They were surrounded.
“Wuh-What,” Décor managed, her calm, classy façade long since gone.
“Center of the room, back-to-back! Don’t blink! And keep looking at them,” the Doctor ordered. Both mares complied.
“Doctor, what’s happening? Where did those statues come from?”
He could see eight in front of him. “I’ve had it worse,” he thought. The room was bathed in a sinister, undulating light thanks to Equestria’s new, cotton candy-based cloud cover, and everything was generally not as bright and clearly visible as he would have wanted. Eight large, grey statues of winged unicorns, clad in toga-like garb, were blocking the exits with their wings fully unfurled. Another four covered the doors behind him, under the gazes of both Décor and Celestia. “This is a cake walk. There were hundreds on Alfava Metraxis,” he tried to tell himself. Contrary to established tradition, their heads weren’t covered and their eyes were not closed. They were all staring straight at him, faces contorted in frozen anger, some even brandishing their nightmarish teeth. The sight made it difficult to speak without a stammer.
The Princess answered her charge instead: “They’re not statues. They are quite alive.” The Doctor pondered for a second why she knew that.
“Décor,” he finally managed, “remember that talk we had about statues moving around, and how they couldn't?”
“Y-yes…” her voice trembled.
“Forget all of it. Meet the Weeping Angels – well, Alicorns – the most insidious predators in the Universe.”
“Predators? But they’re just standing there!”
“That’s you! You’re doing that! By looking at them you’re collapsing their wave-function into a stone state, it’s how they hunt. They can only move when they’re not seen.”
“S-so we’re safe?” She didn’t seem convinced.
“Of course not,” the Time Lord responded, trying to sound calm. “We’re trapped, and the moment we blink we’re dead. If the Sun goes down again, if even for a second we lose sight of them, we’re dead. They’re lightning-fast, we wouldn’t know what hit us.”
“So we keep looking at them, and walk past them out the west door, where you came through,” Celestia intervened. “It’s right in front of me. There’s only one of them blocking it, and we can fit past him- Don’t look!”
In reflex, Décor had turned her head to the indicated door, only to realize her mistake and turn back a second later. She shrieked.
“Décor! Are you alright,” the distressed Time Lord asked, desperately fighting his urge to check on her.
In front of Décor now lay an statued Alicorn, its grimaced face inches away from her own. Several others behind it had also leaped closer.
“Oh, Nightmare, it didn’t make a single sound. How’d it get here so fast?”
“Just keep looking at it, and you’ll be fine!” Then he remembered. “Just not the eyes!”
“Don’t look at the eyes! You too, Princess!”
“What are you talking about now?! What’s wrong with their eyes?” Décor sounded exasperated.
“It’s a trap, that’s what! ‘The eyes are not the windows of the soul, they are the doors’,” he quoted. “You look at them to defend yourself, and instinctively you look them in the eye, and that’s what they want. They can get inside your head and kill you anyway, so do as I say!”
“That’s it! We start moving,” Celestia decreed. “Décor, look at their wings. Or the horns, or the legs. Walk backwards slowly, follow my voice, and we’ll be fine.” They began to move, slowly, towards the west door.
“Can’t you do something, Doctor” Décor demanded as the moved slowly to the exit. “Use that metal wand of yours, or something!”
Metal wand? Is that what I look like, a faux-unicorn magician?
“I’m sorry, I don’t have anything. I didn’t even expect too see these things again. They were wiped from history last time we met…”
Décor was getting tired of the technobabble. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“They fell into a crack in time and space. It should have erased them from time.”
“You’ve met them before? What, is this your day job or something?”
“Pretty much… In my defense, I was hoping to get away from it for a while here,” he quipped.
“Are these the same ones, Doctor? How much do they hate you,” the Princess asked.
“No idea. I don’t why it’d matter, though. It’s not like they’d kill us worse if they knew me.” He noted to himself that: 1) he should under no circumstances tempt his luck any further, and 2) this was hardly the time for a contest of wit between himself and the Princess. It’s something I should do, though.
As they reached the door, the Doctor beckoned his companions through as he maintained watch on the Angels. Two more had moved closer as the group ducked under the statue’s outstretched wings. Some lonely Parasprites were perched on their horns, oblivious to the abominations.
“We need to get these doors closed, tight as we can,” he told the mares after they were all in the hall beyond the door. Décor complied, helping him push the two massive wooden doors shut and locked as Celestia stood guard before the Alicorns.
“This solves nothing, Doctor,” she pointed out. “I still need to get into the Archive room, and without a unicorn that door will remain sealed.” The Time Lord noted that her appearance was worsening. Her hair was now a grayish shade of pink, and despite the effort to keep her composure her whole body seemed to be trembling.
“One thing at a time, Princess. We can get back to my ship through here, and with it we’ll jump right insid-”
Before he could finish his sentence, the Atrium door behind him shuddered with the sound of a massive blow. And another. And then another. With the fourth blow, the ancient oak finally gave in, cracking along the door’s heght. Through the splintered gash, a dark, sharpened granite hoof could be seen.
“They’re bucking the doors open…”
The group began a hasty, running retreat down the long western corridor as the Angels continued to pummel the entrance. The sound of its violent end made the three turn around. Five ferocious-looking equine statues lay frozen mid-gait behind them, having covered most of the distance in the blink of an eye. With their savage looks and razorlike teeth, they looked a lot like a pack of the Everfree Forest’s timberwolves on a hunt. The comparison did not help to ease Décor’s mind one bit.
“The other ones must have taken a different route,” Celestia observed. “Where is your ship, anyway?”
“The guest rooms’ overlook, your Highness,” Décor answered before the Doctor could say ‘big fancy balcony’.
“Then we’re not very far now. We should be alright as long as we can see them.” The three slowly continued down the hall, with the Doctor staring down the statues and Décor looking around for further intruders, which left Celestia as the only one who could see where they were going.
Though she tried to ignore it, she was quite aware of her dismal appearance and fading strength, more than anypony. Poweful though she was, the centuries had taken their toll on her body, if not her mind, and without her magic or a fellow unicorn to sustain her, she worried that her final hour might come to pass. While death itself did not frighten her after all she’d been through in over the years, it did consume her that her land would be left helpless at the claws of Discord, and more than that, that her sister would be left alone. She imagined Luna, her dear sister, fighting and surrounded by the Angels and the hordes of Tartarus, as the vile draconequus chuckled at his victory.
The thought acted to motivate her: “Not while I draw breath,” she thought to herself, quickening her pace as they advanced through the ruined Golden Wing halls. The place looked as if an invading army had gone through it, munching on everything and anything. After the rooms turned from marble to confectionery, with crystal sugar replacing the floorboards and wafer rolls taking the place of support columns, the Parasprites had had more than enough food to sustain their ludicrous reproductive speed. Now the finally-sated critters had perched themselves on most remaining masonry, sleeping or lazily observing the distressed ponies that passed them by.
“Well… I always did want a good reason to redecorate,” the Princess thought. She wondered what was the source of Discord’s newfound obsession with sweets. She was quite certain that his claim of being aware during his long imprisonment was a lie; surely the Elements weren’t cruel enough to inflict upon even him a punishment so terrible.
As the three turned a corner, the Alicorn statues again closed the distance in a heartbeat. There were eight following them now, looking more vicious and angry than ever. The Doctor noticed that their hooves were sharpened and abnormally elongated, much like the Angels from his own universe had sharpened claws and monstrous fangs. It raised a puzzling notion into his mind.
“Princess,” the Doctor asked, “these unicorn statues were here, inanimate, when I arrived. How could Discord have turned them into Weeping Angels?”
“I cannot claim I understand the extent of his power, Doctor. Even when my sister and I first stood up to him, thousands of years ago, our best hope was to lay low and draw as little attention to ourselves as we could.”
“So, he’s not what you’d call omniscient, is he,” Décor asked.
“So, how did he end up…” The Doctor wanted to say stoned, “... petrified?”
“Luna and I searched across Equestria for something that would be powerful enough to defeat him. In the end, we discovered The Elements of Harmony. They are what turned him to stone. Apart from their combined energies, I know of nothing that can help us against him.”
The Doctor frowned. “Let me guess: first thing he did after he got free was to dispose of them, right?” The Princess confirmed. “And the bearers? What about Twilight Sparkle and her friends?”
“Discord gave us a riddle that would lead them to the Elements. He said they’d find them after many twists and turns, back in the place where they began. Twilight though it meant they were in the palace labyrinth.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little straightforward?”
“The longer I think about it, the more I feel you’re right. The Canterlot Archives would have helped me to aid them. Among other things, there is a scrying mirror there. It would allow me to contact them.”
After another corner (and another leap from the pursuing Angels), the group finally arrived at the fancy balcony. The TARDIS lay at the other end. “Like I said, Princess,” the Doctor announced proudly, “the TARDIS will get you to the Archives faster than anything else!” Celestia was puzzled at first by the name he had for the quaint blue box, but after so many years of experience, she knew better than to be surprised.
After closing the door to the bacony behind them (which was swiftly followed by more vigorous pounding from the Alicorns behind it), the three dashed towards the ship. The balcony had changed since the Doctor’s last visit. As the chocolate rainclouds spread to cover all of Equestria, they had finally reached the city of Canterlot, and now the sticky, delightful precipitation was pouring over the castle, past the Princesses’ barrier and into the open balcony. It made running over the sugary floor quite a challenge.
“Come on, then,” the Doctor urged, “we’re almost there! We’re-”
The Sun fell from the sky once again, plunging the world into pitch-darkness. The group promptly slowed down.
“Oh, typical!” the Doctor cried, suddenly aware of the day’s particularly high amount of bad luck. “Just once I’d like these things to go smoothly. For the sake of variation if nothing else!” he shouted, shaking his hoof at The Powers That Be. Only then did it occur to him that, indeed, The Powers themselves were what opposed him that day, in the form of a vile trickster dragon. “There’s something to take pride in,” he thought as they fumbled through the darkness.
The thumping behind them intensified, indicating that the door was close to giving in to the assault on its integrity. Before long, the banging came to be accompanied by the sound of cracking wood. Right on cue, the Moon rose, unceremoniously, to take the place of its hexed sibling, providing a timely improvement in visibility: their path was blocked.
“We’re trapped!” Décor cried. Four Alicorns were spread out in front of her, blocking the way to the blue box. Looking behind, the Doctor saw that their eight pursuers had torn down the door, and were now preventing any possible retreat with their outstretched wings.
“That we are, back again in this position,” the Doctor replied, as the rainclouds moved to cover the last patches of clear moonlit sky. The whole scene was becoming darker every second, and the chocolate rain was not improving any aspect of their decreasing visibility. In a few seconds, the infrequent lightning bolts would be the only source of light remaining, and the Angels would be concealed enough to move; it would all be over.
Princess Celestia was keeping watch over the eight Alicorns that were now blocking the balcony less than ten feet behind them. One, sitting slightly behind some of its friends, stood tall on its hind legs, with a circular present box clutched to its chest and a malevolent smile across its face.
“Gloating… even here, they don’t know any better,” the Doctor thought as he finally recognized his granite nemesis. "They really are the same ones."
Encroaching darkness, a strange building that made no sense, and terrible monsters waiting for the first opportunity to pounce. It reminded the Doctor of his many past adventures… one of them in particular. He pulled out his sonic screwdriver: “Time to test the Pigtails function, and thank goodness we’re in range!” he announced, pointing the gadget at the TARDIS and biting down on the trigger. Instead of the tool’s characteristic whirring, the awkward scream of a terrified 20-year-old British male echoed over the rain, as the blue box received the instruction and initiated a pre-programmed command.
“A girly cry for help, Décor. The kind I was hoping to never have to make,” he answered, as the TARDIS began to vanish before the mare’s now watering eyes. Their last hope was quite literally fading away, with a sound like a set of keys scraping a piano string.
“But it’s… It’s going! Doctor, your ship is leaving us behind!” All seemed lost to her. Soon the downpour would force her to blink, and her Princess would fall to these monsters, because of her failure.
“Right you are, dear, and it’s a good thing too,” the Doctor replied, in an oddly cheerful voice. He turned again to the statues behind them. “Because I told you before, Alicorns, or Angels, or whatever you call yourselves,” he began, “I told you the last time we met. Remember what I said?” With another lightning strike, the statues leapt closer to the three, heedless of the angry Time Lord now confronting them. “There’s one thing you never, ever put in a trap, not if you want to see the light of day again.”
The sound of a cloister bell drowned all else for the shortest second.
A bolt of lightning struck a palace nearby tower as the TARDIS sounds signaled its mid-air materialization, right outside the palace balcony. Too late did the cloister bell announce the danger of imminent collision, as the box violently crashed through the castle’s now-brittle cakeshop masonry and into the brigade of eight Weeping Angels standing before the Doctor and Celestia, lodging itself quite firmly into the opposite wall.
The blue door opened, revealing a blonde pegasus mare with a messy grey coat and an expression of confusion and embarrasement on her face. One of her yellow eyes turned to the Doctor…
“Wuh… Was that my fault?”
Author's note: Like it? Dislike it? Please consider leaving a comment either way. I'm in need of feedback here.
Cookie points to whoever got my silly pigtails-and-frilly-skirt reference.