by Eakin

First published

Twilight tries to return to the past and warn herself of Tirek's escape

Tirek has won, and Twilight's friends are gone. She and the other princesses have just one chance left. Maybe if one of them can go back, she can warn them right when he escapes and stop this all from happening.

It might be a long shot, but it's the only chance they have left.



After extensive study, Princess Twilight Sparkle had reached a single, definite conclusion: caves really sucked.

The four alicorns who shared the cave, really a miserable hole in the ground with delusions of grandeur, toiled together in grim silence on the task at hoof. The three eldest Princesses were exhausted. More exhausted than any of them had felt for thousands of years, in fact. Without their magic, exhaustion came on far quicker than it ever had before.

Twilight, by contrast, was a bubbling ball of energy. Not that she was cheerful, or upbeat, or even especially hopeful that this last-ditch plan would work. But she was quite literally bubbling and crackling as the combined magic of her and her companions constantly threatened to overflow from her body. It was a pain keeping it under control, but she was going to need every single scrap of it if they had any hope of changing what had happened.

A low rumbling shook the cave, and a few pebbles clattered down onto the four from the ceiling. “He is drawing closer,” said Celestia.

Luna and Twilight said nothing in response, only turned back to the parchments before them as they tried desperately to reconstruct the spell they needed. If one of the other Princesses had only thought to tell her then that there was a copy kept in the Starswirl the Bearded wing of the archives before Tirek had arrived, this would already be over. But then, between him and Discord there hadn’t really been... well... time. It was hard not to appreciate the inherent irony.

Cadence spoke up. “If he’s finally finished off Chrysalis and her swarm, he’ll be able to redouble his efforts to find us. Never thought I’d be sorry to believe that the old bug is gone.”

“The enemy of my enemy,” said Luna without looking up. “Tirek does not seem the loving sort. She knew from the start that it was either victory against him in battle or a slow death by starvation. In the end, she chose the more honorable path.”

“This is all my fault,” muttered Twilight, not for the first time. “I should have fought harder, or studied more, or... or something! All of Equestria, and my friends...”

“You did your best for them. Tirek is to blame, and nopony else,” said Cadence, trotting over to nuzzle her sister-in-law on her unscarred cheek. “Why don’t you take off that silly, torn-up stealth suit. It’s far too tight on you. In fact I can barely even see the outline of your wings under that thing.”

“Isn’t that kind of the point?” asked Twilight. “It would be impossible for Luna or Celestia to make supply runs without being noticed, and my cutie mark would stand out if ponies could see that I still had one.”

“I suppose most ponies would believe anypony with such a crazy mane cut would be a Princess, would they?” Cadence tousled the singed remains of her once sparkling and glorious mane. Even using enough magic to restore that risked alerting Tirek to their location before they were ready.

“Rarity would have found a way to make it work. She was always... always...” A falling teardrop smudged the equation she was scribbling down, and Twilight rose up from her spot knocking over a small pile of pebbles in her haste. “They were all always there. And now they aren’t. And if I’d taken Tirek’s deal they still would be.”

Celestia joined Cadence, draping a comforting, if dirty and oily, wing over Twilight’s back. “If you must blame anypony, blame me. I’m the one who entrusted you to keep our magic safe, and you did so in admirable fashion.”

“I wouldn’t call the way I flipped out back there ‘admirable,’ Princess. You weren’t there. I was going to give up my magic, I almost did. But I kept imagining what he might do with it, all the disasters and suffering he might cause in the future. I was so worried about the future I let a disaster happen right in front of me. But I guess that’s what I’ve always done, isn’t it?” She sniffled and wiped some of the snot off her muzzle. “I panicked, and...” she trailed off as bits and pieces of that second, desperate round of fighting against Tirek flashed through her mind.

Fire. Lightning. Darkness. Pain and confusion all around her.

Stepping into a hot, wet puddle. Looking down. Seeing pony blood covering her hoof, blood that wasn’t hers.

Her own screams as one of Tirek’s horns slipped through her defenses and the sharp pain in her face as it connected. She’d never realized how much she appreciated depth perception until it was gone.

“I didn’t even get to say goodbye,” she whimpered. The tears bottled up under this stupid patch stung at where her eye had once been. “I wish I had spent more time with them. But there was always something I had to do. Like the dam breaking and the cleanup from that. And then the dry spell afterwards because nopony had thought to make sure the water tower was full. And I was so busy with that I didn’t even realize what was unfolding right in front of me when Cerberus escaped. I missed all the obvious signs because I was so focused on the ‘what if.’ And they paid the price.” Nothing could be worth that kind of sacrifice. After she’d broken the others out of Tartarus in a bold and, frankly, stupid and impulsive raid she’d finally run out of ideas.

“Know what cheers me up when I’m feeling melancholy? A snack. We might still have a few scraps of food left in the back. Can I get you anything?” asked Celestia.

Twilight forced a chuckle through her tears, for the other’s sake more than her own. “Got any cake?”

“Hmm, sorry. Next shipment doesn’t come in until next Tuesday morning. But we do have a variety of delectable lichens to choose from,” said Celestia. Twilight grinned. It had become a bit of an inside joke between them, in fact. Whatever they didn’t have right now, it was always coming ‘next Tuesday morning.’

Fresh food? Next Tuesday morning.

A hot shower? Next Tuesday morning.

Hope? Next Tuesday morning.

They’d even named their little hideout Next Tuesday Morning. Although days of the week didn’t mean much anymore. Twilight couldn’t raise or lower the sun without sending out so much alicorn magic she might as well draw Tirek a map straight to them.

Another rumble, more powerful this time. Guess he didn’t need that map after all.

“I have finished. We are ready,” said Luna, with a final flourish of her quill. “It is a touch sloppy, but with sufficient power it should give you a minute, perhaps more, to pass on a message. Be wary, your mind may be a touch addled from the feedback. And you remember what to say when—”

“COME OUT, COME OUT WHEREVER YOU ARE, PRINCESS! WE FINISH THIS NOW!” Tirek’s bellow echoed through the cave, and just like that the moment had come.

“We will delay him, but you have to go now. You can change this,” said Celestia. She wrapped her faithful student up in a brief but forceful hug. “Goodbye, Princess Sparkle.”

Cadence flew out towards the cave entrance, and Luna gave Twilight a curt, respectful nod before she followed. Celestia hesitated only a moment, and as Twilight began to channel her power and form the incantations in her head she too galloped out with a warcry towards her inevitable doom.

Well, thought Twilight as she wielded the full power of four princesses as a blade that shredded the laws of space and time like so much streamer paper, here goes nothing.


“Twilight! You’ve got to listen to me!”

“Who are you? I mean, you’re me but I’m me too. How can there be too mes? It’s not scientifically possible. You are not scientifically possible.

“Twilight, please! I have a very important message for you from the future!”

“You’re from the future?”

“That’s right, now listen.”

“What happened to you? The future must be awful.”

“Please, I don’t have much time.”

“Is there some sort of epic pony war in the distant future or something?”

“Actually, I’m from Next Tuesday Morning. But that’s not important right now.”

“I can’t believe time travel is really possible. How did you, I mean I, figure it out?”

“The time spells are in the Canterlot archives, but that’s not—”

“Really? Where? I’ve never seen them.”

“They’re in the Star Swirl the Bearded wing. Now you have to listen to—”

“Is time travel fun? Or does it hurt? I have so many questions for—”

“I have something extremely important to tell you about the future! And I only have a few seconds so you’ve got to listen! Whatever you do, don’t—”

Author's Notes:

Shout out to /u/meditonsin over on reddit for the idea.

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