189.1 (Anon e Mouse Jr.)
Scootaloo looked up at Rainbow Dash, a hesitant look on her face. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Relax, Scoots! It's all in good fun!" Rainbow Dash chuckled. "Fluttershy's gotten a lot braver, I think she can take this."
Scootaloo sighed – being the only other one Awake this Loop, she'd learned from Twilight about Rainbow Dash's little pranking spree in their most recent expansion, and the pair were hoping to nip it in the bud this time, which is why the young pegasus had shown up at her unAwake idol's house earlier. "Maybe. But... no matter how brave she's gotten, she still doesn't like being scared. And this looks like it's going to be really scary. Kind of like what she did to you guys last Nightmare Night."
The older pegasus started at that, then sighed. "Okay, Scoots. If you don't think it's a good idea, I won't do it." She looked disappointed as she began to remove her costume. "But I still really wanted to prank her somehow. I mean, I've never really been able to do it before, and I do think she's up for at least a little something."
Scootaloo smiled. "Well, I might have an idea for that..."
That evening, Fluttershy smiled as she entered her home, having returned from her picnic with her animal friends. Looking around her cottage, with all its things in their places, she sighed happily, then froze. Wait. What was that?
There was a medium-sized box on the end table, with a handle on one side. Fluttershy nervously approached it, reaching one hoof out to nudge the box.
Its lid sprang open.
And as the little plush animal inside popped out and began to sing, Fluttershy stared in shock, then began to giggle at the sight and its words.
"I like you a lot, you're funny and kind, so let me explain, what I have in mind," the plush sang. "I want to be your personal penguin, I want to walk right by your side! I want to be your personal penguin, I want to travel with you far and wide!"
As the penguin-in-the-box continued to sing, Fluttershy smiled at it. Then, as it finished, she heard giggling behind her, and looked up to see Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo at her window.
"Hey, Fluttershy!" Rainbow Dash called. "What'd you think of our little surprise?"
Opening the window, Fluttershy fixed her with a look. "I don't know how you got in here to leave that, and I'd appreciate it if you never did it again," she told the other mare pointedly. "But... if you had to prank me, at least it was something funny and not scary."
"Yeah... I kind of got that message earlier." Rainbow Dash glanced down at Scootaloo.
Scootaloo coughed. "Sorry about sneaking in when you weren't here, Fluttershy. I couldn't talk her out of pranking you entirely, but at least I talked her down to something lighthearted and harmless so it wouldn't upset you."
"Well, thank you, Scootaloo," Fluttershy told her. She looked back at the box, then at the younger pegasus. "Where did you come up with this, anyway?"
"Saw it in the toy store a while back when Pinkie asked me to go pick up something for the twins. And since it's animal-related, I thought of you."
"I see." Fluttershy smiled. "Well, I'll let you two off easy this time. But please, don't prank me again, either of you."
"We promise," the two swore, and left.
Closing her window, Fluttershy turned back to the toy. Closing the lid, she cranked the handle and smiled, softly humming along as it began to sing again.
"I want to be your personal penguin..."
189.2 (Anon e Mouse Jr.)
Scootaloo yawned. Blinked. Took in her surroundings.
"Oh, ficus..." she whispered.
Just then, she heard a familiar voice. "Oh, Sunset! Look at that cute little pegasus!"
Scootaloo froze. A moment later, she felt a pair of hands lifting her out of the bin of stuffed animals she'd been asleep in, and found herself staring at the face of a human Fluttershy, who promptly began cuddling her.
Turning her head just enough to see Sunset standing nearby and looking straight at her, she opened one eye wider and Pinged. Sunset's own eyes widened, and she turned to Fluttershy and smiled. "It's perfect. Come on, let's go check out."
Twenty minutes later, Sunset was driving home, having dropped Fluttershy off at her house, and Scootaloo could finally breath easy. "Thanks for getting me out of there, Sunset."
"No problem, Scoots. I'm just glad the cashier didn't give us a hard time over you not having a barcode and was willing to accept the price from the display."
"Yeah... good thing." Scootaloo smiled. "You know, I've never been a present for someone before. Except when we have repeats of Nyx's first Loop."
Sunset smiled back. "You mean when Nightmare Nyx decides to let you and the other Crusaders out of her dungeon and sends you all to Twist as a birthday gift?"
"Yep! And I still love seeing the happy look on her face whenever it happens."
"I'm not surprised." Sunset paused as they approached Canterlot High. "So, you going to hang out here with me, or do you want to go back to Equestria?"
"I think I'll stay here, spend some time with you. Besides, Fluttershy would probably get concerned if her thank-you present for you disappeared suddenly."
"Point." Sunset smiled at the little pegasus. "So, what did you have in mind to do this Loop?"
"Um... first, can we get something to eat? I'm starving!"
"Sure thing, Scoots. Sure thing."
A rainbow streaked over the center of Ponyville at seemingly impossible speeds, and Rainbow Dash's voice called out alarm a few seconds after the zooming prism had left for other lands. "Attention all Loopers: Code NT! I repeat, Code NT! Loop Crash could occur at any moment! Collect any and all possessions you wish to keep now!"
Most of the residents sat there puzzled, wondering just what a "Code NT" was, when they heard Rarity's cry of alarm from her boutique, followed swiftly by her door opening just long enough for hoof to affix a sign declaring her business closed before being slammed shut again.
This seemed to be the cue for a few other ponies to start saying odd things.
"My photo album! Where's my photo album?!"
"Last call at the cellar!"
"Applebloom, where's the Wanzer we were working on?"
"It's back at my lab… oh sprout of a birch, I gotta pack the lab!"
The majority of ponies sat in confusion, wondering what was going on or what if anything they needed to do. It was eventually Lily who made the all-important decision with her dramatic declaration. "The horror! The horror!" That was the signal that decided them. They may not know what was going to happen, but living as close to the Everfree Forest as they did had helped make sure they were always ready for a mindless panic. Screaming tore across the town as mothers grabbed their foals and quickly ushered them inside. Merchants in the square quickly tore down their stalls and rushed their merchandise to what would hopefully be a safer location. Doors were barred, shutters were shut tight, pegasus ponies fled for the highest and furthest clouds they could find, and within minutes Ponyville had seemingly become a ghost town except for the occasional sign of a quick peek through an uncovered part of window.
The only ones left standing in Ponyville were a very grouchy looking librarian and a small orange and pink unicorn filly next to her. The filly known in her home Loop as Nanoha turned sheepishly to Twilight. "Eh heh, I guess they still remember what happened the last time I was here."
Twilight didn't respond immediately, instead staring at the fading stream of color in the sky as though she were contemplating how good of a noose a band of light might make. Then she reached into her Pocket and flipped a crown with the Element of Magic inset into it to her guest. "You know what? Here. Go nuts."
"STOP RIGHT THERE, CRIMINAL SCUM!"
Twilight jumped in surprise as a train decked out in balloons and streamers barreled through the hallways of her castle, closely followed by a winded panicking Starlight Glimmer and a cheerful bouncing Pinkie Pie.
Snagging them with her magic, Twilight glared at them.
"Well, I volunteered to help Starlight with some magic spells completely of my own accord," Pinkie said cheerfully. "Starlight was working on a way to project one's thoughts in a physical form."
Twilight blinked slowly. "You chose Pinkamena Diane Pie as your test subject?" she asked Starlight incredulously.
"Well, in hindsight, that was a bad idea, yes. But we're working on fixing it," Starlight said defensively.
Twilight waved them away with an exasperated sigh.
"Just go. Try not to break anything important, alright?"
Starlight nodded and they chased after the train.
Twilight Sparkle manifested inside Discord's mind beside the draconequus and looked around.
"For a being of Chaos, your mind is surprisingly organized," Twilight remarked.
Discord waved a claw dismissively. "That's just the atrium. Beyond the doors, I promise it's a mess. However, that's not why we're here. Instead, the problem lies here."
He pulled open a door out of nothing and gazed at Twilight expectantly.
The alicorn stared at him and he sighed before wiggling the door, which moved in ways no door should.
"I don't get it," Twilight said.
"Mentally unhinged, Twilight. Try to keep up," Discord said patiently.
The residents of Ponyville stared as their resident princess chased a draconequus through the streets, loudly threatening to tighten more than just a few screws when she got her hooves on him.
Cadance peered out of her window to gaze at her Empire.
She then did a double-take at the numerous eldritch horrors walking through the streets.
"Er...Shiny? Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"
"A whole bunch of Old Ones, Eldar Gods, Elder Gods and other beings with unpronounceable names walking around uninhibited? Yup," the unicorn replied, not looking up from his Guard Quarterly magazine.
"Shouldn't we be...doing something?"
"The Crystal Heart purified and/or removes their destructive tendencies, so they're mostly harmless."
"Property damage mostly."
"A few cases of ponies going insane and writing prophecies in jam on the walls, but nothing serious." Shining's face became thoughtful. "At least, I hope it's jam."
Cadance sighed and went to fetch the the aspirin.
It was going to be one of those Loops, and unlike her aunts and sister-in-law, she couldn't drop her duties and take a vacation on the moon or sun.
"Some ponies have all the luck," she grumbled.
"Fluttershy," Discord muttered, the pegasus looking up. "Isn't that Ostrich one of yours?"
In the middle of Ponyville, an ostrich had been sighted, and a lot of people are wondering if Fluttershy has a new exotic pet for sale.
"No...that's Zephyr's," she replied.
"Is he going the Pet Detective route again?" She shook her head, the Draconequus lost in thought. "Ostrich farmer?" She gave a nod.
"THERE YOU ARE!" Zephyr yelled, chasing the Ostrich. "Dang it, Buffy, get back here! I don't want to explain to the neighbors why the carrot farm has been raided again."
There were several questions that went through their heads. First of which was who had the right mind to name an ostrich Buffy. Second was how she would get along with Angel and Spike.
"For a lazy pegasus," Discord said, looking at the chase scene with interest, "he can match the bird's speed."
189.8 (Anon e Mouse Jr.)
"Hear ye, hear ye!" Twilight banged the gavel. "This reading of the Last Will and Testament of our dearly departed leader, Princess Celestia, is about to begin." As the other four ponies in the room quieted, she held up the parchment and began to read.
"I, Princess Celestia, being of sound mind and body, do hereby declare my last wishes, to be carried out after I pass into the next world.
First, let it be known that this parchment has been enchanted so that as it is read, each bequest will happen automatically, whether it is read aloud or silently. For the protection of its reader, they have been rendered immune to all spells, save those attached to this parchment, and attempts at physical harm. This protection will last until twenty-four hours after the last word is read for the first time." Twilight flared her wings and narrowed her eyes at Prince Blueblood, who was sitting to one side of the room and attempting to look innocent. She then continued to read.
"My bequests are as follows.
First, to my dear sister Princess Luna. Who let jealousy and dark magic take control of her, and led to her being imprisoned in the moon for one thousand years. You shall continue in your position as one half of Equestria's ruling diarchy. The other half shall consist of my faithful student Twilight Sparkle, who ascended to Alicornhood shortly before my passing."
Luna sniffled and wiped her eyes.
"I also leave... a boot to the head."
Stunned for a moment by the sudden impact, Luna looked at Twilight in shock as she continued reading. "I've long since forgiven you for your past crimes, Luna. That was your cue that it's long past time for you to stop punishing yourself for them!
I also leave you my love, sister. Never forget how much I have always cared for you, even in your darkest moments."
Twilight paused as a chorus of d'awws swept the room at that, and even Luna smiled.
"Next, to my beloved niece Cadance, the Princess of Love. I leave you a reminder of your heritage, because it's going to be returning soon. You know what I'm talking about.
I also leave... a frilly pink boot to the head. Of King Sombra."
In the frozen north, at that very moment, a dark spirit screamed in astonishment as it was hit in the head by a flying boot.
"And a boot to the head of your husband."
Shining Armor rubbed his head as Twilight kept reading. "That's for not telling your sister about your engagement sooner, dear nephew-in-law. You should have told her at least a month before, not two days."
"I said I was sorry about that," the blue-maned unicorn muttered.
Giving him a look, Twilight continued. "To my distant nephew, Prince Blueblood. For your various hedonistic acts, including your shabby treatment of the Element of Generosity at our last Grand Galloping Gala, I leave... a 21 Party Cannon Salute. To the head."
The room filled with laughter as the aforementioned cannons appeared and proceeded to bombard the prince in confetti, streamers, and boot-shaped balloons. (And several real boots as well, just for good measure.)
Once the room had settled down again, Twilight smiled as she read the next part. "To my past student Sunset Shimmer, wherever she may be, I also leave my love, and my regrets that things went so poorly between us in her last days in the palace. I only wish I could have seen you again to apologize in person.
"Finally, to my faithful student Twilight Sparkle. You have already been made my successor in the diarchy of Equestria, and I also leave another scroll for you to share with Luna. It will allow you to cast the boot-to-the-head spell on any petitioners who truly deserve it during court. But only those who truly deserve it. That includes those who have come before you purely to satisfy their own greed."
Luna grinned at that.
"And speaking of greed, I also leave you... a boot to the head of the self-styled Lord Tirek."
At this last line, Twilight pricked up her ears. She could have sworn she heard a loud scream of rage. Shaking her head, she turned to the others, unaware that at that very moment, members of the Royal Guard were in a nearby alley, busily slapping anti-magic restraints on a formerly hooded centaur.
"This concludes the reading of the last will and testament of Princess Celestia. Thank you all for coming." Twilight bowed to the four attendees, and left the room.
When she had reached her private quarters, she pulled out a small compact and tapped it. "Princess?"
The face of a human Princess Celestia appeared in the mirror. "How'd it go?"
"Perfectly." Twilight told her. "How's Sunset?"
"She's doing very well." Celestia smiled. "Thank you for helping me with this, Twilight. I needed the break. And my sister did need the kick in the head this Loop, pun fully intended."
Twilight laughed. "You and Sunset take care of yourselves, Princess. I'll see you on the other side soon."
"I look forward to it, Twilight." The two Alicorns closed their compacts, and Twilight tucked hers in her saddlebag.
Now to go apologize to Luna, she thought to herself. I do agree that she needs an extra push to forgive herself when she isn't Awake, but I wasn't expecting the percussive maintenance version.
Meanwhile, on the far side of the Crystal Mirror, Celestia looked over at Sunset, who was in the driver's seat. "Are we ready?"
"We're ready," Sunset confirmed as she hit the ignition. "Vacation Loop, here we come!"
The two sped off, leaving Canterlot County behind them.
Derpy stared at Alex Mercer for a moment before bursting into gales of laughter.
"You look like a bad OC," she snickered.
"And here I thought my red and black coloring was already indicative of such accusations," Alex replied dryly, flicking his wings absently. "Feels really weird having coverings for my wings though."
"Just think of it as another stage in your evolution," Derpy replied. "One step closer to being perfect." She wrinkled her nose. "Although the colors could use a little work."
Alex rolled his eyes. "I'll keep that in mind for future reference."
Derpy smiled before peering at him closely. "Other than the new paintjob, how're you holding up?"
Alex stretched his limbs before his body rippled, reverting to his usual coloring. "It's been...rough. Went through a few Loops where the Blacklight had gotten out of control. One with the Warrior Cat Loopers and another with the Mobius Loopers."
Derpy noted his grim tone and pressed comfortingly against him. "How bad was it?"
"Total extinction event. Might've been a few survivors, but wherever they were, I wasn't able to contact them. Nobody answered the Ping either."
Derpy winced. "That's the disadvantage of being an Anchor. Plenty of lonely Loops."
Alex sighed and nuzzled Derpy's hair softly. "Eh, I have enough Loops surrounded by friends that the lonely Loops don't carry as much impact as they do for some, I reckon."
Derpy bumped her flank against his side with a snort. "Your mood changes as often as your face. How do you cope with that?"
"I blame the fact I have billions of voices screaming in my head," Alex replied cheerfully. "Lingering on any one negative sentiment is ultimately a waste of time and energy, so why do that when you can just be a goofy idiot and have a much better life because of it?"
"Taking the Doctor's lessons to heart, hm?" Derpy said with an amused grin.
"Or what passes for a heart, anyway," Alex agreed. "I'm not going to forget what either of you did for me, so..." His ears flicked in embarrassment and he coughed. "Thankyouverymuch."
Derpy rolled her eyes and bopped him on the head. "What was that?"
"You heard me."
"I heard mumbling," Derpy said, sticking out her tongue. "I'd have thought your Loops as a changeling grub would've taught you manners."
"Oh yes, because UnAwake Chrysalis is such a wonderful teacher of the oral aspect of changeling society," Alex replied wryly.
"That's an...interesting way of wording it," Derpy remarked.
"Her words, not mine. Go ask her if you don't believe me."
Derpy waved a hoof dismissively. "Relax, Lovebug, I've had my own fair share of changeling Loops. I'm well aware of how they tick and function, even before baseline caught up."
"Yeah, I've noticed there's been a lot of baseline expansions that mimic what we've already been through," Alex mused. "At least the less savory ones have died down though."
Derpy nodded. "Well enough of that, shall we go grab a bite to eat? Perhaps a movie as well?"
"I'd like that very much."
Chrysalis let out an irritated sigh as she knocked back another cider. Resting her head on the bar counter, she started banging her head on the wood.
"Rough Loop?" Berry Punch asked.
"Waking up to a Changeling Civil War is certainly something to behold," Chrysalis replied. "'All hail King Thorax!' 'Long live Queen Chrysalis!' Kill me."
"Can't do that, but at least you can drink until it feels better," Berry Punch replied cheerfully.
"You ponies are lucky you live under such...benevolent rulers," Chrysalis grumbled.
"Oh please, I've had my fair share of Tyrannical Celestia and Discord Loops to know it could've been a lot worse," Berry countered.
"And I've had my fair share of Tyrannical Chrysalis Loops," Trixie replied, plopping down beside the bug queen. "Begging for my life, bound and helpless before my new rulers..."
"Trixie, it only counts if it's outside our private quarters," Chrysalis replied.
"You're no fun," Trixie pouted, which earned her a smooch from the queen.
Celestia woke up with a yawn, getting out of bed.
Making her way over to the window, she opened the curtains to raise the sun. Lighting her horn, she went through the usual process to raise the warm orb that granted light to the night-dappled Equestria.
As light fell over Canterlot, Celestia noticed some strange creatures flying around. Putting the sun into its place in the sky, she then snagged one of the things and drew it close.
She found herself holding a copy of Wings and Things: A Pegasian's Guide to Wing Care and her sleep-addled mind stumbled as the gears started to turn.
"Twilight," she grumbled before teleporting to Ponyville with a thought.
She arrived to chaos.
Books were flying everywhere, terrorizing ponies and being a general nuisance.
Celestia spotted Twilight Sparkle, Starlight Glimmer and Fluttershy in a heated three-way argument.
"They're books, Fluttershy. They don't have feelings or wants, needs, or any of the usual stuff!" Starlight was saying. Fluttershy had her stubborn face on, hooves crossed as she hovered in front of a set of books.
"Now Starlight, I know your Come-to-Life Spell went out of control, but denying books the freedom to think for themselves is not the answer," she replied.
"Fluttershy, nothing good will come of sentient books. I've been through this before and it wasn't pretty," Twilight said.
Celestia coughed politely, getting their attention.
"Oh, thank the junipers," Twilight said. "Can you talk some sense into Fluttershy? She wants to start up a...book breeding ranch or something."
Celestia blinked slowly before reaching into her Subspace Pocket and pulling out a flask of coffee. Taking a hefty swig, she flicked her wings.
"Twilight, this will be a good lesson for your own student," she replied. "I leave it to you to find a compromise that satisfies all parties involved."
Twilight's jaw dropped in disbelief. Celestia grinned, gave them a cheeky wave and teleported away.
"TRAITOR!" Twilight howled.
Twilight ascended as she walked into the Bar, literally seconds after Big Mac opened it, she sat down at the stool and gave Big Mac a depressed stare. He shook his head and reached into his Pocket for the good stuff and poured her a glass of immortals only alcohol. The Anchor nodded and quickly downed the drink, letting out a sigh as she felt her throat almost literally burn as it worked its way into her system. Things continued this way for a few moments, Twilight having three more drinks of the same strength before looking over to Big Mac as he calmly cleaned a glass.
"I had a very odd loop Big Mac. Possibly one of the weirdest I've had in millennia." The stallion looked up from his washing and looked at Twilight as she spoke. "It was rather normal when I first looped in, and seemed perfectly baseline until I landed in Ponyville," she took a moment to signal for another drink, which Big Mac stoically obliged. "I thought it was a slight variant at first, simply because Pinkie didn't gasp and run off like she normally did..." Twilight shook her head and looked desolately into her drink, "It wasn't until we entered the forest that I really noticed it though... everything had gone so close to baseline until then, so I simply didn't think about it, but...but..." She shook her head before soldiering on.
"Pinkie Pie was a perfectly normal pony!" Twilight shivered slightly after she announced it, steadying herself before continuing, "She was still a party pony, and she still threw parties and was known for being Ponyville's premier party planner, but she didn't have any of the reality warping, fourth wall breaking powers of Pinkie Pie!"
Twilight took a deep breath after blurting it out, then looked at Big Mac.
Big Mac looked back at Twilight.
In that moment, a silent understanding passed between them, and Big Mac got himself a shot of the strongest alcohol he could take, before throwing it back in unison with Twilight finishing hers.
Twilight walked into Ponyville, like she did at the start of many loops, and so far this one was baseline. Applejack was making the food, Rainbow Dash was clearing the sky, Rarity was doing the decorations, and Fluttershy was conducting the music. Yes, so far, this Loop was perfectly base–
And with those words, Baseline died a terrible, horrible death.
Twilight knew of only one person in the multiverse to make that sound, and slowly, ever so agonizingly slowly, Twilight looked up at Pinkie Pie, and had to fight the urge to crash the Loop at what she saw.
Pinkie Pie was wearing an obscenely pink cardigan over her already pink coat, along with a little black bow in her poofy mane, and no matter how much like a normal pony she actually looked, there was something vaguely... toad-like about her.
"I don't believe I've seen you in Ponyville before, new pony. What's your name?" The... abomination replacing Pinkie Pie for this loop asked. Twilight went to answer before she sent a hopeful ping, praying Pinkie was playing a prank on her, and that this loop wasn't that bad.
Twilight hesitated for a few seconds, praying for a response...
Which she didn't receive.
"I prefer Eiken to this." Twilight said aloud before ascending and powering an exceedingly powerful spell, aimed directly at the sun. "Birch this Loop, I'm done."
And then the Loop crashed.
Twilight Awoke in G 3.5's Ponyville, and as she looked around at all the things she hated, she couldn't help but smile.
At least Madame Umbridge didn't follow her here.
189.14 (Anon e Mouse Jr.)
The Changeling Queen looked up from her drink. "Hey, Twilight."
"Oh, that last expansion." She sighed. "I can't believe my UnAwake self could still be that... well, stupid and stubborn!"
Twilight placed a hoof on her friend's shoulder. "It's okay, Chrysalis. We understand."
"Then there's Thorax changing like he did." Chrysalis sighed again. "I can understand some of these things, but that... with those new growths on his head, he looks like a freaking moose! With wings! How does a member of an insect-like species end up looking like a moose, for oak's sake? And the others... their bodies are shaped more like deer with shells and wings now, where did that even come from?"
"Thorax could be a case of dimorphism," Twilight suggested. "He is the first Changeling King we've ever seen in baseline, after all. But the whole moose and deer thing, I don't know."
"Point." Chrysalis smiled. "Thanks, Twilight. I needed that."
"You're welcome." Twilight hugged her, then pulled away. "Now... about that anti-magic throne. Is that really something you've had all along?"
Chrysalis looked embarrassed. "It's popped up a few times. I never said anything about it because I thought it was just a variant. Now I wish I'd mentioned it anyway."
"Well, we know now, and we can be on the lookout for it." Twilight smiled. "Chrysalis?"
"I'm glad you're one of my friends. You know that, right."
"I do." Chrysalis hugged her. "And I'm glad you're one of my friends too."
At that, Twilight smiled and hugged her back.
189.15 (Anon e Mouse Jr.)
Sitting on the school's front steps, Sunset considered the letter she'd written, making sure she'd gotten it absolutely right, then watched as the words glowed, signaling that they'd been copied into Twilight's journal.
It's been an… interesting Loop. We've had another expansion on this end of things, and now I understand what all those odd Camp loops I was having were for. They were preparing me for our trip to Camp Everfree, and what happened there.
Long story short, our local Twilight has gotten past the fear of magic she developed as a result of the Friendship Games. When we went to Camp Everfree, we all started developing superpowers that we could tap into without ponying up – apparently, it's related to these seven Equestrian crystals that our new bad guy discovered in one of the caves here. She tried to use their magic, but went a little nuts as a result and… went overboard. Kind of like Sci-Twi did during the Friendship Games, or like our mutual friend Goliath when he tried to use that "Eye of Odin" in his baseline. (You remember Goliath from the Gargoyles Loop, don't you? You mentioned you'd met him once – so did I, during my Traveling period.)
Anyway, I suspect part of the reason she was affected that way by them was because they were actually meant for the seven of us. We got Sci-Twi to accept her magic and overcome her darker half, and she got the crystals back for us, then we saved the day. Again. I still don't know how the crystals got here, but I'm pretty sure we'll find out in another expansion. I've Pocketed mine so you and I can study it a little more later.
Meanwhile, I've gotten closer to Sci-Twi. She's a good person, and it's times like these I wish she was Looping too. She's… well, she's essentially family to the two of us. Heh… given my past, who'd have thought I'd wind up with two sisters? I think you ought to spend some time with her over here. She'd probably like that.
Love you, sis.
Later that day, Sunset felt her journal buzzing, and opened it to find a message from Twilight.
Things are slow on this side, so I'm coming over to visit in a short while. You and I are going to try and find our little sister as soon as possible this Loop and help her out.
And I love you too, sis.
P.S.: Yes, I remember Goliath. Haven't seen him since… well before you first Awoke as far as I remember, but he was a good person.
Sunset smiled as she closed the book and looked toward the portal. "Can't wait to see you, Twilight. Both of you."
Rarity turned the Boutique's sign to "closed" and drew the curtains shut.
Putting everything away, she then went to the kitchen and got herself a tub of ice cream that was six inches taller than her, just how she liked it.
Sweetie Belle trotted past her sister on the stairs and paused.
"Uh...Rarity–?" she began, only to be cut off.
"Yes, I'm Awake, Sweetie. I just had a Loop where I was almost run over by Velvet Reindeer and her friends. Not entirely sure why they were pulling a sleigh in the middle of May, but that's not important. I then swallowed two bags of frozen vegetables and a gallon of milk, all still in their bags and jars. I'm just going to take this Loop off and relax."
"What about the Boutiques?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"I've already got Sassy Saddles coming in to manage things here. If she decides to branch out to other stores, that's fine," Rarity replied.
"But what about her whole "sending Boutiques out of business" shtick?"
Rarity turned to stare at her. "Then I'll rip her a new seamline."
"...Oooookay, how about you take a nice relaxing vacation and I'll manage the Boutique for the Loop, alright?" Sweetie Belle said.
Rarity smiled. "Thank you, Sweetie."
"Hey Cadance, what's the name of gender-swapped Flurry Heart?" Twilight Sparkle asked one day as the two princesses relaxed in the Crystal Empire.
"...Usually it uses masculine or even neutral synonyms of "Flurry" and "Heart." Things like Frost Ticker. Maybe Glacier Star. Once it was Tender Snow. He was a lot like Fluttershy that Loop," Cadance replied.
Twilight tilted her head. "You...seem rather calm, all things considered. A lot of Loopers get all weird once they have a child in baseline who gets lost at the end of the Loop."
"Twilight, I am the Princess of Love. I love every one of my kids the same as any other and I know that I will see them again down the line. Whether it's one Loop or a million, I can wait."
The Princess of Friendship nodded slowly. "I...get where you're coming from. I sometimes don't see Nyx for extended periods of time and it hurts, but I know that I'll have so many new stories to tell her when we meet again."
Cadance smiled. "As Loopers, we get to experience a lot of things. Love, loss, death, trauma, horrors that make even veteran Loopers wary. The trick is to simply accept that events will happen whether we want them to or not and keep moving forward."
Twilight gave her sister-in-law a hug and smiled. "Thanks, that's very helpful and I'll be sure to pass it on if I find a Looper struggling after a rough Loop."
Cadance returned the hug and grinned. "Come on, that's enough deep introspective stuff. Let's go draw mustaches on Shining's comics."
Twilight snorted. "You're evil."
"All's fair in love and war."
189.18 (Anon e Mouse Jr.)
Twilight walked into Mac's bar with a big smirk on her face.
Looking up from the glass he was cleaning, Mac nodded. "Mornin', Twilight."
"Morning, Mac." Twilight sat down in front of him. "Fizzy cider, please. I'm in a good mood, and I feel like celebrating."
Mac passed her the drink with an amused look on his face. "So, what happened?"
"Well, Tirek escaped a little early this Loop..."
"And he wasn't just a magic-stealing centaur this time. He was a robotic magic-stealing centaur."
"What's so good about that?"
"Well, he came to the library and demanded my magic a few hours ago..." Twilight's smirk grew. "But as luck would have it, the night before, Pinkie had thrown another of her parties in the library. So we had leftovers. Specifically, a six-foot party sub."
Mac's eyes widened. "Ah think I see where this is going."
Twilight broke out giggling. "I told him no... and... and then I kicked his aft with a sandwich!"
Back in Ponyville, Applejack and Apple Bloom suddenly pricked up their ears at the sound of hysterical laughter, both male and female, coming from the direction of Sweet Apple Acres.
Looking up at her sister, Apple Bloom's eyes were wide. "Um... is that Mac I hear laughing?"
"I'm sure it's nothing to worry about, sis," Applejack told her. "Nothin' to worry about at all."
Apple Bloom nodded and went back to her own work, while Applejack smiled. Ah know the sound of a happy Twilight when Ah hear it, she thought to herself. She must have gone to tell Mac one of her stories, and Ah'm sure she'll fill us in on the details next time we see her.
Twilight looked up from her book. "Luna? What's up?"
"It is not so much a matter of up as what is less up than before," Luna stressed. "I require thy assistance."
"Oh, dear..." Twilight sighed, putting the bookmark into her book and closing it. "Okay, what have you done now?"
Luna shuffled her hooves. "The previous loop, I was on Earth - and, well, I saw some puff pieces about what they called a 'supermoon'."
Twilight glanced upwards. "That's... yeah, the thing where the moon's full and at perigee at the same time. It's a little bit brighter. So?"
"So it was boring!" Luna exploded. "The only reason that humans thought it was so impressive was how rarely they go outside and look at the moon!"
Twilight raised a hoof. "Okay, never mind. I think I can guess. First question – how bad is the flooding?"
"That is the reason I came to discuss this with you," Luna clafiried. "The tides were, as you surmise, extremely high, but fortunately the Equestrian continent was at a position of low tide and I noticed the error quite quickly."
"How bad, Luna?" Twilight repeated. "There's a griffin landmass this loop..."
"HEY!" came a cawing shout from outside the library. "Moonbutt, get your flank out here so we can debate with you!"
Luna tossed her head, indicating the source of the shouting. "Gilda is, as you may surmise, angry. As is Grizelda."
Twilight looked Luna up and down for a long moment.
"Okay, I think I have a solution for this," she said. "I'll deal with this by way of a lunar timeout."
"Thank you," Luna sighed.
"Don't thank me yet," Twilight cautioned, horn already glowing.
"In retrospect, We should have considered that obvious," Luna sighed, kicking at the regolith.
She looked down at Equestria. "At least it's quiet."
"Funny, that," a familiar voice said. "Do you think it's going to stay quiet?"
"No chance," replied another voice, almost the same but this time with a distinct hiss.
Luna sighed. "Fiddlesticks."
"I am Twilight Sparkle. Daughter of Twilight Velvet and Night Light, sister of Shining Armor of the Royal Guard, and also sister to Spike. I am Princess Celestia's personal student."
"And glad I am to have you," Celestia replied; Twilight, however, held up a hoof. When she spoke next, her stance had changed – she was unmistakably surer of herself.
"I am Twilight Sparkle, Element of Magic and leader of the Elements of Harmony. I was involved in the defeat of Nightmare Moon, Discord, Chrysalis and Sombra, along with many other foes and problems."
Celestia blinked, shocked.
There was a flash of purple light, and a golden tiara studded with amethysts appeared on Twilight's brow. Then Twilight flared as brightly as the jewellery had.
When the light faded, she was nearly a foot taller, and had majestic wings.
"I am Princess Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Magic," she said quietly, the undercurrent of her power rolling out through the room. "Alicorn, sister of one alicorn, sister-in-law of two alicorns–"
Twilight's speech was abruptly interrupted by a loud explosion. Then all the castle wards failed at once, as did the lights.
"Oh, dear..." Twilight sighed, flaring her wings. "Note to self: do not release hold on magic aura when doing this explanation."
"Twilight?" Celestia asked, completely lost now. "What just happened?"
"I was trying to introduce myself properly," the alicorn replied. "The problem is that it looks like I need to upgrade the castle before I let my power off the leash... the spells overloaded and crashed, and I think it blew up one of the ward anchors and induced a cascade. To be honest I should have seen this failure mode coming..."
Celestia considered the problem as an intellectual exercise rather than as reality, which helped. "But you're keyed into the wards. You have been for years."
"No, the diagnostic spells," Twilight clarified. "The two of us this close together is too much for them."
Celestia quickly calculated how much power it would take to cause an overload in the castle ward diagnostic spells, and winced.
"My dear student," she said, with an air of slightly brittle calm. "I have no idea why you are now an alicorn, or how it is you have more power by a substantial margin than I do. But... since I see you have the Element of Magic, can I please request you replace the wards?"
"Of course," Twilight agreed readily. "Do you want them upgraded as well?"
There was a general rustling sound.
"No, I meant Princess Twilight," Starlight clarified.
As the others went back to what they were doing, Twilight trotted over to her new pupil. "What is it, Starlight Glimmer?"
"Well..." Starlight waved a hoof around at the room. "When did this happen?"
"Oh, the hall?" Twilight nodded to herself. "This was actually built three hundred and forty-one years ago, though there was a ten year contractual dispute which meant that pegasi had to be constantly on duty to prevent rain damage. The dispute was solved–"
"Not the hall!" Glimmer interrupted, then shook her head. "Sorry, Princess. But what I mean is... I was fairly sure there were only four alicorns last month."
"Which last month do you mean?" Twilight asked. "It's sort of a difficult question at the moment."
"I know," Starlight agreed, bowing her head. "I made a mess of the whole situation... but I didn't think I'd altered history enough to do this."
Twilight hummed to herself, looking around. "So you're wondering where all the extra alicorns came from. I see. Well."
She began to indicate them in turn. "She became an alicorn by flying very fast. She did it by growing trees, and she absorbed the energy of an overloading chaos god. As for Fluttershy, that was pure negotiation, and Rarity made a lot of dresses."
Starlight's jaw began to drop.
"You already know how Cadance became an alicorn, and I'm sure I don't have to explain Flurry Heart," Twilight went on. "As for her father, well, he did it by repelling a lot of Changelings at his wedding."
"But he wasn't an alicorn last month!"
"Delayed reaction," Twilight said. "Now, let's see... can everyone switch places?"
Starlight stared as the various alicorns moved aside, revealing a second row of them she hadn't even seen yet.
"Is... does that griffin have a snake for a tail?!"
"No," the snake replied. "I'm a snake with a backwards griffin for a body. Get it right!"
"Who are you calling backwards?"
Starlight raised a hoof. "I think I'd like to stop this lesson now, Princess. I feel like I understand less than when I started."
She shook her head. "All of these feats sound like how you get a cutie mark, not become a Princess."
"Precisely," Twilight said mysteriously. "Don't you want to hear how Ivory Scroll became a Princess?"
"I'm afraid to ask..."
"Paperwork," Twilight summarized. "Enough forms can change your own. And as for Zecora here, well, that one was alchemy."
Starlight blinked. "Princess... I'm starting to wonder why I haven't become an alicorn just by sneezing at the wrong moment."
"Hi!" Ditzy said, waving. "That's because that was my way."
"...I meant it as a joke..."
"Hello, and welcome back to Election Night," Cadance said, shuffling her papers. "Bringing you the latest updates from our Ponyville Studio. With me now is our analyst, Pinkie Pie. Pinkie?"
"Hi!" Pinkie waved. "Okie-dokie, so I worked out the swing!"
Reaching into her mane, she pulled it out. "See? It's got chains and a seat, and you go back and forth on it to get faster and faster!"
"Thank you, Pinkie," Cadance said, flying over to a different camera as Pinkie started having fun on the swing. "Rainbow Dash, you have an interview for us?"
"You bet!" Dash agreed, nodding enthusiastically and making her mane swish. "So, we've got Dinky Doo here to interview! Dinks, what's up?"
"I'm afraid I don't know," Dinky replied cheerfully. "I just came in to deliver a letter! But I'm very glad to be on television – hi muffin!"
"Dash, I thought we'd discussed your habit of interviewing everypony you can see," Cadance admonished gently. "But now I believe we have to go to the Canterhorn, where our correspondent Rarity is at the count. Rarity?"
A group of ponies stood, hooves occasionally shuffling, on the stage. Behind them loomed an enormous and disgruntled centaur.
Ivory Scroll tapped her hoof on the wooden stage. "Attention!"
She cleared her throat. "I, Ivory Scroll, being the Returning Officer for the Constituency of The Night, do hereby declare that the number of valid votes cast in this election was eight million nine hundred thousand, nine hundred and eighty nine. The votes were cast for each candidate as follows."
"And here come the counts," Rarity said into her microphone. "Something that's interesting here is that one of the candidates changed her name to appear last on the ballot."
"Trixie Lulamoon, of the Super Happy Firework Time Now party," Scroll went on. "Twelve thousand, three hundred and seventy."
"Interestingly, all Changelings," Rarity commented for the viewers.
"Princess Luna, of the Incumbent party – Four hundred and forty six thousand and twelve."
"Ouch," Rarity winced. "That's going to cause problems for Princess Luna."
"Was her party really called the Incumbent Party?" Cadance asked.
"If you are quite finished?" Scroll requested. "Silly Oaks – Public Safety Democratic Monarchist – one."
"Silly Oaks is a well known nuisance candidate," Rarity supplied.
"Nyx Sparkle, of the Cute Party," Ivory went on. "Eight million–"
Wild cheering drowned out the rest of the number, and also the loud complaints from both Princess Luna and the hulking centaur also on the stage.
"I'll start again," Scroll sighed. "Eight million, four hundred and twenty thousand, three hundred and one."
Nyx started dancing.
"Twilight Sparkle, Astronomy party," Ivory said, speaking louder to drown out the clatter of hooves. "Twenty two thousand, three hundred and one. Tirek Sunstar, Evil party, four."
"Four," Rarity repeated. "I'm surprised he got that many."
"And Scratch Vinyl, formerly Vinyl Scratch, of the Dubstep Party," Ivory concluded. "Nought."
"Well, there we have it," Rarity said, as Tirek started protesting the results with a large mace. "Nyx Sparkle is the new ruler of the Night. Back to you in the studio, and I'll be reporting in twelve hours from Election Day."
189.1: Much nicer.
189.3: FULL POWER TOTAL DESTRUCTION
189.4: Not the best choice to say the least.
189.8: Faking one's death for comedy purposes.
189.13: Potentially proportionate.
189.14: The point is moose. Not moot, moose.
189.16: Stress levels high.
189.19: Fortunately Griffins can fly, so there was only massive property damage. Still.
189.20: Attempting an introduction, one cut short by... issues.
189.21: Princess is a term for which many ponies qualify.
189.22: Featuring Cadence Dimbleby, Pinkie Vine, Rainbow Paxman and sundry others. (This is a British-style election, of course.) Note that Vinyl forgot to even vote for herself...