What does my cutie mark mean? Well, what do you think an hourglass means? Punctuality, of course. You can count on Minuette to be there on time, every time.
Actually … wait. I … I want to tell you the truth today. It’s not punctuality. It’s not clock making, either. That’s what I told you it was last week, but you don’t remember that. And it’s not cooking eggs. It’s actually a lot simpler than you think, and a lot more complicated, too.
Time is my special talent. I don’t just mean being punctual. I mean actual time. I can slow it down, stop it, even rewind it. Heh, you always look at me like that. I’m telling the truth, really. Time is my special talent. Would you like me to show you? Here, take my hoof, and don’t let go. Ready?
I’m sure this one thinks he’s clever. He thinks he’s the biggest shot in the galaxy, just found the easiest planet to swindle. Boy is he in for a shock.
The alien life form that thinks he’s the first to set… foot on Equestrian soil is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. He looks like a stag beetle had an unfortunate affair with a rhinoceros, and he smells worse.
He smiles—or bears his teeth, I can’t tell—and says something that sounds like “Baum sul kerga, silsam mobitras.” To me, it’s gibberish, but the magical translator in my earpiece recites a much clearer statement. “This planet is our property now. We’re giving you five days to get the [redacted] off.”
Figures. I can practically hear the silos opening and the spires coming online. “Look,” I say, hearing the words regurgitated by the speaker strapped to my neck. “You really don’t want to do this. Trust me, you have no idea where you just landed.”
“You don’t scare me, mammal-creature.” The alien bears his teeth again. “We claim this planet under Surkamman mining code. Either you leave, or we harvest you along with your sacred ground.”
He’s getting a kick out of this. Of course, I’m just an undersized alien who looks an awful lot like an oversized toy stuffed in a funny black suit and sunglasses. Why should he feel threatened by me?
One of the spires poking just out from the top of a mountain several miles away starts glowing.
Sight was a sense I had forgotten I had, for in a world with absolutely no light, even my ability to see in the night as a member of the night guard would not work. Not could I communicate with my companion from the Day Guard using sound, for there was no air on this planet to carry sound. This planet was just like our’s before Princesses Celestia and Luna had made it hospitable. It was the same planet, too.
When Smooze had arrived in Equestria, not even the elements of harmony could banish it. Princess Twilight, however, had found an enchantment that had been laid on Smooze when it was young, before it developed an immunity to magic. When the young princess activated the enchantment, it turned Smooze into stone. The only problem with the enchantment was that it had never been mentioned before in history, and had a magical signature matching a pony alive today. Princess Sparkle had taken that to mean time travel, specifically, traveling me and another pony back in time to lay the enchantment.
The task was made difficult that despite being named Luminous Paladin, my diurnal counterpart had an aversion to light magic. Supposedly, she took after the title of Paladin a lot more. Navigating this inhospitable world quickly meant a Pegasus was necessary, so they had chosen me, Midnight Charter, to go with her. They had hoped that a member of the night guard may be able to see in pitch black. I couldn’t.
I felt Paladin’s hoof poke me, and I realized that I had been getting a bit distracted. There was something about that hoof though, almost as if it was made of ooze. I suddenly had a very scary thought, so I reached out and poked in front of me.Uh oh. I think I just found Smooze.
All I could do was pray that Paladin was already near me. The rest was up to her and Princess Sparkle.
Without an atmosphere, I don’t think she would hear my screams. I was glad for that, because I was screaming like a little girl.
Commentary from Donny’s Boy
Ah, the Smooze! I liked the inclusion of an old school baddie in this story. It would have been nice to have more of the focus on the ponies on the planet, rather than have the story be primarily back story, I think, but I liked the idea that Equestria’s planet didn’t always have a sun. That’s interesting to think about.
Twilight Sparkle glanced at her book, and then at the incantation circle. She had drawn the spell circle by scattering scraps of paper in neat concentric circles and placed vials of black ink in between the circle, leaving a small bowl of ink in the center.
It seems strange for a music spell. She thought. She looked at the book again, flipping back two pages. The heading told Twilight that it was the correct spell for creating music.
She put the book on a desk. She carefully stepped over the circles, making sure to keep the scraps of paper and bottles of ink in place.
She dipped her hooves in ink.
Now for the spell. Concentrate. Think of an orchestra. Think of an orchestra.
Two creatures sat in a crystal room: a mismatched creature and a jet black alicorn with a flowing mane and tail. Sitting between them was a wooden board with various circular tiles on it. Each of the tiles had a different character on them. The mismatched creature moved one of his tiles forward.
“Your turn,” he said. The alicorn swept her foreleg across the board causing it and the tiles to fall on the floor. “Well, if you didn’t want to play xiangqi anymore, you could have said so rather than doing that.”
“I’m sick of this!” the alicorn yelled. “I hate being stuck in this hell. I hate not being able to interact with anyone else but you, and I hate that those ponies are still frolicking in the sun! How can you just sit there and accept your punishment?” The mismatched creature snapped his fingers and the tiles floated to his side. The board was once again placed between them.
“It’s quite simple, Nighty,” he answered. He lifted a tile between his fingers and placed it on the board. “Unlike you, my existence is necessary and my imprisonment here only temporary.”
“A… wait, WHAT!?”
“I just told you! I’ve invented a time machine!” Twilight Sparkle answered her unicorn companion impatiently as he gawked and nearly dropped his camera. He was a blue unicorn stallion with a long, jet blue-black where each tip of his mane’s bangs faded into white. He held the camera up to Twilight’s exuberantly smiling face. Her eyes were wide as saucers and had bags. She hadn’t been sleeping in the past couple days…
“Isn’t that WONDERFUL, Illuminous!? Now time travel isn’t limited to a one-time use spell! Come on, for this experiment, I need to document EVERYTHING!”
The camera view changed from Twilight’s face, to the door, then jumbled into the lavender unicorn’s library. Illuminous protesting all the way. “Wait, Twilight—-I don’t think—-THIS BAD!”
“There! Final adjustments are complete. Now, a quick diagnostic and it’ll be ready to go!” Twilight Sparkle wrote a check on her clipboard and set it on the table behind her. She was just putting the finishing touches on her time machine.
The machine was small, reminiscent of a shoe box in shape. Lines had been etched on its surface to hold a spell in a sort of stasis by redirecting the head of the spell back on itself. It was designed to act as an anchor, holding a standard time travel spell open indefinitely and preventing the sort of mishap that happened the last time Twilight had attempted time travel.
She had asked Applejack first, of course. Once the machine had been completed, she’d immediately gone to her earth pony friend and quietly made the offer.
Applejack had sat in absolute silence and absolute stillness for long, long minutes. Finally, she’d replied, “I appreciate it, Twi—I appreciate it more than I got words to say—and truth is, there still ain’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss ‘em.” She’d smiled at the unicorn, a broad, warm smile. “But I’m gonna have to say no. I’ve had a lot of sadness, but I’ve had a lot of happiness, too. And I reckon I wouldn’t had much of either if they didn’t come as a pair … y’know what I mean?”
Twilight had simply nodded and returned her friend’s smile.
She’d asked Rainbow Dash next. The pegasus’ eyes had lit up, and she’d opened her mouth eagerly—then shut it again, frowning.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
In a flash of blue light Twilight returned to the world. Immediately she knew something was wrong. Things were always a little different, of course, and she loved cataloguing all the little changes that cropped up over successive iterations of the timeline. Inventing a notebook that would retain its contents without alteration through those iterations had been even harder than inventing the time machine itself. But those were small things you wouldn’t notice unless you looked. This time something was very wrong.
All five of her best friends stood in the middle of her library staring at her with eyes full of confusion and fear. The sun shone in through the window.
She groaned and hung her head. “It’s three pm, isn’t it?”
The others all looked at each other quizzically. Applejack turned back towards her. “Uh, yeah. That’s… that’s when ya wanted us to visit, right?”
Twilight chuckled nervously. “Um. Yes. Yes, that’s right.”
They all kept staring at her. Or more accurately, they were staring at the contraption strapped to her back. It might have passed for a saddle if it weren’t for all the extra machinery attached to it. All the gauges measuring temporal distortion, the wires hooking it all together, and of course the two metal wings protruding from either side, giving it its name. The Wings of Time.
She sighed and shook her head. “I guess you’re all wondering what this is.”
Five ponies stared in stunned silence at the two burning wagon ruts that vanished abruptly not ten paces away from them.
Twilight recovered first and leapt into the air. “Yes! It worked!” she cried and then broke into her patented happy prance (Equestrian Patent number: 582,391) “Yesyesyesyesyes…”
“Um… Twi?” Applejack said, after a moment, “Just ta be clear… ya built a time carriage?”
“And ya put Pinkie inside it?”
Twilight snickered and waved a hoof dismissively. “Oh, Applejack. I have it all planned out. The time clockworks are set to jump forward one minute and then Pinkie will be right back here. I was going to do an unponied test, but she just kept asking to go.”
Twilight’s grin stayed on her face as she turned back to the slowly dying flames of the wagon ruts.
“Any second now, she’ll be back.”
A baby dragon, a purple unicorn, a pink earth pony, and a blue pegasus sat in the foyer of Ponyville’s library. All around them were various diagrams of machines. Each of the designs had one thing in common: they were meant to be time machines. A few weeks earlier, the librarian and her assistant had created technology that would allow one to travel through time. They were ecstatic by their creation and wanted to share it with everyone. The only problem was that they didn’t have a design to put said technology in. So they called their friends for help.
“How about the blue box?” Pinkie asked. “A blue box is inconspicuous. If you travel in any era, nopony will look at it.”
“It’s a big blue box,” Rainbow Dash said. “I think ponies are going to notice if a blue box just appears out of nowhere. And when that happens, I think ponies are going to start asking questions. What about that one?” She pointed to a metal carriage with two doors opening upwards.
“Definitely not,” Twilight said. “That design causes it to have fire trail behind it after it jumps through time.”
“That sounds awesome!”
“It’s also very noticeable. Plus, you have to be able to get it to go eighty eight miles to activate that design.”
“Why eighty eight miles?”
Twilight tapped her chin. “You know, I’m not really sure why I made it eighty eight miles.”
It was a stupid thing for me to do. Truly stupid. Over months of work, I had finally created it : a fully functional time machine. I took it for a few quick skips, going back and ahead a few hours and then I made my stupid choice.
My final choice.
I had decided after some thought on the matter to visit the past of an ancestor. I chose my grandfather, as he had always been my favorite relative. He was a consummate storyteller, always have something new to amaze ‘his favorite only granddaughter.’ I had heard his stories and loved every one, and wanted to see how many of them were true. I chose to go back to the point at which he met his soon-to-be wife as the majority of his stories begin from that point on.
I followed the dapper young stallion as he went through his day, ensuring that he didn’t see me. He wouldn’t recognize me of course, but I didn’t want him thinking I was stalking him. Okay, so I was, sort of…But I digress. And I haven’t the time to do that.
Oh, the delicious irony.
Twilight Sparkle was deep in her basement working on a wondrous machine. On her eyes were a pair of goggles. Her tongue was sticking out in concentration as she tinkered with her creation.
“Just attach the hands to the face,” she said. “Close the seal, and done.” A clicking came from the device she completed. She lifted her goggles and a maniacal smile appeared on her face.
“I’ve done it!” she screamed. The door to the basement slammed open. A baby dragon leapt down the stairs and stood in front of her.
“What did you do?” he asked. “Is something on fire again?” Twilight shook her head.
“No, Spike,” she raised the device over her head. “I’ve completed it.”
“Yes! I’ve created a time machine!” she said triumphantly. Spike stared at the circular device in awe. After a few seconds, a ticking sound came from the device.