The train ground to a halt at the Canterlot train station after the several hours of travel. The other ponies, weary from their travels, exited the various cars of the train and made their way to the platform.
"Ok everypony, we have a lot of work to do. Applejack, head to the bakery and pick up the ingredients for the cake. Pinkie, head over to the place to check on decorations," Applejack gave a nod and ran off while Pinkie bounced away in her usual manner.
"Fluttershy, see to the guests with me and Fancy Pants before the festivities start."
"Umm, ok Rarity, sounds like fun." Fluttershy mumbled with a small smile.
"Ok, and Rainbow Dash, you remember the plan?"
"Keep Twilight distracted until the preparations are made and you and Fancy Pants give the Ok, got it!" Rainbow Dash said with gusto.
Twilight finally made her way off the train, only to be greeted by a very eager Rainbow Dash.
"Let's get going, egghead!" Rainbow picked Twilight off the ground and flew into the city, flying high above the other ponies below. Twilight had to admit, she never saw her hometown from this view before, all the ponies and towers and shops looking like small toys just below her. It almost made her wish she was a pagesi herself.
"Where are we going!?" Twilight shouted as Rainbow still struggled to keep her and Twilight in the sky.
"Phew, I gotta set you down, Twi." She landed on a street corner beside a coffee shop and a beauty salon. "You been hitting the hay fries, Twilight? Not to be rude, but you seem a little heavy." Rainbow giggled
"Hey! I've been watching my figure, jerk!" Twilight snapped.
"Easy, I was only kidding around. I'm sorry."
"Oh Rainbow, I'm the one who should be sorry. I have no idea why I snapped like that." She hugged her with her forelegs. "Guess I'm still thinking too much about the nightmare-" A sudden thud came from around the block, and another, and another followed by the screaming of ponies running from the direction of what appeared to be a giant, robotic pony.
"Everyone stay calm! It's just a glitch! He will stabilize!" A brown stallion with a spikey mane called out from under it. A grey pegasi with a blonde mane flew frantically overhead.
"Yeah! He's just kinda wonky! Don't worry! Oh hey, Rainbow Dash!" The grey pony yelled.
"Derpy?! What are you doing here?" Rainbow Dash flew up to meet the pegasus mare. "I thought you were still in Ponyville."
"Oh, I got a job as Mister Doctor's assistant a while back, and well he's been keeping me busy, so-"
"A little less talk, Miss Hooves, I need you to focus on keeping the automaton stabilized without bringing harm to the citizens!" The brown pony called out while dodging the legs of the enormous metal horse.
"Oh right, sorry Mister Doctor!"
"It's just THE Doctor, or Doctor Hooves, Miss Derpy!"
"Got it Mister Doctor Hooves, sir!" She flew around the creatures head as it stomped around the street trying to catch Hooves as he waved a bizarre metal stick around it.
"Almost got it!" He flicked the device at the creature and it made a small DING sound as it shut down.
"Have the royal guards fly this back to my office, it seems we have some bugs to work out." He nodded to one of the guards who saluted and flew off.
"That was amazing!" Twilight and Dash said in unison, much to the surprise of the Doctor.
"Why thank you, but it was nothing really. Ever since-" He stopped when he recognized the purple filly. "Oh ho! You're Twilight Sparkle! I've seen you around Ponyville many times but I've never formally met you. I'm Doctor Hooves, time traveler, doctor, and designer." He held out his hoof which Twi immediately grabbed for a hoofshake.
"It's a pleasure. I'm Twilight Sparkle, resident...librarian." She laughed.
"I've actually been meaning to talk to you about something. Would you be so kind as to come with me to my office for a minute?"
"Sure, I don't see why not. I'd love to see some of your inventions, I've head a lot about you." Twilight turned to Rainbow Dash. "Do you mind if we go with him for a while?"
Rainbow shrugged, "Hey, it's just my job to distract you for the day, whatever floats your boat."
If Twilight thought books were interesting, she had a lot to learn here. Each shelf was lined with several large tomes and scrolls on the subject of time, different dimensions, and technology. Several different machines also lined the walls, including an enormous radar-esque device at the very back of the room.
"So Twilight, let me first wish you a happy birthday." Whooves smiled and slid her a long, thin package across the floor to her. Twilight picked it up and opened the lid to find a book titled "The Days of Starswirl, a look into the days of Medieval Equestria."
"Oh my gosh, thank you, I've never heard of this book before!" Twilight screamed and hugged the book, and then proceeded to hug Doctor Hooves.
"Haha, you are quite welcome, Miss Sparkle. It actually fits into what I want to talk to you about." He walked over to the radar device.
"When I went back in time a few weeks ago, I met someone very important. Someone who is the authority on unicorn magic. Starswirl the Bearded himself." Twilight gasped.
"You met Starswirl the Bearded? He was around before Princess Celestia and Princess Luna even ruled Equestria! He was around before Canterlot even existed! He was-" The Doctor put his hoof over Twilight's mouth as she continued to mumble.
"Yes yes, I know. But the funny thing was his cutie mark. It was very similar to yours." He nodded. "I think the only difference was the color scheme, that's it. It was a silver spark in the middle with golden stars around it, as opposed to your purple spark."
Twilight looked over her should at her flank, and cutie mark. Who would have thought she of all ponies could share something in common with the master of unicorn magic.
"He taught me a way to use magic without being a unicorn, and gave me a spark to power this machine. By now you both are wondering what it does, I take it." Twilight nodded while Rainbow Dash looked as oblivious as ever.
"It's a device the Princess herself asked me to make. Ever since the Changling incident we've been on high alert and on the lookout for magical signatures different from unicorns, pegasi, alicorns, and earth ponies. So far we have averted one or two would be enemies, but two days ago, something weird happened." Doctor Hooves explained.
"A bizarre energy signature blanketed the vicinity of Canterlot for one hour, it was unlike anything I had ever seen, even Princess Luna was baffled. Then after that hour, it was gone."
Rainbow Dash snapped back into reality. "So let me get this straight, a few nights ago, some weird magic blanketed Canterlot and just disappeared before Twilight's birthday?"
"That's correct, but I'm not sure-"
"That's it, we're pulling the plug. I'm gonna tell Rarity and the others that we're going home now." Rainbow turned around and spread her wings before she was grabbed by Twilight's left hoof. "Let...go." Rainbow growled.
"You promised you wouldn't tell them." Twilight pleaded.
"Buck that, Twilight! You're in danger! I don't know what the hay your dream means, but Spike was right. It is a warning! I have to tell them!"
"No Rainbow, if you tell them-"
"It could save your life!"
"Umm Miss Dash, if I may interject, the magic held no hostile energy whatsoever. It simply looked like it was just there. I just said it looked strange, that's all." Doctor Hooves explained. Rainbow Dash sat down.
"I'm sorry, Twilight, I guess I kinda freaked out. I'm just kinda worried. What if this does turn out to be something like Discord or Night Mare Moon, what if we can't handle it this time?" Rainbow Dash sighed as Twilight walked up to her.
"I'll be perfectly fine, Dash, you know me. If it does turn out to be something like that, we'll just fight it off with the elements of Harmony, simple as that." She smiled.
"I guess you're right, as usual." Rainbow scoffed. "Still not leaving your side, though!"
"I wouldn't have it any other way." Twilight grinned.
A grey pegasi burst through the doorway and crashed into a bookshelf, toppling it over.
"For the love of Celestia, Miss Derpy, ever consider walking?"
"Bad news, Mister Doctor Hooves, the thing got away from the guards. It was hungry I think, so it went to a restaurant."
"Oh for Pete's sake, I'll handle this. Twilight, happy birthday once again, and make it a pleasant one!" He yelled as he galloped through the doorway and into the street.
"Hey, wait for me!" Derpy followed behind.