Derpy Hooves didn't even bother to fold back her wings as she landed in front of Dr. Whooves' humble abode. His home did not particularly stand out from any of the other houses in Ponyville, except for the fact that his front door was adorned with the image of a large grandfather clock. A sign dangling from the roof revealed that it was not only a home but also a store meant for selling clocks, as well repairing them. Sitting atop the window sills were various clocks that peered out in hopes of catching the attention of any passerby.
Aside from the post office, her own house and Celestia's castle, this was one of the few places that's location was embedded into the depths of Derpy's mind. She and Dr. Whooves were very close acquaintances, almost being friends if they had met together more often. Already panicked as she was, Derpy banged her face against the wooden door several times over. Unfortunately, this just worsened her headache in the process.
At the same time, Twilight Sparkle was watching all of this from afar, using a conveniently-placed vegetable cart for suitable cover. Although her friends had laughed about it at first, they too eventually joined her in stopping the supposed terrorist plot at hand. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy's unconscious body were stationed atop of a small cloud that was hovering directly overhead. Applejack had prepared both her lasso as well as several extra-hard apples to serve as makeshift ammunition. Rarity's entire make-up kit was open at her disposal, and the ever-hyperactive Pinkie Pie was nowhere to be seen.
"Hey," Rainbow Dash whispered to Applejack, who was the closest one to her, "Where the heck did Pinkie Pie go?"
"Ah think she said somethin' about getting a party togetha' for the terrorists..."
"Geez, she is so air-headed!"
"Wha' 'bout Fluttershy? She awake yet?"
"Nah. She's totally out like a light. I dunno how she's floating on this cloud while being unconscious, though."
"Can't ya wake her up, then?"
"I would, but...she just looks so peaceful..."
'Hmm...' Twilight Sparkle continued to examine Derpy through a pair of hi-tech binoculars, 'This must be the place where she's supposed to obtain the bomb...I wonder what kind of pony runs this place?'
The door finally swung open, and revealed a brown-haired colt with an hourglass as his cutie mark symbol. He saw Derpy standing on his doorstep, and let out a gasp.
'An hourglass as his cutie mark...and he runs a clock shop! Maybe he's good at building time bombs!' Twilight Sparkle suspected. She didn't even realize just how ridiculous she sounded at the moment.
Dr. Whooves said, taken aback, "Derpy, what are you doing back here already? You went to Canterlot this morning, didn't you?"
"Lost...I lost...I lost the letter! That big muffin of lovey-dovey fluff I had prepared for her! For Luna! It's...uh, gone! All gone!" Poor Derpy almost about ready to burst into tears over her unfortunate 'mistake'. "I messed up AGAIN! Ohhh...fresh fish on the southern coast!" That was one of her more commonly used curses. Twilight and the other ponies watched this bizarre and unexpected scene with feelings of doubt; they were starting to question the validity of Celestia's unnamed source regarding Derpy as a terrorist.
Dr. Whooves rolled his eyes. "You really need to be careful when handling important things while flying so high up in the sky, what with turbulence and all."
"Hurr...I did bad..."
"But even if you did lose the letter, why didn't you just go and tell Princess Luna how you felt, anyway?"
"You know that you don't actually need a letter to tell Princess Luna that you are in love with her, Derpy!"
'Huh? What're they talking about...? Did they mention the Princess's little sister?' Twilight pondered as she strained her ears to listen. Unfortunately, she was too far away to get a good grasp of what they were saying, and it was too late now to move in closer without the risk of being seen. None of the other ponies in hiding were able to tell what was going on, either.
Derpy slapped herself across the face with her hoof. "Ooh! You're right! Pastry shops need more muffins!"
"Your feelings, Derpy! I'm talking about your feelings for Luna! You should be able to tell her how you feel without some kind of present to do it for you!"
"No...that...that is a 'no can do'! Too scary! It's...too scary!" Derpy shook her head back and forth, her unkempt mane flailing about wildly.
"Huh. You know, you never seemed like the kind of pony who would be afraid about those kind of things." Dr. Whooves mused aloud with a soft chuckle and a sympathetic look in his large, hazel eyes, "You have a rather...naive...view of life, so I assumed you could handle anything and not worry about the consequences. This is probably the first time I've ever seen you so afraid. You must be really worried by the possibility that Luna will reject you, huh?"
"Derpy, I think we might need to try something new that I've been working on lately, and it may help you get over your problem. Let's go inside."
Twilight used her magic to form a temporary mental link between all of her friends as Dr. Whooves and Derpy disappeared into the building. 'Okay, girls, now that they've gone inside, we can easily surround them! There's no way that we'll let them try and harm the Princess!'
'Are you absolutely sure we should be doing this, dear?' Rarity inquired.
'To be perfectly honest, I'm not really sure! However, there's nothing wrong with being careful, is there?'
'No...nothing wrong with that, at all...'
At that exact same time, in the throne room of the two Princesses of Canterlot...
"I happen to be the mayor of Ponyville, and thus, I am in a high position of power compared to most earth ponies, so I believe that-"
"I'm sorry, but I am not interested in somepony like you."
"What, but I...I...!"
"Will the next pony in line please step up before her royal highness?" announced one of the guards. The mayor of Ponyville trotted off with her head and shoulders slumped. A few seconds later, a young, mint-green unicorn trotted into the throne room with a lyre strapped behind her back. She looked quite confident in her abilities to win over Luna's heart. Princess Celestia recognized the mare as a frequent visitor of Canterlot, although she could have sworn that she already had a lover in Ponyville.
Luna herself just lowered her head and sighed. It had been almost three hours since Derpy left, and she still hadn't come back. Although she dearly hoped that the goofy mail-pony was just busy getting something, Luna couldn't help but consider that maybe Derpy had gone and forgotten about her already. After all, Derpy wasn't exactly known to have the best memory. It was difficult holding back the tears that were starting to swell up in her eyes.
'Argh, I can't keep letting myself get upset like this,' Luna mentally told herself, 'Whenever I see Derpy again, I'm going to tell her how I feel, and I won't be afraid! I just wish I could do it now when I'm feeling so determined instead of later...! And why does my sister want me to meet all of these mares anyway? I need to do something, and quickly...!'
Celestia glanced over at her little sister, and felt a pang of guilt at how unhappy she looked. She felt convinced enough that a 'stupid' pony like Derpy could never make Luna happy, but now it was beginning to seem like everything was becoming far more trouble than it was worth. She started to reach a hoof out towards her sister.
However, the two princesses were both abruptly drawn back into reality when the lyre-playing unicorn pony suddenly introduced herself.
"It is a pleasure to be standing here before your beautiful visage, Princess Luna. It would be my honor to prove how I am most suitable as your lover. My name is Lyra, and as you can plainly see, I am one of the most skilled lyre players in all of Equestria. In fact, I happen to hold the record for-"
Lyra froze on the spot, her eyes bulging wide with terror. A mare with blue-pink hair came storming onto the scene without warning. Not even the two guardsponies at attendance were able to hold her back. The expression she wore made her look like she was out for blood, and considered how frightened Lyra had become, it might have been true. All intentions to play the lyre had been forgotten in the chaos.
"Lyra," screamed the new pony, "I can't believe you would do this to me! Of all the selfish things! Just what were you thinking?"
"I'm sorry, Bonbon, I didn't mean to-"
"We had agreed that we would try and become Princess Luna's girlfriends TOGETHER! It's so that we'll...you know," Bonbon leaned in a little closer and whispered the rest into Lyra's ear. "Reap the BENEFITS of hooking up with royalty!"
"I was planning to do that, but you ended up so far back in the line, and I was up next, so I...I...I didn't know what to do, okay?"
The two ponies would have probably continued their inane bickering had Princess Celestia not decided to interfere. Clearing her throat and straightening her posture a little, the majestic winged unicorn gently rapped her hoof against the stone floor. The sound echoed throughout the hallowed room. Lyra and Bonbon immediately turned their attention over to their seemingly benevolent ruler.
"...I believe you two should take your arguing outside. We are in the middle of something very important, and judging from the way my sister won't even look at you, it proves that neither of you made much of an impression. You've both lost your chances. Please excuse yourselves from our presence." Celestia spoke in a soothing tone of voice. However, there was something very unsettling about it; even her kind smile gave off an eerie vibe.
"I'm really sorry about this, but...you're just not what I'm looking for, and you two already have each other to love, anyway." added Luna.
Princess Celestia was beginning to have second thoughts regarding her plan as she watched the guards escort Lyra and Bonbon outside. 'Geez...it's ponies like those two that could actually make somepony like Derpy almost seem tolerable! Luna doesn't seem to be happy at all either, even though I'm just trying to make sure that she can find a happy relationship with a pony worthy of her...maybe I'm going about this the wrong way?' Celestia disappointingly shook her mane, and without realizing it, the letter from Derpy that she had been hiding in her necklace slipped out. She failed to notice it.
Luna was also feeling conflicted about the situation, but in a different way compared to her older sister. 'I can't take this anymore! I have to tell Celestia that she's just wasting time! Even if she's bigger than me and more magically powerful than me, I can't back down! The only pony I want to be with is Derpy-'
Luna had turned her head about half-way towards her sister when she caught sight of the letter. The muffin sticker on the envelope was an obvious hint that it was from Derpy. The Princess of the Moon felt like the wind had just been knocked out of her lungs. Gradually, a red haze began to form over her sight, and she couldn't stop shaking. Luna thought back to morning, when Derpy had become terribly upset over losing an 'important letter' that she had made for her. Seeing the letter now, resting at her sister's feet, allowed all the pieces to fall together.
'My sister...wants to keep me and Derpy apart?'
Princess Celestia looked at Luna, and then at letter on the floor. "...Oops."
"Why...would you...? And even after...you helped me understand about how I felt..." Luna was so upset that she could hardly even keep herself from stammering. Something was stirring deep inside her very being. It was something that Luna recognized very well, back during her thousand-year exile on Equestria's moon. It was hatred. The trembling became more violent, because she didn't think she could hold herself back any longer.
"Luna, my dear little sister...please listen to me. I did not hid the letter out of selfish reasons. I was only doing this for your sake-"
"Shut up, you liar!"
Luna threw back her head and screamed as her body instantly became engulfed in a burst of blackish-blue flames. Celestia and the other ponies present could do nothing but stare on in absolute horror. One of the guardsponies had even abandoned his post, but all of the others were frozen to the spot. Most knew what was about to happen, although none wanted to believe it. The flames gently nipped at Celestia's face and neck, but they did not burn at all, or even leave a mark. It was like they were apart of the air itself.
Princess Celestia coolly observed as the flames gradually died down to reveal Nightmare Moon now standing in Luna's place. One of the ponies in line let out a shriek before fainting at the sight.
"You may be Equestria's beloved leader, but you are the most selfish pony I've ever known..." Nightmare Moon hissed through clenched teeth.
"...What are you going to do now?" asked Celestia, ignoring her sister's previous acquisitions.
"I'm going to go and find Derpy."
"In that form? Do you really think that's wise, Luna? You'll scare everypony away, including Derpy. You need to calm down."
"Forget it! If I continued to listen to you, I'd probably be confined to this accursed castle forever!"
"Luna, you're not planning on making night last forever again, are you?"
Nightmare Moon thought it over for a brief moment. "No, I've put those desires behind me. All I want right now is to be with Derpy, and I'm not going to let you or any of your goons keep me from doing that! I deserve at least that much!"
"...Do what you wish, then."
Nightmare Moon reached down and picked up Derpy's letter between her teeth; she was planning to open it with Derpy right beside her. Her horn sparkled like a flickering light-bulb, her body dissolving into a formless body of violet smoke. The smoke drifted out of an open window and disappeared from sight. Celestia heaved a sigh. She had actually felt a sense of fear for the first time in over a thousand years when her sister transformed like that in front of her.
One of the remaining guardsponies darted up to the Princess as soon as he saw that it was safe. "P-Princess Celestia! Are you alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Although my sister has turned back into Nightmare Moon, she doesn't pose any threat. She's just very...upset at the moment, and I cannot deny that is all my fault." Celestia explained to nopony in particular, although the guard thought that she had been addressing him.
"Do you want us to go after her?"
"Just let her go. She needs some time alone with the pony she cares about."
"...Yes, Princess. Your wish is our command."
Princess Celestia had finally decided to give up; there was no point in delaying the inevitable, and if Luna was willing to go into Nightmare Moon mode for Derpy, then she couldn't fight it.
'I could really use some sleep once this whole mess finally clears up...'
"Hey! What about us still waiting on line here?" barked the DJ pony named Vinyl Scratch, "I took time off from my busy schedule just to come to Canterlot in hopes of getting hitched with your sister! Don't any of us get compensation for you wasting our time like this?"
'Ugh...I might need the weekend off too...'