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Chapter 9 – The Party Hasn't Begun

The world felt hazy around Twilight, as if it wasn't entirely certain what it was supposed to look like. Objects around her seemed wavy and out of focus, and she couldn't look at them without getting a headache. The walls of the cave were almost smooth like oil, and the entire experience felt psychedelic.

This was another dream, thought Twilight. It had to be. She realized that this was the first time she was aware she was dreaming. She wondered what would happen if she went crazy and broke character, but she didn't dare disrupt what was already in progress. If these dreams had a meaning, she wouldn't figure it out by turning them into her own playtime. She had to behave and do what the dream asked her to.

There were hoofbeats behind her; she wasn't alone. When she turned to look, however, she couldn't make out the faces of her comrades, nor how many there were. If this was a memory, it was a memory from long ago, the details long since washed away.

"Zecora?" she called, and her voice echoed back through the darkness. If the zebra had heard her, she didn't respond.

"It's... dark," said a voice from behind Twilight.

"Yeah," said another. "How about some light?"

Twilight laughed. Right. Light would help. She beat her hooves on the floor in rhythm. Two clops, a pause, and then three clops. The lights came on, and Twilight became aware of how much the room had changed since the last time she had seen it. The machines lining the wall were smashed in, and holes in the shape of thick claw marks adorned them on all sides. The damage was irreversible, realized Twilight, crestfallen. Her star map had been torn up. Jars were smashed and quills broken in two. Zecora was nowhere in sight, but two holes in the back led deeper into the mountain.

"Stay back," ordered Twilight, and she crossed the room and entered the left hole, which led to Zecora's sleeping quarters. Maybe she was just resting, reasoned Twilight. It was difficult to keep a reliable sleep schedule in a world without daylight, she reasoned.

The room was sparse and the walls were bare. A dirty mattress took up most of the space on one side, and the only other features of the room were masks and other trinkets from the zebra homeland. As in the main room, everything was destroyed. Wooden zebra heads, separated from their bodies, almost looked like they were crying over the destruction.

Twilight's head turned slowly as she took in the surrounding. There was little lighting in the bedroom; Zecora didn't need it, as she only used the room to sleep, so Twilight had to strain to make out the details, and it took her some time to notice the figure lying on the mattress.

"Zecora?" she repeated again, falling back on her haunches to get a closer look. Her horn hummed softly as it provided additional light. The zebra didn't appear to be moving.

"No." she whispered softly. She cried the zebra's name one more time and shoved her gently on the shoulder. Before she could do anything else, a large mass collided with her side and send her sprawling across the room. Trying to orient herself, she raised her head and found herself looking at two large glowing eyes.

"So you came back," hissed the voice. "Good. I wasn't done with you."

Twilight screamed.


When morning came, Twilight didn't have the strength to get out of bed. Her entire body ached when she tried to move, and the image of Zecora's broken body wouldn't leave her mind. She buried her head in the pillow and cried softly, not knowing what else to do.

She felt lost. Everything was changing around her; she didn't understand it and she had no control over it. It was all a horrible nightmare that she couldn't wake up from.

Twilight lost track of how long she lay in bed, trying not to think about anything. Rarity came in briefly to offer her some breakfast, but when she didn't respond to any of Rarity's questions, the white unicorn set the tray of food down and left.

When Twilight finally stopped crying, she began to consider her situation rationally. The dreams made a bit more sense now. They were her life, her real life. Any happy memories she had were fake. I really am brain damaged, she thought quietly.

Still, brain damaged or not, Twilight knew she couldn't let her fears and confusion rule her. When Rarity returned to check on her eating, she was ready.

"I can't eat this," she said, levitating the tray and shoving it back into Rarity's mouth. "It's charity."

"Who said anything about charity?" asked Rarity. "I told you, we don't have enough food for ourselves. You'd be earning your keep."

Twilight looked at the host of the Element of Generosity. "I'm not staying," she said. "And would you really let a complete stranger just join your family like that?" she asked.

"Well, the rest of the clan might have problems with it, but I'd talk some sense into them. Family's important, but it's not everything. I'd remind them how they took me in back before I was family. Which reminds me. Pumpkin's mother wants to talk to you. You're the mare of the hour, apparently."

"Really?" asked Twilight as she got out of bed. "I suppose I should get that over with. Can you show me the way?" She managed to get to the door before Rarity cleared her throat to get her attention.

"Yes?" Twilight asked, irritated.

"Darling, you're not fit to go anywhere until you finish your breakfast. I insist."

Twilight returned to the tray, which held two apples. Twilight felt stupid for not predicting the meal, and she devoured them both in a couple of bites. "I'll make this up to you," she told Rarity. "If I can use my magic, I'm sure I can help."

"And I'm sure you will help," said Rarity. "But first you have somepony to meet."



As Rarity led Twilight through fields and between houses, Twilight got her first detailed look at the real Sweet Apple Acres, and nothing in the atmosphere could betray the overwhelming sense of sorrow and desperation. Sickly thin trees stuck out of the ground at uneven angles, and they reminded Twilight strongly of the skeletal claws of some poor creature that had been buried before its time. The ponies they passed bore grim expressions, resigned faces drained of all energy, the only remaining hope being the hope of seeing their next meal. It reminded Twilight of how she felt on a cloudy day, only multiplied thousandfold. And that was precisely what it was, Twilight realized. The scene before her was what a thousand days without the sun had wrought.

"Is it like this everywhere?" she asked Rarity.

Rarity stopped walking, and Twilight almost bumped into her from behind. The white unicorn was thinking, trying to decide which words to use that would not betray the bitterness on her tongue.

"Only in the small towns," she said. "Most of the big cities, like Manehattan and Canterlot, are actually quite well off. You see, not long after the famine started, this big industrial company up north developed these magical greenhouses that could grow crops just as well as with the sun, if not better. Nopony goes hungry there, especially not if they have the right connections."

"Why don't you have any?" asked Twilight, figuring it was the obvious question.

Rarity reacted as if she had just been stung. "We'd love to," she explained. "But the company that makes them doesn't sell them. It rents them, and most of the food it makes itself. And they're not even going to notice a place like Ponyville, much less build their greenhouses here. The only option we'd have is to buy food straight from them, and while I'm no economist, I figure that if all of our bits leave Ponyville to get consumables, Ponyville will drown in its own debt. Somepony has to make food locally, and that's us." She started walking again at a slow trot. "Doesn't stop ponies everywhere from leaving for artificially greener pastures, though."

Twilight didn't understand why that was so difficult for Rarity to say. There was something her friend was intentionally leaving out, Twilight figured, some vital detail, but she didn't dare press any further and spent the rest of the trip in silence.



Pumpkin's family lived in a shack on the edge of the farm. As Rarity and Twilight approached, they noticed a gray earth filly struggling to gnaw a pumpkin off of its stem with her teeth. After ten seconds of furious chewing with little progress, she noticed the arrivals and waved to them, not letting go of the fruit.

"Hello, Inkalina," said Rarity. "Is your sister home?"

Inkalina released the plant and trotted over to Twilight. "Is this the new girl?" she asked in a timid voice that sounded like Fluttershy. "Um, it's nice to meet you, I guess. She's inside, with Pumpkin."

Rarity nodded and nudged Twilight forward. "Go ahead, darling. I need to get working. When you're done, ask Inky here what you can do. I'm sure she could use the help."

Twilight started toward the door, and Inkalina followed her. "So, you grow pumpkins?" asked Twilight.

Inkalina nodded. "We didn't, before sister got married. Back then, we grew potatoes. None of us liked them, though. Pinkie would joke that they were no better than rocks." She knocked on the door, twice in succession, and shouted. "We got company!"

Twilight hadn't heard anything after "Pinkie," and when the door opened and Pumpkin darted out between two pink forelegs, Twilight couldn't help but stare at the mare that now looked back at her with a weary expression. Her mane was flat and clung to her head, lacking its usual perkiness, and her normally lustrously bright coat was dull and muted. She looked nothing like she should, except for the basic coloring, and for a moment Twilight figured she must have simply misheard Inkalina.

The pink pony stretched her head through the opening and called Pumpkin's name, but her voice lacked any amount of assertion, and her request sounded more like pleading than an order. Inkalina opened the door fully and swung a hoof around the pink pony's neck.

"This here is Pinkamena Pie Custard, but we call her Pinkie Pie," Inkalina said, and Pinkie Pie seemed to shy away from the contact. "Now don't you worry," Inkalina said to her. "I'll take care of Pumpkin," and she trotted down the field after the filly, shouting "Now hold on, Sweetie Pie, yer not clean yet."

Pinkie Pie sighed and gestured to Twilight. "Would you like to come in?" she asked timidly, as if she wasn't even sure if she wanted it. Twilight nodded and followed Pinkie into the home.

"So, Pinkie Pie," she began, figuring she should get the dreaded conversation over with. Remembering Fluttershy, Twilight could only imagine what horrors the real Pinkie Pie had suffered that she had been spared in the idyllic dream world of Twilight's memories.

"Pinkamena," Pinkie Pie interrupted, not looking back.

"Excuse me?"

"My name is Pinkamena. Don't call me Pinkie." Pinkie began reorganizing a series of pans that had been left on a shelf, avoiding making any eye contact with Twilight.

The room was dusty and littered, having long since surrendered the battle against filth. Twilight knew she couldn't blame Pinkie for having higher priorities than making sure her home was well-dusted, but she still couldn't avoid the feeling of light disgust that pushed down on her whenever she was surrounded by anything in desperate need of organization. This, compounded by the stress of being forced into a new and unfamiliar situation with a new and unfamiliar Pinkie Pie, was not helping Twilight think clearly, she knew. "So, Pumpkin?" she said, trying to bring the conversation to something they both knew.

"She's my daughter," said Pinkamena, and Twilight saw her crack a smile. "And my life." She looked directly at Twilight for the first time since they'd entered the housing. "Thank you for saving her," she said slowly, and then immediately broke eye contact and grabbed a sponge in her teeth.

The way Pinkamena was acting, intentionally avoiding any real communication, disturbed Twilight. She didn't understand the way everypony seemed to be acting. Even Rarity, while the white unicorn hadn't shown any fear, had displayed carefulness mixed with curiosity. "I thought you wanted to talk to me," said Twilight, after another minute had passed with silence.

"I wanted to thank you," said Pinkamena, scrubbing one of the pans. "Which I have. I don't know what I'd do without Pumpkin. And so you can leave now."

Twilight wasn't satisfied. "So Pumpkin's your daughter," she pressed forward. "How did that happen?"

The Pinkie Pie Twilight knew would have used the opportunity to make a joke; Twilight realized after she spoke how the question could have been alternatively interpreted. Instead, Pinkamena stopped scrubbing, irritated. "The usual way," she answered. "I'm married, if that's what you're wondering."

"Of course," said Twilight, furiously backpedaling. "I didn't mean to say you weren't."

"Good. Please leave, then."

Twilight turned toward the door, but then she paused. She still had one more question to ask. "Why are you all afraid of me?"

No response. Twilight turned her head to look back at the earth pony.

"Please answer me, Pinkie. Why are you scared of me?" Pinkamena cringed when she heard the nickname. "I know I've probably done something bad, because Pumpkin said I eat fillies' souls, and Rarity said my name explained a lot. But whatever I've done, I don't remember it. I need your help, Pinkie. I need your laughter."

Pinkamena slowly forced herself to look at Twilight. "You called me Pinkie again," she said. "Why do you keep doing that. Only my family calls me that."

"I am your family. Or like a family, at any rate. I know you, Pinkie Pie, even if you don't know me. I remember you. You're the pony with the curliest mane and the brightest smiles and the biggest parties. You're the Element of Laughter, and nothing can ever scare you. But you've changed now, like the old you never even happened. But I still believe she's in there."

Pinkamena trotted toward Twilight, and Twilight winced, unsure what the other pony was going to do. Instead, Pinkamena moved past Twilight and closed the door. "I think we should sit down," she said. "And you need to run that by me one more time, because that's a lot for a pony to take in at once."

So Twilight recounted her tale to Pinkamena, starting with her first trip to Ponyville, describing their adventures together to defeat Nightmare Moon. Pinkamena listened thoughtfully and didn't interject except to ask questions about the other ponies in the story.

"I don't expect you to believe me," said Twilight after she finished.

"I do," admitted Pinkamena. "The Pinkie Pie in your story, I can kind of see it. She seems happier than me. And you called her the Element of Laughter." She leaned forward. "Have you ever heard the legend of the Sparks of Creation?"

"I don't usually pay attention to legends and mares' tales," said Twilight dryly.

"You did once," interjected Pinkamena. "And it paid off."

"I got lucky," insisted Twilight. "So, what are the Sparks of Creation?"

"An old pony legend. From the moment the first royal sisters were born, they were enemies, so the story goes. They fought each other, violently, and each spell cast, each blow they dealt with their horns shot hundreds of sparks off into the world. As the world was young at the time and not fully formed, most of the sparks weren't caught until they reached the backdrops at the edge of the universe, where they were embedded, becoming the stars. But as the world grew, the sparks became stuck in other things. Things like ponies."

"Stars don't work that way," interrupted Twilight. "They're gaseous bodies millions of miles away."

"But that part isn't important. What matters is that each pony has a spark. It's a glimmer of their true potential, and it can take many different forms. And I know mine exists because I've seen it."

Twilight was confused. "How do you see your spark?" she asked. "Is it like a cutie mark?"

"Sort of, but only in the sense that everypony has one. But while a cutie mark says what your talent is, your spark is more personal. And you know what they are because sometimes they ignite. When you need to do something important they flare up, like a bright flash, and then they tell you what to do. Are you curious to know what mine is?"

"Sure," said Twilight, trying to sound disinterested, although she was curious.

"I discovered it the day Pumpkin was born. It was actually the same day I got my cutie mark." She turned and showed Twilight the picture of three hearts on her hindquarters. "I was a nervous wreck that day. I didn't know how to handle being a mother. But when I saw her, everything started to settle down. Just looking at her made anything seem possible. Have you ever had a child?" Twilight shook her head. "Then I can't explain what it feels like. But it's the most amazing feeling ever. And as we looked into each other's eyes, she suddenly started laughing. And that's when I saw the flash. And I found myself laughing with her. Just looking at her face filled me with the greatest joy I'd ever known. I kept laughing and I never wanted to stop. The doctors probably thought I was deranged, but I just watched the laughter as it glowed and filled up the room. And that's when I knew why I was alive. For her. I loved her. Are you crying?"

"No," lied Twilight. "Continue."

"My spark was laughter.  Laughter for my precious daughter.  I never told anypony about the spark, and then you come along and call me the Element of Laughter."

"So you believe me?"

"That's not the only reason. On my wedding day, five years ago, I met a mare, and she said some of the same things you said, but she was older than you. 'Pinkie Pie'. 'Element of Laughter'. Nopony had called me by either of those names before. And she had a message for me. She said 'Someday, a long time from now, you're going to meet a pony by the name of Twilight Sparkle, and she's going to ask you for help. Do what you can, and pass along this message. The sun's wind can reach where the sun cannot. And what you have will show you what you need. Do either of those make any sense to you?"

Twilight shook her head. "I don't know," she said. "Who was she?"

Pinkamena shrugged. "I never saw her again after that. Who knows who she was? It's a mystery."

"Speaking of mysteries," asked Twilight, "who am I? My memories are clearly wrong, and you and your family seem to have heard about me. I want to know who I am, in your eyes. I want to understand why everypony's afraid of me."

Pinkamena thought for a moment. "First off," she said. "Ponyville's founded on earth pony tradition. Magic doesn't sit well with us. Just hearing that a mage had made a home in the mountains was worrisome. The fact that Nightmare Moon appeared the year the Summer Sun Festival was in Ponyville probably didn't help much either. But most of us ignored you until he showed up."

"He?" asked Twilight.

"I don't remember his name. He was a royal guardspony, still loyal to the missing princess. He believed that you were allied with Nightmare Moon, that you knew where the princess was taken to. He came to Ponyville because he was looking for you. He said you were a thief and a scoundrel, and he said that you killed anypony who got in your way, including foals."

"I would never hurt a foal!" exclaimed Twilight, feeling threatened. "Why would he say that?" Some small part of her reminded her that this Twilight wasn't her, that this Twilight was somepony else. Maybe the real Twilight, the Twilight that existed before she hit her head, would kill foals if they got in her way, but Twilight immediately took that notion and tore it to shreds. She would rather live in denial than face that she murdered foals.

"I'm not saying it's true," said Pinkamena, trying to defend herself. "I'm just repeating what he told us. And that's really all we know about you, Twilight. He searched the mountains, but I don't think he found you. The mountains are a pretty big place, after all."

"I see," said Twilight. She didn't know what to say after that. She had even more to take in than Pinkamena. All her life she had striven to do right by other ponies while she perfected her craft. She would never harm anypony, foals least of all. But now she was learning that the life she thought she had didn't exist and may never have existed. She didn't know anything about her past.

But she did know about her future. She knew that whatever monster she had been was gone now. It had no hold over her. And while she didn't know about the past, there was a very easy way to figure it out.

"Thank you, Pinkamena, you've been helpful," said Twilight as she stood and headed toward the door. "But I promised Rarity I'd help Inkalina today."

Pinkamena nodded. "You should do that. Breaking a promise is the fastest way to lose a friend."

"Forever," finished Twilight. "You really are Pinkie Pie, aren't you? And I just have one more question. Is there a library in Ponyville?"

"I think so," said Pinkie Pie. "Although it doesn't get used often."

Twilight smiled. "Good."

It was time for her to go home.
And a few new pieces of the puzzle are revealed.

Thanks to :icontornado5000170: for the prereading.

Twilight meets another old friend, and she discovers just how much life has changed for her companions. Unusually, someone seems to have expected her arrival in this new world.

Previous Chapter: [link]

Next Chapter: [link]

Chapter List: [link]
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:iconbuckingawesomeart:
BuckingAwesomeArt Featured By Owner May 18, 2012
again, sadly time for me to stop. but congrats, this just gets better. i felt rather confused as to the where and when at some points, but this has brought me back into the full swing of things. almost. haha, i really like it. nice backstory so far as well.
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:iconjonathan-teatime:
Jonathan-Teatime Featured By Owner May 3, 2012
So. Somepony travels in time to help Twilight... and Twilight doesn't think to ask for a description of her. [](/facehoof)
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner May 3, 2012
Pretty much.
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:iconsilverrattler:
SilverRattler Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
"I see," said Twilight. She didn't know what to say after that. She had even more to take in than Pinkamena. All her life she had striven to do right by other ponies while she perfected her craft. She would never harm anypony, foals least of all. But now she was learning that the life she thought she had didn't exist and may never have existed. She didn't know anything about her past.

Correction in BOLD :3
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
Thank you so much for all of these corrections. I have fixed them all.
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:iconsilverrattler:
SilverRattler Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome.
Hope you're not bothered by the corrections. I just do it to make sure there's nothing wrong for your readers.
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
I am not bothered in the least.

I strive to make my writing as good as I can, and nothing disrupts the reading experience more than grammatical errors. They need to be eradicated, and you are helping me.
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:iconsilverrattler:
SilverRattler Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I need to get back to reading these. I completely forgot!
And that's good to hear. I just wanna make things look better in writing. (I'm an editor)
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:iconsilverrattler:
SilverRattler Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Still reading this one,
Stopping to say. Oh hoho... Pinkamena got busy and gave birth to Pumpkin. xD
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:iconkurseofkings:
KurseofKings Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2012
"Twilight didn't understand why that was so difficult for Rarity to say." When will we find out why? If it's already been answered, then in what chapter?
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2012
The conclusive answer to that statement is revealed in the chapter that I am currently in the process of writing up.

You're not missing things. In fact, you're picking up more than I think a lot of the readers are. This story has questions that aren't immediately answered.
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:iconkurseofkings:
KurseofKings Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2012
This story's getting more and more interesting... Keep it up!
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2012
Thanks! So glad you like it.
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:iconkurseofkings:
KurseofKings Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2012
...Not that this fanfic of your is bad, of course!
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2012
Why thank you.
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:iconkurseofkings:
KurseofKings Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2012
"Pinkamena Pie Custard?!" What happened to the Diane?!
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2012
Maiden name. She's married now.
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:iconmachicron:
machicron Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011
I rarely read fan fiction but I read parts 1-9 of this in one sitting. It's good! Eagerly awaiting Part 10.

I hope Twilight hasn't forgotten she said she'd get a doctor for Fluttershy once in Ponyville...
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011
Thank you!

And I knew I was forgetting something.

However, Twilight wanted to get a doctor because she thought something had happened to Fluttershy that made the pegasus not remember her. Now that Twilight is convinced the problem is with her, Fluttershy is basically a squirrel lady who underwent a extreme self-induced trans-species operation.

Chapter 10 is coming along, but it turns out Zecora's dialog is difficult to write. Who knew?
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:iconmachicron:
machicron Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011
Ah! That makes sense. I guess I just want to see grimdark Fluttershy get some help :(

I can imagine Zecora being hard to write for, ha ha
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:iconinvaderrik:
InvaderRik Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2011
Can't believe I waited this long to comment, awesome story, loving every chapter more than last.
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2011
Thank you so much!
Reply
:iconyahooeny:
yahooeny Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Well crap, double post! Sorry! (Now triple!)
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:iconyahooeny:
yahooeny Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Oh my god you guys, DRAMA BOMB!
I swear to god, everytime I think of this fic, I think of that one movie title, CLIFFHANGER. You seem to be a master of it. I can't wait to see how everything will be resolved. You've seem to have found the perfect balance of grimdark and tiny bit of show-esque sugar to keep things from getting too dark.
That doesn't mean you don't have problems, though.
Firstly, this is said in every storytelling medium: SHOW, don't TELL. Sure, the main focus was the discussion between Twi and Pinkie, but that doesn't mean you can't describe Pinkie's physical appearance, how the room they're talking in looks like, or maybe a flashback or too. Or maybe I'm just being way too picky, IDK :P
Also, you've gone from having jarring, but attention grabbing transitions between Canon!Equestria and Dark!Equestria to having each chapter focusing on one of the universes. Oh come on, man, even though the mid-chapter transitions were a bit confusing, they were a great idea and with enough polish can be made into something a bit less whip-lashing.
Also, a couple have pointed this out but: plot holes. It's not to the point of swiss cheese but...
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
You're absolutely right about showing, not telling. It's a common problem that I have. I get a bit too dialog heavy and forget about descriptions, which are just as important, if not moreso. I need to work on it, and that means practice, and that means write about ponies.

I'm not sure what you mean by the mid-chapter transitions. Every chapter but the first has focused on a single universe. I even color coded the preview image.

And what plot holes are you talking about? I don't doubt that they exist, and drawing my attention to them would be the best way to help me become a better writer.
Reply
:iconyahooeny:
yahooeny Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2011  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Well, The-Letter-J kinda pointed out a small one, nothing biggie.
Also, you slipped a mistake about meeting with Zecora back chapter 1.

Transitions: oh crap, you're right! That was probably a slip-up from reading all of these in one go.

Honestly though, this is the 5th worst fic I've ever read from the MLP fandom, and it's still awesome(I think we all know what's number one...).
God, not even Starmen.net was immune to badfics, I think I've found the first ever fandom to be mostly immune to badfics.
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2011
Who ever said the part about meeting Zecora was a mistake?

That was completely intentional.
Reply
:iconyahooeny:
yahooeny Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Oh my god you guys, DRAMA BOMB!
I swear to god, everytime I think of this fic, I think of that one movie title, CLIFFHANGER. You seem to be a master of it. I can't wait to see how everything will be resolved. You've seem to have found the perfect balance of grimdark and tiny bit of show-esque sugar to keep things from getting too dark.
That doesn't mean you don't have problems, though.
Firstly, this is said in every storytelling medium: SHOW, don't TELL. Sure, the main focus was the discussion between Twi and Pinkie, but that doesn't mean you can't describe Pinkie's physical appearance, how the room they're talking in looks like, or maybe a flashback or too. Or maybe I'm just being way too picky, IDK :P
Also, you've gone from having jarring, but attention grabbing transitions between Canon!Equestria and Dark!Equestria to having each chapter focusing on one of the universes. Oh come on, man, even though the mid-chapter transitions were a bit confusing, they were a great idea and with enough polish can be made into something a bit less whip-lashing.
Also, a couple have pointed this out but: plot holes. It's not to the point of swiss cheese but...
Reply
:iconsynestheticsoul:
SynestheticSoul Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Whoo! Great chapter! <3
Reply
:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
Thank you. I'm glad you like it.
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:iconitena:
itena Featured By Owner May 31, 2011
So much win. I'm so loving it all come together. <3
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner May 31, 2011
I got the idea for the Sparks from the scene in the second episode where Twilight's eyes sparkle when she realizes she has her friends to back her.

This is actually the third time I've mentioned the Sparks.

Fluttershy saw one in Chapter 4. Rainbow Dash saw another in Chapter 5.
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:iconitena:
itena Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
That's where I thought you got it from. :B
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:iconthe-letter-j:
The-Letter-J Featured By Owner May 30, 2011
YAY NEW CHAPTER!

So first of all, this confirms that Zecora was not the pony they tested the dimension hopping on. Not that I thought it was to begin with. Unless Zecora was only unconscious and not actually dead, but even then it would depend on when exactly that memory happened. More on that later.

Next, that royal guardspony has got to be Silver Shield. And there is, of course, a good chance that he had something to do with the creature that attacked the laboratory. That being said, it seems unlikely that he was the one who did the attacking. Obviously he doesn't have claws (though I suppose some sort of weapon could be a possibility), and his personality in the first chapter does not match the creature in the lab, even accounting for the changes he likely went through after Luna took over. I'm inclined to believe that it could be moonside Gilda or moonside Spike (though only if he is for some reason much more mature moonside than sunside, which could be possible with some magic). I think it is safe to assume that who/whatever attacked the lab is the same thing that attacked moonside Twilight before she made the jump sunside. After all, it's claws again. But more on this a bit later.

Next, the ponies who were with moonside Twilight. Moonside Applejack is the most obvious guess, but there's at least one other pony there, and once again this might depend a bit on the timing of things. Moonside Rainbow Dash is a possibility, if only because we haven't seen her yet so we don't know what she's been up to. (Random idea that just came to me: moonside Rainbow Dash is the pony they failed to send sunside. It would explain her absence, and if the race and sonic rainboom had never happened, she might not have had anything to live for anyway. I don't really think this is as likely as the Applejack idea though.) Moonside Derpy is possible, though only because you said she'd make an appearance. And it could be the mysterious mare who gave the message to Pinkie. Another possibility is that they could be ponies who were luring her back to be attacked by the creature, perhaps somepony like Silver Shield and Stone Wall.

Now as for the timing of the memory. Twilight says it's a memory from long ago, but, at the very least, it's obviously more recent than the other memory of the lab. Since Zecora is dead (that is the assumption I am working under. She could simply be unconscious, but I really doubt it), this must have happened after moonside Twilight had started experimenting with dimension hopping and Zecora met herself. It likely happened after they had tried sending a pony sunside, because with the lab in that condition, I doubt they could even try to do much. This means that moonside Applejack is probably no one of the ponies with Twilight, because (as I "deduced" on the last chapter) moonside Applejack is probably the pony they tested on, and is therefore dead.
I actually think the most likely possibility is that this happened right before moonside Twilight sent herself sunside. She was just attacked by something that is very capable of giving her that cut she has on her face, and if those ponies with her are friendly, they could have stalled the creature long enough for Twilight to get to the Everfree Forest where she did the switch. The only problem with this is that sunside Twilight thinks this memory is from long ago. There are other explanations for the lack of detail though. Sunside Twilight might be losing hold of moonside Twilight's memories, or maybe the trauma from the attack and recent events are causing a bit of memory loss.

Next: That mysterious mare. Really, the only idea I've got is that Celestia has something to do with it. Five years would be before Nightmare Moon brought eternal darkness, and I wouldn't put it past Celestia to pull a Batman Gambit like this.
As for the message, "the sun's wind" probably means something like Celestia's influence, or that even though Celestia is gone and can't help, Twilight can still use everything she's learned from Celestia to save the day. I think "what she has" means sunside Twilight's friends, who are already pointing her towards what she needs to do. Alternatively, she has magic, and that will guide her. But friendship is magic, so what's the difference?

Next, you say Twilight "began to consider her situation rationally," and concluded that her happy memories never happened. But really, the rational conclusion is that her memories are real, but something else is screwed up. How else would she know ponies who she had apparently never met before? (I should add this to my list of notes for time travelers and dimension hoppers (Note to self: write that list.))
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:iconfreedomandchaos:
FreedomAndChaos Featured By Owner May 31, 2011
Once again, you raise a number of valid and interesting points, and once again, some of your predictions are correct, and others are still well thought out and interesting.

Your final paragraph may be a plot hole. I could try to wave it away by saying that as hard as Twilight tries, she's never completely rational, but then again, That's not what the sentence said. The sentence said she was rational, while she clearly is not.
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:iconthe-letter-j:
The-Letter-J Featured By Owner May 31, 2011
Well to be fair, rational thinking doesn't have to be accurate. This type of thing is fairly common in stories where characters end up in alternate realities and whatnot. Most characters, especially the ones who end up in these situations by accident, haven't thought out what to do in these situations as well as I have. I like to think that I would be able to be able to deal with unexpected reality warping better than most characters in fiction.
But really, this is more of an idiot ball than a plot hole. It kinda bugs me when it happens, but it happens enough that it's become somewhat expected.
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:iconasalis:
Asalis Featured By Owner May 30, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Slowly the threads are coming together. I can't wait to read the next chapter. :3
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:iconrangergxi:
RangerGxi Featured By Owner May 30, 2011
The other twilight could be a murderer. Whatever I predict will happen will be wrong.
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