Chapter 5: Onwards!
Twilight came to slowly, the weight of the Tiara of Magic on her head confusing her before her memory of what had happened moments ago had returned.
The Doctor had already awoken, and was now happily running from one unconscious pony to the next, taking readings from his sonic screwdriver.
"Brilliant!" he beamed, seeing that the six mares were stirring. "I almost don't believe it! All the Ponyville ponies are safe, completely unharmed with no signs of alien influence!"
"You mean…it worked?" Twilight asked.
"Wonderfully!" he replied, gleefully jumping around the room, giggling to himself.
"I think he got a little too much of Pinkie's Element," said Rainbow Dash.
"No, silly-filly!" said Pinkie Pie, joining the Doctor as he bounced, "It's juuuust right!"
The other five mares couldn't help but laugh at the two ponies' antics. The Doctor calmed down soon afterward, but Pinkie continued on, not caring that she was alone in her frivolity.
"Congratulations, Doctor." Celestia's kindly voice turned their attention to the doorway she and her sister were walking through, prompting the seven ponies to quickly bow. "I must admit, we were worried whether your plan would succeed or not."
Luna scoffed at this. "You were worried, sister; I was telling you everything would be fine."
"Either way," Celestia laughed, "you've defended Equestria from a great danger, and for that, we are in your debt."
"It was my pleasure, your highnesses." said the Doctor, dipping his head.
"Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!" Pinkie Pie appeared between them, bouncing excitedly. "I know how we can thank him! A PARTY!"
By the time the evening arrived, all of Ponyville had prepared for the celebration. Many ponies had tried to bring gifts, but when the Doctor politely refused them, they returned with the next best thing: food.
The Doctor had eaten at parties on hundreds of planets, but the Ponyville cuisine surprised him. Everything tasted spectacularly delicious – especially the bananas, which he requested to have several crates full of to take aboard the TARDIS.
Throughout the night, ponies crowded around him, asking him questions about himself and how he saved them. The six Element-bearers also had their own share of topics they wished to be cleared up.
"So Doc," Applejack said, "When you came on into town, why did ya show me a blank card?"
The Doctor nodded in acknowledgement as he finished his cupcake and gave a compliment to Mr. and Mrs. Cake, who had made it their job to make sure that his plate was never empty. "Actually, Applejack, it wasn't blank – well, it wasn't supposed to be." He dug into his new saddlebags (the only gift he had accepted, as they were designed by Rarity and she wouldn't take no for an answer) and pulled out the card. "This is my psychic paper. Says anything I want it to. It's a very nifty little thing; I've been thrown in jail a lot less since I started carrying it around."
"So, then how was she able to see through it?" Rainbow Dash asked. "I mean, it fooled Twilight, and she's the nerdiest of us all."
"Well, she's the Element of Honesty, isn't she? Looks like that also makes her a living lie detector."
The night carried on, and soon thoughts of bed could no longer be ignored and slowly the party began to dissipate.
The Doctor had slipped out amidst the clean-up and stood on the hill where he had parked the TARDIS. The sun had not risen just yet; the stars and moon were shining their last before the new day.
His eyes were closed as the blue box hummed softly next to him. He knew that part of travelling and meeting new people was coming up, the part that never failed to make him anxious because the result was never certain: the inevitable question.
The Doctor turned to see the six mares, along with the two princesses, had gathered behind him, all with the same sad look.
He gave them a soft smile. "Yep; I don't make a habit of staying in one place too long. The universe isn't going to explore itself, you know."
"But you've barely been here a day," Twilight pleaded. "You're welcome to stay as long as you want."
"Twilight…" the Doctor said slowly, "There are millions of people out there, all waiting for a knight in shining armor to step in and save them, and all they're ever going to get is a daft old man in a stolen box, or nothing. No matter how much I want to stay, I can't abandon them."
The groups' eyes lowered in disappointment. "So…this is goodbye?" Fluttershy asked, tearing up.
"Looks like it." The Doctor's expression suddenly turned sly. "Unless, of course, you want to come with me."
The mares' heads shot up. "You mean it?" Rainbow said excitedly.
"You've been inside. I could fit all of Ponyville if I wanted to."
The mares gave cries of joy and shared high-hooves, but Twilight's expression suddenly faltered. "But I have to manage the library…and Applejack has to help Big Macintosh at Sweet Apple Acres, and Rarity has her boutique, and…we all have responsibilities here." She sighed. "I'm sorry, Doctor, but…I'm afraid we can't."
The Doctor merely shrugged at this. "Alright, I understand. You can't just drop everything to go adventuring." He opened the door to the TARDIS and stepped halfway in. "Of course, she does also travel through time, but it's not like that changes anything…"
Twilight blinked. "Wait, what was that?"
The Doctor shrugged again, his confident smirk growing. "Oh, I was just saying that the TARDIS is a time machine, so we could take a trip around the solar system and be back in time for tea, but you've already said you can't go, so I'll just –"
The six mares crowded the doorway with huge smiles on their faces. The Doctor laughed. "I'll take that as a yes!"
Twilight bounced around, giddy as a schoolfilly. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" She stopped a split second before colliding with Celestia. "Um – I mean, if it's okay with you, Princess Celestia."
The Princess smiled warmly. "It's not my decision, my faithful student. I'm sure that this will make for some very interesting reports on the magic of friendship." She turned to the Doctor. "You will make sure her letters get to me, won't you?"
"I'm sure I can work something out," the Doctor replied. "Trans-spatial communication is one of my specialties, after all. That and running, there's an awful lot of running."
Celestia nodded. "Then allow us to give you a parting gift."
Celestia looked to Luna, and their horns began to glow in unison. The horizon changed as the sun and moon answered their call and brought dawn to the citizens of Equestria.
In the back of the Doctor's mind a million objections fired off, arguing that what he was seeing was impossible, that it went against the basest rules of the universe, that it was just so wrong.
But when he spoke, only one word escaped his lips: "Beautiful."
Spike was awoken from his post-party nap by Twilight bursting through into the library. He groaned as she merrily ran around the hollow tree, taking all kinds of objects placing them in a suitcase.
"Spike I'm going to be gone for a while," she said as she browsed the shelves. "You'll need to watch the library for me; get along with Owlowiscious and don't eat all the diamonds, alright?"
"Uh, sure," the dragon replied. "But, where are you going?"
"I don't know."
"Okay…when will you be back?"
"I don't know."
Spike narrowed his eyes. "Wait. You're going on a trip, but, you don't know where you're going or when you'll be back?"
"That's the beauty of it, Spike!" Twilight said happily. "An expedition into the unknown, guided by the Doctor, the only pony who's seen it all! It'll be fantastic!"
"Listen to yourself, Twilight," said Spike. "You're not making any sense. You just met the Doctor yesterday. You barely know who he is!"
She stopped at the door and gave the dragon a confident grin. "Then I'm about to find out."
Twilight stepped out of the library and ran to join her friends, old and new, on an adventure unlike any other.