Freshly released, Discord pays Doctor Whooves a visit. Chaos ensues.
The life of a time traveler is usually an easy one. Nobody tells you what to do, when to wake up, where to go or what to save. You can skip all those boring Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons at your own discretion, and quickly get to those exciting, adventure-filled Saturdays when everything is possible. Once in a while, you get turned into a pony and flung into another universe, but that's certainly better that getting killed by an astronaut at Lake Silencio in Utah.
However, when a bizarre, nigh-omnipotent mish-mash of a creature with the head of a goat shows up uninvited inside your TARDIS, it's usually a good reason to panic...
Doctor Who/My Little Pony crossover, taking place during "The Return of Harmony", and elsewhen. This is the first thing I ever wrote. Please, leave a comment and a rating if possible, so that I may have an idea on whether or not I'm doing my job right.
“… Hold on! I can whistle!” the Doctor realized, thinking out loud. This newfound truth improved his mood quite a bit, as he continued across the empty purple-grassed plains towards his destination. The double-sun morning of Padrivole 9 gave the whole scene the strangest air of eerie serenity.
Trotting back towards the TARDIS landing site beyond the borders of the Padrivole Regency capital, the Time-Lord-turned-equine had been considering digging up the old ship’s instruction manual. After all, the whole design was meant specifically for a species that had fingers. As recent events had shown, his lack of them was becoming a significant problem.
So how would he reformat the console? Bigger, hoof-sized buttons? Mouth levers? Pedals, perhaps! Pedalling through space and time! That sounded very him.
From there, a train of thought concerning the vocal differences between ponies and humanoids was inevitable. He whistled the rest of the way to the landing site in the empty field. He pushed open the TARDIS door, holding the key between his teeth (and God knows he’ll swallow the thing one day at this rate).
The console room was empty; the Doctor had left Ditzy in the capital, meaning to let her explore for a few hours. She found the city amazing, probably because it was built for a species that could fly. For plain, silly old land-bound him, it wasn’t all that impressive. Flying is for birds, he thought. And Pegasi.
“Hi, honey, I’m home!” he said sarcastically.
“Welcome, welcome!” came the response.
“How was your day? Break anything interesting?” the voice asked, in a mocking tone.
“… huh?” he managed, still stunned. His head was already turning wildly, trying to locate the source of the voice.
“Oh, come now,” the voice continued, already with a hint of boredom, “it’s not that hard!”
The Doctor was now entirely chasing his tail. This was the sort of thing that distressed him: not the impending ruination of a perfectly peaceful day, but the intrusion of a wisecracking presence inside his ship. This is what the blessed key is for, he thought.
“I’m right… here!”
A… head appeared right in front of him as he turned. He staggered back in surprise. Tracing the neck, it looked as though this… goat had been behind him all along. But he’d looked! There was nothing there! Fancy that! Altered geometry.
“You’re certainly not as sharp a butter knife as I remember. Bad day, I reckon?”
Upon closer inspection, “goat” was not at all the proper term. Yes, the head was grey and goat-like enough, beard and everything. But then… there was an antler on top. And an… antelope horn next to it?
“Who are you? How did you get inside my ship?!” the Doctor asked. “Answer me!”
“Oh don’t be like that,” the figure said, turning away. “It takes one to know one, and since you’re always trespassing, why can’t I?”
Taking this opportunity, the Doctor studied the interloper in detail. What he was seeing was nothing familiar - a sort of mix-and-match chimera, with a goat head, different horns, brown feathers all over, a lion paw and eagle claw, and wings, among other things. They weren’t moving, yet the creature was floating around the console with ease. Quite amazing, really. The motions reminded him of a flying serpent he’d once met in Mongolia. Back on Earth…
“I’m The Doctor,” he said, trying a less hostile approach. “You’re in my ship, and though I appreciate your skills of… infiltration, I’d really like to know who you are. And what you want. Now!”
“Oh, you young ponies, always in a hurry like that,” the creature said. “I’ll never understand what you do with all your time.” The Doctor scowled. Young?
“Fine,” the chimera continued. “You can have this one for free. I’m Discord! Happy now? This whole conversation has lost all color!”
“Happy? No, I’m not! How did you get in here? The door was deadlock-sealed!”
“Oh, deadlock-shedlock! You put too much faith in machines, Doctor. No room for the… personal touch,” Discord said, slithering around the console. “Still, as machines go, this one’s… fascinating. What do these do?” he asked, as he started flipping switches at random.
“Stop that! You’ve no idea what you’re doing!”
“… and that’s exactly the way to go, 'innit?” The creature turned with a grin that showed little in the way of intelligence. “The day you know what you’re doing, there won’t be any surprises left,” he said as he floated around, playing with the controls.
The Doctor prepared to throw himself at the beast, tackle him, anything to stop him from blowing up the TARDIS in his idiocy. As he did, a cage dropped down around him out of nowhere; impact with the bars had been inevitable.
“What did you do? This isn’t funny; let me go! You’ll kill us both if you don’t stop!”
“You bet this isn’t funny! None of these do anything! I’ll bet they’re broken.” The dragon snapped its claws, and a large brown bag appeared behind him with a white flash. “You shouldn’t be keeping this junk. It ruins the room’s aura,” he said as he started popping off bits of the console and shoving them into the bag.
“Enough!” the Doctor shouted. With a twist of his head, he pulled his sonic screwdriver out of his coat pocket and pointed it at the cage doors, unlocking them. He burst out, jumping the small distance to the TARDIS console to inspect the damage. It was minimal. The dragon had been removing spare parts and buttons with no apparent function.
He turned to look for this mischievous intruder, and saw him at the back of the control room, going through a box of old items, childishly throwing them over his shoulder if he didn’t shove them into his bag first.
“This is your last warning, Discord! Get out now!”
His warning went unheard, however. Discord had come across an old copy of the TARDIS manual, and was looking through it with distaste.
“Fat lot of good this one did you,” he said, tossing the old book into his floating bag and throwing the bag over his shoulder. “Well, you’re certainly nothing like I expected! I thought the last of the Time Lords would have a little more spunk to him in his old age, but I’ve seen sprightlier ponyfolk at the retirement home! I’m leaving!”
The dragon opened the ship’s door and threw his bag of junk out of it before the Doctor used the console controls to shut it in front of him. He would have some answers first.
“On second thought, I think I’ll have you stay a second longer. How exactly did you board my ship? And how do you know about the Time Lords? Who are you, really?”
“Don’t be like that, old colt! I can go lots of places, and know plenty of things. Not all of them, mind you, but then that wouldn’t be fair, would it?” the creature said. This time his smile did nothing to hide the cunning malevolence in his eyes.
“That’s not an answer! Nobody can get into my ship without my say-so!”
Discord floated back to the console, seemingly intrigued by a transparent ball found among its many controls. He began toying with it as he continued. “You know better than that, Doc. I did. By your… logic, I’m either nopony or not really here! Maybe this is all a figment of your imagination.” The toying continued, and the Doctor resorted to biting Discord’s paw to keep him away from the console. The creature seemed genuinely surprised by that.
“Ow! Biting? Really? Now I know I’ll catch something from you,” he said with a pout. “And here I was about to share my great secrets with you.”
The Doctor was at the end of his patience; this idiot seemed to have no other purpose in life than to annoy others with his pointless magical trickery. “I think I’ve had enough of this conversation as it is!” He opened the door. “Get out, before I drop you into a black hole!”
“Oh, you wound me, Time Lord! You’re a positively dreadful host, you know,” Discord scoffed. “Fine, I know when I’m not welcome! I’ll leave you to your sad little existence! Au revoir!” The dragon floated out the door and into the dark, rainy hillside beyond.
The Doctor shut the door behind him and double-dealocked it for good measure, then set about examining the damage to the console. As it turned out, most pieces were replaceable or without function to begin with. It took a few minutes to get everything back in order again and clean up the spare parts that Discord had scattered everywhere.
“Now to find out where he came from.”
He turned towards the computer screen, and searched the ship’s database for “Discord,” as well as a visual match. The only result was an old statue in the Canterlot sculpture garden. That didn’t make much sense. Why did that guy have statue all the way out-
…wait! Hillside? Rainy hillside? It was a beautiful cloudless morning on Padrivole 9. And they were in a field!
He called up a view of the TARDIS exterior with great urgency. Surely enough, it showed he was on a hill outside the village of Ponyville, Equestria. And it was pouring outside, a peculiar sort of brown-colored rain.
“We’ve moved!” he whispered to himself, startled. “Can’t have moved! There was no sound! No… wild rocking about!”
He checked the controls again, more thoroughly this time. To his surprise, some details had escaped his gaze the first time. First of all, the brakes were disengaged. That explains the silent landing. Aditionally, a series of blue switches were lit up around the time rotor. Stabilizers… aaand that’s why there was no rocking.
The Doctor’s disposition worsened every second as a terrible thought began to creep into his mind. No way this could be a coincidence. He never used the brakes, or the blue stabilizers. Didn’t even know they were there until a while ago. This… “Discord” must have, against all odds, actuallyknown what he was doing. But how?! There were a grand total of three people that could fly the TARDIS, and none were in this Universe.
This was the absolute definition of bad. A troublemaker that could bypass the deadlocked TARDIS door and hijack the ship was the sort of stuff that nightmares were made of. The Doctor called up the flight log and checked the latest entries:
No way! He’d edited the flight log as well, hiding a destination…
Who is this guy?
Name: Discord… Haven't I heard that one before? Fact the first: He can fly the TARDIS… Fact the second: dragonlike appearance, but chimeric and apparently in control of quite a bit of power. Does mutation exist in this Universe, an experiment gone wrong, perhaps?... No, that’s rubbish, BUT: Addendum: He seemed to know me, so I might well be set to meet him again in the future. I need to stop meeting people like this.
That being said, questions were of secondary importance now. A big blue box coming out of nowhere in a crowded area would not go unnoticed, perception filter or not. The landing itself could have changed all of pony history, maybe more! And then there was that bag the dragon had thrown out the door. The Doctor had seen what had gone in it, it was nothing but spare junk. But then, even Time Lord junk could alter the course of entire civilizations. I have to know where we’ve been!
Fortunately, the TARDIS had some secrets that were better kept than others: race track, three-story wardrobe, a juice bar and, more importantly, a secondary log buffer for the last hundred destinations or so. It couldn’t be directly accessed on-screen, but he could take the ship right back to its last destination.
Breaks on, stabilizers off. The Doctor manned the wind-up capacitor, turned the “hot” faucet all the way to maximum, keyed the password (easier said than done with hooves), and off we go!
The rocking was back, along with the whirring sound, both of them very strong, perhaps to compensate for their brief absence. The Doctor bit down the safety rails for dear life as the room turned upside-down, shuddering violently as if it were the end times. Which it might well be, for all I know!
When the movement stopped, the Time Lord wasted to time in scrambling for the door, to emerge into… Canterlot palace?
He raced back to the monitor. It showed that this was indeed not the TARDIS's last landing site. He tried to re-initialize the ship and take himself to the intended destination, only for the whole system to bluescreen itself into a general error. Of all the worst times that could possibly-
[System restart in: T -50 minutes]
A sudden, terrifying shriek came from beyond the wooden doors, breaking the Doctor’s internal rant. Somepony was in trouble…
It sounded like a mare was in trouble. The Time Lord was out the door in a second; Discord could wait. He had materialized in an open hallway or large balcony; to his left, a view of the palace gardens could be seen from an overlook; wherever he was, it didn't look like a tourist area. The doors on the wall to the right most likely led deeper into the castle, while at both ends the balcony had statues of regal-looking winged unicorns, their wings half-unfurled and their heads held high.
The shriek came again. The Doctor galloped to the door at the opposite end of the balcony, bursting through to witness a purple earth mare, likely one of the palace servants, surrounded by a cloud of... insects? Birds? Some sort of small swarming creature. A long, screeching pulse from the ol’ sonic was enough to disperse the swarm, its members scattering in every direction. The maid fell to the floor, breathing a sigh of relief.
“You alright?” the Doctor asked the still-terrified indigo pony. Her official-looking outfit was shredded and raggedy, and her mane, though showing signs of a once-pristine coiffure, was now a tangled mess. I should keep her away from any mirrors.
“Fine, thank you… How did you do that?” she asked as she picked her damaged glasses from the floor.
“Well, you know... Noticed a wee bit of ultrasonic chatter among them and figured ‘What the hell, play some music!’”
“That sound… was music?”
“Overture of the 7th symphony of the Stryg-Yar composer Farlian. Only bit of decent music she ever wrote.”
“You’re not making any sense!”, she said, perplexed. “What, pray tell, is a Strygyar? And who are you! Where did you come from?”
Of all the silly questions!
“I do often. An alien race. The Doctor. A box. More to the point, what were those? How did they get in the castle?” he asked.
“Parasprites! Hello, where have you been? The whole place is flooded with them. I was trying to get everypony to the cellar. It’s where the Princesses are gathering the staff-… What do you mean, a box?”
The Doctor took a look around the room. Fancy dressings, a guest suite by the looks of it. Most textiles had been chewed on extensively, as if by a swarm of hyperactive moths. Not that the wooden furniture, or even the walls fared any better. Parasprites seemed to eat almost anyhing. Not ponies, luckily.
“Blue one,” he finally responded. “The cellar? That’s a rubbish place to hide from an attack. If there are any more of them, you should be leaving the palace!”
“It’s the only way out! One of the guards told me that the palace has been sealed shut by the Princeses’ spells. Since the swarms came out of the royal archive, we couldn't let them get out into Canterlot. Princess Celestia has put up a barrier around the palace and half the gardens to keep them in, so now the exit available is an old escape passage in the sewer; Parasprites don’t like the humidity, and it’ll be sealed as well once everypony is out.”
They returned to the balcony. Looking over the gardens, the Doctor could just barely notice a weak yellowish shimmer in the air, probably from the protective spell.
“Okay, next step: we need to get everyone to safety. Is there anyone else left around here?”
The mare didn’t answer. She’d seen the TARDIS, and was now approaching the mysterious blue box.
“You weren’t joking, were you? How did this get here?” she asked, suddenly suspicious of her miracle savior.
“It’s my… uh… vessel. It… just sort of appears. Focus, please. Is anyone else around?”
“That’s what I’m here to find out. Princess Luna sent me to the guest rooms here, to see if there’s anypony left behind by the evacuation. She led the rest to the cellar.”
“Right, then!” the Doctor smiled. He took the sonic in his teeth once again, scanning for nearby life-forms. “No one nearby, but there’sh a blip coming from th’ floor below ush, hundred metersh or sho that-a-way,” he said, pointing to one one of the balcony doors.
“The Atrium? That’s near the Archive! We need to get there, there’s no time to waste!”
“Right behind you, Miss…”
“Décor. And you are?” she asked
“The Doctor. I just said…”
“That’s a title, sir, not a name. Don’t pretend to mock me, this is not the time!”
“Well, it’s what they call me, so be polite!”
“Now that’s just silly! What pony would name their colt “The Doctor”?”
“Well, Décor, it wasn’t a pony that gave it to me, if that’s any consolation. How about we get moving before another swarm finds us!” Fusspot
“Fine! And that’s Miss Décor to you, Doctor!”
Princess Celestia was struggling to get to her royal suite in the upper levels of the castle. Easier said than done, as it were, given that the floor was covered in what seemed to be honey, and the very structural integrity of the whole Golden Wing was compromised.
“That’s what happens when you replace marble support columns with bananas”, she thought as she carefully stepped over the ruined carpets of the art gallery. “At least Luna is safe, helping the others get to the cellar.” As always, the safety of everypony was above all other concerns. She could not bear to have anything happen to her sister again.
Her destination, the royal Archive, where the whole Parasprite outbreak seemed to have originated, lay at the other end of the very large Golden Palace Wing, so named not because it was made of anything precious, but because it was her place of residence (with the newly-refurbished Diamond Wing reserved for her sister). After receiving Twilight Sparkle and her friends and giving them their mission of stopping Discord, she resolved to do what she could to protect the palace and Canterlot from suffering the same fate as the village of Ponyville, while hoping the Elements of Harmony could stop the mad Spirit before he “redesigned” all of Equestria. Ponyville itself had already been transformed; from what could be seen from the tower, several buildings had been lifted into the air, and the pastures surrounding it had been replaced by… something with a plaid pattern.
Equestria was a land of carefully-controlled balance, where ponies could live in peace only because of their constant, dilligent stewardship over the elements. Her and her sister’s duties of raising the Sun and Moon were but a part of it, and now they’d even lost control over that. Unless he was stopped, Discord would eventually bring the kingdom to a state of chaos as complete as the harmony she’d worked so hard to build; ponies would be allowed to remain alive and sane only to appreciate the full extent of his devastation. Just like before…
It would not happen. Not while she still drew breath. The Archive was the key, because while Discord was cunning, terrifyingly so sometimes, he was also arrogant. The Parasprites were uncharacteristic of him; too direct, too serious. He’d think nopony would notice that, but she knew him well enough to realize there was something there he wanted to conceal behind the all-devouring swarm. Only one thing I can think of…
She’d reached the atrium, a large circular three-story room (with failing banana supports), lit by sunlight falling through a transparent crystal dome above her; the entrances were flanked by equine suits of armor or ancient alicorn statues. At the other end, she could see the ruined, broken doors of the Archive. This was too easy. She’d hardly met any Parasprites along the way, and apart from that one room with the waffle floors, she’d advanced unhindered throughout the castle.
“Discord!” she yelled, tired of the charade. “Show yourself, I know you’re watching!”
“Oh, phooey!” came the response from one of the banana-columns, which peeled itself to reveal the meddlesome draconequus. “Why couldn’t you just go with it, Celestia? Ruin everypony’s fun, will you, you party-pooper!” he said, as he climbed out of the banana peel.
“Stop it, Discord! You’re the only one who’s having fun here. Everypony else is just trying to live through this madness!”
“Madness? Milady, if you call this madness, I ought to show you what I did with one of the radio station co-hosts. Now that might leave some scorch marks!”
“What could you possibly hope to gain with all this? You know ponies will fight back, and you’ll never rule Equestria again, no matter what you do to me. Nopony will accept your tyranny again!”
“Oh, how vain can you be, Princess! Here you are thinking you’re something special, that I’d spare the effort to devise some peculiar fate for you, simply because of your flowy mane and “royal” status. You’d think so many years leading this principality would have taught you to be a bit more… down-to-earth.”
“You’re absolutely right, monster! It’s not up to me to defeat you now! It’ll be those ponies outside who will be the end of you!”
“Silly filly, Celestia! Give them time, and they’ll learn to love the new face of Equestria. After all, I won’t be telling them to keep track the weather, care for the animals or grow their own food; everything they need will be literally falling from the sky.” The dragon was circling above her head, flapping his wings lazily. “You should embrace it; it’s a massive improvement over your monotonous dominion.”
“Dream all you want, Discord!” the Princess sneered. “As long as I’m standing, you’ll no more have control of Equestria than-”
“Control?” he laughed. “Equestria was my playground from the moment the stone prison crumbled!” He came down, to face her. “Here, I’ll show you. We’ll play a little game, you and I, just like old times!”
With a grin, he snapped his fingers, and Celestia’s horn and wings both vanished in a flash of light. Her mane also stopped moving, having lost the magic that kept it flowing.
“Retrieve your effects, Tia, and show me who’s boss,” Discord sneered, as he produced a large circular present box. “I’ll make it easy. All you need to do is open this package.” The box took flight on its own, levitating several metres above the circular atrium, its shadow forming a small island of darkness in the middle of the bright room.
“I have no time for your mad trickery!” she replied, trying to contain her growing anger. This was clearly another pointless charade meant to distract her. “You can keep my wings and horn, Discord. They won’t do you any good once Twilight Sparkle and her friends find the Elements.”
The creature appeared in front of her with a flash. “I beg to differ, Celestia! Why, I submit to you that even after they’ve found their little Elements, they won’t even be capable of using them. The way I see it, you’ve put your faith in the wrong ponies.”
Now that’s a pretty desperate attempt, Discord, even for you. Without another word, the princess walked past the draconequus, heading for the open library door. Before she could get through, however, the enchanted doors blinked back into existence and sealed themselves shut before her.
“Ah-ah-a! Every game has rules, Celestia. You can satisfy your thirst for knowledge once you get your things back.” The magical seal on the door glowed a bright red; it would not open unless a unicorn placed his or her horn inside. “Or, of course, your sister could open the doors for you… Oh, that’s right. You sent them all away, to be safe.”
Celestia looked back at the box above the atrium; it was too far above for her to reach. This is not right! I’m playing right into his claws, I’m wasting time, she thought. She couldn’t really tell if it was just the stress, but she could almost feel the room getting brighter and hotter with every passing second. Almost as if…
It is getting hotter in here! She gazed above, at the crystal dome, only to be blinded by the incandescence above, as if somepony had placed a magnifying above the atrium. She ran beneath the present box, its shade providing just enough refuge from the burning light. Trapped… in a cage of sunlight.
Discord chuckled, putting on a pair of mismatched sunglasses. “You seem to have hit a bit of a snag, Your Majesty.” The sunlight didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest, as he slithered around the room, laughing and rubbing his chin. “It wouldn’t be fair to leave you here like this. You never were much good in a game. Hey, I know! I’ll provide some music before I leave, to improve the ambience. What do you say? How about your favourite,” he asked, enthusiastically snapping his claws
With that, the Spirit of Chaos disappeared, and the room was filled with a familiar rhythm. A chorus of deep voices, singing in unison with an orchestra. A hymn that everypony but her had forgotten, one that had been buried by a thousand years of regret and loneliness. The anthem of the ancient Solar Empire.
As the Doctor and Décor arrived in the Atrium, they found it flooded with the radiance of a dozen solar discs. Waves of heat swept across their faces, causing them to turn around to protect themselves.
“Décor, what is this? What’s happened here?” The Time Lord demanded as he pulled out the screwdriver, scanning around the room for the lifeform it had detected
“How should I know? The Sun’s been behaving strangely since noon. I heard one of the guards almost burned his wings off of a beam of light! How is that even possible?”
“I usually have an answer for these things, Décor, but this time it’s a guess: have you ever heard of Discord?”
“It’s a statue in the gardens, and an ugly one at that. It looked like some kind of dragon, but the name escapes me. Why do you ask? Is that statue responsible for the Parasprites? For this?”
“That’s where my guess is pointing me. My ship, the box you saw back there… it brought me here after I found him snooping around inside-”
“How do you mean you found ‘im snooping around inside? Since when can a statue move about?”
“Well, obviously, he wasn’t a statue. My question is why you’d have a statue of him in the garden,” the Doctor continued. The sonic’s scan was being jammed by something, forcing him to flip through various settings. This is taking far too long.
“You’d have to ask the Princess for that. Those things have been around here for far longer than I-” she stopped, a spark of realization in her eyes. “Hold on… what if he was turned to stone? And he’s escaped somehow…”
“Can you do that? Here, I mean. Can you turn ponies into stone?”
“Well a basilisk can do it. Or a cockatrice, I heard there’s some in the Everfree Forest.”
“But if that’s the case, why would the Princess bring him into the garden- AHA!”
“What?” she asked, startled.
“It’s the light!” he started, suddenly very proud of his deduction. “It’s not light, it’s a… well is light, but not the normal kind. There’s an abnormal amplification happening here. I’ve an app for that!”
Just as Décor was about to question him on his jargon, the Doctor turned towards the room, closing his eyes and pointing the sonic at the atrium’s roof. “Let there be… less light!” he said, instantly regretting it. Ugh, you’re rubbish, you stupid old man!
As he triggered the sonic, the room began to darken, as if a collosal cloud was blotting out the sun. Above them, he could see the dome darkening and cracking, the eldritch energies that had altered it having now been exorcised.
As the room returned to normal, they both saw an object hovering high in the center of the room. Princess Celestia sat beneath it, her eyes closed as she’d been trying to block out the baleful radiance. Her face was contorted and full of drying tears; it looked as if she’d been crying for quite a while.
“Princess!” Décor cried, as she ran to the center of the room. The royal mare blinked, trying to adjust her eyes to the new, darkened condition of the room.
“D-Décor?” she coughed, still unable to see.
“Yes, your Majesty! I’m here! Everything is fine now-” she said, stopping herself when she saw that, in fact, it wasn’t. The Princess was missing her horn and wings; only her cutie mark and pastel-colored hair identified her as the ruler of Equestria. “What… happened to you, Princess?”
“Discord” the diarch whispered, her voice a bit stronger this time.
“The statue in the garden, you mean? Has it come to life?”
“STATUE?” a new voice demanded, filling the room. “Don’t you ponies read history anymore?”
Discord flashed into existence, floating next to the ailing Princess, his glare directed at Décor. “Or is it that your Princess has stricken me from the records? The gall!” he expelled, his voice full of exaggerated outrage. The Princess rose to her hooves, trembling. She spoke, her voice weak but more determined than before. “It’s that nopony cares to remember you, Discord, except as a cautionary fairy tale. Your existence was all but forgotten!” Even in her weakened state, with her eyes half-closed and her mane fallen straight as if after a rain, she still emanated a regal presence that caused even Discord to raise an eyebrow.
“Well then,” the spirit smiled, “I’ll just have to visit upon them a crash-course in ancient Equestrian history. Show them how their forefathers used to live.”
“Except, of course,” the Doctor intervened, “you cut the branch from under your feet!” He walked up to the dragon. “You practically invited me to come here! Hijacking my ship, deleting the logs, stealing my things right in front of me… Did you think I wouldn’t follow you?”
Discord’s mismatched eyes shifted their gaze, narrowing on the Time Lord. “Well, I guess you’re just much cleverer than I am, Doctor”. A malevolent grin grew upon his face. “I mean, the things you’ve seen before you came here… All that running, now, faster than ever. It’s got to amount to something, right? At least that one Moment… of greatness.”
The Doctor’s blood froze in his veins. How could he possibly know?
“Speaking of running”, Discord snapped back, his cheerful façade back in its place, “how fast can you run?” He looked around the room. “Because I’ve got a piece of ancient history that’s just cracking to meet you again!”
With that, the draconequus snapped his fingers once again, vanishing with his trademark white flash.
“What did he mean by 'ancient history',” Décor asked. She helped the trembling princess keep her balance. Celestia was looking worse for wear, and the Doctor suspected that without her horn, her true age was starting to show.
“Doctor…” she asked, “how did you find me here?”
“Like I said, I was following him, after he broke into my TARDIS. Though, might I ask… your Majesty,” he added, with a small bow of his head, “have we met before?”
“Oh!” The Princess looked embarrased. “No, I suppose it is I who has met you before. You yourself haven’t met me yet. Though I suspect you soon will…”
Just like Discord… What the hell going on here?
Before he could clarify, Décor interupted him. “Your Majesty, what did that creature do to you? What happened to your horn?”
The princess looked puzzled for a second, as if she’d almost forgotten her condition “He told me he wanted to play a game. He knew I wanted to get in the Archive, and took my horn to prevent me.” She pointed to the dark shape above them, still hovering over the room. “He said he put it in there, along with my wings, so I couldn’t fly up to retrieve it.”
“Well, I should be able to help with that,” the Doctor said, pulling out the sonic screwdriver. Before he could do anything else, however, the room suddenly went completely dark; the Sun had set, without any warning, and the three ponies could see no further that the length of their noses.
“Discord,” the Princess spat.
“Did you… hear something?” Décor’s voice carried the slightest tremble of panic.
Seconds later, before anypony could answer, the Sun rose back in place. The hovering box, however, was gone.
“Where’d it go,” the Doctor demanded, turning around to look for it in the room.
“Did he take it?” Décor asked.
Celestia was the first to notice it. “No…” she stated coldly, her voice clearly full of fear. “It wasn’t him this time…”
Seconds later, the Doctor turned to face the two mares, his eyes wide and filled with horror. Suddenly, the draconequus' hints were making terrible sense “Not. One. Blink,” he whispered.
The statues were now blocking every exit.
Author's note: sorry for some of the abysmal errors in this chapter. Will repair them as I find them.
“Wuh-What,” Décor managed, her calm, classy façade long since gone.
“Center of the room, back-to-back! Don’t blink! And keep looking at them,” the Doctor ordered. Both mares complied.
“Doctor, what’s happening? Where did those statues come from?”
He could see eight in front of him. “I’ve had it worse,” he thought. The room was bathed in a sinister, undulating light thanks to Equestria’s new, cotton candy-based cloud cover, and everything was generally not as bright and clearly visible as he would have wanted. Eight large, grey statues of winged unicorns, clad in toga-like garb, were blocking the exits with their wings fully unfurled. Another four covered the doors behind him, under the gazes of both Décor and Celestia. “This is a cake walk. There were hundreds on Alfava Metraxis,” he tried to tell himself. Contrary to established tradition, their heads weren’t covered and their eyes were not closed. They were all staring straight at him, faces contorted in frozen anger, some even brandishing their nightmarish teeth. The sight made it difficult to speak without a stammer.
The Princess answered her charge instead: “They’re not statues. They are quite alive.” The Doctor pondered for a second why she knew that.
“Décor,” he finally managed, “remember that talk we had about statues moving around, and how they couldn't?”
“Y-yes…” her voice trembled.
“Forget all of it. Meet the Weeping Angels – well, Alicorns – the most insidious predators in the Universe.”
“Predators? But they’re just standing there!”
“That’s you! You’re doing that! By looking at them you’re collapsing their wave-function into a stone state, it’s how they hunt. They can only move when they’re not seen.”
“S-so we’re safe?” She didn’t seem convinced.
“Of course not,” the Time Lord responded, trying to sound calm. “We’re trapped, and the moment we blink we’re dead. If the Sun goes down again, if even for a second we lose sight of them, we’re dead. They’re lightning-fast, we wouldn’t know what hit us.”
“So we keep looking at them, and walk past them out the west door, where you came through,” Celestia intervened. “It’s right in front of me. There’s only one of them blocking it, and we can fit past him- Don’t look!”
In reflex, Décor had turned her head to the indicated door, only to realize her mistake and turn back a second later. She shrieked.
“Décor! Are you alright,” the distressed Time Lord asked, desperately fighting his urge to check on her.
In front of Décor now lay an statued Alicorn, its grimaced face inches away from her own. Several others behind it had also leaped closer.
“Oh, Nightmare, it didn’t make a single sound. How’d it get here so fast?”
“Just keep looking at it, and you’ll be fine!” Then he remembered. “Just not the eyes!”
“Don’t look at the eyes! You too, Princess!”
“What are you talking about now?! What’s wrong with their eyes?” Décor sounded exasperated.
“It’s a trap, that’s what! ‘The eyes are not the windows of the soul, they are the doors’,” he quoted. “You look at them to defend yourself, and instinctively you look them in the eye, and that’s what they want. They can get inside your head and kill you anyway, so do as I say!”
“That’s it! We start moving,” Celestia decreed. “Décor, look at their wings. Or the horns, or the legs. Walk backwards slowly, follow my voice, and we’ll be fine.” They began to move, slowly, towards the west door.
“Can’t you do something, Doctor” Décor demanded as the moved slowly to the exit. “Use that metal wand of yours, or something!”
Metal wand? Is that what I look like, a faux-unicorn magician?
“I’m sorry, I don’t have anything. I didn’t even expect too see these things again. They were wiped from history last time we met…”
Décor was getting tired of the technobabble. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“They fell into a crack in time and space. It should have erased them from time.”
“You’ve met them before? What, is this your day job or something?”
“Pretty much… In my defense, I was hoping to get away from it for a while here,” he quipped.
“Are these the same ones, Doctor? How much do they hate you,” the Princess asked.
“No idea. I don’t why it’d matter, though. It’s not like they’d kill us worse if they knew me.” He noted to himself that: 1) he should under no circumstances tempt his luck any further, and 2) this was hardly the time for a contest of wit between himself and the Princess. It’s something I should do, though.
As they reached the door, the Doctor beckoned his companions through as he maintained watch on the Angels. Two more had moved closer as the group ducked under the statue’s outstretched wings. Some lonely Parasprites were perched on their horns, oblivious to the abominations.
“We need to get these doors closed, tight as we can,” he told the mares after they were all in the hall beyond the door. Décor complied, helping him push the two massive wooden doors shut and locked as Celestia stood guard before the Alicorns.
“This solves nothing, Doctor,” she pointed out. “I still need to get into the Archive room, and without a unicorn that door will remain sealed.” The Time Lord noted that her appearance was worsening. Her hair was now a grayish shade of pink, and despite the effort to keep her composure her whole body seemed to be trembling.
“One thing at a time, Princess. We can get back to my ship through here, and with it we’ll jump right insid-”
Before he could finish his sentence, the Atrium door behind him shuddered with the sound of a massive blow. And another. And then another. With the fourth blow, the ancient oak finally gave in, cracking along the door’s heght. Through the splintered gash, a dark, sharpened granite hoof could be seen.
“They’re bucking the doors open…”
The group began a hasty, running retreat down the long western corridor as the Angels continued to pummel the entrance. The sound of its violent end made the three turn around. Five ferocious-looking equine statues lay frozen mid-gait behind them, having covered most of the distance in the blink of an eye. With their savage looks and razorlike teeth, they looked a lot like a pack of the Everfree Forest’s timberwolves on a hunt. The comparison did not help to ease Décor’s mind one bit.
“The other ones must have taken a different route,” Celestia observed. “Where is your ship, anyway?”
“The guest rooms’ overlook, your Highness,” Décor answered before the Doctor could say ‘big fancy balcony’.
“Then we’re not very far now. We should be alright as long as we can see them.” The three slowly continued down the hall, with the Doctor staring down the statues and Décor looking around for further intruders, which left Celestia as the only one who could see where they were going.
Though she tried to ignore it, she was quite aware of her dismal appearance and fading strength, more than anypony. Poweful though she was, the centuries had taken their toll on her body, if not her mind, and without her magic or a fellow unicorn to sustain her, she worried that her final hour might come to pass. While death itself did not frighten her after all she’d been through in over the years, it did consume her that her land would be left helpless at the claws of Discord, and more than that, that her sister would be left alone. She imagined Luna, her dear sister, fighting and surrounded by the Angels and the hordes of Tartarus, as the vile draconequus chuckled at his victory.
The thought acted to motivate her: “Not while I draw breath,” she thought to herself, quickening her pace as they advanced through the ruined Golden Wing halls. The place looked as if an invading army had gone through it, munching on everything and anything. After the rooms turned from marble to confectionery, with crystal sugar replacing the floorboards and wafer rolls taking the place of support columns, the Parasprites had had more than enough food to sustain their ludicrous reproductive speed. Now the finally-sated critters had perched themselves on most remaining masonry, sleeping or lazily observing the distressed ponies that passed them by.
“Well… I always did want a good reason to redecorate,” the Princess thought. She wondered what was the source of Discord’s newfound obsession with sweets. She was quite certain that his claim of being aware during his long imprisonment was a lie; surely the Elements weren’t cruel enough to inflict upon even him a punishment so terrible.
As the three turned a corner, the Alicorn statues again closed the distance in a heartbeat. There were eight following them now, looking more vicious and angry than ever. The Doctor noticed that their hooves were sharpened and abnormally elongated, much like the Angels from his own universe had sharpened claws and monstrous fangs. It raised a puzzling notion into his mind.
“Princess,” the Doctor asked, “these unicorn statues were here, inanimate, when I arrived. How could Discord have turned them into Weeping Angels?”
“I cannot claim I understand the extent of his power, Doctor. Even when my sister and I first stood up to him, thousands of years ago, our best hope was to lay low and draw as little attention to ourselves as we could.”
“So, he’s not what you’d call omniscient, is he,” Décor asked.
“So, how did he end up…” The Doctor wanted to say stoned, “... petrified?”
“Luna and I searched across Equestria for something that would be powerful enough to defeat him. In the end, we discovered The Elements of Harmony. They are what turned him to stone. Apart from their combined energies, I know of nothing that can help us against him.”
The Doctor frowned. “Let me guess: first thing he did after he got free was to dispose of them, right?” The Princess confirmed. “And the bearers? What about Twilight Sparkle and her friends?”
“Discord gave us a riddle that would lead them to the Elements. He said they’d find them after many twists and turns, back in the place where they began. Twilight though it meant they were in the palace labyrinth.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little straightforward?”
“The longer I think about it, the more I feel you’re right. The Canterlot Archives would have helped me to aid them. Among other things, there is a scrying mirror there. It would allow me to contact them.”
After another corner (and another leap from the pursuing Angels), the group finally arrived at the fancy balcony. The TARDIS lay at the other end. “Like I said, Princess,” the Doctor announced proudly, “the TARDIS will get you to the Archives faster than anything else!” Celestia was puzzled at first by the name he had for the quaint blue box, but after so many years of experience, she knew better than to be surprised.
After closing the door to the bacony behind them (which was swiftly followed by more vigorous pounding from the Alicorns behind it), the three dashed towards the ship. The balcony had changed since the Doctor’s last visit. As the chocolate rainclouds spread to cover all of Equestria, they had finally reached the city of Canterlot, and now the sticky, delightful precipitation was pouring over the castle, past the Princesses’ barrier and into the open balcony. It made running over the sugary floor quite a challenge.
“Come on, then,” the Doctor urged, “we’re almost there! We’re-”
The Sun fell from the sky once again, plunging the world into pitch-darkness. The group promptly slowed down.
“Oh, typical!” the Doctor cried, suddenly aware of the day’s particularly high amount of bad luck. “Just once I’d like these things to go smoothly. For the sake of variation if nothing else!” he shouted, shaking his hoof at The Powers That Be. Only then did it occur to him that, indeed, The Powers themselves were what opposed him that day, in the form of a vile trickster dragon. “There’s something to take pride in,” he thought as they fumbled through the darkness.
The thumping behind them intensified, indicating that the door was close to giving in to the assault on its integrity. Before long, the banging came to be accompanied by the sound of cracking wood. Right on cue, the Moon rose, unceremoniously, to take the place of its hexed sibling, providing a timely improvement in visibility: their path was blocked.
“We’re trapped!” Décor cried. Four Alicorns were spread out in front of her, blocking the way to the blue box. Looking behind, the Doctor saw that their eight pursuers had torn down the door, and were now preventing any possible retreat with their outstretched wings.
“That we are, back again in this position,” the Doctor replied, as the rainclouds moved to cover the last patches of clear moonlit sky. The whole scene was becoming darker every second, and the chocolate rain was not improving any aspect of their decreasing visibility. In a few seconds, the infrequent lightning bolts would be the only source of light remaining, and the Angels would be concealed enough to move; it would all be over.
Princess Celestia was keeping watch over the eight Alicorns that were now blocking the balcony less than ten feet behind them. One, sitting slightly behind some of its friends, stood tall on its hind legs, with a circular present box clutched to its chest and a malevolent smile across its face.
“Gloating… even here, they don’t know any better,” the Doctor thought as he finally recognized his granite nemesis. "They really are the same ones."
Encroaching darkness, a strange building that made no sense, and terrible monsters waiting for the first opportunity to pounce. It reminded the Doctor of his many past adventures… one of them in particular. He pulled out his sonic screwdriver: “Time to test the Pigtails function, and thank goodness we’re in range!” he announced, pointing the gadget at the TARDIS and biting down on the trigger. Instead of the tool’s characteristic whirring, the awkward scream of a terrified 20-year-old British male echoed over the rain, as the blue box received the instruction and initiated a pre-programmed command.
“A girly cry for help, Décor. The kind I was hoping to never have to make,” he answered, as the TARDIS began to vanish before the mare’s now watering eyes. Their last hope was quite literally fading away, with a sound like a set of keys scraping a piano string.
“But it’s… It’s going! Doctor, your ship is leaving us behind!” All seemed lost to her. Soon the downpour would force her to blink, and her Princess would fall to these monsters, because of her failure.
“Right you are, dear, and it’s a good thing too,” the Doctor replied, in an oddly cheerful voice. He turned again to the statues behind them. “Because I told you before, Alicorns, or Angels, or whatever you call yourselves,” he began, “I told you the last time we met. Remember what I said?” With another lightning strike, the statues leapt closer to the three, heedless of the angry Time Lord now confronting them. “There’s one thing you never, ever put in a trap, not if you want to see the light of day again.”
The sound of a cloister bell drowned all else for the shortest second.
A bolt of lightning struck a palace nearby tower as the TARDIS sounds signaled its mid-air materialization, right outside the palace balcony. Too late did the cloister bell announce the danger of imminent collision, as the box violently crashed through the castle’s now-brittle cakeshop masonry and into the brigade of eight Weeping Angels standing before the Doctor and Celestia, lodging itself quite firmly into the opposite wall.
The blue door opened, revealing a blonde pegasus mare with a messy grey coat and an expression of confusion and embarrasement on her face. One of her yellow eyes turned to the Doctor…
“Wuh… Was that my fault?”
*** Author's note: Like it? Dislike it? Please consider leaving a comment either way. I'm in need of feedback here.
Cookie points to whoever got my silly pigtails-and-frilly-skirt reference.
Morning on the planet of Padrivole Regency XI was a time of constant action. Since most of the planet’s biota were active during the day, with very few nocturnal species, the rising of the system’s two suns was like an alarm clock for every creature on half the planet to wake up and get to business. And nowhere was this more evident that in the cosmopolitan capital city of the Regency, especially in the central marketplace.
The Market was situated on an elevated platform at the very top of a tower, slap-bang in the middle of the city. From this enormous circular saucer, over a dozen suspended bridges emerged to connect it to various levels of the surrounding towers, many of which were far taller and more impressive-looking. Upon the platform lay hundreds of stands, shops, and improvised buildings of all sorts, all of them having something to offer to anything with sufficient money. It was the sort of place that had something for every visitor, and the Doctor had rightly assumed that it was the perfect place to leave Ditzy Doo to explore in relative safety, while he eloped back to his beloved TARDIS to spend the rest of the day reading about the marvelous Universe he found himself in.
It would have therefore distressed him greatly to see her kicked, rather violently, out of a ramshackle variety store, while a fat Raxacolticofallapatrotian antiquities dealer menacingly shook his hoof-like appendage at her: “… And if I ever catch you around my store again, Clom help me, I’ll make you regret it!”, said Bartfast Fing-Foom Goodnight Arlene, closing the store’s door behind him with a loud, impolite thud.
“It looked like a perfectly edible muffin, you dodo! How was I supposed to know that was your wife?” she retorted, running back to the door and beating her hooves against the planks. “Now what’ll I get the Doctor as a surprise thank-you-for-taking-me-around-the-Universe gift?” She’d even made sure the shoppe accepted her Equestrian gold currency before she went in, thoughtfully averting any awkward situation.
As it seemed the massive bug-eyed shopkeeper wasn’t going to open the door to her any time soon, Ditzy resolved to find another pace to buy her new friend a gift. Across the street she saw something that resembled a bookshop. Knowing the Doctor’s curiously incomplete knowledge about even the most basic things in the Universe, she figured an alien encyclopedia might suit his tastes.
As she opened the door, a set of melodiously vibrating bars let the shopkeeper know of her presence. This one closely resembled the more gangly ponies from her world, in posture and color at least (a vibrant, cactus-like green), while still standing apart from them with her lack of a mane and the presence of long, spike-like protusions emanating from all over her face. She was nice enough to direct the young mare to the shop’s science section, where Ditzy spent quite a while trying to deduce what each tome, scroll, vinyl tape, data-disk or mnemonic crystal was about, without risking further incident by touching them. After long deliberation, she settled on an electronic-looking tome with many pages made out of a thick sort of plastic paper, each one capable of altering its diplayed contents after the user’s need. The covers read “DON’T PANIC!” in large, friendly red letters, and the shopkeeper confirmed that it was, indeed, an encyclopedia to the Universe of sorts.
As she pondered whether to purchase something else, for her family this time, a familiar whirring sound came to her ears from beyond the shop’s door. Not wasting any time, the mare payed for her purchase and made for the door. Surely enough, there it was: the TARDIS, pumping itself into existence in the middle of the road as unsubtly as possible, and scaring a four-legged insect-like bystander in the process.
“Doctor,” she protested as she entered the blue box, “I thought I had until sunset to look around town!” No answer came, however. The vast control room of the Time Lord’s mad box was empty, and a dim red light emanated from everywhere; with the distant, ominous sound of a cloister bell, the room was giving her a feeling of general distress. “Doctor!” she called again, suspecting some sort of prank. “Hello! Anypony home?”
Seconds later, the door closed behind her, and the most distressing apparition revealed itself before her: “Emergency! Emergency! Pigtails function activated,” said the… thing in front of her. How would one describe it? It was as alien as anything she had ever encountered: a sort of large, bald ape-like animal, dressed in the most curious assortment of clothes imaginable (tweed jacket and bowtie? Really?), standing on its hind legs and speaking with a very familiar voice.
“This time capsule has received a level-one distress beacon and has detected the presence in this vicinity of an authorized emergency operator. Please confirm!” the thing continued. Its face bore no recognizable expression, and the fact that it was partially translucent led Ditzy to conclude that it was something like a projected image. Either that, or her eyes were playing tricks on her.
“Uh… Doctor, is that you?” she asked
“Confirmation accepted. Please approach the TARDIS console and prepare for emergency evacuation,” it said, making it clear that this was not her friend speaking to her.
“You’re not the Doctor, and I’m not doing anything until you tell me what’s going on! Who are you?” she demanded, trying to sound as uncompromising as possible.
“I am a voice interface system programmed to aid you in piloting this time capsule to the aid of its distressed owner. This time capsule has translocalized eight minutes into the past from the moment it received the distress beacon, in order to facilitate your accomodation with its control system.”
“So, let me get this straight… the Doctor is in trouble, and he called for help, and I have eight minutes to learn how to use the TARDIS to save him?”
“Correct. You now have seven minutes and forty-two seconds to time horizon.”
“Well, how hard can it be?” she wondered as she trotted enthusiastically over to the console.
“… I can see where this is going,” the Doctor said, interrupting Ditzy’s breathless narration of the events leading to her crashing the most valuable ship in the Universe through a castle made out of marzipan and crystal sugar and into a group of murderous Weeping Alicorns. “Serves me right for spending my holiday here,” he muttered under his breath, only to follow up up a loud “NOTHING!” when asked by Ditzy to articulate.
Outside the ship, in the guest rooms’ balcony, the chocolate milk rain was drowning most other noises as it continued to fall from the cotton candy clouds.
“This is Canterlot castle, right? What happened to it?” the mare asked, eyes looking around (rather independently). “What happened to the sky? And the rain?” A horrified expression covered her face: “Did I do this? I swear I didn’t mean to…”
“Calm down, Ditzy, it wasn’t you… this time.” The Doctor got out of the ship, calling to his other companions: “It’s all clear, dears, you can come along now!” Outside, Décor finally blinked after having kept watch over the remaining Alicorns through wind, rain, lightning and terror, knowing that the Doctor would observe the monsters in her stead.
A bit further on, Princess Celestia clambered to the crash site. Décor came to her aid, bringing her the circular box that had been torn from the grasp of one of the crushed Angels. She stood back as the Princess opened it, a bright light engulfing her body, returning her to her original, majestic form. Her horn glowed with bright yellow light as the barrier around the castle solidified, blocking out the sticky rain. With another wave of her horn, the masonry of a section of the castle returned to normal, and the swarms of rampaging Parasprites were transported away.
“Thank you, Doctor,” she said, “and thank your friend as well, for this most timely rescue!”
Seeing the Princess, Ditzy Doo immediately bowed, her head touching the now-pristine marble floor: “Ditzy Doo, your Majesty! It’s an honor to meet you, you Majesty! Anything else I can help with, your Majesty?”
“Oh, it’s quite alright,” the Princess said. “I think you should take Décor inside your… vessel,” she suggested, peeking into the massive room within the box, and doing a fine job of holding back her amazement. “I think she has earned a bit of respite.”
“Uh, Princess,” the Doctor began, not taking his eyes off the remaining Weeping Alicorns “you need to come with us. The castle… nay, the planet isn’t safe with even one of these things loose out there.”
“Don’t worry about me Doctor,” she replied, turning to the statues, who now looked less like horrifying Nightmare-spawned hunters and more like terrified little fillies, trying vainly to run from their mother. “Or about them. I have the perfect prison for these abominations. Rather, take your time to fill Décor in and meet me in the Canterlot Archives after I’m done sending these beasts to their rest.” The Alicorns lay frozen mid-gait, as they tried to get away from the newly-empowered Princess of the Rising Sun, with a look of panic on their faces.
The Doctor and Décor could have sworn the helpless statues were trembling as the Princess approached and disappeared with them in a flash of white light. Turning around, they saw that the remains of Ditzy’s victims had also vanished.
“Right, then,” the Doctor said, “you heard her. In you go,” he told Décor, pointing at the TARDIS door. The mare was puzzled. How were the three of them supposed to fit inside of that dreadfully cramped thing. She stopped in front of it to examine.
It looked as if the blue box had crashed into the gallery, smashing through several of the Alicorn statues and lodging itself into the gallery wall. The door itself read "Police" or some such; she never got around to reading the whole thing, because the door swung open seconds later, as the brown stallion bumped into her rump, pushing her inside. This resulted in Décor's face acquainting itself with the metal floor rather enthusiastically.
"Ditzy, twisty lever, now," came the Doctor's order.
Another voice, likely coming from the mare named Ditzy, came a second later: "Aye, aye, Cap!"
Loving as the floor was, Décor wasted no time in removing herself from it and regaining a bit of her composture (not that it mattered for much these days, but a royal aide such as herself did have an image to uphold). No sooner did she do so, however, that wooden blue door behind her slammed shut and the room began a process of violent quaking, likened in her mind to what an insect would feel if it was in a jar being shaken by a curious little filly. Once this stopped, the mare found herself once again picking herself up from the floor. She looked around, and felt her tired legs give way beneath her for what seemed like the tenth time today. "What?" she managed. She was in an enormous, circular bronze-coloured room. The walls were irregularly arranged and had the appearance of polished copper, with multiple glass spheres, lamps and other things attached, as well as a great circular pane of glass to her side. The white inside of the wooden door behind her, now tightly closed, looked entirely out of place, as if a teleportation mishap had merged two completely separate chambers. In the center of the room the room was a raised platform, arranged around a glass column that ran from a sphere beneath the glass floor to the very ceiling of the room. On the platform, accessible via a set of stairs, were a couch and a chair, as well as a strange, six-sided desk covered in the strangest collection of nonsense she'd ever seen. Among them she noticed a glass screen, a small antique typewriter and a couple of water faucets. "How did we get here?" she continued, after assessing her surroundings.
"We walked in through the door, of course" the strange stallion smiled. He approached her, seeing her panicked expression. “I’m sorry, I know this is a lot to take in, but we needed to get away from there before Discord finds us again. He probably knows we’ve done in his Weeping Alicorns by now.”
He walked up to the desk (console?), standing on his hind legs and grinning proudly. “Welcome to the TARDIS,” he announced, forelegs outstretched in a dramatic manner. “The Doctor will take your questions now!”
Décor took a few moments longer to adjust to the surroundings. It wasn’t the alien nature of this place that bothered her, but its familiarity, like something so strange and unnatural had been forcibly made to look welcoming and friendly. It was more confusing than a griffon’s table manners.
“So, your vessel, your –uh– ship…” she began, “is bigger on the inside?”
“Yep,” came his reply. “This is my TARDIS. It stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. My home, my ship, and my time machine, all in one.”
“You stole this, didn’t you?” she accused, suddenly aware of what she was dealing with. Ditzy’s jaw dropped.
“What? H-how could you possibly…” the stallion stammered.
“I knew it! Who did you think you were fooling?” she continued, walking around the room. She noticed there were passages leading away from it, deeper into the bowels of this cavernous TARDIS. “You stole this ship from somepony quite a long time ago.”
“Yes, well, I did… but that was so long ago.” The Doctor felt disarmed. “How could you possibly know?”
“Well, it’s obvious, really. I’ve heard of boxes being made by unicorn magicians that were a bit bigger on the inside. This is probably something like that. And you mentioned time travel. The only way to do that is with unicorn magic. Since you’re an Earth pony, I really don’t see what you were trying to hide. You have the air of ownership about it, so it’s obvious that you stole this so long ago you’ve even forgotten that it’s not yours.”
The Doctor’s face relaxed, amused at the bizarre coincidence. “Oh… Well, I did steal it, but not from a pony, and certainly not from a unicorn. I borrowed it from a museum back home, some seven hundred and twelve years ago. The whole place closed down in the meantime so there was nowhere to return it to,” he smiled.
Décor looked surprised at this failure of her detective skill. Then she noticed the coat hanger by the door. “Is that your jacket?”
“Yes,” the stallion replied.
“Then you’re not from around here, are you?” She gave him a knowing smile. “That tweed coat is definitely not for a pony of your size, but the style matches the silly green tie around your neck. And the faucets on your desk? Only griffons and unicorns use those.”
“Wow! She’s good, Doctor,” Ditzy remarked. He’d hinted vaguely at his not being a pony per-se more than once. In retrospect, she supposed that the helpful “voice interface” hologram she’d met earlier must have been what he originally looked like.
“Right,” he started, impressed (and a bit annoyed), “You got me. I’m haven’t been a pony very long, I’m still getting used to it. Used to look a bit more like a monkey, Ditzy here can probably tell you more about that.”
The gray pegasus jumped to greet her: “Ditzy Doo, ma’am, pleased to meet you,” she said, shaking her hoof enthusiastically. Décor opened her mouth to respond, when she realized: “Did you say you’re seven hundred years old?”
“Well, I’m nine hundred and seventy, actually-”
“How is that even possible? What sort of being lives that long anyway? It’s not like you’re the Princess!”
“No, and I’m rather thankful for that. I look dreadful in gold,” he smiled. “I’m a Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey. I don’t suppose you’ve heard of it?”
“Nor should you, it’s in another Universe.”
“Oh, there you go again! What does that mean, ‘another Universe’? You sound like one of those science journals, going on about other planets. Am I to gather you’re some kind of alien?”
“Precisely that, actually. Just that, I’m not from any planet in your sky. I’m from a different universe, dropped in here more or less by accident this time. I was looking for a place to hold up for a while, do some peaceful exploration, maybe settle down for a bit. Crashed here, and I fell in love with the scenery. The morphic field variance turned me into an equine, as always. I’d forgotten how that feels like.”
Décor slumped, defeated by the technobabble once again.“So, it’s not your first time visiting Equestria, is it,” she sighed.
“Well, yes and no. I’ve been here before, lifetimes ago, you could say. There’s this party I love going to, one of the few places where I can safely meet myselves from the past. But that’s a story for another time,” he said, turning to the console. “Right now, we need to stop this Discord character.”
“You get used to it after a while,” Ditzy whispered into her ear, before joining her companion at the console. “So, Doctor, now that she’s briefed, mind telling me what exactly is happening to Equestria? Last time I checked, chocolate rain wasn’t on schedule and Canterlot wasn’t made of bakery goods.”
“Right, well…” he started, “it seems we have a bit of a problem with a nigh-omnipotent dragon deity of some description. The ‘Discord’ fellow I mentioned. After I left you on Padrivole, I found him snooping around the TARDIS. He hijacked her, took her to God-knows-where, and then wiped the records and left me with it on the hills near Ponyville. Know anything about him? ”
“Umm… well, not that I can remember. BUT-” she cried, suddenly very proud of herself. Ditzy ran past Décor and retrieved a brown saddlebag from near the door, taking the guide from it and giving it to the Doctor. “I got you this as a thank-you gift! Maybe it has something about Discord!”
“Oh,” the stallion grinned triumphantly, gazing at the friendly reminder on the cover, “Ditzy you’re a marvel today, aren’t you? I haven’t seen one of these in ages, thank you!” The grin widened as he opened the strange tome, flipping through the pages and saying the word ‘Discord’. The “tome” beeped. “Here we are! Let’s see,” he began, quickly reading the entry, “ancient evil… Paleopony period… ponies of Equestria… spirit of disharmony… eternal chaos… Elements of- HA! Bravo, Princess!”
“What?” the mares asked in unison.
“See, I knew there was something on with those two!” he announced, closing the tome. “Right, then. Short version: Discord is the spirit of chaos, it seems. Used to run Equestria into the ground ages ago, before Luna and Celestia rose up against him and turned him to stone with the Elements of Harmony. How did you two not know that your rulers were total heroes?”
“Well,” Ditzy began, “I don’t know anything about any Discord, but the Princess stopped all sorts of beasties over the years.”
“Yes, Equestria has had to deal with threats and evil before,” Décor continued. “Most of them are now locked away in Tartarus. I’ve never heard of anything like this though.”
The Doctor supposed a group of Weeping Alicorns were the most recent prisoners in this “Tartarus”.
“So, the Princess used the Elements last time, but she can’t use them now. She said Twilight Sparkle and her friends were going to stop him, so that means she and her sister can’t use the Elements any more… That’s strange.” He paused for a second.
“If the Princess can’t use the Elements to stop Discord, and he stole the things from the castle after he escaped… Why did he go out of his way to stop her from getting to the Archives?”
“Well, the Princess said she could help the bearers in finding them with something from the Archives,” Décor said.
“Naah, it doesn’t work like that,” the Doctor replied. “If he wanted Celestia out of the way he’d have just dropped a bridge on her or something.” Décor gasped, scandalized. “What he did was simply delay her,” the Doctor continued. “Why even bother with her, unless – Oh! Oh no!”
The Time Lord jumped at his sudden realization, reaching for the TARDIS controls. Flip went the switches, around went the knobs, clank went the levers, and within seconds, the room was trembling and quaking once again, only to stop a minute later.
“Doctor, what is it,” asked the alarmed Ditzy.
“We have to warn the Princess. He wasn’t delaying her, since at this point she can’t stop him anymore!” He ran to the door, before turning once again to the mares: “He was delaying me!”
The three exited the TARDIS, walking into the elegant halls of the Canterlot Archives. Décor concluded that the ship used some kind of teleportation spell to get around, since there was no other way they could have ended up in there. It was a very elegant solution. “I think I know what he’s doing,” the Doctor continued. “He’s directing me on a certain path, pushing me towards a time horizon. I think he’s interfered with his own timeline using the TARDIS, and that’s ludicrously dangerous. If he messes up it could tear open the Universe. If he succeeds–”
“-eternal chaos in Equestria,” Décor finished, looking around the halls. There was no sign of the Princess, and the shelves and rooms were strangely devoid of devastation.
“Right. We need to find Celestia, I need to ask her something-”
He stopped, gulping loudly. From behind one of the larger bookcases, a long, sharp rapier extended, aligning itself with his throat, right above his tie. Its handle was encased in a field of shimmering, blue magic.
“And, pray tell,” came a beautiful mare’s voice, both calm and threatening at the same time, “What art thou seeking to ask her?”
Author's note: The plot thickens! As always, please leave a comment/rating/both. I'd love to hear anything you have to say, be it speculation, praise, rant or those lovely reaction images.
“Explain thy presence here expediently, lest We supply a bloody end to this intrusion, sir!” echoed the royal declaration.
Luna’s voice was unmistakable, even if the Doctor couldn’t see precisely where it was coming from. They were in a shadowed, unlit section of the Archives, with little visible beyond a faint glimmer from the windows leading outside. What little they could see of their surroundings showed a messy, destroyed room, with many books and scrolls shredded and strewn across the floor. He suspected some sort of twilight, no doubt Discord’s doing, had covered the land, reducing the amount of available light. Any attempt to move forward into a better-lit position, and reveal himself, would sink the rapier into his throat.
A pair of distressed squeals came from behind him, adding to his own whimper. Turning his head, he saw that a pair of threatening pegasus Night Guards had similarly positioned their windblades at his companions’ necks, standing behind them so as not to let them see face-to-face. Why would they avoid eye contact?
“Princess Luna! It’s me, Décor,” said the royal aide. “Please release us, Your Majesty. This pony has a warning for your sister!”
“This warning he shall deliver to Us instead, Madam Décor,” said the Princess of the Night. “Our sister is occupied at the moment, and We shan’t allow her to be interrupted. You all could be thralls of Discord.”
“Princess, please! You know me, I’m the Doctor, you’ve met me before,” called the Time Lord. It wasn’t a total lie. He’d met the Princess before, soon after he’d arrived, at last year’s Summer Sun Celebration debacle. A couple of exchanged greetings, and her familiarity with him told him that, more likely than not, he’d be meeting her again in her subjective past… which was his subjective future. Time travel…
“That voice…” the Princess came into view from… above them? Apparently she had been silently floating above the room, observing the entrance for intruders. No doubt the TARDIS materializing had drawn her attention. Such paranoia spoke volumes of how much of a threat the draconequus presented. “’Tis most fortunate that thou hast come here, then, Sir Doctor. We find ourselves in a situation most dire.” The Princess landed before them, and signalled the guards to unhand- unhoof- the two mares. “We trust you all see the necessity of caution. The enemy can take any form, and subvert the strongest mind.”
“Oh, yeah, totally,” said the Doctor, as the silver blade removed itself from the vicinity of his carotid. “I’d have done the same, sword and everything…”
“Thy spunk is apprreciated, Doctor, but ill-timed. ‘Tis not the time for jest,” she said dryly. Luna led the way through the labyrinthine library, followed by the Doctor and his friends. The guards fell behind, to watch the entrance. “Prithee, Time Lord, do tell Us of this warning most dire thou hast for Our sister!”
“It’s better that you both hear it together, it’s more of a question-warning, ‘am-I-right-I-hope-I’m-not’ sort of thing,” he told her as they reached a ‘clearing’ in the paper forest, a circular reading area of sorts. The whole place was in sorry shape: chunks of masonry littered the floor, the large hourglass in the center had been smashed open, several bookcases had been chewed-on or simply smashed to pieces and others still had been turned into some form of marzipan cake. Certainly, having Discord and a swarm of Parasprites loose in a library was a recipe for disaster.
“Say, I thought Celestia was looking for a magic mirror in here. Did you find it?”
“Behold,” said Luna, pointing at the far end of the clearing, where an empty frame stood surrounded by broken shards, “’Tis broken, the mirror. The damage to this part of the Archive is minimal, but for some reason, the Scrying Silverglass we use to keep watchful eye on our subjects has been smashed asunder. No doubt the demon Discord saw it as a threat.”
“Broken glass, Princess? I’m the ma- I’m the pony you need then! Ditzy, your digits please!” He pranced over to the shattered mirror. Ditzy followed him, responding to Décor’s puzzled look with a whisper: “It’s how he calls my feathers…” Luna seemed unfazed by the eccentricity.
“Put the big shards together for me please, while I find the resonant frequency for the sonic, you’ll be much faster at this than I am,” he said, remembering his own debillitating lack of fine motor skills.
“We doubt your wand will have effect,” said Luna. “Silverglass such as this cannot be put back together once it has been broken.”
The Doctor ignored her warnings, consumed as he was with the controls of his equine-optimized Sonic Screwdriver. In the meantime, Ditzy had begun reconstituting the puzzle of the broken mirror.
“There we are!” declared the stallion after a while. He pointed his wand at the silverglass mozaic on the floor.
“Doctor, We must insist against this course of action!” Luna intervened. “Vibratory backfeed from the mirror can be quite destructive!”
“Oh, backfeed is for humans! This is Time Lord technology, I’m sure a bit of ding won’t be knocking my knickers off too soon.” With that, he bit down on the controls. The whirring green instrument began to shake, throwing off sparks and all too soon burning itself to a crisp in his mouth.
“Egads,” echoed the crystalline laughter of the Princess, “We believe thy kickers are thoroughly off, Sir Doctor!”, eliciting a scandalized Gasp! from the otherwise unperturbed Décor. “Or is that not how one says it these days?”
“Oh,” cried the Time Lord, “not again!”
“So, how many does this make,” asked Ditzy.
“It’s hard to keep track. Does the one I lost during the Crystal Feast count? It was just half-eaten, after all.”
“Do you think maybe next time you could listen to Her Royal Highness before you-”
Ditzy was interrupted, as Celestia walked in, joining their little gathering in the clearing.
“Well, sister,” asked Luna, “any progress?”
“Nothing. There’s no trace of Twilight Sparkle’s letters anywhere in the Archive.”
The Doctor jumped at the sight “Princess Celestia, finally! I wanted to- hold on, what letters?”
Celestia turned to him. “Twilight’s weekly friendship reports. They’re missing.”
“Destroyed, perhaps?” asked Décor.
“Not by Parasprites. The letterbox can only be open by myself of Luna.”
“Sound like a very important bunch of letters.”
“They’re an… insurance policy of sorts. Certainly the most secured objects in the Archive. I doubt Discord went in for anything else.”
“But how would he even know about them? He’s been gone for a thousand-plus years?”
“I’m afraid I do not know… Doctor, was there something you wanted to ask?”
“YES! About Discord! He can’t travel in time himself, can he? I’ve heard there are time travel spells in here, does he know any of them?”
Luna intervened “He can, in fact, travel through time, Doctor, but like thyself, he cannot intrude on his own timeline.” She levitated a neaby book from one of the shelves. “This might answer a few questions.”
The Doctor looked at the cover: “Time Travel Mechanics; Extended Edition”, by Star Swirl The... Wise?. The tome looked ancient, battered, and with more than a few pages and parchments falling out. He skimmed through the first few chapters, his face lighting up as he did.
“Oh, but that’s IT!” he shouted. “Iwasright!He can’t intrude on his own timeline, so he used my TARDIS to do it! None of the pony spells here are strong enough for that paradox, but the TARDIS can hold it for a while! I’ll bet my fez that he gave the letters to himself!”
Ditzy looked puzzled “But why? Why not just… destroy them, if they’re a threat?”
“Well, that’s the problem! If he remembers receiving them in the past, he HAS to go back give them to himself in the future, it’s how time works!”
“So, when did he go?”
“No idea. The TARDIS hasn’t figured it out just yet. Except… Not even the TARDIS can hold this paradox for long. If the letterbox remains in the past, it could unravel everything! It’s insane!”
A familiar chuckle interrupted their conversation: "And what's wrong with that? It's done wonders for me," said the voice, echoing throughout the empty halls of the Archives.
Discord flashed into existence before the assembled ponies. "Frankly, I'm offended! Here you are, the power club of Equestria: the marshmallow princess, her lunatic sister, members of the Night Guard, and even the Oncoming Storm himself... How could you have this little party without inviting me-"
The dragon had no time to finish rambling, however, before an enraged Luna cast her rapier at his head. He reacted in time, however, and the near-miss sent the sword into the wall behind him, buried half-length into the cracked jawbreaker masonry. The Night Guardsponies threw themselves at Luna’s side, hoof- and wingblades at the ready, prepared to defend her with their lives.
“Oh, dear!” Décor whispered. “This won’t end well…”
“Let me guess. Score to settle?” the Doctor asked quietly.
“I wouldn’t know… but perhaps you’ve wondered why ponies are sometimes terrified of Princess Luna.”
"Have at you, demon!" the Lunar Princess cried, following her first assault with a sizzling beam of light from her horn. The draconequus lazily extended his paw and caught the beam (in defiance of basic relativity, the Doctor noted), then raised his claw in a pulling motion toward the Princess, lifting her off the ground. As her response, a blue bubble materialized around her, negating his power. Where it touched the floor and walls, the random confectionery promptly turned back into the original building materials.
The guards, pressing the attack, flew at the demon. It was for naught, however, as they found themselves suspended in mid-air, surrounded by a yellow aura and unable to move. “Oh, you two...” Discord said mockingly. “Might as well dress you both in red shirts”. A flick of his wrist froze the two hapless ponies into solid ice, and another launched them out a nearby window. Luna’s teeth clenched, as the room began to shake.
“Well, I’ve heard some rumors. Ponies are scared stone-cold of her, but honestly, she’s Celestia’s little sister. How bad could she be?” the Doctor commented, as goddess battled demon before him.
“I’ve heard she’s more powerful than Princess Celestia when she's furious,” Ditzy interjected, earning herself an intimidating look from the royal aide. The grey mare promptly looked away, blushing.
“It’s more of an… anger management problem,” Décor whispered. "Her Majesty has been through a lot."
A magic aura was forming around Princess Luna, casting aberrant shadows on the environment. Her mane was turning azure, and pieces of blue armor were materializing themselves on her body. Complete with a very familiar helmet.
"Begone, Discord!” she demanded, her voice now echoing thoughout the Archive. Celestia, who had watched the whole scene from behind the Doctor, now stepped up and joined her sister in facing Discord, but remained quizically silent.
“You foul this ancient place with thy mere presence,” Luna continued. Noticing her sister by her side, she showed the slightest trace of hesitation before declaring: “Begone now, monster, lest Our fury be unleashed!"
"Monster, Luna? Moi?” he asked, almost shocked. Strangely, there was little of his usual cheer this time. “Why, I’m merely a facilitator here, Princess. I help ponies discover their true nature. Remember last time, all those years ago?” A trace of anger could be heard in his voice. “Think of what happened after I was turned into stone, Your Majesty, think of what you did, then look at me, and call me the monster!”.
Luna’s eyes widened in shock. Anger returned soon enough; she looked quite ready to lash out again, when her sister placed her hoof on her shoulder, as if saying “Don’t attack him, it’s just what he wants...”. Luna’s stepped down.
Seeing his ploy thwarted, the draconequus turned, grinning, to the Doctor himself: “I bet you’re wondering what this is all about, eh,” he asked, gesturing to the Alicorns. “See, dear old Luna here... did some things after the sister's glorious victory over me.” Luna’s teeth clenched and the aura around her grew brighter. Seemingly unaware, Discord turned to Ditzy, whose eyes had stopped moving, and were staring straight at him. “Have you ever wondered why it’s called ‘Nightmare’ Night... and why the… monster goes specifically after children?”
“SILENCE!” echoed Luna’s voice. Now fully transformed, her Nightmare Moon persona stood tall, towering even over Celestia herself, who moved away, not in fear, but on the verge of tears.
“Come at me, then!" Discord challenged, crossing his arms and narrowing his eyes.
Luna’s eyes were now fully ablaze. “You will swallow you words, monster!” her voice boomed, carrying the terrifying reverberations of Canterlot royalty. Her horn lit up once again, as the room darkened and black storm clouds gathered above them, flinging bolts of lightning at the bored Discord, who deflected them at the surroundings with ease; the strike of each bolt gave birth to different things where it impacted: a lock of daisies on the floor, a pair of toothbrushes lodged into a wall, and a fax machine at the other end of the room. All of this served to further enrage the moon princess, whose mane was becoming more mistlike and immaterial with each second.
It was a rare sight that rendered the Doctor, “The Man Who Talks”, speechless, but the whole thing showed precisely how little he understood about these beings. For one thing, Celestia, instead of helping her sister against the demon Discord, made no effort to interfere, or even calm her sister down, resigning herself to watch in sadness as Luna tried vainly to land a blow.
As for Luna... Was this the same pony he’d met for a few short moments after her return during the Summer Sun Celebration? Back then, the mare seemed like the merest, most pale shadow of her majestic sister, an anthithesis of the terrifying power of Nightmare Moon. Now he saw nothing of that pony, but instead an avatar of anger and vengeance that plainly showed why her subjects were wary to speak her very name.
Discord himself barely seemed to notice, occasionally tossing a pair of slippers at the Princess to provoke her further. Soon, she would no longer be able to control her powers, and all ponies present would be in mortal danger.
Acting swiftly to prevent this, Celestia took position behind her sister. Luna, consumed as she was with her attacks, had no time to react before her sister's sudden spell knocked her out. Before she could hit the ground, Celestia's magic caught her, gently holding her in mid-air.
"Wow," Discord remarked, equally surprised as he was impressed, “that was beautiful… How far you’ve come, Celestia!”
The princess said nothing. Instead, she placed her unconscious sister on the floor, before touching her with her horn. Luna vanished in a white flash. “Monster…” muttered Celestia.
Discord seemed unfazed. “Why does everypony expect the Spirit of Disharmony to share your pedestrian sense of decency?”
"So, Spirit of Disharmony, then?" the Doctor began. "Discord! As in... 'The Pantheon Of'?"
The demon laughed, turning toward the Time Lord. "It took you long enough... Honestly, I was beginning to lose hope, Doctor!"
"Well, what can I say? There are so many megalomaniacs out there, sometimes it's hard to get the names right..." the Time Lord retorted. "Still, for the “Toclafane” that parents use to scare their children to bed, I can't say I'm impressed."
Discord frowned; room seemed to darken.
"I mean, the Trickster... well that guy at least had the creepy look nailed down. No eyes, sharp teeth and everything," the Doctor continued. "His changelings, too, those gave me the wllies-”
"Oh, don't remind me! I met the Trickster and his ‘brigade’ once," he said with an air-quote. "All work and no play, the lot of them, more boring than any captain to come out of-"
"You on the other hand -uh- hoof” the Doctor interrupted, “... remind me of a street clown... but, y'know, evil… Pennywise, is what you are! Not even played by Tim Curry!"
"I'd rather take that as a compliment, dear, I love making others laugh,” Discord smiled. “Take little Pinkie Pie for instance: she used to be a doll that one, a real barrel of fun. Not so much now, sadly."
The draconequus snapped his fingers. The scattered fragments of the shattered Scrying Silverglass began to pick themselves up, joining eachother and rebuilding that which could not be rebuilt. The Doctor felt more than a little bit offended: “Hold on, I thought that thing couldn’t be mended! How come you get to-?”
“Quan-tum,” the dragon interrupted, smiling smugly and giving a double snort through his pointed nostrils. After the glass pieces finished assembling themselves, an image appeared: Pinkie Pie and her friends, running around the Ponyville library, their manes gray their eyes dimmed. Among them, only Twilight Sparkle seemed to have any of her old color in her, and the others seemed to enjoy playing cruel tricks on her. What was Fluttershy doing with that bucket?
“Ooh, this is my cue! Showtime, everypony,” the dragon announced, “live and in color! The end of -”
"What have you done to them, Discord?" Celestia demanded.
"Well it's not my fault! I told you they weren’t all you thought. Pinkie there didn't like the idea that her friends were laughing at her behind her back. Applejack couldn't handle the truth, Rarity wanted Tom all to herself and Fluttershy is just plain black inside," he smiled. "Should I go on?"
"This is your doing, demon! You can't subvert their friendship so you've cast your cheap spell to sow disharmony among them! But it won't work, their bond is stronger than that!” the Princess announced proudly. “They've even found the Elements now! Your reign of chaos is over!"
"Are you willing to put that to the test, Princess? Let's!"
Discord vanished, only to appear a second later in the footage he'd provided for them. Twilight and her friends (sans Rainbow Dash, for some reason) were now leaving the library, only to meet the meddlesome spirit, hovering quaintly next to a tree.
"Well, well, well, I see you've found the Elements of Harmony, how terrifying!"
“Discord! I’ve figured out your lame riddle! You’re in for it now,” Twilight Sparkle replied. The Doctor wondered why she hadn’t fallen under the same spell as the rest of her friends.
“I certainly am! You’ve clearly out-dueled me, and now it's time to meet my fate,” Discord mockingly announced, conjuring up a pimp pair of glasses to shield his eyes as the Elements moved into formation. “I'm prepared to be defeated now, ladies. Fire when ready!” He even offered the courtesy of placing a red-and-white target on his chest.
“Doctor, you need to leave here now,” Celestia commanded. “Before he returns. Find the letterbox he stole, it’s the only way to stop this madness!”
“Hold on, didn’t you just say that-” the Doctor stopped, as he took a few seconds to realize. “Oh, Princess, I am so your biggest fan right now! Coming, Ditzy?”
“Where are we going,” the mare asked as she joined the Time Lord in the TARDIS.
“I haven’t the foggiest, but we’ll know soon enough.” He turned to Celestia’s aide: “Décor? I could really use your help here.”
The mare looked puzzled: “Am I missing something here? Didn’t Her Majesty say Discord’s spell didn’t work?”
“I was challenging him. We needed to have him leave so you could get away,” Celestia explained. “Presently there’s not enough friendship between Twilight and her friends to use the Elements. We need the letters to remind them of what they lost!”
The Doctor smiled; Celestia was crafty, even by his standards she was good. River Song-good.
“Décor, go with them. I think they’re going to need your help.”
The mare showed the slightest shimmer of reluctance, before joining the duo in their time machine.
“Right, we’re ready to go,” said the Doctor. “Princess, I have no idea where or when we’re going, or how long this could take, but you have my word: I WILL get you those letters!”
“I know you will, Doctor! Safe travels,” she said, as the box vanished.
A few crones later, the TARDIS materialized, elsewhere and elsewhen.
“Well I certainly wasn’t prepared for this…” said the Doctor he peeked out of the TARDIS door
Author's note: I'm out of exam season and back to work. As always, please leave any sort of feedback, positive or negative. Any comment is better than none, and critique would be greatly appreciated.
The old stallion stared at the sky. He knew he ought not to. He knew he had better things to do, like reaching his home as soon as possible, or looking around the forest one last time, in hope that there would still be something to eat. Looking at the sky was pointless these days. It was always the same, an ever-swirling mass of clouds and mist, with Moon and Sun stuck at opposite ends of the horizon, their lights equally fain, as if they were there only to taunt the ponyfolk with visions of their quiet, peaceful past. Which they probably were.
Still, every once in a while, the sky cleared, just for a few minutes. Just enough to reveal the bizarre and impossible lights created as Night and Day collided. They were almost beautiful, like a sunset and sunrise together.
The unicorn remembered the days before. Many today were too young to remember the old times, when peace was fresh, and hope existed that ponies could live in this world, free of conflict and danger. He remembered a time where his biggest troubles were his neighbors, his books, his nightly contributions to raising the Moon, and that pesky little pegasus who insisted on helping him out every day. Back in those days the unbreakable vessel spell he’d created around his house with his magic would be used for a much more benign purpose, not as a shield against danger, but to supply water to the cloud city above ; even the city itself was a testament to peace: an ancient, terrible fortress now dedicated to controlling the weather all across Equestria.
He started walking again. It was best not to tempt one’s fate by staying outside too long. Few did, and fewer still wandered away fom the city and into his lonely part of the lowlands. What travelers he had encountered over the months all looked and sounded the same: sad, miserable ponies, driven out of their community by some unexplained disaster, or by the crazy whim of the Chancellor. Houses rising out of the ground or coins falling out of the sky were the least of it these days; one family he’d met spoke of a window in their house that one day started looking out over a nebula in space, instead of the back yard… one of the foals had opened it, and ‘twas but a miracle that they had not been sucked out that day.
"Madness, brought into reality," he thought as he passed the last stretch of the field before the bridge to his house. This particular part of the land had been turned pitch-black, as if an endless abyss was opening up under the hooves of anypony foolish enough to cross it. The unicorn knew better, however. It was but a cheap illusion, meant to keep others away from the relative safety of his homestead. As he reached the bridge (once serving as a crossing over the stream, now merely an outcropping of assembled stones, rising from the murky blackness of the field), an all-too-familiar voice came out from under it.
“Hello, again, Twister? And how are you feeling this fine… whatever it is?” The creature rose from beneath the bridge, its abstruse geometry ignoring the fact that it had no room under it.
“Disappointed, indeed, that thou hast not found a finer residence that the underside of that bridge. One as powerful as this is deserving of greater statute. What business brings thy lordship to these parts?”
“Curiosity, in fact. I find myself, old unicorn, in a belwiderment: how does one as frail as you manage to stay alive out here, all alone, and so far from the life-nurturing qualities of yonder blessed city,” it said, as a grey claw pointed towards the distant buildings of Stalliongrad.
“Pay no mind to the troubles of an old stallion, fine master, for they will soon trouble him no longer. It just so happens that my hut hath prodigious stores of both food and water, saved up in the event of an emergency.”
The dragon landed, extending its wings to their full length. For any other being this would have been a warning and display of power. This one, though, was but stretching.
“We could exchange wit for the remainder of the day, Spiral, and we both know you’re lying, but the truth remains that neither the teafloods nor the grass avalanches reach this far into the lowlands. Any stores you might have had are long gone, so if I didn’t know any better I’d suspect you’re hiding something… or somepony?”
“Oh, I doubt an old foal like me could keep much secret from your grace,” replied the stallion. The creature was visibly losing his patience; he wasn’t used, it seems, to not getting what he wanted very quickly.
“You know full well that I could squeeze the truth right out of you,” he started, before quickly resorting back to his usual amused calm, “but then again, I’m not one to force ponies to do things they don’t want.”
He landed, walking in circles around the pony. “It’s just that there have been these rumors, y’see, of new faces showing up in town. Unicorns, pegasi, physicians, troublemakers. Royalty, even.” He smiled, but the stallion wouldn't let his alarm show just yet. “Now, you know I’m always one for making new friends, and if some ponies did get out of the palace… well, I’d love to meet them.”
“Who tells these rumors, milord? They sound like nothin’ but hot air to my ear.”
The dragon waved his arm, and two ponies flashed into being next to the old stallion. “Little birds. Fan-mail. Your pegasus friends, as it happens, Captain Cheval and Whatshermane. Surely I ought to trust them, right?”
The pony stared in shock, before feeling a tingle in his horn. The wards he’d cast upon himself before leaving safety were alerting him of something. He looked closer at the two pegasi who stood, unmoving and quiet next to him. No sooner did he look into their eyes than he saw it, a faint bluish reflection under the right light.
“You’ve been lied to, lord. These are but changelings. I reckon the swarms have started moving since the ponyfolk left the countryside in the north,” he said, as the ponies snorted. Changelings weren’t all that common around these parts, but when some did appear it was usually in the service of some higher power. And usually, the ponies they replaced were removed-
“Where are they?” the stallion demanded, lifting one of the imposters into the air. “So help me, tell me what’s become of my friends!”
The dragon waved his arms again, and the impostors vanished, only to reappear by his side. “Calm down, Whirlpool! Your friends are safe.” He turned to the changelings, stroking their muzzles. “These two no-goods asked if I might allow them to stay in town for a few weeks, and since you ponies aren’t very fond of their kind, a replacement had to be enacted. You know I can’t ever ignore a pony in need.
“But let’s not get sidetracked. It’s fairly important that you tell me if you see these ‘royal faces’ around your part of the land. I’d be very disappointed if I were to find out you’ve been holding secrets from me. I might even decide I like these two better than your ponyfriends.”
He turned to the stallion, looking genuinely threatening this time. “Don’t rattle my cage, Gandalf. I’m a very sensitive little bird,” he hissed, and vanished, along with his minions.
“Oh, imagine if anypony dared…” said the old unicorn, as he walked to his shielded house.
The TARDIS hum was omnipresent. To Décor it felt almost hypnotic, as if the buzzing and humming of this… machine was getting into her head, subtly talking to her. No wonder these two are unhinged, she thought, if they spent so long in this thing.
The Doctor’s wild tinkering with his console interrupted this train of thought, however. He was more or less dancing around the central column, visibly having trouble with controls that were designed for anything but pony hooves.
“This is going to take a while,” he said to… whoever was listening, she supposed. The pegasus mare Ditzy was nowhere to be seen. Are there more rooms in this thing?
“Whatever that lunatic did to the controls, I’m going to have to use a bypass route to track down the letters.”
“You said he gave them to himself in the past,” Décor said. “Why would he do that, if it’s so dangerous? How would you even know,” she demanded.
“It’s obvious. Think about it, who else would he trust with the linchpin to his whole plan, if not himself?”
“I don’t know,” she retorted, “but surely there’s somepony. Another dragon, perhaps. It would be a lot less complicated.”
“I’ve met other dragons, milady, and even the crazy ones aren’t that crazy. Besides, if the legends are true, ‘complicated and messy’ is what Discord lives for,” replied the stallion from beneath his console. He had begun taking apart some of the paelling, apparently searching for something.
“Oh, come now… He must have friends, everypony has somepony-”
At this, the Doctor stopped his search and came out from under the wires. “Friends? Have you met this guy,” he asked, morbidly amused. “Look, Décor, if you’re going to second-guess me, at least do it with a degree of pertinence... And do it while wearing something decent,” he continued, ignoring her offended look. “Wardrobe’s down that way,” he pointed at a tunnel behind him, “sixth hall of the left, then down the stairs, up the stairs and left past the zoo. Don’t feed the bear, it’s not a bear,” he instructed, returning to his search. “Come back when you’ve picked something nice!”
Gritting her teeth and supressing a tantrum, the royal aide trotted down the indicated path without another word. Not that accusative silence would mean anything to the Doctor, but in his own scandalizing way he was right, she thought; her clothes were in a state.
A few minutes later, the Doctor emerged, grease-covered and cursing from beneath the console. Ditzy Doo was there next to it, at least one eye looking at him. “Whatcha lookin’ for?”
“The spare Sonic. I have one under the console to keep the contacts warm, but now it’s gone. I don’t get it, Discord didn’t even look beneath the panels, how could he have taken it!”
“Will the Tardis be okay without it?”
“What? Yeah, I just like the contacts warm ‘cause they give off the most delightful smell of popcorn…”
Ditzy didn’t bother asking, focusing instead on the practical: “Can’t you make a new one?”
“The fabricator will take at least twelve hours to print it, and we should move a bit faster than that. Every moment we tarry that time horizon’s catching up with us.”
“Ok, so are you going to tell me what’s a -”
“GYAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!”, came the bone-chilling cry of a distressed mare, freezing Ditzy’s question on her lips.
The Doctor barely reacted, turning to the hallway behind him: “I said LEFT past the zoo, Décor! Dammit, it’s not that hard.” He turned to his companion. “Help her, will you? I sent her to get some new clothes. If the bear’s got her, tickle his right foot.”
Remembering her own experience with the beast, Ditzy zoomed past him and down the hall.
A quiet half an hour later, the two mares returned. The Doctor noted that Décor’s purple-indigo coat was a few shades paler (on account of her recent encounter, no doubt), but her mane was now bound in a somewhat respectable, curly coiffure. Around her neck he noted a very familiar combination of red tie and gray cravat.
“Having fun with my old clothes, Madam Décor?”
“You used to wear these?” she asked. “Are you colorblind?”
“Oh, I certainly used to… eight-and-a-half lifetimes ago, in fact.”
“Doctor,” said Ditzy, “have you figured out where we’re going yet?”
“Yes, actually!” The Time Lord jumped from his platform, and started pacing around the room. “The past. The distant past of Equestria, before the rule of Princess Galandri- Celestia, I mean.
“Discord was probably in charge back then. It’s a wonder you know so little about him, there are tales and whispers about this being in every culture I’ve come across.” “You mentioned legends… Do you know any of them?” asked Décor.
“Well, the word ‘Discord’ means different things to different species, in fact,” like the word ‘Doctor’, he thought to himself. “For ponies it is a name which brings with it a lack of harmony. For humans it means pretty much the same, but it also applies to music, and discussion. For the Romans it was a goddess, while for the Khalai and the Nerazim, it is a part of their history. For the Valtino it is sinonymous with a letter of their alphabet, and so on.
“Usually there’s mention of a group of beings, a Pantheon of sorts, working to disrupt the lives of lesser creatures for their own amusement or sustenance, and one alone could change the fate of entire worlds…”
“Yes, but how does any of this help us?”
“Help us? It doesn’t, you just asked me if I knew any stories. We’ve landed, by the way,” anmswered the Doctor, a ‘ding’ on the console punctuating his statement. Décor’s teeth were grinding.
“Before we leave, Ditzy, would you please brief our new friend on how we do things in this outfit?”
Ditzy sighed, and turned to the mare: “We do what we’re told and if he lies to us or puts us in mortal danger we’re never cross, since it’s obviously for a good reason.”
“Oh I don’t see how I could be any angrier with him.”
“He’s not so bad, once you realise he’s still a little foal inside,” smiled Ditzy.
"That’s what I like to hear! Awright, then, off we go!" declared the Doctor, opening the door and stepping-
"LOOK OUT!" cried Ditzy, grabbing him by the neck and pulling him back just before he tumbled through the grayish cloudscape beneath.
"Well I certainly wasn't prepared for this..." he said.
"Watch where you're going you dodo! I don't want a repeat of the S'uthlam Tower Job!"
"You are never going to let that go, are you? I fell, it happens!"
"You fell from a space elevator! That doesn't happen to normal ponies. I had to catch your fat rump."
"Well I'm not a 'normal pony', and it's not my fault that the place had higher gravity!"
"I'm sorry," interjected Decor, "S'uthlam? Is this a planet you visited?"
"A bunny planet," began Ditzy. But before she could recount a brave, two-hooved tale of a super-advanced world, immensely overpopulated by very clever rabbits, of the huge bear Harryland Tuft and his enormous ship, and of her saving the Doctor from de-orbiting himself, the Time Lord intervened:
"A tale for another time, certainly," he said as he peeked out the door, more cautiously this time. "We appear to be in a Pegasus cloud-city."
"Cloudsdale?" asked Ditzy, suddenly wondering what fate had befell her home under Discord.
"I don't know. According to the TARDIS, we're over a thousand years into the past. I don't think Cloudsdale was-"
"Cloudstantinople, then," intervened Decor, drawing bewildered stares. She stammered. "Uh... Cloudsdale is a relatively new city, certainly not old enough to exists here." The stares didn't go away. "This is basic history, you two. Somepony has to know this stuff!" She joined the Doctor at the door, looking out over the vast expanse of countless vapor-masonry buildings. They were different from Cloudsdale's; darker, as if built from storm clouds and bad weather. They had fewer open spaces inbetween and were generally taller buildings with pointed domes. The graceful arches and dazzling rainbows of Cloudsdale were missing as well. In their stead huge, opressive towers dominated the city's skyline; the ship had landed in the balcony of one of them.
"The fortress-city of Cloudstantinople was built before the founding of Equestria," Decor began, "... as part of an effort to defend against the massive dragon migrations of the time. When the tribes made peace and began to settle in the new land, the fortress was re-purposed to weather stewardship". She pointed to one of the neighboring towers; around the neck beneath the spherical cupola at the top, four massive rings of black cloud could be seen, ominously rumbling and twisting. "The towers are for observation, but they also act as weapons that channel and direct lightning at targets. It was said that an entire flight could be struck down with the strength of a thousand storms if it threatened the city". An icy shudder touched her spine. "Terrible weapons, from a more... uncivilized age."
"What happened to it?" asked Ditzy.
"Some legends say that a demon destroyed it, or claimed it as its own," Décor answered. "Another story persists that it was shattered and brought down by Nightmare Moon herself, to impress her might upon the ponies below, or to prevent it from being used against her."
She looked out across the vista below, raising an eyebrow. "… but most likely it was abandoned and fell apart over time. That seems to be the case, certainly. I don't see any activity down there. There should be hundreds of Pegasi in the air, at least."
“Why did the TARDIS bring us here? Is this where the letters are,” asked Ditzy.
“Good question. Let’s ask,” said the stallion, trotting over to the console and interrogating the controls. “Turns out this is one place that Discord landed her. And it’s where he tossed the things he stole. But if his past self found them, he wouldn’t have left them here. I reckon he’d try to dispose of the letters at least.”
He twisted a few dials and took a bizzare surfboard from underneath the console, striking it with a mallet a few times. “The extrapolator ought to give us a forcefield wide enough to sit on and look around. I’m certainly excited, aren’t you?” Without waiting for an answer, he once again threw himself out the door.
To nopony’s surprise, however, this time he stood firmly on the cloud layer, suspended in the air as if by an invisible pane of glass. “Come on out, Décor, it’s perfectly safe.” He even jumped up-and-down a bit to prove his point.
Ditzy and Décor walked out of the blue box. The earth-mare half-expected to tumble down into the mists below, but she did not. Perhaps this Doctor wasn’t as scatterbrained as she thought.
“If this is indeed the time before Princess Celestia’s reign, I can see why he’d use a deserted cloud city to hide the letters,” said the Doctor as he locked the ship’s door and trotted away to explore.
“Yeah. Nopony around to interfere…”
Décor trailed off, as her ears caught a noise coming from behind her.
“Did you hear something?”
“What? No. C’mon Décor, stop being a scaredyfilly,” said Ditzy, as she cast herself from the tower, scouting around. The Doctor, excited as always, was looking over the city panorama from close to the edge of the tower.
Were these ponies deaf? The noise was there for all to hear. A clicking, hissing sound that sounded like nothing one would encounter in a cloud city, no matter how ancient. It seemed to come from behind the TARDIS, from somewhere inside the tower axis. Décor turned the corner and looked down the small corridor, curious to see what arcane source might produce such an unearthly noise…
“Do you think Discord is around here?” she asked, as she returned to the balcony. There was no answer. She turned to the Time Lord, who stood motionless, still looking across the city panorama from the tower edge. Ditzy Doo was in front of him him, frozen mid-flight, as if someone had photographed the entire scene.
“What… happened? Hello?” she demanded, trotting over to the stallion. “Why won’t you-”
Décor tried hard to keep her calm. Don’t freak out, darn you! If you can stay calm in the midst of Gala disasters, you can stay calm before Chaos itself! She looked around. The demon was nowhere to be seen, and beside her two companions the tower balcony was deserted. She still felt like she was forgetting something though.
“So, you’ve, what? Stopped time? For everypony but me? That’s nice. But why?”
“It is nice of me, isn’t it? I’m such a gracious host.” There was still no draconequus to be seen. “I just wanted to get a good look at you three. I’ve been waiting for you for a while now, and was starting to think you wouldn’t show.”
“No, I meant why me? Why can I still move around?”
There was a pause. It felt almost like hesitation. “No reason. I’d just have hated to simply examine the lot of you in silence.”
“Well, you can look at us all you want. But I think we should get look at you!”
“No, I can’t let you do that. I have a terrible morning face this fine… whatever it is.”
Décor looked out, to the sky in fron of her. It certainly didn’t look like morning. Or midday. The light was dim, and the sky, what parts were visible, changed in color from the red of twilight to the blue of day and the deep violet of night, depending on where one looked . The thick clouds around the city obscured any view of the sun, or moon, or the stars.
“You’ve removed day and night entirely…”
“No! Why would I do that? They just packed up and left.”
Décor sighed. “How did you know we’d be coming?”
“Fan-mail,” answered Discord. “I got a great big bag of it a while ago.” Décor heard the rustilng of paper echo. “’Dear Discord, please be aware that a bunch of ponies from the future may be dropping in on you any time now. Be sure to welcome them warmly.’ I'm pretty excited, I've never received letters from my future before,” he said giddily. There was more rustling. “Then there’s some bits about the timeline, the end of civilization, some unicorns, abox of letters, and a PS saying I should ‘read the enclosed manual. Sincerely, FUTURE!Discord’… What do you suppose that means?”
“I sincerely have no idea. Maybe you should ask the Doctor, there. He seems to understand what’s happening better than I do.”
“Oh! So that’s the Doctor! You know, I’ve heard of him! He’s got a bit of a reputation across the Abstract-”
“Like you, I hear,” she interjected.
“I don’t like to brag… Still it’s surprising. I mean, he’s no Spirit of Disharmony, he’s so tiny. Tiny little man, trying his best to help everyone. Sometimes he even succeeds.”
“I certainly hope so.”
“And other times he doesn’t. You should ask him about it sometimes. The Time War, Elysium, Utopia. Ask him about those. On the way down.”
Décor’s eyes widened. Too late did she realize what he meant, and less than a second later she heard the sound of snapping claws. Then she was falling.
It came without warning. One moment the Doctor was looking across the desolate, yet imposing sights of Cloudstantinople, the next he was plummeting through the sculpted cloudscape like a rock. A few seconds later he started screaming.
Falling through a cloud city was a strange experience. There was no sight of the ground just yet. Things that looked solid and material turned to vapor as you struck them, doing nothing to break the terrible fall towards your doom. The Doctor noted this as he attempted to maneuver himself, to look back in the direction from where he’d fallen.
A small distance away, Décor was in freefall with him. She’d been screaming as well, but not for as long as he’d expected. Some distance above them, the pale dot that was Ditzy Doo was desperately trying to gan speed and reach them. Aside from these facts, the Doctor noted that the TARDIS itself was not falling as well. His telepathinc link confirmed that it was still where it had landed… already a long way above.
By the time Ditzy’s nose was touching his wildly-flapping tie, the ground beneath was faintly visible, a vast, very solid expanse of lowland, much of it textured in either pitch black or pikish plaid.
“Doctor, grab my hoof!” cried the mare as she attempted a rescue. “Now!”
“What! No! Go get Décor!” he told her, as he pulled away.
“Get her now! You can’t carry us both!”
“No! I can’t leave-”
“DO IT NOW!” he shouted, and the mare flinched. A small part of him noted the tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry,” he told her. “Please help her! Please!”. Another part of him noted that even as a pony, he could still scare others without realising it.
Ditzy moved away from him, grabbing Décor’s hooves and speeding with her to the ground, faster than he’d ever seen her fly. Probably thinking she can come catch me before I hit home. It was a nice to see that even after all this time, he still chose his companions well. A good thought to think, as the a pitch-black piece of lowland raced towards him, its only feature a strange lime-green circle. If I do regenerate, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of geography made that formation.
That was a big if.
“Now then,” he said to himself, smiling bitterly. “The Fall of the Eleventh.”
Author's note: this isn't a cliffhanger, right? Nopony's hanging off of anything.
As always, please leave a comment and a rating. Leave ALL the comments, if you can!
Also, I'm thinking of having a trailer for the next chapter, like any self-respecting Dr. Who serial should. What do you think?
Ditzy’s vision blurred as the two mares tumbled through the sky. Maintaining any sort of lift was next to impossible.
She heard Décor shouting at her through the sound of the wind, rushing past her: “I can’t believe you left him to die!” .
“He told me to do it. We can’t afford to second-guess him, not when there’s so much at stake.”
“Don’t move, in the name of the Order!” came the command from one of the masked ponies. By the time the pair could get their bearings, an entire brigade of constables had them surrounded, with more than a dozen pickelhaubes threatening them.
“Now, then, ladies,” said the… officer? “I’d like to know what brings you to our city.”
“I think we should be careful around that one,” whispered Ditzy. “The Doctor seemed to have a thing against ponies with eyepatches." She smiled bitterly, tears threatening to well up in her eyes. "I remember we went to a masquerade ball once, and he didn’t even want to get close to the pirates.”
“That’s positively silly,” answered her companion. “Everypony knows there’s no such thing as pirates.”
“Like I said, it’s the patches he doesn’t trust…”
“You know,” the stranger began, looking up from the papers on the desk, “Gorgonism isn’t the only way to turn something to stone…”
“You could never have survived out here, all alone. Not even you, for all your power and skill…” said the stranger, before he broke off coughing. Still, he seemed determined to make a point: “What are you really hiding out here?”
The old stallion sighed. There was no fooling his uninvited guest. “Not what,” he said, in the end. “Who.”
Author's Note: should I do this for each new chapter?