...That's it?

by Jay David

Chapter 1: ...That's it?

A quiet village, far from the interest of most, was experiencing a calm and serene day, as it often did. And yet, the peace and tranquillity of this moment was rather rudely interrupted by the sudden arrival of a bright flash, right on the outskirts of the place. But, this was no ordinary flash, but rather, a burst of magic, powerful, and unlike any other spell Equestria had seen. When the flash died down, three figures remained in its place. Twilight Sparkle, the Princess of Friendship, accompanied by her faithful companion, Spike. But, standing alongside them, was a figure that, until recently, those two had once thought they had seen the last of; Starlight Glimmer. The latter, seeing the village before them, narrowed her eyes, keeping her gaze upon it, even as Twilight broke the silence between them.

"Where...where are we?"

Starlight answered, walking towards the village as she did so.

"This...is my village."

The seriousness with which she'd spoken those words made it clear to Twilight that she should stay silent, at least for the time being. Instead, she walked behind her rival, watching as the angry mare approached a particular house on the edge of the village. There, she rose up, placing her hooves upon the edge of one of the building's windows, and peered inwards. Twilight and Spike soon joined her, and when they did, the former took on a look of shock. For there, within the home, was undoubtedly another Starlight Glimmer. Specifically, her younger self, back when she was still just a filly. Although Twilight might have wanted to remark on how adorable she looked with pigtails back then, she elected against such action, instead watching as the youngster was playing about with what appeared to be another pony her age, a colt. Turning to her rival, Twilight watched as the latter finally spoke up again.

"This was the day it happened."

Though at first confused, Twilight turned just in time to see, to her shock, that young Starlight was very nearly involved in a horrible accident. Thankfully for all concerned, this did not actually occur, as the young colt, through a rather impressive display of magic, managed to save her life. When all was said and done, the colt, to his and Starlight's amazement, now bore a cutie mark. It wasn't long until the elders of the village came rushing in, astounded by all of this, and soon afterwards, the colt was whisked away, leaving young Starlight alone, and very much upset. Seeing this, Twilight looked back to the older Starlight, who silently seethed over the events that had just played out.

"My friend...he got his cutie mark. In magic, of course. And he was sent to a school for gifted unicorns. As for me...I stayed behind. He never came back. Never spoke to me again. And I was left alone."

Looking to Twilight at last, Starlight's eyes narrowed.

"Not everypony gets to be lucky enough to gain their cutie mark at the same time as her friends, princess."

The final word has been tainted with venom as Starlight angrily pointed a hoof to her foe.

"On that day, long ago, I knew the injustice that cutie marks brought. I sought to free ponies from the unfairness that such marks bring. And you...you and your friends ruined it!"

Taking a menacing step forward, Starlight glared angrily at Twilight.

"Do you understand now, princess? Do you see why I do what I do?"

But Twilight stood there, looking utterly unfazed by Starlight's words. Instead, the young princess turned from her enemy and towards the still-crying younger version of her. Then, she looked back to the older Starlight, then back and forth several times over. And all while she was doing this, Starlight looked more than a little confused, having clearly expected some other kind of reaction. When Twilight did finally speak up, her expression and tone was, for lack of a better word, incredulous.

"...Is that it?"

Starlight, hearing that, stood motionless, her eyes darting left and right as Twilight's words sank in for her.


Raising a hoof, Twilight pointed to the crying filly nearby.

"I mean...that whole story...is that it? There's nothing else? No lifetime of being abused by those with cutie marks? No being told you were worthless without one? No long period of feeling like you were less than everypony else around you?"

Starlight opened her mouth, attempting to reply, but all she could manage under such questions were false starts. After a while, and after a great deal of impatience on Twilight's part, the angry unicorn finally managed to say something.

"But...don't you get it? My friend got his mark first! He left and never came back! It showed just how terrible cutie marks really are!"

Hearing that, Twilight began to frown.

"No it didn't!"

To that, Starlight frowned right back.

"Yes it did!"

And Twilight shook her head.

"No...it didn't."

Taking a step back, Starlight was growing increasingly frustrated now.

"Look here, princess! Don't you dare look down on what I've gone through!"

Looking to her, Twilight raised an eyebrow.

"What you've gone through? Starlight...your friend moved away. That's it."

At this point, Twilight raised a hoof right at Starlight herself before continuing.

"I'll admit, when you and I came into conflict, I was thinking and thinking of all the things that could have occurred to you to make you this way. But this? I have to say...I am immensely disappointed."

Of all the things Starlight expected to happen to her during this confrontation with the princess, this was most definitely not one of them. But, she hadn't the chance to respond, as Twilight kept on going.

"You know, as terrible as many of my enemies have been, I've at least understood why they did what they did. Chrysalis? She had an entire race to provide for and feed. Discord? He's the embodiment of chaos, so it's natural for him to do what he does. Sombra? Brought up isolated and often in pain because of where he came from."

Looking back to the crying filly, Twilight shook her head.

"But this? This...this is nothing compared to all that!"

Starlight's shock remained, and it was a feeling very much reflected in her voice as she stammered.

"But...but...but you're the princess of friendship. Don't you see how terrible a thing it is that happened to me?"

Raising a hoof to her forehead, Twilight let out a sigh.

"Yes...you lost touch with your friend. And I'm sorry that happened to you."

Lowering her hoof, she narrowed her eyes yet again.

"But don't you think you took your problem a bit out-of-proportion? I know it was sad that you lost your friend, but...what you did to everypony else, those at the village and beyond...they didn't deserve what you did just because of...of this!"

Taking a step closer, Twilight tried speaking in as calm a manner as possible.

"Starlight...you took something you thought of as a problem with your life...and tried to make it everypony else's problem! Rather than think things through...you let yourself become enraged because of just one bad experience. And it wasn't even that bad of an experience!"

Hearing that, Starlight looked just as angry as she had been before.

"You...you dare say that to me?!"

Twilight gave a single, serious nod.

"I do. And do you know why? Because what you did...they're not the actions of somepony who tried to fight against an injustice."

The princess drew closer, her expression more steely than before.

"They're the actions...of a child. A child who never learned how to grow up!"

The once-enraged unicorn stood there, mouth hanging open over what had just been said to her. And in this silence, Twilight kept on talking.

"A child loses her friend, and in the sadness that follows, she shuts herself away. She tells herself that what happened was the fault of the cutie marks, that they must have something wrong with them. She never stops to consider the prospect of making new friends, or by trying to contact her old one. She brings her misery and isolation on herself."

Twilight frowned before adding to her words.

"She tried to make everypony else feel worse, just to make herself feel better."

Here, at last, Starlight tried responding.

"But...I couldn't! I..."

But Twilight stopped her, raising a single hoof as she spoke up herself.

"Did you ever try contacting your friend again?"

Starlight fumbled for a bit, unable to reply, and that silence alone gave Twilight all the information she needed. So, narrowing her eyes further, she waited as Starlight finally got her thoughts together.

"He...he wouldn't have talked to me! He was all high and mighty after his cutie mark! Being sent to that oh-so special school!"

But Twilight shook her head.

"Starlight...he saved your life. Don't you remember? That's why he got his mark in the first place. Do you really think that a friend who cared so much for you, enough that he would unleash such magic to save you...would ever look down on you like that?"

Starlight opened her mouth to speak, only to find that she could not. It was a question that, perhaps, she had never considered until now. But, now that it had been asked, she found she had no answer. And, during that moment, Twilight continued her questioning.

"Did you try reaching out to the other colts and fillies of your village? Being all alone as you were, I can image you wanted more friends, yes?"

But, at this point, Starlight looked away.

"I...I didn't want to risk losing them, like I lost him."

Again, Twilight shook her head.

"You don't know that's what would have happened. I mean...were they not also without their marks? Could you not have found common ground with them in that?"

Starlight turned to her with a frown.

"What do you know? How can you possibly know what the other children, markless they may be, would have done when I approached them?"

To that, Twilight gained a wry smile.

"Let me tell you a story...of a filly named Apple Bloom."

Starlight raised an eyebrow, but nevertheless remained silent as Twilight carried on.

"She was much like you. She too had a close friend she spent much of her time with. Twist, a filly like her. Together, they were best friends, and both without cutie marks. Then, one day, Twist got her mark, while Apple Bloom remained without. And even today...Apple Bloom has hardly ever seen Twist since it happened, largely because of all the work Twist has done after discovering her talent."

Hearing that, Starlight's expression softened.

"Wha...what happened?"

Twilight, sighing, gave her answer.

"She moved on, Starlight. She found other friends, other fillies she could spend time with and be close to. She didn't become bitter or angry over what happened. And she certainly didn't try to start up a crazy anti-cutie-mark cult because of her experiences."

Looking on with a frown, Twilight pointed her hoof yet again at Starlight.

"Despite being a child, Apple Bloom knew how to be an adult with her situation, and she didn't even realise it."

Silence was all Starlight could muster, and as she tried desperately to avoid Twilight's gaze, the latter spoke softly.

"Starlight...I'm sorry that your childhood was made so sad by losing your friend like this. But...the terrible event of your past that you believed it to be...really wasn't as bad as you thought."

During all of this, Spike, who had been quiet throughout most of it, strayed his gaze from one mare to the next, worrying a great deal on the prospect of what would happen or who would make the next move. The silence lasted a near eternity, or at least that's what it felt like to those involved. When it was finally broken, it was Starlight herself who broke it.

"I...I hadn't...hadn't thought of it like that."

Twilight nodded, but, in the moments that followed, she grew thoughtful, which culminated in yet another question on her part.

"Tell me...why didn't you go out to cheer him?"

Starlight turned to her with confusion, prompting Twilight to explain herself.

"Your old friend. When he and his family were celebrating him getting his mark, why didn't you go out to cheer him on as well? I mean, like I said, he'd just saved your life, and you were supposed to be friends, so why weren't you congratulating him like everypony else?"

Starlight said nothing, instead looking away. And that, like before, gave Twilight all the information she needed.

"I see. That's how it was. You felt your friendship was over at that point, just because he was found to be ahead of you in some way. You felt that it was all finished between you and that you were the victim, right then and there. Or, rather, you felt like you perhaps should have been seen as the victim, and that others should sympathise with your situation. Am I right?"

Again, Starlight said nothing, leaving Twilight to exhale deeply before continuing.

"Forgive me for saying this, Starlight...but I don't think it was him who was being a bad friend at that point."

As one would expect, Starlight turned to her with anger in her eyes, but, she did not say anything, instead watching as Twilight looked thoughtful again.

"And do you know what's worse?"

Starlight looked to her and shook her head, giving Twilight an opening to continue.

"You've actually seen what your actions would result in. All of Equestria, devoid of life. Everypony, every stallion, mare, colt and filly wiped out...all because you lost a friend and became sad one day."

Starlight's eyes shrank to pin-points, and she froze in place, leading to Twilight shrugging her shoulders.

"I know its a little un-princess-like for me to say this, but...yeah...your reasons for doing this? Kinda not really worth the cost."

Starlight stood there, as still as a statue, taking in everything that had been said. Slowly, her eyes strayed over to Spike, who matter-of-factly folded his arms and nodded his head in agreement with Twilight's assessment of the situation. Taking a gulp, a look of sheer embarrassment and dread crossed Starlight's face, and she darted her eyes about in a desperate attempt to avoid looking anypony in the eye. But, after a long while, Twilight cleared her throat, gaining everypony's attention.

"So...what are you going to do now, Starlight?"

To say Starlight was feeling uncomfortable right now would have been about as big an understatement as you could get. But, after a long while, she slowly, and very reluctantly, gave a softly-spoken answer.

"Um...I think I should...stop trying to re-write history?"

Raising a hoof, Twilight gave a brief "carry on" gesture, leading to further meek response from Starlight.

"And...go back and apologise for everything I've done?"

The same gesture from Twilight and more words from Starlight followed.

"And...learn to make friends...like everypony else?"

To that, Twilight smiled.

"There we go! That wasn't so hard, was it?"

Looking away, Starlight grumbled.

"Yeah, sure."

In that moment, Starlight turned in earnest, her horn glowing, no doubt in readiness to activate the time magic and set everything straight. But, as she did so, Spike walked alongside Twilight, looking to her with just as incredulous a look as she was bearing.

"Why do so many ponies we meet never think things through?"

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