A/N: It took me two weeks, but I finished this chapter. Sorry to keep you all waiting. Onwards and upwards!
Gaia; Equestria; Crystal Empire; Crystal Palace; Main Dining Hall; 1 P.C.E.
Twilight groaned as she shook off her sleepiness and woke up. Twilight opened her eyes slowly and processed where she was. She was sitting on the floor, but her head was lying on a large table that was inside of a massive room, nearly five stories high and one hundred feet long. The space was lit with dozens of the charmed torches, similar to the ones from the caverns. She turned and saw the Doctor to her left, waking up as well. She looked to her right and saw Jonathan lying on his side in a far corner of the room, his legs in chains, and still unconscious. There was also a bit of red that had come out of the corner of his mouth that Twilight instantly recognized as blood. She started to get up, but a pain in her head stopped her.
"They are waking," a guard's raspy voice said, "Inform the Master."
"What...?" Twilight mumbled, "What's going on?"
"We seem to be inside of a large receiving room!" the Doctor's head shot up off of the table, startling Twilight. "It seems to be approximately thirty-five feet high, one hundred two feet long, twenty feet high, and made out of a sort of gem," the Doctor licked the table, "and... it's not diamond. Perhaps it's quartz! Too bad, I really like diamonds."
"Were you awake this whole time?!" Twilight exclaimed.
"No. I just gathered information from my surroundings just now."
"You're crazy," Twilight said.
"So I've been told," the Doctor replied jokingly.
"The Master is coming," a guard standing behind them interrupted. "You shall respect the Master. Speak only when spoken to, and do not interrupt."
"And do we have to refer to him as 'Great One' as well?" the Doctor asked snidely. Twilight snickered at his remark.
The guard growled menacingly, but stood erect when he heard the large double doors at the end of the room open. Twilight cringed when a black-coated unicorn stallion with a curved, red horn and wearing polished metal armor with a blood-red cape entered the room.
"Ah... the infamous Wandering One," King Sombra greeted the Doctor in his deep, growling voice, "I have heard much of your travels."
"Have you now?" the Doctor was intrigued.
"That's Sombra," Twilight whispered loud enough for the Doctor to hear.
"I see why you don't like him," the Doctor whispered back, "he looks rather threatening."
"My apologies for the guards," Sombra continued, "but I doubted that you would go with them willingly. Still, I hope there were no inconveniences."
"Oh, not to worry, good sir. I've been in worse scenarios."
"I see." Sombra sat at the end of the large table and looked to the Doctor, "The point is that I wanted to greet you and your... associate," he glanced over at Twilight. "When I heard of your arrival, I sent my men to find you, but I guess that you met him..." Sombra gestured to the passed out Jonathan, and both Twilight and the Doctor turned towards him.
"What...?" Jonathan said through his unconscious state, "Who are you...?"
"He's not very sane, I'm afraid. He was spouting nonsense when we brought him to the caves. He's been slipping in and out of sanity daily. So much so, that I'm surprised he hasn't dropped dead from it."
"That's terrible," the Doctor remarked, "perhaps I should examine him."
"No!" Sombra said a little too loudly. "No," he said quieter than before, "that won't be necessary."
"Are you certain?"
"Yes," Sombra confirmed, "I have someone that monitors his cell each day."
"I must have missed him," the Doctor hinted at disbelief, "I would like to see what observations he's made."
"Would you now?" Sombra said with a slight edge to his voice, "I'll... see if he's around."
Twilight eyed Sombra suspiciously as he spoke. She knew that whatever he was telling them were lies, and she guessed that the Doctor sensed this as well, judging by the way he challenged each statement. She leaned towards the Doctor and whispered, "This isn't right. Celestia described him as evil and cruel, and I even fought him. He was never known for being, well... this."
One of Sombra's guards came over to him and whispered something into his ear. The Doctor used this moment to reply to Twilight's comment. "I know what you mean. But one thing I've learned is that anyone- sorry... anypony with this much nice must be hiding something."
"Excuse me," Sombra said. The Doctor and Twilight faced him quickly, ending their conversation abruptly. "I must apologize, but a small matter has arisen that I must attend to immediately." He stood up to the table and said to the Doctor, "If you could please see me when you are finished. My guards shall direct you to my quarters." Sombra turned and left the dining hall, each the guards flanking him.
When the doors closed and the hoofsteps receded Twilight turned to the Doctor, and both of them turned to Jonathan.
"I'll check on him," Twilight said.
"Same here," the Doctor agreed.
Twilight and the Doctor hurried over to him. While Twilight began to heal the remainder of Jonathan's wounds, the Doctor pulled out his Screwdriver and scanned him.
"Jonathan?" Twilight asked him, "Jonathan? Can you hear me?" Twilight placed a hoof on his forehead and her vision went black.
"The spell placed upon you has been weakened."
Twilight looked around in the inky blackness, searching for the voice. "Hello?" she called out, "Is anypony there?"
"What spell?" Jonathan's voice came from somewhere to Twilight's right. "I don't understand."
Twilight turned to find Jonathan standing a couple feet away from her, staring into the void. "Jonathan!" she shouted to him.
"The spell that has forbidden you from remembering," the first voice sounded again. It was distinctly male, and it was sort of light and welcoming.
Twilight began walking towards Jonathan, and as she approached him, she saw a thin image of a strange creature, but it was emitting a bright light that prevented her from discern any physical characteristics other than a pair of eyes and a head. When she reached Jonathan, Twilight was able to see the image more clearly. What looked to be a three-dimensional creature was actually a two-dimensional projection.
"Remembering what?" Jonathan asked it.
Twilight watched as the creature looked down slightly. "Remembering your past. Your life. Who you were before the numbers."
Jonathan's eyes brightened, "You know about them?! Why I see them?!"
"It was a mistake. It was never supposed to happen." The creature's head shot up and looked towards the area behind him. He turned back to Jonathan, "I don't have enough time to explain, but I can help you in your present situation." The projection walked up to Jonathan and touched his head. Jonathan's eyes rolled back into his head and he gave a soft moan before falling to the floor.
Twilight tried to help, but all she made contact with was empty air, as Jonathan's body dissolved into mist. When Twilight looked back at the image, she gave a small shriek, the eyes were staring straight at her.
"I've done as much as I can, for now," the creature said to her, "it's all up to you three. Four, one, eight, three, zero"
"What?" Twilight asked.
"I can say no more. Or in the Doctor's words: 'Spoilers.'"
The image faded and the dark void began to melt away. "Wait!" Twilight called out, "Come back!"
"What were you talking about?!" she called out.
She opened her eyes and the first thing found herself lying on the polished floor. Twilight groaned and clutched her head while Jonathan moaned next to her. Twilight sat up off the floor and looked at the Doctor, now examining Jonathan's awkwardly bandaged foreleg. The Doctor searched for the end of the bandage so that he could examine it.
"You had quite a scene, there," he said, not taking his eyes off the bandage.
"W-what?" Twilight stammered, "What happened?"
"Telepathic connection. When you touched his head, you shared a thought. It must have been a strong one at that, making you lose consciousness. That's been happening a lot, lately. Ah-ha!"
The Doctor found the bandage's end, he started to unwrap it carefully while Twilight came over to see. He finished removing the bandage, and then his expression turned from that of confusion, to thought, and to realization in a matter of seconds. Jonathan was wearing a leather band around his foreleg, close to his hoof, with a rectangular, metallic device attached to it. The metallic part was mostly different buttons, but there was also a small screen that, at the moment, was black. The strangest part, though, was that it appeared to be a part of his leg. The leather was burned into him, but it had turned the parts of Jonathan's leg around it a light shade of brown.
Twilight was puzzled, "Doctor, what is that thing?"
"That, my dear Twilight," he responded, "is how our strange friend originally got here."
"But... what is it?"
"A vortex manipulator."
"And that does...?"
"It's a rough form of time travel," the Doctor elaborated. "This thing is like a compact TARDIS, without the 'vromp'-ing, of course. Still, it's quite a doozy."
Twilight shook her head, and something caught her eye. "Doctor?"
"He has no mark."
"And that means?..."
The Doctor sighed, "Alright, what's this big mark crisis?" Twilight pointed to Jonathan's flank and the Doctor examined it at a distance. "So? It's fine."
"No," Twilight said, "It's blank."
I love cliffhangers, they keep things suspenseful. A short chapter, sadly. Two weeks and you get this. I hate Writer's Block.
The next chapter will be appearing who knows when since I have another fic. to take care of and a BOATLOAD of schoolwork. Still, keep your notifications on, I may do some extreme fic. writing this week!