Night Shift the unicorn sighed as he made his rounds. He never thought he'd miss the Royal Canterlot Gardens, but this shift was actually worse. The guard detail of the dungeons had increased tenfold since the new "arrival" and, lucky day, Night Shift was one of the guards chosen to take part. At the gardens he simply had to deal with the occasional straggling tourist or a couple trying to get a little... closer during the off hours, but at least he could see the night sky and breathe in the fresh air, neither of which was available down in these dank corridors.
Still, as a loyal Royal Guard it was not his place to complain. Night Shift peeked through the barred door to make sure his charge was still there. It still was—a stone statue depicting a creature that was such a jumbled up mess of animals that it was eerie to all who looked upon it, even those that were technically a fusion of multiple beasts themselves. Night Shift found that the statue's current look of terror made it a bit less unnerving than the dramatic smile from before.
Night Shift turned to make the rounds one more time, but stopped when an unfamiliar sound reached his ears. No, that wasn't true. He knew the sound, it just didn't belong here and now. It was the sound of hoofsteps upon the stone floor. “Halt!” he shouted. “If you turn around and go back now, you won't be arrested. This is your one warning!” The intruder turned a corner, yet stayed in the shadows so Night Shift could not see him or her clearly. “I did warn you,” he declared as his horn powered up with his own unique orange glow.
Night Shift's screams echoed throughout the lower levels of the dungeon.
A Storm of Chaos
A Dr. Whooves Adventure
By Shotoman with collaboration from CommacazyFreak.
The Doctor is In
In his modest shop in the middle of the small burg of Ponyville—literally the epicenter, in point of fact—the Doctor paced behind his desk, grumbling under his breath. His short brown tail flicked in agitation as he checked one of the many, many clocks which all but completely covered his walls. “Bored bored bored bored bored,” he muttered under his breath, absently turning over the hourglass—the one that matched his cutie mark—which he kept on the desk. “Bored bored boring bored bored. There's nothing of any significance whatsoever happening today! When will that mare get done with her rounds so we can go see something interesting?”
The tingling of the bell as his front door opened caused the stallion to stop pacing, and he smiled a genuine smile as one of his favorite mares stepped into the shop. She was, after all, a personal student to Princess Celestia herself, Bearer of the Element of Magic, and a mare who would grow to be one of the most important ponies in modern Equestrian history. “Why, Miss Sparkle, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company this afternoon?”
Twilight Sparkle smiled as she levitated the remains of a small, wooden counter-top clock. “One of Pinkie's parties, what else?” she said with a somewhat exasperated grin on her face. “Do you think you can fix it, Mr. Whooves?”
“It's Doctor, thank you, Miss Sparkle. Just... the Doctor,” the stallion corrected absentmindedly, fruitless though the effort was. Where did the name Whooves come from, anyway? The Doctor studied the broken wood and gears before him. “Well, this is going to be a bit of a job," the Doctor said as he narrowed his eyes and poked the former clock with a small jeweler's tool. "Well by a bit of a job I mean a major job." He ran a hoof through his already messy mane and winced a bit at Twilight's mildly concerned look. "Well... come back in a week.”
Twilight Sparkle smiled. “You'll really have it fixed?”
“As sure as I'm standing here. Cross my, er, heart." The Doctor grinned awkwardly.
“Oh, thank you so much!”
The Doctor waved a hoof. “Think nothing of it. Miss Pinkie Pie almost single hoofedly keeps me in business, after all.”
Twilight smirked wryly as she rolled her eyes. “You and about three other furniture repair shops in town. Thank you again Dr. Whooves. I'll have your payment when I return.”
“Of course, of course,” he replied with a smile as she exited the premises. She was always smart as a whip, that Twilight Sparkle, and her wit could be just as cutting. He'd been tempted more than once to invite her to go traveling with him, but always reminded himself that she more than most needed to grow up on her own, with a bare minimum of wibbly-wobbly interference.
With his customer safely away, the Doctor took the remains of the clock with him to the back room of his shop. There, sitting against the back wall was what appeared to be a wooden blue barn, though considerably smaller. Humming to himself, the Doctor retrieved the key hidden among the knick-knacks and scattered tools and unlocked the blue paneled door.
The inside of the little barn was like another world. Certainly the room was larger than it had any right to be, and a hallway led further inside, indicating that the place was even larger. In the center of the room was a circular control panel of some sort, with a crystalline spire attaching its center to the ceiling. Apart from the usual array of buttons and switches one would expect from such a piece of hardware was also such oddities as a typewriter, a ketchup and mustard dispenser, a bicycle bell, and a whack-a-mole.
"Hello, dear," The Doctor said happily before putting on the brown trench coat, which was just a shade darker than his own chestnut hue, that had been haphazardly thrown over the overstuffed red couch. He smiled at the pleasant feelings that the TARDIS sent into the back of his brain by way of greeting. From one of the coat's pockets he withdrew his coveted sonic screwdriver, and aimed the wand-like tool at the wreckage. With some muttered words sneaking into his humming, the Doctor set about the rather mundane yet surprisingly fulfilling job of fixing a clock. The inner workings were actually not going to be much of a problem. He'd be able to fix them rather easily and probably only with the screwdriver. It was the wooden paneling that was going to be an issue. The screwdriver didn't do wood. He needed a replacement. A quick scan of the casing with a little cross referencing thrown in, and the Doctor decided that a quick run to Raxxus XII would be able to get him exactly the kind of wood he needed. Or he could just go to the original clockmaker in Manehatten, but where was the fun in that?
The Doctor was surprised out of his work by the proximity alarm. From the center pillar the Doctor pulled a flat screen monitor down to eye level, and smiled when he saw the pony pictured on it. She was certainly older than when he'd last seen her—some gray was sneaking in through her slightly curled red mane, but her scroll and quill cutie mark was still clear as day upon her cream coat. It was with much enthusiasm that the Doctor charged out the door to meet his old friend.
“Wordsmith! What are you doing here?” The Doctor asked in delighted surprise as he entered the showroom.
The aging earth pony smiled warmly in return. “I could ask you the same question, Doctor. A clock repair shop in Ponyville? And you've regenerated I see.”
The Doctor gave Wordsmith the kind of hug one reserved for old friends. “About half a dozen times since we met last. You look great!”
Wordsmith shook her head. “I got old.”
“Aw, don't say that. You look amazing. Seriously.”
The reunion was interrupted by a happy, almost boyish voice. “Hey, Doctor! I'm done for today! And I brought us some muffins!”
The local mail mare, one Derpy Hooves, bounded into the shop in a gray blur, her misaligned eyes darting every which way as she laughed with all the bubbly energy her cutie mark implied. Wordsmith smirked slightly at the enthusiastic pegasus' entry. “Doctor, who's your friend?”
The gray mare enthusiastically shook the older mare's hoof. “Hiya! My name's Derpy! What's yours?”
“Wordsmith,” the red maned pony replied. “Doctor...”
The Doctor stepped in with a nervous chuckle. “Derpy, Wordsmith here is one of my, ah, former travel companions.”
Derpy's unfocused eyes widened in excitement. “Oh, oh! You used to travel with the Doctor, too? You've gotta tell me about some of your adventures! Did you meet Daleks? How about Cyberponies? Ooh, ooh! How about gas mask zombies? I met those, once!”
Wordsmith smiled in spite of herself. “So, Miss Derpy, I take it you are the Doctor's current companion?”
The Doctor interjected. “I actually don't really know what I would call Derpy to be honest.” Wordsmith raised an eyebrow quizzically, and Derpy's serene expression never wavered. “She does accompany me on my travels, but I've only been on something like two journeys within the last month. Derpy here insists on returning to Ponyville so she can maintain her job as the local mail mare. There's a lot of intriguing things that happen here, actually. Last year's Winter Wrap Up was a most interesting experience, thanks to Miss Twilight Sparkle. It ended up being a most historically important day.”
Wordsmith laughed. “Doctor, you've gone domestic!”
“What? I have not!”
“You did! You totally did!”
“No no no no no! I don't do domestic!”
“Then what would you call it?” Wordsmith asked while smirking doubtfully.
The Doctor stumbled over that question. “Ah, well... A rest stop. I'll have you know Ponyville is a major historical nexus point. Keeping the TARDIS in the back room is how I keep the old girl powered up these days.”
Wordsmith chuckled and tapped Derpy playfully on the shoulder. “Whatever it is you're doing, you just keep right on doing it.”
“Yes Ma'am!” Derpy responded with a salute and an oblivious smile.
The Doctor cleared his throat irritatedly. “Why are you here, Wordsmith? For that matter, how did you know I was here?”
Wordsmith became all business, her brown eyes narrowing slightly. “That is something we need to discuss privately.”
The Doctor nodded and led the two mares back to the TARDIS. Once the door was safely closed behind them, Wordsmith got down to business. “I was actually sent here to find you by Princess Celestia.”
“Little Celestia sent you?”
Derpy laughed. “'Little Celestia?'”
“Well, yes. I've known her since she was a filly, after all.”
The gray mare gasped. “Celestia was once a filly!?”
“Well of course she was. What sort of question is that? 'Was Celestia a filly?'” The Doctor turned his attention back to his former companion. “Why did Little Celestia send you? She usually knows not to interfere with me.”
Wordsmith became completely serious. “Discord's statue is missing.”
A loud crash interrupted the conversation, when Derpy fell over, knocking over one of the pillars that surrounded the TARDIS control console. “Well, that is bad,” the Doctor agreed. “But why send for me? This is an Element of Harmony problem, not a Time Charger problem.”
“The Princess assured me she's preparing the Elements as we speak, but there are a few inconsistencies that point to someone or something else being behind this. Not Discord.”
The Doctor's interest was now piqued. “What sort of inconsistencies?”
“First of all, the statue's been missing for over twelve hours. Have you noticed anything strange today?”
The Doctor scratched his chin in thought. “No. Nothing at all. In fact, today's been rather...” His eyes widened slightly. “...Boring.”
Wordsmith nodded. "Exactly. No cotton candy clouds. No soapy roads. Nothing." She reached into her saddlebag and produced a small box, which she placed on a blank spot of the console. “There's one other thing. This was found on the scene.”
The Doctor opened the box and reeled back in surprise. “Oh, bollocks,” he swore. Inside the box was what appeared at first glance to be a small doll of a pony. It was a white unicorn wearing the armor of the Royal Guard. The Doctor knew better, however. It wasn't a pony doll in the box. It was a pony corpse.