Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by JohnPerry


Return to Froggy Bottom Bog

Chapter Six: Return to Froggy Bottom Bog

Meanwhile, on the moon…

We’re all gonna di-i-ie!” Prince Blueblood cried in anguish, laying on the ground with his hooves lifted to the blue-green planet of Equestria above him. Surrounding him was the cold, stark landscape of the moon. “I don’t wanna die on the moon! There are no servants to build me a lavish tomb here!”

A blue hoof swung around and made contact with the Prince’s face, knocking him out of his sorrow before he found himself being vigorously shaken by the owner of that hoof. “We are NOT going to die here! With Celestia as my witness – and believe me, she will be – I vow that The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie will NOT die on this piece of rock!” said The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie, who as you can tell had wasted no time extending her title despite their grim situation. Nearby, Princess Luna was riding a mechanical dolphin ride similar to what you might see as a carnival. So enthralled she was that she was apparently completely oblivious to the presence of the Legion of Gloom or their predicament.

“But zis is hopeless!” Photo Finish cried. “How vill we ever get off ze moon?!

“With these,” The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie said, indicating the Element of Harmony she was wearing. “Although none of you could possibly hope to measure up to me, desperate times call for desperate measures. There has to be a way we can use these…Blueblood, you know the most about these things. Now snap out of it and get to it!”

Prince Blueblood swallowed hard and stood up. “Well…each of the Elements of Harmony are supposed to embody each of the traits they describe, and they can only be used by a pony who represents said element. So…let’s see…” he looked around at the others before snatching Applejack’s necklace from one of the Diamond Dogs and putting it on The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie.

“The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie (dear Celestia I can’t believe we’re still doing this joke)...who displayed brutal honesty and tough love when Twilight opened her heart to her, represents the element of…HONESTY!” At this the necklace began to glow slightly.

“It’s working, it’s working!” Prince Blueblood cried. “Granted, it’s probably supposed to be a little more impressive than that, but it’s a start. Okay, now then…” He turned to the “inanimate” objects holding Pinkie’s element. “Laughter…laughter…has any of us laughed recently?”

“I think The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie did,” one of the Diamond Dogs pointed out.

“Oh yeah…” Prince Blueblood murmured. “Well she can’t be honesty and laughter. But no one else fits…ugh, this is so difficult! Okay, let’s try this again.” He yanked Applejack’s necklace off of The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie’s neck and placed Pinkie’s on.

“The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie (I’m getting real sick of this, you know)…who laughed in Twilight’s face when she admitted her love, represents the element of…LAUGHTER!” At this the necklace glowed, not nearly as brightly as it ever had on Pinkie but a fair amount more than the Element of Honesty had.

“HA! It’s working!” Prince Blueblood shouted. “Now then…who should be honesty?” He looked up at the others, but they stared back with pale expressions on their faces.

“…Blueblood…” Gilda muttered with an eyebrow raised. “…Are you okay?”

“Why of course, I’m…” the Prince began, but the sentence got stuck in his throat as he looked down at himself and around at the others. Each of them was shimmering ever so slightly around the edges, which seem to shift back and forth slowly.

Suddenly everypony gasped as Prince Blueblood suddenly seemed to split into two identical ponies, with the ghostly transparent image of one where he was currently standing while a much more opaque version pulled Pinkie’s necklace from The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie, placed Applejack’s on, and then trotted backwards to the “inanimate” objects. By this point each of the members of the Legion of Gloom had found to their great shock an identical copy of themselves standing in the location they were standing.

“W…what’s going on?!?” The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie cried. “Who are they? Is that us?”

“I zink it is…” Photo Finish muttered. “But ze are moving backwards!

“They’re doing everything we were doing!” Prince Blueblood exclaimed. “It’s almost as if they’re moving backwards in time…”

Then the movements of the backwards-moving Legion members grew faster. Suddenly there was a burst of light and they were back in Princess Celestia’s throne room, watching themselves now leading away from the moment she had banished them to the moon. And still it went on, faster and faster, until the world was a blur around them…

***

Time and space moved to correct itself now that the presence of Doctor Whooves and six other fanon characters had been sudden lifted from this reality. Working backwards from the moment of their departure, the cracks and damages healed over and the paradoxes cleansed from all existence, repairing the time stream to its normal sequence.

With no Doctor Whooves in this reality, the fanon presence never spread to begin with, and the events of this story tidily wrapped themselves away, having never occurred in the first place. In fact, the events of the previous story also never occurred in the first place. But while the characters vanished from this world, the power of the Elements of Fiction would not be so easily undone – as it turns out, it takes quite a bit of logical story building, exposition and payoff to justifiably remove the power of something you spent so much time hyping up in the last story, and we just don’t have time for that now. So while the fanons disappeared, The Author self-insert remained destroyed as well.

In all of this, there was a small group of beings who, for the sake of simplicity, we’re just going to say remember everything that happened in this crazy story. Those beings were, of course, the Mane Six and the Legion of Gloom. While the rest of the universe forgot what now never actually happened, these two opposing factions we’ve followed since the start retained their memories because…heck, let’s just say it’s because they spent so much time near the League of Fanons and the incredible powers of the TARDIS (hey, the same thing happens in Doctor Who, and if they could get away with it I can at least try). And while you, the dear readers of the story, may chalk all this up as lazy writing I will defend as essential to establishing some great comedy and continuing character development out of the situations in the next scenes of this story.

…But I digress. And speaking of the next scene, let’s get to that already. As time and space corrected itself, the Mane Six and the Legion of Gloom were flung back to the last moment before either the League of Fanons or The Author self-insert could affect their course of action in any lasting, meaningful way. That moment was when the Mane Six confronted the Legion of Gloom in their dome in the Froggy Bottom Bog. And now there they stood in the large, dim circular room, staring at each other as they tried to come to terms with what just happened.

***

“Hang on…I’m still trying to come to terms with what just happened,” Twilight Sparkle said slowly.

“Oh, Dashie!” Pinkie cried, racing over to grip Rainbow Dash in a tight hug while weeping loudly. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to…you know I would never…” at this point she broke down completely, showering the pegasus with tears. “Oh, could you ever forgive me?

Dash looked sideways at Applejack. “I think we all said and did things we didn’t really mean back there…”

“Darn tootin’,” Applejack agreed. “Let’s just put this whole thing behind us, all right girls?” There were nods of agreement from the others at this.

“Hang on,” Gilda butted in. “But how in the world did we get back here?” She paused for a moment before suddenly brightening up in surprise. “Hey! My ears! I can hear again! They’re back to normal!”

“Everything started moving backwards…” Twilight muttered, deep in thought. “It’s like we went back in time!”

“Oh silly, didn’t any of you read that lengthy exposition earlier in this chapter?” Pinkie giggled.

“Yes yes, all well and good, but The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Mayor Supreme Ruler of the Moon Trixie believes we have some unsettled business to attend to!”

The mane six stared at her. “Oh man…” Rainbow Dash muttered. “There is no way I’m saying that whole thing. You can just stay Trixie, all right?”

The others nodded before suddenly reacting in surprise. “Dash!” Pinkie squealed. “You said Trixie!” she pointed out, before gasping loudly. “And now I said Trixie!” she said, gasping again. “Now that The Author hasn’t cast that spell yet, we don’t have to say her whole name!”

“Oh, thank you…” Gilda sighed in exasperated relief.

“Thank heavens!” Rarity exclaimed.

“Thank Celestia!” Twilight exclaimed.

Thank god, thought the author of the story, relieved to have a legitimate excuse to write the joke out of the story seeing as he had gotten quite tired of typing out that entire name, even if it had helped increase the word count for the chapter. Plus, he had a sneaking suspicion that by this point he had milked the joke for all it was worth, which probably wasn’t much to begin with.

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!” Trixie screamed at the sky before pounding the ground with her hooves.

Fine,” Trixie growled through gritted teeth, standing up. “If I can’t have my title, I can at least have my revenge,” she said, indicating the crown of the Element of Magic on her head. “As you have already seen, we posses the Elements of Harmony!”

“Actually, I hadn’t already seen that,” Pinkie pointed out. “Namely because the author of the story failed to describe the scene in enough detail for any of us to notice it!” It was around this point that the author decided he’d had it with Pinkie breaking the fourth wall.

You…” Twilight growled at Trixie, stepping forward while locking her gaze on the magician. “I thought you would learn your lesson one day, but it’s clear to me now that that’s never going to happen.”

Twilight’s tone now grew harsher, her frown deeper, her eyes more fiery and her demeanor more threatening with each sentence she spoke. “Your fans brought an Ursa Minor to town, your companions tried to kill my friends, your husband kidnapped my number one assistant and YOU BROKE…MY…HEART. I’M NOT LEAVING HERE WITHOUT THAT CROWN.”

Trixie gulped. “Uh, Blueblood? Elements? Now?

“Oh, right!” Prince Blueblood replied. “Uh…The Great and Powerful Trixie is laughter, because she laughed at Twilight earlier.” At this Pinkie’s necklace, which Trixie was wearing in addition to the crown, glowed as Trixie lifted slowly into the air.

“And, uh…” Prince Blueblood looked around desperately. “The Diamond Dogs are…generosity!” he exclaimed, grabbing Rarity’s necklace off of his neck and slapping it on one of the Diamond Dogs. “Because they went to all that work to get us that pizza earlier!” At this Rarity’s necklace glowed and the Diamond Dogs began to hover in the air.

“And, uh…” Blueblood was sweating profusely by this point. “Photo Finish is honesty, because…she always speaks her mind?”

“Vell, if zat is the best you can come up with…” Photo Finish sighed, taking Applejack’s necklace and lifting off the ground herself.

“And kindness is…no, um…loyalty is…um…uh…” Blueblood was now drenched in sweat by this point and looked like he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

“Come on, you idiot!” Trixie exclaimed from above.

“Yeah, why don’t I do you a ‘kindness’ and just do the stupid thing for you?!” Gilda yelled, grabbing Fluttershy’s necklace. Prince Blueblood refused to let go.

“No, NO! I can figure this out!” Blueblood pleaded, clutching to the last two necklaces.

“I zink you can not!” Madame LeFlour said, who naturally was not heard by anyone except her fellow inanimate objects and Pinkie.

“Come on already, you lo-ser!” Rocky exclaimed.

But as it always happens with teams of villains who can’t figure out how to get along, their failure to support their companion was their downfall, as the spark of friendship needed to get the Elements of Harmony work failed to materialize and the Elements of Honesty, Laughter and Generosity lost what little glow they had and Trixie, Photo Finish and the Diamond Dogs dropped to the ground.

Rainbow Dash doubled over in laughter watching this. “We should just leave you guys on your own – you’ll probably wind up beating yourselves!”

“That’s it,” Gilda growled. “Your flank is sank, Rainbow Crash!” she yelled, taking to the air and diving at Dash.

“Bring the noise!” Dash challenged Gilda, jumping to her hooves and leaping off the ground. She and Gilda resumed their tradition of swooping and diving dangerously at each other in mid-air each time they got into one of these fights.

“Well if you don’t mind, I’ll be taking that,” Rarity said firmly, using her magic to tug her Element out of the hands of the Diamond Dogs.

“NO!” the Diamond Dogs squealed, grabbing the necklace in mid-air and trying to pull it back. “It is OURS now!”

“But I waaaaaaaaaaant it!” Rarity whined, sending the Diamond Dogs cringing in horror as they tried to resist throwing their hands over their ears and letting go of the element.

“Um, Rarity…” Fluttershy muttered softly. “I don’t want to sound rude, but…well, it’s just a little, tiny bit ironic that you’re both fighting over the Element of Generosity and…um…” she said before faltering under Rarity’s stern glare. “…well, but…what I mean is I guess this time it’s justified…meep…”

Meanwhile, Twilight and Pinkie had charged headlong at Trixie, seeing as she was currently in possession of both of their elements. Twilight let out a strangled yell as she fired off a blast of magic from her horn while Pinkie gave a loud “GRRRR!” as she threw a cupcake she retrieved out of her poofy tail. Trixie ducked the magic blast but got nailed in the face with the cupcake, causing her to scream in terror before realizing it was harmless. She stood up, wiping the remnants of the sweet from her face before sending her own blast of magic at Twilight and Pinkie. They both dodged it, but Pinkie was tripped by the sudden appearance of Rocky in front of her when nopony was looking and stumbled over. Twilight leaped into the air and tackled Trixie, sending both unicorns rolling over each other as they tussled.

“Let me go! Zis is undignified!” Photo Finish hollered to Applejack, who had successfully managed to lasso the fashion photographer and hogtied her before she could put up much of a fight.

“Ah’ll be taking that,” Applejack said, grabbing the Element of Honesty off of Photo Finish’s neck and placing it on her own. “Now then, where’s that uppity prince fellow…” she looked over before catching sight of Prince Blueblood just as he saw her.

“You!” the prince cried, pointing at Applejack. “You were the dirty peasant who fed me that horrid commoner fare!”

“Hey, ah put a lotta work into mah apples!” Applejack yelled. “Mah food is anythin’ but common! And I think it’s about time I taught you and yer hoity toity taste buds a lesson!” She flung her lasso at the prince, who squealed in horror and tried to dodge it.

“YOU LEAVE MY PRINCE ALONE!” screamed Trixie, who had Twilight pinned at the moment and was holding her down while she lifted her head to aim her horn, but before the magician could cast any spell Twilight thrust her head forward off the ground and headbutted Trixie square in the jaw, sending the magician flying backwards off of Twilight.

“Ooooowwwwww…” Twilight moaned, clutching her head around her horn. “That was stupid, why did I do that?”

“Maagggpphht!” Trixie groaned, her hooves over her mouth. Several drops of blood trickled out of her mouth as the chipped remains of a couple of teeth fell out. “Yuf thucking thitch!” she sputtered at Twilight, still clutching her mouth.

“Never fear, my Princess!” Prince Blueblood called out. “I know a spell that mends wounds!” He fired off a spell at Trixie, who was instantaneously relived of pain as her teeth repaired themselves and the blood vanished.

“My word, Blueblood!” Trixie cried. “Why, that may be the first kind thing anypony has ever done for me!”

“Kind?” Blueblood replied, raising an eyebrow. “I just did it because I can’t stand the sight of blood.” He shuddered violently. “So uncivilized…”

“And that’s why,” Applejack interjected, finally succeeding in lassoing the prince. “You don’t get to have the Element of Kindness!” Twilight tackled Trixie again while Applejack secured the prince and retrieved the Elements of Kindness and Loyalty.

“Fluttershy! RD!” Applejack called out. “Catch!” At this she tossed the Elements into the air. Fluttershy easily caught hers, and Rainbow Dash swiftly flew past and caught hers before Gilda could snatch it out of the air.

“Hi-YAH!” Pinkie cried, launching a kick at Mr. Turnip and sending the bucket of turnips spilling across the floor. Fluttershy spotted the now-empty bucket and quickly picked it up.

“GIVE…ME…THAT…CROWN!” Twilight yelled, still wrestling with Trixie and struggling to grab the crown off her head.

“Never!” Trixie growled, managing to hold Twilight off.

Suddenly Twilight looked up before a sly grin crossed her face. “Hey Trixie? What’s puffed-up, clueless and blue all over?”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie has no time for your silly rid-“ Trixie proclaimed before being cut off as Fluttershy forcefully brought the bucket of Mr. Turnip down on Trixie’s head, knocking the crown off in the process.

YOUR FACE!” Twilight yelled triumphantly, pointing a hoof at Trixie.

“Sorry about that,” Fluttershy said softly to Trixie with a smile on her face as she pulled the Element of Laughter off of Trixie’s neck. “But you were hurting my friend.” Trixie replied with a series of muffled curses and screams from under the bucket as she tried to pull it off her head.

Twilight picked up the crown and placed it on her head while Fluttershy floated over to Pinkie to give her the Element of Laughter. “We’re almost there, girls!” Twilight announced. “The only Element left is…”

“AAAAAAAAAHH!!! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” one of the Diamond Dogs cried, throwing his hands over his ears to block the sound of Rarity’s whining. Without all three holding on to the Element of Generosity it slipped out of their hands and on to the waiting neck of Rarity, who gave out a triumphant squeal.

A sudden flash of light from behind them caused them to pause and look to see that Rainbow Dash had tackled Gilda, flying at a high enough speed that it caused a small rainbow-colored explosion when she smashed the griffon into the floor. Dash lifted back into the air, unharmed, while Gilda lay on the floor, unhurt but temporarily stunned.

“Dash! We got them all!” Twilight yelled, indicating the crown on her head. Dash nodded, not noticing that Gilda was now shaking off the blast and leapt into the air at her. Her friends were about to shout out a warning, but Dash was apparently expecting Gilda and a well-placed hoof caught Gilda’s wings in mid-air and sent her tumbling into the Diamond Dogs, where they lay in a big heap.

“Get us free!” Prince Blueblood cried to Gilda and the Diamond Dogs, still hogtied along with Photo Finish, while Trixie still struggled with the bucket and the “inanimate” objects could do nothing but stand around as they could currently be seen by the ponies in the room. The Diamond Dogs quickly got up and tried to release the prince and Photo Finish, but they lacked experience with knots and had difficulty releasing them.

“Ow! That’s making it tighter, you buffoon!” Prince Blueblood cried. “Hurry up!”

“Here, I’ll just claw you out!” Gilda said, showing her talons.

Prince Blueblood gulped at the sight of the griffon's talons. “Well, maybe I’m not in that much of a hurry…”

“All right girls, time to use our powers!” Twilight announced, gathering her friends as their Elements began to glow.

“On second thought, I’ll take my chances,” Prince Blueblood offered, seeing the oncoming threat. Gilda cut the prince and Photo Finish out of their bounds while Trixie finally managed to tug the bucket off her head.

But it was too late for them. The Elements of Harmony glowed brighter as Twilight’s friends lifted into the air and Twilight’s eyes opened to reveal two glowing orbs. And the fact that the Legion of Gloom were in such close proximity just made the job for Twilight and her friends that much easier, as they unleashed the power of the Elements of Harmony on to their foes.

Each of the members of the Legion of Gloom let out a scream as the rainbow launched by the Elements of Harmony came crashing down on them. Trixie and Prince Blueblood stood next to each other with their heads turned away; Gilda and the Diamond Dogs each had an arm raised against the rainbow to shield their faces; Photo Finish gritted her teeth and braced herself against the onslaught of color; and the inanimate objects merely stood nearby.

A terrific flash of brightest light filled the dome-shaped building, and when it cleared the Legion of Gloom still stood…

…as statues of stone.

***

“But how did we get back here?” Fluttershy asked. She and her friends were sitting in the Ponyville Library, relaxing after the tiring events they had all gone through. “Why did time go backwards?”

“And where’s the League of Fanons?” Rainbow Dash asked. “Anything to do with time, I bet the Doctor would know what’s going on.”

“I was asking around for Lyra and Bon Bon,” Rarity said. “But everypony I asked just gave me a blank look and told me they didn’t know who I was talking about! You’d think they had never lived here!”

“I went to the post office to ask for Derpy,” Twilight said. “But the pony there told me they never had a mailmare by that name working there.”

“It’s as if they all vanished,” Applejack said, shuddering slightly.

There was an awkward silence for a moment, and each of them noticed that a certain pink mare who was normally the chattiest of them all was being unusually quiet. She looked back and forth at her friends for a moment before clearing the silence with a small cough.

“Um, girls…” Pinkie began. “Well, Rainbow Dash mainly…I know we said we wouldn’t talk about what happened, but…I still want to apologize for…well…” the words died in her throat.

“Darling, it wasn’t your fault,” Rarity assured Pinkie, giving her a pat on the shoulder. “We all said and did things none of us meant.”

“Well…” Rainbow Dash cleared her throat. “That might not entirely be accurate…”

“Huh?” Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie and Fluttershy said in unison.

“Well, you see…” Applejack began, removing her hat. “This whole experience has made Dashie and I realize…well…” Applejack turned to Rainbow Dash while their four friends looked on with wide eyes and their mouths agape.

“You mean…?” Twilight trailed off.

“Applejack and I have realized our true feelings for each other,” Rainbow Dash finished.

“Oh my…” Rarity breathed, placing a hoof on her mouth. Pinkie and Twilight just stared back, their jaws comically low.

“Oh, that’s wonderful, girls!” Fluttershy said softly, smiling widely even though her eyes continued to betray her surprise. “I didn’t realize you felt that way about each other! Of course we support your relationship and we’re all really happy for you both! Eh, right girls?”

“Oh…yes!” Twilight said, snapping out of her shock. Pinkie and Rarity nodded. Applejack and Rainbow Dash smiled at each other.

Then Rainbow Dash’s left eye squinted. Applejack bit her lower lip. Dash’s body started shaking as she put a hoof to her mouth. Applejack closed her eyes tightly as small tears started to trickle down her face.

BWA-ha-ha-ha-HAH!!!” Rainbow Dash finally burst out, falling onto her back and letting out a massive laugh as Applejack did the same, collapsing on the floor and pounding it with her hooves as she laughed uncontrollably.

“You…you all thought…that we…weAh-HAH-HAH-HAH!!!” Rainbow Dash laughed, clutching her ribs as she rolled on the floor.

“Me…and RD…oh ho, that’s rich!” Applejack gasped, tears of laughter streaming down her face. The other ponies in the room regained their shock for a moment as they looked at each other. Then they started to giggle softly before breaking out in full laughter as the laughter of Applejack and Rainbow Dash was just too infectious. They spent several moments just lying there and laughing, feeling the joy wash away the stress of the events they all just went through.

“Heh heh…oh that was good…” Dash said, wiping a tear from her eye as she finally recovered. “Applejack and I have been planning that one since we got back. You should have seen the look on your faces! I mean come on!” she exclaimed, waving a hoof. "Applejack? Really?"

Applejack chucked as she put her hat back on. “I love RD as a friend, but she ain’t like that,” she said.

“Nice one with the ‘Dashie’ there, by the way,” Dash said, offering a brohoof which Applejack accepted.

Everypony sat there, enjoying the now warm atmosphere of the room as they collected themselves after all the laughing. It was at this moment that they heard a quiet voice drifting through the library. And though it was barely audible, there was no denying who the voice belonged to.

“Hello? Can anypony hear me?” the voice called out.

“Doctor?!” Twilight yelped in surprise. She and her friends immediately bolted upright, looking around for their friend. “Doctor, is that you?”

“Ah, Twilight Sparkle!” the voice of the Doctor called back. “Good, then I got the location right. Hang on…”

Before their eyes, the Doctor slowly materialized in the middle of the room, causing everypony to jump back in surprise. He stood there looking at them all, but he was transparent.

“Doctor!” Pinkie gasped. “I can see through you! Are you a ghost?” She gasped loudly. “Does that mean I have to giggle at you now?”

“No Pinkie, that’s quite alright,” the Doctor quickly replied. “This is actually just a projection of myself, I’m standing in the TARDIS right now. Hang on…” He pulled out his sonic screwdriver and pointed it above their heads at something the rest of them couldn’t see. A moment later the image of the Doctor became opaque. “Better?”

“Much better,” Twilight replied. “Where are you? And the rest of the League? Nopony seems to know where you are!”

“Or who you are,” Rainbow Dash inserted.

“If that’s the case, it means our plan worked,” the Doctor explained. “You see, I was the cause of everything that happened to you. I brought the fanon dimension into yours and caused them to collide, threatening the very existence of your world. I had to remove myself from your reality, and the other Fanons joined me to save Equestria.”

“So...you’re in a different dimension?” Twilight asked, scratching her head.

“Yep,” the Doctor said. “It takes an awful lot of power to send a projection across dimensions. I’m in orbit around a supernova, letting the TARDIS collect the energy from a dying star. Heh,” he chuckled softly. “I’m burning up a sun just to say goodbye.”

“Goodbye?” Fluttershy said in a concerned voice. “What do you mean?”

“I can’t stay in Equestria,” the Doctor said. “At least, not your Equestria. In order to repair the damage to your world, me and the other fanons had to remove all traces of ourselves from your dimension. Even just sending this message could cause damage if I leave it on too long, so I don’t have much time to talk.”

“But what about Derpy?” Rarity cried. “And Lyra and Bon Bon and Octavia and DJ Pon3?”

“And that cute little filly Derpy had with her?” Applejack asked. “Where are they?”

“All safe and sound, never fear! We’re all in a dimension where we can exist without posing a threat,” the Doctor replied. “In this one, Derpy was apparently my partner and Dinky our child! How do you like that? It all fits together neatly! I’d like to shake the hoof of the brony who came up with that one!”

“But…will we ever see you again?” Twilight asked, fearing the answer.

“I’m afraid not, Twilight,” the Doctor said softly. “The risk to your world is just too great.”

Twilight and her friends bowed their heads sadly, and when Twilight lifted her head again her eyes were brimming with tears.

“But…it’s not fair,” Twilight said quietly. “We only just met, and we all had so much to learn from you. I had so much to learn from you…you said you could show me the stars, these things I could only imagine here in Equestria…And now it’ll be as if you never existed.”

The Doctor looked down sadly, as if in shame. “I’m sorry, girls. Once again, I have failed my companions. I show them the universe and they’re all too eager to come along…but our time is always cut short, and I wonder if I should have ever met them in the first place.”

“Well I for one wouldn’t have traded our time together for all the bits in the world!” Applejack announced. “It may have been short, but it was fun while it lasted!” Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Rarity all nodded vigorously at this.

“That’s kind of you to say,” the Doctor said, looking up at them again. “I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive me, and I want you to try to forget me, as the rest of the ponies in your Equestria have.”

Twilight shook her head, the tears now leaking out of her eyes. “Our time together was short, but I think I speak for all of us when I say none of us could ever forget you, Doctor.”

“Oh, Twilight Sparkle…” the Doctor smiled softly. “Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Applejack. The Elements of Harmony: always ready to offer their friendship and save Equestria. What am I compared to the power of the bond you all share? The bond you shared before you even realized it?”

Now the Doctor’s eyes were sparkling with tears as well. “I want you girls to remember…” he tried to continue, but the words were getting stuck in his throat. “…you…”

But the image of the Doctor vanished before he could finish the sentence. Twilight bowed her head and let the tears drip to the floor as her friends comforted her and each other.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor stood there, staring at the wall in front of him.

“…you have each other.” Tears trickled down his face as he finished the sentence.

“Power drained, Doctor,” Derpy said, standing by the central console. “I’m sorry, there wasn’t enough energy to keep the message going.”

The Doctor took a deep breath and wiped the tears off his face. “That’s alright. Although you really should said farewell too, they probably would have liked that.”

“I was never good with goodbyes,” Derpy replied. “And from the looks of it, neither are you.”

“It never gets any easier…” the Doctor sighed.

Derpy walked over to him and nuzzled him on the neck. “It does now. You’ve got me and Dinky.” The Doctor returned the gesture, gently laying his head in Derpy’s mane and closing his eyes.

***

In short order, the statues of the Legion of Gloom were moved from the dome in the Froggy Bottom Bog to the Canterlot Royal Sculpture Garden, where they sat as a reminder of the danger of the jealousy, betrayal and greed they each had displayed in attempting to enact revenge on the Elements of Harmony.

For generations to come, they were shown to little fillies as a symbol of villainy, and every time they were, the fillies who looked at the statue had the same question for their parents, teachers, or whoever else was the one who brought them to the sculpture gardens, a question that always managed to stump the unfortunate pony who was asked it:

“Why is there a carving of a bucket of turnips, a stack of rocks, a sack of flour, and a ball of lint next to them?”

THE END

Author's note: thank you all for reading this story and I hope you enjoyed the Legion of Gloom series! I had a lot of fun writing it, and I feel a little sorry for ending it so soon, but I honestly felt I wouldn't be able to keep it up for much longer without the quality of the writing going completely downhill, so I wanted to try and give a really big, all-out ending. Again, thank you all for your nice comments - you really gave me the confidence and drive to continue writing after the first Legion of Gloom story.