[color=grey]Prologue: Brushy Brushy!
As the cool Equestrian sun rose over the sleepy village of Ponyville, one particular mare was making ready to begin her day. And by 'making ready', I mean this irate mare was determinedly slamming her head against her headboard.
"Ugh, I wanna go back to sleep!" moaned Colgate, slumping back down onto her comfortable bed with a dejected look on her face. Today would not be fun. She had hardly slept last night; Pinkie had thrown another party. Colgate didn’t even know why and frankly, she didn’t care. Rising reluctantly from her mound of pillows and blankets, the petite dentist stretched and yawned loudly before trotting downstairs.
The kitchen was warm and bright, sweeping windows flooding the room in watery sunlight. Colgate couldn't care less about the good weather, instead shuffling over to the kettle and using her magic to prepare her bowl of cereal. A box of Celesti-os floated over to her, steadily filling her bowl with oat-y goodness. 'Four types of wholegrain? Now this I can enjoy!' Colgate smiled, rubbing her forehooves together. Today wasn't looking too bad after all!
A sharp rap on the front door startled her, causing the dentist to drop the box on the floor. Celesti-os flew everywhere, covering the floor in crunchy cereal. "Coming!" the mare shouted irately, levitating most of the spilt cereal into the bin. There was no way she'd eat it after it had touched the floor, even if the surface was as clean as the counter she prepared her food on. Colgate rushed to the front door, worried that she had done something wrong.
Why would somepony come this early? What if one of my patients complained to the mayor? What if my practice is being shut down?' Colgate frantically opened the door with her telekinesis. Before her stood a very surprised, wall-eyed pegasus, clutching several letters in her mouth.
"Mrnin' Colgte," she mumbled as Colgate took the slightly damp letters with relief. "Did I do something wrong again? Normally ponies don't wrench open their doors with that much force!"
"No Derp-er... uh, Ditzy! You didn't do anything wrong! I just spilt cereal all over my kitchen floor.” Colgate smiled, relieved it was only the mailmare that had startled her. However, one of the letters floating beside her caught her eye. “Well, you'd probably get back to your rounds then, I've got to get ready for work. See you around!" Colgate laughed hastily, closing the door in the mailmare's face.
"Lyra," the dentist hissed, "you've gone too far this time." Before her lay a copy of ‘Wings ‘n Things;’ the front page giving her an eyeful of plot. The pegasus on the cover grinned cheekily over her shoulder, almost daring Colgate to turn the page. Instead Colgate launched the dirty magazine across the room, blushing. A small note fell out of it, floating lazily to the floor. Colgate levitated the note over.
Lighten up and relax a bit! This magazine should help you, if you know what I mean... Anyway, Bonny sends her regards! We'll have to have you over for dinner sometime! It's really not healthy for you to spend every night by yourself! I'm going to find you a colt (or mare!) one day, I swear!
The dentist just sighed and slammed the note down onto the counter.
Colgate looked over her diary and sighed. So far, most of the days patients had been overflow from the previous day, thanks to one of Pinkie's parties at Sugarcube Corner. She really needed to talk to that mare about the dangers of excessive sugar consumption. However, it probably explained the mare's hyperactive behaviour, though whenever anypony tried to explain Pinkie, they failed with spectacular results. She was Pinkie, enough said.
"What's wrong Colgate? You look like you're going to break something. Something expensive..." murmured the elderly mare opposite her, slowly completing a stack of paperwork.
"Pinkie, that's what's wrong. It's like, after every one of her parties, we get an influx of patients here complaining of toothache. If I didn't know better, I'd say Pinkie is putting a metric ton of sugar in each cookie." Nurse Bubbles nodded wearily, pushing her glasses back up her face.
"She seems to have learnt her lesson after the Gummy incident though," Colgate smiled.
Both mares laughed happily. Pinkie Pie's pet alligator, Gummy, had been the first victi- volunteer to try her infamous fruit punch. The distraught mare had been unable to reach Fluttershy before Gummy's teeth had fallen out. Every. Last. One.
"Well, at least it's keeping us in business!" Colgate said enthusiastically, setting out her instruments of mass reconstruction before her. The sterile tools laid on a tray neatly, testament to Nurse Bubble's pin-sharp organisational skills. If anypony was to make sure the instruments were correct, it'd be her.
"Nurse, who can we be expecting to walk into the practice next?" Colgate asked coyly, pretending to have an air of professionalism.
"Who are you? What have you done with the real Colgate? Y'know, the brash, uptight dentist with no social life?" chortled the elderly mare in reply, causing Colgate to stop mid-stride. Colgate didn’t speak, instead turning to her assistant with a mischievous look in her eye.
“Nurse, I think you might have dropped something on the floor,” she stated matter-of-factly, pointing one hoof at the marble floor underhoof. As Bubbles leant over to search for the item she had mentioned, Colgate used her magic to fire her small dental water jet at her assistant.
Nurse Bubbles scrambled backwards in horror, trying to avoid the fine spray of water. “Brash, am I? Uptight, am I? How sure of that are you, nurse?” Colgate shouted happily, chasing the mare around the room with the small hose. The tiles soon became slick with water, causing Colgate to slip and slide precariously. The dentist lost her grip and crashed into a heavy cabinet with a surprised shriek.
“Uh, Colgate? Maybe we should cut this out before the patient gets here. Having a half-flooded practice isn’t the best way to maintain a good reputation.”
“Buck you and your logic...”
“Now now Colgate, remember who's the more experienced member of staff here! Anyway, it's really not good for a patient to enter a messy practice. Imagine if they tripped and fell!"
“Hmm, I’ll let you off this time. Seriously though Bubbles, am I really that boring? I try to do stuff, but not many people choose to hang out with a dentist. I still see Lyra occasionally though! Isn’t that enough?” Colgate asked curiously, examining the soggy mare with interest.
Nurse Bubbles shook herself, spraying another layer of water across the room. She levitated a small handtowel over, trying to mop up the worst of the puddles. “You really reckon seeing your friend once a week is considered a social life? Even Cheerilee has more of a life than you! Colgate, you really need to get out and do some stuff. This reminds me of when I was a young mare like you... well, we used to go clubbing in Canterlot, for example!”
Colgate’s eyebrows nearly shot off her face in surprise. “Me, clubbing? Hah, I’d like to see that happen! So, who are we actually dealing with next? You never answered me!” she asked curiously, causing Nurse Bubbles to blush. Colgate remembered the next case would be a tooth removal, but she forgot who the unlucky patient would be.
"Spike,” Nurse Bubbles stated, registering Colgate’s blank expression. “Y'know, Twilight's pet dragon?" Bubbles continued, preparing the table.
“Oh, ok. I guess I must have forgotten at some point. Still, a dragon is pretty simple to deal with, right?”
Nurse Bubbles deadpanned at Colgate. ‘No Colgate, we promised we wouldn't think of that... catastrophe... again,’ Colgate thought uneasily. The only parts her memory hadn't violently repressed involved a stepladder, an industrial jackhammer, and a long search for a new assistant.
"Yeah, I remember that. Well, at least you got a new dental practice out of it! And a commendation of bravery from the Princess!" It was true, the dragon had completely wrecked the dentist's previous clinic, so they had received this nice, shiny facility courtesy of the Royal Court. Having a nationalised health service was one upside to living in Equestria!
"Twilight Sparkle and Spike here to see you!" shouted the receptionist from down the corridor. Bubbles organised the last few instruments, making sure everything was in its rightful place before welcoming the duo inside.
"Hi Twilight! Still brushing three times a day?" enquired Colgate, shaking the mare's hoof.
"Erm, yeah!" said the lavender pony sheepishly. 'Yeah, right.'
"So, what happened to Spike?"
"Rainbow Dash and Pinkie decided it’d be hilarious to replace one of Spike’s sapphires with a magically reinforced one. One of Rarity’s, I think." The baby dragon rubbed his sore, aching mouth, reaching around the ice pack that was affixed to his face. Both Colgate and Nurse Bubbles had been on the receiving end of either Pinkie's or Dash's pranks and knew full well the lengths they would go to for a laugh.
“Colgate, remember that time Pinkie replaced your toothpaste with that black staining paste?” giggled Nurse Bubbles, even more amused by Colgate’s scowl.
“Yes, it was hilarious. A dentist with black teeth. I’m sure it took her ages to think of that one. Anyway, let’s get back to business, shall we?” Spike climbed onto the table and Colgate levitated a mirror into his mouth.
"Aha! There's the fang, although I can't see why it's shaki-" Colgate murmured, before leaping backwards. Just in the nick of time. Spike belched loudly, sending emerald flames shooting across the room. The green fire singed the end of Colgate's muzzle, causing her to glare in disapproval. This was cut short due to the scroll that flew out, smacking Colgate on her much-abused nose.
"I am so sorry Dr. Colgate, Princess Celestia normally sends these at night! It's not like her to break a schedule," Twilight exclaimed. Twilight gasped as she read through the scroll. "Spike, you stay there! The Princess needs to talk with me right away!" Twilight gasped, looking around the room.
“Erm, Twilight, are you feeling ok?” Colgate enquired, looking nervously at the frantic mare.
“This is nothing. You should have seen that time Celestia told her t-”
“Spike! I thought we said we’d never discuss that again!” Twilight scolded, rushing around the clinic. “There must be some here somewhere...” she muttered, rifling through Colgate’s supply cupboard.
“Uh, Twilight?” Colgate asked, bewildered. The lavender mare didn’t reply, but continued to search the cupboards. After a few seconds of frantic searching, the librarian levitated a stack of toothpaste tubes out of the cupboard.
“Colgate, do you mind if I borrow these? I’ll pay you back as soon as I get home, ok?”
“Sure, I guess?”
And with that, the mare disappeared with a flash of violet light. The two dentists just stood there, mouth agape.
“Well, that was unusual,” Nurse Bubbles stammered, clearly shaken by the erratic Twilight.
“Hmm, I’m sure she’ll have some kind of reason for this. Well, I hope she will. That’s our entire month’s worth of toothpaste,” Colgate sighed, before turning back to their patient.
“So, are the rest of my teeth fine then?” Spike enquired curiously. It seemed that the unusual event hadn’t affected the young dragon, so Colgate decided she’d have some fun with him.
“Yes Spike, your teeth are fine. But there’s just one little problem...”
“Aside from the obvious shattered fang, your teeth look ok, but we’re going to need to remove your gums.” Colgate tried to keep a serious face, watching the drake go through confusion, bewilderment, realisation and relief. “Seriously though Spike, everything’s fine. I don’t know why everyone has such a fear of visiting the dentist! It’s painless!” Colgate chuckled before spinning up her dental drill, a device that looked more suited for heavy-duty mining than delicate oral operations.
Spike gulped. “I-is it safe?”
“Funny story about that! There was this one Royal Guard once that vowed he would have me banished to the moon for breaking the Geneighva convention. I thought Royal Guards were supposed to be tough.” Colgate laughed, grasping the device with her telekinesis. “Open wide Spike!”
Spike clambered down from the chair, shaking.
“See, that wasn’t so bad,” the blue-maned dentist smiled. Nurse Bubbles stood beside her, dealing with the tray of dirty instruments. Spike’s fang lay in the middle of the tray, stark white against the bloody matter surrounding it.
“Thsanksh Colghate, ah that feelsh a losh bettah! Twilight ish goin to be shoo happeh thish ish fixed!”
“No problem Spike! Remember, keep brushing three times a day! Could you also let Twilight know she’s got a check-up in a few weeks? That’d be much appreciated.” Colgate bopped the little dragon on the head. Today hadn’t been so bad after all! The young dragon waddled out of the practice, holding his face grudgingly. The tranquiliser would probably wear off after a few hours. Colgate hadn’t taken any chances with the dragon.
"Well, that was... unusual," Bubbles said, disposing of the equipment they had used on Spike. "Must've been something important, Twilight's not one to go racing off impulsively like that," she sighed, carefully levitating the dirty instruments into a tub for incineration. The elderly mare’s faded orange mane was neatly tucked behind her neck. She used to be proud of it, displaying it at every occasion. Age had left it limp and empty, a reminder that even the best things weren’t permanent. Colgate considered this carefully, comparing this to her own life. The dentist had never really given relationships or friends a thought, instead pouring all of her energy into her studies. Just like Twilight. The only difference was that Twilight had made friends...
“Nurse, I am going to make some new friends.”
“Are you sure you didn’t inhale any of that tranquilising gas?”
“Not entirely,” Colgate replied breezily, “but I’m going to try nonetheless!” The dentist stood on the spot for a few seconds, eyes glittering with inspiration. “Erm, Bubbles, how exactly would one go about making new friends?”
“Colgate, you’re hopeless,” her faithful assistant muttered, promptly facehoofing.
The regal mare paced nervously in her chambers. Her advisor should have been here twenty minutes ago. She glanced up at an ornate clock, doubling her anxiety. The stallion was of utmost importance; a unique individual with a wealth of knowledge. If he had...
“Milady? The Royal Guard are here. They say they need to speak with you,” another mare called anxiously. The first mare paused, her heart freezing over. Even the crackling log fire in the corner did nothing to thaw the ice that had encased her. She knew exactly why the Guard were here. Mentally steeling herself, the mare lead herself gracefully into the entrance hall. On the outside, she was confident and asserted. Inside, she was trembling with fear and apprehension, like a young filly.
“Princess, we’re terribly sorry to disturb you at this early hour, but we bring urgent news,” one guard stated hastily, bowing his head.
“Leather Spine was involved in a large traffic incident. We’re still waiting for the full details, but it appears over eleven carriages were involved. We’ll have the list of survivors to you within the hour.”
Celestia knew her trusted historian, a pony she had known and trusted for years, would not be on that list. A single tear rolled down her cheek. The agents of darkness were once again beginning to infiltrate her government, and it wouldn’t be long before they had another Canterlot-scale assault. The beast had been awoken from its slumber, leaving little room for maneuvering. Celestia did have one option, however. An option that would likely horrify her peaceful, loving subjects.
“Ex Officio?” Celestia called to her personal secretary, trying to hold back the tremors in her delicate voice. “I need you to find me a dentist.”
“A dentist, milady? If I may be so bold, surely the Royal Physician can correct any sickness you may be feeling?”
“No... no. I need a dentist that isn’t from around here. A pony that will be able to blend into Canterlot society without attracting undue attention. Make sure they’re good, too. I don’t think I need to explain that this is of utmost importance.”
“It will be done at once, milady.”
“I hope so,” Celestia whispered, raising one graceful hoof to a frozen window. Somewhere out there, a pony had just died because of her decision. She had to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.