• 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.

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Welcome to Tomorrow

The first rays of the rising sun shone across the cloudless sky. In an empty field, a rabbit foraged for its breakfast. A particularly good-looking blade of grass caught its eye. It bounded over for its meal.

Then the grass blade disintegrated. Strips of cyan fire burst from the ground. The rabbit ran as fast as its legs could carry it, away from the lines and circles burning their way into the brush, zipping across the field.

Energy burst from six locations on the ground, and blue balls of lightning rose, leaving crystalline pillars in their wake. Once complete, the lightning formed a ring connecting their tops. The ring of power collapsed into a point, then shot into the ground, blasting grass and dirt away.

Energy swirled between the pillars, darkening to opaqueness. Bits of grass, dirt, and gravel shot out of the maelstrom and across the field. Several bright flashes heralded the arrival of spinning lights within.

The energy faded, revealing two figures at the center. Gradually, the entire collection came to a halt.

Twilight Sparkle stood, legs wobbling, coat drenched in sweat, gasping for air.

"I think... I think it worked..." A motion above her caught her eye. "Wh—Sweetie look out!"

Twilight flung herself across Sweetie Belle and covered the back of her neck with her hooves. The gems above their heads fell, crashing against the base slab. Sparks of residual energy jumped over the two ponies, arcing off the crystalline surfaces. A pillar split with a loud crack, its top crashing less than a foot away from Twilight's hind leg.

Twilight grabbed the back of Sweetie Belle's neck with her mouth and ran away from the apparatus, narrowly dodging another falling pillar. In a gap in the magic circles, she set the filly down and watched the apparatus destroy itself in a shower of sparks and crystalline shards.

Twilight panted heavily. "That... was a close one, right Sweetie Belle?

"Sweetie Belle...?"

The filly didn't move.

"Sweetie Belle! No no no, not like this, not now. Come on, Sweetie Belle, wake up!" Twilight shook the filly. Tears filled her eyes. "Please, Sweetie Belle! Please!"

Twilight desperately searched the horizon. On the side of the mountain, the city of Canterlot stood in the dawning light. The city was more expansive than she remembered it being, and its buildings substantially taller. Twilight closed her eyes, grit her teeth, and concentrated on her horn, completely exhausted. A couple sparks came loose.

"Come on, come on... just one more... just one more...!"

Twilight strained, sucking air through her lungs, horn burning. Then a wave of purple washed across the two ponies and Twilight found herself and Sweetie on the side of a street. She looked around in confusion. She had either never been to this section of Canterlot before, or it had changed beyond recognition. Unfamiliar buildings loomed over the unicorn, the rising sun only illuminating their tops.

A nearby unicorn ran up. "You just... appeared! How di—"

"You have to help her!" Twilight motioned at Sweetie Belle. "She needs to get to the hospital right away, and I don't know where it is!"

"Oh uh, sure, I'll take her! You can follow behind me." A pair of transparent wings opened on the pony's back. "Canterlot General is the closest place."

The unicorn levitated Sweetie Belle onto her back, then took to the sky. "After me!" She flew off towards the city.

"Thank... you..." Twilight said between gasps. She tried to run after the flying pony, but her legs would only let her walk.

---

Strange streets greeted Twilight on her way to the hospital. She passed bright glowing crystals perched atop metal poles, giving light to those parts of the streets as yet untouched by the rising sun. Despite a trek through the downtown area, nothing struck Twilight as familiar. The city was Canterlot only in name. Twilight had to ask passing ponies how to navigate her own childhood home.

Twilight forced her protesting legs to take each step, to find the hospital. At length, she found a large building with the thankfully familiar cross and hearts on its face. She saw a set of windows with "Entrance" printed above it. Twilight approached, and as she reached the glass, a hole appeared in its center. The shimmering edge expanded until it was wide enough to admit the pony. Twilight dragged her aching hooves through.

Twilight looked at the reception desk. "Where's... Sweetie Belle...?"

The nurse moved around the counter to face Twilight. "Easy there, ma'am, what's the problem?"

Twilight panted. "I'm fine... but... a pony brought in a filly... a unicorn... and..."

"The unicorn filly that just came in? She's been taken to the emergency room. Are you her mother?"

"Sister... she's my friend's sister..."

"All right ma'am, just take a seat. Your friend's sister is in good hooves with us."

Twilight sat down, and finally took the opportunity to look around at her surroundings. The lights overhead sparkled with flowing magic instead of fireflies. And the fact she had walked through a pane of glass to get in didn't escape her either. The nurse wore a purple and blue amulet around her neck, and had a transparent horn to go with her transparent wings. "About the pony who brought Sweetie Belle in... where is she? I want to thank her properly for saving Sweetie's life."

"She left as soon as she dropped the patient off. Said she was missing an important meeting. But can you give us some information about Sweetie Belle? What happened before she passed out?"

Twilight scratched her chin. "About, well, let's say two months ago, Sweetie Belle was diagnosed with a congential heart valve defect. We're from, um, very far away where we had no way of healing her, and I, uh, figured that Canterlot might have some way. It took us, um, a while to get here, and Sweetie didn't have long to live, so I'm reeeaaaally hoping that Canterlot General can heal her." Twilight grinned.

While Twilight talked, the nurse's phantom horn levitated a clipboard and pen. She raised an eyebrow at Twilight's story. "All right, I'll get this information to the doctor, Miss...?"

"Twilight Sparkle. And thank you, so much. You have no idea how much this means to me."

The nurse smiled. "We get that a lot, Miss Sparkle."

---

Waiting. Waiting was the hardest part. The uncertainty of whether Sweetie Belle lived or died. Twilight knew she should logically be analyzing her surroundings and work out exactly how this future was, or think of how to start repairs on the temporal apparatus, but she could only think of Sweetie Belle.

"No news is good news," she whispered to herself. "No news is good news."

A mare poked her head out of the door to the hospital's interior. "Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight jumped to her hooves. "Yes! I mean, how is Sweetie Belle? Is she all right? Can I see her?"

"Come right this way." The pegasus lead Twilight through the halls. Twilight couldn't help but sneak a peek inside the rooms she passed. Most of their interiors were obscured by partially-open doors and drawn curtains. What she did see defied comprehension. She got glimpses of odd shapes and strange magical glows.

"Sweetie Belle is in critical condition, but we've managed to stabilize her. I'm Doctor Sun Shine, by the way." Doctor Shine nodded at the unicorn.

"Twilight Sparkle. It's a pleasure to meet you."

The pair reached a small room with a very tall ceiling. The pegasus looked up and opened her wings before glancing at Twilight's wingless back. An awkward look flashed across her face before she smiled and lit up her transparent horn. A wheel on the side of the room magically spun and the floor lifted, sending the ponies several stories up.

They entered one of the hospital rooms. In the middle, Sweetie Belle lay on the bed: on her side and completely limp. A tube ran from some machine on the wall and down her throat, the filly's tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth.

Floating around were several gems wrapped in twinkling gold wire. Each had a thin blue beam leading from it to some part of Sweetie Belle's head or torso. A few of the gems were green, but most of them showed yellow. The wall behind her sported a slowly moving rainbow of colors.

Twilight walked to the filly's side. "Oh, Sweetie Belle..."

Doctor Shine shook her head. "In her present condition, I doubt Sweetie Belle will last another forty-eight hours."

Twilight looked into the pegasus's eyes. "But you can heal her, right? This whole trip wasn't for nothing, right?"

"We need to replace her aortic heart valve as soon as possible. We'll remove the defective valve and place one of these in its place." The doctor levitated a small circular valve to Twilight, who took it in her own magical grasp.

Twilight peered through the tiny device. It was small enough to fit up her nose if she tried hard enough. The flaps within were very finely crafted, and moved easily with her magic. "This is going to go in her heart?"

"That one is just a model, but yes. Alternatively, we could place one made of spare tissue inside, but they need replacing every decade or so, and Sweetie Belle is much too young to have to put up with those surgeries for her whole life. Personally, I strongly recommend the mechanical valve."

Twilight still stared through the tiny artificial valve. "Yes, yes. I can't see her being able to come back here very often."

"There is one problem." The pegasus levitated a clipboard in front of her. "Since Sweetie Belle is a minor, I'm legally required to obtain parental consent to perform this operation. You said you were just a friend of hers?"

Twilight's face dropped. She fell to her haunches. "Oh no. I... I can't go back for that. Not in forty-eight hours. It'll take too long!" She dropped entirely onto the floor, and grabbed at the doctor's coat. "I don't have the time to do it! Please, you have to save her! There has to be something I can do! Anything!"

The doctor scratched her chin. "There's no record of either of you in our files, so I think... yes, well, the receptionists do tend to make errors from time to time." She nodded at the unicorn. "We'll get your daughter prepped for her operation right away."

Tears ran down Twilight's face. "Thank you! Thank you so much!"

"I'm just doing my job." She smiled. "Let's get you back in the waiting room so we can start on Sweetie Belle. I have some reading material concerning what to expect out of the heart surgery, too." The pegasus levitated a small collection of pamphlets over to the unicorn.

Twilight tried to sniffle away her tears. "Of course, yes. I'll get to reading these right away. I could use something to read."

Twilight made her way back to the waiting room ready for some quality reading time, choosing to teleport down that shaft rather than trying to figure out how to operate it.

She had spent the last night testing the apparatus. She had spent every ounce of energy running it. She spent even more in the panic to get Sweetie Belle to the hospital. And she was monumentally relieved that everything was going to be all right. Twilight's eyes closed and the unicorn fell fast asleep.

---

"Miss Sparkle?"

Twilight rolled over and mumbled something unintelligible.

"Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight propped her front end up. "I'm sorry, I must have dozed off. What is it?" she asked, opening her eyes.

Doctor Shine replied, "We have a pony who wants to see you."

She led Twilight through the corridors, up the shaft again and into the hospital room, where Twilight found two bright green eyes looking back at her.

"Sweetie Belle!"

"Twilight!" Sweetie Belle sat up on her bed, a constellation of green gems around her. A patch of hair on her chest had been shaved, framing a line of stitches. And she was smiling. Sweetie Belle was smiling.

Twilight ran to Sweetie Belle and swept her up in a hug.

"Easy there, Miss Sparkle," the doctor said. "She still needs to recover."

Twilight released the filly. "I'm sorry, I'm just so happy that she's all right!"

"And I got my new clicker! Doctor Sun Shine let me listen to it." Sweetie Belle pointed at her chest. "It's right over here, listen to it go."

Twilight pressed her ear to the filly's chest. Within, she could indeed hear a faint clicking with every beat of Sweetie Belle's heart.

She pulled back and looked into Sweetie's eyes. "That's amazing!"

"I'm part mechanical now!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed.

"And as soon as I fix the apparatus we can go home, Sweetie Belle."

The pegasus fluttered over next to them. "We're going to keep Sweetie Belle in the hospital for a week, just as a precaution against any complications that may happen. After that, we can give Sweetie her prescription and send you two on your way."

Sweetie Belle tilted her head. "What was that about the appar-thing? Did it break?"

Twilight patted Sweetie Belle's head. "Don't worry about it, Sweetie Belle. We'll just be staying for a little longer than I planned." She pondered for a moment. "Of course! Sweetie Belle, I'm going to head out into town for a while, but I should be back soon. Be nice to Doctor Shine and do what she says."

"Yes," the doctor added, "listen to your mother."

Sweetie blinked. "Huh?"

"I'll explain later," Twilight said on her way out.

Outside of the hospital, Twilight looked up the Canterlot mountainside. Buildings sprawled much higher up the mountain than they did back in the present. Twilight spotted the highest building of the bunch, and made her way up the hills of the city at a brisk trot.

She knew exactly who she wanted to talk to.

Author's Note:

Tisk tisk Twilight, dozing off when your daughter is fighting for her life. And more importantly when you have new reading material! Let's hope the future still has coffee.