• Published 31st Dec 2011
  • 21,870 Views, 234 Comments

The Three Whooves - Paleo Prints

Lost in time, Doctor Whooves' family must rely on his past and future selves for help!

  • ...

The Unearthly Children

The Three Whooves
by Paleo Prints
Chapter 1: The Unearthly Child

Years ago, in the magical land of Equestria...

The streets of the small hamlet were sloppily painted with shadows, and the nervous pony stuck to them. Small fireflies in the distance spoke of the ponies searching for him by candlelight. Quill Colthack pushed down his hat with a hoof and ran on through the alleyways. Working the crime beat teaches at least one useful skill, he thought with a sardonic smile.

The lonely pony hugged the walls as he held his breath; something was coming. Willing himself to be as flat as a page-twenty byline he pushed himself against the hard surface of safety. Tense eyes scanned the alley for minutes on end; when he was relatively certain he was alone he crept on.

Almost immediately two ponies silently appeared behind him. They moved slowly and deliberately after their quarry.

Colthack sighed with relief at the sight of town’s edge. He broke into a gallop as he spied a wagon being pulled down the road. The aging unicorn was panting as he reached his prospective rescue. The burly merchant stopped his pace at the sight of the terrified stallion.

“Mister, have you been running for a while?”

Colthack fought to catch his breath. “Have been… for years. Never seen anything… that made me want to run more.” He gestured to the merchant’s wagon. “Would you mind terribly if I caught a ride, my good pony?

As the traveler nodded Quill jumped into the cramped wagon. It was filled with lumber, carvings, and whittlings. The merchant pulled them forward as Colthack’s heart slowed down. He turned to the terrified pony. “So, what were you doing in Violet Springs?”

The reporter’s horn flashed as he cooled himself with his hat. “Missing ponies, my friend. Started out as a simple page-four sob story. After what I’ve seen this will get me the front page… above the fold!”

Quill scanned the area; they were in a large open field with nopony in sight. He reclined on his back with a sigh of relief. As he calmed down he found himself examining the variety of wares. “You don’t seem to have done much business lately, my good stallion.”

The merchant shook his head. “Actually, business is running so well I had to stop home for a resupply."

Revelation pulled open Colthack’s eyes. “That…that means you just came from…”

Colthack violently surged for the side of his cart. His frenzied hooves tried to pull himself out of the now-terrifying former sanctuary. As Colthack strained he suddenly felt a half-dozen hooves grab him from behind. The terrified reporter screamed into the darkness as he was pulled back into the cart.

The merchant ignored the noise and tilting of the cart; soon both stopped. He whistled a jaunty tune as he kept walking.

Today, on the last day of the magical land of Equestria...
Every child in Ponyville knew there were places the adults didn’t want you to go. Applebloom's farm had a shed filled with dangerous farming tools. Sweetie Belle knew that being found investigating the pile of mysterious paperbacks under her sister's mattress would mean the end for her.

For Dinky, it was the blue barn.

She had always wondered why her family needed a barn. Her mom was a mailmare, and her dad fixed things around town. Dinky spent a few years sincerely believing the barn was the office where letters go to die. One winter she tried to sneak in, thinking her letter to Celestia about what she wanted for Hearth’s Warming Eve was there. She had wanted to add on a present for her father.

When her parents found her messing with the door they seemed more scared than angry.

She thought for a while that it was where they had their luggage. Every so often her Mom would impulsively ask their neighbor Carrot Top to babysit as her parents would suddenly vanish for a few hours or days. They always headed in the direction of the barn when they were leaving.

The most embarrassing part happened a few years ago in Miss Cheerilee’s class. Silver Spoon had put Dinky and her friends on the spot; she had asked Dinky if she knew where babies come from. She had broken out laughing when Dinky said the blue barn in back of their house. Miss Cheerilee looked like she was about to say a funny joke but educational professionalism stopped her in time.

It wasn’t Dinky’s fault she couldn’t explain herself. She knew her parents would never want her to mention the night her sister joined the family. It was the middle of the night when the weird sound woke her up. Carrot Top had passed out on the couch downstairs; the unicorn filly was the only witness when her mom and dad walked out of the blue barn, surrounded by smoke, coughing, and covered in scratches.

They brought an older purple filly out of the barn with them. She looked like she had cried until she ran out of tears. Dinky remembered the mysterious girl had thrown her forelimbs around her mom; Ditzy Doo sat there quietly, holding her. The filly had said something Dinky couldn’t overhear, but her dad reacted.

“Nonsense,” he said as he gave the smile. Dinky always trusted her father’s ‘everything will get better smile.’ “This can be your home now. We’re your family, if you’ll have us. “

The next day Dinky found her family gathered around the breakfast table. Mom was cooking fiercely as her father sat at the table keeping a hoof on the new mare’s shoulder. He was whispering into her ear as Dinky walked down the stairs.

“Dinky!” Her father gave ‘the smile’ as she walked down. The purple unicorn teen looked at her with trepidation. “This is Sparkler! She’s going to be staying with us for a little bit. Well, for a while. Well, as long as she wants.”

The nervous filly extended a hoof to Dinky. “I am pleased to be meeting you,” she said with a weird accent. Uncertainty ran freely over her face.

Dinky trotted over to Sparkler and throw her hooves around her. “Welcome to the family.” She felt the older mare nearly collapse. The dinner table was very quiet until Dinky asked a question that stumped Sparkler and made her parents giggle nervously. How could a mare named Sparkler not know what fireworks were?

Her new sister did need some teaching. She didn’t know how to work the record player, or anything in the kitchen. She screamed the first time she saw a train. These things would eventually pass, but she never stopped giving distrustful looks to the mountains that bordered Ponyville.

So despite its mystery, Dinky always assumed the blue barn in back was a positive thing that only brought good into her family’s life. That stopped the day she heard the beeping.

The brown "earth pony" his neighbors called "John Smith" looked back and forth, scanning his living room. Finally, a moment's quiet! Now’s my chance. He carefully pulled his sonic screwdriver out of his coat, smirking to himself. With everyone gone, no one is left to protect my quarry. Secrets, prepare to be unveiled!

He stepped forward with a flourish, aiming his tool at the object of his scorn and skepticism. His glasses gleamed, his tie flapped into the air dramatically, and his ever present trench coat flared, revealing the hourglass mark on his flank. 'John Smith' cut a heroic figure as he threatened his foe. Dinky chose that moment to walk in the front door. He stood stock still, like a deer in headlights, hoping she wouldn’t comment.

“Dad, why are you aiming the beepy thing at the record player?”

Nervous giggles drew up from her father’s throat. “Just doing a bit of science, Lil’ Muffin. Finding out how it works; always pushing the boundaries, I am!” His eyebrows rose. “Shouldn’t you be at school? Isn’t it ‘I-should-be-at-school-o’clock?’”

As if destiny decided to repeat a joke it found humorous, an apron-wearing Sparkler trod out of the kitchen. “Father, it is to be a half-day for the little ones. The teachers need their grading time, I am told.” She looked skeptically at the stallion of the house. “What are you to be doing?”

Barely concealing his disappointment, he hurriedly placed the screwdriver on the table. “Just showing a little curiosity here! Always be curious; that’s what I tell you girls. I want to know how that…running-singy thing works.”

Sparkler put a hoof on the Doctor’s shoulder. “You are first putting the record on, Father. Then the switches are pressed.”

Her long-suffering parent picked up the record player with both hooves. “But what makes it go? I mean there's a dam on the hill, fine. Hydroelectric power. Brilliant! How does it get in here?”

The sound of the door opening made him accept his defeat. “Hey everypony, I’m…” His wife stared at him with her right eye. He usually got a giggle out of her by referring to it as ‘the cuter eye,’ but he could see no levity in her now.

“Ditzy! Darling!” He held the record player over his head while his daughters tried to rescue it from his attention.

“Muffin, put it down.”

“Come on, love! It torments me so! I can hear it whispering in the night.” He wobbled it back and forth. “’Look at me! I’m an inexplicable breach of physics.’”

Sparkler quickly grabbed it out of his hooves. “Father, the last time you tried to be explicating this I was not to be listening to records for a month.”

‘John Smith’ sunk back onto the couch, admitting defeat. He took off his glasses and massaged the bridge of his nose. His wife walked behind him and place a hoof on his shoulder as the traditional rant began.

“Magic! Bah.” He waved a forceful hoof at the offending appliance. “I’ll get to the bottom of you one day. You haven’t won!”

His wife leaned in. “Remember what you always say, Muffin. It's science, just sufficiently advanced.”

“More advanced than me? Pah. So,” he said, changing moods rapidly. “Shall we get to our daily reports? Dinner is cooking, I smell.”

His family started into the kitchen. As the last one to leave the room, he thrust his hoof at the record player, and whipped it back and forth; he made sure it knew he was watching it.

Staring at the head of the table, Dinky saw her father’s grin open up. The Family Report was his favorite part of the day.

“Dinky, you go first! What did you get into today? Learning nuclear physics yet, are we?”

She shook her head. Ditzy gave her husband a disapproving look. He shrugged. “I was learning nuclear physics at her age. Ah, the way education has changed.”

“Miss Cheerilee had us make models of the Solar System. I got Diamond Tiara mad when I put on major asteroids and dwarf planets. She said I was showing off.”

Her father nodded. “And then…”

Dinky smiled. “I told the teacher I’d like to sit next to the window, and then Diamond had no pony to sit next to her during the math quiz, and she got a ‘D-‘!”

He nodded. “Excellent! That’s my girl, thinking ahead and looking for connections.”

Her face lit up. “Miss Cheerilee gave me an ‘A-.‘ I want Cheerilee to be my teacher forever!”

Whooves shook his head, “Out of the question. We are not moving to Old Canterlot.”

The girls stared at him. Ditzy sighed with a knowing smile. “Spoilers, Muffin. Be careful now. Anything else, Dinky?”

The filly nearly vibrated with excitement. “I’m doing a history project! I’m building a model of the city of Pombray with a working volcano!”

The sound of shattering glass filled the room. Ditzy walked up to Sparkler, who had dropped a full dinner plate on the floor. Dinky gave her father a look; she could sense that she had said something wrong. He just gave her a reassuring wink.

Ditzy massaged her older daughter’s shoulders. “Sparkler, I’ll take over the cooking. Why don’t you give your report?”

The slightly shaking teen sat down at the table. “I being…I ‘was’ at the market today. I spoke Equestrian perfectly in public, my dear parents." They beamed. "Great deals were given to me by Miss Applejack for dinner.” She cast her eyes morosely down for a fraction of a second. “I met my friends for a while.”

Ditzy looked at her questioningly. “Did you run into that Lemon Hearts again? She’s just jealous that you were picked for the Animal Team leadership while she wasn’t. Dinky, the pie's about to burn, check on it.”

Dinky nodded and made for the oven. She was used to her mother’s weird intuition.

Sparkler continued, her parent’s assurances bringing her out of her shell. “She does have a point, Mom. Our name doesn’t make much sense like other ponies. Why is Dad ‘John Smith’ if he’s not a blacksmith? Does he forge ‘Johns’?”

Her father nickered uncontrollably; Ditzy hushed him with a look.

“Dear, your father came from far away to reach Ponyville. That’s the name that most sounds like his name from back home. Dinky, we’re low on daisies, go pick some from the garden please. Sparkler, could you bring my cart in before dinner? It's going to rain tonight, I'm sure.”

Later on, Ditzy would remember that moment as the one that changed her life. She often said later if she knew what would come to pass she would have sworn off daisies forever.

As the children left the kitchen, Mrs. ‘Smith’ crossed her forelimbs and gave a mock angry look to her husband. He groaned. “This again. It was the best I could come up with!”

She sighed in amused exasperation. “Muffin, I’m glad you didn’t go with your first choice. I’d hate to be Mrs. Prefect.”

Years ago, in the magical land of Equestria...
On the edge of Canterlot was a classified building filled with eccentric machines and an even more eccentric pony. The determined mechanic struggled underneath a highly irregular chariot. His forceful voice echoed from beneath the vehicle.

“Miss Savory, please bring me the spanner, if you please.”

The only other occupant of the garage, a yellow-coated earth mare reading a magazine, laughed in amusement. “Certainly, Doctor. “ The scene was a wonderful contrast: the dignified voice of the Doctor set against the sight of his blue legs kicking out underneath the chariot.

She pushed the toolkit underneath with a hoof. She sighed as the smartest stallion she ever met rolled around on the floor. “Doctor, you’ve been having a go at that thing all day. I think the Brigadier would prefer it if you worked on the experiments he wanted rather than that ‘self-propelled chariot’ idea. “

An irate older blue unicorn fought his way out from beneath the car. Bits of black dirt clung to his white mane; smudges were visible on his dandified gentlecolt's attire. It would be hard to imagine a pony more different than "John Smith" of Ponyville. Miss Savory would doubtlessly laugh at the idea that they were the same stallion. It would of course absurd to think that any pony could regenerate a new body and personality at death. After all, Savory would point out, nothing born on Equestria acts in that way.

The Doctor wasn't born on Equestria.

The stallion fated to be "John Smith" rubbed his brow. “Miss Savory, listen here. I respect Brigadier Alabaster Steward quite a bit.”

The young country mare interrupted. “You mean you respect him as much as you respect anyone on this, how do you say it?” She switched to an imitation of his voice. “’This crass and rude little mud ball,” she quoted. Her eyes mocked the older stallion as he moved to his workbench.

He sighed. “I respect him as a gentleman and as the head of the Unicorn Intelligence Taskforce. He’s an admirable pony; not many others could have negotiated peace with the diamond dogs after that mining incident.” He slammed the table with a hoof. “I’d just like to see him respect my intellectual abilities enough to let me work on pure scientific curiosity rather than national security.”

His assistant rolled her eyes. “Sometimes Doctor, I think talking to you is like talking to the Mare in the Moon.” She walked to another part of the lab.

The white-haired gentlepony raised his eyebrows as she left his earshot. “You don’t know the half of it, my dear.” Suddenly the distinguished and dandified scientist's attention was captured by a beeping sound coming from the most unlikely of places. He sprang to his hooves.

“The TARDIS! The TARDIS is beeping!” He galloped to the mysterious miniature blue barn in the corner of his lab. His face was joyful like a child on Hearth’s Warming Morning.

Savory returned at the sound of the commotion. “Doctor, how can the TARDIS be working? I thought your own kind stranded you here in Equestria?”

He waved the question away dismissively. “Regardless of the Council’s opinion on my…’wanderings’ they must have changed their minds. I knew they’d see my way of things eventually.” He drew a device from his pocket and pointed it at the door to the small building; they swung open with compliance.

Savory called after him as he ran inside. “Doctor, where are you going?”

An answering voice rang out as if inside a large chamber. “Anywhere off of this mud ball, my dear, and you’re welcome to come along!”

She smiled with contentment as she cantered inside. “And to think, when my mother suggested government service she pictured me as a clerk.”

Moments later a white-coated unicorn in military regalia entered the room. “I say Doctor, are you there? The Princess has some paperwork she’d like you to help me with. Since you’ve become UNIT’s science adviser our cases have been…dramatic. She’d like an explanation on the thing with the yetis, and…”

The mustached military pony dropped the levitating papers in shock as he saw the glow coming from the familiar blue box. “Oh, bother!” He ran over to the disappearing structure and beat his hooves against it. “Doctor, come back here this instant!” A bizarre noise emanated from the box as it faded out of view.

The stallion smashed his hoof hard on the ground. “Blast it! Where could he have disappeared to?”

Today, in the sufficiently advanced enough as to be indistinguishable from magical land of Equestria...
Years later, Dinky was outside in her family’s garden near an structure identical to the one that bedeviled the Brigadier. As she moved along her mother’s rows of fruit and berries a strange sound began to come to her ears. She gently placed the basket on the ground and scanned for the source.

The blue barn had started beeping.

Dinky’s mind ran through certain jumps of logic; Cheerilee always said she was one of the quickest thinkers in her class. If the barn beeped it must be a machine. If it was a machine, than her dad must know how to use it; he could fix anything. Thus, if her dad were getting ready to use the blue barn again…

The Smith family was shocked into silence as the excited filly ran into the dining room. “We’re getting another sister!”

Far away from the magical land of Equestria...
Elsewhere and nowhere, the magnificent blue barn flew through the tunnels between whens and wheres. As that most fascinating of machines spun through space-time, its owner regaled his single passenger with suggestions. For this stallion, his time as "John Smith" was only a memory; his time as the UNIT Advisor seemed like a dream centuries away. Still, some behaviors stayed around from life to life.

“Just where shall we go now, Miss Ripple Pond?” The 'young' grey stallion in a bow-tie and top hat cavorted around the control center of his ship . “Which infinite sights of the universe shall I send us to today? The great Dragon-Alicorn Treaty dinner party? The Fourth Great and Bountiful Lunar Empire? Canterlot Station, perhaps? I promised you a tour of the cosmos, and I intend to deliver!”

His companion was a white earth mare with red speckles in her coat and a bright auburn mane; she rolled her eyes skeptically.

The Doctor stopped. “What is that look? That look, that ‘you’re not as cool as you think you are’ look, why is it there?”

The red-haired pony responded with a strong Coltland accent. “Do you mean where would I like to go, or where we’d end up. ‘Cause sometimes I really don't see a connection between the two, Doctor.”

The young-looking yet ancient traveler twirled his front hooves pensively. “We do go wherever you want, Miss Pond.” He held his hooves out in a shrug. “It’s just sometimes you don’t realize you want to be there until you’ve gotten there.”

She smiled as she pinched his cheek. “You’re a silly goose. I’d actually like to go…”

“BEEP,” he shouted in her face. She punched him in his shoulder. “Ow!” He massaged his smarting side and gave her a wounded look.

“What?" The assaulting mare looked offended. "You shouted in my face!”

“Ripple, I heard it go ‘BEEP’!” He cantered to the controls of his time-and-space machine. "The TARDIS went ‘BEEP!’ That means someone’s trying to contact me on an ancient frequency!”

The young pony from Coltland walked over to the controls, regarding them with suspicion. “So who’s around that knows that frequency?”

The Doctor quietly said, “Me. Just me, now.” He pushed switches and levers as he flung his ship into the time vortex.

“Buckle up, Pond. We’ve in for a reunion!”

She smiled as she feigned disappointment. “Of course, you get to pick the destination.” Her eyes gleamed with anticipation as she watched the main view screen, waiting for the next adventure to start.

Today, as time runs out for the magical land of Equestria...
“Dinky, what do you mean we’re getting a new sister?” ‘John Smith’ cast an analytical glance at his wife’s midsection. She tossed her head back and forth in affront.

“Dad, Mom, the blue box is beeping! The box that you took Sparkler from is beeping! Does that mean I get a new sister?”

Her parents stared at each other in shock. Wordlessly they both rushed out of the door. Sparkler looked at her sister with trepidation. “You saw me come out of the box?”

Dinky nodded. “Yup! So if it’s working again I’ll be happy if I get another sister half as good as you!”

The compliment barely seemed to register to Sparkler as she walked out of the house in dread. Dinky shrugged. Her horn briefly glowed for a moment; she picked up her daisy basket and followed her family.

Years ago but soon to change, in the magical land of Equestria...
“Confound this infernal contraption!” The stylishly-dressed blue scientist repeatedly abused his console verbally and physically.

Savory dropped onto her haunch. “Come now, Doctor. Don’t you say that violence is the last refuge of the incompetent?”

He turned to her in a huff. “Incompetent, my dear assistant, is exactly how I feel. My machine rebels at my very touch. The darn thing has a mind of its own.” He wandered to the edge of the control room platform.

Savory marveled at the size of the room she crossed now as she followed the Doctor. He always did say it was bigger on the inside. “Relax, Doctor. Surely the joy is in the travel instead of the destination?”

He gave her a fretful look. Exhaling slowly, he forced himself to calm down. “But I’m still not in control. Whether it’s at the hands of Celestia and the Brigadier or the Council of Time, I still swing through the universe on someone else’s string.” Savory raised an eyebrow. He sighed. "Fine, I meant to say 'somepony.'"

He cast a challenging glance at the view-screen of the TARDIS. “Once we get there, watch out. I refuse to be anypony’s puppet any longer.”

Today, in the last hour of the magical land of Equestria...
Ditzy Doo paced around the blue barn suspiciously. Looking at her face, Dinky was reminded of how her mother had once dressed down a fellow mailmare who lost a letter bag; reproachful and worried. “Muffin, you haven’t been doing anything with it lately, have you?”

Her husband shook his head emphatically. “No, no, she’s just been sitting here keeping watch over the garden.”

Sparkler gave her father a smirk. “She?”

“Well, ships are a ‘she.’ They’re female. Proud maritime tradition, that. I suppose it comes from not having many other females on board, or maybe just everypony missing their mommy.”

Dinky squealed with joy as she hopped up and down. “It’s a ship! We’ve got a ship!” Her eyes lit up. “Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon’s families don’t have ships!”

DItzy exhaled. “Darling, could you try for once to do damage control rather than explain things?”

Her husband adjusted his glasses. Then, thinking better of it he replaced them with a pair of flimsy-looking red-and-blue-lensed glasses. “Wow! Look at those neutrinos! They’re dancing like a troupe of drunk Stalliongrad ballerinas.”

“I want neutrino glasses!”

“Muffin, don’t encourage her.”

“Father, are those things to being back? Have they coming for me?”

The Doctor threw his head back. “EVERYBODY QUIET!” His family gave a reproached hush. “I’m thinking.” He spun on his hooves. “Tools! I need tools for this. Ditzy, be a dear and help me get the old assortment from the workroom.” As John Smith and his wife ran toward the house, he turned to his daughters. “You two! Don’t!”

Sparkler cocked her head. “Father, don’t what?”

He stuck his head out the back door briefly. “Just…don’t.”

The confused teen shrugged as her sister fished around in the daisy basket. “Well, now what do we do, Dinky?”

Dinky fished out her father’s sonic screwdriver. She levitated it toward the barn door; an intense look of concentration came over her face.

“Dinky! Father would not like you playing with his beeping thing!”

The door to the barn swung open. “Sis, ‘don’t’ can mean a lot of things. Like, ‘don’t stop being curious!’ What does Dad always say about curiosity?” Dinky’s eyes went wide with potential as she walked inside the gaping doors of the barn.

Sparkler shook her head. “I am sure we will be regretting this somedays.”

Inside his workroom John Smith threw his semi-organized shelves into chaos, dropping tools everywhere.
“Right, got to pack for a trip! Haven’t done this in ages.” A variety of bizarre objects passed through his hoof. “Multi-phasic spanner; check! Self-sealing stembolt; never used those much anyway.” He threw it over his shoulder. “Higgs boson detector, now where did I leave you?”

Ditzy turned him around to face her. “How can you pack as if our children aren’t out there waiting for a muffin peanut idle shower?”

She drew back her hoof to her mouth in shock. Her husband stopped rummaging. His wife’s aphasia hadn’t flared up this badly in years; the fact that she mixed up her sentence brought him out of his ebullience.

“Honey, I’m just going inside for a bit. I’ll see what the problem is, we may have a little trip, Carrot Top will babysit, and we’ll be back yesterday.” He smiled. “Yesterday was good, you got to admit that.”

Ditzy slipped into her husband’s embrace. “But she knows now, Muffin. I never wanted her to know.”

His hooves drew tighter around her. “She’s a bright, beautiful, and resourceful filly." He lifted her chin with a hoof. "She takes after her mum. She’d figure it out sometime; she already senses that we’re different than other families.”

As he held her something on his shelf went ‘ding. ‘ Dinky felt her husband go stiff. “What is it, Muffin? Maybe we should get Twilight Sparkle to help.”

Her husband grabbed his tool basket. With a wide and hurried swipe he dumped the entire contents of his workbench into the basket. “Right, maybe we should head out.”

His aggravated wife stomped in place. “I’m putting my hoof down. This time we send Twilight after it. We’ve got a good life now.”

The thing on the shelf went ‘ding’ twice. Mister Smith started to sweat.

“Love, I think we need to go. Now-ish. Like, nowishly now. Most nowingly now as now can be.”

“Twilight can handle this!”

His hearts broke as he saw the worry in his wife’s eyes. “Ditzy my love, I’m not saying Twilight couldn’t have handled this. I’m saying in approximately fifty-three seconds there’s not going to be a Twilight Sparkle! In fact, I have the strong suspicion there soon will have never been a Twilight Sparkle.”

To her credit, she didn’t gasp, stutter, or demand explanation. She had known him too long to dither when given a time limit. She voiced the only thought she had. “The children.”

While the Doctor tried to formulate a response, soothing words, and a plan of action simultaneously a sound broke the silence. The screeching sound of the TARDIS rang throughout the house.

Ditzy looked pensively into the triumphant grin of her mate.

“That’s my girls! Listen to that; they’re naturals! After them, Ditzy!”

As the two ponies galloped to their backyard, the open doors of the TARDIS had started to vanish. Ditzy grabbed her husband with her legs as she flapped for dear life. At the last second the two travelers made it through the archway as the blue box vanished.

The Smith family found themselves inside a huge room of mechanical devices and hexagon panels. Sparkler leaned against a bulkhead and gritted her teeth; the last time she had seen this place had been the worst day of her life. Her mother and father struggled to extricate themselves from the heap of limbs and tools; Ditzy’s patented landing never failed to leave a mess. Dinky bounced in place joyously.

“It’s big, Daddy! It’s bigger on the inside than the outside!”

Ditzy was about to admonish everyone in the room when she caught sight of her husband’s face. She had rarely seen such a look of pure joy.

“Yes, Little Muffin," he said as he lifted her over his head with his hooves. "It certainly is.” He stared at his youngest daughter, bathing in the moment.

He’s been waiting years to hear her say that, hasn’t he? She swallowed her concerns, letting the stallion she loved bathe in his moment.

John Smith gently placed his daughter onto the floor. “It’s called the TARDIS, Dinky. It means ‘Time And Relative Dimension In Space.’ It’s a spaceship! Well, it’s a time machine. It’s kind of a spacy-timey-go-there-and-fro-box.” He ran a hoof down the side of a wall tenderly.

Turning around, he saw Sparkler moving tools and gadgets around. “Oh Lovey, don’t touch those.”

She looked at him sorely. “Father, this room is being a mess! There are things everywhere!” Out of her element again, she had fallen back on familiar impulses.

“Yes love, but they’re my things, my mess, and my everywhere.” His eyes went wide. “Our everywhere, actually! Think of it, Ditzy; our first family trip in the TARDIS! I’ve always been rubbish on family trips; I skip to the good parts.” He spread his arms. “But we’ll be skipping together.”

As his enthusiasm crept into the children Ditzy place a stern hoof on his shoulder. “Honey, what’s wrong with Equestria?”

Mirth left his face. “It’s not.”

“It's not what?” Her brows knit in confusion; she could feel the words squiggling in her brain, threatening to run away from her. Oh Celestia, please don’t let me have an attack of the babbles in front of the children!

“It’s not…not. Just not. Not’s the only word you can use.” He turned the view screen on. Dinky’s excitement turned to disappointment.

“Dad, it’s just static.”

He nodded. “It is. Equestria is just static now, it's potential unwound.” He reached out toward his daughter and plucked his sonic screwdriver out of the air as he continued. “Every point in time has its alternative. You’ve looked into alternative time. Our present was somepony’s possible future; it’s no longer possible.”

Sparkler gasped in despair.“Ponyville is gone then. It's been wiped away by the lava of time.”

He looked down. “Yes.” He raised his head with a determined look. “Yes, but. Yes with a big but! It’s gone into a place we can get it back from! Come on, everyone!” He clapped his hooves loudly. His family stared at him without comprehension. "Fine, come on 'everypony.' Gah, how provincial. Ditzy, go to the secondary flow-dynamics console; you always had a way with the old girl. Sparkler, get to the bicycle pump; Dinky, jump to that chair and press the buttons I tell you to!”

He leaned over the console; its blinking lights highlighted a face filled with excitement.

“Right then; time for the Smith family to save time itself! I hope everypony went before we left!”

Somewhere in space and time, in the magical land of Equestria...
The peace over the small, unremarkable hilltop was broken by a series of loud noises. The animals in the area scattered from the loud screeching metallic sounds; they never saw the three blue barns fade into existence.

The first door to open produced a confused blue unicorn. The ornately-dressed stallion squinted at the two other blue barns. John Smith peered out with a smile that instantly ceased as eye contact was made. Both shared identical cutie marks.

The aged stallion gaped. “You…you must be…”

“You? Really? Here?” Ditzy's husband raised an eyebrow.

A grey stallion dressed in formal wear skipped out of the final TARDIS as its doors opened. His hourglass-decorated flank bounced out of the TARDIS door. “Come on, Miss Pond, we’ve a whole new…”

Ripple Pond’s companion’s eyes went wide. “You. You. Two yous. Well, three yous to be precise.” His faced crashed. An expression of foreboding settled over him as he looked at John Smith’s TARDIS. “If that you is ‘you’ you, then she’s with you…”

Mr. Smith’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the strange traveler. “Oh, no. Please, don’t let her see this.” His manner deflated.

The Unit Science Adviser stomped the ground. "Now listen to me!" He snorted as he stood between the two pensive stallions. “I know what you must be even if I don’t have the order right. I need answers if I’m to deal with this situation.”

The grey traveler in the top hat swayed back and forth nervously. He put a hoof on the side of the aged unicorn. “We really should get out before she comes out to look.”

The elder stallion pushed him away in irritation. “Unlike you gentlecolts, I cannot control my TARDIS. Now would someone please tell me why I was brought here?”

John Smith’s TARDIS door swung wide as his wall-eyed wife stepped out. “Honey, is it safe to come out? The kids are getting impatient.”

The horned blue dandy sputtered with disbelief as the words fully registered. The stallion in the top hat leaned in to whisper in his ear. “You never listen to me. I should’ve remembered that.”