Pony POV Series Side Story: Starlight
Pony POV Series Gaiden Seven Dreams/Seven Nightmares
Part 2 of 2
Written By: Kendell2 and Acalanthide
Made with permission from Alexwarlorn
OPTIONAL LOOSE CANNON
After The Disaster:
What happened? There was a big explosion...now...now what was happening?
Everything...everything's gone...all that's left is a huge crater...
I...I never wanted this to happen...I see ponies wondering all over...they seem lost...I...I see double in some cases, some lying on the ground...but they're standing next to themselves...I hear ponies crying...ponies screaming...how can this be happening? It...it can't be! What's going on?!
"Now that's just messed up."
I turn and see a...a chimera...thing floating in the air, he looks so confused...He vanished before I could say anything. Was...was it his fault? Or was it mine? Who...who did this?! This can't be happening?! I...I can't be responsible for this, can I?! No...but...then who is?
"Starlight..." spoke a haunting voice behind me, like a wind through a graveyard.
I turn and find myself looking into the eyes of a white and black furred pony. He's...he's huge, and he has horns and wings...his huge wings are skeletal, bone...he had a horse skull for a cutie mark and held a scythe in a magical aura. I saw another pony standing nearby like him, he had a noose hanging around his neck. His cutie mark was a tree shaped like a pony posed like the number four, huh? And he reminded me of one of those tarot cards...the hanged stallion I think.
"W-who are you?" I ask.
"I am Mortis Thanatos Charon, the 13th. The Concept of Death..."
Death? Death?! I took a trot back. "No...I...I can't be dead...I can't be!" I looked around, all the other ponies, no, it couldn't be.
"You are, and that is why I'm here."
The hanged stallion looked to him. "Mortis, I'll leave this to you, I'm here for somepony else."
Mortis nodded slowly. "Understood, Pensilis."
Pensilis slowly walked off towards...no...I...I see Misty standing next to her own body...I...I can barely recognize it as her anymore...I hear crying...her daughter...her body was curled over her daughter? But...if I can see this then... But! They were in Ponvyille! How am I seeing this?!
I slowly looked up to Mortis. "I...I really am dead..."
Mortis merely nodded.
I didn't see my body...it was probably not there to see...I...I suddenly felt...numb...
"So...where do I go now?" I...I didn't know what else I should say...what could I say? I...Misty...who knows how many others...dead...
"I am not the one who decides that. I am merely the ferrystallion who guides souls to their resting place. Another will serve as your judge."
Mortis touched his horn to me and everything went white.
Everything faded back into view, like a television turning on. "Where am I?" I asked slowly, looking around. I was in a raised chair, looking down across a courtroom. "What's going on?"
"You're on trial."
Looking down...I think where the bailiff stands... I didn't know the exact word I was looking for. Legal proceedings were not my area of expertise. All I knew about them came from courtroom dramas on TV and our in-school trial on Teddy when I was a teenager. And they weren't even my favorite genre. Standing at the-bailiff's-spot was another of those winged unicorns, like Mortis. Only this one was golden in color, and had a beard. His Cutie Mark was a pair of balance scales. But the strangest part were his heterochromic eyes, one eye was red and the other blue.
"W-who are you?"
"I am Judicium, the 20th, Concept of Balance, Judgment, and Fair Say," he explained, his voice...not emotionless, in fact it was kind of comforting...empathetic, but it also felt completely impartial.
"Judgment?...So I'm to be judged, then?" I asked, dread crawling up my spine.
"No, Starlight. You are the judge."
If I wasn't already dead, my heart would've skipped a beat. "I'm judging myself? How does that work?"
"In this court, you are both the defendant and the judge. You shall hear the evidence against you. Your decision will decide the fate of your soul."
I decide the fate of my soul? That can't be right...that feels too easy...I'm missing something here.
"I am merely here to advise you on the workings of my court. I understand your experience as a judge is limited, Professor Starlight."
"O-ok... Mr. Judicium, sir... so I just call the prosecution and defense to make their... what's it called... opening statements, right?"
"That is correct."
"A-alright...Defense, please give your opening argument..." I said, laying eyes on the defense attorney, was another winged unicorn...she... was...me?
She was the same size and shape of the other winged unicorns I had seen... I...she was beautiful...I felt a swelling of pride just looking at her... My cutie mark had never shined so brightly, it was like the sparkles of a magician's magic. Wait, wasn't The Magician another Tarot?
"Thank you, Your Honor," said Defense Attorney Me, clearing her throat and rising from the table. "Your Honor, I will prove that my client, Starlight, is innocent of the crimes of which she is accused! The circumstances will show that the horrible catastrophe is not her fault! I shall not rest until that fact is made clear! I will call every witness, present every piece of evidence, until her innocence is proven to this court!" she announced in an over-the-top fashion...
Defense Attorney Me felt more like an actress who'd been cast as a lawyer than than the real deal. Someone with good vocal coaching, at least. If she was me, did she know how this was going to end?
"Ok...Prosecution?" I was honestly afraid, more afraid than I'd ever been. That...that explosion... all those dead ponies... was their blood on my hooves?
A...A colt stood up from his desk. A colt is the prosecutor? He looked about seven or eight years old.
"I will prove to the court that Starlight's actions were instrumental in contributing to the recent catastrophe, and that she should take responsibility for her own actions," he proclaimed, then sat down.
Take responsibility? I...I don't want to go to the bad place...b-but...what if I really was responsible? If all those ponies are dead and it's all my fault?
I shook my head to clear it, then looked to the other m-I mean the defense attorney. Yes. The defense attorney. Just a lookalike. Not me. "Defense, call your first witness."
The defense lawyer stood up and cleared her throat. "I call the defendant to the stands!" she announced, once more in that over-the-top fashion.
Suddenly it was like I was in two places at once. Now I was also seeing this courtroom from the witness chair AND the judge's bench-thing! I could see myself! What...what's going on?!
"Starlight, this is the spirit world," Judicium explained. "Physics of the mortal world do not apply here."
This is normal?! ...Relax Starlight, take a deep breath...oh, right...j-just settle down.
"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" asked Judicium, having me...the me in the witness chair raise her...er, my hoof.
The prosecutor turned to me. "Starlight, you were the head of a grand-scale effort to alter the world through magical means. What was the point of this?"
"T-the point was to try and grant everypony's wishes...to make the world a better place...a utopia for everypony."
"Was it your idea? Remember, you're under oath."
"...N-no...Bright Eyes came up with the idea, but I was the one that proposed it to the government and handled all our negotiations and insured it actually happened..."
The defense smiled. "Let the record show that Starlight is correct, and she was not the one who came up with the idea. Now, Starlight, were you careful about the project?"
"Y-yes...yes, I was...Bright Eyes and the other scientists checked everything, I double checked everything...I...I have no idea how it went so wrong..."
"...No further questions."
The prosecutor stood up and approached the witness stand...even though he was just a colt, he had this...weight to him...I just can't explain it...
"Starlight, did you know there were risks involved with the project?"
"Y-yes...But it seemed worth the risk...I never thought it might blow up like that..."
The colt looked up at me. "No further questions."
That was it? One question?
I was in one place again: the judge's bench. Thank goodness. Staring out of two different pairs of eyes had been WEIRD.
"...Would the prosecution like to call a witness at this time?"
"Not at this time," the colt replied.
"The defense would like to call to the stand: Film Critique."
A flash of light occurred, and suddenly, the fattest Pegasus I'd ever seen was sitting in the witness stand.
"Forgive me, but is this someone I know?"
"Starlight, as I've already said, the spirit world operates under different rules than the mortal one." Judicium proclaimed. This Pegasus you see before you has been brought here from several years forward in the future."
"From the future?!" I gasped.
"Relative to your date of death." Judicium clarified. "While the future is fluid, time in the spirit world and time in the mortal world are disconnected. There is truthfully no proper way to describe this phenomenon in terms you are capable of comprehending."
"You have time travel powers, and are able to magically summon whoever you want from any point in time." I state, a bit brusquely. "Is that about right, Mr. Judicium?"
Being dead, and presiding as judge to determine whether I'm to be Eternally Rewarded or Eternally Damned... that leaves me wrong-footed enough. But I am not stupid. I am an academic, and not even DEATH can change that. I'll decide for myself what I'm capable of comprehending!
"A crude oversimplification, but fundamentally correct." Judicium consents. "To Film Critique, here, this is all simply a dream to fade with the dawn."
The Pegasus took the oath. He looked smug, content. Like he ruled the world.
"Film Critique, would you say the end result of Starlight's actions have made your life better?"
Film Critique chuckled. "I made my life better...but Starlight did set the stage for me! Before her big experiment with the castles, I was just another fat kid in high school no one cared about. Now I'm a king! So yeah, I guess you could say that. She sure granted MY wish."
I made his life better? Maybe I helped some ponies after all...he certainly sounds a lot happier...
"And would you say you're hurting anyone as 'king?'"
"Nah, everypony is happy to hang out with me now," Film Critique said, giving a...kind of creepy smile. "I even restored power to a city that lost it."
Ok...that doesn't sound so bad...
"No further questions," the winged unicorn that looked like me then smiled to the Pegasus. "I'm sure we'll be talking again rather soon."
Huh? What did that mean?
"No further questions," the defense proclaimed, then faced the prosecutor. "Your witness!" she told him, and he stood up.
He looked sadly at the stallion, kind of like how my parents would look at me when I got myself in trouble at school. What a strange place the spirit world was.
"Film Critique, how were you able to become a ruler?" the prosecutor asked.
"Oh, I found one of the shards of that Rainbow thing Starlight used to change the world. The blue one." He smiled at me. "Thanks for everything, babe!"
"No further questions." the prosecutor said, returning to his seat, but still giving Film Critique that strange sad look.
There was a pregnant sort of pause. All of us glanced around at each other. The prosecutor coughed, and looked at me expectantly.
"Um..." I say, "So... if neither the defense nor the prosecution have any further questions for Mr. Film Critique, here... what's supposed to be happening now?"
"Witnesses are not permitted to leave until the judge dismisses them." Judicium informed me.
"The judge? Oh! Me, okay... well, you're dismissed, I guess."
Judicium's horn shone and the Pegasus vanished... apparently, to awaken from this 'dream.'
"Would the prosecution like to call another witness?" I asked, refusing to let all the surreal-ness confound me.
"The prosecution calls Violet to the stands."
In a flash, a violet-colored pony, er, Earth Pony appeared at the witness stand. She was dressed up like a concubine in some Saddle Arabia movie...she looked so upset...violated.
After she took the oath, the prosecutor looked at her sadly. "Violet, how do you know Film Critique?"
The mare growled. "That monster...I was just trying to earn something, anything to get by...I lost everything when the world went to heck...Film Critique's using some kind of magical shard to make me feel...I'm not going to say ‘happy,' that would mean I enjoyed it, the feeling was as fake as this dress. I was so doped up that I didn't even care when he put me in his harem and...and..."
She looked like she was about to cry. What did he...no...he...he's used the blue shard for that?! Is STILL using it, off in the future? Please no! I felt my heart sink...this...this was my fault...I split the Rainbow of Light up...that was my idea...
I was snapped out of my thoughts when the defense called out hysterically, slamming her hooves on the table in front of her.
I was taken aback. "O-on what grounds?"
"Starlight did not give the shard to Film Critique, nor did she tell him what to do with it. The gun maker isn't responsible for how someone uses their creations," she explained.
Is...is that right?
"The prosecution admits this statement is true," the colt said, giving a small nod.
Yeah...that's right...but...the experiment...it still ruined the world...Am I responsible for that?
"No further questions."
I face Judicium. "Judicium, sir... if I were to dismiss Violet, here, does that mean you're going to teleport her right back into Film Critique's harem?"
"Yes?! Alright, then, I refuse to dismiss Violet. She stays here."
"So be it, Your Honor. Only please be aware that you have effectively brought this trial to an utter standstill, and nothing can proceed until you dismiss her."
Nothing?! My bottom lifted the TINIEST bit off my judge's chair. One stony look from the Concept of Judgement, though, and I sat back down hard, smiling in fretful apology. Even Violet looked frightened to move.
Judicium's body language could not be plainer. Here we would all remain like statues in a diorama -- him, me, and the other three -- until I finally caved in. For eons, if need be. Frankly, Hell, itself would be preferable to such an infinite paralysis. And yet...
"Isn't there anyplace outside this courtroom? Somewhere we could dismiss Violet to instead... like a hotel or something?"
The Defense shook her head regretfully. "There ARE other places outside here, yes. But this is the Spirit World, Your Honor. Only two sorts of beings are suited to exist here: the dead and the deathless. Judicium's Court is one of the very few exceptions, where the living might visit. The others... well, they aren't hotels."
"Then surely, with all your time travel powers, you can transport Violet to some enlightened age with goodhearted people?!"
"I will not."
"WHY?!" I screamed.
"Because there are laws!" Judicium insisted. "And these laws must be honored!"
Violet sighed. "Send me back. It's okay. Doubt this freaky courtroom serves food, so at least the harem beats starving to death."
I bowed my head. "You are... dismissed, Violet."
The prosecutor whispered something to Violet that seemed to relax her before she vanished. They called more witnesses...Ponies whose lives were ruined now...because of the experiment I'd helmed...It can't be my fault...what else could I have done?
"The prosecution calls Twilight The First to the stand."
The pale unicorn appeared.
The prosecutor asked, "Twilight The First, you acted a hero for many centuries, correct?"
"What would have happened if the wish-spell had succeeded? Both to you and your fellow residents of Paradise Estate?"
"... we would have all ceased to exist."
"Why is that?"
"Because the sort of ideal world ponies would have wished for, would have had no monsters, and thus, no reason for heroes to exist to fight them. Therefore, we would have never existed."
"No further questions."
Bright Eyes and I... we had done this? To our friends? The ponies who had trusted us?
"W-would the defense care to cross-examine the witness?"
"Yes, Your Honor. Twilight The First. When did you figure out the wish-spell would cause you and all the residents of Paradise Estate to be erased from history?"
"We figured it out while we were all debating whether or not to give the Rainbow to Starlight."
They... they KNEW?
"So why did you choose to give it to her when you knew you'd never enjoy what you were helping bring about nor even be remembered for it?"
"Because... monster after monster, tyrant after tyrant, we kept knocking them down or redeeming them... but new ones always came up. We've seen ponies die horribly or strive for what they want most in their hearts and still end up with nothing. In the end, it was a unanimous vote. We wanted to help remake the world into what ponies have been TRYING to make it be since... forever."
"Why didn't you tell Bright Eyes, Starlight or any of the others right until near the end?"
"Because we believed what they were trying to do was good, and we didn't want them to hesitate for our sakes. They're good ponies, and they wouldn't want to sacrifice others just for themselves."
"So all of you gave the Rainbow of Light over, of your own free will, knowing full well what would happen?"
"Let the record show the Paradise Estate Ponies believed in what Starlight and her friends were doing, were willing to sacrifice themselves for it, and knew the price before giving the rainbow away! No further questions."
I dismissed her. Twilight, Ember, Wind Whistler, you had done all this, for us?
"The defense presents Exhibit A," the defense stated. That was when I noticed another mare sitting at the back of the courtroom. She was an Earth pony...but something seemed off about her...she made me scared just looking at her. She didn't react to anything. It was like she was...bored, not like Patch in math class but as if nothing interested her at all.
Judicium shook his head at me. "Do not make eye contact with that one, pretend she is not there," he advised me in a grave tone.
The defense attorney cleared her throat at the strange mare, who then gave an annoyed sigh.
Suddenly, I saw an entire world came rushing into my head!
I watch the spell power up, everything beginning. The castle shined bright, I knew six other castles were doing the same. Rainbow arches reached across Ponyland, connecting one castle with another. Then the entire sky glowed the colors of the rainbow. After years of hard work... the moment of truth! I look to myself, my fur begins to change. My fur was turning white, my mane became white with blue and white strips. I look back and wings begin to form. Looking out the window I see the whole island changing. Becoming more beautiful. Building are vanishing as the island becomes more tropical, changing shape. In their place are beautiful colorful tents. Even the castle we are in changes, before our eyes, becoming a natural part of the island.
Ponies are changing. Everypony is growing wings. They begin playing and dancing in the air without a care in the world. So is Rosey! Her cutie mark is changing, she's becoming a filly? Somewhere I feel Rosey's wish ripple past me, her wish to have a truly happy foalhood. Her crown and royal robes vanish. My wings are bigger than anypony else's, I'm taller too.
This is confusing, but I feel happy, it's working! I can feel it. Nothing is wrong. Everything is right with the world. Heh, the island is shaped like one big butterfly, tee-hee! The castle is shaped like one big butterfly! Look at the rainbow colored waterfall! It's so pretty! Fear and doubt don't exist. So many beautiful butterflies, they just want ponies to be happy too.
Bright Eyes...we did it.
Hello, I'm Star Maker! This is Butterfly Island, my home! Every day here is perfect, we're always having fun! But sometimes I wonder: why is it all I have to do is want something and it appears? Like ice cream. We pegasi want it, we get it, nothing else to it.
No pony knows, and when I want an answer no answer comes. Which doesn't make sense since we're supposed to have everything we want. 'Supposed to?' No pony else seems to want to know about THAT, but I'm just curious. Oh well, it doesn't ruin the mood too much! Why should it? I've got Star Song, Baby Honolu-Loo, and all my friends! What more could I want?!
Well, there is one thing. Honolu-Loo is the only foal I know! That's so cool! But...while we help take care of her, I wanted to have my own foal. I love taking care of her so much, it just feels so right. But she's the one and only foal and she's got her own family to care for her.
I can't quite explain how, but I'm going to have one. I know if I do...Something different will happen to me than everypony else in the world. Something called 'mortality.' I won't live forever anymore. Like the one or two ponies who have been in accidents and never wake up. But I know there's something after that, I just know it! That's one answer that came to me when I wanted it! And I just know this will be worth it!
The baby was inside me, then she came out and it REALLY hurt...but when it was over, and I saw her...It was worth it, the pain and what comes next are worth it.
I named her Star Catcher. She has these beautiful marks all over her. I love her so much, she makes me happy. Happy in a way I don't think I've ever been.
My body changes even after she stops aging. My mane is getting grey. But it doesn't matter. I'm still there to catch her when she fainted trying to catch the sun. Her wings are bigger than normal, I explain that just makes her special. We go stargazing together all the time with the others. They're starting to worry, they don't know what's happening to me...and I don't have the heart to tell them.
It's strange, when you know your life has an end, it has so much more meaning. And Star Catcher gives mine so much more than I ever thought possible. No life is meaningless, they're all special, I'm happy everypony is happy...but she's what makes my life meaningful.
It's time. I can feel it in my bones. I can't even get up today. But I'm not afraid. I just know something great is waiting for me. "Star Catcher...I need to tell you something."
She comes over to me, she looks scared. I know this won't be easy on her, but she's strong, she'll make it through. "Star Catcher, it's time for me to say goodbye."
She doesn't understand, how could she? "Where are you going?"
"That's not important...what's important is what I have to say to you," I look up and give her a smile. "I don't regret having you. Every day was endless happiness... but you were the first thing, the only thing, to give my life real meaning. Thank you, Star Catcher."
I'm standing next to my body, there's a big pegasus with a horn standing next to me. "It's time to go," he told me.
"I know. I've known for a long time..." I looked to Star Catcher as she tried to wake me up...she seemed to glow, kind of like the sun. I gave a smile. I knew she'd do something great.
Goodbye, Star Catcher. I love you.
Everything...everything so happy, so beautiful...no one suffered...I was a Pegasus and I...I had a daughter...I grew old and died...But I died happy...
I panted. "What...what was that?"
"That was the world Starlight sought to create, Your Honor," the defense said happily.
"The world I would've created if the spell hadn't backfired?"
"Precisely! That is what the world would've been like if your experiment had worked," she continued. "Would it be fair to classify that world as a utopia?"
"...Yes...I would say so..."
"And isn't a utopia worth a risk? Sure, things may not have turned out as planned. But the world Starlight intended to create was worth a major risk to bring about. The ends justify the means, do they not?"
Do they? I...I'm not sure.
"The defense would like to call Star Maker to the stand."
I saw a light fly in and land at the stand, materializing into a Pegasus...The Pegasus I became in that vision...w-what did this mean?
"Star Maker, would you say that you were happy with the world you lived in?"
The Pegasus nodded. "Yes. Everypony was happy. I had a daughter who I loved with all my heart...Yes."
"No further questions." said the defense attorney.
"None from me, either," said the prosecutor.
"You're dismissed, Star Maker."
After Star Maker vanished, the winged unicorn looked to me. "Your Honor, that mare here just now was the mare Starlight would have transformed into, had her experiment succeeded."
"Wait...why've you been referring to me in the third person like that?" I asked, discombobulated again. "I am still Starlight, right? Death didn't change that, right?"
"Uh... no," said the defense, flustered. "You're still Starlight, Your Honor. It's just... well, it's just part of the protocol of this court."
I sighed. "Mama was right: I should've studied law."
"Your mother wanted you to inherit the Rainbow Beauty Salon from her until she saw how deeply becoming a teacher was your dream," Judicium said, "And chose your happiness over her own."
"Oh." Mother had never told me that. I knew she loved me, but I didn't even think that's what she'd have wanted.
"She didn't want you to feel guilty. And yes, she loves you absolutely."
The defense put her game face back on again. "Anyway, as you can see, Star Maker was happy and had a family of her own, isn't that a good thing?"
I was a mother?...I had a baby?...I had changed my name? She seemed happy...I...I seemed happy.
"The prosecution presents Exhibit B," the colt said. Once more the bored mare had to be prodded by the prosecutor to do...whatever it was she seemed to be doing.
I saw...Buddy, Lancer...all of my friend's boyfriends and husbands...they became mares...their personalities completely changed...I hardly recognized them...I could hardly tell them apart.
"What...what was that?"
"That was the fate of the stallions your friends loved. In the utopia Starlight sought, stallions did not exist," said the colt.
No stallions? Whyever not? Would...no...it can't be...
"The prosecution calls Pandemonium Atë Typhon," the colt called.
Another...another of those chimera creatures appeared in the witness chair. This one was female, and composed of completely different animals. She seemed a rather cheerful sort.
"I kind of prefer Pandora, if you don't mind."
"Pandora, you are the Draconequus representing imagination, correct?"
"Yep! And hallucinations, but ponies don't seem to like those as much for some reason."
"So you know what ponies wishes were for when the experiment happened, correct?"
"What were Starlight's wishes?"
Please no...don't let her say it...
"Well, let's see, she wanted the world to be all beautiful like Bright Eyes wanted. She wanted there to be no conflict, her friends to be happy...Oh, and that there wouldn't be any stallions."
No...I...I didn't think that would...I mean I wanted it but...After that colt hurt me... I just wanted the stallions to disappear...but I didn't mean for it to actually happen!
I was beginning to cry. "Your Honor, Starlight may have given herself a family, but her wish also robbed countless mares of the stallions they loved... of romances that might have bloomed. They were fortunate to have changed into mares, rather than vanish from existence."
"T-There MUST have been mares wishing for stallions! Lots of them! Boy-crazy, lonely-hearted... H...how could my one wish have overridden ALL of their dreams?!"
"Starlight's wish was granted because she was at the epicenter of the spell when it was cast."
That... makes horrible SENSE...
"I...I didn't mean to do that! I...I just didn't want to get hurt again!" I cried. How could I have done that to my friends?!
"For the world your spell would've created, Starlight... do you accept responsibility for the obliteration of an entire gender?" he asked.
"Are you sorry?"
"Of course I am...I'm sorry..."
"No further questions." The prosecution eyed the defense, who just shook her head.
"Would you like a hug?" Pandemonium asked me.
"You're dismissed!" I snap, and Judicium sent her away.
The winged unicorn gave a glare. "Touché, but this isn't over."
The defense then called several other ponies from the utopia world...I got names, but I couldn't really tell who was who...they all seemed so alike. All their answers amounted to the same thing: they loved their world and it was 'super fun'...they all seemed so happy. After the last one, (Sweetberry, I think,) the prosecution, who'd passed until then, finally retook the floor.
"The prosecution wishes to revisit Exhibit B," said the colt.
The memories came to my mind again. I saw my friends during the reformation of the world...No...They...they turn into those ponies I just saw! But...But I couldn't recognize them! I couldn't even tell them apart! Why?!
"The world produced by the spell produced a populace of little-to-no individuality. Most everyone was identical in terms of personalities. This stemmed from the fact that Starlight did NOT anticipate wishes such as 'I wish everypony was more alike.' or 'I wish everypony agreed with each other more.'" The colt didn't sound condemning, he sounded...impartial, if that's even possible.
I should've caught that! How could I not have seen such an obvious flaw?!
"OBJECTION!!!" the defense called. "The entire team of scientists missed the mark on that, to blame Starlight alone is unfair."
"Isn't it likewise unfair for all the members of Starlight's team to not share an equal percentage of blame?" the colt replied. "Or should Starlight deny responsibility for her part in the oversight, and pass the buck completely on Bright Eyes and her subordinates?"
"What is your choice?" Judicium asked me.
I held my head. How was I having a headache if I was dead? I was responsible for my part in it? But they should take responsibility for theirs? What did that mean?! Am I guilty or not?!
"...Objection...overruled..." I said. I needed time to think. "...Does the prosecution want to call a witness?"
"No," he said simply, sitting back down.
"The Defense calls Minty to the stands!" she announced.
A green mare with a pink mane and a pepper mint Cutie Mark appeared in the stands. She was... she had been Clover. "Minty, how are you different from your friends?"
"Oh! Well, I collect socks, I'm kind of clumsy, I like cucumbers on my pizza, oh! And I love the color green!" the pony announced.
"Thank you, Minty."
And after the prosecution passed on cross-examining her, I dismissed Minty.
Then the defense called several ponies to the stands, asked them how they were different from their friends. A unicorn said her horn glowed constantly and showed classic social anxiety as a result, an earth pony named Kimono was knowledgeable and the one others looked to for advice, another Earth Pony named Rainbow Dash loved fashion, an earth pony named Wysteria said she was shy and loved gardening. On and on.
"As I've shown, there IS individuality in this world Starlight meant to create," said the Defense. "Each pony is clearly unique and one-of-a-kind!"
"The Prosecution agrees that this is true, but also points out this sampling of ponies represents the exception, not the rule. While ponies of Starlight's utopia were capable of becoming individuals... few sadly did."
And my friends still weren't my friends...they weren't the ponies they used to be. The Prosecutor didn't call a witness. "D-Defense?"
"I call Destruction Shiva Typhon to the stands!"
The chimera thing...it...he appeared in the witness chair. He held an ice pack to his head...He'd been there. What had he been doing there?
He went to say something to the defense attorney, but she shushed him. "Destruction, please state your job for the court."
"I make things that aren't supposed to exist anymore go boom! That's what I do," he said in a strangely child-like voice.
"Is it true that YOU caused the explosion?" the defense asked.
"Yep! I did...That was kind of messed up!"
HE did it?! That's it! My experiment HADN'T backfired at all! It had been sabotaged by this thing! This obviously mad bomber! It wasn't my fault!...Then why doesn't that make me happy?
"The defense would like to ask why Starlight should be held responsible for something Destruction caused?" the defense asked. "It is NOT her fault, therefore she should be considered not guilty. No further questions."
The colt walked over to Destruction. "Destruction, how did you cause the explosion?"
"Oh! Well I made all those conflicting wishes and dreams NOT overlap each other and happen all at once! That made the whole thing go boom! I didn't really have to do much actually!"
"What?" I found myself asking aloud. "What...what was he saying?"
"I believe he means that he merely set off a bomb that was already in place." Judicium explained.
A bomb that was already...no...
"And why did you cause the explosion?" the defense asked.
"Oh! Because all those conflicting dreams would've fought and fought until they tore the universe apart and everything would die! And not even with a bang! It would've just faded away! So I had to make it all go boom! To make it so that didn't happen!"
What...The dreams would've......the conflicting dreams would've... I don't even remember dismissing Destruction.
"Prosecution...c-call your n-next witness..." I stuttered, just going through the motions. How could I be so dumb?!
Why did I not realize the conflicting dreams would've caused trouble?! Had I really thought that excluding the dreams of the violent and sociopathic would've been the only consideration Had I really expected no two dreams would be at odds?!
What naïveté! What idiocy! The spell was meant to grant ALL wishes, including ones that were mutually contradictory!
If Destruction hadn't intervened...The spell would just keep rewriting reality, trying to make the world work in such a way that allowed mutually contradictory wishes to both be granted...It's like taking hundreds of random people and assign them to build a skyscraper with no actual collaboration or leadership! Miraculous to get something that wouldn't instantly collapse...
"The Prosecution would like to state at this point that all the ponies working on the project are equally at fault for not anticipating this fatal flaw with the spell." the colt explained. "That said, Starlight needs to take responsibility for the part in it SHE played."
There it was again...I must take responsibility and so should the others? But...does that mean every one of us on the team are all each 100% at fault... or do we all get 5% of the sum total fault? I...I just don't know...
I just wanted this to be over...why is the bored mare back there looking at me? She seems...vaguely interested in me...
"The defense calls Bon Bon to the stands," the alicorn me called, Bon Bon appearing in the witness chair...
"Bon Bon, how do you feel about Starlight?" she asked.
"Starlight? I miss her..."
"Do you blame her for what she did?"
"Of course not...she's my friend. It wasn't all her fault either...I know she didn't WANT to cause what happened."
"No further questions."
The Prosecutor stood up. "Bon Bon, is it not true that because of the accident, your sister has died and you are left raising your niece?"
Bon Bon looked so sad... "Yes...that's true..."
Bon Bon...I'm...I'm so sorry...It's my fault...
"And do you feel any anger towards Starlight for that?"
Bon Bon actually looked a bit angry. "Of course not! She didn't mean to do this!"
"But do you admit she's at least partly responsible for what happened? You're under oath."
"Yes...She was part of the project so I guess she is...But I'm not angry with her!"
"So you forgive Starlight for her part in the accident?"
"Of course! Why wouldn't I?"
What?...She forgive me? After everything I caused...she forgives me?
"No further questions."
Wait...no more questions? Isn't he supposed to be trying to prove I'm guilty?
The Defense gave a snarl while I dismiss Bon Bon. "The defense calls Patch to the stands."
Patch...she seems so different...so strong now...She'd never been one to take exercise... or anything... seriously. But now she looked like an amazon...
"Patch, how do you feel about Starlight?"
"Starlight? I've been looking everywhere for her! I just want to find her."
"Do you blame her for what happened?"
"Of course not!...If it's anyone's fault, it's mine for finding Paradise Estates in the first place..."
No...please don't let her blame herself...It's not her fault!...Please don't blame yourself...
The Defense snarled. "No further questions!"
The Prosecutor came forwards. "Patch, is it not true that the world is degrading because of the accident?"
Patch sighed. "I guess so...The only city I've seen with working power was the one that rotten Pegasus was in charge of."
"Film Critique, you mean?"
"If we're speaking of the harem king with the blue shard... then, yes."
"And is it also true that you've endured a great deal of personal pain because of that fateful day? And you've taken it upon yourself to reassemble the seven shards of the Rainbow of Light to restore the world from its current state of dystopia?"
"...I'd be lying if I said no. But I'm not blaming Starlight for that! I chose to do it. And it ain't all bad! Me and Buddy got married, I'm a mom! Maybe that might've happened anyway without the world going to Pony Hell, but I won't trade it for anything!"
What? She actually...she finally tied the knot?!
"Do you admit that Starlight has some responsibility for what happened?"
Patch looked down. "...It was her idea...hers and Bright Eyes...but she didn't do anything wrong!"
"One does not have to intentionally do wrong to commit a wrong. Do you forgive Starlight for what happened?"
Patch nodded without hesitation. "Of course! She's my friend! I know she didn't want any of this to happen! I forgive her."
"No further questions."
And it went the same for the others...Sweetheart, Melody, Bright Eyes, and Clover...they all missed me...they all forgave me...And each time they did, the defense seemed to get a little angrier...But why? This was so BACKWARD!
Both sides shook their heads. "The prosecution rests."
"The defense rests too. But I would like to talk with the defendant for a moment," the defense said.
I found myself sitting in the chair next to the defense attorney...but like before, I was in the judge's chair at the same time...
"Listen, Starlight. What do you think will happen if you give a guilty verdict? If you go to the bad place? To Hell? You know what Pony Hell is like, my little pony?" the defense attorney seemed so terrifying for some reason...Why did she seem so scary?! Was I really this intimidating to my friends?
"Ponies in Pony Hell are hitched to a massive chariot ridden by Fear Incarnate, which they are forced to pull across a scorching, horrible desert for all eternity, with only the screams of their fellow tortured souls and the Emperor of Terror's laughter to keep them company."
I could see it...I could hear it...All the screaming...The laughter, it'd make my heart stop if I wasn't already dead! The air is so hot I feel like I'm roasting alive! But the ground beneath my hooves, it's so cold my hooves feel like they're going to shatter! The chariot chains aren't wrapped around me, they're IN my skin!...It never ends...it never ends...we just pull...forever...But the worst part is...despite everyone suffering with me...I'm alone...
I...I was back in the chair, away...away from that horrid place...I was afraid...terrified...I don't think I've EVER been so scared in my entire life! Or my afterlife... short as it's been, so far...
"Just thought you should know what's at stake if you decide wrong," she said, looking me in the eyes. "Understood?"
I slowly nodded and was...back in the judge's seat.
"What is your choice?" asked Judicium. "It is time to choose. Are you guilty or innocent?"
Guilty or innocent? Why did I have to decide?! I...Even my friends admitted I was responsible...And I am...I should've made absolutely sure of everything before I let the experiment start! Yes, Destruction set it off...but I made the bomb! And if he hadn't, everything would've been much worse!
But...but I'm so scared...I don't want to go to Pony Hell...Just thinking about made me shudder! The chariot, that laughter, the screams...And...and if I went there I just know I'd never see my friends again!
But if I say I'm not guilty...then aren't I just as bad? To say everything that came about because of the experiment doesn't matter? That I'm not responsible for any of it? I can't do that...I'd be lying to myself...How could I look my friends in the eye when we get to Pony Heaven and tell them that I'm innocent?
"...I find the defendant...Starlight...guilty..." I finally said. Did I know what might happen? Of course. Was I terrified? Yes...but I had to do what's right...
The Defense gave a cry of rage. "No! You can't do that!"
"I can, and I did."
The colt looked up at me with those eyes. "Do you feel Starlight should be forgiven?"
"I don't deserve it."
"No one deserves forgiveness, Starlight...Forgiveness and mercy are to be given."
"Is that so? In that case...my friends already forgave me...and I accept it from them...I want it...Even if I don't think I deserve it."
"...It is so...You are forgiven..."
"Darn you!" yelled the defense suddenly, throwing over the table. The mare in the back just facehoofed. "You aren't supposed to be forgiven! You were supposed to say you're innocent!"
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, ma'am, but I just can't do that...It wouldn't be right."
The winged unicorn me looked like she was about to throw a tantrum. Her eyes flamed, and she looked like she was going to run over to me and hoof me across the face...I began to back away, shaking. Then suddenly smiled with a chuckle. "Well, That Was Fun," she said, but now the voice sounded male...it sent a chill down my spine just hearing it.
"If You Say So, Havoc," said the colt.
The mare at the back merely rolled her eyes.
Suddenly, the courtroom faded away into nothing. The little colt spread two huge wings and covered himself in them, transforming into a massive winged unicorn. He looked like a massive cutout of the night sky in the form of a pony...The stars seemed so far away but so close all at once...And he seemed to be a colt and a stallion at the same time, not like he alternated, but like he was both at once. I could see the tips of his horns and wings, but when I tried to follow one from top to bottom, that just kept going endlessly.
Looking at him I felt like I was so small...but I felt like I mattered...like I was important. It wasn't confusing...it was just impossible to describe.
He draped one wing over me. Between me and...something else...something that made me afraid just being near...and another that made me feel so cold...so pointless...but being close to him...it made that go away. I felt safe, I felt important.
"Well, Buddy, That Was The Most Fun I've Had In A Very Long Time, We Should Do This Again Sometime!" said that voice the other me had had...but now it seemed so terrifying...the only thing that stopped me from going into shock was the big winged unicorn being there...it made the fear go away as soon as it happened.
"If We Must, Havoc."
"THIS WAS ALL POINTLESS. AS IT USUALLY IS."
"Oh Come On, You Know You Enjoyed That Short Moment Where It Looked Like She Was Going To Give Up Hope!"
"NO, I DIDN'T! HOW DID YOU CONVINCE ME TO LET YOU DRAG ME HERE?!"
"Because I Thought You'd Have Fun!"
"WELL, I DIDN'T!"
"Oh You Didn't Enjoy One Thing?"
"NO! YOU DON'T EXIST!"
I was suddenly not afraid...Afraid? What's afraid?
"I Don't Care!"
Oh, right afraid is when you're scared...I don't know how to describe what just happened...
"Now Come On, Dear, Let's Head Back To My Domain."
"Because That Fat Pegasus Should Be Arriving Soon, I've Got A Great Idea On How To Welcome Him, The Terror On His Face Should Be Fabulous!"
"WHY SHOULD I CARE?!"
"Because You Can Watch The Soul Crushing Despair That Comes With The Realization That He's Doomed For Eternity."
"...FINE, LETS JUST GO."
The big unicorn lifted his wing and there was no one there. "What's going on?"
"You Were Judging Your Own Soul."
"So...do I go to Pony Hell now?"
"No, You Do Not."
"But I was guilty..." Now I was confused.
"And Admitting That Is Why Your Soul Was Saved. You Admitted Responsibility For Your Actions And Sought Forgiveness For Them. So You May Now Enter Pony Heaven."
"So I'd have gone to Pony Hell if I'd said I was innocent?"
"Yes. Those Who Cannot Take Responsibility For Their Wrongdoing Cannot Be Saved. It Is Not That I Will Not Let Them In, But That They Cannot Get In."
"...You don't mince words much..."
"I Am Truth, I Do Not Lie."
"I understand." I lick my ghostly lips. "Still, you do things VERY weird around these parts. What was all that? Who are you? Who were They?"
"One Cannot Enter An Afterlife To Which They Do Not Belong. And Neither I Nor Havoc Could Claim Your Soul While It Was In Conflict. My 'Name' Does Not Translate Properly Into Sounds. There Are Many Approximations: 'He Who Is All And All Is Him', 'The Universe', 'Father Of All Alicorns', 'The Fifth Concept', 'The Hierophant,' 'Wisdom,' 'Sanity,' 'The Perfect Existence,' Reality,' 'The Spirit World.' As For The Other Two, Your 'Defense' was Havoc, Mass Hysteria And Fear Incarnate, The King of Fears, Emperor of Terror, Father Of All Fears, Forger Of The Survival Instinct, The Resting Place Of Lost Souls. His Colleague, The Bored One, Was His Wife Entropy, The Embodiment Of All That Will Cease, Queen Of Oblivion, Empress Of Not, Nothingness, Anti-Mother Of All Things."
"...Was this all some sort of game between you two?"
"To Havoc It Was. To Me, It Was A Fight To Save A Child From Herself."
"To Havoc, Nothing Is Serious, Everything Is A Game. Do Not Take This As Him Being Uncaring, He Does Have A Form Of Compassion Towards Ponies, It Is He That Provides The Survival Instinct, He Takes Joy When Fear Saves Lives. But His Morality Is So Alien Compared To Yours And Mine That To Attempt To Describe It In Terms You Could Understand Is Impossible."
"He's a psychopath." I say.
"No." He says simply. "You Are Thinkings In Terms Of Psychosis And Psychology. His Morals Are No Less Real Than Yours. And A Psychopath Can Not Control Themselves, Nor Can They Control Their Impulses. You Are Describing One Of His Sons. Havoc Does Care For His Children And Family. Which Has Left A Mark Between Himself And His Wife Ever Since She...
"To Havoc's Wife, Entropy, Nothing Has Value, For All Things Of The Physical Universe Will One Day Belong To Her As She Claims It To Lay The Groundwork For A New Universe."
"To Me, All Things Have Value. No Life Is Without Meaning. To Me, You Are No Less Important To Me Than My Own Children. I Love You, Starlight, As I Do All Life."
I believed him...it was just...I knew he wouldn't lie to me...
"Then why did he act so angry when I didn't do what he wanted?"
"Because It Amused Him To Do So."
"So he acted like he was angry because he thought it was funny?"
"Yes. Havoc Saw Himself As An Actor Playing A Role. When He Saw He Was Losing, He Decided To Just Have Fun With It."
"Well... at least all the damned souls in Pony Hell got a BRIEF respite from pulling his chariot forever, right?"
"There are actually shadows of nothingness who try to steal place of souls within Havoc. Havoc gave an 'incomplete' view of his domain. Now, Starlight, It Is Time For You To Enter Pony Heaven."
"Where is it?"
"I Am Pony Heaven. Or, To Put It In Terms You Can Comprehend, It Is Contained Within My Body."
I slowly put my hoof up and touched him. It looked like it touched water and passed through. Just having a part of me inside him made me feel...free...happy...I can't put it into words...It wasn't fake, it was so real, so wonderful...But I pulled my hoof back.
"...Could I...maybe wait?"
"Why Do You Wish To Wait?"
"...My friends all miss me...I want to be there to greet them when they come..." I said, looking up at him. They all missed me, they all forgave me. It just seemed right."
"While That Is In My Power To Permit, What You Ask For Falls Within The Domain Of My Son, Mortis. I Do Not Wish To Encroach On His Free Will By Denying Him The Choice. Mortis!"
Mortis suddenly appeared and bowed to the Father of All Alicorns. There was a golden maned white Earth Pony with him. "Yes, Father?"
"Starlight Desires To Wait For Her Friends To All Pass On Before She Enters Into Me With Them. Do You Permit This?"
Mortis looked to me, and nodded, a small smile playing on his lips. "A noble desire. A soul cannot pass on if it has unfinished business, for it will be unable to rest in peace. Therefore, I permit this."
I gave a bow. "Thank you, Mortis." The Earth Pony suddenly spoke.
"You are Starlight, correct?" asked the pony.
"Yes, that's me."
"Your friend Patch is a true knight, I am proud to have been able to know her," he said.
I gave a smile. "Thanks. She is a good friend."
The Father of Alicorns looked to the pony, a smile on His face. "I Am Glad To See You, Squire. Your Father Has Been Waiting For You."
The pony entered into the Father when it hit me. "Squire? The pony who Patch told that story about?"
Mortis nodded. "Yes, Patch helped him finish his unfinished business. His soul could finally pass on peacefully...now come, I will guide you to where you can watch your friends."
"Ok. Goodbye, Squire."
"Goodbye Starlight," I heard Squire speak through the Father. "Please tell Dame Patch when you see her that I miss her, and will see her soon."
Mortis bowed deeply to The Father, and opened a door. We stepped inside, and I was back in my old office.
I looked at Mortis with a confused expression on my face. "What am I doing here? The school was destroyed in the explosion, right?"
Mortis nodded. "It is customary for a watcher to wait in a place of familiarity and comfort," he explained. "This room contained many wonderful memories for you, and those memories will sustain you as your wait for your friends."
He walked over to a large window. "This window will allow you to see your friends' lives pass and give you glimpses of the future that you have seen."
He touched his hoof to one of the panes of glass, and it rippled like a mirror. I saw Patch and an odd brown pony holding up something like a shard of jagged glass. He swiped his hoof across the glass, and the scene melted, reforming into a pastel pony land. The scene vanished in a second, and I sank to the ground, stunned.
He smiled a small smile at me. "You will be able to see your friends and be with them in spirit until they come to meet you, and you will also see your life, what is and what will be. Good journey, noble Starlight. When you are ready, I will come and take you and your charges to my Father."
"Th-thank you." I felt like I was going to sob.
Mortis nodded at me once more, and left without another word.
I pulled a chair in front of the window. "I know this is selfish, but I need to see what could have been, at least for me."
I touched the window with my hoof, and an image came up. I saw Patch walking through a forest. I sent up a silent prayer to the Father for her safety. I swiped my hoof across the mirror again, imitating Mortis's movements.
After the Transformation:
The forest became a very sparkly and pink town. I saw a cobble stone street and beautiful houses, and lots of smiling ponies. Some were skating around and one pony was lying on the grass, writing in a diary. I was having a hard time telling them apart, though.
Side effect of the spell, remember there, Starlight? I shook my head. "No time for that. Now, how do I move this thing around? Hmmm..." I fiddled around with my hoof again. "Maybe I could control it like this again....Ahh, there we go!" The view on the window changed. I saw into a kind of ice cream parlor. I saw three ponies clustered around a table, sipping milkshakes.
A green pony with a candy cutie mark, Minty(Clover?), said,
"These milkshakes are so super delicious, Sweetberry!"
A pony with two berries and a flower as a cutiemark was blushing. Sweetie Berry, Bon-Bon. "Why thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoyed them! I made them especially for my friends!"
They all began to giggle. Maybe it's an in-joke? I didn't see anything particularly funny.
"Hey, you guys, has anyone seen Star Catcher?" The other pony with a balloon Cutie Mark at the table asked.
Star Catcher? The daughter of the pony I became in that world-which-wasn't! They might know where my daughter, er, Star Maker's daughter is! I pressed my ear to the glass in excitement. Maybe I can find out where she is!
"I haven't seen her," answered Sweetberry.
"Me neither," said the green pony. "I'm sure she'll turn up later, Pinkie Pie!"
Drat!...But at least she has friends who care about her, that's what counts.
Pinkie Pie fiddled with her straw. "Yeah, I guess...Hey, did you guys all see Rainbow Dash's new outfit?"
"Oh, yeah, she always dresses in style!"
"Yeah! I wish I could dress like her!" The three ponies began a very detailed conversation about Rainbow Dash's various fashions.
Okay, when they lapse into conversations about dresses, it is time for me to go. I thought. Now, how will I be able to go to Star Maker? I want to see myself...of course, I...they don't know her, Star Maker must of died long before this. So how do I look further back? This thing doesn't really have instructions. Well, I might as well try this. I tapped my hoof on the glass. "Take me to Star Maker!"
The parlor disappeared in a flash of light, and the Pegasus I saw from my vision appeared on the screen.
"Woah!" I took a step back from the window. "I wasn't really expecting that to happen!"
The Pegasus called Star Maker was smiling and laughing, playing with a little white Pegasus filly on an island with only Pegasi. She looked different from all of the other ponies that I saw in town. They looked all like carbon copies of each other, while she just looked, different. More alive or aware, maybe? I couldn't explain it. She looked so happy.
I felt a tear slide down my face. I will be with you, Star Maker. May your life remain this happy forever.
Through that magic window I was able to be with my friends through their lives. I cried and laughed, gasped and cheered along with them. I saw Patch, brave Patch, trying to put right what I helped cause. I saw Bright Eyes being cared for by her husband, never giving up. I was so grateful for Clover, fate was kind to her, her simple dreams and wishes protecting her from damage from the backwashed spell. I saw Sweet Heart helping others in the destroyed world, Bon Bon desperately writing down the history of a dead world, and Melody losing her voice, but still being the Melody I had always known.
I would be there for them, all of them, when they came here, and I was.
Twilight looked up from the insert in Bon-Bon's journal regarding Starlight. "So ... I was Clover before I was Minty?"
"No Twilight Sparkle," Princess Luna said, "You were Twilight Sparkle before you were Twilight Sparkle. You may continue to carry Minty's heart, just as Minty continued to carry Clover's heart, but that doesn't under any circumstances make you either of them."
"Weird. I can't find who I was in the old generation," Pinkie Pie said looking through a mountain of papers and sticky notes that read 'Author's notes.' "Well, I know a part of me is Surprise when I intercepted her shadow, and I took Princess Rarity's light when she ... when she passed on when... everything changed, but I can't find where the rest of me came from."
Princess Luna said, "Perhaps the remaining four entries will shed light on that subject."
"Oh! You're right!" Pinkie Pie nodded, she tossed the papers aside. "I really really really really really really really really REALLY HOPE it doesn't take as long to get the next one written, I mean for us to read it. This side saga hasn't even been posted on fimfiction.net yet! We've got four more entries to go! This better get done before the new story arc, er, before anything major happens. I better get some more snacks!"
"Of course you can help!"
Twilight looked at the remaining entries. Sweetheart. Melody. Bright Eyes. Clover. She wondered what truths their little pony tales would reveal if any.
"So Starlight, she was the leader of her friends' circle?"
"Until they became adult mares and went their separate ways in life. That is the nature of growing up Twilight Sparkle, but rest assured, they never stopped being friends. Friendship is a force that pierces time. You and your friends indirectly taught me that. Even if separated by a thousand years, the light of friendship can still pierce the darkness."