Iron Gates walked into the cell block that was holding Skippy or whatever the chestnut coloured stallion's real name was. The room was full of militia ponies searching the area for any clue on how the stallion manages to cut through the cell's bars. He didn't have to walk far to find the sheriff who was shouting at the top of his lungs to whoever was closest to him.
"How in the name of the Celestia and her sister could you morons let him escape!" He shouted to one unfortunate pony. "Well, you idiots taking a nap, playing games, ogling a mare? Well, answer me!"
"None…none of those things sir." The militia pony as he tries to keep from shaking too visibly. "I…I wasn't even guarding the cells when it happened."
"Then find me the pony who was so I can throw his worthless hide into the Everfree forest!"
"What happened here?" Iron Gates asked catching the sheriff's attention and sparing the young pony from any more verbal abuse.
The sheriff turned around and sore underneath his breath the moment he saw him. "What does it look like? Our suspect has escape and is now loose somewhere in my town."
"But how did he manage to do that?"
"We don't know and frankly I don't care!" the sheriff said before turning around and calling out to a sergeant.
Knowing that their brief conversation had come to an end the unicorn left the enraged stallion to continue his yelling and moved over closer to the cell. He looked over the broken bars with an investigative eye, one of the things you learn in being a member of the royal guard is how to search for clues and how to examine them. He picks up one of the pieces of metal that were lying on the floor and brought it closer to inspect.
The metal is made of a special ore that's mined from the Foal Mountains. As ore goes it had a reputation of being strong and being immune to magic and yet it seems to have been cut in half with ease. Gates thought over the theories on how such a thing might have occurred but none of them made any sense.
Skippy couldn't have done this. He thought as he continues to inspect both the bar and cell. He didn't have anything on him when I left him here which means somepony must have snuck in here and helped him escape, but who and why.
As the unicorn ponders this a militia pony rushed into the already crowded room in a somewhat flustered state. "Sir." He called out as he made a bee line towards the sheriff. "We have a situation."
"Oh, for the love of the alicorns and the elements, what is it now!"
"There's a mare or at least I think it's a mare standing outside the building demanding to be let in."
"Well, tell her that she'll have to visit later we're in lock down." The sheriff said turning back to the pony he was speaking to.
"I tried sir but she's…insisting." The militia pony stammered nervously, making the sheriff stop halfway in his turn.
"Then insist that she leave for crying out loud, you're acting as if she's a dragon!"
"Well, actually sir now that you mention it…"
The militia pony words were suddenly cut short by the sounds of yelling and terrified screams coming from the floor above. Everypony including Iron Gates rushed out of the room, following the sounds carnage to the ground floor. The Sheriff being the leader he is was at the head of the fifteen or so militia ponies mumbling something under his breath that was too quiet to hear over the rushing of hooves and the fighting upstairs.
When they got to top of the stairs the fighting had already ended with all of the militia ponies guarding the floor being unconscious with the exception of one young earth pony stallion who was being held off the ground by dark grey mare with dragon like wings and piecing golden slitted eyes. The sheriff and the ponies standing behind him eyes widen and had their mouths hanging open in shock at the strange mare who had single handily manage to defeat a room full of militia and destroyed every piece of furniture as well.
"Now, what were you saying about my mother?" the white mane mare asked as she practically stares dagger at the stallion in her hooves.
The stallion whimpered slightly before he answered. "Noth…nothing I…I was…I was just joking."
The mare pulled the stallion down so that their faces were just inches away from each other. "I didn't find it funny."
"What the hay is going on here!" the sheriff yelled catching the attention of both the dragon like pony and her captive. "You, whatever you are, put down that pony now!"
The dragon hybrid looked to the sheriff then at her captive, her eyes still glaring daggers at the young colt. "Fine." She hissed dropping him onto the floor where he curled up into a ball. "I didn't come here to fight anyway."
Four militia ponies moved to surround the strange mare though they kept their distance, the sheriff followed after them keeping his steel coloured eyes on her. "Now, mind telling me who you are and why you just smash through my headquarters like a bloody hurricane!"
"Her name is Nightshade." Iron Gates voice called out causing both ponies to turn to him. "And she's my partner."
The sheriff sat at his desk looking from Iron Gates to his hybrid partner. He had heard of princesses Luna's personal guards were different but he had never expected them to be like this. Fangs, silted eyes, dragon wings, it was like something out a horror story and yet here it was sitting at his desk.
Nightshade as she was called explained how when she was waiting for the guard to return with his orders she overheard one of the newer recruit making an insensitive anecdote about her mother and a dragon having…relations.
All an all it was a bunch of stuff that he really didn't care about but he let her continue in the hope that it will let her cool down. The last thing he needed was his office destroy by a probably craze hybrid with anger issues.
"Once again I want to apologise for almost tearing your building apart." Nightshade said finally finish with her explanation.
"It's alright." The sheriff said trying to sound as calm as possible. "If somepony was saying such things about my mother I probably would have done the same."
Through I would have avoided injuring half my staff. He thought. Now how I'm supposed to police this town and find that darn colt at the same time?
"Anyway now that we have this…misunderstanding cleared up we need to figure out where the suspect manage to escape to." He continues as he left his desk and moved over to the large map of Ponyville hanging next to them. "My forensic team manage to figure out that our suspect broke out of his cell about thirty minutes or so ago where he then manage to knock out two of my guards, steal back his equipment and snick out before anypony realize what happened. On the off chance he's planning another attack I directed my team to cover all possible targets including hospitals, the hydro-dam and town hall. I also have teams monitoring the roads and train station encase he tries to get out of town and everypony else are searching the streets. In other words he's trap."
"Maybe." Iron Gates muttered to himself as he looked over the map.
The sheriff turns to the blue stallion barely hiding his annoyance. "What do you mean 'maybe'? he's completely trap, a rat couldn't leave the town without my man knowing about it."
"But we're not dealing with a rat sheriff, we're dealing with a stallion we know next to nothing about." Gates said. "And if breaking out of his cell tells us anything is that he's highly resourceful and can defend himself if he has to."
"Are you trying to make a point corporal or are you just giving me his resume."
"My point is sheriff is that if you had these skills and needed to get out of town wouldn't you go somewhere no pony would expect."
The old stallion looked confused for a moment before realization struck him. "You think he's going to the Everfree forest."
Iron Gates nodded.
"That's suicide." The sheriff exclaimed. "The most dangerous creatures are active at night no pony could survive in there."
"We did." Nightshade said earning a surprise expression from the old stallion.
"You two spent a night in the Everfree forest?" he asks in disbelief.
"Yes, but it wasn't by choice." Gates said. "And if two self-important royal guards could spend the night in the most deadly forest in Equestria I can assure you that our suspect is also capable of doing it too."
The sheriff stares from the unicorn to the map of the town, his mind running with the odds of the prisoner actually being crazy enough to attempt such a thing. The Everfree has always had a reputation of being dangerous but at night it becomes a horror story that only the most vivid and horrible of imagination could come up with. No pony could survive such an ordeal and yet he has two standing with him right now telling him otherwise.
"I'll send a squad by the entrance." He said after some heavy consideration.
"Good, me and Nightshade will meet them there." Gates said before walking out of the office followed closely by the hybrid.
The sheriff nodded and watches them go, he had to admit he had develop some respect to the young guard and his partner, though he would ever openly admit. Maybe he was wrong about the royal guards being over paid living statures, maybe they do actually work hard just like the militia does to keep this country safe.
Or maybe they just sit on their flanks all day staring at that drago-pony's cutie mark. He thought as he turns back to face the map. I wonder if their recruiting?
"You lied to him." Nightshade said as the two ponies trotted through the darken streets of what could have pass as a ghost town.
"What makes you say that?" Iron Gates asks.
"We've been partners for almost two years now Gates, I know when you're lying." She said gazing at him with curious eyes. "That and the fact that we're heading in the opposite direction from the forest's entrance was kind of a dead giveaway."
The unicorn couldn't help at smiling at the light hearted tone in his partner's voice. He really missed it over the past couple of hours. "Your right I did but I have good reason."
"I'm all ears."
"The sheriff believes that Skippy was the one who cause the attack on the festival but I don't think he did it. One pony, no matter how resourceful or smart they may be could not have attack the festival in the way he did and…this may sound stupid but I don't think his the kind of pony who would just harm so many others for no reason."
"So we might be performing treason because you think this stallion is a nice guy?" Nightshade questions in a dubious manner.
"Yeah." Gates muttered wondering if he just lost support from the only pony he trusts.
"Alright that's good enough for me."
"Of course Gates." She said in a casual voice. "You've always been a great judge of character and if you say that's this stallion is innocent, then I don't see why I should doubt you now."
A small smile spread across the unicorn's face. "Thanks Shady." He said using the special nickname he once heard one of hers past boyfriends gave her.
Nightshade couldn't help the brush that appears on her cheeks. "You're welcome."
The pair continues to walk down the street in silence, heading towards the hospital that stood on top of the hill.
Time Turner can't help smiling as he watches Derpy and Carrot Top reunite, the orange mane mare was so happy to have her friend back that she was actually crying. Derpy, still being a bit groggy after being a coma for so long, was confuse and was trying to calm her down. The chestnut earth pony decided to stand off to the side and allow the carrot grower to be the first to welcome her back into the world.
She deserves it after all. He thought as he turns to the room's other occupant.
After Derpy woke up the Exile had moved over to the door, lazily leaning on the wall next to it and looking outside, probably watching for security or the militia. Time Turner stares at him with a complex look, there's still a great deal he doesn't know about the stallion or his motivations but he can't help feel as if he had misjudge him.
Sure there was a great many things he doesn't like about the pony but he had help him escape prison and sneaking into the hospital even if his method was a bit crude. Through there was one thing he didn't understand, Exile had obviously at some point put that mysterious cure in his white coat's pocket but why. Why didn't he just give to Derpy the cure himself? His curiosity peek, the time traveller made his way over to the silent stallion.
Exile didn't notice Time Turner's presence until he cleared his throat to get his attention. "Hey Doc." He said in his usual cocky voice. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be over there welcoming your friend back to the world of the living?"
"I will but I thought I would let Carrot Top have first dips." He said taking in another glance of the two before turning his attention to the pale stallion. "Listen, I wanted to say thanks for helping me."
"Oh, you don't have to do that." Exile said. "It's not every day I get to break a pony out of a poorly guarded cell."
"Well, be that as it may I still what to say thanks and…sorry for acting like a complete tosser."
"Apology accepted." The pale pony said turning back to the hallway outside. Time Turner cleared his throat loudly to get his attention back which worked though he thought he heard an annoyed sigh escaping from him.
"Was there something else?" he asked.
"Yes, I wanted to ask you something." Time Turner said.
"Go right ahead."
"Well, I know you put that medicine in my pocket and I'm grateful for it but I wanted to know is why? Why put it in my pocket instead of just giving Derpy the medicine yourself?"
The Exile's eyes turn up to the ceiling as if thinking of the answer. "Hmm, I guess the simplest answer is because I'm a romantic."
Time Turner's eyebrow rose a bit. "I'm not sure I understand."
"No, I guess you wouldn't." he said sounding as if he was trying to explain something to a child. "Let me ask you something, how did it felt when you gave her the medicine and she woke up?"
"Wh…what does that have to do with anything?" Time Turner stammered as his cheeks slowly changed colour.
"Just answer the question."
"I…I felt happy."
The chestnut stallion suddenly became very quiet as his attention turns back to the two mares in the room.
"I felt…I felt…I don't know how to describe it. I just felt so happy, happiest I've felt in a long time."
The two stallions stood there in silence for a moment, both staring at the grey mare as she chats with her olive friend. "Don't ever forget that feeling Doc." The Exile said his cocky voice taking on a solemn tone that surprised Time Turner. "Feelings like that don't come around often enough."
The chestnut stallion looked at the Exile and found his expression a mix of pain and of a deep sorrow he couldn't begin to fathom. Again he realize just how little he knows about the pony who helped him bring back the mare he grown to care for and wondered if they are as different as he had thought they were.
Derpy felt tried but that was probably normal considering she was in a coma for almost an entire day. She also felt really happy that she was awake with Carrot Top and the Doctor here visiting her, though she has no idea who the other pony standing by the door was.
"How are you feeling Derpy?" Carrot Top asks for the third time. "Do you need anything? Food, water?"
"No thanks Carrot Top I feel fine." She said shooting her a bright if sleepy smile.
The orange haired mare nodded and remains in her seat tapping her hooves together anxiously. Since she had woken up Derpy had found that Carrot Top while being over joyous by her return to the waking world was also being uncharacteristically quiet as well. Usually whenever her clumsiness caused her a serious injury Carrot Top would be comforting her, making her laugh or on the rare occasion when she had to stay overnight she would even bring in a board game to play, but now she isn't doing any of those things, she wasn't even looking at her.
"Carrot Top? Are you okay?" she asked causing her friend's to shoot up like a surprise deer.
"O…of course I am Derpy. Why would you asked." She said giving her a smile that seems forced.
"Well, it's just that you don't seem to be acting like yourself. Did something happen while I was in a coma?"
"No, no nothing happen I'm just…" Carrot Top's smile suddenly crumbles as she throws herself at her hospitalise friend. "Oh, Derpy I'm so sorry!" she cries as she gave her the tightest hug she ever received.
The grey mare was at a lost at her friend's sudden break down but none the less she returned the hug. "Hey, Carrot Top it's okay. I'm fine see, You don't have to worry anymore."
"It's not that." she sobbed almost uncontrollably. "Derpy do you remember anything that happen before you got hurt?"
"Well, I remember trying to help Skip with getting everypony out of the fair grounds."
"So you don't remember what I said?" Carrot Top asked.
Derpy shook her head. "No, why?"
"Oh, Derpy I said such horrible things." the olive mare said before going into detail of the events leading up to the attack. Derpy expression changed several times during the retelling, first there was confusion, then shock followed by hurt. By the time she was done, the grey pegasus couldn't even look at her, instead she was staring at her hooves.
"Why…why would you say such things?" she asked after a lengthy silence.
"I didn't mean to." Carrot Top said through it sounded pathetic even to her ears. "I was just so angry at Skip because I thought he was trying to make you look like a fool like all the other stallions before but then…then there were lightning bolts and you got hurt. I thought I was going to lose you Derpy, I thought that I've failed my promise to keep you safe and I was the reason for it. You probably hate me now and I understand if you don't want to be friends anymore but I just want you to know that I'm so, so sorry about what I said."
Derpy continues to stare at her hooves for long moment until she finely turns to Carrot Top. "Do you believe it?"
"What you said at the park, about me having a crash on 'every stallion who showed me pity'."
"What, no of course not." Carrot Top said completely caught off guard by the question.
"Then why did you say it?" Derpy asked in an accusing tone.
"I don't know why I just…you have to understand Derpy that I was trying to protect you and…"
"Well, maybe I don't want your protection you ever thought of that!" the grey pegasus shouted, catching the attention of the two stallions and shocking the carrot grower.
Carrot Top opened her mouth to say something but Derpy had already turned onto her side ending the conversation there. She looked to the two stallions for some sort of support but they were as shock as her from the angry outburst from the usually kind hearted mare. Swallowing the large lump that had appeared in her throat the she said a simple, weak "Okay" and left her friend side.
She wanders over to the stallions, her eyes staring squarely on the floor even as she past them and enters the busy hospital hallways. In retrospect she suppose she should have known that Derpy wouldn't have forgiven her. After all it wasn't just a private tussle in her house, it was in public in front of the entire town. How could anypony be forgiven for that.
Time Turner and the Exile watch as Carrot Top left the room in a woeful manner. While they were too far away to hear what the two mares had been talking about it was obviously that what might have started off as a joyful reunion had ended in a nasty quarrel. The chestnut stallion was about go after her to ask what had happen but was stop by a pale white foreleg.
"Stay here." Exile said as he got off the wall he had been leaning on. "I'll go comfort the ginger."
"Yeah, you just go chat to Derpy."
"Okay." Time Turner said as he watches the pale stallion go after Carrot Top.
He turns towards Derpy who was still lying on her side with her eyes staring off at nothing in particular. He walks over to the mare, his heart beating faster as he approaches her. The grey mare eyes watches him as he took a seat by her side, there was still some anger in them but he knew that it wasn't directed to him.
"Hi." She said as she smiles at the stallion.
"Hey, everything okay?" Time Tuner asked while retuning her smile with his own.
"Yeah, I mean beside the fact that I'd been in a coma for half a day I'm feeling fine."
"That's not what I meant."
"I know." Derpy muttered casting her gaze away from him. "I don't what to talk about it."
"Alright, we don't have to." Time Tuner said. "It's just that I wasn't expecting the first thing you would do when waking up was fight with your best friend is all."
"She started it." The grey mare mumbled.
"Really, cause from where I was standing it sounded like you were the one that yelled."
Derpy didn't make any reply though it was clear that there was some inner conflict going on behind her golden eyes. After a several seconds of silence she turns back to Time Turner and she asked a question that surprised him. "Do you… feel pity for me? Is that the reason you're here?"
The chestnut stallion rosed an eyebrow in confusion. "That's a strange thing to ask. What brought that on?"
"Just… please answer the question." Derpy said in a serious tone.
Time Turner looked at the mare laying on the bed in front of him with her bright golden eyes staring back at him. There was desperate pleading in those eyes begging for him to answer her question and hoping that he says is what she wants to hear.
"No." he said. "I don't feel pity for you Derpy and the reason I'm here is because I…I care about you. You've show me great kindness, more then I probably deserve and when I heard what happen at the park…"
"Yes?" the grey mare asked softly as she lean in closer to the stallion.
"I felt responsible." He said choosing his words carefully hoping she wouldn't see the blush developing beneath the fur on his cheeks. "You're a really great mare Derpy, more than most ponies realize and all I what is to see you happy."
"Then…could you please tell me your name?" Derpy asked as she lean in a bit closer.
Time Turner became quiet for a moment but then nodded. "It's Time Turner, Time Turner Whooves."
Time Turner Whooves." Derpy repeated, testing the sound of it. A small sweet smile then appeared on her face. "I like it."
"Glad to hear it." he said returning her smile with his own. It was then that he suddenly realize how close she was leaning towards him, their eyes met and there was happiness in those golden eyes but something else as well, something that made Time Turner's heart beat so fast he was afraid that it might burst out of his chest.
Derpy continues to stares contently into Time Turner's eyes, oblivious at how her close she was and how it was making the stallion feel uncomfortable. She felt happy, more so than she ever been in her life knowing that she had finally gotten his real name. And it's such a cute name too. She thought gleefully.
Time Turner let out a small sigh of relief when Derpy finally lean back on the bed. For a second there he was afraid that things might become awkward.
"So did anything interesting happen since I've been in a coma?" Derpy asked.
Time Turner thought about the past hours of his life and started to shake his head. "Umm no, no nothing interesting happened. Just the usual quiet afternoon."
The grey mare blew her own sigh of relief. "That's good. What about the robot?"
"And don't worry about him." Time Tuner said rather smugly. "We don't have to worry about him anytime soon."
As if by some unseen cue the sound of hooves came from outside. The pale stallion and Carrot Top burst into the room, Exile had the looked of complete horror on his face. "We have to get out of here now!" he said, his voice laced with panic.
"Exile what's wrong?" Time Turner asked.
"It's Galek." The pale stallion said. "He's back."
Derpy and Time Turner looked at each other with surprise faces.
"Then again, I have been wrong before."
Galek looked at the monitor screen with amusement, while his plan had originally required secrecy and stealth the brown pony's appearance had changed all that. Now the plan requires a few alterations, primarily the brown pony's swift and painful execution. The new armour stood at the very outskirts of the small village scanning for the temporal energy signature that marks his rival.
It didn't take long for him to find it nor did it surprise him to find it at the small medical building at the edge of town. Always so compassionate. He thought as he moved his four-legged death machine closer to the building. That is one thing that is so flawed about your species, you forgot the principle rule of nature. The survival of the fittest.
Once his armour was within range he pressed several buttons and watches as rockets fire into the building, destroying it and everypony inside.