• Published 16th Oct 2012
  • 8,012 Views, 304 Comments

Alarm Clock - Meta Four



Ditzy Doo sees things nopony else can see: higher-dimensional spatial anomalies, fae creatures, and eldritch abominations. She solves problems that other ponies don’t even know exist. But now, she may have bitten off more than she can chew.

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Demolition Derpy (Morning Three)

“Bluuuh …”

“What now?” Carrot Top spoke without looking up from her copy of the book.

“Did anypony ever actually speak this way? Listen …” Ditzy slammed the hated tome onto the desktop, placing her left forehoof on the page to indicate her place as she read.

How strange that criminals seldom swoon at such a moment! No, quite the opposite: the brain is especially active, especially mobile—turning, turning, turning like chariot wheels at full speed. At that speed, our stallion notices everything, remembers everything. Yet there is one point, round which all he sees, all his thoughts, dance and turn: that moment is approaching on swift wings! That moment—once weeks, days, hours distant—is arriving in a mere hoofful of minutes! I wonder at the thoughts—the strange, half-baked, quite funny thoughts!—that must dance through his head as those minutes count down. Such as: “Oh, I still have quite some time—there are still three streets between myself and that place. Three streets! That’s almost an eternity! And that old bakery has a broken window! That officer’s hat is faded and threadbare, and far too small for his head anyway! Two streets now—oh, this is going to be ages!” And the while, he knows he cannot faint, he cannot falter ...

“... blah blah blah blah blah!” Ditzy slammed the book shut and pushed it away. “Prince Sheepkin just goes on and on for paragraphs. How are we supposed to read 800 pages of this?”

Ditzy looked up. The school room was dark and, aside from herself and Carrot Top, completely empty. Study hall fell right after lunch, and there should have been a dozen other students—but at the moment, those oddities were a far less pressing concern than this discussion of the merits of Dusty Desk Key’s prose.

Carrot Top seemed to agree, deigning to close her book and look at Ditzy as she replied. “Yeah, he writes characters as representations of philosophical ideals. So they tend to be larger than life and wear their emotions on their sleeves like that. But, uh, that bit you just cited? That was autobiographical.”

“What? The stuff about executions?”

Carrot Top nodded. “Yep. He got arrested for something or other. The judge ran him through a mock execution—and only told Dusty he’d been pardoned at the very last second. The judge apparently thought it the funniest thing ever.”

“That’s … wow. But that still doesn’t—” Movement outside the window, and a silver gleam of reflected moonlight, caught the corner of Ditzy’s eye. “What’s that?” Whatever it was, it moved as Ditzy turned to look, and was completely gone by the time she flapped over to the window. “Carrot Top, did you see that?”

“If you think that was some tedious writing,” Carrot Top said, “then get a load of this.”

Ditzy sighed and pressed her face to the glass. Outside, the Mare in the Moon looked down upon Ponyville from the sky’s zenith.

Carrot Top read aloud, “It is the second year of the second millennium of the solar sister’s reign. What in the name of fornication is happening? In a dream, I stood upon the shore of the sea. Dark and chill was the moon on the surface of the deep. A bridge of light ran across it.”

A narrow beam of light, iridescent violet in color, fired from an unseen source into the sky.

“Behold! A fearsome beast strode across the bridge. It had seven horns and three heads, and it wore a crown of stone, a crown of iron, and a crown of bones.”

The beam of light widened. At the beam’s growing edge, trees and houses flared, then crumbled to dust. Ditzy tried to flee, but found all her limbs heavy and unresponsive. She tried to call out to Carrot Top, but her voice was reduced to a hoarse whisper. Frozen in place, she could do nothing but watch as the widening circle of destruction swept over Ponyville, towards Ditzy.

Carrot Top continued reading. “With the feet of a bear, the beast shook the earth. With the wings of a raven, it blocked out the sky. With the breath of a dragon, it burned everything above the ground. With the tail of a scorpion, it poisoned the earth itself.”

The beam of light consumed the schoolhouse. Intense cold washed over Ditzy, from head to hoof. Then it passed, and the light faded.

“All ponykind looked upon the desolation and cried out in one voice: ‘Woe are we, that these days befall us!’”

The schoolhouse was gone. No trace of Ponyville remained. As wide as Ditzy could see, the earth was blackened and glassy, its surface cut by numberless ruts and crevasses. From these, a sickly green light shone. The sky above was dull yellow and marred by a jagged crack. From that crack, a massive black scorpion’s claw extended and grasped the moon.

An unearthly cacophony sounded in Ditzy’s ears, yet somehow Carrot Top’s voice carried over it: “‘Blessed instead is the foal who was never born, and never lived to see these evil times. Blessed is the stallion whose brain was dashed upon a rock, for nothing really stands out, he’s just skating on the same route. Blessed is the mare who gouged her eyes out, for she’s feeling fine, she has nothing to complain about. She’s on her way, it’s just …’”

With a thump, Carrot Top set the book down. She said, “Hey, our song is on!”

Ditzy regained control of her limbs and turned around. Carrot Top’s desk was the only piece of furniture remaining from the schoolhouse, and a radio was now resting atop it. As Carrot Top fiddled with the volume, the background sounds grew louder, and Ditzy finally realized they were music. She even recognized the words.

“—an average daaaaaay ...”

Carrot Top danced to the song. “You’re rolling your eyes, aren’t you, Ditzy?”

“No,” Ditzy said. In fact, she had scrunched her eyes shut and placed her forehooves over her ears. “But do you have to play it so loud?

“... and nothing really stands out!”

“C’mon, lighten up a bit!” Carrot Top said, shaking her mane. “This ska fad’s probably gonna be passé this time next year, so let’s enjoy it while it lasts!”

Ditzy clamped her hooves down harder, but the music only seemed to grow louder. “Why can’t we enjoy it a little more quietly?!”

“What?”

“I’m just skating on the same route!”

“I said, why can’t—”

Ditzy woke up.


Morning Three: Demolition Derpy


“I’m feeling fiiiiiiiine,
got nothing to complain ’bout!
I’m on my way,
it’s just an average day!”

The radio was still set to the obnoxious volume that had driven Twilight Sparkle away last night. Ditzy shot her hoof towards its “off” button, but she thought better of it at the last instant. Instead, she turned the volume down to a bearable level and left it playing as she prepared for her day.

The radio played as Ditzy ate her breakfast. Her six strips of hay bacon were savory but a bit on the chewy side. The flavor of her oatmeal pancakes was completely overwhelmed by the thick, smothering layer of blackberry syrup on top. When she bit into her grapefruit, it squirted juice into her eye. Her sesame seed bagel was toasted just a little too long, but the cream cheese made up for it. She scrambled the last two eggs from the fridge, and the grease from the hay bacon gave them a bit of kick. The lemon poppyseed muffin was zesty and moist—just like Ditzy liked it. She washed the meal down with two glasses of orange juice. It was not quite a breakfast fit for a princess—but it would suffice as a last meal, if it had to.

The radio played as Ditzy reread the letter on her fridge. She could recognize most of the fia sídhe alphabet this morning—Twilight’s notes on the subject in the library had jogged her memory—and could even understand the final paragraph. It was the same blessing that Abhean, son of Bec-Felmas, had given her in person before his departure. On the other hoof, the rest of the letter hid its meaning behind words outside of Ditzy’s understanding. Still, she admired the artistic talent evident in the calligraphy. The accent marks that looked like little circles were her favorites.

The radio played as Ditzy washed herself up. She started with a long, warm shower. Then, while the fog cleared from the mirror, she brushed her teeth for twice as long as usual. She then took a hairbrush to her mane, working out all the knots and kinks that had accumulated since her last brushing. Ditzy had no makeup and no high opinion of her own appearance, but she felt that the mare staring back out of her mirror was adequately presentable this morning.

The radio played as Ditzy examined the blueprints of Ponyville Town Hall. She couldn’t make out the name of the architect. As she made her preparations, she wondered what had motivated them to use this specific, star-forsaken design. Evil? Madness? Mere ignorance? Whatever the reason, the results were the same: another mess for her to clean up.

As Ditzy prepared for her day, the radio played fifteen pop songs. She recognized three of the songs that had debuted within the last year, two of the songs that had debuted the year before that, a cover version of a song that had debuted when she was just a filly, and that song by the one-hit-wonder ska band that had debuted back when she was in high school. Fourteen of the songs had electric harps, ten of them had synthesizers, five of them had a string quartet, three of them had horns, three of them had accordions, and two of them had dirty bass wobbles. Eight of the songs had a mare singing, five had a stallion singing, one was so heavily auto-tuned that Ditzy couldn’t tell, and one song had a mare and a stallion singing.

The radio also played seven commercials and eight minutes of banter between the morning show DJs. In their time on-air, Vinyl Scratch called Two Tone a hipster, a square, Maxwell’s Demon, and a pedant, while Two Tone called Vinyl Scratch a vampire, a poptimist, “a dubstep too far”, and “the cruelest month”. Of the commercials, three were for then-upcoming radio dramas—which had actually aired the previous evening—two were for magic migraine relief medicine ...

Ditzy shook her head. Wow, she thought, I’m actually categorizing the contents of the radio broadcast. “Dusty Desk Key was right,” she said. “I need to stop stalling.”

She shut off the radio and walked to the front door. Opening it, Ditzy looked back at her apartment. The morning sun shone through the windows and reflected off the golden blossoms on the kitchen windowsill. The light transformed the space, briefly, into one that Ditzy thought she might miss.

She left.


Ditzy gazed up at Town Hall. The glow had spread further, covering nearly half of the building. With that much of the structure absorbed by the spatial anomaly, the depth-inversion was obvious, even to Ditzy’s sight.

It will happen soon, Ditzy thought. The spell components will converge, the bridge to the void will form, and the summoning will commence. Ditzy glanced around town square. But how will they converge? The great circle—that’s obvious. The cursed oak—that could be any of these beams, or all of them. The oath of consecration—that can linger for centuries, but I ought to keep an ear out for some madpony uttering the words, all the same. That just leaves the blood of a virgin. Where the hay will—

“Good morning!” Mayor Mare’s voice startled Ditzy out of her thoughts. She descended Town Hall’s front steps with uncanny earth pony balance, holding a full coffee mug in one forehoof. “Rainbow Dash told me expect you, Ditzy. Thank you so much for agreeing to help set up for the celebration.”

“Oh, it’s nothing, really.”

“Nonsense! Many hooves make light work, you know. Rainbow didn’t say as much—you know how she doesn’t like to admit when she needs help—but I could tell she also appreciates your assistance.”

As the Mayor took a sip of coffee, Ditzy scanned the mostly-empty town square and the sky above it.

“Speaking of Rainbow Dash,” Ditzy said, “where is she?”

“Oh, she went over to her marefriend’s house to pick up the streamers and bunting.”

Ditzy blinked. “Why would Applejack have party decorations?”

“No, I said she went to … Wait, are you implying Rainbow Dash and Applejack are an item?”

“I don’t know. That’s just what I heard.”

“Heard from whom? From Rainbow Dash herself?”

“No, from …”

“Then I very much doubt it, Ditzy.” Mayor Mare took another sip of her coffee. “Because clearly Rainbow Dash is dating Pinkie Pie.”

Ditzy sighed. “Did you hear that from Rainbow Dash?”

“Oh, pish posh! It’s so obvious, there’s no need for them to tell anypony! Why else would an earth pony like Pinkie Pie own so many flying devices?”

“Because she’s Pinkie Pie.”

“Why else would she react so strongly when Dash started hanging out with that griffin? Acting even stranger than usual …”

“It's Pinkie Pie. She's always acting stranger than usual.”

“And why else would she and Dash spend so much time alone?”

“Because they’re prank buddies?

“Ooooooohhh,” the Mayor said, winking at Ditzy, “is that what the kids are calling it these days? Say no more, Ditzy, say no more.”

Ditzy rolled her eyes. “Gladly.”

“I’m just so excited,” the Mayor said, turning towards the empty town square. “With the whole town rallying behind Applejack, I know she’s going to beat all the competition at that rodeo. She’ll do Ponyville proud, Ditzy, and it will be the best publicity our town has had since—”

“Incoming!”

Rainbow Dash’s warning cry gave Ditzy and Mayor Mare just enough time to duck and cover their faces before Dash—and the cart she was hauling—crashed into the ground. When Ditzy uncovered her eyes, she saw a pile of wood scraps and colored fabrics, with Dash’s front half sticking out from underneath.

“I’m alright!” Dash said, wriggling herself free from the wreckage of the cart. “And I think I set a new record for getting from Sugarcube Corner to here! Booyah!”

“Yes, impressive,” the Mayor said, her tone anything but impressed. “Shame about the landing, though.”

“Ehhhhh, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few ...” Dash shook her leg free and took a few steps away from the debris. “Uh, carts.”

“Um, Dash,” Ditzy said, “you’re bleeding.”

“Hmm.” Dash examined her legs and craned her neck to look at her haunches, confirming that she had quite a few superficial scrapes and cuts. “I’ve had worse.”

“Still,” the Mayor said, “you really ought to wash up. We don’t want you getting blood all over the decorations, do we?”

Rainbow Dash groaned, but spread her wings. “Fiiiiine,” she said, then flew up the stairs, through Town Hall’s entrance, towards its public bathroom.

“Well,” Mayor Mare said, as she retrieved the now-empty mug from where she had dropped it, “I really must get back to work. That … ugh … paperwork isn’t going to complete itself.”

The Mayor ascended the steps and entered the door before Ditzy realized that Town Hall looked different. It had ceased glowing green and was now glowing violet: the dark, iridescent violet of a plum on the verge of becoming a prune.

Meson radiation instead of tachyon, Ditzy thought. The summoning has definitely begun. But how ... Something caught her eye: a blotch of red on Town Hall’s steps. She flew over to get a closer look. It was blood.

Is this from … But that would mean Dash is ...

Ditzy’s laughter started as a chuckle and grew. As it reached the level of a guffaw, her flapping faltered, causing her to drop, tumble down the stairs, and sprawl on the ground. She continued laughing, unabated, until Rainbow Dash returned.

“What’s so funny, Derpy?”

“Sometimes … hahaha”—Ditzy paused to wipe the tears from her eyes—“sometimes I just think funny things, Dash.”


“... and these streamers go up there,” Rainbow Dash said, gesturing. “You got that?”

Ditzy saluted.

“Great,” Dash said, grabbing a bundle of bunting and taking off.

I know what must be done, Ditzy thought, staring at Town Hall. I just need to make it look like an accident.

She grabbed a pile of streamers and took off for the roof. She tied a streamer to an exposed rafter and turned around. Nopony was watching: Rainbow Dash was still on the other side of Town Hall, and the square was otherwise deserted. Smirking, Ditzy flapped backwards, slamming her rump into the exposed rafter. The wooden beam made a satisfying crack as it broke under her rock-hard haunches.

Ditzy flew to another rafter and tied another streamer to it. Then, after again confirming she was unwatched, she smashed a support beam.

She flew to a third rafter and attached another streamer to it. She reared a hoof back to strike the support beam—then noticed Dash was looking her way. “Hey, Rainbow Dash!” she said, waving her already-extended foreleg. “This is fun!”

Ditzy couldn’t be sure, but she got the distinct impression that Dash was rolling her eyes. Ditzy continued waving until Dash was again out of sight, then kicked three times, splitting the beam with her rear hooves.

Realizing she had no more streamers to hang, Ditzy swooped down to the pile of decorations and picked up some sheets of bunting. She looked up to the roof of Town Hall, then down to the fabric in her forehooves, and she smiled. She grabbed as much of the bunting as she could hold, then took to the air. Ducking beneath the eaves, she hovered close to the wall and piled all the fabric atop her head. With her impromptu helmet in place, Ditzy flew straight up.

She crashed through the eaves and into the third floor. With no loss of speed, she kept flying. Seconds later, she plowed through the roof and into the open air.

“Derpy?”

Rainbow Dash’s voice made Ditzy cringe. What the ... ? she thought. Wasn’t she just on the other side of the building?

“Are you okay?” Dash asked. “What happened?”

“I ... um … it’s ...” Ditzy said. “I think I dropped the bunting. Be right back.”

She tucked her wings and dove. I was bound to get caught sooner or later, she thought as she snatched the fluttering fabric out of the air, but I was really hoping it would be later. “No more time for subtlety!” She spread her wings and banked to her left, directly towards Town Hall’s second story.

Two seconds and two crashes later, Ditzy was on the other side, and Town Hall had gained two new windows.

“Derpy!” Rainbow Dash called over the roof. “What the hay are you doing?”

“Don’t worry, Dash! I’m a professional!”

“Professional what? Wrecking crew?”

Another roof support beam snapped under Ditzy’s flanks.

“Derpy! Seriously, cut it out!”

“It’s okay, I got it!”

The second floor gained another new window.

Derpy!

“Sorry, my bad!”

The roof gained yet another skylight.

Ditzy Doo!

Rainbow Dash grabbed Ditzy’s shoulders, but Ditzy pulled to an abrupt halt in mid-air before Dash could force her.

What? Ditzy thought. Has she ever called me by my real name before?

Rainbow Dash sighed. “Why are you here? Helping me was your idea, so why?”

Ditzy opened her mouth to answer, but Dash interrupted her. “Nevermind, it doesn’t matter. Der— Ditzy Doo, I appreciate that you want to help. But you know what would really help me? If you’d just let me handle the decorating. By myself.”

Ditzy peered over Dash’s shoulder, through the prismatic aura from Dash’s wings, at Town Hall. In spite of the damage to its roof and upper floors, the lower floor of the building was still structurally sound—and the entire Town Hall continued to glow dark violet.

Clearly, Ditzy thought, my cunning plan failed to account for every conting—

“Hellooooo!” Dash said. “Earth to Derpy!”

“Okay, Dash.” Ditzy extended her forehooves, offering the bunting in her possession to Rainbow Dash. “I’ll leave you be.”

“Great. Thanks.” Dash grabbed the fabric and flew away, leaving Ditzy alone with her thoughts.

Hailstones! Solar flares! Supercells! Bucking sleet! Tor—

“Well howdy, Mayor!” Ditzy’s mental stream of invectives was interrupted by a distinctly accented voice from the ground below. The mare of the hour had arrived.

“Good day to you, Applejack,” the Mayor answered. “How are you feeling? Ready to do Ponyville proud at the rodeo?”

I’m just not fast enough! Ditzy thought.

“Darn tootin’! And I sure do ’preciate you putting together this … Land sakes! What in tarnation happened to Town Hall?”

“What do you mean … Oh, dear. That’s … recent …”

If I keep trying to destroy Town Hall this way, Ditzy thought, I’m just going to get arrested—or get my flank kicked by Rainbow Dash—before I can finish the job!

“Tell you what! How ’bout when I get back from Canterlot, I’ll donate my rodeo winnings so y’all can fix up that mess?”

“Really? I don’t know what to say … I mean, yes! I’d be honored to accept such a generous gift!”

“’Tain’t nothin’. Y’all have been supportin’ my rodeo career for so long, I reckon that …”

As the voices receded, something bumped into Ditzy’s haunches. Spinning around, Ditzy found a cloud—and behind it, a brief, intense flash of pink heralding a Krasnicker tube’s harmless collapse. She examined the cloud, which further confirmed that some funny business was ahoof. This cloud simply did not belong—that much would have been apparent even if Ditzy hadn’t seen the Krasnicker tube that carried it here. This was a C-22 Rainbearing “cumulonimbus”, still heavy with water and crackling with static electricity.

A storm cloud, she thought, yet the last storm in Ponyville was …

"You!" Ditzy threw herself onto the cumulonimbus, flinging her hooves around it. Mr. Cloud, you were supposed to be my new bed! Why the hay did that Krasnicker tube drop you off here and not at my place? “As soon as I sort out this— Ow!”

A static shock to Ditzy’s left forehoof interrupted her train of thought. With one eye, Ditzy looked at her hoof, and with the other she looked at the cloud.

Mr. Cloud, I no longer require your services as my bed. You’ve just been promoted to savior of Ponyville.

She pushed the cloud towards Town Hall. As she moved it into position and took her place on top, Ditzy noticed that the decorations on Town Hall were nearly complete. Rainbow Dash was hanging the final piece: a banner bearing a stylized portrait of Applejack.

Why did the Krasnicker tube deliver the cloud right here and now? Divine providence, that’s why.

Ditzy commenced bouncing. Bounce. Bounce. She could feel the static building beneath her hooves. Bounce. The first lightning bolt struck a flagpole, so Ditzy reoriented herself in midair to better aim.

Bounce. Bounce. Ditzy cringed as the second bolt streaked straight at Rainbow Dash.

“Huh?” Dash said. At the last instant, she dodged. The lightning singed the tip of her tail, before striking the ground harmlessly. “Now, careful, Derpy!”

Bounce. Bounce. The third bolt struck Town Hall’s roof. The air around Ditzy was thick with ozone.

Yes! she thought. I just need a few good hits. This is going to work!

Dash flew close enough to speak to Ditzy without raising her voice. “Don't want to do any more damage than you've already done,” she said, waving a foreleg towards the ruined roof.

Affecting her most gormless smile, Ditzy answered without slowing her bounces. “I just don’t know what went wrong.” As she spoke, every hair on her body stood on end. Too late, she remembered what that signaled.

For an instant, there was searing pain from her ears to her hooves to her tail. Then, before she could cry out, everything went white.


“—ay, Rainbow Dash?” somepony said. Ditzy recognized the voice but couldn’t name its owner. “Anything I can do to help?”

Oh, she thought, I’m the one speaking. It’s me. So why am I saying that? And why am I looking into a hole in the floor?

Rainbow Dash darted out of the hole. “No! Nothing!” she said. Her widened eyes, her wild gesticulations, and the tone of her voice all spoke to Ditzy of fear—bordering on complete panic. “In the name of Celestia, just sit there and do nothing!”

What happened? Why is Dash so upset? I guess I should … do what she says.

She gracelessly dropped her rump to the floor.

Hardly anything scares Dash, so whatever has her this worked up must be— Oh yeah! I’m trying to stop the summoning. Is that rela—

The floor cracked beneath Ditzy. Suddenly finding her haunches resting on empty air, Ditzy grasped with her forehooves for something, anything, to stop her fall. She grabbed Rainbow Dash, and only succeeded in pulling Dash with her into the newly created hole. Ditzy winced as she landed on her back, then winced again as Dash sprawled on top of her.

“Oops. My bad,” Ditzy said.

“Um, Derpy,” Dash said, “are you trying to seduce me?”

Ditzy opened her eyes. Dash’s snout was mere inches away from her own, and the two of them had somehow become tangled in each other’s legs. Ditzy gave the most intelligent answer she could think of.

“Uuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmm …”

Am I seducing her? I don’t think so... Ditzy thought, as Dash disentangled herself. I know I was trying to prevent the summoning … Why can’t I remember what happened next? And why do I smell something burning?

“Yeah,” Dash said, striking a pose and sweeping her mane back with one hoof, “I can’t blame you for liking what you see. But, you and me? I don’t think it would work out. Sorry. We cool?”

Ditzy nodded, and Dash flew out of the hole.

Ditzy sniffed the air. Something definitely smells burnt, she thought. She sniffed her foreleg. Oh, it’s me. So how did I get … “Wait,” she said. “Unexplained, superficial burns and short-term memory loss. I must have been hit by lightning. Great.”


Ponyville’s Town Hall was battered but still standing, and the cumulonimbus was gone. Obviously, Ditzy thought, Town Hall is supposed to be destroyed, so why is it still standing? And why do I feel like that missing cloud was important?

Sighing, Ditzy turned her attention to the crowd in the town square. Mayor Mare had the podium and was saying something about Applejack. Suddenly, she waved a hoof in the direction of Town Hall, and at least half of the crowd turned to look towards Ditzy.

“Yeah, Applejack! Whoohoo!” Ditzy shouted, shoving herself away from the ground, into the hole. As she glided down, away from the eyes of the crowd, she hoped her cheer hadn’t been too much of a non sequitur.

What I need to do, Ditzy thought, lying on the basement floor below the hole, is go back to my apartment. Review my information and come up with a new strategy.

When the clop-clop of dozens of hooves signaled the crowd’s dispersal, Ditzy emerged from the hole and trotted away, her head held low. Her gaze was downcast, so she didn’t notice the stallion blocking her path until she collided with him.

“Oh, sorry, mister …” The words died on Ditzy’s lips as she recognized the icy, blue eyes of the pony before her.

Derpy.” Doctor Hooves’ eyes narrowed, and his voice could have frozen a timberwolf in its tracks.

“Um ... Hi?”

“You may have the rest of Ponyville fooled with your ‘well-meaning airhead’ act,” he said, prodding Ditzy’s chest with a forehoof, “but I’m onto you.”

“What?”

“Don’t play ignorant, Derpy. It’s insulting to both of us.” He walked, tracing a clockwise circle around Ditzy. “You may as well cooperate with me; it’s in both our best interests, really. You don’t want to make a public spectacle of this any more than I do, so why don’t we meet in the field just east of Ponyville, five minutes ago, and talk things out there, hm? A nice, relaxing conversation between two civilized ponies?”

“What?”

“And don’t even think about running. I don’t care what powers you think you have, but the R.S.S. always get their pony.” Dr. Hooves retrieved an item from his mane, and brandished it at Ditzy. It was a gold pocket watch on a chain. Something was engraved on its cover, but Dr. Hooves didn’t brandish the watch quite long enough for Ditzy to make out the design. “And you will be no exception, I can assure you.”

What?

“Clock is ticking, Derpy. Clock. Is. Ticking.

“Alright, alright. So, east field, five minutes from now, then?”

“No.” Dr. Hooves flipped the watch’s cover open and examined its face. “I mean what I said, and I said what I … Hm. Interesting.”

Ditzy bolted away. She flew out of town square and turned down Stirrup Street, looking for a suitably out-of-the-way alley. Just as she found one, something grabbed her tail. From the corner of her eye, Ditzy saw a light. Its color and brightness signaled the telekinetic grip of one particular unicorn.

“Hey, Twilight. Why are you grabbing my tail?”

“Ditzy Doo,” Twilight Sparkle said. “We really need to talk.”

“It’s funny you should mention that! Somepony else wants to talk to me. Like, right now. Or five minutes ago.”

“We need to talk about … what you mentioned last night. It’s very important, Ditzy.”

“Wow, so is my meeting with this other pony! I’m a very important pony all of a sudden.”

“Ditzy, are you seriously implying that your other meeting is more important than your inexplicable knowledge of Equestrian state secrets?”

“Maaaaaybe. The other stallion was using a lot of big words and flashing a badge at me.”

“Uuuuuurgh.” Ditzy could hear Twilight stamping the ground. “Listen—”

“Hey, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash called from somewhere behind Ditzy. “The rest of us are going to the train station to wish AJ good luck! Are you coming, or what?”

Twilight sighed, then shouted back, “I’m coming!” In a lower voice, she said to Ditzy, “Well, it looks like you’ll make your other meeting after all. This isn’t over, Ditzy. We will discuss this later.”

The grip on Ditzy’s tail disappeared, and she heard Twilight galloping for the train station.

Ditzy swooped into the alley and ducked behind some stacked crates. As soon as she was out of sight, she took one step to the east and three to the zwost.

Thus, she slipped through space, into the manifold of the eighth, ninth, and tenth dimensions. It was dimly lit, as only the maxin-light from the sun’s shadow reached here. It was infested with insects—smelly, irritating, but ultimately harmless insects—whose names escaped Ditzy. However it was very useful, as it was the manifold in which Ponyville’s east-west axis was shortest. From there, the flight to the east field was a dark, foul-smelling, and mercifully short blur.


Ditzy took three steps to the west and one to the fjoth, to re-enter the three-dimensional manifold that every other pony called home. She found herself in a rather lovely field. The sky was clear—save for a few clouds dotting the horizon—allowing the noon sun to shine unimpeded on the shoulder-high grass, which swayed gently in the breeze.

The only sight marring this bucolic scene was the scowling visage of Dr. Hooves. “You’re six minutes and twenty-five seconds late,” he said, glaring over the cover of his watch.

“Hey!” Ditzy answered. “You’re the one who insisted we meet here at an impossible time!”

“Your feigned ignorance is growing tiresome, Derpy.” He snapped his watch cover shut. “At your fastest speed, it should have taken you three minutes and twelve seconds to get here from town square. Nevertheless, you managed to arrive in a mere one minute and twenty-five seconds. Besides, I saw you step out of thin air. Therefore, you clearly are the temporal anomaly I’ve detected for the last two days, and, although perfectly capable of making this scheduled appointment, you’ve chosen to come now just to spite me!

Dr. Hooves snorted, then, closing his eyes, forced himself to breathe more slowly. He returned his pocket watch to his mane.

Ditzy, meanwhile, regained control of her hanging jaw, then shook her head. “You timed my top speed?

Please. I time everything, Derpy. Or should I call you ...” he said, pushing his face uncomfortably close to hers, “... Ditzy Doo?

Ditzy blinked. “Either’s fine with me, I guess.”

“You’re calm under pressure. Admirable.”

“What, did you not know that Derpy Hooves is just my nickname?”

“Excuse me,” Dr. Hooves said, pushing a forehoof into Ditzy’s chest. “I’m the one asking the questions, here!”

Shoving the doctor’s hoof away, Ditzy continued, “How about Carrot Top? Did you know her real name’s Golden Harvest? And, you didn’t hear this from me, but Bon Bon’s real name is Sweetie Drops! She hates it when ponies call her that.”

Dr. Hooves stepped back, his eyes widening. “Well. I see there’s no honor among spies.”

Carrot Top, Carrot Top, Carrot Top. The name began bouncing through Ditzy’s mind, and she didn’t know why.

“And Dinky Doo’s real name is Golden Ink!” she said. “How’s that for a shocking rev— Did you say, spies?”

“You sicken me.” The glare from before returned to Dr. Hooves’ face. This time, his voice was cold enough to freeze a windigo. “Selling out your own daughter?

“We’re not spies, you thunder-headed … My daughter? What made you think Dinky Doo is my daughter?”

“What would your girlfriend say if she could see you like this, hm?”

Carrot Top, Carrot Top, Carrot Top, Carrot Top ...

“Sure, we’re close,” Ditzy said, “but I’m like an honorary aunt at bes ... did you say girlfriend?!

“Selling out everyone you know to save your own skin—I’m sure she’d be quite impressed.”

“When did I get a ... Wait, wait, I think I’ve heard this one. Let me guess ...” Ditzy reared back and placed her forehooves the sides of her head. “Yooooooou think ... Rainbow Dash is my girlfriend, eh?”

Dr. Hooves did not appear particularly amused at her guess. “Are you trying to tell me that you aren’t in a relationship with the Bearer of the Element of Loyalty?”

“What the hay even made you think that Dash and I are—” Ditzy closed her eyes and shrugged with her wings. “You know what, forget it. I don’t want to know.”

Carrot Top, Carrot Top, she thought. There’s something important about her I’m forgetting!

Dr. Hooves walked to his left, circling Ditzy clockwise. “Who are you working for, Ditzy Doo?”

“Ponyville Weather Patrol.”

“Oh, that’s rich.”

Ditzy groaned. “It may not look like it, but I swear I’m rolling my eyes at you right now.”

“And which of your superiors at Ponyville Weather Patrol wants you to scatter the Elements of Harmony?”

Ditzy glared at the doctor. “Cloudchaser.”

“What?”

“She’s been unhappy with her job for the past few weeks or so. And, since today is apparently National Jump To Conclusions Day, that must mean she’s angry enough to try to conquer Equestria! Q.E.D.”

Suddenly, Dr. Hooves was at Ditzy’s side, draping a foreleg over her shoulder. “I’ve changed my mind, Ditzy Doo,” he said. “I hope you do try to run. Maybe that way you’ll get hurt when we apprehend you.”

Ditzy shoved him away. “Peace and harmony to you too, Dr. Hooves.”

Carrot Top, Carrot Top, she thought, Carrot Top, what am I forgetting?

Dr. Hooves adjusted his tie. “This has grown very tiresome, so this will be the last time I ask you: On whose orders were you acting when you scattered the Elements of Harmony?”

“Scattered?”

“Oh, you were very clever about it, working so indirectly.” He pulled his pocket watch out and began twirling its chain about his hoof. “I don’t think anyone else in Ponyville even realized that you wrecked Town Hall intentionally.”

“Town Hall? That’s what this is all about?”

“No, this is much bigger than Town Hall.”

At that, Ditzy froze.

Dr. Hooves opened his watch and glanced at it, then continued, “In a few minutes, Applejack will depart on the train for Canterlot to participate in the Equestria Rodeo.” He returned the watch to his mane and advanced towards Ditzy. “I’ve seen how this rodeo ends, Ditzy Doo. Some addle-pated official discontinued the Best In Show prize and, consequently, Applejack isn’t going to win any money—money that she promised to donate to the city of Ponyville. Wracked with guilt, Applejack won’t return to Ponyville, instead seeking employment in some frontier town so she can earn the bits she needs to fulfill her promise.” The doctor’s face was inches away from Ditzy’s. He jabbed a hoof at her chest, and this time she didn’t push it away. “A promise she only made because you wrecked Town Hall.”

Carrot Top, Ditzy thought. Need to remember. Carrot Top. Wait, rodeo?

Dr. Hooves stood back and smirked. “I must admit, it’s fiendishly clever. With naught but some gratuitous public property damage, you’ve driven the Bearer of the Element of Honesty away from the other five Elements, with nopony but me the wiser. If I had a bit for every time I’ve wished my fellow agents could be so subtle ...”

Rodeo, rodeo, Carrot Top, rodeo?

“And you would have gotten away with it, too,” the doctor continued, “if it weren’t for—”

“Aha!” Ditzy shouted. “I can still do it! There’s another way!”

“What are you—”

Ditzy cut Doctor Hooves’ words short by grabbing his cheeks. Leaning towards him with a huge grin, she said, “Carrot Top and Dinky Doo left to see the Equestria Rodeo! You know what that means?!”

The doctor’s words were surprisingly clear, considering his face was smooshed between Ditzy’s hooves. “Your fellow agents are foals if they think they can escape the R.S.S. by fleeing to Canterlot.”

Ditzy sighed and let go of his face. “You’re hopeless.” She trotted away.

“And where do you think you’re going?” the doctor called after her.

She turned her head to call back to him, “To save Ponyv—” She tripped and fell on her face. “Mmmph!” Ditzy stood up and shook her head. “You know what, forget it!”

With one step to the east and three to the zwost, she slipped away.

Author's Note:

My astute pre-reader J-Dogg pointed out to me a plot point in this chapter that may look like a plot hole. Namely: if Dr. Hooves can see that Applejack is going to head to Dodge Junction rather than returning to Ponyville, why doesn't he also see that the rest of the mane cast are going to follow AJ there and convince her to return? I actually do have an answer for that, but for in-story reasons it would be incongruous to reveal that information now. It will come up in a later chapter, I assure you.

EDIT: I heavily edited this chapter since originally publishing it. The edited version went live on 2 February 2015.

For historical purposes, I've preserved the original version on Gdocs, here.