• Published 27th Dec 2012
  • 21,347 Views, 1,981 Comments

Three Hundred and Fifty - Void Chicken



The future has everything that any pony could ever want. Twilight Sparkle wants to go home.

  • ...
68
 1,981
 21,347

Prologue

Three Hundred and Fifty

A bush at the edge of Ponyville hid a young filly, its leaves providing the barest of concealment. She was still as stone, barely breathing. A bead of sweat formed on her brow. If she had been seen, any number of terrible, horrible things might have happened, like losing her chance at a cutie mark in stealth. Her eyes scanned the view, searching for any threats. Yes, Sweetie Belle thought to herself, nopony can find me here.

A pair of hooves came down on her shoulders. "Gotcha!" a voice shouted from above.

The unicorn filly screamed and jumped out of the bush in shock. She panted, holding a forehoof to her chest. "Don't scare me like that! How did," Sweetie Belle wheezed, "you find me?"

"Your horn was sticking out," Apple Bloom replied, indicating the offending body part.

Sweetie Belle looked up. "Dumb... horn... I don't see... Scootaloo with you... did she win?" she asked between gasps.

"No, but I'm going to go check the barn and the orchard again. I thought I heard Winona sneezing, but then I found her with Applejack in town, so I figure Scootaloo's around there somewhere."

"I can... help you look."

Apple Bloom tilted her head. "You sure about that, Sweetie? You don't look too good. Maybe you should go take another break, catch your breath."

The unicorn slowly turned. "That... sounds good... I'm going... to go see... if I can help Rarity... with her dresses..."

She plodded off towards Carousel Boutique.

"Sure been needing a lot of breaks these days," Apple Bloom commented to herself.

---

Sweetie Belle's hoofsteps stumbled as she passed the library. Her head swam and her chest felt like somepony had put a saddle on her and strapped it too tight. She looked at the Boutique in the distance, then the library nearby. Sweetie Belle dragged herself to the library, her head pounding.

Twilight Sparkle was in heaven. In one corner of the library, a wooden crate hid a wealth of knowledge. A tome effortlessly slid from the container in the magical grasp of its new owner. Four hundred pages of wisdom passed in front of her approving gaze and nestled itself on an empty shelf, where it awaited more of its kin. A second book was making its way across the room when a door opening broke the librarian's reverie.

Twilight looked over at her visitor. "Oh, hello Sweetie Belle. Can I help you with something?"

"Hi... Twilight... I just need... to sit down... for a..."

Sweetie Belle wobbled for a moment, then collapsed.

"Sweetie Belle? Sweetie Belle!" The precious book dropped to the floor, instantly forgotten.

Twilight rushed to Sweetie's side. Twilight nudged the filly's head, which flopped over. She lightly shook the limp filly. "Sweetie Belle?" Twilight's eyes darted around the room while her mind raced.

"Spike!" she barked up the stairs. "Find Rarity and tell her I'm taking Sweetie Belle to the hospital!" Sweetie Belle floated up and onto Twilight's back. Without looking back, the mare bolted out of the library.

---

Hooves thundered down the dirt road as one unicorn carried another. Ahead, Ponyville General Hospital came into view. On Twilight's back, the filly stirred.

"Mmm... Wha... Twilight?"

Twilight slowed to a trot. She looked back at the white filly. "Oh thank goodness you're okay!"

Sweetie Belle raised her head. "What happened? I was going to the library and felt real dizzy."

"You passed out. But we're on our way to the hospital. The doctors will find out what's going on, all right?"

Sweetie nodded weakly.

Twilight smiled at her. "You'll be back on your hooves in no time."

Sweetie Belle lay her head down between Twilight's shoulder blades, too tired to care about the mare's trot rocking her back and forth.

---

The doors to Ponyville General Hospital opened. Hurrying in, Twilight gently set Sweetie Belle down on the floor.

Nurse Redheart looked up. "Good afternoon, how can I help you?"

Twilight replied, "Sweetie Belle passed out in the library ten minutes ago, and I got worried about her, so I took her here as fast as I could. She's woken up, but I'm still concerned about her. This isn't right for a filly her age."

The white earth mare kneeled down in front of Sweetie Belle's prone form. "Sweetie Belle, how are you feeling? What doesn't feel right, dear?"

Sweetie tried to prop herself up on her forelegs, but fell back onto her stomach. "I'm really dizzy... and my chest hurts."

"Oh dear. Let's get you to one of the exam rooms so we can see what's wrong, all right, Sweetie?" The nurse put Sweetie Belle on her back and took her deeper into the hospital, leaving Twilight to wait.

Moments later, the front door burst open.

"Where is my sister?!" Rarity boomed. "What happened to my dear Sweetie Belle?!"

"Rarity, this is a hospital! Keep your voice down!" Twilight hissed from her seat in the waiting section.

Rarity paced to the seat next to her friend before dusting it off with her tail and sinking into it. "Oh when I heard from Spike that Sweetie Belle was here, I just rushed over as quickly as I could! Is she all right? What happened, Twilight?"

"Sweetie Belle passed out, and when she came to, she complained about dizziness and chest pains."

"Oh... oh dear." Rarity became lost in thought. "It couldn't be... she's too young..."

Twilight peered over. "Rarity?"

Rarity waved her away. "No, no, it's nothing, I'm sure. I'm just being paranoid. She's too young, after all." A moment passed. "I do wish I'd brought the address of the hotel Mom and Dad were staying at; they picked a fine time to go on vacation."

"Spike should show up sooner or later. I'm sure he wouldn't mind looking through your things to find where you put it."

Rarity glared at Twilight.

Twilight closed her eyes and grinned nervously. "I mean... I'm sure Spike wouldn't mind asking Fluttershy to look through your things to find where you put it."

Rarity smirked. "Better. In fact, Twilight, you don't have to wait here. She's my sister after all."

Twilight laid her hoof across Rarity's. "She's my friend's sister. I'm worried about her too."

"Thank you, Twilight."

Nurse Redheart poked her head out of a door. "For Sweetie Belle? Come on back; she's in one of our rooms."

Rarity stood up. "Yes, yes, let's go see her."

---

"Sweetie Belle! How are you feeling? Is everything okay?" Rarity yelled, rushing to her sister's side.

Sweetie Belle slowly craned her neck up, looking at her sister with droopy eyes. "Tired."

An off-white earth stallion entered the room. "Good afternoon, I'm Doctor Tenderhoof. How are you feeling, Sweetie Belle?"

The filly looked over once again. "Still tired."

Twilight peered across the bed. "What's wrong with her?"

Tenderhoof replied, "Sweetie Belle's developed some disturbing heart murmurs. It's unusual to hear them in a filly her age. Sweetie Belle, have you had any recent fevers or throat infections?"

Rarity looked to her sister, who drowsily shook her head.

The doctor looked at a clipboard on the end table next to the bed. "Any family history of heart issues then?"

"Oh my, do you think that's it?" Rarity said. "I mean, there have been problems in my mother's side of the family—we lost our dear grandmother Sparkler to a heart attack last year—but nothing in anypony as young as Sweetie Belle. I personally have been lucky enough to avoid anything serious." Rarity rapped on the end table with her hoof. "But she's young, and she'll bounce back, right?"

"We're waiting on the results of the x-rays to be sure, but she'll need some major treatment in any case."

Nurse Redheart poked her head in the door. "Doctor Tenderhoof, I have the patient's x-rays ready in the hallway."

"Thank you." He motioned out the door. "Would you like to discuss them out there, Miss...?"

"Rarity. And I certainly would."

Twilight settled in next to Sweetie's bed. "I'll keep Sweetie Belle company."

Rarity and the doctor left the room.

---

Sweetie Belle had just nodded off when Twilight heard a loud thump against the wall and the unmistakable noise of a shouting unicorn.

Twilight smiled. "On second thought, I'm going to go see what's going on."

Twilight exited into the hallway, eyes narrowed. "Rarity, what on earth has gotten into—"

Rarity was busy being restrained by the nurse, her earth pony strength only barely blocking sisterly rage. "You... you... you charlatan! You quack!"

Twilight moved to help the nurse hold Rarity away from Tenderhoof's throat. "Rarity!"

"This... this fraud is telling lies about Sweetie Belle!"

Twilight decided to ignore her. "Doctor, what is it?"

Doctor Tenderhoof tried to straighten his coat. "I'm sorry, but she has a severely malformed heart valve. It's much worse than we first thought. There's nothing we can do."

"LIAR!" Rarity's mascara ran down her face.

Twilight's own eyes began to water. "How long does she have?"

"Two, three months at the most. I'm sorry."

Rarity choked through her sobs, "L... liar..." Twilight pulled her into a hug, and the two sank to the floor.

"Rarity... I'm so sorry..." was all Twilight could think to say as her friend sobbed into her shoulder.

---

The closed curtains muted the sunlight shining into the hospital room. Applejack slowly pushed the door open, letting two of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, as well as a blue pegasus, into the room.

Sweetie Belle looked up. "Hi girls."

"Morning, sugarcube." Applejack chuckled. "I see Pinkie Pie's been through here already." One corner of the room had ceased to exist, being replaced by balloons, streamers, and enough confectionaries to feed the entire hospital.

"Fluttershy came by with her bunnies, too. They bounced all over me and we snuggled a bunch." She made a vague hugging motion with her forelegs. "It was really nice."

Applejack stepped around Rarity's sleeping form and sat by the bed. "How do you feel, Sweetie?"

Sweetie Belle hesitated, then turned her eyes to meet Applejack's. "Scared."

Applejack nodded. "It's only natural to be scared, Sweetie Belle. But you have to be brave, for your friends' sake."

"It ain't fair!" Apple Bloom shouted, stomping her forehoof. "You told me everypony gets their cutie mark someday! This ain't right!"

Applejack moved next to her sister, eyes on her. "Some things happen that aren't right, Apple Bloom."

"Unless Sweetie Belle magically gets better and... uh..." Scootaloo drifted off. "Sorry." She sniffed away a tear.

Rarity lifted her head and half-heartedly adjusted her frazzled mane. "I'm sorry, I didn't notice you all coming in: Applejack, Rainbow, girls."

Rainbow Dash shoved her way to the bedside. "Hey, when's the last time you've seen Twilight, Sweetie Belle?" she asked.

Sweetie's eyes swept the ceiling. "Um, last week I think, when I got here."

Rainbow threw her forelegs up. "Exactly! Why the hay hasn't she been by? Doesn't she care anymore?!"

"Rainbow!" Applejack glared at her friend. "Everypony deals with grief differently. It isn't our place to tell Twilight how she should handle her feelings."

"She shouldn't be abandoning Sweetie Belle either!" Rainbow yelled back. "I'm going to head over to the library and knock some sense into her!"

"Rainbow, don't you da—" Applejack started, but the pegasus was gone.

---

Buildings whirred past the pegasus as the library quickly filled Rainbow Dash's view. She landed at the front door and banged on it several times.

"Twilight! I know you're in there!" Rainbow banged on it again.

When the door did not immediately burst off of its hinges, Rainbow swung it open. She found her anger knocked out of her by the potent stench of fresh coffee. Rainbow ducked her head under an impromptu book archway as she uneasily entered. Books were scattered on every horizontal surface, and a frazzled librarian sat at a desk with her back to the pegasus.

Rainbow's ears dropped back, along with the rest of the mare. "Uh, Twilight? What's with the—"

"Studying! Busy studying! Have to be fast! Have to get it soon! No time to waste!" Twilight giggled. "Time! Get it?" She turned around, cup levitating near her bloodshot eyes.

Rainbow shifted backwards. "Geez, Twilight, when's the last time you've slept?"

"Sleep? Can't sleep! Not yet!" Her ear twitched several times.

Rainbow Dash slowly backed away. "Oookay, I'm just going to go now and let Sweetie Belle know you're busy, then."

"Yes! Sweetie Belle!" Twilight paused. "Canterlot!"

"Canterlot?"

Twilight sprung to her hooves. "Spike!"

A baby dragon entered the room, carrying a pot of coffee. "Another cup, Twilight?"

Twilight darted around the library, pulling books from the shelves. "Write a letter to the Princess! Tell her I need every scroll in the Starswirl wing! I've done it before I can do it again! But bigger! But I need more scrolls, more books! And tell the Princess to have more coffee ready! Next train leaves in an hour! Better pack fast!" Twilight produced a pair of saddlebags and began shoving her books into it.

Rainbow stared at the unicorn, while taking the opportunity to reverse out the door. "Yyyeah, I'm going now."

She backed out of the library, slowly closing the door. A moment later it burst open again, and a unicorn trotted out, followed by a hovering procession of three cups, eight books, and one dragon.

Rainbow Dash could only stare.

---

Two months, one week, and three days. It had been two months, one week, and three days since Sweetie Belle's diagnosis. When Rarity had closed her eyes the previous night, she knew that when they opened, her sister's might not.

In her dreams, Rarity was on a ship, tossing in a storm. Her sister was overboard, being swept away by the waves. She could only watch Sweetie Belle be taken from her, as the ship rocked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

Rarity awoke with a start. She felt a set of small claws on her shoulder, shaking her. The room was dark, the midnight sky outside.

"Spike? What could it be at this hour?" She shifted on the pillow she lay on.

"Sorry, Rarity," the dragon said, "but Twilight wants you to come visit her. She says it's really important, and to bring Sweetie Belle."

Rarity's eyes pointed to the floor. "Well, no offense Spike, but Twilight hasn't been... herself lately." She looked up. "Or perhaps she has been herself far too much."

"But Twilight thinks... she thinks she has a way to save Sweetie Belle. And... I think I believe her."

Rarity looked back and forth between her sister and Spike. "I'm just not sure it's a good idea to move her in her... condition."

"Please, Rarity." Spike took her hoof in his hands. "Do it for me?"

"Well... I suppose it can't make her worse... in the end." Rarity stood up and walked to where her parents were sleeping. "Mom? Dad?" She gently pushed at them.

Rarity's parents awoke. "Rarity?" her mother asked. "What is it?" She gasped and put a hoof to her mouth. "Sweetie Belle hasn't...!?"

"No, not... not yet." Rarity looked at the sleeping filly, just to be sure. Sweetie Belle's chest rose and fell, her mind off in dreamland. "Twilight thinks she can do something, and I trust her, so we're taking Sweetie Belle on a little trip."

"Rarity," her father started, "I don't think it's a good—"

Rarity stood up straight. "I am not going to sit here while there might be a way to save my sister's life! We are taking her to Twilight and that is final!"

Sweetie Belle opened her eyes. "Rarity? Mom, Dad, what's going on?"

"Oh, Sweetie Belle! Good, you're awake!" Rarity chimed. "We were just about to take you to go see Twilight! Doesn't that sound fun?"

The filly slowly nodded, closing her eyes. "Mm-hm. I'd like to see Twilight... one more time."

"See? It's settled!" Rarity proudly levitated Sweetie Belle off of the bed and pranced out the door.

---

Outside, Rarity and Sweetie Belle found their friends.

"All of you?" Rarity asked.

"That's right," Applejack responded, "Twilight wants us all to come and see what she's got cooking."

Apple Bloom yawned. Scootaloo was asleep on Rainbow Dash's back.

Applejack continued, "And some ponies wanted to come along and watch. Here, I got a wagon so y'all don't have to carry her." She tossed her head behind her at her cart.

"So where is Twilight, anyways?" Rainbow asked. "Last time I saw her, she was running off to Canterlot."

"Tell me about it," Spike said. "She's been running me ragged working on that project of hers." He walked in circles waving his arms. "Spike get me this book, Spike get me that scroll, Spike get me half the Canterlot vaults. And now she's going to be mad at me for taking this long to round you all up. So if we can just get to the train station so I can be ordered around some more...?"

"Spike," Applejack said, "the train don't run this time of night."

"The Princess arranged for a special trip, now come on before Twilight teleports here to yell at us or something."

---

After a train stop in the middle of the route and several minutes' walk, the ponies and dragon found themselves looking at a set of tall crystals jutting out of the ground.

Six crystals, each over forty feet tall, sat in a circle with a multitude of faintly glowing gems floating in the air between their tops. On the ground, a wooden stand and a purple unicorn stood on a sunken crystal slab. A staggering number of circles and runes on the ground around the collection completed the effect.

Twilight trotted over. "There you are! Spike, what took you so long?" This elicited only an eyeroll in response.

Rainbow looked up, eyes wide. "What is it?" she asked.

"It looks... scary," Fluttershy added.

"This," Twilight said, "is a trans-temporal transportational apparatus, designed to jump along the fourth dimension, while remaining stationary relative to the planetary gravitational field, of course." She smiled and clapped her hooves.

"What is it?" Rainbow asked.

Spike sighed. "It's a time machine."

Applejack snorted. "A time machine? How could—I mean in two months you—" She paused. "So, what, you're going to go back in time to before Sweetie Belle got sick? We couldn't exactly heal her then, either."

"No," Twilight said. "That wouldn't be possible anyways because I didn't arrive then. I can't change the past, after all." She paced around the magic lines in the grass, each blemish vanishing as soon as she stepped away. "Everything that's happened so far, will always have happened. That's why I knew I had to finish quickly because I haven't appeared from the future to help Sweetie Belle."

"So what's the point of this thing then?" Rainbow asked.

"Simple. Sweetie Belle and I are going to go to the future. I'm sure that medicine two centuries from now will be able to heal her. Then we come back!" Twilight beamed at the group.

"So..." Apple Bloom looked up at the towering crystals. "We can be Cutie Mark Crusader time travelers! I bet nopony's ever gotten a cutie mark in time travel!"

"We can go see the future!" Scootaloo hopped, wings fluttering. "There'll be undersea cities, and mechanical ponies, and invisibility suits, and flying carriages! It'll be so cool!" She turned back and forth between the adults.

"Are you sure it's safe?" Rarity asked.

"I've tested out most of the individual spell components, and I'm almost completely certain it'll work!" Twilight trotted to her creation and held her head high. Then she drooped slightly. "All right, it's a little dangerous. But it's the only way I can think of to save Sweetie Belle."

Rarity looked from Sweetie Belle to the apparatus. "Oh, I would feel much better if I could come with you."

Twilight walked up to her friend. "I'm sorry, Rarity; it only has room for two."

Rainbow looked across the large crystal slab at all the empty space between the pillars. "This can only hold two?"

"Oh," Rarity said, deflating slightly. "Mom? Dad?"

Rarity's mother slowly replied, "If... if it'll help Sweetie Belle... then I can't say no." Her father just nodded.

Twilight walked over to the cart where Sweetie Belle was barely awake. "Sweetie Belle? I'm going to take you to a time where they can heal you, all right?" Sweetie Belle nodded and Twilight levitated her to the center of the apparatus before following her. "Girls? You might want to stand back for this."

The ponies moved away before turning to look back at the two unicorns.

"Be careful, dear!" Rarity called, raising a hoof.

"And stay safe!" Applejack added.

"Bring back something cool!" Rainbow said.

"What she said!" yelled Scootaloo.

"Come back soon!" Apple Bloom said.

"Ooh!" Pinkie Pie shouted, bouncing on all fours. "When you get back I'm going to throw a super-duper 'congratulations on going through time and being okay Sweetie Belle' party!" She jumped to complete the effect.

"I'll look forward to it, Pinkie Pie," Twilight responded. She gave one last look around. The gate crystals were aligned and the magic circles were drawn properly. Ahead of her sat the Nexus of Starswirl the Bearded, the artifact that made the whole apparatus possible. Twilight swallowed.

The magic circles on the ground illuminated and the floating gems began to swirl. Power crackled up the tall crystals and down into the unicorn's raised horn. The gems swirled faster and faster, becoming glowing blurs. Soon, swirling energy obscured the forms of the two ponies. The spinning lights within the energy flashed and winked out, and the energy itself faded, leaving nothing within.

The six pillars evaporated from their tops down, leaving only drifting smoke behind. The magic circles on the ground faded into the grass. All that remained was a hole in the ground, as if an Ursa had taken up golfing and failed.

Applejack looked at the hole. "I sure hope she knows what she's doing."

"Ooh! I'd better start baking for that party! There's no telling when she'll get back!"

Author's Note:

Welcome to a fic wherein Twilight Sparkle pulls a time machine out of her ass and goes on a lovely adventure through time with Sweetie Belle. And absolutely nothing goes wrong and they're both home by dinnertime.

Wait people read the description didn't they? Crap. Just click the next chapter already.

Also writing Sweetie's parents into her scenes properly was a pain in the butt. Remind me to kill Apple Bloom next time.