalanced Pinkie Pie who fell back over some of the levers.

The ground started to shake.

"What is going on?" Rarity asked as she came out of her boutique along with a cautious Fluttershy, who was flying low to the ground.

"I don't know," Twilight answered and then looked to her home, "Pinkie Pie, if you destroy my library, I swear I will make you remember all those Eiken loops in perfect clarity."

"I don't think I broke it. I think I hit the autopilot," the party pony body-checked Rainbow Dash out of the way and then stuck her head out of the window.

That was when Twilight's library tree started to lift off of the ground, roots and all.

"Fluttershy in the sky," Pinkie waved to the yellow pegasus as she sang, "We can fly twice as high. Take a look, we're in a book.. library."

The library tree started to gain altitude at a rapid rate.

"We're off on an adventure in spaaaaaaace!" Pinkie's voice faded as Twilight's home left the atmosphere.

Twilight stared at the empty sky for a minute with a blank expression on her face. Then she realized that without the elements of laughter and loyalty, she could not open the box and create her new home. She was a homeless pony.

The lavender alicorn's horn glowed ominously as she slowly turned towards Tirek's unconscious form, "This is all your fault."


AN:

104.1: Cosmetic similarity.
104.2: Actually a pretty neat loop.
104.3: Dispassionate.
104.4: Now that's cruel.
104.5: They go flying once you do it. Not deliberately, the Great Derpy is just clumsy.
104.6: Convenient. Possibly.
104.7: Yeah, she's not one to leave behind you.
104.8: Laughter trial.
104.9: It's a very subjective contest.
104.10: Four Lyra Adventures.
104.11: Countermeasures.
104.12: The Royal Consort Canterlot Voice.
104.13: A different loop to the one in a previous chapter. Probably.
104.14: Do not provoke.
104.15: Musical accompaniment is magic.
104.16: She's not ascended. She just sometimes appears on the top floor.
104.17: In hindsight, this could have been predicted. Possibly.