The Time Machine Discovery
written by Tabby and Merry Treat

Tabby and Merry Treat were hanging out at the Pokèmon Center. Tess, Spearow, and Tarquin had gone to escape from the "other species" for a while.

"Gosh, this is boring! Where is everyone today!?" Merry Treat commented in an annoyed tone.

"I don't know. Maybe everyone went to your gym, and they're waiting for a Pokèmon battle," Tabby murmured as she typed something in an e-mail.

"You think? I doubt it. I've battled just about all the Pokèmon trainers in Ponyland," Merry Treat replied and read casually over Tabby's shoulder while the unicorn was typing. "You made a spelling error."

"Whoops! I can't type today..." Tabby quickly backspaced to fix it, and hit the "send" button. "Okay, now what do we do?"

"Why don't we just gossip for a little bit?" Merry Treat suggested, and leaned up against the counter.

"Okay!" Tabby said cheerfully, and signed off the internet. She and Merry Treat loved to gossip.

"What's been going on lately?" Merry Treat asked almost as soon as her friend had spun back around in her chair.

"Tiffany has decided she's come down with a rare eye disease," Tabby said.

"O-o-o-oh, an eye disease! What happened?" Merry Treat questioned, curiosity in her voice.

"Nothing, I believe. I think she's making it up so she'll be able to go to the hospital more," Tabby snickered.

Merry Treat nodded in understanding. "Ah, to see Toby."

"Uh-huh," Tabby nodded.

"I wonder when those two are finally gonna stop stalling and get married," Merry Treat said offhandedly.

Tabby shrugged in reply. "I don't know, myself. I do hope it's soon, so Tiff'll stop bragging about the expensive engagement ring Toby's supposedly gonna get her."

Both ponies giggled. Somehow, they found it easier to talk about their friends when their Pokèmon weren't around. They had known each other since sixth grade, and had become fast friends.

"Spike and Friendly each got a new Furby!" Tabby squealed excitedly.

"Cool! What do they look like?" Merry Treat grinned.

"Spike's is green, and her name is Loo-Loo. Friendly's is a bay-you-tay-full light brown one named Toh-Loo. She's Ah-Loh's one true love," Tabby said, using her southern accent.

"Cute!" Merry Treat smiled.

"So, what's been going on with you lately?" Tabby asked to change the subject.

"Not much. Dad's putting a new addition to his and Mom's house. There's a big hole in the backyard," Merry Treat explained. "It looks like they're trying to put in a swimming pool!" she giggled.

"Just like what Quarterback is doing," Tabby commented.

"I do hope they get finished before winter," Merry Treat shivered. Already, the leaves on the trees outside had turned color; and many of them had fallen to the ground. The crisp scent of autumn was in the air, and Halloween was coming.

"Yes, I'd imagine it'd get rather cold," Tabby agreed, and gazed out the clear door of the Pokèmon Center.

"Oh, yeah!" Merry Treat nodded in agreement and followed her friend's gaze out the door.

"Did you hear about the ruins Cleve Clove found in the Dark Forest, MT?" Tabby asked after a few minutes.

"Oh, no. I haven't. Do tell," Merry Treat said with interest.

"He hasn't begun excavating yet, but wouldn't it be cool if they were somehow related to that burial site of that skeleton king dude?" Tabby said excitedly.

Merry Treat shivered again. "O-o-o-oh, from what I've heard about that dude, it'd be rather creepy..."

"It's fun arguing with him, though. The skeleton king and Cleve Clove, actually," Tabby responded.

"You two sound like Raye and Serena when you're going at it," Merry Treat remarked with a grin. She had somehow convinced Tabby to start watching Sailor Moon, and by now Tabby knew a lot about those famous arguments.

"Nah, more like Ash and Misty," Tabby corrected.

"I had the most delicious pink fruit drink earlier," Merry Treat changed the subject.

"Cool!" Tabby said as she lifted a magazine off the counter and relaxed in her chair. She handed another magazine to Merry Treat.

"It was pink, tasted like bubble gum, and I loved it. Vixie was shocked that I could drink it!" Merry Treat laughed as she took the magazine. "Thanks."

"She was at your place earlier?" Tabby asked as she began flipping through pages.

"Yeah, she was visiting. She bought the stuff first, but said it was too sweet, and gave it to me," Merry Treat explained. "Gosh, they got some weird stuff in here..." She, too, began flipping through pages.

"It gets annoying when relatives stay too long... like Tamara..." Tabby muttered under her breath as she began to study something on one of the pages. "This is interesting..."

"She still hasn't found herself a home?" Merry Treat asked, momentarily glancing up from the article she was reading.

"Nope. She's always too busy dressing up for her dates with Tex," Tabby said and rolled her eyes.

"I wonder when those two are gonna stop stalling and finally get married..." Merry Treat trailed off, just realizing what she had said.

"You say that a lot, don't you?" Tabby asked.

"Uh-oh... don't hurt me!" Merry Treat shielded her head with the magazine.

"Oh no, I'm not thinking of hurting you. Won't she ever get sick of Tex?" Tabby mused.

"I promise I'll never mention Tamara and Tex getting married again!" Merry Treat said hurriedly.

"But what if it happens, MT?" Tabby worried.

"Congratulations to both of them. They deserve each other. They will be a very happy couple," Merry Treat declared as she looked back at the article. "Tex isn't so bad, Tabby. He's actually kinda cool!"

"That's what everyone says about him that didn't have worms in their lunchbox," Tabby sniffed. "What would the present world be like if that incident had never happened?"

Merry Treat rolled her eyes. "Oh, Tabby, haven't you forgotten about that yet!? It was in sixth grade! Even though you did throw a fit..."

"I don't like worms," Tabby said simply.

"...and Sugarberry and I could hardly keep you from destroying him with your horn..." Merry Treat continued.

"I despise worms," Tabby repeated herself venomously.

"...and we've never heard the end of it. Hmm, you hate worms, but you love Caterpies and Weedles. Strange, you are..." Merry Treat said slowly, like Yoda.

"Well, Caterpies, yes. But Weedles..." Tabby trailed off nervously.

"--are cute!" Merry Treat finished for her.

"If he had packed my lunchbox with Caterpies-- well, just one Caterpie-- it wouldn't have been so bad," Tabby said.

Merry Treat rolled her eyes. "Maybe we could find a time machine, and fix everything," she said very sarcastically.

"Nah. Who knows what could have happened if those worms never ended up in my lunchbox?" Tabby questioned.

"It would be terribly exciting to find out..." Merry Treat said slowly.

"That's true. We gotta find a time machine, MT!" Tabby suddenly exclaimed.

Merry Treat got a crazed look in her eyes. "Yes, yes, yes! We gotta!"

"Ooh, we could have lots of fun, couldn't we?" Tabby said with an evil grin on her face.

"Wait, what would Sugarberry say if she knew we were plotting this?" Merry Treat paused in thought.

"She would say... hmm... that we shouldn't mess with the past?" Tabby tried.

"Hmm... yeah, she probably would... let's do it!" Merry Treat cried gleefully.

"We could always try to get her a higher-paying job. Hey, you sounded just like Max in that last line!" Tabby said, and started giggling.

"I did? Cool!" Merry Treat giggled as well.

"How are we gonna find a time machine, though?" Tabby asked.

"Hmm... does Spike have any metal detectors?" Merry Treat pondered.

"Maybe. He does have dominion over all of Paradise Estate. Are time machines made of metal?" Tabby wondered.

Merry Treat shrugged. "I dunno. If they are, we'll be ready with a metal detector. Spike can come with us, if he wants."

"Oh, no. Let's just keep it between us two," Tabby said quickly.

Merry Treat started laughing insanely. "Bwahahaha! Okay!"

"Let's go find Spike!" Tabby gushed, and the two scribbled out a note for their Pokèmon, bolted from the Pokèmon Center, and dashed to Paradise Estate.

* * *

Soon afterwards, the two ponies stood in front of the large pink building that was Paradise Estate. Merry Treat knocked on the door. "Hey, Spike! It's Tabby and MT! You here?" she called.

A few moments later, the door was answered by the small pink and green dragon. "Hey, guys! Come on in!" he welcomed his friends.

"Hey, Spike! MT n' I need to ask you something of upmost importance," Tabby rattled off.

"Sure! What is it?" Spike asked with curiosity in his voice.

"Do you have any metal detectors?" Merry Treat questioned almost immediately after the dragon had finished talking.

"I think so. Why?" Spike said, furrowing his brow.

"MT n' I are gonna go see if we can find a time--" Tabby started, but was quickly silenced by a jab from Merry Treat.

"A what?" the pinkish dragon questioned.

"She means that we need the metal detector to find spare change in the park, and we don't have time to waste," Merry Treat quickly explained.

Spike eyed the two suspiciously. "Why do you need change?"

"Well... er... we gotta find more money to buy more My Little People," Tabby said, trying to sound as believable as possible.

"You want more of them!? Don't you each have about a hundred of them already?" Spike laughed and turned to head down a hallway. He motioned for the two ponies to follow.

The three walked a short stretch of hallway before Spike stopped in front of a door and heaved it open. "This is my junk room. I don't know if you'll find any metal detectors, but this room is your best shot at it. I'm busy doing something upstairs, so you're on your own. If you need anything, just holler," the baby dragon quickly explained as the trio peered into the dark room.

"Okay, thanks, Spike!" Merry Treat said and fumbled around the wall with her hoof, searching for a light switch. The lights clicked on, revealing a room full of a wide assortment of miscellaneous junk.

"Good luck!" Spike smiled and headed up the stairs.

The pair of ponies watched as the dragon disappeared up the staircase. "Well, let's get started!" Tabby exclaimed, grabbing Merry Treat's foreleg and pulling her along with her as she pranced into the room.

They split up and began digging through piles. "Gosh, I had no idea that we left this much stuff here when we went to live in our own houses," Merry Treat commented as she tossed aside an old-looking book. She wasn't looking where she was throwing, and it ended up hitting Tabby in the head.

"Ouch! MT, watch where you're throwin' stuff!" Tabby cried and rubbed her head.

"Sorry, Tab," Merry Treat blushed. "I'll be more careful," she promised.

"I didn't think everyone would have had this much stuff, either. You'd think they would have taken more stuff with them when they moved into houses," Tabby mused.

"That's right; your mother owned that huge mansion, and you were living there long before the big move out of Paradise Estate," Merry Treat recalled.

But Tabby wasn't listening any more. She was looking at an old picture she'd found. "MT, isn't this our old school picture?"

"What? Lemme see!" Merry Treat walked over to where her friend was kneeling, and took a look for herself. "O-o-o-oh, interesting."

The picture was of twelve baby ponies, and a teacher that they couldn't remember. "Is that Miss Hackney?" Tabby said as her eyes grew wide.

"Yeah... I think so... oh my gosh, she was pretty!" Merry Treat exclaimed. "She's our age now in that picture!"

"Yeah... it's hard to believe that Miss Hackney was actually twenty once!" Tabby giggled as she scanned the picture over again. "Let's see... there's me... there's Tex, unfortunately... there's you... there's Sugarberry..."

"There's Lofty... there's Surprise... there's Firefly... there's Fizzy... there's Mimic... there's Medley... there's Moondancer..." Merry Treat took over. "Hm, I wonder who that pony is!" She pointed at a pink female baby pony with golden hair and a rose symbol.

"I don't know... I think she moved away. I've never seen her since," Tabby said. She thought for a moment before exclaiming, "Oh, wait! Now I remember! She was Miss Hackney's niece. I don't remember much else."

"Oh, yeah! I think I know! She transferred to another school a few years later," Merry Treat said as the memory came back. "At least, I think that's what happened..."

Tabby shrugged and set the picture back in the box. "Oh, well. We can worry about that later. We still need to find a metal detector."

Merry Treat nodded in agreement. "Okay. But I think I see one over there." She pointed at a nearby pile.

The two rushed over to the pile Merry Treat had pointed at, and furiously began digging to uncover the item they thought they had spotted. "Ah-hah! I found one!" Tabby cried triumphantly and held up the device.

"Wha-hoo! Let's go on our search for a time machine now!" Merry Treat squealed with happiness.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah! Let's go tell Spike we're leaving!" Tabby cried in the same excited tone.

After calling up the stairs to their friend that they were leaving, Merry Treat and Tabby didn't bother to see whether Spike had heard them or not as they excitedly left the building.

* * *

Tabby seemed to have an idea where to head on their search, and several minutes later she and Merry Treat stood on the path leading into the Dark Forest. "You think we're gonna find anything?" Merry Treat glanced at her companion.

"Of course! Where else would someone put a time machine?" Tabby said cheerfully and switched on the metal detector. "The Dark Forest is the perfect place to look."

"Alrighty! Let's go!" Merry Treat strode boldly forward with Tabby following behind.

It seemed like they hadn't gone far when the metal detector started beeping. "Hey, I... I think it detected something!" Tabby breathed, and the two abruptly halted.

"Where's it picking up the signal?" Merry Treat asked excitedly.

"I don't know..." Tabby slowly moved the detector back and forth. The signal got stronger as she moved it towards the left. "It's coming from... that way!" she declared after a moment.

"C'mon, let's go!" Merry Treat exclaimed, and the two walked off the path and continued deeper into the forest, with the beeping of the detector their only guide.

The further they went, the louder the beeping got, until Merry Treat and Tabby reached a clearing with a large, strange-looking machine in. It was circular-shaped, and looked like it had been squashed by something big.

"Whoa! What is that thing!?" Merry Treat gasped.

"I... I think it's a time machine!" Tabby breathed in an awed whisper.

"Wow... but it's smashed. We won't be able to use it!" Merry Treat sighed with dismay.

"Don't give up, MT! It's probably still functional! We just need to fix it!" Tabby said encouragingly. "I told you we'd find one in the Dark Forest. It's no bother that it's a bit beat-up."

"But how are we gonna fix it? It looks like a dinosaur stepped on it!" Merry Treat said in an agitated voice.

"Well... eh... I don't know... hmm..." Tabby appeared to be deep in thought. "Hey, maybe it's an Atlantean time machine!"

Merry Treat went up to the machine and began inspecting it. "Hmm... what's this button do?" she said curiously, mainly to herself.

"What's what button do?" Tabby prodded and walked up to the white pony.

Merry Treat was eyeing a small red button on the outside of the hull. There was something written above it, but it was undecipherable. Tabby squinted. "Let's see... it says... something about ‘Emergency Repair'."

"Emergency Repair!?" Merry Treat exclaimed.

The two ponies looked at each other, and both hit the button at the same time. The time machine-- so they hoped-- glowed for a moment, and began to vanish. Merry Treat and Tabby let out a shriek and dashed for the safety of the trees.

"What did we do!?" Merry Treat shouted in confusion.

"I don't know! All we did was hit a button!" Tabby cried in the same frightened tone.

The machine suddenly appeared again... looking just like new. "Well, what d'ya know! We fixed it!" Tabby said in amusement and laughed.

"C'mon! Let's see if it works!" Merry Treat gushed and breezed up to the machine with Tabby close behind.

They opened the door of the contraption and looked inside. The interior of the thing looked like a typical spaceship out of a movie. There were seats for the pilots, some sort of a control board with lots of miscellaneous knobs and buttons on it, and a front mirror; everything was in shades of gray and brown.

"Well... this is interesting," Merry Treat commented as the two stepped inside.

"Terribly bland colors, though," Tabby remarked offhandedly.

Merry Treat seated herself in one of the seats. "Hmm..."

Tabby sat down on the seat next to her. "What do all the knobs and buttons do?" she questioned.

"Well... there's this little wheel thing. Hmm... ah-hah! You turn the wheel to what year you want to go to!" Merry Treat exclaimed after a few minutes of studying the control board.

"And here's a thing for the day of the week! And here's another one for the month, and the day!" Tabby cried and pointed to the appropriate knobs. She looked over the board a moment more. "And a ‘Go' button, too!"

"All right! Tabby, what day was it when Tex put those worms in your lunchbox?" Merry Treat asked, her hoof poised, ready to turn the wheel. "Hmm... I think I remember the year, anyway," she thought for a moment. "Let's see... if I was born in nineteen seventy-four, and we were both eleven or twelve when that incident happened..." she calculated on her hooves.

"Well?" Tabby asked anxiously.

"Nineteen eighty-six," Merry Treat confirmed. She spun the wheel to that year.

"I remember the day now! It was the fifteenth of August!" Tabby exclaimed in remembrance. "That's Callie's birthday, too."

Merry Treat set the date. "Alrighty! You ready?" She placed her hoof over the "Go" button.

Tabby thought for a second. "Yes, but we'd better write down today's date so we'll be able to come home okay."

Merry Treat nodded in agreement and took out a scrap sheet of paper from her pocket. "What's today's date?"

"It's the seventeenth of October, nineteen ninety-nine," Tabby confirmed.

Merry Treat scribbled this down with a pen, and stuffed the piece back in her pocket. "Ready to go now?"

Tabby nodded quickly, and Merry Treat hit down on the "Go" button. There was suddenly a strange glowing all around them, and everything seemed to turn white.

"What's going on!?" Tabby exclaimed, suddenly afraid.

The clock on the dashboard (which they had just then taken the time to notice) started going backwards. They watched the forest outside the window of the pod as it went from night, then to day, then to night, then to day, then to night, then to day, then to night-- they lost count of how many times this happened. After what seemed to be only five minutes, the clock suddenly stopped.

The two ponies sat in silence for a few moments, stunned. "You all right, Merry Treat?" Tabby breathed, wide eyed.

"Yeah... yeah, I guess so. Did it work?" Merry Treat glanced at her friend with wide eyes.

"I'm... I'm not sure. Let's... let's take a look outside," Tabby said in a shaky voice.

Cautiously, the pair opened the door and slowly stepped outside. The air was a hot summer temperature, and the trees were full of leafy green leaves. "Well, I guess it worked," Merry Treat said after a few minutes of looking around.

"Wow, everything looks pretty much the same..." Tabby trailed off.

"Yeah, no kidding," Merry Treat said in agreement. "Let's go see if Dream Valley looks the same as in the future."

The two wandered around the forest for a bit trying to find the well-known path. They eventually found their way out, but still found no path. "Hmm, let's see... in sixth grade, we were still living in Paradise Estate," Merry Treat figured. "Well, you weren't, Tabby, but most of the rest of the town was. So that means the town's gonna look a lot different."

Tabby nodded in agreement. "Yes, but the school's still gonna be in the same place."

"Yup! We'd better try to find it," Merry Treat declared, and the two trotted forwards in an attempt to find their way to the landmark.

* * *

About an hour later, Merry Treat and Tabby appeared in front of the school. "It looks exactly how I remember it!" Merry Treat marveled.

"Yeah... creepy!" Tabby agreed.

They heard shouts from baby ponies on the playground. "C'mon!" Merry Treat grabbed her friend's foreleg and pulled her along behind her.

The two dashed behind the building, and ducked behind some bushes. They could see Baby Tex digging up worms out of the dirt in one corner of the playground.

"There's the little brat!" Tabby said menacingly. "He's gonna put those in my lunchbox! That-- that-- creep!"

"Shh! He might hear you!" Merry Treat hissed and clapped a hoof over Tabby's mouth. Baby Tex, however, appeared to be too engrossed in his task to even be aware of the fact that he was being spied upon.

"But we gotta stop him!" Tabby jerked her friend's hoof off of her mouth in anger. "O-o-oh, that little jerk makes me so mad!"

"He's not going to do it if we can help it! C'mon! We gotta somehow convince him not to do it!" Merry Treat grabbed Tabby's foreleg and hurried over to the bushes behind where Baby Tabby and Baby Sugarberry were just setting their lunchboxes down. Baby Merry Treat was sitting by herself in the corner with her lunch. She was eating quietly and gazing off into space.

"Gee, MT, you look pretty lonely," Tabby commented.

Merry Treat was gazing at the small figure that was her past self. Pain washed over her face and sorrow filled her eyes. "Yes, I was extremely lonely. Almost no one wanted to be my friend..." A small tear fell down her face.

Tabby looked at her friend sympathetically. She had been an acquaintance of the Christmas-themed pony at the time, and had rather liked her. Almost without thinking, Tabby lay a hoof on her friend's shoulder. "I'm sorry."

"It's all right." Merry Treat turned and smiled at Tabby. "I have an idea as to how to get Tex not to put those worms in your lunchbox."

"How? How?" Tabby's eyes lit up eagerly.

"Just a simple matter of changing shape..." Merry Treat took out her special disguise pen, granted to her because of her position as Sailor Fauna, one of the Sailor Scouts. "I did have quite an imagination at the time, so this should work!"

Tabby eyed Merry Treat suspiciously. "What are you going to do?"

Merry Treat winked at Tabby. "You'll see!" She held the pen up. "Disguise power! Change me into a song bird!" In a flash, Merry Treat had transformed into a small robin.

Tabby gazed at the robin with wonder. "Whoa!"

"I'll be back!" Merry Treat chirped, and fluttered up into the branches of the tree that Baby Merry Treat was leaning against. Baby Merry Treat bit into an apple and continued to gaze off into space. She hadn't heard the bird land above her.

From the safety of the bushes, Tabby watched with interest. "What are you up to, MT? You didn't tell me," she muttered under her breath.

From the branch, Merry Treat chirped something out to the baby pony. "Baby Merry Treat!"

Baby Merry Treat stopped gazing for a moment, and looked around with excitement in her eyes. "Hello? Who's calling me?"

"Baby Merry Treat, I can't tell you who I am, but you must listen. Something awful is going to happen if you don't."

Baby Merry Treat stood up and nodded solemnly with her mouth open in wonder. "I'll listen. What is it? What's going to happen?"

"Baby Merry Treat, look over there, where Baby Tabby and Baby Sugarberry are. They have identical lunchboxes because they are best friends. You must switch around the name tags on each box when they go off to play on the playground," the robin that was Merry Treat chirped.

Baby Merry Treat began looking for the source of the voice. "Why? They'll remember which lunch is whose, won't they?"

"Yes, they will; but it'll be much better for both of them if you do as I say," Merry Treat explained.

Baby Merry Treat nodded solemnly, believing in this mysterious voice. As soon as Baby Tabby and Baby Sugarberry had scampered off to the swingset, she saw her opportunity.

* * *

The adult Tabby watched with interest as Baby Tex walked over to the spot where the two unattended lunchboxes sat, clutching a handful of wiggly, slimy worms in his hoof. Baby Merry Treat had already done her job of changing the name tags on them.

I do hope Baby Sugarberry doesn't have a heart-attack and die when she sees those worms, Tabby thought in concern. She momentarily considered walking out there and disposing of the worms completely, but she didn't want to get near those creepy things, or risk being seen. Oh, well, she consoled herself, I'm sure Baby Sugarberry will take it better than I did. Tabby recalled that afternoon spent in the principal's office after screaming at Tex about those worms.

"What's happened so far?" Merry Treat asked anxiously, crouching down by her friend again after changing back into her proper pony form.

"Baby Tex placed the worms in Baby Sugarberry's lunchbox a few minutes ago," Tabby whispered. "The creep."

"And here come you and Sugarberry," Merry Treat noted.

"Woah, it's weird seeing our past selves," Tabby breathed. "It's, like, totally weird."

Baby Sugarberry and Baby Tabby seated themselves on the ground, and each reached for her lunchbox. Baby Tabby nonchalantly opened hers. "That test today was really awful, wasn't it, Baby Sugarberry? How good do you think you did on it?"

Baby Sugarberry did not reply, however. The white earth pony had just opened the lid of her lunchbox. Her eyes opened wide. She screamed.

Baby Tabby, in turn, screamed as well. That was normal for her; whenever another pony screamed, she would scream along with them, even before she knew what was upsetting them. Baby Sugarberry continued shrieking as her lunchbox clattered to the ground. She ran across the playground, and cowered behind the bars of the swingset.

"Oh, gross, worms!" Baby Tabby said in disgust, backing off, too.

Behind the bushes, Tabby began talking to Merry Treat. "Now, I started screaming my head off, and Baby Sugarberry didn't know what to think until I threw my lunchbox into the bushes." She paused. "Gosh, I'm glad that didn't happen this time. Anyhow, once I got collected again, I confronted Tex, and then I started screaming at him, and then the teacher came over..."

"Baby Sugarberry, Baby Tabby, what's going on here?" The teacher in charge of monitoring the playground, a pale lavender pegasus with vibrant aqua hair, came over.

"There's worms in my lunchbox," Baby Sugarberry stuttered. "Somebody put them there. Oh, they're so ugly!"

"That's what happened," Baby Tabby affirmed.

"Worms, you say?" The teacher raised her eyebrows. "Baby Tabby, are you sure you didn't have anything to do with this?"

Baby Sugarberry's eyes opened wide at the possibility that her best friend had done this to her. "Baby Tabby..."

"Hey!" Baby Tabby looked indignant. "I would never touch such hideous creatures. I'd die before I did that. Baby Sugarberry, I didn't do it! Please don't be mad..."

"Who else was in the area when this occurred?" the teacher said sternly.

"Well... there was..." Baby Sugarberry searched her brain slowly.

"There was Baby Merry Treat," Baby Tabby said after a moment of thought. "But she would never do something like this."

"It was me," came a meek voice as a yellow baby brother pony stepped forward. "Don't blame Baby Tabby. I did it."

"Baby Tex," Baby Sugarberry whispered, still wobbling from her fright. "How could you?"

"Yes," the teacher said sternly, "this was very bad behavior on your part, Baby Tex."

"I thought I put the worms in Baby Tabby's lunch," Baby Tex further explained.

"What?" Baby Tabby shrieked.

"But why would you have done that?" Baby Sugarberry gasped.

"Probably because I said his Texan accent was really stupid earlier," Baby Tabby said knowledgeably.

"Well... yes, I did do it to get back at you for that," Baby Tex admitted.

"That wasn't nice to either of us," Baby Sugarberry protested. "I hate worms."

"So do I," Baby Tabby agreed.

"But I didn't think it was fair that Baby Tabby was getting accused," Baby Tex mumbled.

"That's a nice thought," the teacher said seriously, "but Baby Tex, you and Baby Sugarberry will still have to go to the principal's office to talk over this incident. Come on, I'll take you there now..."

From her hiding place in the bushes opposite where her older counterpart was couched, Baby Merry Treat heaved a sigh of relief. "Phew! Thank goodness none of them spotted me!"

Baby Tabby watched as the three headed inside the school building, her eyes shining. "How perfectly honorable of him," she sighed blissfully, "even if he does have that accent..."

"Does she like this guy, or what?" Baby Merry Treat commented after hearing Baby Tabby's romantic remark.

The adult Tabby and Merry Treat, however, weren't aware of the last part of the incident. They had taken off right after the teacher had appeared on the scene, for they had noticed an older baby pony coming dangerously close to their position in the bushes.

"Want to check out any place else?" Merry Treat questioned as the two walked past Paradise Estate.

Tabby shivered without thinking. "Let's go back home-- that is, the present-- that is, the future-- that is.. oh, you know what I mean. This time travel is making me feel really creepy."

"Yeah, you're right," Merry Treat agreed. "I'd be happy to be hanging out with the gang at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe right now."

This decided upon, Tabby and Merry Treat headed back to the time machine in the Dark Forest.

* * *

The process of getting back to September of nineteen ninety-nine was much the same as it had taken to get to August of nineteen eighty-six. Merry Treat still had the correct date with her that she had written down, and she carefully adjusted the dials. The same white light filled the world; and when it went away, the window they looked out showed the ominous trees of the Dark Forest with their bright orange and yellow leaves falling to the ground.

"This feels a lot better," Tabby said in relief, stepping outside. "But isn't this a different part of the forest than before?"

Merry Treat shrugged. "Who can tell? Especially with time travel."

"Let's just head back to Dream Valley," Tabby said eagerly. "I can't wait to get to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe."

"It looks like it's about the right time of evening for that," Merry Treat agreed. "Let's hurry!"

Tabby and Merry Treat took off running on the familiar path of the Dark Forest, and in what seemed to be no time at all they were standing in front of the door of the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

"Hey, are we gonna tell anybody about this?" Merry Treat questioned before turning the doorknob.

"I don't know..." Tabby said slowly. "Oh, let's just not worry about it."

"Alrighty then." Merry Treat strode up to the counter. "A chocolate sundae for me," she requested of Scoops.

"And a strawberry sundae!" Tabby added quickly.

Scoops smiled at the two. "Hi, Merry Treat and Tabby! I thought you just left, Tabby."

"No-o-o..." A shadow of confusion crossed Tabby's face. "We just got here."

"Oh. Maybe it was Tamara, then... but..." Scoops furrowed her brow. "Never mind. That'll be three jangles."

Each taking her sundae once Scoops had placed them on the counter, Tabby and Merry Treat looked around the shop for any of their friends. At one of the center tables, they spotted Sugarberry, Chocolate Chip, and Steamer.

"Hey, Sug!" Tabby greeted her friend. "Anything interesting happen at the clinic today?"

"The clinic? You mean the veterinarian clinic?" Sugarberry queried. "Well, of any of us here, Merry Treat would probably know the most on that," she winked at the Christmas pony.

Merry Treat was slightly confused by this last comment, but pushed it to the back of her mind. "Yeah, Sug, and what's Steamer doing here?" she said jokingly. "Have you been secretly seeing him all this time?"

"You two are certainly in a good mood tonight," Chocolate Chip commented, raising an eyebrow.

Sugarberry just laughed at Merry Treat's question. "Don't tell me you've forgotten about Steamer since last evening!"

"Sugarberry and I have only been married five years now," Steamer added in a jovial tone.

"And, Tabby, didn't you just leave with Tex?" Chocolate Chip interrupted.

"That's right! Nothing happened, did it?" Sugarberry asked, changing to a concerned voice.

"Tex?" Tabby echoed. "What are you talking about, Sug?"

"Yeah, Tabby would never stand to be seen alone with Tex!" Merry Treat added.

The three at the table exchanged confused glances. "Did we miss a break-up or something?" Steamer said skeptically.

"Well... eh... um... you're right. And we'd better be going now. See ya!" Merry Treat said quickly as she grabbed Tabby's foreleg and pulled her out the door. Their sundaes were forgotten at Sugarberry's table.

"What's going on here?" Tabby said, her face quivering, as she looked into Merry Treat's eyes.

"I'm not sure, but let's not jump to conclusions just yet," Merry Treat said consolingly, not wanting her friend to start panicking. "Maybe they were just joking back there. Let's go to your house and see what Tamara's up to."

"Alright." Tabby shakingly followed behind Merry Treat as they trotted along the familiar streets.

* * *

"Merry Treat," Tabby stated, "something is wrong." The two ponies stood in the doorway of the living room of Tabby's house.

Seated on the chairs surrounding the coffee table were ponies Tabby and Merry Treat recognized as Cliff, Tamara, Clever Clover, and Tiffany. Except for Tamara and Tiffany, none of these four ponies were usually seen together.

"Hello, Tabitha," Tamara said cordially. "Weren't you going to a movie with Tex this evening? But have a seat, if you like. And you too, Merry Treat. By the way, where's Thomas?"

"What are you all doing in my house?" Tabby stuttered. "Especially Cliff-- I mean-- what's he doing here?" Cliff was a stallion from Friendship Gardens who had been trying to attract Tabby's attention a year or so ago. Tabby couldn't stand the guy, as he was only into extreme sports and that alternative music. Frankly, she had been overjoyed when he'd mysteriously disappeared awhile ago.

Tamara's eyes flew open. "Tabitha, I don't seem to remember you having anything against Cliff the last time you saw him."

"The last time she saw him was months ago; she couldn't stand him then, as I recall," Merry Treat declared.

Cliff looked taken aback. "Tabitha, you always said I was a delightful companion for your cousin."

"That's right," Tiffany sniffed. "Have you developed a dislike for Clever Clover since yesterday, too?"

"She just healed his Rattata this morning," Merry Treat said in defense of her friend.

"That's right!" Tabby agreed.

"My Rattata?" Clever Clover said, puzzled. "I haven't done any battling for over a week, and--"

"He's been too busy taking me out to delightful restaurants," Tiffany said, batting her eyelashes.

"--and you're not any Pokèmon nurse, anyway," Clever Clover finished.

"Hey, and where's Toby, Tiff?" Tabby protested.

"Toby? Why are you bringing him up?" Tamara snapped. "Tabitha, you're being just plain mean tonight."

"Toby is probably with Berry Bright," Tiffany sniffed. "It's a good thing, too, or she may have stolen Clever Clover from me." She batted her eyelashes a few more times.

"This is really weird," Merry Treat gulped.

"Perhaps you need a rest, Tabitha," Cliff suggested. "With such a busy life, you may be having delusions from all your work."

"Why-- why--" Tabby fumed.

"Tabby, come on." Without another word, Merry Treat quickly pulled Tabby outside again, closing the door securely behind her.

"I don't think we should have used that time machine," Tabby said chokingly as the two quietly walked along the darkening street.

"I know," Merry Treat said helplessly. "Our only chance to get everything back is to return to nineteen eighty-six and divert what we did."

"I didn't know changing one thing would do all this," Tabby said softly.

"Let's find a place to sleep for the night," Merry Treat suggested, "and we'll go back to the time machine in the morning."

"Is any place the same?" Tabby moaned. "Does Sugarberry even live next door to me any more?" She glanced down the street at the familiar house, hearing gleeful shouts of baby ponies coming out of it.

"We can always disguise ourselves-- I have my pen, and you have your unicorn magic-- to change what we look like," Merry Treat suggested. "Then we could just act like strangers to this town, and somebody could rent us bedrooms for the night."

"Oh, let's do that," Tabby said wearily. "I can't stand always having Tex brought up when I'm around."

"And I seem to be somehow connected to the clinic," Merry Treat puzzled.

"Well-- anyway--" Tabby jumped behind a small grove of trees in someone's yard and began her transformation. Her horn began to glow, and soon she had changed herself into a bright purple pony with white hair.

Using her transformation pen, Merry Treat became a green pony with yellow mane and tail. "How do I look?" she grinned at Tabby, trying to cheer her friend's gloomy face.

"What if we can't get our world back?" Tabby sighed. "What if we've screwed it up too drastically? What if we've--"

"This looks like a nice house here," Merry Treat decided, silencing Tabby. They peered up at the well-managed blue-sided dwelling they were standing in the yard of. "Come on, we'll go around to the front again and knock on the door. Then I'll ask if they'll let us stay the night."

"If they dare say a word about Tex, I'll simply die," Tabby moaned. "I'm sick of hearing about Tex. I don't want his name mentioned again in my presence. Why are they always mentioning his name in my presence?"

"You don't look a thing like Tabby, and I don't look a thing like Merry Treat," Merry Treat assured her. "Now, don't say anything suspicious. We'll fix everything in the morning." Stepping up on the porch of the house, she knocked firmly on the door.

A few minutes later, just when the two had about given up hope of anyone being around, the door began to open. And standing inside was-- Merry Treat!

The disguised Merry Treat was taken quite by surprise at this turn of events, but gulped down any unnecessary shriek. How was it that, out of all the houses in Dream Valley, they had happened to pick the one where her alter-self was living? She wondered what the story was behind why her alter-self was living in this house-- apparently just recently constructed.

"Excuse me," Merry Treat began, trying to sound confident of herself, "my sister and I just arrived in town." She gestured behind herself at the disguised Tabby. "We were just wondering if you'd be able to rent us some rooms for us to lodge in for the night."

"Oh, you just got here?" the alter-Merry Treat said sympathetically. "Where did you travel from? When did you eat last?"

"We come from... oh... across the mountains," Merry Treat said vaguely. "My name is... Moonglow, and--"

"Hello-o-o-o there, and I am her sister, Moonglimmer," Tabby introduced herself, regaining some of her personality.

The two "sisters" seemed to touch the alter-Merry Treat's heart. "Certainly, certainly, come in," she invited. "I'll be happy to let you use the spare bedrooms. Follow me, and I'll get you something to eat."

"Well, Merry Treat, now we can see how we've changed your life," Tabby whispered in her friend's ear. "Won't this be exciting?"

"Fascinating," Merry Treat agreed, trailing along behind her alter-self through the soft, carpeted hallway.

"Here's some chocolate chip cookies if you'd like them," the alter-Merry Treat mumbled, rummaging through her kitchen cupboards as Tabby and Merry Treat seated themselves at the table. "And I can pour you some milk-- or some interesting pink fruit drink," she giggled. "My sister just gave it to me, and said it was too sweet, but I loved it."

"See? Not everything has changed," Merry Treat whispered to Tabby.

Tabby slowly munched on one of the chocolate chip cookies she had been offered, and was beginning to feel more herself again-- as much herself as she could feel in this strange reality, at least. Merry Treat also helped herself to the cookies and milk.

Hey, where's Tess and Spearow? Merry Treat suddenly realized. "Are you the only one living here?" she prodded of her alter-self.

"There's my husband and my cat," the alter-Merry Treat reported, "but I'm sure they won't mind that I'm letting you stay for the night. I'd better go tell them about you two. Be right back!" She quickly excused herself from the kitchen, and strolled off through the doorway.

"I'm married already!" Merry Treat exclaimed once her alter-self was out of hearing range. "Hmm... there's no Tarquin or Tess!"

"Unless she was referring to Tess as ‘my cat'," Tabby mused. "But-- oh dear! Tarquin!"

"We haven't heard any mention of Tarquin, Tess, or Spearow," Merry Treat said, wide-eyed.

"We have to have our Pokèmon!" Tabby argued. "We just... have to."

"Now, she probably just didn't mention Tess or Spearow because she didn't want to scare us with Pokèmon right away, in case we didn't know what they were," Merry Treat said reasonably. "And Tarquin was probably just up in your room, talking to Tess on the phone or something."

"That's true," Tabby said in relief. "I'd hate to think of our alter-selves being that changed."

"So I must have a real cat," Merry Treat mused. "She's probably awfully cute."

"Now I have some introductions to make to you, Moonglow and Moonglimmer!" the voice of Merry Treat's alter-self announced, reappearing in the doorway. "First, there's my husband, Thomas. Thomas, this is Moonglow and Moonglimmer. They're sisters from--"

Tabby's face froze, and she lost track of what the alter-Merry Treat was saying. Any kind thoughts she had built-up for this other reality were immediately broken into bits as she took note of the familiar white unicorn stallion standing next to the alter-Merry Treat's side. Merry Treat's husband... Thomas... married... the thoughts raced through Tabby's head, and with a bad attempt at stifling a sob, she bolted out a small side-door of the kitchen.

"Uh..... did I say something wrong?" the alter-Merry Treat questioned with concern as she exchanged nervous glances between Thomas and the disguised Merry Treat.

"Oh dear... uh... eh..." Merry Treat faltered, staring at the open door her friend had just run out. "She tends to get rather... umm... skittish at times." She pushed back her chair. "And I'd better go after her." Merry Treat dashed out the door in search of Tabby, leaving the couple staring after them in confusion.

Tabby, meanwhile, had run into the woods that bordered the back property of the house before tripping herself. She had, without knowing it, changed back to her proper colors and sat there in a disorganized heap, sobbing her eyes out.

"Tabby!" Merry Treat said in a pleading tone, catching up to her. "I didn't know..."

"It's not... your... fault," Tabby said through a strained voice, trying to swallow down her tears.

At first, Merry Treat could only stand by helplessly as her friend's heart crumbled. When she was able to move again, she walked over to the pink unicorn. Sadly, she knelt next to Tabby in the grass, and laid a hoof on her shoulder. Using her free hoof, she gently lifted the unicorn's chin so she could look in her eyes. "Tabby, I'm so sorry. We had no idea this was going to happen. But you've got to pull yourself together. You know as well as I do that if that was the real me in there, I wouldn't ever dream of taking Thomas away from you," the white pony said soothingly.

"But... I... I... can't... help it, MT! This is the worst thing that's ever happened to me! Thomas is..." Tabby sobbed and broke down crying.

Sadly, Merry Treat pulled Tabby close to her, wanting to keep away the pain that was filling the unicorn's heart. Who knew how long they sat outside after Tabby had calmed down.

"Are you okay?" Merry Treat asked anxiously once the unicorn was silent.

"MT, would you be okay in this situation? Everything's ruined. Why did we have to use the stupid time machine? How are we ever going to fix this? Our lives are a mess, and we're stuck here as strangers, and--" Tabby rambled hysterically.

"Calm down, Tabby, calm down! We can still use the time machine. We'll just go back to nineteen eighty-six and not get in the way," Merry Treat said soothingly.

"Then I'm not waiting any longer than I have to," Tabby said with new determination, struggling into a standing position. "I'm going to find it tonight."

"Well..." Merry Treat hesitated. "We ought to at least go back and tell them that we're leaving."

"You can go back if you wish. I'm not," Tabby said simply, taking a step forward into the forest.

"Okay, I'll catch up with you in a few minutes... don't do anything without me," Merry Treat pleaded, turning back.

Tabby silently nodded her head in reply, but didn't stop walking. Merry Treat's still-green body blended in well with the dark forest as she slowly plodded back to the house, trying to come up with a reasonable story for Tabby's abrupt departure.

"Is everything all right? Where's your sister?" the alter-Merry Treat asked in concern as "Moonglow" wearily trotted back up to the open door.

"Oh, Moonglimmer's very easily startled. She's been like that since she was a baby pony," Merry Treat said quickly, and she took note of a furry cat body wrapping itself around her front legs.

"Catalina, let's not disturb Moonglow." The alter-Merry Treat swiftly scooped her cat up off the floor.

"That's okay," Merry Treat said, attempting a smile. "I like cats."

"And where did Moonglimmer run off to?" Thomas questioned.

"Um..." Merry Treat faltered. "Well, you see, we decided-- well, we found where a friend was living-- I mean, Moonglimmer just found their address that we thought we'd lost-- so we thought we wouldn't bother you and would head over their. To our friend's place. So, uh, thanks for everything; we really appreciate it and all." With that hurried speech, Merry Treat took off back onto the street and circled around back to the forest, as to not be seen going that way.

"Funny," the alter-Merry Treat commented to her husband, "that sounds like something I'd say."

* * *

Tabby, in the meantime, had gotten herself lost. She had thought she'd found the path in the Dark Forest that led to the time machine, but she must have wandered off it. It was pitch-black out now, and without any path, there was no way to tell where she was.

Tabby was just about to collapse again and start wailing when she caught a small, but bright, flash of light from the nearby bushes. She curiously approached the foliage. There was something about that flash that had been awfully familiar.

Brushing the branches aside, Tabby gasped as she saw the source of the bright flash. It had obviously come from the gold charm of the Meowth that was hiding in the bushes-- a Meowth that could be no other than her beloved Tarquin, she was sure!

The beige cat-like creature was immediately on the alert. He jumped to his feet and leaped forward; but luckily, Tabby was skilled in the behavior of Meowths, and avoided the scratches to her face.

"Tarquin, Tarquin!" she cried out. "Don't attack me! If even you turn on me, I'll-- I'll--" Tabby turned away then, and brushed a tear from her eye.

The Pokèmon relaxed himself, but had a confused expression on his face. "How do you know that's my name?" he asked cautiously.

"Then it is you!" Tabby said gleefully. "Oh, Tarquin!"

"Aren't you that Tabitha from town? Or her cousin?" The Meowth looked at her closely. "There's something mysterious up, isn't there?"

"Oh, I am Tabby," the pink unicorn said earnestly, "but no Tabby you've ever heard of. This isn't the real present world, you must understand. Merry Treat and I found this time machine, and we've screwed everything up terribly, and it's the most awful alternate-reality I could have dreamed up!"

"You found the time machine, did you? I've seen that," the Meowth said knowledgeably.

"Do you know where it is?" Tabby asked eagerly. "I'm trying to find it, but I got lost, and Merry Treat's out there somewhere, too, and--"

"Sure, I know where it is," Tarquin said nonchalantly. "I never used it, though. You actually know me in your world?"

"Oh, yes! You're my most beloved pet in the world."

"I don't seem like anything this Tabitha would think about."

"What is my alter-self doing, anyway?"

"Tabby! There you are!" All of a sudden, Merry Treat came bounding up, changed back to her proper white, green, and red colors. "Are you talking to somebody? Hey, it's a-- no, it can't be--"

"He's Tarquin," Tabby said happily, turning to her friend. "He's the most sane character out of this world that we've found yet."

"So you're still out wandering in the wild," Merry Treat said softly, crouching down by the Meowth.

"Your friend?" Tarquin questioned, looking up at Tabby.

"Uh-huh, she's Merry Treat. And Merry Treat, Tarquin here says he knows where the time machine is!" Tabby announced.

"Oh!" Merry Treat clapped her hooves together. "Tarkie, that's wonderful!"

"It would still be better to wait for daylight until I lead you two to it," Tarquin advised. "Would you mind spending the night in the forest?"

"Not if we can spend it sitting around and talking," Tabby said. "Tarkie, I've got to know. What am I doing in this world?"

"And how did I end up marrying Thomas?" Merry Treat added.

Tarquin nodded. "You want your life histories, I suppose? I'll see what I can do. Sit down." After Tabby and Merry Treat had seated themselves on the forest floor, he began. "Tabby-- she's better known as Tabitha, actually-- is a voice actress, from what I know."

"Gosh, a voice actress? I stopped pursuing that dream in sixth grade," Tabby breathed.

"And you're-- she's-- engaged to Tex," Tarquin continued.

"The worm incident really did change things, didn't it?" Merry Treat giggled.

"That's terrible!" Tabby gasped, her eyes flying open, and the comments made to her by Sugarberry and Scoops finally falling into place. "How in the world did I decide that-- well, not me, but you know-- and why, and--"

Tarquin simply closed his eyes and sat back smugly. "They've actually been engaged for a few years now, but her work keeps her busy. She's been hanging on his every word since he saved her from something to do with worms in their early school days."

"I really enjoy having Tex as an enemy more than I do knowing my alter-self is his fiancé," Tabby scowled.

"How do you know all this, Tarkie?" Merry Treat questioned.

"Word gets around, just like I do," Tarquin said mysteriously. "I hang around that ice cream shop a lot; there's plenty of jangles dropped around there. And you hear many things."

"Tell me about my alter-self," Merry Treat prodded. "That is... if you don't mind, Tabby... you know I wouldn't..."

"I just want to get back," Tabby said, turning her head quietly.

"Ah, yes, Merry Treat." Tarquin settled himself in more comfortably. "She's married to the vet in town. They first met when he saved her cat's life."

"It's ironic that my alter-self's cat is named Catalina," Merry Treat reflected, "because that's the name of my Mew, too."

"There're many Mews running around in the forest," Tarquin said knowledgeably.

"And what's the deal with Sugarberry? And Cliff? And--" Tabby interrupted.

"One at a time!" Tarquin interrupted. "Sugarberry, you said? What does she look like?"

"She's a white earth pony with red hair and strawberries all over," Merry Treat filled-in quickly.

"I think I remember who she is," Tarquin said after a pause. "She's at the ice cream place a lot. Now, I think she's the librarian."

"It just doesn't seem right to think of her as doing anything except being the receptionist at the clinic," Tabby sighed.

"She's been married to Steamer awhile," Tarquin continued, "and they have a few baby ponies."

"We certainly got married quickly here," Merry Treat commented.

"Except for me-- my other me, you know," Tabby added. "At least the me of this world still hasn't completely lost her mind. Maybe she'll break off the engagement."

"But we won't have to worry about anything like that by morning," Merry Treat declared.

"Now, Tarkie, you just have to tell us about Cliff," Tabby pleaded. "He's the gray dude with green hair. How did Tamara start hanging out with him?"

"Cliff? Oh, he's been the banker in Dream Valley for several years," Tarquin said nonchalantly.

"The banker?" Tabby's eyes opened wide. "Cliff is a banker?"

"Why, what's the Cliff you know like?" Tarquin asked curiously.

"He's an idiot that leads a gang of ponies into extreme sports, and he listens to alternative music," Tabby explained. "What turned him into a banker?"

Tarquin shrugged. "I don't know. I've never heard anything about him being an extreme pony in the past."

"I guess we'll never know the story behind that," Merry Treat said. "But it would be interesting to know. An extreme sports pony to a banker?!"

(Author's note from Tabby-- The truth of the matter is that Cliff's father was the principal at the Dream Valley school at the time the worms were placed in Baby Tabby's lunchbox. Up until this point, Baby Cliff had been a refined baby pony and his father was scheduled to take him to clarinet practice the afternoon of the incident. However, because Baby Tabby was making such a fuss in the principal's office over how evil Baby Tex had been, Baby Cliff's father wasn't able to take his son to his music lesson. It was an absolute trauma to Baby Cliff to miss his clarinet practice, and it made him positively furious at his father. Therefore, he rebelled and went over to the extreme side of life.

However, in the alternate world, Baby Sugarberry did not create near the racket that Baby Tabby had with worms placed in her lunchbox. The case was cleared up quickly between Baby Sugarberry and Baby Tex, and Cliff's father was able to take Baby Cliff to his clarinet practice on time. And so, Baby Cliff grew up to be a dignified banker.)

Tabby was only dimly aware of Tarquin and Merry Treat talking in the background. "What's Butch doing? And is Clever Clover really dating Tiffany? How about..." And Tabby slowly drifted off to sleep.

* * *

"HOW CAN YOU GUYS STILL BE SLEEPING AT THIS TIME OF DAY, FOR PETE'S SAKE! WE'VE GOT TO GET BACK TO THE FUTURE!!" Tabby's voice echoed throughout the forest the next morning. "Or would that just be the present? Or the past? No, but then--"

Merry Treat began to stir, and yawned. "I guess you can sleep on the forest floor if you're tired enough," she mumbled, not fully-awake.

"You kept me up ‘till two o' clock answering questions," Tarquin said drowsily.

"It couldn't have been that late!" Merry Treat protested.

"Take us to the time machine, Tarquin!" Tabby instructed. "We haven't time to waste!"

"How about breakfast? Well..." Tarquin glanced at his companions. "I guess I don't have anything around that you two would eat. All right, follow me. We're going to the time machine."

Tabby nodded in satisfaction, and the two ponies fell in step behind the Meowth.

* * *

"Here you have it," Tarquin said proudly, pointing at the familiar time machine. "Told you I knew where it was."

"Oh, Tarquin, you're wonderful!" Tabby squealed, picking him up and squeezing him. "Even if you aren't exactly the real Tarquin... that is, my real Tarquin... that is..."

Tarquin struggled to free himself from Tabby's grasp. "Sure, sure," he said nonchalantly. "So, you can be on your way now."

"Thanks a bunch, Tarkie," Merry Treat smiled. Tarquin simply nodded and disappeared back into the forest.

Tabby, meanwhile, had gone inside the pod. "Merry Treat! Merry Treat, come on, get in here. You know how to set this thing up better than I do."

Merry Treat scurried inside as well and seated herself in front of the controls, and began the process again.

* * *

"This stupid time machine keeps changing where it lands," Tabby scowled, stepping back out into the forest of nineteen eighty-six.

"But I don't think we're far from the school at all this time," Merry Treat whispered. "I can hear baby ponies playing from here."

"You're right." Tabby paused to listen. "Now, exactly what are we going to do here? We've been to so many worlds I've confused myself. Well, not worlds, but times, but--"

"Let's put on our disguises again," Merry Treat directed. "There're a lot of possibilities for what could happen, so we'd better be prepared not to be recognized as Merry Treat and Tabby."

After changing into the color combinations for Moonglow and Moonglimmer, Tabby and Merry Treat set out, walking towards the sounds they could hear from the playground. Soon, they halted.

"Oh, dear. Time travel is too confusing," Tabby wailed, ducking behind a tree as they saw what was ahead of them.

A few yards beyond their outlook behind the tree crouched another Tabby and Merry Treat behind the bushes surrounding the playground-- the adult Tabby and Merry Treat, in addition to Baby Tabby and Baby Merry Treat. It appeared that Merry Treat was just preparing to change into a songbird.

"Don't stop to get confused; we've just got to stop them from doing anything," Merry Treat said urgently to Tabby.

"Well, what're we waiting for? Gosh, this is going to be a terribly dramatic entrance," Tabby said excitedly. She took a leap forward, and made her appearance in front of the past Merry Treat and Tabby.

"What're you doing here?" the past Tabby gasped, whirling around. "Who are you?"

"I'm here to stop you, so drop that pen of yours, Merry Treat!" Tabby commanded.

"That's right! It's for your own good; believe us!" Merry Treat appeared next to Tabby.

The past Merry Treat eyed the two suspiciously. "What about my pen?"

"The one you're going to use to change into a songbird," Tabby said matter-of-factly.

"This is our past we're dealing with, so you two stay out of it, whoever you are!" the past Tabby declared.

"Well, it's our past, too!" Tabby snapped. "...I think..."

"Something's up," the past Merry Treat said. "You two shouldn't have known about my transformation pen. You aren't from the Negaverse, are you?"

"Oh, stop babbling about the Negaverse," Tabby snapped.

"Never mind!" Merry Treat said quickly in defense of her past self. "It's not important."

"Then why are you here?" the past Tabby questioned. "We've got work to do!"

"Let's just put it in simple terms," Merry Treat said decisively. "We'll have a Pokèmon battle--"

"--and if you win, you can do as you want; but if we win, you've got to back off and go back to your time machine," Tabby finished.

"Huh!" The past Tabby tossed her mane. "I can beat you any day."

"It's decided, then?" Merry Treat grinned as she reached for one of her PokèBalls she had with her. Tabby followed suite.

"Vulpix, go!"

"Come on, Hitmonlee!"

Their past two selves were a little slower to react, but they still got their Pokèmon out within a few seconds of the others.

"Vulpix, go!"

"Come on, Hitmonlee!"

It was Merry Treat's Vulpix against Merry Treat's Vulpix, and Tabby's Hitmonlee against Tabby's Hitmonlee.

"Vulpix, Firespin, now!"

"Hitmonlee, uh... uh... do a High Jump Kick!"

Merry Treat's Vulpix fired a powerful funnel of fire at the opponent Vulpix just as the past Merry Treat was shouting, "Vulpix, Firespin, now!"

And Tabby's Hitmonlee got a wonderful, clean kick at the opponent Hitmonlee just as the past Tabby was stuttering, "Hitmonlee, uh... uh..."

The Vulpix and Hitmonlee belonging to the past Tabby and Merry Treat wobbled on their feet, stunned, before their trainers called them back. "But... I didn't..." the past Tabby gaped.

"WE WON, WE WON! MERRY TREAT, HITMONLEE, VULPIX, WE WON!!" Tabby grabbed one of her Hitmonlee's arms and began swinging him around giddily.

"Wha-hah!" Merry Treat cheered, and joyfully kicked the air. "We won! Oh my gosh, we've fixed everything!" she laughed happily.

"It was so close," the past Merry Treat mourned. "I wish I'd used Jigglypuff."

"But it was a fair battle," Merry Treat declared. "You do remember what we agreed to?"

"Yeah. Now we gotta go back without doing anything," the past Tabby sulked.

"It was a fair battle, though," the past Merry Treat reminded her friend.

"Yeah, but-- oh!" The past Tabby turned to face the disguised Merry Treat and Tabby. "I still don't know who you are, but you're going to pay!" She stalked off into the forest, and the past Merry Treat cast a final curious glance at the other two.

"I don't know who you guys are, but I don't think I'll ever forget you," she commented before disappearing after Tabby.

"That worked rather well," Tabby commented. "Oh, look!" She peered over the bushes. No one had noticed the commotion of the battle; luckily, that had taken place while Baby Tabby was screaming over the worms in her lunchbox.

"It looks like it worked," Merry Treat said in satisfaction.

"Hmm. Who would have thought such a traumatic incident would have such a turn-out in the future?" Tabby mused. "Come along. Let's get back."

The two ambled back to their time machine after calling back Vulpix and Hitmonlee. Feeling as if a heavy weight had been lifted from their shoulders, they boarded the time machine pod.

But they didn't stop to notice the single, small sapling tree they had broken off during their escapade.

* * *

"What if it didn't work, Merry Treat? What if something else screwed up this time? What if those other selves we battled didn't go back to the time machine and did something really mind-altering, and reset the whole cosmic balance of the universe, rendering the--"

"Tabby!" Merry Treat giggled. "I'm sure I would have convinced you we'd won fair and square and had to follow the rules. Here we are, back in nineteen ninety-nine, and everything's fine. Trust me."

"And it's so good to actually be myself again!" Tabby tossed back her shining red mane. "Until we find out what we screwed up..."

"Don't even say it," Merry Treat warned. "Look! Here we are at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe!"

The two went inside. "Remember, don't say a single word about the time machine," Merry Treat reminded as they stepped up to the counter.

Scoops was fixing a sundae, and hadn't heard the remark. When she turned back to the counter, she smiled broadly at the two ponies. "Well, hello, Merry Treat and Tabby! The usual for today, girls?" she questioned cheerfully.

"As long as my usual is a strawberry sundae..." Tabby said cautiously.

"Alrighty! I'll go and prepare those right away!" Scoops turned back and went about making the two sundaes.

After they had been served, Merry Treat and Tabby thanked their friend, and surveyed the shop for their other friends. "There they are!" Tabby whispered and pointed at a center table.

Merry Treat nodded, and the two cautiously and slowly approached the table. They succeeded in receiving curious looks from the seated group.

"What's the matter, you two think we're gonna bite or something?" Thomas asked jokingly with a laugh.

"Yes, you two look as if you're freaked out," Sugarberry noted. "Did something happen? Is something wrong? Oh, Tabby, tell me!" She pushed back her chair and stood up with alarm.

"Oh, no! Nothing happened!" Merry Treat said quickly to calm her friend. "Everything's fine now."

"Now?" Clever Clover lifted an eyebrow.

"We hope," Tabby said without thinking.

"Uh... did I say ‘now'?" Merry Treat blushed at her mistake. "I'm a little absent-minded today, that's all..."

"She's always absent-minded," Tabby took over. "We just saw a really weird movie, and she means that... eh... everything's fine now that we've seen the movie," she said vaguely.

Everyone at the table exchanged confused glances. "Uh... whatever," Chocolate Chip shrugged. "Would you sit down? You're making me nervous."

Tabby and Merry Treat each gratefully grabbed a chair. It would appear that everything was normal again.

* * *

Tabby, however, could not sit still at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe until she'd checked on a few things. She flung open her front door and flew through her house. "Oh, good, Tarkie, you're here," she said breathlessly, noticing her Meowth curled up in a chair.

Tarquin shrugged, stretching as he assumed his standing stance. "There's plenty of cherry pie filling in the house, so where else would I be?"

"And is Ah-Loh here? Ah, my beloved Ah-Loh!" Tabby gleefully picked up her treasured sky blue Furby off her dresser, scooped Tarquin up in the other hoof, and dashed back downstairs.

"You're hyper tonight," Tarquin noted.

"Tarkie, who wouldn't be hyper?" Tabby said, intoxicated with giddiness. "Thomas isn't married, and you're not running around without a home in the Dark Forest, and Ah-Loh isn't in the hooves of an evil baby pony!"

"Me sleep again," Ah-Loh the Furby said as he started snoring.

"Your three great loves in life, huh?" Tarquin snickered.

"Isn't life wonderful?" Tabby hollered at the top of her lungs. "Wait a sec, Tarkie! What did you just say? Tarkie! Why--"

"Oh, nothing," Tarquin said innocently.

"Well, anyhow, we've got to get back to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe," Tabby went on. "It's early, and I just came back to--"

"--ensure that all three of your great loves in life were still alive," Tarquin supplied.


* * *

Much later that night, Merry Treat came through the door of her house, and flopped down on the couch. "Phew! I'm never doing that again!" she sighed with relief.

"Doing what again?" came Tess's voice from behind her.

Merry Treat instantly sat up. "Tess! Spearow! Oh, am I ever glad to see you!" She flew from the couch, and engulfed the two Pokèmon in a gleeful hug. "I'm so glad you two are here!" she said, almost in tears.

"We're glad to see you, too!" Tess purred. "Tarquin, Spearow, and I found the note you and Tabby wrote, and decided there was no reason to stay at the center. So we came home," she explained. "Why, where you looking for us?"

"Oh, no, we weren't looking for you. I'm just very happy to see you," Merry Treat said softly as she pulled back from the two and looked at them with tears in her eyes. "I love you guys, you know that? I'm so glad your all right!" She pulled them close to her again, and this time, let herself cry.

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