One Mare's Worth

by Equestria Buck Yeah

Chapter 34

"Buh.. wha..?!" Derpy stuttered. After the stress of dealing with the now-defunct dictator, the last thing she needed was to have an aneurism. The sudden appearance of an old friend after over twenty years wasn't helping matters.

"Ah, it's good to see you all again!" the chestnut stallion said as he stepped out of the TARDIS. "You're all looking rather well. How're you doing?" His eyes caught a glimpse of a white glow coming from above. "Oh my, that's not good. Don't even think the TARDIS realized how big was."

Several pairs of eyes stared dumbfounded at the appearance of their old leader. Even the remaining royal guards were baffled at how anypony could have been inside the big blue box. If there was ever any suspicious activity around the castle, word would have spread like wildfire. But for ages, the only ones to even go near the throne room were the guards and the Princess. Even General Tiara wasn't allowed near the TARDIS.

"Doctor?!" Derpy finally managed to blurt out, grabbing his attention.

"Huh? Oh, uh.. yes, that's my name!"

"How are you.. ?! What.. ?!"

"How am I alive and here?"

"Yes!" If the stained glass windows were still intact, Derpy's shriek may have cracked them.

"Well, before I answer that, it's great to see that Rainbow Dash is alive and well! I knew I could entrust her safety to you, Derpy. Bang up job!"

"Uh, thanks?"

He stepped up to the confused blue pegasus and put his hoof on her shoulder. "Now, my dear, I'm going to need the Screwdriver back."

"Uh, sure. No problem." Rainbow said, giving it back to its owner.

"Ah, thank you! Now, as far as why I'm here and in one piece, I'm sure you remember what happened when we bumped into the Princess in Ponyville, yes?"

"I-I saw you get vaporized! There was nothing left!"

"Well, I still have a couple regenerations left in me, so I would have been alright even if Celestia did actually hit me," he said with a hoof on his chin. On said leg though was a small leather wristband, and he held it up for all to see. "But I was able to get away thanks to this!"

"What is that?" Pinkie asked.

"It's my Vortex Manipulator. It allows me to travel through space and time like the TARDIS. Just a smaller version, so to speak. Right before Celestia fired up her magical beam of death, I slapped it on and used it to travel to inside the TARDIS. I set it for the date that you, Rainbow Dash, were to return to us."

"But.. but, you could have been killed!" Derpy scolded.

"Nah, I was fine. But, now that I think about it, I probably should have had it on when we got to Ponyville to begin with. What was I thinking?" the eccentric stallion mumbled. "I mean, do you have any idea how hard it is to work this thing without fingers?"

They all stared blankly at him.

"Err, right, well. I figured that if Celestia and I ever met up again, she'd probably want to take me prisoner like before. I couldn't allow her to, otherwise she may force me to dig up more information on things that she could use against you, so I figured I'd, err, provoke her." He rubbed the back of his neck and smiled nervously.

"How did you manage to that?" Rarity asked.

"I had a brilliant plan, but it didn't go as well as I expected, so I came up with another brilliant plan on the spot!" the Doctor said gleefully. "I decided to hit below the belt a bit and insulted her mother, but she didn't seem bothered by it. All I got out of her was a funny look. Then, I remembered how much she enjoyed her pastries from way before this whole war broke out. I saw it in the papers once and I found it hilarious! I told her that she needed to lay off the cakes and, well, she got a little mad at that. Like, smash-me-into-a-wall mad. I saw her fire up her horn and, well, you know the rest!"

"You.. called the Princess a fatflank?" Rarity asked.

"Hm. I suppose I did, more or less. Terribly insecure, that one. I mean, I don't think she was terribly happy to see me before that, but for whatever reason, that really got to her!" he said with a proud swing of his hoof. "Actually, where is she anyway? I'd like to give her a piece of my mind over this whole war thing."

"She's gone. I saw to that," Pinkie said, puffing her chest out.

"Huh. Fancy that! So, I guess, aside from a few things to clean up here and there, that means the war is just about over. Just have to spread the word around and get the sun and moon moving properly and such. That's great to hear!"

"Well, if you want to help us start cleaning things up, we can start with the TARDIS," Rainbow spoke up. "You did say you wanted it destroy it so nopony else could use it, right?"

The Doctor hissed through his teeth and looked away. "Uh, yeah, about that. I can't let you do that. It would be bad."

"What? How bad?"

"Well, you see that crack over our heads there that threatens to unravel reality?"

The officers around him blinked and hung their mouths open in horror. The gray-colored pegasus broke the silence. "Wait, what?!"

"Yeah, it would be about that bad," the Doctor confirmed.

"Then why did you write in your letter that you wanted it destroyed?!" Derpy growled, puffing out her wings.

"Well, I figured out what happened to Rainbow Dash and that she eventually was going to come back to us. Once the war broke out and things settled the way they did, I'd have to rely on her getting my Screwdriver back to me. I honestly couldn't let anypony else handle the Screwdriver because the war had you all far too preoccupied, and I couldn't tell you my plans because if any of you were captured, the Princess would have prepared for this. If she was ready for this whole thing, she could have potentially gotten her hooves on my Screwdriver and gotten inside the old girl here, provided she could figure out what to do with the thing," he explained, nodding back at the TARDIS.

"Once Rainbow Dash came back into the time stream, I was taking a risk that she'd find her way to you all unharmed," he continued. "Seems the risk paid off! Anyway, I hoped that you would be able to get the Screwdriver back into my possession as quickly as possible so I could continue my plans, and I figured the best way to do that was tell you the TARDIS needed to be destroyed, making it sound like a desperate situation!"

One of her golden eyes twitched. "We were in the middle of a war!" Derpy shouted. "Isn't that a desperate situation?!"

"Alright, a more desperate situation!"



While Derpy and the Doctor bickered like an old married couple, Rainbow inconspicuously walked up to Twilight, who had been helped to her hooves by the others. She was rubbing her damaged horn, thankful that it wasn't as serious an injury as she feared.

"Was the Doctor always this.. uuh..?" she asked.

"Eccentric?" Twilight replied.

"I was thinking more along the lines of weird, but that works too."

"Yeah, you get used to it. He does genuinely care though, even if it doesn't seem like it."

Drowning out their voices, Derpy's frustration finally got the better of her and she yelled at the top of her lungs, tearing up as she ranted. "How could you just leave us like that?! Do you have any idea what we've been through? What I've been through?! We needed you!"

"Derpy," he cut her off, frowning sadly. He gently rested his hoof on her wet cheek, wiping a tear away. For the first time since his reappearance, she began to settle down. "I was a liability in all this. I'm no soldier. You saw what kind of damage Celestia was able to do after using me for such a short time. If she were allowed to get to me again for any extended amount of time, who knows what she could have done.

"Besides, you were the one who broke me and everypony else out of her prison all those years ago, and you just came to my rescue here again today. You were the one who figured out where to find the remaining Elements of Harmony when they went into hiding. You've been the one leading the way for over twenty years now, and if you remember correctly, most of the plans we implemented were drawn up by you. You've never needed me for any of this, Derpy."

Without warning, she wrapped her legs around his chest, squeezing him tightly into her. "I've missed you so much!" she sobbed. He returned the gesture, nuzzling his head on hers. The warmth from her heart spread to the others, and they smiled at their display of tenderness.

"I've missed you too, Derpy." His smile and ears slowly fell as he took in a deep breath. "But, I'm afraid this is goodbye."

"Wh-What? Why?"

The Doctor leered up at the ceiling where the bright glow was staring down upon them, then turned his attention back into her scared, googly eyes.

"Time is being torn apart. Those cracks threaten to undo everything. If they're not closed, you, your friends, Equestria, all of existence for that matter, is in danger of being erased. If they continue to grow and spread, it would be the end of all things," he explained.

"Then how do we close them?" Twilight asked.

The Doctor let his assistant go and addressed the curious unicorn. "Only a complicated space-time event can close those. Something like myself or.. " he trailed off and craned his head backwards, looking at the blue box that sat where the Princess' throne once stood. "Since I can't fly, and I can't ask any of you to guide me in there, I'll.. have to guide the TARDIS into it myself."

"Why don't you want us to help you get up there?"

"Twilight, I have no idea what kind of effect magic would have with that thing. It could make things worse than they already are for all we know."

"Didn't you tell that thing to forget how to time travel though?" Rainbow asked.

"I did, yes, but it wasn't hard to fix that. I've had to sabotage the TARDIS before. But I'm not going to be traveling through time. Just taking it straight into the air," he explained. "Even if I did head into the past or the future, those time fields will continue opening. Time itself doesn't care where or when you are. I have to get them closed or everything may cease to exist!"

Derpy, Twilight, Rainbow and the rest stood in shock at the news. For some, their stomachs twisted in knots; for others, lumps began to form in their throats. Though they had never been on any of his bizarre adventures like the Commander had, they had grown to know and care about him before he disappeared. Just like so many others in the past when they had met The Doctor, it was hard to see him have to go.

"Doctor, please! Let me come with you. It'll be like old times!" Derpy begged. "I can help! You know I can!"

"I'm sorry, Derpy, but if you join me, you.. "

He couldn't bear to tell her the truth. She pleaded for an answer. "I what?"

In sorrow, his gaze fell away. Desperate to not want his old friend to fall further into the doldrums, he looked at her and smiled warmly. "Don't you worry about that. Everything will be fine. I promise." His softly pressed his lips on her forehead and caressed her cheek.

"Everypony, I.. it's been a joy knowing you all. I wish we could have gotten to know each other under better circumstances, but at least you and everything else will be safe." He shrugged and managed a whispered chuckle. "It's what I do."

"Doctor?" Twilight said, pausing. "Thank you. For everything."

A sad smile crept onto his face. Suddenly, a sharp pain struck him in the back of the head and he fell to the floor, knocked out. The Screwdriver clinked as it hit the marble and slid out of his grasp. A gray pegasus stood over him with tears flowing from bloodshot eyes.

"Derpy! What are you doing?!" Rainbow snapped at her.

With quivering lips, she responded. "I.. I-I can't let him do it."

"But he said he's the only one who can!"

"No. No, he's not. I can't let him go. I won't! He's.. he's too important. He's a Time Lord, for pony's sake! He'll be needed again. I'm just a pegasus. I'm nothing special." She sniffled and wiped her snout. "I-I can fly the TARDIS. I'll guide it in. Tell him.. tell him I'm sorry, and don't try to stop me."

She removed the Vortex Manipulator and slid it to the side of the room. In a single fluid motion, she snatched up the Sonic Screwdriver and threw it to the opposite end of the room. Her wings spread and she glided to the open blue door.

"Derpy, wait! There has to be a better way to do this!" Rainbow pleaded.

"Goodbye, everypony," she said, sobbing. With a quick and final salute, she stepped into the TARDIS and locked it from the inside. A moment later, the time machine came alive and lifted into the air, wobbling slightly.

The TARDIS was halfway to the crack when The Doctor groaned and slowly opened his eyes. His head was throbbing and he shook off the cobwebs. After his sight returned, he glanced around, looking for what hit him. A familiar sound snapped him from his stupor. He rolled onto his back and watched the TARDIS flying away.

"No! No, Derpy, stop! Derpy!"

He fumbled around on his forelimb, looking for his wristband, only to find nothing. He clumsily got to his hooves and reached fruitlessly for the TARDIS, panic setting in.

"Derpy, wait!"

The famous blue box reached the ceiling and the glowing crack. Once it was close enough, it turned transparent and faded away. The Doctor froze, almost forgetting to breathe. Overcome with grief, he collapsed onto his flank. His eyes fell and he wept for his friend.

"Oh goddess, no.. it wasn't supposed to be like this.. Derpy, no.."

Twilight hobbled over to The Doctor and rested a comforting hoof on his shoulder. "Doctor, what is it? What's wrong? And.. who or what is this Derpy?"

He stared, baffled, at the unicorn for a moment before he realized what was happening. Whatever was left of his spirits was utterly destroyed.

"She.. she was a really close friend. She grabbed a time machine I had and flew it into that thing over our heads. It.. it happened before you arrived," he lied. He had no idea how they'd respond if he told them the truth. Not that they'd remember or understand. "I don't get it though. It should have closed! Why didn't it close?"

"Hey Doctor," Rainbow spoke up, "did.. I know this pony? For whatever reason, it sounds awful familiar, but I'll be damned if I can figure out where I heard it from."

He smiled softly at her question, trying to keep his closest friend at the forefront of his mind. "I think she knew you, Rainbow Dash."

"Really? Huh. That just makes it weirder."

He sighed and looked up at the still very much open time field over their heads. "I-I don't know what to do. I have no way to get to it without putting somepony else at risk, and I'm not going to do that. Not after what happened to her."

"How did that thing open anyway, Doctor?" Rainbow asked.

"Didn't Derpy tell.. " he began to say. Remembering the situation, he stopped himself and answered the pegasus' question as best he could. "I heard about that stunt you did years ago. At the time, my TARDIS –that was the name of my time machine– showed me evidence of something unusual happening that was affecting the time stream. After some.. deduction and research, I figured out that it was you. It gave me two dates: The date that you disappeared and the day you'd return. And now, here you are, several months after you came back to us."

"I'm responsible for those things? I mean, I saw others where Lieutenant Silver Spoon sent me and the Party Crashers before. I just had no idea what they were. Speaking of her, why isn't she here? Wouldn't she want to come with us if we were storming Canterlot?"

"That is weird. I wonder where she is?" Pinkie said.

Rainbow shrugged and dismissed the question. "Anyway, Doctor, if I'm the reason those things opened.. maybe I have to close them somehow. I mean, you said some powerful time thing had to get thrown into one. I traveled through time without one of your time machines. That's gotta count for something, right?"

"I.. I don't know. It's possible, I suppose, but– "

"That's all I needed to hear. I'm going in!" With a quick spread of her metal wings, she took off toward the time field.

"Rainbow Dash, stop!"

"Tsk, what?"

With a heavy heart, he explained, "Even if you're right, you.. you need to know something. If you go into that crack, you'll.. you'll never have existed."

She blinked, frozen in surprise. Her friends responded with equal shock. "What?"

The Doctor held back tears and gritted his teeth behind his lips. Reliving the misery he just went through alone all over again made his stomach turn.

"It's what happened to Derpy. She took the TARDIS into the time field up there, and.. well, it's just how it works. It erases your existence. That's why you all can't remember her. She never existed to you. I remember her because we Time Lords are fairly resistant to memory wipes and similar things. If you go in there, Rainbow Dash, even if it does fix the cracks.. you'll be erased."

The pegasus slowly descended to the floor and fell to her rump. She could barely breathe.

"Y-You.. they wouldn't remember me at all?"

"No," he quietly replied after a moment.

"A-And I may be the only one who can close those things so they don't just.. kill everything?"

"I honestly don't know. It's possible. But, I just can't ask you to throw your life away over a possibility. Even a certainty. I just can't allow myself to."

She sat motionless, hanging her head so that her mane covered her face. Her heart throbbed painfully in her chest, and she sobbed quietly. The Doctor felt his own eyes watering and knelt in front of her, resting a hoof on her shoulder.


Her gaze slowly met his. Her eyes glistened and tears slipped down her cheeks.

"Not much of a choice, is it?"

He didn't know how to respond. All he could do was look away in pain. Rainbow slowly got to her hooves, her head and wings slumped low, and walked up to Twilight first. She was already opening weeping at the inevitable.

"Rainbow, you.. you just came back to us. We– "

She was silenced by a pair of shaking blue legs wrapping around her neck. She hugged the pegasus back tightly, crying silently into her multicolored mane.

"I know you'll find a way to fix whatever may happen, Twilight," she sobbed. "That's what eggheads like you do."

She broke their hug quietly, looking upon at the unicorn for what would be the last time. Turning to the pink mare next, Rainbow approached and managed to smile at her, just barely. With excessively quivering lips, Pinkie reached out and squeezed her friend.

"Don't forget to throw one heck a going away party for me, Pinkie. You promise?"

"Pinkie promise, Dashie," she sniffled.

Once Rainbow let go, she went up to the beautiful Rarity, who was having trouble composing herself. Without giving her a chance to fluff her mane or clear away any wet mascara, Rainbow wrapped her legs around her, holding her head gently.

"I'm glad you and Spike finally managed to be together, Rarity. I know you've made each other happy. Tell him I said goodbye."

"I will. You have my word."

They looked into each others eyes, and Rainbow smiled warmly for them. Rarity struggled, but returned the sentiment. The pegasus looked at the old country mare and stepped up to her. Her cheeks were already heavily stained a slightly darker shade of orange. She sniffled and managed to smirk happily before they embraced.

"Gotta go bein' number one in the hero department, huh?"

"Doesn't matter, A.J. You were number one in the friend department a long time ago."

It was more than the poor earth pony could take, and she leaned into Rainbow's shoulder, crying loudly. The pegasus pulled away and smiled happily at her dearest friend. Playfully, she tugged down on the brim of her hat, concealing her eyes. The orange mare pushed it back up and returned the smile.

A.B. and Belle stood next to each other, and practically pounced on Rainbow as if they were still fillies, burying their heads into her shoulders. She tenderly wrapped a leg around their necks and nuzzled them both.

"I'm sorry I never got to see you grow into such great young mares. I wish none of this ever happened. That you didn't have to grow up in such a miserable place. At least now, things can start to get better for all of you."

"I hope so," A.B. said.

With one last little squeeze, Rainbow joked, "Don't go giving your sisters a hard time or anything, OK?"

Belle sniffling and A.B. wiping her snout, they sadly smiled at her humor and let her go. Rainbow looked left and saw the last of the Party Crashers, standing alone. Her eyes, red from wiped away tears, had been glistening for an obviously long time. With a heavy, miserable frown, Rainbow slowly walked up to Loo.

"You're going away again," she muttered.

Rainbow glanced down, guilt taking over briefly. Despite having held back crying as much as she could as she said her goodbyes, the blue pegasus felt her control slipping.

"I don't have much of a choice this time."

"Please.. stay."

"I can't," Rainbow whispered.

Loo's head sank, and she collapsed to her haunches. Her lips were shaking, and she began to sob, causing her breathing to become erratic. Her heart felt as if it were about to shatter.

"Once all this is fixed, if.. if things go back to how they were, I know you'll find somepony else to look up to who will be there for you.. where I never was."

"No.. " Loo muttered, shaking her head.

Rainbow laid a comforting hoof on her shoulder. "Hey. You turned into quite the hero, y'know. I know firsthoof that what you've done over all these years has saved countless lives in the long run. You fought against a horrible enemy and came out on top. You're one of the toughest ponies I know, and you can prove it. Scootaloo.. "

The orange mare looked up at the sound of her real name. Her lavender eyes glistened. Rainbow finally succumbed to her sorrow and let the tears she was holding back flow down her face. In spite of this, she smiled happily at her old number one fan.

"You've made me proud."

Losing to her grief, Loo buried her head in her hero's chest, sobbing and crying loudly. Rainbow laid her cheek softly on Loo's head and lovingly caressed her neck. As much as Loo wanted the moment to last forever, she knew it couldn't. After her tears were spent, the pair separated and looked at each other warmly. Loo's eyes were cracked and red as were Rainbow's. The young blue mare beamed with pride, and with a sniffle, Loo smiled back.

Rainbow closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She turned her attention to the large, gaping crack yawning at them. Despite her fear, she spread her metal wings and took to the sky. As she lifted away, her friends below began to weep openly. Applejack removed her hat and covered her heart. Rarity held a hoof to her mouth, trying and failing to keep herself from bawling.

Twilight silently watched as her friend approached the light. In the distance, she saw the red, yellow and blue that made up her lightning bolt cutie mark. Suddenly, she blinked her watery eyes, and the wheels in her head quickly started to turn. As Rainbow reached the apex of her journey, a single tear fell from her face toward the floor. In that moment, Twilight gasped loudly at a horrid realization.

"Rainbow, wait!"

It was a second too late for her to respond. She faded away into nothingness, and the tear vanished just before landing.