Tyler sighs and reaches up and grabs the Hex headset, pulling it off of his head.
“Hey mom...” He says before looking around.
He had almost suspected someone else had turned the headset off to greet him, but no surprise, no one was home.
He reaches up and scratched his head, and glances at the Hex headset. He shakes his head and stands up before heading downstairs to the kitchen, checking the wall clock in the living room on his way down.
Little hand on the six, big hand two ticks away from twelve.
He’d been in the game for eight hours. Was it really that long? Probably, it was very exciting and eventful for an intro sequence. And it felt like he’d gotten a full night’s sleep too. Playing a game that only utilized your brain probably helped him in that regard.
He shrugs it off and heads into the kitchen, making himself a bowl of cereal for breakfast.
After making himself the bowl, the doorbell suddenly goes off, its chime echoing around the house.
He looks up, wondering who would be here this early, but heads to the door.
“Coming!” he calls out, before peering into the peephole.
It was Sky, standing in the doorway, still in purple pajamas. She had dark skin, and long black hair that went down to her mid back. A pair of black-framed glasses adorned her gray eyes. She was wearing a large rucksack on her back, that looked almost difficult to carry.
She also looked ill, as if she could puke at any moment, and slowly rubbed her neck.
Tyler pauses a moment, then grabs the door handle and pulls it open.
“You must be crazy to willingly get up this early.” He tells her.
She looks up at him.
“Hehe… yeah…” she says, looking disconnected. She gives him a half-hearted smile.
“Can I come in?” She asks cautiously.
“Uh, sure, I guess. There’s probably nobody else here right now anyway.” Tyler replies before taking a step back to let her in, holding the door open for her.
She steps in, and dumps the sack on a ground, the many books she borrowed from Tyler spilling out onto the ground. She walks in only a few meters before coming to a stop.
“Tyler…” She mumbles. “Tyler, Tyler, Tyler…” She mutters repeatedly, before turning around suddenly and looking his way.
“Neydra…” Sky mutters, before meeting his eyes. “Neydra, that’s you, isn’t it?”
Tears starts to form in her eyes, and Tyler finds himself feeling concerned and uncomfortable.
“Um, yeah, that’s me… How’d you know? I thought you couldn’t play the game?”
She nods lightly, pausing.
She starts to say something, but stops, and then puts a hand to her chest. “I’m afraid I might have dragged you into a nightmare, Tyler…” She starts to walk over to him, unbuttoning the shirt of her PJs.
Tyler blinks, and then covers his eyes, turning away. “Whoa whoa! What the hell are you doing? What are you talking about?”
“Look at me!” She snaps, her voice distorted as she nearly chokes on tears.
Tyler pauses a moment, before sighing and slowly turning toward her, uncovering his eyes as he did.
He was relieved that it wasn’t an entirely awkward display. She hadn’t pulled her shirt apart enough to reveal anything. But it was enough to reveal the tattoo just above her bosom. It was a purple stars, surrounded by other smaller ones. The exact same one that was upon Twilight Sparkle’s flank.
Tyler pauses a moment, before shaking his head. “Um, that’s interesting… Are you… okay? You’re crying.”
“No… No, I’m not okay in the least…” She says before dropping to her knees, , hugging herself tightly.
She shakes and shivers, constantly shaking her head.
Tyler stares at her for a moment, as it dawns on him. He slowly looks around, then back at her. He hesitates for a moment, before dropping to his knees and moving over, pulling her into a hug.
She hugs him back tightly, sobbing into his shoulder, practically wailing.
Tyler lets his mind wander as he lets Sky sob and hiccup into his shoulder.
The pain of the torture and torment. The realistic feeling of it all. The tattoo she had, the way she was reacting.
“Sky…” He begins carefully. “That wasn’t a video game intro sequence, was it?”
She gently shakes her head into his shoulder.
Tyler nods, staying quiet as he holds her in the hug for a little while longer. After a few moments, he finally pulls away, and places his hands on her shoulders.
“I’m going to go get you some hot cocoa, and then we can sit down and properly talk about this. You’re going to tell me exactly what’s going on. Got it?”
She lets out a sniff and nods. She refused to look up, staying quiet.
He nods and holds a hand out to Sky. She takes his hand, and he helps her up, leading her to the couch and sitting her down on it before heading into the kitchen, thinking and wondering while he makes her the hot chocolate.
Could it really be true. Was she Twilight Sparkle?
He returns to the living room, happy to see she had buttoned up her PJs while he was gone, and holds the mug of hot cocoa out to her.
“Careful, it’s hot.” He warns, before she takes it.
Sky looks at the liquid inside, her lip quivering.
“I’m sorry…” She says quietly.
Tyler is quiet for a moment and then nods.
“It’s okay… should I take potshots here, or wait for you to explain?”
“You can ask.” she whimpers out.
“So Twilight Sparkle is your character, right?” Tyler asks. “Like Neydra is mine?”
“It’s more than that… we are the same… but it’s more along the lines of… Sky is my character, while Twilight is… was, my real body.”
Tyler nods lightly, starting to make a little more sense of this whole situation. Though it was very unnerving.
“Okay.. So what did you mean earlier, when you said you threw me into a nightmare? I’ve played horror games before, and that hardly seemed like one.”
Sky looks up, suddenly tearing up again.
“I’m never going to be able to see my friends with my own face… and they’ll never be able to see me. I’ll never get to have my own hugs again, or make friends without you being around!”
“Please explain it to me.” Tyler says suddenly, snapping a bit at Sky. “What the hell is going on?”
“It’s not a game!” Sky shouts suddenly, before shooting up out of her seat and shoving Tyler to the ground.
Tyler hits it roughly, barely catching himself before looking at Sky. He pushes himself to his feet, and then sighs softly.
“Then what exactly is it?”
She sighs as she falls backward into the couch, looking to the ground.
“It’s hard to explain. Every world has walls. Beyond them lies other worlds. You humans have opened up a few of these worlds, using your imaginations. You could only see them though. As memories, or visions, or imaginations of video games and TV shows. But us… Equestria. We figured out how to pull denizens of other worlds into our own.” she finishes.
Tyler nods, wrapping his head around everything he had just been told, before walking over to the couch and sitting down beside Sky.
“So you’ve pulled us into your world, using the technology of the Hex?”
“It’s mostly magic, actually.”
“And… you’re trying to build an army out of the players?” Tyler asks with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes… selfish, I know.”
“That’s exactly what I was about to say.”
Sky sighs quietly and starts to tear up again, pulling her knees up to her chest.
“Promise me you’ll keep playing?” She asks quietly.
“Yeah, sure.” He says with a nod. “It’s a fun game anyway.”
“It’s not a game!” Sky whines. “It’s a world, my world!”
Tyler sigh softly, and then nods.
“Okay. Fine. It’s a fun world. Will I get compensated for helping you out?”
Sky freezes up a moment, then bites her lip.
“Equestria doesn’t have anything to give. We were just going to let the players make their own lives in our world once the war was over.”
Tyler sighs and nods, before standing up, stretching a bit.
“Alright. I guess I’ll go plug in.” He says.
She quickly stands up with him, nodding slightly.
“I’ll just sleep in your bed.”
He nods and pats her shoulder as he walks past her and back upstairs. He heads into his room, powering on his computer and the Hex system, and then holds the door open for Sky as the hardware boots up.
She walks into the room, and then walks over to the bed. She practically falls into it before pulling the covers over herself, sighing softly.
Tyler sets a disconnect notice for 4 p.m. on his computer, before grabbing the headset and pulling it over his head. He lets the transition of the worlds take him once again.
Here he goes, back to Neydra’s body, who was probably her own person too, in their world.
After the white room loading screen takes shape, Neydra finds herself lying on a cold metal table, in a room that smelled strongly of iron and preservatives.
She groans, slowly and gently rolling over onto her talons and paws, and then pushes herself upright.
Her body screams from being sore, and she stretches a bit, popping her limbs that felt like they were very stiff.
That's when she noticed she had been lying on a morgue table. She was cleaned of the blood that had stained her body previously. All of her equipment was missing.
Her eyes widen and she looks around in a hurry, spotting two other covered bodies in the morgue, as well as a large steel door.
She bolts up, running over to the door and attempting to get it open, only to discover that it was locked. She sighs and backs away, holding her head in her talons.
Something suddenly shifts on one of the tables which rattling it. Neydra looks up toward it to check the source.
One of the tables was moving, swaying in place.
A light suddenly appears beside Neydra, and she looks toward it to see Twilight take form,, transparent and purple in appearance. She was looking much more dead, with fur falling off in patches, her skin dried and hugging her bones. She looks at the table, squinting.
“That isn’t my body.” she says.
“Right. Should we check it?” Neydra asks the ghostly princess.
“We should.” she says, before she vanishes, becoming a light purple shimmer.
Neydra nods before cautiously moving over to the table, then grabs the cloth covering the body and lifts it up.
Underneath was a brown stallion with a dark brown mane. He wore a collar and green tie, and his mane was a mess. He was completely devoid of injuries. What he lacked in injuries, he made up with an absolutely peculiar look. He wore a gentle smile on his muzzle, one of peace and rest.
“The clock keeper…” Mutters Twilight in her wispy voice. “But he got cut down by the gryphons.”
“But he’s fine now.” Neydra points out. “Not a mark on him.”
The stallion suddenly shoots upright, taking a huge breath of air, and bumping into Neydra’s beak as he does. Neydra stumbles back and grips her beak while the stallion starts to feel about his body. His smile was skewed into one of nervousness, like he was worried about something.
“No change, same body.” He mutters in a strangely British accent as his touches his cheeks. “Same face, nose, very wet. Same body, still lithe. How?”
He climbs off the table, as if he hadn’t been dead just a moment ago. He quickly begins to pace in a circle, muttering words that were barely comprehensible to the gryphon.
Neydra is quiet for a moment as she backs away, still rubbing her beak.
‘Who the hell are you?” she questions, the shock of a dead colt suddenly springing up from his deathbed spouting nonsense and practically dancing spirals hitting her suddenly “And how are you still alive?”
“I’m not sure actually!” The stallion chimes with sudden enthusiasm. “You look rather gaunt, are you eating correctly?”
He pulls out a strange tube, which glowed and buzzed as he held down a button and waved it around Neydra. The light that came out the end was colbalt in color.
“Erm… I actually haven’t eaten at all in this body now that I think about.” She replies, before pausing a moment. “Nothing but a lollipop.”
He pulls the device away and looks at the side of it.
“Well no wonder. You’re dead.” He gives her a very casual smile as he waits for her response.
Neydra blinks, before reaching up and scratching her head.
“But I’m not. I’m alive.”
He smiles and shakes his head.
“Nope, no pulse, very little brain activity, and very serious trauma. Very dead, if not on the verge of it.”
“Well then, how am I here?’ Neydra retorts, getting a little frustrated.
“That is certainly a good question… oh, wait a moment, I just remembered something very important!” He declares.
He taps his temple for a moment, before smiling and rushing to the locked metal door, grabbing Neydra’s talon and pulling her along as he did.
He stops in front of the door and pulls his metal tube out again, pressing it to the door. The buzz it made heightened in pitch, before the lock clicks, and he looks to a still shell-shocked Neydra.
“Shall we get going then?” He asks.
“Uh… sure…” Neydra manages to get out. “I never caught your name.”
“Soon!” He declares. “We need to get to my ship first, I have something important to do.”
He suddenly darts down the hallway, before Neydra could even get out a word, and she finds herself following him out of sheer curiosity.
“Aren’t you just a clock keeper? What are you going on about?” Neydra asks when she had finally caught up to him after he stopped in front of another metal door. He was currently working on the lock with his peculiar gizmo.
“I am!” He says around the device between his teeth. “But I’m the oddest of them all. I keep all sorts of clocks. Past, present, and future.”
He smiles as the lock clicks, and his gizmo disappears into his collar again.
“Ahh there you are!” he shouts before rushing into the room.
Neydra peaks inside, to see the stallion hugging and nuzzling a big blue police telephone box. The box seems to have been under used, and when the stallion walked up to it, wafts of dust spilled off its edges.
“Oh how I missed you!” The stallion chimes before grabbing the handle to the door and pushing it open.
“Ladies first!” he declares, looking toward Neydra.
“Twilight… thoughts?” Neydra asks herself.
“That stallion is a lunatic.” She mutters as she manifests beside Neydra again.
It seemed the stallion wasn’t even aware that the ghost was there, and kept staring at Neydra with a wide, waiting smile.
Neydra sighs for a moment before walking over, and pushing her way into the door. It was a tight fit, due to the sheer size of her gryphon body, but she spilled out into a rather spacious area that could be defined as the opposite of claustrophobic.
The room inside was large, several times larger than that of the police box. It was spherical in shape, with the rounded, curling walls covered in brown and gold plating. There were stairs and hallways that led to all kinds of separate rooms, and a staircase that led up to a raised platform with a perforated steel floor. On that platform was some kind of control hub, with all kinds of gizmos and switches adorning it. Everything seemed to revolve around a giant piston, one that moved like a heart.
Neydra looks around, her beak falling open as she glances around.
“It’s…” Neydra begins.
“Yeees?” the stallion draws out as he walks up beside Neydra.
“... smaller on the outside.”
He flicks an ear, looking a little annoyed with that answer.
“Yes, yes, I suppose it is.”
“How is it like this?” She asks, looking his way, still a little slack jawed. “Is it magic?”
His ears perk up. His disappointment visibly turns into excitement.
“Well, it’s a TARDIS, or Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. Real complicated, I know, but this room, this is its own separate reality, universe even, from everything else. And that door I opened for you, acts as the barrier. I would explain everything to you, but that would take, oh, a hundred years or so. All you need to know is that this nifty little ship can move through time and space with ease. Erm, most of the time.” He finishes.
Neydra looks his way, tilting her head at him, trying to process all of this the best she could.
“So why are we here?” she finally decides to ask.
“Yes, yes. You and I have a very important mission that we need to undergo!” he hums before skipping up the stairs and hitting a button on the console.
‘Oh yes! We should introduce ourselves!’ He says as Neydra joins him on the platform.
She’s cautious at first, before taking his hoof and shaking it.
“Neydra.” She says.
He smiles and pulls his hoof away, grabbing a lever labelled ‘stabilizer.’
“And I am- The Doctor!” He yells, before yanking the lever down.
The ship suddenly lurches, sending Neydra to the ground, and almost off of the platform.
The ship lurches violently as the Doctor starts to laugh and move about the console, pulling and pushing various buttons and switches.
“Oh it’s been so long!” The Doctor says in a merry voice while Neydra pushes herself to her talons and paws. “But now it’s time for the rough part.”
“The what now?” Neydra mutters as she looks his way. “What are you about to do?”
He yanks a lever downward, and Neydra is momentarily weightless, hovering for a moment in the air before suddenly being thrown off of the platform.
The Doctor whoops excitedly, while Neydra tumbles through the air. She spreads her wings reflexively, barely pushing herself through the air with a powerful flap in time to keep from hitting the ground too roughly.
She rolls a bit, before managing to get herself upright and climbing back up the stairs, carefully.
There was a loud mechanical hum as she made her way up, then a booming thump as she finally made it to the top.
She sighs and makes her way over to The Doctor, then spins him around and punches him in the nose.
He stumbles to the ground, holding his nose while Neydra shakes her talons.
Twilight manifests beside Neydra, looking a little angry, which put a red tint to her spectral form.
“Neydra! What are you doing?”
“Punching him for hurting me.” She says simply. “Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to kill him or anything.”
“Well that was interesting. Thankfully it wasn’t too rough of a landing.” The Doctor laughs heartily, then jumps up and heads for the door.
“We have work to do. Allons-y!” He cheers before darting out.
Neydra starts to follow him, but then turns to Twilight, who looked like she had calmed down.
“I have a question for you princess.” Neydra inquires. “This gem inside of me. What's it all about?”
“It’s called an Element of Harmony. More specifically, the Element of Magic. I’m not sure where Blacktalon found it, but he tried to get rid of it, along with you and I.”
Twilight slowly reaches out, putting her hoof inside of Neydra and touching the gem embedded into her heart.
“It was once used to vanquish evil, along with five other Elements. But now, my soul is trapped within it, making it nothing more than a vessel. It’s drawing out all of my remaining magic to keep you alive.”
Neydra rubs her head, but then nods in understanding.
“We should catch up with The Doctor.”
Twilight nods, and then gives a soft, light smile, which causes her to glow a light yellow.
“Neydra… Tyler. I know you have absolutely no reason to care about helping us. Other than me asking. That’s why I appreciate you doing this for us. We will always appreciate what you do for Equestria. And we will do it together.”
She lets the smile linger for a moment, before fading away again.
“Are you quite alright there?” The Doctor’s voice calls from the doorway.
Neydra looks up, then his way before giving a light nod and walking over.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Where are we going?”
“Outside.” He replied vaguely.
“We have business to handle. It won’t be long until the attack begins.”
He opens the door and darts outside, and Neydra follows behind him, a little cautiously.
The outside was revealed to be a large castle, not unsimilar from that of the previous crystal castle she had been inside. Except most everything was decorated from dark black or gray quartz instead of brightly colored crystals. The hallway was incredibly dark, only lit by a few glowing red crystals that were made to look like torches.
“What are we doing here?” She asks as she gawks at the inside of the castle. “What attack are you talking about?”
“We need to retrieve some scrolls. Before they get destroyed in the attack is preferred.” He says, looking her way. “You are a gryphon, so you should be able to sniff them out for me, yes?” He asks hopefully.
“Um… I can spot them, but tracking isn’t exactly my forte.” Neydra says, pointing to the small nostrils on her beak.
“Then your eyes will do perfectly fine! Come along now!” He shouts, before marching down the hall.
Twilight appears beside Neydra again, looking around not in awe, but in fear.
Neydra pauses a moment, looking to Twilight.
“What’s wrong?” She asks.
“This isn’t right…” She mutters, “This is the Crystal Castle, all the way in the Crystal Empire. But it shouldn’t look like this. There’s only been one invasion of this castle, but that was years ago.”
She shakes her head, thinking to herself for a moment.
“Time travel is impossible without magic. There is no way this could be what I think it is…”
“What do you think this is?” Neydra inquires.
“Just an illusion. The Clock Keeper made some kind of magic emitting device that crafts illusions, nothing more.”
Twilight looks around, before looking over Neydra’s shoulder, toward The Doctor.
Neydra looks over her shoulder as well.
“You talk to yourself an awful lot. More than I do.” he says.
“Right…” Neydra clears her throat. “So where are we going?”
‘We need to get to the library.” The Doctor says as he spins around. “I’m thinking the scroll is more than likely in there.”
He walks for a bit, then comes to a sudden stop, his ears perking up.
Neydra stops beside him, looking at him. She flicks his ear.
“Hide.” The Doctor suddenly whispers, before lunging behind a pillar.
Neydra blinks then panics. She spreads her wings and then lunges upward, flapping and gaining enough air to perch on one of the many arches that decorated the ceiling. She lies low, out of sight, as a large stallion walked into view.
He was tall and bulky , with dark gray fur and long flowing black locks. He wore chainmail armor underneath his royal red cape, and wore a gold crown upon his head. His horn was long and curved, and the tip was bright red like heated iron.
He walks forward for a bit, before stopping. He gives the air a sniff, before a grin spreads across his face.
‘Seems I’ll be having visitors.” he says, his voice booming around the walls unnaturally.
Neydra finds herself trying to become as small as possible. She curls into herself, folding her wings tightly to her side.
His grin disappears down to a small smirk, and he continues down the hall, exiting when he arrived at the far side.
Neydra looks down the The Doctor, who mouths an all clear.
She sighs quietly and nods, hopping off of the arc and gliding down to the ground.
“Sombra…” Twilight’s voice whispers within Neydra, “That shouldn’t be possible… Sombra was defeated twice…”
Neydra glances down to her chest, then looks to The Doctor.
“Who was that?”
“The lord of Darkness, Fear and Hatred; Bearer of Black Stone; Bringer of Nightmares and Chains; Collector of the Jewels; Ruler of the Crystal Empire. King Sombra.” He spouts without taking a breath.
“Well… he certainly has a lot of titles.” Neydra replies.
“He’s done a lot in his lifetime.” The Doctor says as he continues moving down the hall, not running so he doesn’t make too much noise. “It’s a good idea to stay out of his way. The Fight for the Crystal Empire and its disappearance are both fixed points in time. And if he finds us, he’ll likely try to play hoofball with our heads.”
Neydra nods as she follows him quietly, following him down the hall to the library.
Whenever the duo stepped in, they were greeted by an absolutely empty room.
Twilight shudders as they enter, which sends a cold chill down Neydra’s own spine.
“Who would empty out a perfectly good library?” he voice echoes within Neydra.
“Where are all of the books?” The Doctor asks aloud and then pulls out his gizmo from his tie. He waves and buzzes it about the room before looking at the side of it.
“Well? Anything?” Neydra asks.
“Take flight. Look for any scrolls on the shelves. There has to be some place they’re being held.”
The Doctor starts trotting about the floor, checking the bottom shelves. Neydra spreads her wings and gives a few flaps as she starts to fly about the rooms, searching the higher up shelves. She’d gotten a little used to flying now. She actually found it rather natural.
She didn’t find anything, which causes Twilight to send more shivers down Neydra’s spine.
‘This doesn’t make any sense.” She mutters within Neydra. “The Library is supposed to brun. Especially if this really is the past. The invasion of the Royal Army ends up sending the castle down in flames. The entire collection burned, but… nothing is here.”
Neydra is quiet for a moment as she studies the empty shelves.
“Unless it never burned in the first place, and was just misplaced.” She finally comes up with.
“Maybe… by whom?” Twilight replies.
Neydra flies to the doorway, peering out of it carefully.
“Maybe Sombra knows where they are?”
“He wouldn’t care.” Twilight says. “He wouldn’t worry about Equestrian culture sticking around. Seems too unlikely.”
Neydra’s eyes meet with Sombra’s. He was standing down the hall, that grin on his face again. Green wisps floated out of his eyes, like energy resonating off of him.
“Doctor, company” Neydra says as she retreats back inside.
“Door.” he says simply, to with Neydra pushes the door shut, and then grabs a few things to barricade it with.
The Doctor moves to help, when his hoof suddenly sinks into a tile on the ground, pushing it in. There was a slight rumble as a bookshelf moved out of the way.
“Perfect!” he chimes as he moves to the moving bookshelf and slips inside when there was enough room.
Neydra lands close to the bookshelf, and slips inside immediately when there was enough room for her to do so. It starts to close behind her, quietly shutting.
The Doctor was already moving down the spiral staircase inside, which was made of blue crystals and iron. The room smelled strongly of elder scrolls.
Neydra starts to descend the stairs behind The Doctor, watching them carefully, just in case one decides to give out from underneath her or the stallion.
The Doctor looks over his shoulders to Neydra, and gives her a charismatic smile.
“Now this should be easy enough. We’re looking for a scroll titled ‘Prophetic Instances and Magical Anomalies’ By Starswirl the Bearded.”
Neydra feels confusion wash over her, but not her own.
“I don’t remember that one.” Twilight mutters.
“Right, I’ll keep my eyes peeled.” Neydra says.
“Hmm.” The Doctor nods, his ear twitching a bit. “Tell me, you’ve been acting rather strange Neydra. Are you alright?”
“Huh?” Neydra tilts her head a bit, then shakes it. “I’m alright. I’m not acting any stranger than you.”
“You’re dodging the question.” He notes.
“That’s probably because I don’t want to answer it.” she retorts.
The Doctor is taken aback by the counterargument, and then turns around, looking up at Neydra. He slowly reaches out to her with a hoof, as if testing the waters.
“What are you doing?” Neydra asks him as she watches his hoof glides toward her.
His hoof brushes her cheek, and he pulls it away, looking at some dust he had wiped off. His eyes widen.
He turns back around, and continues to walk down to the base of the stairs.
Neydra follows, more than a little bewildered. He stops as they reach the base, looking down a hall, where statues of pegasi were waiting, and looked as if they had been galloping before suddenly freezing.
“Neydra, promise me something.” He says slowly.
“Erm, depends on what you’re about to ask me to do.” She says.
“Look at the chests of those statues. And whatever you do. Do. Not. Blink.” He says as he inches closer to the statues slowly.
She looks toward the statues, observing them with uncertainty before starting to move close to them at the same pace as the clock keeper. She keeps her eyes wide, though she really wanted to blink now.
They move around the statues, to which the Doctor orders Neydra to turn around and keep her eyes on them. Which she did.
Once they had gotten far enough away, almost to the end of the hall, the Doctor nods slightly and looks away.
“Blink. You’re a smart girl, and you probably want a reason.”
Neydra tilts her head, before letting herself blink.
Not only had the statues turned around in that brief frame of time, they had drawn a few meters closer, and now they looked furious.
“Okay then! Let’s get going now!” Neydra says, now willing to keep her eyes on these statues indefinitely.
He nods and turns back to face the statues again.
“As soon as we break line of sight, they’re going to follow us. I’ll keep them distracted, and you search for the scroll.” He says, slowly pulling out his device again.
“Sounds good.” Neydra says as they resume backing up. “Whenever you’re ready Doc.”
He nods and stops in place, blinking once.
Neydra immediately turns in place, bolting down the remainder of the hall.
She pushes open a door to arrive into a very cramped shelving space. It was dark and she couldn’t see a thing.
“Hold on, let me help you.” Comes the ghostly voice of Twilight as she manifests nearby, halfway inside of a bookshelf.
The gem in Neydra’s chest starts to heat up and give off a purple glow. The purple light moves down to Neydra’s claws, where it manifests.
“We should be able to cast magic. I hope.” Twilight says.
The gryphon nods, and holds up her left talon, attempting to cast a light spell. To her delight, wisps of the purple light floated off, forming into a ball of purple magic that clung to the ceiling and glowed brightly, illuminating the shelves.
Neydra smirks a bit, and then sticks her claws into the shelves, starting to rifle through them.
“Help me look.” She commands Twilight.
Neydra’s chest pulses, and the purple light shoots outward,tracing around the room and highlighting several scrolls.
“These might be it. It has the special stamp that Starswirl used to mark his works.”
Neydra nods and grabs a scroll, pulling it off the shelf before slowly pulling it open. When the first one wasn’t what she was looking for, she threw it down and grabbed a new one.
After the first half dozen, Twilight was obviously starting to get frustrated.
“No no no!” she whines out.
“Find it?’ The Doctor calls, sounding awfully close now.
“Working on it!” Neydra calls back as she grabs another from the shelf.
‘Prophetic Instances and Magical Anomalies.’
“That’s it!” Twilight shouts, before manifesting her bow again, as the Doctor comes into view, staring down the hall.
“I got it!” Neydra calls to him.
“Give it to me!” The Doctor calls, still staring straight ahead.
Neydra bolts out of the room, running over and handing him the scroll.
He grabs, letting Neydra take the watch over the statues.
‘I am about to do something very stupid!” He exclaims. “I need another scroll! Should have a little blue ribbon on it!”
Neydra nods and bolts back into the library, scouring it long and hard. She never found no such scroll.
“Neydra… The pegasi. They have it.” Twilight’s voice mutters.
Neydra’s eyes widen, and she bolts out of the library, looking at the Doctor.
“Doctor, blink.” She says, looking to the statues. “And then whatever you do, do not take your eyes off of the statues.”
He blinks, and then bares down on them, unrelenting with his eyes.
Neydra could see it now. A scroll, tucked away underneath one of their wings. They looked angry, and now that she noticed it, they were looking past the Doctor, to the library Neydra was just in. The Doctor wasn’t their goal now. The scrolls were.
She takes a deep breath, before flying over to the pegasi, landing beside the one with the scroll tucked away. She slowly reaches for the scroll, gripping it and trying to pull it out.
It slides free effortlessly. The Doctor lets out a whoop.
“Let’s go! Allons-y Neydra!”
The pair quickly move around the statues. As they back away, The Doctor pulls out his device again and points it at one of the red crystals adorning the wall. It sets ablaze and that fire starts to spread to the other crystals.
Neydra starts to pick up the pace as the fire spreads.
“Put that out!” Twilight screams from within Neydra.
Neydra nods as she realizes that this was the fire that destroyed the library.
“Doctor.” She inquires. “Can these statues actually fly?”
“If we blink, yes. But while we keep our eyes on them they still can’t move.”
“Don’t blink.” Neydra says before spreading her wings again.
She flies upward, over the statues before doing a u-turn. She heads for The Doctor, and swoops down to grab him between her talons so that he looked backward, toward the statues, while she stayed in the sky.
The Doctor yelps, surprised by the sudden movement.
“Hey! I didn’t ask for this!” He shouts as the fire was starting to spread and travel along the walls.
“Well we need to get out of here!” Neydra shouts back. “Keep your eyes on the damned statues.”
Neydra travels up the side of the staircase, shooting for the exit, the bookcase walls that she could barely see in the smoky air.
Neydra’s body slams against the bookcase at the top of the stairs that was blocking her exit.Neydra manages to slam the bookcase to the ground, and then rolls a few meters over the bookcase. She drops the Doctor as she does, and sends him rolling a few feet away.
Neydra pushes herself to her talons and paws slowly, and then shakes her body to get the smoke and soot out of her feathers and fur.
“Doctor, you alright?”
“Yep. Just broke a few ribs.” He groans out as he pushes himself to his hooves. “I’m good!”
Neydra sighs in relief, and then walks over to him.
“Good, we need to go.”
“So soon?” replies the low, all-too-familiar voice of Sombra.
The bookshelf suddenly rises, slamming shut behind Neydra.
“You just arrived. Why not stay and enjoy yourselves?”
Neydra jumps a little bit, her eyes darting around before she looks to the barricades on the door.. Shadows seemed to be leaking through them, wisps of it moving around the obstacles and slowly conglomerating in front of the barricades into something vaguely pony shaped.
“Now wait, wait!” The Doctor calls out, stumbling over to the dark figure. “We’re your guests! Why don’t we just sit down to some tea?”
“Silence!” The figure booms as it starts to gain color and form, looking like Sombra once again. Neydra squints as she observes the change.
“Not a talker, alright then…” The Doctor wheezes out.
“Look,” Neydra begins. “We just came here for a few things. We’re going to leave soon, we have no quarrel with you.”
“I’m afraid that this isn’t how this works, gryphon.” Sombra growls. “You intruded upon my property, stole part of my library, and proceeded to burn the rest. I will be left with no choice but to execute you.” His horn starts to glow, a sickly green light surrounding his horn.
Neydra starts to back away, pausing a moment before staring at Sombra.
“You’re about to be invaded!” She shouts at him.
“Ah yes. The sisters. It will take them a while. They need to get their pathetic armies together to even break the gates. Shame that I have a defense planned, it will take an hour for them to even get inside of the kingdom. Then I will slaughter their armies, defeat them, and then assimilate them like everyone else.” Sombra chuckles lightly, his laugh echoing the room.
Neydra shivers and takes a few steps back with the Doctor.
“Twilight… ideas?” She whispers.
“Run. And run quickly.”
Neydra almost immediately does so. She holds up her talons, hoping it would work. To her surprise, it does, and a small flash of light protrudes from her talons, and she throws it at Sombra like a grenade.
The fire lands in front of him, splashing and spreading around, dancing into growing purple flames.
‘How insulting.” Sombra says as he steps through the flames, not the least bit fazed.
Neydra takes a confident breath and then turns around, snapping her talons.
She hears exactly what she wanted to happen start to happen. The flames pop with bright light, and Sombra stumbles, covering his eyes before proceeding toward where Neydra used to be.
She had already spread her wings and flew over the stallion, grabbing the Doctor in the process. She flies over the barricades she had made and dives into the door, knocking it off of its hinges. She rolls for a bit, before leaping up again and dragging the doctor behind her again.
The halls darken wisps of green magic coating the walls and projecting images of him.
“What do you fear, gryphon?” his voice echoes, ghostly like Twilight’s.
Neydra ignores him and continues to charge down the hall, glancing down every opening in it. She keeps her eyes peeled for the blue police box.
“It feels like we’re going in circles!” The Doctor shouts before pulling out his device. He skids to a stop, and Neydra does too.Suddenly, one of the projections of Sombra manifests, becoming a pure solid shadow.
“You will not hide your fears any longer little bird.” he growls as he begins to approach.
The Doctor was fiddling with his device, wacking it and muttering to himself. Neydra keeps her eyes on the shadowy figure, starting to back away from it.
“Don’t you get it Neydra! He wants you to be afraid!” The Doctor shouts.
The dark horse laughs a bit, and his horn glows brightly. Twilight is suddenly ripped from the gem, her spectral body thrown to the floor, green wisps floating off of her eyes like Sombra’s.
“Such an interesting relationship you have. One cannot live without the other. Hmm?’ He smiles as he steps through Twilight, advancing closer.
“Which is why I recommend you leave her be” Neydra growls.
She starts to advance, only to feel a crushing weight inside of her head.
“Any further and I’ll cut that gem out of your chest.” He warns.
Neydra ignores him. She’d already died once in that body, and she wasn’t afraid to do it again. She leaps on the shadowy form of Sombra, digging her claws into his eyes even when a scythe manifests and hits her in the side and stuck inside of her.
Before she could pull away, she suddenly felt the world shift, and then she was pulled inside of the dark form. She falls into darkness, before she hits the ground that looked the exact same as everything else.
“You cannot defeat me.” The dark form of Sombra mutters, appearing across from Neydra as she pushes herself upright. “Nobody can. Not even those self righteous princesses.”
Neydra growls, and then raises her talons, trying to pour as much magic as she could into it. Her gem only flickers, and Neydra grunts in frustration.
“Twilight!” She shouts in desperation.
Sombra chuckles evilly, his voice echoing in the darkness.
“Call all you want, you’re in my domain now. Nobody can hear you, and this is where I will make you submit” He mocks. “Now let’s start with a discovery. What do you fear?”
Her head suddenly pounds, as it feels like it’s being bore into.
He could check death off the list. She had already experienced that, it was nothing to her now. Loneliness had been her life, and she’d grown accustomed to that, so it would be difficult to use that against her.
He had to dig deep, into her childhood, before he found it.
He smirks and holds a hood out, to reveal a small possum hanging from his foreleg by its tail. It slept soundly.
Neydra shivers at the sight. Tyler had been bit by one when he was little, and since then, they had persisted as a constant fear of his. He couldn’t stand the sight of one.
“Hmm… An interesting creature.” The dark horse muses. “Disease and a mean bite.”
The rodent suddenly pops its eyes open and drops from Sombra’s arm. It starts to grow in size, slowly, steadily.
“You’re so helpless. No weapons, no armor. I wonder if you could stand up to a gargantuan possum.”
The Doctor’s words ring in Neydra’s ear for a second. He wanted her to be afraid.
She looks at the evil king, and gives him a slight glare.
“I don’t have to stand up to it. It’s not real, this is just an illusion.”
“It is now?” Sombra questions.
His scythe suddenly manifests, cutting once into Neydra’s arm before disappearing.
Neydra grunts and grips her bleeding arm, then looks at Sombra with a chuckle.
“Even pain can be can be a figment of the imagination.”
A moment of concern etched over Sombra’s face, but it was quickly replaced by a grin.
“Yes, but it is undesirable. Come now, wouldn’t you like to end this little game? All you have to do is bow down and beg for mercy.”
“No.” Neydra says simply, looking to him. “I refuse to.”
The possum suddenly screeches, red rabid liquid dripping from its maw. It was the size of an small truck now, and that’s exactly how it felt as it barreled into Neydra.
It pins her down and bites into her neck, tugging at the flesh which sent shivers of pain down her spine, and the disease spread through her body.
She found herself laughing at the fact that the king had to get so desperate as to actually inflict pain on her, and she glares at him as he sits down on the chair. His grin was faltering.
“Submit to me. Submit to your king.” Sombra mutters repeatedly.
“How about you submit to me?” Neydra asks, looking over at Sombra with anger.
His grin spreads again.
“Such spirit.” He compliments. “Your rage is quite fulfilling. You should know that your body outside of this is being used for a much more… hmhm, pleasurable purpose.” Sombra teases.
“How soft it feels.” He mockingly compliments.
Neydra growls, and suddenly grabs the possums neck.
‘What did you just say?” She demands from Sombra, before looking at the possum. “Get the hell off of me so I can beat the hell out of your boss.”
The possum hisses, not amused with being handles like that while Sombra chuckles in the background.
“You look so wonderful in my chambers. Perhaps I’ll keep you chained against the wall.” He muses.
Neydra hisses like a feral cat, before looking at the possum. Her claws let go of it’s neck, gently scratching its chin.
‘Get off of me.” She commands.
The possum lets out a whine. Its ears shoot up at the suddenly affectionate gesture, and it leans down for more scratches.
Neydra smirks as she continues to scratch its chin, pulling herself out from underneath it as she does.
Sombra’s smile disappears again, replaced by a look of confusion, and slight fear.
The possum slowly backs up, shrinking back to normal possum size before flopping over and playing dead.
Neydra looks Sombra’s way, chuckling lightly to herself.
“I think you gave me illusion rabies.” She says as she starts to march toward him, letting foam drip from her beak.
‘It seems I did.” he says with a scowl. “I’ll just have to put you down like the feral cat you are.”
His horn starts to glow green again. Suddenly, a frying pan hits him from nowhere and clangs to the ground, extinguishing his magic as he falls to the floor.
The message ‘From, The Doctor’ was etched into the pan.
Sombra goans as he hits the ground, and Neydra quickly takes the opportunity, jumping onto him and biting into his neck with her beak.
He yells in pain, before he is dragged along the floor by some mysterious force. The blackness around dissipates, replaced by the castle walls once again.
Neydra feels a sudden surge of pain as her side is speared with the sickle. She growls in pain, releasing Sombra, only for his head to get smashed violently into the floor, throwing black blood onto the ground.
The scythe is yanked out of Neydra’s side, before a rose colored hoof holds out to Neydra.
“Here.” Says a feminine voice she didn’t recognize.
Neydra reaches up and takes the hoof, struggling for breath. She takes in her surroundings, noting that she was still in the hallway of the castle. The Doctor stood nearby, waving around his device. She finally meets eyes with the source of the hoof. A rose colored mare, with red mane and blonde mane. Her eyes glowed a bright gold.
“Bad Wolf.” She says.
She suddenly disappears, and then Sombra is blasted backward, leaving a trail of black blood. He flies through a pair of double doors that shut behind him.
‘We need to go now.” The Doctor says, looking to Neydra.
Neydra nods and looks to Twilight, who was starting to scream. She calmed down for a moment, and her ghostly eyes met with Neydra. They nod to each other, and Twilight disappears.
Neydra looks to the Doctor, and nods before rushing over to join him.
The Doctor and Neydra both walk the rest of the way down the hall, before finally finding the room where the police box waited. The Doctor opens it, then walks inside, clutching his chest before falling and rolling across the ground, grunting as he hits it and stops on his back.
Neydra wasn't far behind him, landing beside him, and then starting to check her body, to see if she really was defiled.
Sombra had fibbed. Lied to see her reaction, and she figured that out all too quickly.
The Doctor pushes himself to his hooves, moving up the stairs and throwing some switches before leaning over the console as the ship hummed.
Neydra starts to laugh, a hearty victorious laugh that echoed around the room. When she was finished, she moves up the stairs to join The Doctor. She checks him for injuries, but discovers none. She sighs in relief, and falls to her haunches, taking a moment for herself.
The doctor starts to let out a quiet, slightly raspy laugh.
Neydra starts to chuckle along with him for a moment, then looks his way.
‘I hope those scrolls were worth it.”
“No… no, they definitely weren’t.” He says.
His fur was lightening in color, starting to shimmer.
“I thought it could be avoided... but it’s happening again.” He says with a heavy sigh.
“What’s happening?” Neydra asks in concern.
He chuckles a little bit, and looks at her, the glow on his body increasing in density.
“Change dear Neydra. We all undergo it, some more than others. Change is a funny thing. Most ponies hate it, they fear change because it breaks what they are used to. But eventually, change comes a’knocking, and you don’t have any choice but to let it in, serve it tea and wait for it to turn your world upside-down.”
Neydra looks at him with a very confused look, wondering why he was giving this talk to her. The Doctor smiles a bit, noticing her confused look, nodding. He sighs and leans back on his console, clicking a few buttons.
“I know you don’t realize it now, but soon, that change is about to come through your door. I am going to change, you will change, everyone will change. That is the true meaning of destiny, of time. That is what the meaning of our short or long lives mean. Change. But there is one thing that never changes.” He says and back away. He looks down at his hooves, a tear streaming down his cheek.
“Can you tell me what that is?” he asks solemnly.
Neydra shakes her head, looking confused.
“I have no idea.” She admits. She starts to walk toward him, concern and worry etched on her face.
He holds up a hoof, and stops her.
The glow becomes brighter, engulfing his body.
“And now… we must do away with the old and bring in the new!’ he shouts loudly, before he almost literally explodes in a bright white light.
The flash sent Neydra flying over the edge of the platform yet again, and she avoided the painful landing the same way, spreading her wings to keep herself rolling once she hit it.
She immediately jumps to her hooves and charges upstairs
Where the doctor once stood, a female was now, panting and looking fantic as she felt her body. She was an indigo coated earth pony, with a light blue mane and the same hourglass tramp stamp on her hips.
The hip shakes violently, and she shoots up, then suddenly clutches her stomach.
‘Ooh, oh, cramps! Ooh, new body… weird body.” She mutter in a british accent, before her eyes dart over the console. She starts to touch all over her body.
“Arms, legs, eyes, nose. All good… yes, yes. Ah! Blimey! Look at this flank, too big for my taste but powerful legs, ears.” She mutters, almost incoherently. She stumbles to the console, flipping switches, turning the knobs.
“We need… no, wrong switch. This one? No!” She looks frantic, searching the console in a rush.
‘The stabilizer!” Neydra suddenly calls out.
The mare looks up, then nods frantically and grabs a lever.
“This one?” She asks quickly.
Neydra nods and she yanks it down. The ship whines before suddenly jerking with a thud. The room was trashed at this point, pieces of the structure falling apart around them.
The mare smiles and then laughs before falling to the floor and sighing in relief.
Neydra is quiet for a moment before she reaches up and scratches her head, then clears her throat.
“Yes?” The mare chimes as she rolls over onto her stomach, looking at Neydra with wide, excitable eyes.
Neydra blinks and then chuckles.
“Well… you certainly changed…”
“Yes I diiiid!” She says in a sing-song voice, before she seems to realize that her voice changed. She hops to her hooves, and then touches up and down her body.
‘Ovaries? I have a ovaries! I’m a girl! I’m a girl. Wait, nononono…” She hops to her hooves, opening a box on the console and looking at herself in a mirror.
‘Well. I’m a girl...” She says, quick to accept the fact.
Neydra clears her throat, and then looks to The Doctor.
‘Are we home?”
‘Yes, yes, I think we are.” She says as she starts to groom her mane with her hoof, not looking back. “Keyword there is think.”
Neydra nods and starts to leave, but then stops before the exit.
“So what just happened there? When you exploded?”
She looks at Neydra, and tilts her head.
“That is a very good question. See, my species has an interesting little gift. We can cheat death by rewriting our entire molecular structure. The process is spontaneous. But it builds up a lot of energy that just releases the way you saw. We do undergo a few changes when it happens…”
“A few?” Neydra snickers out. ‘You sure it’s just a few?”
“You understand what I meant Neydra.”
“Alright. So how exactly did you die?”
“I got slashed by gryphons.” She says simply.
Neydra tilts her head,a little confused by that statement. That happened a long time ago.
“Isn’t it a little too late to be regenerating then?”
“No.” The Doctor hums and turns back to her mirror. “I postponed it I think. That’s why the shift was so explosive.”
Neydra nods and pushes the door open, but stops and shuts it again.
“Alright, last question. Why did you need the scrolls?” Neydra inquires.
“I need to deliver them to a kingdom in the future. They didn’t have any surviving copies, considering that this is the only one, and they think the scrolls prophesize the end of the world.”
Neydra nods, going quiet before finally pushing the doors open again.
“Alright then Doctor. See you around.”
“Sooner than you think!” She calls.
She skips over to the side of the platform and waves down to Neydra, who waves back. Neydra pushes her way past the slim door, and finally leaving the TARDIS behind for the time being