A Matter of Time

by Justice3442

Chapter 3: Plan C

Previous Chapter

The time portal depositing the trio to the ground with an unceremonious ‘thud!’ , Twilight Sparkle, Spike, and Starlight Glimmer found themselves in a long hallway, the walls covered end to end and white lockers only interrupted by the occasional doorway.

Twilight immediately stood up as her eyes widened. “It’s a hallway at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.” She giggled to herself and reached out to touch one of the white lockers with a forehoof. "This takes me back." He happy look fell somewhat. "Literally, I suppose, since we just went back in time."

Spike sat up and began to dust himself off. “Alright, but why-Whoa—

With a turquoise glow, the pair soon found themselves dragged into one of the spaces in front of a doorway. Starlight raised a forehoof to her lips. “Shhhh…

Twilight and Spike went silent as they heard a familiar voice.

“But… but you still got an A+!” Starlight’s voice said pleadingly from down the hall.

The trio heard the sound of approaching hoof steps as this other Starlight continued, “You’re still valedictorian!”

“Yes,” a male voice answered. “But thanks to you my perfect score is tarnished!”

Twilight slowly leaned her head out. “That voice… it’s Sunburst!”

“You know that pony?” Spike asked as he too leaned out.

Starlight didn’t look, opting instead to hug her back legs with her forelegs as tears streamed down her eyes.

Twilight nodded as the two ponies down the hall continued talking. “He was valedictorian a few years ahead of me. Though, I was too busy with my own studies to really get to know him.”

“You’re lucky…” Starlight said meekly.

Twilight and Spike glanced back for a second, then down the hallway again as the scene unfolded.

Starlight’s voice began to break. “But… but… You still got over 100% in every class!”

The orange stallion with white markings shook his head. “They may say 100%, but think of all the extra credit you cost me.”

“I… I tried as hard as I could! I’m sorry… I just didn’t have enough time to do both our work and make sure mine was always a little worse than your own!”

“Well, you should have worked on your time management skills it seems.”

The younger Starlight swallowed. “I tried! I even found this old time spell by Starswirl the Bearded, if I figure it out—”

Sunburst swatted a hoof across Starlight’s face, making a solid ‘Whack!’ as it made contact.

Twilight and Spike gasped, the older Starlight clenched harder, as if she was trying to shrink herself through pure physical strength.

The younger Starlight merely went silent. Her chest heaving with silent sobs.

“It’s too late for that!” Sunburst exclaimed. “Instead of wasting time working on magic that’s too advanced for you, you should have studied harder.” Sunburst shook his head. “Guess I just don’t need your friendship anymore.”

The younger Starlight let out a cry of despair causing the older Starlight to cover her ears.

“No, no, no, no, no!" the yonger Starlight begged. "Please! I don’t know anypony else.” She began to weep openly. “Don’t leave me alone again…”

Sunburst smiled wickedly. “Oh Celestia, just look at you. You’re pathetic.”

Starlight let out powerful wails that wracked her body. “I-sob-I know! So-choke-Please don’t—”

“Shut up,” Sunburst said.

Starlight immediately closed her mouth and tried to stifle her sobs. Her body quaked as it attempted to hold back barely contained sadness.

Spike began to step out. “I can’t just sit here and wha- Whoa!” With a turquoise glow, Spike soon found himself pulled into the older Starlight’s tight embrace. “Stop doing that!” Spike said.

“Don’t interfere…” Starlight said simply. “I-I deserve it…”

“What?!” Spike exclaimed. “Starlight, nopony deserves…

Twilight turned back to Spike. “Shhh… Spike… this is important.”

Spike sighed to himself as Starlight clamped tight around him. “Friggin’ ponies, man. You’re all a few apples short of a bushel.”

In the hallway, Sunburst continued. “Fine, I’ll still be your friend on one condition.”

Starlight’s face suddenly lit up. “Yes! Of course! Anything.”

Sunburst smiled wickedly. “You have to do everything I tell you! No more screw ups!”

Starlight nodded her head up and down. “Of… of course! I promise! I’ll try harder from now on.”

Spike fought his way back to the doorway and peeked out from under Twilight. To his surprise, Sunburst was now gently caressing Starlight’s face where he had just smacked it a little bit ago.

“That’s my little Starlight,” Sunburst said, his voice somehow simultaneously warm and condescending. “Well, I have a speech to give.” He walked past the younger Starlight, smacking her on the flank as he did. “See you and your flank at the party…” He chuckled to himself. “And the after party.”

The younger Starlight turned with a sad look in her eyes, lifting a hind leg and pulling inward as she did.

Spike’s eyes narrowed. “I’m going to melt his face off.”

Starlight’s eyes widened and she suddenly reached for Spike, pulling him close once again.

“Hey!” Spike cried in protest.

Twilight turned and wordlessly put a forehoof to her lips. With a purple glow from her horn, a similar glow suddenly covered herself, Spike, and the older Starlight. Spike watched as the ponies and his own claws suddenly became translucent.

Sunburst suddenly poked his head past the lockers with a quizzical look, staring right at the two unicorns and the dragons, but his eyes moving back and forth as if he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

Spike glared fiery magma daggers at him as Starlight held her arms around the dragon’s mouth.

Twilight stopped breathing as Sunburst’s head inched closer to hers, the pony seemingly searching for something. Sunburst suddenly shrugged and continued to trot down the hallway, the younger Starlight Glimmer walking behind him with her head held low and her eyes focused on the stone tile of the hallway.

The trio waited for the sounds of hooves clicking against tile to stop. After a few seconds of silence, Twilight dropped the spell and Starlight let go of Spike.

Spike exploded into an angry tirade on the spot. “What... What an unbelievable horseapple! I’ve never seen a more deplorable pony in my life! That’s… it’s just awful what he’s doing! I can’t believe some pony like that is just allowed to walk around, and worst yet, become valid DeLorean!”

“Valedictorian,” Twilight corrected.

“WHATEVER!” Spike cried out. “Twilight you can’t just let this continue. We have to—”

Starlight interrupted. “Now you see why I didn’t pick this. This is what a fixed friendship with Sunburst looks like. His cutie mark meant he got to go to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.”

Spike gave Starlight a confused look. “Okay, but what does—”

Starlight continued. “He never wrote to me… Never tried to get in contact with me. I guess—” she sighed “—I guess he didn’t need a blank flank like me anymore.”

Spike’s entire body seemed to shake with confusion. “But you obviously got your cutie mark! And in magic no less!”

Starlight nodded. “I went back and time and made it so my younger self would go to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.”

“Why didn’t you do that in the first place?!” Spike cried.

“Spike, please!” Twilight said as she placed a forehoof on Spike’s chest.

Spike scratched at his head furiously. “Okay, but this makes no sense!”

“I blame the cutie mark,” Starlight said. Her eyes narrowed. “It was always the cutie mark that made things different… That made Sunburst different.” Tears started to well up in her eyes. “Even when I became friends with him and I had my own cutie mark, he… he didn’t need me… I was just a burden to—”

“Ugh! This is stupid!”


“No, Twilight!” Spike shouted as he crossed his arms in front of them and threw them to his sides. “Just, no! This makes no sense what-so-ever! A cutie mark didn’t change Sunburst! He was always a jerk, and he grew up to be a bigger jerk!”

“No, you don’t understand!” Starlight insisted. “Before he got his cutie mark, he—”

“Oh, puleeease!” Spike said. “I just traveled through time where I watched the kindest, most gentle pony I know threaten to ‘destroy’ me and Twilight!”

“Twilight and me, Spike,” Twilight corrected.

Spike pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’re killing me here, book horse.” He turned to Starlight. “And this girl’s had the same cutie mark. The Fluttershy I know would never say she was going to kill somepony.”

Starlight’s eyes shot open wide. “Flu-Fluttershy said that?! I mean… okay, she betrayed me… er… because I guess she valued her friendship with you all more than my vision but… I can’t imagine her trying to kill somepony.”

Twilight nodded. “It’s true. In fact, all my friends still had their same cutie marks, but their personalities were all changed depending on what happened to them.”

Starlight looked at Twilight and Spike in disbelief, “You… You mean…”

Spike nodded. “All it took was Sunburst getting his cutie mark and moving for him to stop contacting you. Heck, that was obviously a good thing! Just look what happened when you followed him!”

Starlight’s eyelids began to narrow as her teeth clenched tightly. “That… that… that stuck up… neglectful… EVIL…” She clenched her eyes tightly and her teeth tighter still. Closing her lips, she opened her eyes and turned to Twilight. “I suppose this is where you give me a speech about the healing powers of forgiveness.”

“Nope,” Twilight said simply. “I have a better idea.”


“… And despite the fact that I’ve proven I’m the most superior pony here at the school,” Sunburst said as he stood at a podium in front of hundreds of gathered unicorn students and there parents. Starlight Glimmer sat front row and center wordlessly watching.

Up in the balcony, Celestia also watched, doing her best to keep expressionless rather than put on the deep, deep frown of disapproval she really felt. A female pink unicorn with her white mane quaffed upwards sat next to her, smiling wide. Next to that unicorn sat a timid-looking grey unicorn male with short black hair.

Sunburst continued, “It rains true that I wouldn’t have got there without the tireless hard work of one individual… Myself.”

To Celestia’s great disapproval a wave of chuckles went through the audience, including the pony sitting next to her.

“It’s me whose hard work payed off. Only by myself was I able to achieve such great heights above my peers!”

Some ponies clapped, including the one sitting next to Celestia who took the time to sharply elbow the pony sitting next to her. The grey pony began to sheepishly clapped along.

Celestia looked downward. “Enjoying the speech, Floribunda?” Celestia said in an even tone. The fact that Floribunda was having a great time was of no surprise to her.

Floribunda nodded. “It’s rather reminiscent of my own valedictorian speech!”

“It rather is,” Celestia agreed dryly, contemplating if there was a way to somehow have a certain unicorn clear the distance between here and the pony at the podium and still make it look like an accident to the audience below.

Floribunda turned to the male unicorn. “That brings back memories… Remember how you used to follow me around and do everything for me? Hehehe… You would have been nothing without me guiding you.”

Celestia felt a chill run through her body.

The grey unicorn seemed to go pale. “Yes, dear...”

Celestia gave him a concerned look. “Chance? Is something wrong?”

Floribunda raised a forehoof to her lips. “Shhhh!” she said sharply. “The young man is still talking.”

“Yes, me and only me who's sleepless nights of studying to be the best unicorn this school has ever—



Sunburst jumped and turned. The wall behind him had just exploded outwards in two places. A much older Starlight Glimmer than he was used to seeing and a purple alicorn stared at him with malice in their eyes. “What?! Starlight?!” Sunburst glanced down at the absolutely stupefied pony sitting in the audience in front of him. “What the heck is…”

A blast of magic shot from the older Starlight’s horn, catching Sunburst in the cheek and sending him reeling. Twilight quickly picked him up with her own magic, turned him to face her, and blasted him in the stomach. Sunburst hit the ground gasping for air. Twilight suddenly picked him up again, turning him so his stomach was exposed to Starlight.

“Stupid horseapple eating piece of garbage!” Twilight cried.

“Stupid bastard!” Starlight chimed in as she fired another blast into Sunburst’s belly.

Floribunda was agasp. “What’s going on?!” She turned to Celestia. “Princess, you have to do something!”

With a yellow glow, a wad of popcorn made its way up into Celestia’s mouth. She chewed and swallowed. “Believe me my little pony, I am.” She turned looking past Floribunda to Chance. “Popcorn?” She offered, tipping a massive bucket overflowing with white popped kernels towards Chance.

“Please!” Chance said with a smile as he floated over some of the popcorn into his own mouth.

Floribunda was flabbergasted. Her words caught in her mouth as the violence on the stage continued.

Starlight and Twilight took turns blasting the hapless orange stallion before Twilight roughly tossed him to the ground. He rolled twice before stopping on his back, his limbs sprawled out in all directions.

Starlight leaned forward, a dark satisfied grin on her face.

"... W-why?" Sunburst exclaimed weekly.

Starlight’s horn glowed as Sunburst was pulled upwards towards Starlight’s face. "Because sometimes what you really need is for somepony else to pay a horrible price." Starlight roughly threw Sunburst back to the ground as her horn glowed once more.

Sunburst let out a pathetic cry as he shielded his face with his hooves.

Starlight looked down in disgust. Hocking a loogie right onto the beaten unicorn’s burnt face, she looked up. "Right Twilight?" To Starlight's great surprise, only Spike was on stage, the dragon having grabbed an orange saddle bags with a shining sun on the front.

"Where'd Twilight go?" Starlight asked as she looked around.

Spike shrugged. "She grabbed the time scroll and said she'd be back."

"What?!” Starlight exclaimed. “What could she be—" Starlight was interrupted as the time portal opened up. With a blistering wind, it deposited Twilight and an orange alicorn female with a flame-like red-and-yellow mane and tail and sun cutie mark.

"Hold her, Sunset!" Twilight said.

Starlight soon found herself being held in the air by an azure glow. "Twilight?! What is—"

Twilight's own horn glowed brightly.





From the balcony, Celestia’s jaw dropped, popcorn falling out of her open mouth. “Sun… Sunset Shimmer? I have no idea what’s going on, but I like it!” she said with a grin.

Floribunda turned to Celestia, still as shocked as she was when the speech was suddenly interrupted. “Princess Celestia!” she said in a commanding tone. “I demand you do some— WhoooaaaAAAAAAAAA!” Floribunda suddenly found herself falling from the balcony, a fall that was cut short when she fell roughly into the seats below.

Celestia and Chance leaned over the balcony.

Floribunda moaned, her legs now at unnatural angles as she twitched between a couple of the auditorium’s chairs. The ponies around her looked down briefly, then back towards the stage.

“Whoops, she fell,” Celestia said casually as she too looked back towards the stage.

Chance nodded and magically grabbed some more popcorn. “That sure was an unfortunate accident that happened.”

Onstage, Twilight let up her barrage of magic long enough to shout at the slightly smoldering Starlight Glimmer, "DO YOU KNOW HOW TERRIBLE IT WAS SEEING MY HOME DESTROYED TIME AND TIME AGAIN?! NOT KNOWING WHICH OF MY FRIENDS WAS STILL ALIVE AND WHICH WERE DEAD?!"

Starlight’s swelling eyelids opened slightly. "I'm sorry! I shouldn't have—"

The azure glow around Starlight suddenly shifted as she was smashed into the wooden floor of the stage.


"Yeah!" Sunset chimed in. "And that's for the 'front seat’ crack."

From the audience, a young Starlight Glimmer lets out a frightful scream.

Twilight just turned and stared at her, leveling a forehoof. "Do not mess with time."

Terrified, the young Starlight Glimmer nodded her head up and down rapidly.

Twilight turned to Sunset Shimmer, her brow scrunching as she stared at Sunset's wings. "So when did you become an alicorn, Sunset?"

Sunsets eyes shot open wide. "What?" She craneed her neck to look behind her and noticed the orange wings on her back as she spread them wide. "HOLY SHI—”

The younger Starlight sat in her seat, frozen in fear. She had no idea why a different version of herself suddenly appeared with an unknown alicorn to beat up her only friend or why that same version of herself was just pummeled. On top of that, she was just issued a command, no, ultimatum by the purple alicorn.

What… what is—

Starlight felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned to see the same small purple dragon that had been on the stage earlier smiling at her.

“Hey, you wanna get out of here?” Spike pointed behind his shoulder the claw on his thumb. “I know the best doughnut shop in Canterlot… and I’ve never met another pony who could use a doughnut more than you in my entire life.”

Starlight stared at Spike in confusion for a second. “I… I can’t just leave my friend—”

Spike shook his head. “Friends don’t abuse you like that! Friends stay in contact with you and continue to be your friends no matter what changes happen in your lives or what changes you both go through.”

“They… they do?” Starlight asked in a genuine tone, as if the thought had never once occurred to her.

Spike nodded and reached into the saddle bags, pulling out a wad of bits. “They also buy you doughnuts!”

“Hey!” Starlight protested. “That’s Sunburst’s money…”

Spike tightened his brow. “And did you earn all of Sunburst’s money?”

Starlight gave Spike a sheepish look. “Well… yeah…”

Spike thrust the money back into the bags and handed them to Starlight, who telekinetically put them on her own back. “Here, I got my own money,” Spike said as he pulled bits out of pockets seemingly built into his scales. “Come on, let’s get out of here before we’re caught up in trying to fix this mess.”

Starlight hopped out of her chair, and looked towards the stage as Spike walked away. Her older self and Sunburst merely laid on their backs moaning in pain. Meanwhile the purple alicorn was trying to calm down the orange one who was having a most impressive freak out.


Twilight seemed a little miffed. "But you won't have the wings when you go back to Canterlot High!"


Twilight let out an annoyed sighed.

Sunset turned to Twilight. "Twilgiht! I think I live at the high school now!"

Starlight’s eyes lingered on Sunburst before she turned and began following Spike. “Doughnuts do sounds good… Uh… My name is—”

Spike turned and smiled. “Starlight Glimmer, and I’m Spike!” He extended a claw. “Your new best friend.”

Starlight took Spike’s claw, surprise written across her face. “You… you are?”

Spike nodded. “Yep!” he said as if the outcome was the most natural thing in the world. “Don’t worry though, I know lots of other ponies who will be more than happy to be friends with you and teach you all about friendship.” He glanced up at Twilight and Sunset.



Spike shook his head. “Most of them are a bit crazy though.”

Starlight allowed herself a small smile. “That’s fine, I just don’t want to be alone.”

Spike paused long enough for Starlight to catch up to him. He suddenly wrapped his arms around Starlight Glimmer’s neck and gave her a hug.

Starlight felt her heart stop in her chest.

“Don’t worry,” Spike said. “I’ll make sure you’re never alone ever again.”

Starlight’s heart suddenly kicked into high gear, and she felt hot tears stream down her face. “Thank… thank you…” she whispered.

Spike broke the hug and smiled warmly at Starlight. “Hey, don’t worry about it.” He motioned for Starlight to follow him. “Come on! After doughnuts, I can teach you something else friends share.”

“Uh… Okay…” Starlight said as she wiped tears away from her eyes. “What’s that?”

Spike smiled darkly. “Revenge.”


Battered, burning and limping, Sunburst threw open the door to his dorm room and threw himself on the bed. “STARLIGHT!” he cried out angrily.

No response.


“I’m here.”

Sunburst flinched in surprise and turned towards the source of the voice, a corner in his room next to a closet.

Starlight suddenly materialized, a shimmer falling from her body.

“Starlight?” Sunburst said inquisitively. He shook his head, anger bubbling back to the surface in an instant as he sat up slightly. “Where did you go?! How DARE you just sit there why I was being brutally attacked by… by… well you and that crazy alicorn! DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO TO MAKE IT UP TO ME?!”

To Sunburst’s surprise, Starlight’s expression didn’t change. In fact, she seem to be completely unphased by what he said. After a few seconds, Starlight finally replied, “You’re right. I should have done more.”


“I should have joined in blasting you.”

YES! YOU SHOULD HAVE… Wait, what?!”

Sunburst jumped slightly as he heard his door close. This was followed by the ‘click’ of it locking. He turned to see a small purple dragon looking at him with an icepick smile and crazed eyes.

He turned back to Starlight. “Starlight, wha—”


Sunburst was interrupted as a hoof smashed into his cheek. He collapsed back to the bed before he felt tiny claw grab him and roll him over onto his back.

“Sunburst,” Starlight said, her voice turning dark as a malicious smile crept across it. “Allow me to educate you about something I just learned about friendship.”

“What? Friendsh-OW!” Sunburst was cut off as numerous pointy claws dig into his injured body as the tiny dragon suddenly landed on top of him. He looked up into a tiny face full of teeth and malice and swallowed hard.

Starlight’s smile opened wide.

“Friends… share…

The end.

Dear Mega Princess of Friendship Twilight Sparkle,

I suppose congratulations are in order for you leading another pony into becoming yet another Princess of Friendship, though truthfully the number of ponies who now hold that title is a bit ridiculous.

Tartarus exists for a reason, Twilight.

Alternatively, you can steer them towards a something else besides friendship. We don’t have a single princess of sandwiches or smoothies even. Princess of pasta? None. She doesn’t exist.

Excuse me, I missed lunch.

Please pass my well wishes to Princess of Friendship number 4 Starlight Glimmer. I know it’s been a long and difficult road with her almost destroying the world several times over, especially after her relapse when her younger, alternate timeline self achieved princesshood with far greater speed and ease then herself. Despite my previous comments, her ascension is most welcome. No longer will The Much Nicer and Cuter Starlight Glimmer Princess of Friendship Number 3 Starlight Glimmer have to worry about being detained from her princess duties because she’s too busy being hugged by Princess Cadance, Princess Luna, Prince Shining Armor, Spike, The other five Princesses of Harmony, the royal staff, the entire Royal Guard, local law enforcement officers, foreign dignitaries, and random ponies on the street. With this second Princess Starlight Glimmer, TMNaCSGPoF#3SG can simply move on to being hugged full-time…

On further reflection, perhaps she should be the Princess of Hugs.

Also, it has come to my attention that you and the other Princesses of Friendship are still employing the occasional tactic of ‘aggressive negotiations’. It came to my attention when delegates from the yaks showed up at my door covered in bruises and burns, and also weeping… and groveling.

Well I’ll tell both you and Princess of Friendship Who's Actually Better at it than Twilight Sparkle Because She Doesn’t Treat Everything Like a Math Equation Sunset Shimmer that you two are going to get it!

‘It’ being brand new towers added to your already giant castles. A collection of yaks apologizing for their behavior and swearing they’d never threaten war on ponykind again has been one of the best things I’ve seen all century. It’ll be many generations before any of the yaks so much as whisper the word ‘war’ in relation to ponies.


Princess Celestia

Luna! I finished my letter To Princess Twilight. Did you want to add-

Well of course it was a bit passive-aggressive! Can you blame me?! Another Princess of Friendship! It’s just too much!

...What? Oh! I’m so sorry TMNa… Starlight Glimmer! I didn’t realize you were here! No! Don’t worry about it. You know how grumpy I get when I skip a meal. It’s not your fault Twilight lacks the imagination to steer every unicorn with a name vaguely like her own away from the very thing that’s her job! Besides, I’m changing your title.

Now Luna, you best let the Princess of Hugs go right now.

Why? Duh, it’s my turn!

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