Bon-Bon’s hair bobbed up and down as Lyra stroked it. The unconscious mare looked so cute asleep. At least Lyra thought so. Well, she would have if she wasn’t worried out of her skull as to what could be happening. Both mares were in the hospital room. Twilight was kind enough to teleport the four of them there. The medical doctors had taken a look already, but were unable to reach a concluded diagnosis. A missing cutie mark? Unheard of!
In the corner, the aforementioned purple unicorn sat in a chair looking through a stack of medical books. While it was true she didn’t have a PhD in medical studies, she did know quite a bit on pony anatomy, so she had decided she would offer help. She also wanted to know what in the world was going on. She had never seen anything like this and was curious to find out. She flipped her page.
Meanwhile, the Doctor continued to use his screwdriver to scan Bon-Bon. He was slightly less confused than the other two, but confused nonetheless. He was hoping he could figure this one out quicker than usual. Lyra blushed as he passed his tool over Bon-Bon’s flank.
“Okay….” He observed his screwdriver, “Well, now. That’s interesting.”
Twilight immediately perked up at this. Lyra’s attention was also raised from the cream coloured flank. Both mares looked toward the Doctor.
“What is it?” Twilight got up and walked over to the bed where their patient lay.
“I’m getting a faint reading of something… odd.” The Doctor said.
“How… odd is it?” Lyra asked slowly.
The Doctor turned to look at Lyra said, “Alien odd.” He smiled. Lyra looked confused.
Twilight sighed. She didn’t need this. “Doctor, I find it hard to believe that aliens are the cause of someone being sick and their cutie mark missing.” Her hair began to twinge out of place.
The Doctor just calmly put away his sonic screwdriver and asked, “And why is it so hard to believe, pray tell?”
“Because, Doctor, even if aliens, existed, which I’m not saying they do, there are literally billions of planets to choose from. Why would they choose here? On top of that, how would they travel all the way here, for billions of light-years, and find us exactly in Ponyville, hm? Even if other intelligent beings existed, they would most certainly be much too far away.” Twilight smirked, feeling confident in her observations.
The Doctor chuckled again. “They may be closer than you think…”
Twilight just groaned and shook her head. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her thoughts. Ponies’ magic. Pony magic… Hm… Suddenly, her eyes shot open. She had idea.
She pushed the Doctor out of the way and sat on the bed next to Bon-Bon. Her horn glowed a dull purple as she placed it on Bon-Bon’s forehead. For a while, no one said anything. A thick silence fell upon the room as Twilight concentrated. Slowly, but surely, Bon-Bon’s eyes began to mysteriously open. She started back at Twilight with dark pupil-less eyes. Twilight only stared harder. Something more was happening.
Finally, she released her trance on earth pony and let her fall back unconscious again.
Lyra was the first to speak. “W-what was that?”
Twilight slowed her breathing and regained herself. “I was checking her internal magic. All ponies have magic in them, but in most of them it lies dormant. Only unicorns can channel theirs through their horn.” She motioned toward her own horn, “It’s also what gives a pony their cutie mark. Only Bon-Bon’s…”
“It’s like, it’s being drained.” The Doctor finished for her in a serious tone.
Twilight silently nodded. She didn’t want to say it, but this guy was pretty clever. Maybe even as clever as she was.
Lyra spoke quietly. “So… that is why Bonny’s so… sick?”
Twilight nodded. “Pony magic is necessary for all ponies. Her health will continue to decline as her magic does.”
“What… what will happen to her? What happens if all her magic gets drained?” Lyra said with worry in her eyes. If something was going to happen to Bon-Bon, she had to know.
The Doctor and Twilight looked at each other, unsure what to say. They both had no idea what would happen; nothing like this had ever happened before. Ponies weren’t supposed to lose magic!
Finally, the Doctor took a breath and said, “Lyra, I promise I will not let that happen. We will find the answer and save Bon-Bon. You have my word. Lyra looked into his eyes, and felt a relive wash over her s though he really could save her Bonny.
The time rolled by as the Doctor and Twilight continued to ask Lyra if anything had been amiss recently. Lyra continued to deny that anything was wrong, except for one thing:
“Well… for the past few hours leading up to… this, Bon-Bon’s chocolate had been… oh I dare not say it. She would hate me for it.” Lyra blushed and looked away. Both the Doctor and Twilight looked at each other.
The Doctor leaned in close. “Lyra.” he spoke quietly, “If there’s anything that could help us help both you and Bon-Bon, we need you to tell us.” He put his hoof on hers. She looked back up into his eyes, his calming blue eyes. A familiar feeling swept through her. Suddenly, she felt as though she could trust this colt with her life. She breathed deeply.
“Well, the chocolates had been… shall we say, not up to par with her usual work. She kept messing up the sugar to cocoa ratio, she forgot the milk in the milk chocolates, it was just trouble…” Lyra smiled slightly. It had been a hectic day. Then she frowned, “It was almost like….”
“She was losing her talent for making chocolates.” The Doctor, for the second time, finished a sentence for a mare he had only just met today. He was on a roll.
Lyra nodded silently.
Stranger and stranger, Twilight thought. She stepped over to the Doctor. “If you’ll excuse us, I need to talk to him.” She dragged the Doctor over to her chair of books, out of Lyra’s earshot. The green unicorn went back to looking at Bon-Bon’s blank flank and frowning.
“Okay, let’s go over what we know: 1. Somepony made a science-based monster to attack me, 2. Bon-Bon’s magic is being drained by… something that is making her ill.”
“And 3, I still think it something alien.” the Doctor interrupted Twilight. Twilight just looked at him with a clearly not amused face. He was about to continue, but Twilight stopped him.
“Doctor, please. I don’t think it’s ‘space ponies’ or ‘cyberponies’ or whatever kind of ‘aliens’ you think are trying to steal ponies’ magic.”
“Well, now I don’t think Cyberponies would be the ones behind it, they would just take people away or kill them. They would have no use for magic…” The Doctor rambled on about why and how Cyberponies would think that magic is inferior to technology.
Twilight groaned loudly. Is this really how she sounded when she went off on a tangent? Now she knew why everypony would shut her up. She walked away for some space in order to collect herself. She had had enough of this ‘alien’ business; that she got enough of at home with Spike.
Twilight’s eyes grew wide as the realization dawned on her. While she all mixed up in this missing cutie mark madness, she had completely forgotten about her little dragon assistant! He was left all alone by himself in the library for the most of the day! She didn’t even tell him where she was going. What time was it now? She turned around frantically to the wall clock.
She was going to be in trouble.
Twilight turned around to the Doctor, who had stopped talking and was now looking at her.
“Well, Lyra.” Twilight walked up to the sitting unicorn, “I would love to stay and help, but it’s getting late, and I really need to get home. I’m sorry we haven’t figured it out yet. I promise I will try to figure this out and help both you and Bon-Bon.”
Lyra smiled. “I understand. Thank you.” Lyra gave her a hug.
As Twilight left she added, “And both of you, please, don’t tell anyone. Ponies would panic if they though a ‘cutie mark fever’ had spread.” Both ponies sat in though as the clip clop of Twilight’s hooves faded down the hallway.
Shortly after Twilight had left the Doctor and Lyra at the hospital, he had decided that he should leave as well. He had been getting nowhere, and had other things he could do. That, and the chair he was sitting in was becoming unbearably uncomfortable. He rose to stretch. He bid Lyra and Bon-Bon the best, said farewell, and left in the opposite direction Twilight had exited previously.
As he walked down the empty hospital hallway, he took a moment to observe his surroundings. The hospital was nothing too spectacular, nothing like New New Ponyville in the year 5 million. They had little a shop. The Doctor liked little shops. This hospital had the usual: white walls, tiled floors, some decorative plants. A decent place. As he passed by some of the rooms, however, he noticed something else. He stopped.
He walked up to one of the doors. Peeking into the white room, he saw nothing out of the ordinary: a neatly made bed with green sheets, a window, and some plants, along with regular hospital room equipment. A normal hospital room. Not too shabby, but nothing too special. He immediately, rushed over to another room. Same thing: bed, window, plant. Same with the next room. And the next one. And the next one!
The last room he popped into was the first room he entered: Bon-Bon’s. Lyra looked up in surprise at her visitor. She smiled weakly. “Oh, hello, Doctor.” she greeted him as he stayed in the open doorway.
“Hello again…” he looked back into the hallway, “Um… is this the only hospital in Ponyville?”
Slowly, Lyra answered, “Yes… This is the only one…” She looked at him curiously, “Why? What is it?” The Doctor furrowed his brow and ran out in to hall. Curious to the Doctor’s antics, Lyra followed. “Doctor! What is it? What’s wrong?”
The Doctor ran back and forth between the rooms on either side of the hall as Lyra watched curiously. He stopped and looked round in a circle. Finally, he spoke. “If this is the only hospital within a growing community of oh, let’s say… 1000 ponies…” he turned back to her, “where are all the patients?”
Lyra, disbelieving him, checked the rooms the Doctor had. Just as he said, they were all empty.
Twilight sighed as she entered the large tree that served as the public library, as well as her home. When she first moved into Ponyville, she was skeptical about living inside of a tree. The potential termite problems, cleaning up all the leaves, the gross sticky sap. Now, the idea of living in a library, she was open to. Eventually, she settled into the organic rustic feel of the old wooden thing, and loved it ever since.
As she walked deeper into the library, she smelled something good emanating from the kitchen. She recognized the scent of alfalfa and dandelions salad, alongside carrot stew and gemstone… something. Spike has gone to a lot of trouble to prepare this. She thought as she turned the corner.
Twilight smiled as she entered the kitchen. She had been 100% spot on. The table held a meal consisting of carrot stew, alfalfa and dandelion salad on the side, and gemstone meatloaf, all being set by one purple and green dragon, who had just placed the bowl of stew on the table and was now smiling at Twilight.
“Hey, Twilight. There you are.” He said as he jumped down from the chair. “I came home and you were nowhere. I was starting to get worried when I didn’t find a note or anything.”
Twilight smiled awkwardly. “Yeah…. Listen, I’m really sorry I just left you like that. I completely forgot you would be home all alone. I just got caught up in this thing and…” She frowned slightly, “Well, anyway…. Can you forgive me?”
Spike just smirked at her and walked up to her. “Aw, forgot about it,” he playfully punched her arm, “I knew you must have had important stuff to do.” He motioned to the table, “I’ve made dinner, why don’t you tell me all about it?”
Nurse Redheart sighed as she continued to push her cart of medications for the patients. Well, what patients were left, anyways. The only people checked in the hospital were the coma patients, terminally ill patients and one mare. For the last couple of weeks, fewer and fewer ponies had checked into the hospital. That was good, at least for everypony else. Healthy ponies are what everypony wanted, right? Wrong. See, while it was great that nopony was getting sick or injured seriously, it was also bad. Bad for business. When doctor, nurses and pediatricians have nopony to look after, what do they do? All their years of training are wasted away. There were already talks of cut backs and “pink slips” going around.
Redheart had always been a hardworking, kind nurse. Everypony knew her. They always knew her as the nurse in the clinic who was happy to help. Oh, how she wished to be back in her golden days. Helping ponies and curing illnesses. Wait… was she wishing ill tidings on others? No… she just wanted to be able to help. With nopony to help, she may lose her job. She didn’t want to hurt anyone…
As Nurse Redheart pondered this, she did not notice the two ponies rush up to her. “Nurse. Nurse…? NURSE!”
She snapped out of her deep thought and returned to the real world. She perked up at the chance to help somebody. “Huh? Oh, can I help you?” She smiled brightly.
The tan earth pony asked, “Yes! Well, you see, my friend and I couldn’t help noticing that most of these rooms are empty and we were just wondering... uh, where are all the patients?”
Redheart’s smiled deflated almost as fast as Pinkie Pie’s at the mention of the reason of her depression. She sighed, “Oh. Yeah… That.” She talked as she continued to push the cart. “Well, it started about two weeks ago. You remember that new drug that came out?”
The Doctor smiled firmly and nodded. “No.” he said quickly, shaking his head.
She just rolled her eyes. “Well, a few weeks ago there opened up this new pharmacy just down the road. They weren’t anything to special until they announced this new medicine: ‘Salvation’. Claimed it would be able to cure anything. I didn’t believe ‘em…”
Lyra suddenly spoke up. “Oh yeah! I remember me and Bonny checking that place out. The people there seemed a little weird, but nice nonetheless.”
Redheart nodded, “Yes, well, anyway, that new medicine, it actually worked!”
The Doctor was immediately intrigued. “Really. A drug that can cure anything?” he said skeptically. Could it be connected to the missing magic somehow?
“Yes, I know! I couldn’t believe it either, at first. Then less and less people starting checking in; all going to that place to buy ‘Salvation’. No one knows how it works or what’s in it. It just works.” Nurse Redheart said with a heavy heart, “Pretty soon, there’ll be no need for a hospital anymore.” And with that, she solemnly strode off to finish her duties and punch out. Perhaps, for the last time.
The Doctor and Lyra just stood in silence, reflecting on this new information. Lyra slowly turned away from him. “I… I remember getting some of that stuff for Bon-Bon, back when she had the flu. Many ponies were there for the same reason, but the pharmacy always seemed to have plenty. When I gave it to her, she was better the next day. I thought Salvation was great. Never thought it'd be so powerful as to put a hospital out of business."
Lyra back at him, confused.
"Or at least, it shouldn't. It's not just illnesses that bring people to hospitals. Pregancies, accidents, serious injuries, lots of things. Where are they?" he began to pace himself around her.
Lyra shrugged. "Ponyville doesn't have a large crime rate, and recently, not many accidents have occured. As for pregancies... you got me."
"First, a miracle drug comes out that cures anything. Release it during the flu season; hundreds of ponies taking it. Mass ditribution.” He turned back to her. “Second, all of a sudden, ponies are more careful and nicer to each other. No need for a hospital." He began to walk past her, "Lyra?"
"This just got a lot more interesting… ” he added with a smile.
“Wow… that does sound serious…” Spike said solemnly as he poked at his food. Hearing about Bon-Bon’s condition suddenly made him not so hungry anymore.
Twilight had just spent Spike telling her all about what her day was like, starting from the noise in the basement, all the way to the hospital, and everything in between. Spike liked the parts about the parasprite and the Doctor. He sounded cool! He got worried around the part with Lyra and Bon-Bon, and was now thinking about what could be happening.
“Now, Spike, remember, you absolutely MUST NOT tell anyone. Pinkie Pie Promise?”
Spike raised his hand, “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my…“ He stopped. His claw stopped just in front of his eye. He heard about when Twilight had done something similar. He wanted to avoid anything like that like the plague.
Twilight giggled as he lowered his hand. Then she serious’d the buck up. “Good. If word got out that ponies magic is being stolen, panic and fear would spread like wildfire.”
Spike nodded. “I just hope no one else has gotten their cutie mark stolen…”
Before anything else could be said betwixt the two, a loud bang interrupted them. It sounded like it came from the front door being slammed open in a rush.
“Hello? Twilight!? Rainbow Dash needs help! Please!” It was Fluttershy!
Twilight rushed over to the front door and into an expected sight: Fluttershy, cold and tired, with an unconscious Rainbow Dash on her back. She didn’t need to look to know that her cutie mark was missing too.
Spike gasped as he entered the scene of Fluttershy lowering an unconscious Rainbow Dash to Twilight, before collapsing herself. “Are they okay?” he worried about the second best pony. His question was met with silence. He worried looked from Dash, to Fluttershy, to Twilight. “Twilight, what’s happening?”
Twilight frowned with look of worry, “I don’t know, Spike.” She walked over to heavily breathing Fluttershy, who had placed a soft yellow wing over the cyan Pegasus. She obviously had run the entire way here, unable to fly with Rainbow on her back. Twilight’s face changed from one of sadness, to one of determination. “Spike, make some coffee.” The dragon assistant saluted and then ran off to the kitchen.
“We’re gonna figure this bucking thing out.”