Time Turner and the Talented Pony
Chapter 1: Time Turner
"Cock-A-Doodle-Do!!!" a familiar voice from the next room was yelling out her window.
"Pinkie Pie...." Time Turner pulled his pillow over his head to block the morning out.
A short while later somepony knocked on his door: "Everypony up for breakfast, oh- Twitchy tail!" some other pony cried out, "Why would somepony put a pie up there?"
"I don't know, Pinkie, why WOULD somepony put a pie over my door?" a Canterlot accent tinged with an icy edge demanded before a door slammed.
"Because one was left over?" Pinkie Pie pondered in innocence.
Pies had their dark side too, Time Turner mused before pulling the blanket tighter around him.
It was a fruitless gesture, of course, as he was wide awake now and there was no getting around it. But that didn't mean he wasn't going to try. Besides, he wasn't stirring until he knew if any other pies were lurking without. A few minutes was sure to be enough.
He rolled out of the sack and staggered over to the mirror. Celestia was he a sight! His coat stained with dust and sweat, mane doing this weird up and forward curl thing it sometimes did, tail looked like last year's straw broom and what feathering he had was muddy from running through dirt covered pie gunk yesterday.
With all these Ponyville mares bunking at the hotel too there was no hope for the one tub any time soon so he turned to the water pitcher and bowl and, using his burr pick and wire brush, did the best he could with himself. Especially his feathering. A quick brush of the teeth, finally managed to get that piece of broccoli from brunch yesterday out from between the molars, and he was and felt truly presentable.
Next his plans: after breakfast and seeing the train off he'd have to do a quick survey of the damage at town hall before looking for his hat, he hated the idea of loosing it because it just might end up being all he'd have to show from his time in Appleloosa. Then he could perform a full survey of the clock, see what was salvageable, which would probably take the rest of the day.
No telling when the Sheriff would let anyone inside the town hall the way he had it roped off: important because Time Turner was most anxious to check on his cherished Time Balance, the tool of his trade, that had been set up on the first floor beneath the clock tower. He nickered deeply when he realized the delicate instrument was probably smashed too.
He carefully opened the door: nothing fell. The hall was empty. Some lovely voice was singing in the bath room. Another muted voice still muttering angrily in her room. Somepony was snoring like a buzz saw that whinnied. No sounds from the restaurant down stairs though which was unusual.
Down stairs he found Cherry Strudel fussing over The Grand Appleloosian's empty cafe, its tables seemingly already set for lunch.
"The Radishes have finally started stealing my customers!" he joked when he saw Time Turner.
"I don't suppose you've got any coffee?"
"Sure! Saddle on up to the bar."
"Quite a day we had yesterday." the Appleloosan observed as he set the cup down, "Black as usual?"
"Cream and keep the sugar coming."
"That bad, huh?"
"No, good.... Cherry Strudel, do you realize how ... just-"
"It could have been a lot worse than it was." he agreed.
Time Turner started nursing his coffee and wondered if ANY pony had even come to grips with how bad bad could have been?
Pies! They'd fought off a buffalo stampede with pies! As odd as that should have seemed it didn't seem so out of place for Appleloosa. It would have been, or rather should have been, far odder and genuinely horrific had Sheriff Silverstar done the "realistic" thing and distributed real and very dangerous weapons stored for militia or posse use, things like lances, that doubtless were still locked up safely in his office's armory. Somehow, some wonderful, wacky and truly blessed somehow it had been pies instead.
"A lot worse." Time Turner echoed.
Cherry Strudel nodded enthusiastically and went back to cleaning.
"I heard you were staying?" a Canterlot accent some minutes later.
"Morning, Twilight Sparkle!" he turned to face her, "Cleaned up already?"
Her eyes narrowed for a moment.
"No, not you. I'm guessing that pies over doors are not your style." she said.
"I heard you cry out when it fell." he explained, "As for staying, yes, I have some clock business to take care of."
"Have you told them it will take another year to adjust the replacement clock for Princess Celestia's magic yet?"
He shook his head.
"There's no way they can blame you."
"I helped both survey the foundation and approve the tower's design." he said glumly.
"So did a royal engineer. Two, if I'm not mistaken."
"Who haven't been here more than twice each since ground breaking."
"Some coffee or tea, Miss Sparkle?" Cherry Strudel reappeared from the kitchen.
"Tea, please. Chamomile if you have it." she dropped a bit on the bar.
In moments she had her cup and was sipping hoof-free as only unicorns could.
"One thing about this crazy town: they sure have good tea." she smiled contentedly as she finished the cup.
"The coffee isn't bad either."
She gave his cup the eye before smirking: "Uh huh. Looks like brown milk to me."
Just then Rarity came down and reminded Twilight that they just couldn't be late for a real chef made blintz buffet. Never mind one made by two chefs! And so they were off.
"Say, barkeep, how about another cup? Black this time."
Time Turner was not in a hurry.
The town seemed nearly deserted and was still a shambles from the day before. Muddy apple pie blobs littered the street. Hastily erected barricades were still either up where they stood or down where they had fallen.
But the train station was abuzz with activity and even bore a banner saying "Horsey House", the name of the fine restaurant that Horsey and Hedy were always talking about and which they'd come west from Baltimare to build here in Appleloosa.
Young Hedley was sitting in the ticket stall, 2 bits for a foal, 5 for an adult, profits to benefit reconstruction of the town. His eyes widened when Time Turner trotted up.
"Here's my 5 bits."
"Ummm ... Mr. Time Turner?"
"I'm terribly sorry." he said as he slid a tattered something over.
It took Time Turner a moment to realize that it was what was left of his hat.
"Fedora said it was the only fatality of the buffalo stampede." the colt observed as he gave it over, "Besides the clock tower, that is."
Time Turner sighed as he put the floppy thing on. The torn loose brim fell down on his nose and he could just see through the tear.
"Sorry, old colt." Horsey consoled as he trotted over, tipping his own Stetscolt towards the dearly departed out of respect, "Why not consider this meal on us?"
"It's for the town." Time Turner shook his head and pushed his bits back towards Hedley.
There was no line just then and his favorite raspberry and butter cream blintzes were still available, with just a dash of compote he added on top, so waiting turned out to have been a good strategy after all. He'd keep telling himself that's what he'd been doing.
The hat drew lots of comments, most in jest, as he looked for a place to sit. Finally found himself camped out by the mail-bag hook with the engineers who had been pulling the train of late rather than it carry them. Not that that seemed much stranger than some of the other habits actual Appleloosans had been acquiring over the last year. Frequent visitors like himself, less so (he was wearing this tattered hat, felt he had to wear it, but why was beyond him). But actual visitors ... well, only Pinkie Pie out of all the Ponyville ponies seemed to have not noticed anything unusual.
On the second trip through he had to settle for cherry blintzes, which were still delicious, and also nabbed up an apple and a pear from a tray somepony had brought on their own.
The engineers welcomed him back, as did a buffalo filly named Little Strongheart, and he got to hear the tail end of their explanation to her as to why they had been pulling the locomotive. Something about the flywheel governor not working when coming to Appleloosa and only sometimes working when going away.
Time Turner stifled a face-hoof as realization sunk in: of course, something had thrown either Ponytime or Thingtime askew locally and the Fillydelphia built locomotive hadn't been adjusted for it so it wasn't working right!
Then he looked around nervously as he realized that SOMETHING had thrown either Ponytime or Thingtime askew locally in a town that had become a bit peculiar by most standards. It had to have a wide area of effect ... well, unless an atemporial recursion was involved and then it could be just a powerful point source that resonated with everypony who came across it so that they carried the effect with them: which if that was the case would mean that it was in some heavily trafficked part of town.
As he ate the pear he wondered if he should get Miss Sparkle's help or just deal with the situation himself? No doubling her raw ability but she was a general-magic pony and this was his speciality. She could make things worse. Possibly a lot worse. How had she characterized his job earlier? Adjusting for Celestia's magic? If that was her view, accurate from a certain perspective though it may be.... No, he could handle this on his own with or without his Time Balance.
Still, he took a moment to scribble a note on his napkin to Tilly in Ponyville to come south as soon as she could with her own Time Balance if he wasn't back home on the very next train. He got Promontory, one of the engineers, to promise that he'd deliver it himself.
And so after breakfast he watched and waved with a large crowd as everypony going to Ponyville boarded the horse-drawn train for the ride north.
Then he got to work on the clock.
Chapter 2: The Talented Pony
Dusk was settling on one long day for all concerned. The few street lamps around the town hall had been lit and were blazing brightly.
"How is it?" Sheriff Silverstar asked as he and Braeburn were rummaging with their eyes among the different piles that Time Turner had meticulously laid out through the course of the day.
"A mostly total loss."
"When you say 'mostly total' do you mean 'totally total but I'm being nice about it' or 'mostly total?'" Braeburn asked.
"A year out of my life; but, as far as the clock itself only mostly total. I've been able to salvage an escapement, the weights, the fusee, and about half of the mechanism to ring the bells, which all survived and seem in tune. However, the rest of the movement and the frame are beyond repair."
"Well, at least you'll only have to make one more trip when the new one is up. Though we'll be workin' hard to figure out why this one fell before we can rebuild."
The Sheriff was trying to be conciliatory but it wasn't helping. If someone like Twilight Sparkle only sorta knew about time it was a safe bet that most ponyfolk were clueless! Given that the damage to the clock was far worse than he hoped it would be, the town council was gonna be fit to be lassoed when he finally told them that they'll have to pay some pony for yet another year to settle in a new clock.
One thing would be certain, when someone remembered that he signed off on the tower at the beginning it wouldn't be old Time Turner they would be hiring and he'd be lucky, or so he told himself, to come away without a poor job performance review to haunt him for the rest of his Ponytime days.
"Apple fritters!" he swore.
"Tha-a-at sounds like a grand idea!" Braeburn kicked at the air with his fore-whooves before galloping off in the direction of the bakery which seemed to still be open.
A moment later, once Braeburn had gone inside, both Time Turner and Silverstar busted out laughing.
"Eh, at least SOME ponys never change." the Sheriff allowed.
Time Turner nodded.
"Sheriff, could you have somepony carry the good bits inside your office and pull a tarp over the rest? I'll see what else, if anything, can still be salvaged tomorrow. Never hurts to look twice.... Also, can I go inside town hall now? I need to check to see if my equipment inside survived."
Silverstar seemed to be thinking about it a little too long.
"I'm sure the rest of the building is safe."
"Abs-a-positively promise to move nothin' else before a royal engineer can look it over?"
"Sure. Why not?"
Trotting slowly around to the city hall's front door he ducked under the Sheriff's rope barrier set to keep ponies out.
There was a little earth pony filly inside. She was a foofy maned ginger with a lavender coat and wore a bright tail bow to match. No cutie mark. It took him a moment to recognize her as Cherryloma, the Radish's adopted foal. She was playing with....
His Time Balance ... it was intact!
How the delicate hour glass had survived was beyond him but Time Turner's relief was boundless. As consequence any concern for it melted away and his attention returned to the filly and the potentially dangerous building they were in.
She was laughing softly as she rocked the device slightly up and down from the horizontal.
"Cherryloma, little one, this building is unsafe...."
Sand was running freely in both directions at once which just wasn't supposed to happen: both the bidirectional thing as well as flowing while in the horizontal position thing. Time Turner glanced at her flank again ... no, definitely still blank.
It seemed he'd found his whatever it was and so had the filly.
"Okay, Cherryloma, sweetie, we need to leave." he was keeping calm so as to not alarm the foal.
"But Ahm playin' with mah new friend."
He sucked in his breath but stifled blowing it out. Long ago while still a colt his mentor had warned him about ... about ...
"The balance of time," words drifted back to him from across the years, "is as innocuous as flowing water, except when something can use it to its advantage, make a door to walk through or else to draw others beyond. Sometimes a bit of both. This is because there are different sorts of-"
Time Turner leapt forward and with a flip of his nose under her belly tossed the surprised filly onto his back where she instinctively grabbed hold of his neck. As he rounded his Time Balance heading back the other way it tipped to its normal vertical position but the sand, instead of pouring down, ran up!
He ran. Ran like Cerberus himself was on his tail. Didn't stop till well down the street.
Then he looked back.
Every Time Pony's special sense is unique. No two "see" what they see or experience exactly the same. For Time Turner it always seemed like wheels within wheels both in the earth below and in the skies above and sometimes, somehow, even beyond that: touching what his mentor had once called the "Grandscape of Time" but he had always doubted that assessment ... at least until now.
Just then what actually looked like delicate wheels as if lifted from some illuminated book were in the earth and in the sky and in the sky beyond, brighter and clearer and more beautiful than he had ever even imagined they could be; and, they had stopped in an alignment fixed on his little Time Balance! They hovered there but an instant before they started to move again. The moment over everything returned to normal. The wheels faded to ghostly reds below and pale blues above and then to their normal invisibility.
"Yea! Giddy-up Mr. Time Turner!" The filly cheered as she slapped his side, causing him to rear up and whinny loudly.
"That's the spirit!" Braeburn cried out from where he was sitting nearby, then he held up something wrapped in paper and said: "Last fritters of the day! This one is yers."
Then Braeburn's ears picked up and he let out a snort.
"Cherryloma? Where have you been? Hedy is worried sick about you!"
"She was in the town hall."
"Oh? Oooooh! Great Auntie's missing teeth, filly, didn't you know that a rope stretched out like that means 'stay out'?"
"Ahm sorry, Mr. Braeburn." she apologized as she let herself down, "Thanks for the fun ride, Mr. Time Turner! Ah wonder where mah new friend got off ta?"
"Her new friend?"
"Probably nothing to worry about, Braeburn. Here, Cherryloma, Braeburn's got an apple fritter for you. She was just ... playing with an imaginary friend," or so he hoped, "back there." he pointed needlessly.
The filly thanked Braeburn and gobbled up the fritter with gusto while he patted her on the head. Then he told her to run on home, which she did.
"Foals!" Braeburn let out a long annoyed nicker.
"Hey, watch the language."
"Sorry, Time Turner. So Sheriff Silverstar said you were going ta check out yer hourglass. Is it okay?"
Time Turner nodded: "I better pack it up before anything else strange happens. Will you help me?"
He started back to the town hall.
"Wait, 'strange?'" Braeburn pressed as he trotted alongside, "As in: 'I was runnin' like a bat outta Hades for a real reason' strange?"
Time Turner stopped and hung his head a bit.
"And you want," Braeburn was carefully and slowly enunciating every word, "me to go back with you to where you just came running from?"
"When you put it like that ... but whatever it was is over."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, the worst of it is over. Should be safe now. But if we leave my Time Balance where it is it unattended it may not stay safe: it's a special hour glass."
"Since you put it that way...."
After time Turner checked to make sure no more strangeness was going on he took a moment to tersely describe what a Time Balance did, that it can't be the source, and also tried to describe what he had seen while the filly was playing with it. He did leave out the bit about what his mentor had taught him. Then with Braeburn's help he carefully packed it up in its case and carried it back up to his room over at the hotel.
Once the case was stowed away a still stressed Braeburn yawned and rubbed his eyes: "Well, I'm going ta go tell the Sheriff what you told me and that'll be more than enough A-a-appleloosa for me today! Later, Time Turner."
The settlerpony left and Time Turner flopped on his bed and stared through the window and rip in his hat at where the clock tower used to be.
Haunted by the glorious beauty he'd seen sleep didn't come easily.
Someone was pounding on his door.
Wide awake with none of the whimsy of the previous day. He opened the door.
"Time Tur- ... *snerk!* heh, ahh ... heh-heh ..." the Sheriff stammered as he snickered and laughed.
"I think it's time to finally let go of that poor hat."
Time Turner stepped back into the room to look at himself in the mirror. Instead of bed mane he had bed hat. The brim was totally torn away and now forced down so that it was not just below eye level but also under his ears somehow. The top hat portion was crammed down and tilted back, like a misshapen too large fez, while the band had come away at the back to make something like a chin strap, only on backwards and thus serving no purpose. All of this had apparently been achieved through a number of tears in the whole but the two now separate parts were still respectively managing to not fall completely apart.
Looking at his reflection, Time Turner just got plain mad, boiling over in rage even, HIS clock, HIS reputation and, as if that weren't enough, HIS blasted hat!!!
Then something popped inside and he just started laughing. He could use this! Between giggles, guffaws, and a few puffs out the nostrils he informed the Sheriff that his hat was just fine.
"Have you decided to pretend you're insane?" the Sheriff asked.
"Who isn't?" Time Turner giggled, "Now what's so important that you disturbed my hat's beauty sleep?"
What was important was a town meeting at The Salt Block.
In short order Time Turner and his hat found themselves thrust into the midst of the whole adult population of Appleloosa plus Hedley and Cherryloma Radish, who were sitting nearby with their parents in the middle of the room with him. The town's council were arrayed behind some tables opposite he and the Radishes in front of the chalk boards where Saltworthy would post the results of different sporting events all across Equestria ... for informational purposes only of course, nudge wink. Only Braeburn and the Sheriff, who had just sat down, seemed uncomfortable.
"Mr. Time Turner," Morton Saltworthy began, "it has come to our ... um ... do you really want to keep wearing that hat?"
"Whoot! Zoot!" Time Turner grinned.
"I see.... It has come to our attention that you claim that something strange happened last night and that it somehow involved the young Mistress Radish. It that correct?"
"Sounds about right."
"Would you describe what it is that you think happened?"
"Do I have the floor?"
"... Yaaas." Morton seemed unsure if he should agree, but is was far too late to take the floor back after such an open ended question. No one else raised a protest to counter him.
"What I think and what I know are two separate things, though of course what I think is based on what I know. What I know is that I'm what is called a 'Time Pony', it's why you hired me a year ago to help plan and complete your clock even though you may not have necessarily known that I'm called a 'Time Pony' but I'm the sort with this lovely hour glass on my rump and folks like you know you need folks like me for things like town clocks even though you don't necessarily know why. I will now try and most likely completely fail to explain why it is folks like me do what we do, all that silly mucking about with hour glasses or whatnot, and then I will move on to-"
Now, THERE is something you don't see everyday he mused just for a moment. Hedy gasped but thankfully nopony else had caught on just yet.
"-what I think."
"Stop there!" Cherry Strudel interrupted, "Are you meaning to imply that we can't understand what you do?"
"Oh, no! A thousand times: no! But I'm just admitting that my explanations may fall short."
"But I thought you were supposed to be-"
"Among the best? Most assuredly: I am. Do I still have the floor?"
"Good! How many watched the sunrise today? A show of hooves. Three? Five! Not bad I suppose considering that they happen every day. As we all know our Princess Celestia raises the sun for us; but, I want to ask you what happens on the other side of the world when she raises the sun here? Sheriff?"
"I'm not sure I follow you."
"Well, the world is round, is it not? And the sun is a physical phenomenon, an object, a certain distance away from our world, as is the moon, are they not? So if we a seeing the dawn here what are they seeing on the other side of the world?"
"Easy-peasy: dawn. Ponygarden stuff." The Sheriff pounded a hoof on the table to emphasize the point.
"And when it's noon here what is it there?"
No answer, but of course everyone knew the answer was noon. Princess Celestia, and now Princess Luna once again, raised the sun and moon over the whole world, not just Equestria.
Well, there was that one bugaboo with the Everfree Forest, but aside from THAT, it was all good. And besides, not even all Time Ponies knew about that sort-of exception.
"So right now I should be having my morning coffee no matter if I'm in Baltimare, Appleloosa, or Las Pegasus.... ... Right, so nopony is going to offer me coffee? Oh well, moving along. And of course during the progress of a day the sun and moon both move east to west in their track across the sky."
Braeburn's expression grew contorted, was he understanding what Time Turner was driving at? If so the explanation was going very, very wrong.
"Which is to say: Princess Celestia raises an object that moves across our sky, everywhere at once all around this round world of ours and everybody sees it the same no matter where they are, variations in weather permitting."
"What are you driving at?" Cherry Strudel demanded.
Braeburn raised a hoof even as his eyes glazed : "That the sun and moon, despite being things in the sky, appear the same at the same time all over the world."
"Of course." Cherry Strudel seconded without a hint of understanding.
"Braeburn?" Time Turner asked, quite worried for his friend's state of mind.
"Time Turner?" Braeburn seemed uneasy.
Time Turner sighed, Braeburn should NOT have been able to have made that leap of deduction because he was fully within the system. Now he knew something serious was going on in Appleloosa and that he better fix it fast.
"Don't worry, old Apple.... Appleloosans, I have left something very important out of my explanation of what I know thus far. It is this: we ponyfolk, and others as diverse as buffalo or dragons as well as all living nature for that matter, don't see a sunrise because of the Princess so much as the sun rises in us when she raises the sun. There is the rising sun and the sun rising in us. The rising sun happens and it moves across the sky BUT it is when the sun rises in us that we see the sun rise. We ponyfolk are as much a part of the sunrise as Princess Celestia is. Even if we aren't the ones rising the sun."
The glaze was coming off of Braeburn's eyes even as old Salt Lick stepped forward and announced that he had figured it out.
"You have?" now Time Turner was REALLY worried.
"Yes: you ... are ... a ... lunatic!"
Murmurs of assent rippled through the room.
"I mean, just look at that poor hat?" the miner pointed out, "By Starswirl's beard, do the merciful thing and let it go already!"
All to Time Turner's great relief: he'd done a decent job explaining it in so few words after all and of course it sounded like utter nonsense to those fully within Ponytime.
He made a show of removing his hat and its brim and set them respectfully on the table before Morton Saltworthy. Even teared up as he was saying goodbye to his old friend. Without it he felt strange. Stallions in Appleloosa should have a hat, that's just the way it was.
He had to admit he must feel that way because he too was within Appleloosa just like the rest.
"Salt Lick, I'm not a lunatic. I'm just trying to explain something to you that I don't know how to explain to you. I doubt any Time Pony could. You see, what we Time Ponies do is, well, we help machines be sane if you will excuse me using that term in this context. It isn't all we can do, but it's rare if we do anything else.
"I would like to call your attention to something which all of you must have noticed: that for the last few months the trains coming in and even out of Appleloosa have been pulled by ponies with not merely the skills to drive a locomotive when they can move themselves under steam power but the great strength and resolve to pull the locomotives at speed when they just don't want to work.
"This was pointed out to me in particular by the engineers yesterday at breakfast. The problem with the trains is that they have gone just a little crazy and as a result the flywheel governor wasn't controlling the steam engine properly. Same with a clock that doesn't know when dawn or sunset are. You see, our Princesses are extraordinarily reliable and raise the sun and moon at almost the same moment every day come rain or shine; but, 'almost' is not exactly. We ponies, well, we are smart and what's more, we are sane. We recognize the sun coming up and going down. We recognize high noon. A clock or a flywheel isn't just potentially crazy,they are plumb dumb as well. The weights that you lift when you wind the clock will fall at the exact speed they were designed to if the escapement and fusee are working as they should ... gravity does that. But a falling weight doesn't know about sunrises. The job of folks like me is to convince them sunrises happen and for any clock like the big one in the town hall it takes about a year to proverbially convince the dumb things that sunrises happen!
"And I'm afraid that the new clock to replace the old one will also take another whole year to settle in."
The council seemed to immediately grasp that point, money was going to have to be spent, and they weren't happy with it, not one half a lick of salt worth of happy with it.
"So that is what I know. Now if you will permit me, I will tell you what I think.
"I think that before Appleloosa was founded something was already here other than the buffalo. Somehow this something has been influencing machines besides the clock, I can't really say why the clock seems to have been exempt but it has been, and I suppose you could say this thing that was here before the town has been unconvincing machines about sunrises or sunsets with the end result is that when they are around these parts they don't work properly."
Time Turner noticed that Braeburn was nodding as if it made sense but he no longer had the look of a pony floating free of normality. Could it be that he had been so much a part of Appleloosa that he'd gone just a bit out of the world and that's why he was on top of things? Be interesting to discuss this with him later, assuming he ever stopped running after this little speech came to its unenviable close.
"Maybe that's what went wrong with the tower? I was proverbially making it sane all the while whatever it was was making it crazy too? Maybe that's why it fell so easily? Hard to say. But at any rate something was here and it still is here. But the other night I think that whatever it was ... well, it got loose."
"You are talking about the foal's imaginary friend?" Morton demanded, "That is nonsense. Can YOU see this imaginary friend?"
"Ahem.... No, I can't. As far as I know little Cherryloma is the only one who can see it. Can you see it, sweetie?" he asked even as he backed closer to the Radishes who were sorta holding onto each other.
"Yes, Mr. Time Turner. I see the bunny-thang real good."
A bunny?! Oh thank Celestia it was a bunny-thing! Probably a cute, harmless, bunny-thing too! Still, he took another step back till his flank was pretty close to Horsey's face.
"So you expect us to BELIEVE there is an invisible rabbit running around town that has the power to make mindless machines go crazy?!?" Cherry Strudel's incredulity had been officially maxed out.
"Well, as I said, I can't see this bunny-thing but I can see what it's doing."
"An' that is?" The Sheriff demanded.
"He's writin' his alphabet on the blackboard!" she proclaimed with a giggle.
The room was deathly quiet as every head turned to see a piece of chalk moving on its own, forming perfect letter after letter in repetition.
Time Turner turned toward the Radishes and said: "Don't let the foals get away from us!" even as he wrapped his forelegs around the family as best he could.
Which was a good thing because the room was rapidly emptying with the tremendous thunder of many hooves.
Chapter 3: No Hiding But Plenty of Seeking
As quickly as the room emptied, Time Turner found himself wishing that Applejack and Winona were here to deal with the stampede he'd just help start. In moments all he could hear was the sound of the Appleloosans running east.
"Did you HAVE to start a stampede?!?" a voice thundered behind him.
It was Morton Saltworthy who had made the demand. The surprised Time Pony looked around from where he was holding onto the trembling Horsey and Hedy to see the room entirely empty save for the four ponies on the town council.
Just then an apple pie hit Morton square in the face.
Braeburn and Silverstar were almost successful at suppressing their laughter while Morton was wiping apple goo from his eyes and out of his mustache, flinging it aside off his hooves.
Cherry Strudel sat calmly and said: "I'm the mayor. I stay calm. It's what mayors do.... Mr. Time Turner, do have you a solution for our present situation?"
"I guess the first thing is to see where the town got off to as well as round up the foals so they don't get scared or their parents start another stampede back into town looking for them."
"An excellent suggestion. Sheriff, as an authority figure will you see to the little ones while Braeburn goes and finds everypony?"
Cherry Strudel's right eye and ear only twitched a little as he watched Braeburn and Silverstar leave: "Now, about our bunny-thing friend: Miss Cherryloma, can you still see it?"
"Is it still by the blackboard?"
He nodded thoughtfully, patiently, twitched only a little.
"Where is it?"
"He's a standin' in front of Mr. Saltworthy."
"Mister Mayor," Morton found his voice again, "I have in idea how to deal with this situation."
"Cherryloma, honey, just how far in front of me is the bunny?"
The councilpony's eyes fixed on that spot and he leapt with the vigor of a colt while making a grab at thin air. Came skidding to a stop right in front of Time Turner and the Radishes.
"Missed him!" he blew loudly as he swore.
Cherry Strudel face-hooved: "Grab it, that was your plan? Grab it?"
"If it can throw a pie it has to have a body I can grab even if we can't see it!"
"Actually," Time Turner interjected, "there is a lot of merit in that suggestion. Cherryloma, where is the bunny now?"
She looked around: "He's standin' by the door wavin' at us."
If Saltworthy had waited someone might have noticed that the floor leading to the door was now littered with banana peels and warned him, but he didn't so they couldn't and his headlong charge become a headlong slide.
"Pretty good distance," Horsey, who had finally stopped trembling, observed, "if that had just been Salt Lick, old Morton would be bragging about now."
"Horsey, Hedy, would you please take Hedley and help Sheriff Silverstar round up the foals?" Cherry Strudel asked.
"What about my filly?" Hedy demanded as she held her close.
"If she is the only one who can see our friend then I'm afraid she has to stay. Don't worry, neither Time Turner nor I will ever let her be harmed."
Hedy's eyes pleaded with Time Turner.
"With my life!" he reassured.
She hugged the filly before telling her to stay close to Time Turner. Then with a brave look she led her husband and son off on their assigned task.
"Mr. Mayor," Time Turner found his hooves and turned around, "was it wise to deplete our numbers that way?"
"While I agree with the view," he twitched, "that we should be able to capture this bunny-thing, the simple fact is that aside from you and the filly I don't know what any of us can do to effect that capture since we don't have any sort of magic at all."
Cherryloma started laughing.
"What's it doing now?"
"He's lookin' over the table at ya like a puppy beggin' scraps!"
Cherry Strudel reflexively reached forward and petted the air over the table in front of him. Drew back and realization seemed to sink in.
"Miss Radish, does this 'bunny' have ... antlers?"
She giggled as she confirmed that it did.
He twitched several times before Braeburn poked his nose inside: "I found them! They're all hidin' up in the apple trees east of town!"
"Excellent! Braeburn," Cherry Strudel said through a manic grin as his right eye started twitching uncontrollably, "why don't you and Morton help our Ponyville friend while I stay here and remain calm?"
"Come on, Cherryloma, get up on my back and hold on."
Once she was up he trotted out through the swinging doors past Braeburn and surveyed the scene. Morton was sitting on his haunches and looked about as mad as Cherry Strudel looked unnerved.
"Morton, please go to the east orchard and tell the townponies that things here are under control and that Sheriff Silverstar and the Radishes are bringing their foals. You need to take charge of things there too."
The call of his responsibilities and appeal to town spirit stirred him out of his rage.
"In the orchard?" he asked.
"Actually, up in the trees." Braeburn corrected.
"That's just silly! I'm going to go talk some sense into those ponies. Leave them to me!" he stormed off in renewed dignity.
"Are things under control?" Braeburn asked.
"'Grab it' didn't work. We need something more subtle."
"He sure likes pies!" Cherryloma observed.
"Hey, that's right!" Braeburn's seemed inspired.
A few minutes later the trio had returned to The Salt Block with some supplies for Braeburn's plan.
"He's a'petting Mr. Cherry Strudel who doesn't look quite right." she said after sneaking a peek inside.
Braeburn quickly set up a large box-based rabbit trap just outside the door and baited it with some of the fresh breakfast cakes that had been in The Grand Appleloosian's kitchen.
"Are you sure this will work?" Time Turner whispered from where they were hiding around the corner.
"I've never met a bunny in these parts that didn't fall for Grandpa Pokey Oaks' rabbit trap." he whispered back.
A minute later and something invisible picked up one of the cakes and started eating. Braeburn pulled the rope and the box fell with a convincing thud.
Time Turner, with Cherryloma on his back, galloped forward to peer inside.
"Ummm, Time Turner?" Braeburn's voice came from within, "could you help me out here?"
As he crawled out from under the box he said: "I ... Don't ask. Just don't ask...."
After retreating a safe distance Time Turner whispered that they " had to admit, that was a pretty obvious trap."
"Not from where I was sittin', it wasn't." Braeburn corrected.
"What 'bout you, Mr. Time Turner?"
"Please, Cherryloma, just Time Turner or Time or even Turner."
"Okay, Mr. TimeTurner."
"Heh! So what about me, sweetie?"
"Well, what 'bout that fancy time piece of yers? He was wantin' to play with it last night."
That's right! He might be able to lure the bunny-thing out by doing some of those "never do this with a Time Balance" tricks his mentor had warned him about!
"We need to set up someplace secure."
"How about the Sheriff's office? It isn't all that big and there's only one way in or out."
"Braeburn, that's just the thing!"
Time Turner glanced around the corner to see if the bunny ... was ... then he felt like giving himself a face-hoof.
"Cherryloma, sweetie, is the bunny-thing anywhere in the street?"
She poked her head out and looked around: "He waved at me an' went inta the bakery."
"It seems our compadre has us dead ta rights." Braeburn advised.
"Then we must sneak sneakier...." Time Turner's expression grew slack before he rolled his eyes, "Lets just get moving."
He led them tippy-hoof around to the back of the Salt Block.
"Only chickens runnin'!" Cherryloma whispered.
At the other end of yard, at the alley between the Salt Block and The Grand Appleloosian, before she looked around the corner, the filly said she loved runnin' tip-hooved: "Maybe mah cutie mark will be a sneak-thang?... All clear, Mr. Time Turner."
They zipped across the alley and made for the kitchen door: it was locked!
"Eh-heh, I kinda forgot that I locked the door for Cherry Strudel, what with him being at the meetin' and all...." Braeburn sunk into himself a bit.
"No problem." Time Turner pointed at the open window by the door.
"Not my best day." Braeburn said as he climbed through the window.
"Nor mine. Braeburn, change of plans, we can't get in the Sheriff's office without being seen. Lets set our trap here instead."
"If we close all the windows and shut the flue.... Yeppers, I'm sure Cherry Strudel won't much mind a few broken dishes or pots."
"I hope it won't come to that."
Soon they had the Time Balance set up in the middle of the kitchen and had set all of the egg timers and the cuckoo clock to go off at the same time.
"What exactly is this going ta do?"
"I guess you could say I'm going to drive the clocks crazy. Cherryloma, hide where you can see us and the door. Braeburn, take up a position on the stove top behind the door."
"Well ... yeah, grab it, but with a little elaboration. I'll be between the stove and sink where he's got the trash can now."
At the moment before that the clocks were to buzz Time Turner spun his Time Balance anticyclonic relative to the spin of the world which in theory would drain the energy in the appliances and create a few sparks that would have been visible had they been in near complete darkness. This close to the Canterlot meridian it was hardly surprising that they still all sounded together. Then he waited.
She shook her head.
Minutes more passed before something was forced down over Time Turner's head. He briefly struggled against whatever it was before it came off and to his shock found he was holding the top part of his own hat! Then he recovered his wits and jumped towards where the foal was pointing.
"That didn't work." Braeburn observed as the back door opened by itself.
"Get it!" the angry Time Turner yelled as he ran forward scooped Cherryloma up on his back, "Which way is it going?"
"Towards the train station!"
He ran till she said it was heading towards the south, then the west, then up an alley, then passed the critter band playing circus-like chase music in the middle of the street and into the bakery, then out of the bakery and towards town hall, then a reversal back towards and past the critter band ... wait ... what!
Time Turner came skidding to a stop.
Five large rabbits with antlers were playing but they all disappeared and their instruments fell to the ground.
Huffing and puffing and feeling a little sick Time Turner just collapsed on the ground with Cherryloma still clinging to his neck. It wasn't fair! How was he supposed to catch something he couldn't see?
"Excuse me," a filly asked, "but where are all the ponies?"
He rolled his head towards her. It was Little Stongheart, the buffalo lass.
Chapter 4: The Buffalo
In the buffalo camp Chief Thunderhooves had patiently listened to Time Turner and Cherryloma's tale.
"If what these ponies say is true then they must speak to Tony!"
Little Strongheart's jaw sagged in disbelief: "Wait: Tony? You don't mean our Tony? MY Tony?"
"Yes!" Thunderhooves stamped a hoof, "I am sending these ponies to talk to The Blonde Surfer!"
That Little Strongheart chose that exact moment to do a face-hoof didn't give Time Turner much hope to boost his already sagged confidence.
"But, mighty Chief, ... Tony..." the filly stammered.
"Go!" the chief commanded.
The young buffalo seemed defeated.
"Come with me, ponies. We better hurry if we are to reach ...Tony ... before noon."
As they galloped from the encampment Cherryloma asked why this blonde surfer was bad.
"Oh, he isn't. He says he's a very important holybull.... And he is my brother."
"But if he's a great stallion-"
"'Bull', sorry, if he's a great bull AND your brother why are ya so down 'bout him?" she pressed.
The filly seemed to grimace but said nothing. Since noon wasn't far off he must live close by ... which was good because Time Turner could feel the dust clinging to the dirt on the bottom of his hooves he was so trail worn.
"Why do we gotta get there by noon?"
"'The Blonde Surfer doesn't do afternoons.'" the filly seemed to be trying to imitate a bull's voice, "Hardly does mornings either...." she said plainly in her own.
In short order they had crossed over fields of tumbling tumbleweeds and come galloping hard up to a small gorge that quickly widened out into a very big gorge. Little Strongheart led them straight in past a happily waving buffalo mare keeping watch over two small yet bulky foals and up a side trail that ended at the mouth of a huge cave in which brightly painted structures had been built all the way up to the cavern roof.
"Wow! Ah never knew!" Cherryloma exclaimed.
After stopping to catch her breath and shaking out the dust from the trail Little Strongheart shoved aside one of the beautiful tapestries that blocked a particular door and called out: "Mom, is Tony here?"
"He's out back. Shake out that dust before you come in, young lady."
"Mom!" the filly whined from embarrassment.
"My mom is always tellin'me the same too!" Cherryloma commiserated as she made a show of shaking herself too.
Time Turner stifled a whinny and pooched out his tongue knowing that his sweat soaked hide and the cloud of dust just released would mix rather nicely. Still, he made the attempt too.
"Any more sign of it?" he asked the Appleloosan filly as they entered and just before a buffalo in an apron came charging up with a big grin on her face.
"Ponies!" she exclaimed, "And isn't the little calf just the coo-utest shade of lavender with, oh! And a matching bright lavender bow for her itty pretty poofy orange tail!" she cooed.
"Mom...." Little Strongheart calmly tried to interrupt even as Cherryloma seemed to be soaking it in.
"You are just a super cutie!" the mare continued before a second "Mom!" from her daughter got her attention: "Well! I see that someone is bringing her camp manners back to village!"
"I am sorry, Mother." Little Strongheart was demure, "But Chief Thunderhooves sent my companions and I to speak with The Blonde Surfer about an urgent matter." she then paused before calmly saying, "Time Turner and Cherryloma, this is my mother: Strongheart. Momma, this is Time Turner and Cherryloma."
"Pleased to meet you!" the mare beamed, "Are you some of my Little Strongheart's new Appleloosan friends?"
"I'm from Ponyville." Time Turner found himself cheerfully saying, the trail and trials easily forgotten in a moment of comfortable normalcy as he glanced around the room they were in. True, the decorations had a different style but it could have otherwise passed for one of the best homes in Ponyville. Something he was not really expecting.
He wondered if buffalo drank tea or coffee and would she offer him some?
As he mused he quite missed what little Cherryloma said to Mrs. Strongheart and visa versa.
"It's not often I get company who doesn't look at my home like it's their old sofa."
"I'm sorry." Time Turner was genuinely embarrassed for his reaction.
"Don't be!" she beamed, "I work hard to make a beautiful home just like my Mother did, and just like her Mother did, and just like..." she winked at her daughter, "skipping a bit, and I don't think anybull who isn't local has ever seen it. Ever. It is a nice feeling for my efforts to be appreciated for once."
"Ahm sure Mr. Strongheart preciates the effort!" Cherryloma interjected.
"Indeed my Thundy does, little one. And so long as the bulls keep to the trail I can keep it this way."
"The Blonde Surfer." Little Strongheart said.
"Oh, of course, you three are on a mission from Chief Thunderhooves! My apologies. I'll brew up some mud for when you are through."
Mud? So buffalo were coffee drinkers. Good! Coffee was just what he needed.
Out back turned out to be the back side of the home and farther up in the surprisingly shallow cave for its size. Up a few ladders, through a long rough hewn tunnel, and finally onto a wide ledge surrounding a deep sink hole that was open to the sky. On the far side was a small hut that looked as ramshackle as the home he'd just come from was posh.
"Behold, the domain of The Blonde Surfer!" Little Strongheart loudly proclaimed, again in that bull-like voice.
As if in response there was a crash heard from the hut and moments later a coal black bull emerged standing on his hind legs with a strange long fish shaped board held under a foreleg.
"Most uncool, Munchkin!" the bull scolded before his eyes visibly widened: "Ponies? Here in the lair of holybulls?"
"Chief Thunderhooves sent us." Time Turner asserted.
"Oh? Well, it's all good! Why don't you come over and get comfy?"
"Follow me, honored ponies!" Little Strongheart said very formally all of a sudden, "Please remember that this is sacred ground you trot upon."
"Kay!" beamed Cherryloma.
"Of course." Time Turner seconded, bemused that she, now that her brother was not upholding whatever it was she thought he should, felt she was duty bound to instead.
The bare rag that served for the hut's door had barely parted when a cloven hoof came out of no where to plunk Time Turner not quite gently between the eyes.
"Hey?!" he protested.
"It's what you wanted isn't it? Sit down and I will tell you about Jackalope."
"Sit?" the bull managed to command in a tone as unlike any command TimeTurner had ever heard for sounding utterly unlike a command at all.
"You too, Munchkins." he smiled as he propped his strange board against the wall, dropped to all fours and flopped without ceremony.
Cherryloma pranced to sit on the bull's right side while Little Strongheart sat formally on his left. Finally Time Turner sat opposite.
"'The BLONDE Surfer?'" the little Appleloosan asked, poking at his pelt.
"Many and mysterious are the powers of The Blonde Surfer, Little Dudette, and the one in particular is when he walks in distant lands in the guise of a white buffalo. In fact, I was doing just that when Munchkin here interrupted. Bad timing too because some really righteous pony babes probably think I just wiped out! Life guards, constabulary, ohhhh, this is gonna be a mess beyond even my powers!"
Cherryloma seemed to be considering the incredible claim but said nothing before the bull finally continued: "'The Albino Surfer' just doesn't work with the cows, Little Dudette."
"Oh, of course!" she beamed even as Little Strongheart face-hooved again.
It was becoming abundantly clear to Time Turner that this was no ordinary bull.
"TONY," Little Strongheart began, "this is Time Turner and Cherryloma: she can see this jackalope."
"Yah, I can see she's got it." he smiled.
A long minute passed in silence.
"So, Jackalope! Yeah, I was wondering if he was gonna somehow get loose but you ponies seemed to be having such a blast with him as your neighbor, I figured: 'What the hey? He's harmless by now, right?'"
"Ya knew 'bout him?" Cherryloma asked.
"Oh, sure, Little Dudette! Why, back in the day-"
"You know, there are times that my father and his father and his and so on is important!" Little Strongheart vented.
"The Munchkin will be silent!" he noogied his sister which drew a baleful glare, "As I was saying back in the day it was Sittingme, a way cool guru of us buffalo folk, who put an end to Jackalope's über silliness because, well, you just can't be a hepcat with a jackalope riding your back. Not that that lil'spirit of discord would ever actually hurt anyone."
"The Spirit of Discord?" Time Turner wondered aloud.
"Whoa, TT! Not THE Spirit of Discord, just a spirit of discord. Anyhoo, Sittingme put Jackalope's physical avatar under this great flat rock-"
"Which the Appleloosans used as a foundation for the clock tower!" Time Turner's vocalized realization.
"Yah, and when they put up that pretty thing they must have disturbed the seal. No biggie."
"You keep acting like this Jackalope isn't dangerous?"
"Well, he COULD be. S'pose. But how is a falling anvil funny if the target can't take it? Not the little guy's idiom as he hates to laugh alone."
"He's causing quite a fuss."
The bull nodded knowingly.
"So you will help us?" Time Turner asked, his hopes finally rising.
"What? Me? Seriously?... No way, TT! The Little Dudette was the first to see him so she's gotta get him to see the light."
"But she is the ONLY one who can see him."
"I already fixed that, TT." Tony said as he pointed at his forehead, "I just had to tell you what to do."
A long moment in silence.
"She has to talk Jackalope down. Make him listen to reason." The Blonde Surfer said plainly.
"Eh ... how?"
"Aren't you ponies all about the spirits of harmony? Just do what comes au-natural."
"I-" Time Turner was about to say he had no idea what the bull was talking about unless he was referring to Hearths Warming Eve; but, instead Tony stood up and proclaimed: "Would you look at the time? Been a blast, TT, Little Dudette! Later, Munchkin." and he pushed them out.
"Well, THAT was a great help." Little Strongheart stamped a hoof.
"Sure it was." Time Turner corrected.
"Yeah, the one thang we hadn't tried was talkin' ta him!" Cherryloma was upbeat.
"Wait," the buffalo filly asked as they were going back through the tunnel, "my brother actually SAID something helpful back there?"
"Here's hoping." Time Turner nodded.
He also hoped it would be strong coffee. He was gonna need it!
Chapter 5: Showdown
"So you left us all literally out on a limb while you got some grub?" Braeburn demanded.
"I hadn't had breakfast or lunch."
"That sure as hay t'ain't fair!"
"We also gave my hat a decent burial."
Braeburn twitched a bit before admitting that at least THAT he could understand.
"So why did you go off with the filly?"
"Little Strongheart was standing right there and it all of a sudden occurred to me that the buffalo have been here a long time so maybe they knew what we were dealing with."
"Yep! He said our friend is called Jackalope, a kind of spirit that loves playing jokes and laughter."
"That seems ... yeah, I can see that. Is 'Jackalope' dangerous?"
"I would not have eaten if I thought he was. Braeburn, think about all that has happened in the last few days and let me ask you something: did the ponies in Canterlot give Sheriff Silverstar an armory full of apple pies?"
"What?" the stallion seemed genuinely confused.
But in a few moments the Appleloosan's expression became a mask: "Somepony could have got hurt or-" he stopped as he looked at Cherryloma and put a bridle on what he was going to say, "well, somepony could have gotten hurt!"
"I think that was Jackalope's influence on the town. Maybe on the buffalo too."
"Don't worry, Braeburn, we've got this handled. Do you remember what we all talked about, Cherryloma?"
"Yes, Mr. Time Turner!"
He reached into the pack the Thunderhooveses had provided, it had been Tony's when he was a calf - not "colt", they had corrected his terminology - about his size: as had been the boldly patterned red and black pull over that he got out and was putting on now.
"Braeburn, can I borrow your hat? I promise I won't let it get hurt."
"I guess. What's that getup for?"
"Bait." he said as he put on the hat.
Clothed in borrowed duds he and Cherryloma moseyed into town and stood still not far from the fallen clock tower.
"Miss Radish, will you tell me when Jackalope is around?"
"Yes, Mr. Time Turner!" she said extra loud.
A few minutes later the filly loudly said he was no where to be seen.
"Ah guess he's a turned yellow!"
"Seems like that, Mr. Time Turner!" She echoed.
He reached into the pack to get two of the hard gum sticks that Little Strongheart had given them, gave one to Cherryloma and the other he let dangle from one side of his mouth as he chewed on it.
"Mr. Jackalope just came outta the Salt Block an' is standin' there!" the filly announced moments later.
Indeed he was, a lot bigger than any bunny had business being and dressed all in black with a wide brimmed hat somehow down over his antlers. Looked like he was hiding something under his ankle length coat ... could be a pie.
Also, the critter band had reappeared on the hotel veranda and was playing a different tune that just built and built.
Time Turner began to slowly walk forward with Cherryloma keeping pace.
"He's walkin' tawords us too!" she announced.
They continued walking forward with Cherryloma telling him that Jackalope was still advancing at regular intervals.
With the critter just within reach, Time Turner stopped and adjusted his gum stick while seeming to squint off into the distance. A wicked smile spread across the bunny's face and his ears tried to stand up causing his hat to shift a little.
"Where is that rascal now?"
Jackalope started to pull something from his coat.
The critter-band reached a crescendo.
Time Turner grabbed Jackalope by the antlers.
"- just within reach." she giggled.
Band, black duds, extra growth and whatever it was the bunny was going to throw all disappeared leaving the struggling critter chittering angrily much like any normal rabbit in its pelt would as it tried to get loose from Time Turner's hooves.
"Mr. Jackalope," Cherryloma smiled, "we need ta talk."
Jackalope chittered angrily some more. It was obvious that while Cherryloma could see him she was no more able to understand critters than Time Turner was.
"Having Fluttershy around just now could be really handy," Time Turner silently scolded himself, "pity you let them all get on that train!"
After he had chittered a while, Jackalope sighed heavily and just pointed at Time Turner.
"Oh, you want us ta let ya go!" Cherryloma said.
He made a show of mimicking her.
"Do ya promise not ta run away and talk a spell?"
Jackalope rolled his eyes, chittered some more, and finally seemed to relent.
Time Turner set him down whereupon the bunny crossed its forelegs, kicked at the dust, turned on Time Turner and seemed to demand something.
"Tony, The Blonde Surfer, made it so I could see you too." Time Turner provided.
Its little jaw went slack. Then it proceeded to angrily jump up and down. Somehow Time Turner understood this time.
"Threats are uncalled for, friend! We sought him out. He didn't take it upon himself to ruin your fun."
Jackalope deflated, then seemed to demand what it was they wanted to talk about.
Time Turner pointed at Cherryloma, and she grinned big before pointing off to a side.
They then wandered over to the Sheriff's porch steps and started to talk.
"Is THAT this Jackalope?" Braeburn asked as he trotted over.
"Huh? Oh, I guess he isn't bothering to hide himself anymore now that he knows I can see him. Yeah, Braeburn, that is our friend, Jackalope."
"He's a feisty little critter."
"That he is."
"What do you reckon the filly and he are talkin' about."
"Probably him staying on in Appleloosa."
"He was here first. Only fair."
"But all the pranks?"
"Well, she's going to ask him to tone it down and stop making machines crazy; but, I think what she's really going to ask him to be is part of your town: an Appleloosan. And all that entails."
"That seems a tall order."
"Maybe not. Jackalope seems to have got himself imprisoned because either the buffalo all those years ago couldn't keep up with him or he wouldn't try to slow down for them. Like Tony said, hard to be a hepcat with a Jackalope riding your back. I hope he'd rather have a home this time around."
"What if he doesn't agree?"
Time Turner just shook his head. The little guy was really way beyond anything he could handle even if he did lay hooves on him again. Any thought of turning Jackalope over to face the fury of the Princess, or even asking Tony to seal him again, just made a knot form in the pit of his stomach. They should all be thanking him, not hurting him.
Braeburn began laughing infectiously. Reclaimed his hat off of Time Turner's noggin and began cantering off towards the east orchard where everypony was hiding.
"I just realized somethin': Appleloosa just wouldn't be A-a-applelooosa," he reared up and whinnied, "without at least one jackalope." then he continued on his way.
- fin -