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Recursive Fiction/Side-Story

POV Doctor Whooves: "Penumbra"

Written by OracleMask

I ended up flipping a coin.  Bit ridiculous as far as decision making goes, coin-flipping.  If you're going to base your next action on a random toss, why choose a coin?  Anypony with talent in slight-of-hoof can meddle with the results.  But I suppose it's kind of refreshing when you can say 'the coin told me to do this' and really mean it.

Once I had my result, I trotted into the TARDIS and entered flight.  We didn't go anywhere in time for this hop, just in space.  When I popped my head out the door, it was to see a startled yellow pegasus peering out of the door of her cottage not two meters away.

“Hello, Fluttershy!” I called out, waving cheekily at her, “Fancy a trip?”


She's still a bit of a wallflower, that mare, despite everything she's been and done.  But Fluttershy trotted out of the cottage and up to the TARDIS after another moment.

“...You landed on Angel's private carrot patch.”

I looked down.  Ah, so I had.  Well, after dealing with lifetimes of monsters, menaces, and the occasional living planet, I was sure I could cope with facing the wrath of one small bunny.  Just to be safe, I pulled Fluttershy in the TARDIS when she got close enough and pulled the door closed behind her right away.

“Right then!  I've got an destination in mind that might just interest you,” I began.

Seeing how she was staring in shock at the control room made me hesitate.  Then again, considering her color scheme and cutie mark had just shifted, I suppose this mare not knowing about the interior was more understandable.

“...What kind of box is this?!” she yelled.

“A dimensionally transcendental one,” I replied, “Now then, I've met your mum of course, but I don't think we've been properly introduced.  I'm the Doctor.  And you are?”

“Fluttercruel,” she said absently, still staring at the console room, “And what is a transcending dimension thing supposed to be?”

“Means it's bigger on the inside.  Neat, right?”

She didn't seem to be paying attention to me anymore, instead glancing at herself in the nearest shiny surface and muttering things under breath at herself.  Now, I'm not one to take being ignored – especially when it's right after showing off my TARDIS – but it was understandable that the Flutters needed to have a quick chat.  Plus it meant I got to see how they communicated!  Fascinating, really.  Vaguely reminded me of those times I met myself, only with the added inconvenience of only having the one body to go around...

It wasn't like I had trouble finding out the basics of their situation – anypony that seriously wanted to compare Fluttershy from before the Day of Chaos the one running around now would at least notice the split personality if nothing else – but I'd never made any deeper inquiries on the subject.  I know, the idea of me not prying into the business of others is odd, but considering who this was?  Respecting her privacy was the least I could do for her.  And apparently she was respecting mine, if she hadn't even told the daughter-self she shared a body with about me or the TARDIS.

“Oh!  I'm sorry Doctor, I didn't mean to ignore you,” Fluttershy said as she resumed control of the body, “It's surprised me by pulling me inside the TARDIS so suddenly, and, well...”

“And little Cruelly wanted to slap me for being hoovesy with her mum,” I finished, “Y'know, that'd be the second time, d'you think it's a pony thing?  Humans, well, they had it the other way around, but ponies...”

I mulled over the idea for a few seconds, decided that following this train of thought was going to leave me with a bruised jaw, and promptly dropped the notion in favor of something more interesting.

“Well!  That's hardly the reason I invited you in here anyway!  Thing is, I was doing a bit of poking around, and you'd mentioned a little village in Everfree that one time, and there was this handy dandy little a little map, me.  So, as I said earlier...fancy a trip with me, Miss Fluttershy?”

She stared at me for a minute, before her eyes went wide with recognition.

“You mean...?!”

“My dear Fluttershy, and of course little Cruelly -”

“Will you stop calling me that?” Cruelly interrupted.

“Would the two of you,” I continued without missing a beat, “Care to take a little trip to Sunnytown?”

We landed on the outskirts of what would one day be the farthest distance that Sunnytown's denizens would ever manage to travel before their curse dragged them back.  Everfree Forest was a much brighter place back in the distant past.  Of course, a forest that was also home to two beloved alicorn princesses was never going to escape tending and management from their pony subjects.

I got the sensation that both of my new traveling partners were staring in wonder at their surroundings, even if I could only see Fluttershy's face at the moment.  A bit of discomfort as well on her part: it might not be the 'Everkind' parody she'd made, but it was different enough from the Everfree she knew that it was no wonder she was making comparisons.

“Now then, we've got a few attractions we can take in before the main event,” I said, drawing her attention back my way, “For example, if we go...thataway -”

I helpfully pointed thataway.

“We'll end up on the princesses' front doorstep.  Fancy a nice tour of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters?  They might even be home!  Or we can go a ways further, might take a few days walking but we'll reach Old Canterlot.  Bit of a fortress, but if ponies throwing powdered wigs at each other is your idea of fun, we can absolutely start a wig fight.”

“Um...what about...”

Fluttershy nodded in the direction I was expecting.

“That direction?  Well, in, hmm...I'd say nine-hundred years or so, there'll be a quaint little town that way called Ponyville.  At the moment, it's all diamond dogs and timber wolves, bit of a nasty area if you ask me.  D'you know, that lot would've spelled trouble for the rest of Equestria if they hadn't done the dunderheaded thing of trying to run out that big dragon in Everfree when he moved in?”

“The dragon in Everfree?” Fluttershy said, recognition coming slowly to her, “Oh, y-you mean the big green dragon that Spike and Twilight ran into, don't you...”


I did my best Big Mac impression, while still popping the 'p' at the end.  ...Ooh, that was a good one, I'd have to keep that.

“Turned out that wolves made of treebark and dogs with large collections of gems really should've considered cutting their losses and moving someplace a bit more dragon-free instead,” I continued, “Dragon clears out the worst of the timber wolves – making it nearly safe enough for ponies to go zap apple-hunting – and ends up with a tidy pile of gems once the diamond dogs run for the hills.  Good thing too, 'Timber Wolf and Diamond Dogville' would be a terrible name for a town.”

It was written all over their face exactly what Fluttershy and Cruelly were wondering: how did I know all that?  Answer's a bit silly, really: the first time I went to visit Apple Smith during Ponyville's founding, I overshot.

Don't give me those looks, it was only by a little!  Long story how it all played out, but the short answer is that from where the Flutters and I were standing, the green dragon in Everfree will/does owe me a favor.  And he's rather nice chap when you get past the teeth and claws and flames.  Greedy as all get-out, of course, he's a whopping huge dragon, but still!

Clearing my throat, I waved in the direction of our actual destination.

“Though if you still want to see Sunnytown...look behind you.”

Fluttershy looked behind her.

It wasn't entirely visible through the trees, but the town was there.  In the setting sun, it seemed like any other old pony town: ponies bustling as they finished their daily routines, others setting up lanterns as the darkness of night began to creep over the world.

“Oh my gosh...” she breathed.

There was a long pause.

“Wait a second!” Cruelly exclaimed, “What's with all those other ponies?  There's way more ponies here than there is in Sunnytown in our time!”

“Hmm, looks like we've found a little mystery,” I said, grinning, “Let's go poke it with a stick.”

Sunnytown in the past had a rather impressive wall made from logs around the town, with a few ponies standing watch on it.  I hadn't been to the cursed Sunnytown myself, but judging from Fluttershy and Cruelly's muttered conversations (I suppose I'd have to tell them sometime that they could just talk freely around me, but for now it was more fun just to shamelessly eavesdrop), the wall was new for them too.

Before either of them could go trotting up to the gate, I held out a hoof to stop them.  Now that the sun was setting in earnest...every little tidbit I had gleaned about the cursed village of Everfree said that at nighttime, the place reverted to a horror show.  As we waited, the sun sank and the moon rose, while Sunnytown...remained a pleasant little town in the middle of Equestria's deadliest woods.  All the lanterns and torches they had lit made it perfectly clear that Sunnytown hadn't changed at all.

“The town isn't cursed yet,” Fluttershy sighed, “Oh, that's such a relief.”

“Shall we head in?”

I offered her my hoof like a gentlecolt.  Fluttershy only managed one step forward before Cruelly pulled their body back.

“Aren't you forgetting something kinda important?

She waved a hoof at her flank, specifically at her cutie mark.

“These guys didn't get eternally cursed 'cause they were nice!  They'll probably grab the pitchforks and run us back into the Everfree when they spot these!  And I dunno about you Doc, but mom and I don't have a magic wand to make ours disappear.”

“Good point,” I began, before frowning and adding, “But don't call me Doc.”

“Whatever you say, Doc.”

Infernal cheek...I pulled out a pair of clips I'd been carrying and handed one over to Cruelly.

“Unfortunately I'm fresh out of magic wands, so these perception filters will have to do,” I continued, “Put it on the base of your tail, nice and snug now.  Wouldn't want it falling out at an inconvenient moment.”

Got a nice reaction out of both of them when Cruelly got hers on.  Even swapping to Fluttershy didn't make their flanks un-blank.

“You had these the whole time, and you were really gonna walk into town before putting them on?” Cruelly asked me as we finally began walking to the gates of Sunny Town, “For a genius alien pony, you're not very smart.”

“Oh hush, you.”

Getting in was surprisingly easy. be fair, the gates in the wall weren't much like proper gates.  They were more like two logs that rolled away easily from the rest of the wall.  I can say this without a doubt because when knocked on them with my hoof, the things fell down and rolled out of the way just like that.

“...Huh.  That's...a little pathetic,” Cruelly noted as several ponies came cantering over at the noise.

“Again, hush,” I told her, before putting on my most winning smile as the Sunnytown ponies spotted us and froze.

“Who are you?” a gray stallion said, stepping forward from the rest, “What are you doing here?  It's dangerous in the forest at night.”

“Yes!  Exactly right, terribly dangerous out there,” I said, stepping forward and shaking his hoof before he could protest, “We were just thinking the same thing!  How lucky to find a friendly town here in the woods!  Don't you agree, my dear?”

I turned and tugged Cruelly – wait, no, it was Fluttershy now – in by her hoof, making sure that both our currently mark-less flanks were visible.  Sure enough, when I turned round again the wary looks were long gone.  Now we were receiving curious looks and welcoming smiles.

“Well then!  If it's a friendly town you're looking for, you came to the right place.  Welcome to Sunnytown!  Please, feel free to make yourselves at home while you stay with us,” the gray stallion said, waving us forward, “Sorry about the gate, we've had trouble keeping it in place the last few days.  I'll ask somepony to take a look at it tomorrow.”

“Ah, I take it you're in charge around here?” I said, striking up conversation as we were led away from the gate and into Sunnytown proper.

Behind us, we heard the other ponies working to move the logs back in place as a temporary fix.

“Not exactly,” the gray stallion laughed, “We're a community first and foremost.  Sunnytown works by consensus.  If there's a problem, everpony has a chance to give their opinion on what we should do to fix it.  Though I will admit some of us prefer to let others do the talking.”

Not this fellow, for sure.  He was definitely a chatty one.  Quite soon he'd brought myself and Fluttershy to a small house.

“This is our guest house,” he said, “Not many ponies make the journey thorough the forest, but we get enough that it seemed wrong not to have a place for them to sleep.  As I said, please feel free to make yourselves at home.  You must be very tired from your trip.”

The gray stallion turned to leave, but then turned back with a sheepish smile.

“I just realized, I never got your names.”

“Time Turner, at your service,” I replied, “And this is my lovely companion, Buttercup.  I call her Butters for short.”

From behind me, I thought I could hear Cruelly's voice muttering something unkind.  I ignored it and the gray stallion made no sign that he'd heard a thing.

“Wonderful.  I'd love to speak with you again, once you've rested up.  Just ask anypony you meet in town for Grayhoof, and they'll tell you where I am,” he said, before bidding us goodnight.

I turned to look at Fluttershy – no, it was Cruelly now, them swapping when my back was turned was going to get irritating – just in time to see her jaw drop.
A question of What-If and coin flips.

Not entirely part of the Whooves Trilogy/Saga/Oh Celestia It Just Keeps Going/Thingy.

Part II:
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yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner May 20, 2014
It makes you wonder what the doctor would have done if the coin landed the other way.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013
I wanna see what happens next. 
Nice Story :) Hope to see a Sequel of this :D
OracleMask Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Next part is in progress, don't worry~

And I'm glad you liked it!
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2013
It'll be interesting to see where this beauty goes. 
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2013
And many of the original population of Sunny Town were FOALS when the plague happened and when the town was founded. 

Of course, no one expected Sunnytown to become a community of mandatory underachievers. Ponies who slowly forgot to LIVE their lives, and basically began to lose the strength of character, individuality, etc, that are needed for a cutie mark to exist (and to have a concrete identity. IMHO, a blank flank IMHO is meant to be a pony without an adequate sense of identity or self, or purpose). 
OracleMask Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
And many of the original population of Sunny Town were FOALS when the plague happened and when the town was founded.

Kids can become viciously insular, especially when they hit puberty.  This gets passed down to their own foals, and eventually you end up with a place like Sunnytown.

Of course, no one expected Sunnytown to become a community of mandatory underachievers.

The shoddy wall and gate system are a hint of that very thing.  Somepony with a talent for construction could build something MUCH better at protecting Sunnytown from danger/outsiders, but they'd get a cutie mark for it.

IMHO, a blank flank IMHO is meant to be a pony without an adequate sense of identity or self, or purpose).

That's also why I have Sunnytown working via consensus on everything.  Nopony is in charge because nopony has the drive to be in charge.  Grayhoof is their pitiful excuse for a Pinkie Pie, in that he knows all the ponies and likes spending time with them, which leads to his setting up their parties, but aside from that superficial amount Grayhoof puts no effort into his 'work'.

Unfortunately for Ruby, this gives him just enough charisma to persuade the rest of Sunnytown to go along with murdering her.  Not that persuading them is exactly hard, but still~
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2013
Definition of PENUMBRA
a :  a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light
b :  a shaded region surrounding the dark central portion of a sunspot
:  a surrounding or adjoining region in which something exists in a lesser degree :  fringe
:  a body of rights held to be guaranteed by implication in a civil constitution
:  something that covers, surrounds, or obscures :  shroud<a penumbra of secrecy> <a penumbra of somber dignity has descended over his reputation — James Atlas>

Of course, the WHOLE REASON Celestia CREATED Sunnytown was to give ponies who were sick of cutie marks after seeing all their loved ones DIE from the cutie pox a place to live. 

And ironically, in one of the chapters that hasn't been posted yet, Fluttershy and Fluttercruel end up in a DEEP debate on weather or not the Sunnytowners are capable of being saved. 

BUt wouldn't the undead ponies have recognized Buttercup as their new goddess in a thousand years?

OracleMask Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I was thinking more like definition a when I picked the name.

And ironically, in one of the chapters that hasn't been posted yet, Fluttershy and Fluttercruel end up in a DEEP debate on weather or not the Sunnytowners are capable of being saved.

Ooh, neat.  I can see this experience giving both sides more fodder for their respective arguments.  As you can see, 'Cruel is already of the opinion that these are NOT good ponies, long before meeting any of their pre-cursed selves.

Just to clarify, her reaction to Grayhoof is from surprise that the 'monster who killed Ruby and caused the curse' is actually a normal, friendly pony.  'Cruel is biased, but so is anyone with an opinion really.

...Then again, this is supposed to be a What-If, so... *shrug*  It's up to you if anything in this story actually happened.

BUt wouldn't the undead ponies have recognized Buttercup as their new goddess in a thousand years?

After the trauma of the curse, magnified over a thousand years?  It's a wonder that the Sunnytowners are as close to sanity as they are when they (re)meet Fluttershy.  Not to mention that they first saw her (again) in full Princess Gaia mode.  At worst, I could see them asking if Fluttershy is a descendent of Buttercup.  It's not like Sunnytown knows anything about time travel.
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Submitted on
October 31, 2013


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