Arriving at her destination, Twilight pushes on the door to room 138 with her magic. In her eagerness she puts far too much power into the spell however, and the door flies open as if a buffalo had headbutted it instead, slamming into the wall with a loud bang.
Looking around for the source of the sound as she enters, she sees Fluttershy gingerly picking herself up off the floor beside Nurse Redheart.
"This is a hospital, Princess, not a rodeo," Redheart states sternly, fixing Twilight with an irritated stare. "There is no need for such displays of force."
Twilight's gaze drifts over to the wall as she takes a few steps further into the room, blushing at the sight of several cracks spreading from a freshly made imprint of the door, "Oh, uh, sorry."
The door's battered knob falls to the floor with a clatter, Twilight wincing and Nurse Redheart's eyes narrowing.
"…Anyway, thank you for your assistance, Miss Fluttershy," Redheart says after a tense moment, addressing the newly standing pegasus. "Your input on her wing structure was very useful."
Fluttershy smiles nervously, "I'm just glad I could help."
"So, was there something you wanted, Princess?" Nurse Redheart asks, turning away to check the machines attached to the unconscious pony beside her. "I assume you didn't decide to stop by just to break down one of our doors."
"No, I um – I mean-" Twilight clears her throat, "I was hoping I could run some tests on your patient for a bit. Just for a bit!" she repeats defensively as Nurse Redheart rounds on her, the nurse's expression leaving little to the imagination as to her opinion of Twilight's request. "At the very least I'd like to be able to dispel the rumors that she's a vampony and that the vamponies are attacking."
Annoyance flickers across Redheart's face and she shakes her head, "This pony is badly injured, Princess Twilight; I can't allow you to start running tests on her like she's a new science project of yours – rumors or not."
"I wasn't planning anything like that!" Twilight protests.
Nurse Redheart raises an eyebrow, clearly not believing a word of it.
"I wasn't, really!" Twilight insists, "I was just going to run a magic signature analysis to compare her latent magic to the faint traces of magic I detected on Derpy's bite mark. I Pinkie Promise – cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!"
Nurse Redheart watches Twilight closely, giving her a curt nod after she goes through the customary motions of a Pinkie Promise, "Very well. Be quick about it though, she's going into surgery in a few minutes. I wouldn't count on being able to disprove the 'vampony' business either."
Twilight frowns, "What do you mean?"
Nurse Redheart sighs as she walks past Twilight, "You'll see when you look at her teeth, and I need to get ready for the operation. Fluttershy, perhaps you could walk Twilight through what we discussed?"
Not waiting for an answer, Nurse Redheart leaves the room, the sound of her brisk hoofsteps on the tile floor quickly fading into nothing. A brief silence passes while the alicorn and pegasus remaining stare after her, Twilight eventually moving to stand beside Fluttershy and next to the bed, "So, what did you and Nurse Redheart find out about her?"
"Well… um… " Fluttershy replies, shuffling her hooves uncomfortably, "not a whole lot, really. Nurse Redheart did most of the work, I only checked her wings. Both are pretty badly bruised and one of them is fractured in a couple places. One of her forelegs is broken too, and she has several fractured or broken ribs along with some internal injuries. And we think… "
Twilight leans forward, but her friend's voice fades into a faint, indecipherable squeak. Fluttershy looks away nervously as Twilight raises an eyebrow at her.
"Fluttershy…" Twilight prods when the yellow pegasus' eyes continue to avoid her.
Gulping audibly, Fluttershy tries again.
"We think… we think… th-that she's a… a… carnivore," she finishes quietly.
"I-I… what?" Twilight stutters, the thought of a pony eating the dead flesh of what had once been another living creature sending shivers down her spine.
Composing herself, she clarifies her statement, "I mean, what makes you say that?"
"Well… " Fluttershy hesitates, then very carefully leans towards the unconscious mare and gently nudges her mouth open, revealing jaws lined with sharp teeth.
"Oh. Ohhhh. Yep, she's – carnivore, yep." Twilight manages, backing up a couple steps and chuckling nervously.
"And… that's what we know so far," Fluttershy says, swallowing and taking a step back as well.
"I… see." Twilight mumbles, still not quite recovered. Closing her eyes, she inhales deeply, pressing her right hoof lightly to her chest and then slowly letting it drift away as she exhales. Opening her eyes, she steps towards the sleeping mare with renewed focus, horn glowing softly.
"Twilight?" questions Fluttershy.
"I almost forgot that I came here to test something," Twilight explains. "Derpy had a bite wound, but it was healed and looked like it had happened days ago. However, I was able to detect a very faint magical signature on it. The magic was too weak to determine anything else, which would normally make identifying the caster rather difficult, but it had a very… unique feel to it compared to normal pony magic. So if the signature from the wound matches her latent magical signature," she gestures at the peacefully sleeping carnivore, "then that would mean she's very likely responsible for whatever is wrong with Derpy. Which would mean we can ask her how to fix it once she wakes up."
"Oh… okay," Fluttershy nods, backing up a few more steps back to give Twilight some space.
Twilight closes her eyes and focuses her magic, touching her horn to the sleeping mare. After several seconds, and several purple pulses from her horn, she breaks contact, ending the spell with a sigh, "Well, it was definitely her."
As if they had been waiting for her to finish, Nurse Redheart re-enters the room with two of her peers the instant the words leave Twilight's mouth. Seeing Twilight and Fluttershy are still in the room, the trio of nurses quickly shoo them out, reappearing moments later with the hospital bed between them as they wheel it off towards the hospital's operating theater.
Twilight and Fluttershy watch them vanish around a corner before Twilight stretches, letting loose an enormous yawn as sleepiness threatens to overtake the excitement of the last half hour.
"Aaand that's my cue to go back to bed," Twilight remarks, looking over at Fluttershy in time to see her friend stifle a yawn of her own. "Something tells me that tomorrow is going to be a looooong day."
"Mhm," Fluttershy agrees, smiling sleepily. "But that's future Twilight and future Fluttershy's problem."
Twilight snickers, turning towards the door, "You know, normally I'd disagree, but right now, that's good enough for me."
Leaving room 138 behind them, the pair of mares walk side by side as they make their way out of the hospital, their paths diverging once outside to head their separate ways home.
The welcome familiarity of the book-scented Golden Oaks Library greets Twilight the moment she opens her door, exhaustion weighing on her mind and body alike as she trudges up the stairs towards her waiting bed. A stray thought drifts unbidden to the front of her mind as soon as she steps into her bedroom, however.
I should probably write to Princess Celestia about what's happened.
Annoyed, she attempts to dislodge the thought with various excuses of rationalized procrastination – each one missing their mark to leave her responsibility to her fellow princesses untouched.
Her and Luna both, really. If there's a whole new tribe of pony out there, they need to know right away.
"Ughhh… " she groans, the comfort of her bed now out of reach despite its tempting sheets being right in front of her. Returning to the first floor, she picks up a quill and dips it into a nearby inkwell, the bleary-eyed purple alicorn staring blankly at the parchment in front of her while the creaking, grinding cogs of her mind attempt to restart.
How does one tell the Princess of the Sun that there's a probably carnivorous – and possibly vampiric – injured pony staying at the local hospital?
Twilight blinks, a simple revelation presenting itself to her like a light at the end of a tunnel.
Well, I could just say that…
"Dear Princess Celestia… " Twilight mutters as her quill begins to move.
There was an attack tonight. It did not involve any changelings. Possibly found a new pony tribe. Seem to be carnivorous, possibly vampiric. One currently unconscious in the hospital. Tired. Will send more information tomorrow.
Princess Twilight Sparkle
Twilight stretches and yawns, nearly succumbing to the siren's call of sleep where she stands, but she steadies herself.
A loud thump comes from upstairs, followed by the clicking of claws on wood as an annoyed and not quite entirely awake dragon toddles down the stairs.
"What now, Twilight?" the drake asks grumpily.
Twilight levitates the scroll over to him, "I need you to send this to… " she covers her mouth, a yawn forcing itself into the middle of her sentence, "to Princess Celestia".
Spike grumbles, but takes the scroll hovering in front of him and sends it off with his signature green flame. Not waiting for Twilight to think of something else for him to do, he stumbles back up the stairs and slumps onto his bed once more. Twilight follows on his heels, at last slipping beneath her blankets and into the welcoming dreamscape.
A swirl of green fire briefly illuminates the dim sleeping quarters of the solar princess, the flash of light reflecting off the various decorations and ornaments that adorn Celestia's chamber. Then, as quickly as it had appeared, it vanishes, leaving behind a scroll which promptly falls onto the sleeping pony below. Said pony remains unmoving for a long moment, however one eye does eventually open, groggily focusing on the offending piece of mail now laying upon her barrel.
Taking it in her magic, Princess Celestia observes the scroll floating in front of her, Why in the name of me is Twilight sending a scroll at night? I really need to teach Spike how to send these to Luna too…
A yawn punctuates her thoughts and she adjusts her head, the motion allowing her to focus her other eye on the rolled up parchment as well.
I suppose I could hoof this off to Luna myself tonight. She has been grumbling about not being able to take part in all the crazy events that have occurred the last few years… and she could really use some more hooves-on experience with her subjects still.
Nevertheless, she continues to eye the scroll, curiosity worming its way into her thoughts.
Well… at the very least it couldn't hurt to take a peek…
And thus begins a great battle within Celestia's mind. The Shamans of Sleep urge her to let it go and continue her slumber, while the Warriors of Curiosity demand she take a look at what could have motivated Twilight to send her a letter this late at night. The battle rages for several minutes while Celestia lays staring at the unopened piece of parchment, neither side able to win out. Then on the 10th minute, out of the fog of war rises the Prophet of Patience and he says unto the masses below: 'Let us sleep, for we have great faith in Twilight Sparkle. She shall overcome any challenge that may confront her, and so we may rest for now'. The Warriors, unable to rebuke the truth spoken to them, slowly lower their voices and surrender to the Sleep.
I'll let Twilight handle it for now, Celestia decides, placing the scroll on her nightstand. She's grown so much the last few years, and I trust she can handle any issues that arise.
Her mind at last made up, she once more closes her eyes and returns to her rest.
Several hours later, the covers ripple as Celestia wakes, arching her back in a luxurious stretch after a good night's sleep. A mental tug from the east does not allow her to remain in bed any longer however, and she pushes her sheets aside, standing and stretching again before approaching her balcony. Focusing the solar magicks swirling deep within her essence, she gently lifts her Sun from behind the eastern horizon, a faint, familiar thrum of magic playing across her horn as Luna likewise lowers her Moon in the west. Celestia pauses once her duty is complete, basking in the warmth of the first rays of sunlight falling onto the waking world.
Some things never change, she thinks fondly. The feeling does not last long though, a mental itch making itself known. The feeling of something forgotten, something important…
Ah, right, the scroll.
Returning to the castle interior, Celestia sits back on her bed, pops open the scroll, and skims the words within, freezing on one in particular: vampiric.
Wasting no time, she leaps to her hooves… and flops onto the granite floor with an undignified yelp as she slips on a rogue blanket that had followed her a few feet out of bed. After incinerating the offending sheet with a frustrated thought, she rises to her hooves, vanishing in a flash of white light.
Nurse Redheart takes one last look at the medical machines in the room, their steady, periodic beeps and calmly blinking lights indicating a successful surgery and a stable patient.
Her eyes wander back to the mare, a thousand questions making themselves known before she silences them with an annoyed snort.
She is my patient and it's my job to help her get better. Full stop. End of story. To get distracted by pointless questions and random gossip is unprofessional.
With a satisfied nod, she turns to leave, but pauses after a single step towards the door, her ears twitching at the sound of shouting from the lobby followed by a tremor powerful enough to be felt through her hooves. Her eyes flick to the walls, but the shaking quickly dissipates and the building ceases moving. Instead, the tremors are followed by the loud, echoing hoofsteps of somepony galloping down the hallway.
And now there are crazies breaking into the hospital. Wonderful.
She takes another step towards the door, intending to lock it, but before she can take a third it's consumed by a golden aura and slams open – deepening the previous impression left by Twilight. Redheart flinches, then goes slack-jawed as a white Alicorn strides in.
"Stand aside, nurse," Princess Celestia commands. Redheart's body automatically begins to comply, however the shock wears off as she raises a hoof to move out of the way, her mental faculties restarting and returning control of her muscles. Hesitating, she looks at Celestia again, only now breaking into a cold sweat – the normally kind eyes of her daytime ruler glaring down at her like miniature suns while pure white lightning arcs from various points along the length of Celestia's horn and across her mane. Fear shoots through Redheart's body and she stands frozen, the aura of raw power and control radiating from Celestia battling with her sudden realization of what Celestia intends to do.
She's going to kill my patient!
Ignoring every instinct screaming at her to run and hide in the deepest, darkest place she can find, Nurse Redheart instead stiffly moves sideways to more fully place herself between Celestia and the helpless pony behind her.
Celestia's eyes widen, the terrible aura fading for an instant only to return anew – now also tainted by a simmering anger rolling off her like heat from a furnace.
"Very well," Celestia replies coldly, lifting Redheart bodily with her magic.
"I won't let you kill her!" Nurse Redheart shouts, flailing helplessly in the grasp of her Princess's spell.
"I'm not going to kill her," Celestia answers as she sidesteps the floating nurse, a strange calmness permeating her voice. "She's already dead."
Her horn flares even brighter, the tip shining like a fragment of the sun itself as she prepares to vaporize the pony before her.
"No she's not!" Redheart yells, desperately pointing at one of the machines, "Look!"
Celestia's eyes briefly leave her target to follow Nurse Redheart's outstretched hoof, after a moment returning her attention to the bed in front of her. She hesitates. Then looks back at the machine. With her focus ever so slightly broken, she now hears a sound over the hum and crackle of her magic…
Her eyes widen, recognizing both the heart monitor and what the sound means. Celestia allows her magic to fade as she takes her real first look at the pony she had been about to attack, observing her fluff-tipped ears and bat-like wings along with the pointed teeth and fangs just barely visible within the batpony's slightly open mouth. The overpowering aura vanishes. The arcing lightning ceases. Nurse Redheart stops floating.
And promptly falls to the floor in a jumble of hooves, quickly staggering upright and focusing a venomous glare at the invading Princess.
"I am truly sorry about this," Celestia apologizes. "Twilight sent me a short letter last night about what had happened, and I acted without fully understanding the situation."
Nurse Redheart continues to glare at Celestia, inhaling deeply, "GET OUT!!!"
Princess Celestia takes several steps back, stunned.
The two regard each other for several seconds more, neither moving a muscle until Nurse Redheart starts to sway, the magnitude of what had just happened finally sinking in, Oh sweet merciful Celestia! I just defied the Princess! I just yelled at her! I-I-
A lopsided smile spreads across her muzzle, disturbed giggles growing to maddened laughter in seconds, exhaustion and fear combining to drive her over the edge and into the sweet oblivion of unconsciousness. Celestia, meanwhile, stands perfectly still while watching the nurse's abrupt descent into insanity, glancing from side to side once Redheart collapses – the room's abused door likewise giving way to fall to the floor with a sharp bang in the silence that follows.
After taking a moment to calm herself, Celestia examines the scene surrounding her, One heavily damaged wall, one destroyed door, one nurse driven crazy, and one unknown pony who slept through the whole thing.
She sighs, I think I've caused enough damage for the time being.
Celestia slowly backs out of the room, each hoof placed carefully to avoid making the slightest sound. Once outside, she turns, and, gathering as much of her royal grace and poise as she can, quickly strides towards the reception area, possible ways of calming the rest of the terrified staff crowding her mind.