The Growing Years

This story is a sequel to A Different Perspective
Both the House of Path and Herd Path enjoy strong growth in the years following their establishment. Like all such things though, they both have their highlights and lowlights. These are vignettes in the lives of the children of Twilight, Path, Free, & Roseclaw, from foals to young adults.
This is a series of stand-alone stories of events that occur after the events of A Different Perspective, which I strongly recommend that you read first.
My collaborator, AlaskaIsCold, has written some of these and I mostly just edited them.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/296939/the-growing-years

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22. The Calm Before The Storm

Five in the morning.

Nobody should be up at five in the morning, but someone stirred in Blue Streak’s room. A figure dimly seen in the pre-dawn gloom moved over to a set of shelves, pressed a hidden switch, and removed a small object. Moments later, the room was still once more as the door quietly closed.

Nobody in Blue Streak’s room was awake, nor was due to be for several hours. His room stood out when compared to his siblings. All of the furniture in the room had been moved to the edges, leaving a massive space in the middle where there was a depression lined with soft pillows and pelts, with a rise along the edges. If somebody looked at it objectively, they might think it was a fusion of a pony, griffish, and draconic bedroom, and curled up in the center of that sleeping nest there was a dreaming dragoness. As Cinder tended to sleep in, and Blue had changed his sleeping habits to match hers, normally nothing would be happening until much later, so one could imagine the chaos that erupted when the door nearly flew off its hinges only a few hours later, and an old griffon strutted inside.

Blue Streak! You are late for your encouragement!

Warfist’s voice rolled through the room with enough force to even wake up Cinder, and she looked up with eyes barely able to focus on the ornery griffon. She held what she thought was Blue, but quickly became confused as she realized that she was holding a body pillow instead of a warm pony.

“W-what…?” Cinder groaned groggily.

Where is he, Cinder?!” Warfist bellowed at the top of his lungs. “His encouragement is not yet complete!” Warfist walked into the room and started looking around as the dragoness slowly woke up, groaning as she rubbed her eyes. “He has an obligation that can only be repaid in sweat and pain!” He kept pacing around, his razor-sharp eyes taking in anything that might indicate a hiding pony.

Cinder had changed little in the years that had gone by since Blue Streak’s first visit to the dragon lands. She was only a few inches taller, but her territorial and possessive nature was starting to become a little more pronounced. Most other females knew never to stare at Blue Streak when he was training outside if there was even a possibility that Cinder was around. She was known to singe tails as a warning for staring at what she said was rightly hers. This was a quality that Roseclaw was proud of – if Blue was to even consider having another mate, she would have to prove herself to the dragon first. Twilight, on the other hoof, was always trying to get her to calm down, although admittedly Cinder had never raised a claw against a female since the incident with Moira Skytalon. Then again, that incident had scarcely been forgotten either, despite the intervening years.

But that was neither here nor there right now. The dragoness looked at Warfist before she sighed, rolled onto her feet, swung her tail around a few times, and flapped her wings, extending and retracting them as she stretched. With another large yawn, she looked back at Warfist. The old griffon looked just as powerful as he had fifteen years ago.

“When we went to asleep, he was curled up with me, which is why I’m wondering why I woke up to just a pillow.” Cinder groaned, stood up, and walked over to Warfist who was looking around the room to try and find evidence of where Blue had gone. Something apparently caught his eye.

“What was in this small drawer?” Warfist pointed to what looked like a compartment that came out of a normal shelf.

When Cinder looked at the empty drawer, she blinked a few times in confusion. “I have slept here for I don’t know how long, and I have never seen that open.” She slowly pressed it shut, and they noticed that the drawer was created so expertly that when it closed, neither of them could see the seam. “Huh! Well, I can think of a few places that he could be. I think Path and Lucida would be in the main hall right now; we should go see if he went through there. I mean…” She groaned again and rubbed her head. “He’s not scheduled to go out on another training run with Shining for a few more days. It’s supposed to be his downtime, so I don’t see why he would have left the estate. He already went to the pub a few days ago; he’s really only a weekend kind of guy when it comes to that,” Cinder said as she walked past Warfist and went toward the door.

Warfist followed, and then nearly bumped into her when she stopped abruptly. He huffed slightly, clearly impatient.

Cinder looked back to him and asked, “So... why are you trying to find him so badly, and what is with this talk about encouragement? You stopped that after he came back from his first visit to the Dragon Lands. He hasn’t had any ‘encouragement’, as you call it, for nearly four years.” She started to walk down the hall.

“This time it is not encouragement per se. I’m really here so that I can train him just a little more before I give him a gift.” Warfist sighed as they rounded the corner.

“Oh? What gift would that be?” Cinder asked casually.

“Cinder, I am not a young griffon. I am ancient by warrior standards; eighty five is unheard of for somegriff who routinely sees battle. I could have led a campaign to try take over Equestria, but after the passing of my chick son and my hen wife, I started to doubt power. You know, when you pass, you can’t take any of it with you. So that’s what I want to do. I want to pass all that I am on to Blue Streak. It’s an old Griffonian rite; a way to pass one’s honor to another not of your direct blood,” Warfist said neutrally as he kept walking.

“Isn’t such a thing common? I mean that’s how Lord Path was able to get this entire estate, and then when you fought one of Ravenclaw’s cronies, you acquired all of his possessions,” Cinder pointed out as they made their way down the stairs.

“An honor duel doesn’t give you the opponent’s honor, achievements, or their being. It just gives you their material possessions, and such things don’t matter to me. This ritual is one of the most gruesome, and it’s usually not practiced. Actually, I can only think of one that happened in the last ten years. It’s taxing on the body, mind, and soul. One who attempts the Rite rarely comes out the same, if at all. On top of that, it can only be sanctioned by the heads of the ruling and warrior caste in a completely unopposed decision. It is so rare and so brutal, only the strongest of hardliners and traditionalists will sanction it, but all will accept the results,” Warfist spoke seriously.

“What is so intense about this trial? What would push Blue to his limits?” Cinder asked.

“In order for him to gain my glory and my honor, he has to kill all those who would seek it for themselves. With no other challengers in his path, he would then have to face me to the death. Only after drinking my heart’s blood will he be known as High General Blue Streak Warfist XVI.” Warfist looked at her, his eyes stone cold. “Can you tell me that would not shake him to his very foundation? Ponies, even warrior ones, are by nature pacific; could he overcome that to take what I willingly give him?” He glared at Cinder until she looked away.

“That sounds brutal. I guess that’s why it’s not done very often,” Cinder whispered. “Why would you even ask him to do that when you know he idolizes you?”

“The time will come when I will no longer be fit to be House Path’s War Leader – can you imagine a warrior like me retiring to rot away for the remainder of my days? Better to pass in honorable battle and bequeath all that I am to Blue. However, let’s not dwell on it for now. That event still lies far in the future, if Blue Streak accepts it at all.”

Warfist opened the door to the grand hall where Path and Lucida did all of their negotiations. Aside from Blue who had been adopted into the family, Lucida was the oldest of the children, and she had been groomed for the position from an early age. It had really started with the test about two years back but it set a precedent. As the months went on, Path had hit her with more tests and let her sit in on more meetings, advisory boards and official deliberations. She hadn’t noticed it, but Path was actually becoming more auxiliary and was really only serving to set the pace for the meetings. Most of the decisions were being made by the hippogriff, although every now and then, Path did have to jump in to give her an ‘emergency advisory’ about certain topics.

This meeting, however, was trying the patience of both of them. Chief Scruffy of the Diamond Dog Cooperative and Granite Will of the Crystal Kingdom Trading Company were currently in a heated dispute, with Lucida and Path in the middle of it all.

Path was an interesting case – for a pony who was now approaching his forties, he looked no older than when he had met Twilight in a Canterlot café all those years ago. In fact, the rigorous exercise and training that he did most days had added to his musculature and toned his body to make him fitter than he had ever been. Ponies and griffons alike were starting to wonder if maybe he was not all he claimed to be. The only physical change other than his loss of magic that indicated aging was the fact he was no longer dying and trimming his face scruff. Instead, his green mane now descended down the sides of his face and met up on his chin. The well-kept beard almost made him look regal if not for his generally laidback attitude most of the time.

Lucida however….

“When you both came to House Path for mediation, what were you expecting? Were you expecting favor, Granite Will, because my mother is related to your prince? Were you expecting favor, Chief Scruffy, because I ruled in your favor in one of my first deliberations? In House Path, we do not favor one party over another. To do that would undo the very tenets that we were founded upon. We will always bring a fair, balanced, and unbiased approach to any negotiations, even if it does not fit your expectations.” Lucida spoke eloquently but with enough gravity behind her words to make all parties fall silent.

The speech training with Celestia has certainly paid off,’ Path thought to himself from his seat to the left of Lucida.

“You both have come to us and asked us to mediate your situation after normal avenues have failed. To sum up, one large business is worried about another large business because both of your main exports happen to be stone products and crystals. You’re both the same size and have about the same output capacity. If one of you tries to take the market from the other, the resulting undercutting and price gouging would cause the entire industry to suffer,” Lucida said as she looked over some of the papers for a sixth time. She was always very thorough with her research. “Together, both of you have over 90% of the industry market share. So I am glad you have come to us for mediation, and I have come up with a solution if you would hear me out.”

I will not settle for anything less than sanctions on the Austri Islands!” Granite Will bellowed.

I will not idly stand by while he makes threats to my people!” Chief Scruffy barked out.

Rather than screech and throw things like Lucida used to do, she kept her cool as the two parties descended back into barking and neighing angrily at each other. She idly tapped her claws on the table until they both started to calm down and looked over to her.

“Are you both done?” Lucida asked softly, sounding like a mother disappointed with her quarreling foals.

Path just grinned as he watched his little girl; the seventeen-year-old had come so far in her studies and diplomatic classes with the princesses, empathy and body language classes with Dianthia and Fleur, and history lessons with Roseclaw and Twilight. All of their careful planning had paid off.

Lucida continued once she had the abashed traders’ attention again. “What I propose is this: instead of competing directly with each other, work together. Chief Scruffy, focus on stone and rock production, and leave your sale of crystals mainly to the local market for now. Granite Will, focus on crystal production while leaving your rock and stone products to your local market. The only exceptions should be any products that are unique to your businesses, and to fill customer requirements that exceed your competitor’s ability to fill. Do this for five years and then switch. This way you can put your focus mostly in one area while your profits are maximized. You don’t have to worry about corporate warfare ruining your bottom line, and both of you could cooperate instead of being in opposition. For example, you could act as the other’s agent in your area, taking a small commission on each sale,” Lucida suggested as she stared both of the two energetic parties down, effectively draining them of their previous aggression.

“You may even use the intervening time to develop new products to be released at the beginning of each five year cycle. Sales by the other could be used as reliable indicators of what to stockpile for yourselves. There are many benefits to be had by focusing on your core products and not wasting time, effort, and above all, money to unnecessary fighting. While competition is a driving factor, cooperation can be more profitable. However, I have one caveat – if one of you decides to use your current five-year dominance of the market to unreasonably drive up prices, I will authorize your competition to use their reserves to undercut you to bring those prices back down. My proposal is meant to benefit the consumers as well as yourselves, and I would be happy to mediate on their behalf also. As a final point, I will remind you that by agreeing to mediation by House Path, you will be legally bound to any agreements that are made here, and they are enforceable by House Path by authority of your rulers, so think hard and carefully, and be honest in your dealings.”

Path stood up and smiled at the business owners. “I think this proposal has a lot of potential, and you should take the opportunity to consider its ramifications. If both of you would be so kind as to return to your quarters for the day, you can enjoy our hospitality while you mull it over. We will meet back here at nine tomorrow morning to hear any final thoughts, and then hopefully we can officially resolve the matter to your mutual satisfaction.”

The two parties nodded and slowly filed out as Cinder and Warfist walked into the main room. When both the diamond dog and crystal pony were out of earshot, Lucida groaned and thumped her head onto the desk. “Meetings, meetings, meetings… I know they’re important, but damn it! I don’t want to do them anymore this week. D-a-a-a-d, take over for me, please?” Lucida whined.

Path chuckled. “You’re doing fine, Lucida. You just need to build up your endurance a bit more. I’m afraid that this will ever be the less exciting side of the House of Path.”

Before Lucida could reply, Cinder finally spoke up. “Hey, has either of you two seen Blue Streak around? Warfist and I are looking for him, and I honestly have no clue where he could be. Do you have any ideas?”

Path looked thoughtful for a moment. “Hmm… I think I saw him really early this morning heading over to the R&D department with Techbird and Pif. I generally don’t like going down to their levels because they sometimes start to look at me like an experiment.” Path shivered as memories of his latest body scan came back to him. “But Lucida would be more than happy to take you down there, wouldn’t you, dear?” Path added slyly.

“You just don’t want to go down there, don’t you, Dad?” Lucida snarked.

Path grinned. “And you want a break from meetings, so I figure this way we both win.”

“Deal!” Lucida said as she stood back up and stretched, her muscles and bones sore from sitting in the stuffy room for so long.

The hippogriff, the dragoness and the old griffon walked out of the main office and headed toward the smaller R&D department.

Almost everyone knew that the military center of the House was in Griffonia, but the research center was in Equestria. The main House had a small satellite department though, and every now and then, Techbird and Pif ran back and forth between the two bases of operation to make sure things were going smoothly. They had arrived last night with Luna, not only for the Friday dinner, but also to make sure that things were still on track at the Griffonian branch of ‘Equus Innovations Incorporated’, the official name of the think-tank created by Pif and Techbird.

When they arrived at what looked like just a small hut, Warfist raised an eyebrow as he assessed the unimpressive building with disbelief. “Really? This is it? This is the massive think-tank that Epiphany goes on and on about?”

Lucida tried to conceal a grin. “I can see why you would be puzzled, Warfist. While I’m sure you’re aware of it for security purposes, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you actually in this area of the compound. Come on, let’s go inside and you can see just what the Griffonian branch has to offer.” Lucida opened the door and motioned for them to go inside.

Once the door closed behind them, the small room lit up to reveal what looked like a slightly recessed platform in the center of the stark white room. A changeling guard looked over at the group, nodded at Lucida, and then went back to reading his book.

“The security – it’s overwhelming,” Warfist said in a deadpan tone.

Lucida rolled her eyes. “The changeling guard is merely the first line of security. He’s able to detect hostile or malicious intent. The rest of the security is far less obvious. There are both magical wards placed by Mama Twilight, and hidden technological devices monitoring everyone coming into the facility.” She stepped onto the platform, indicating to the rest of them to follow suit. The platform lurched and started to sink into the ground, quickly picking up speed as the white room disappeared above them. Cinder made a small scream of surprise as she latched onto Lucida, confused as to what was going on.

Lucida smiled. “Pif and Techbird are very protective about their R&D department. It’s why we have to go down this shaft to access the primary research room. After that, we can go see where they are.”

“How far down are we going?” Cinder asked, uncomfortable with the thought of how deep below the earth they were traveling.

“They tell me that’s classified. However, Free says that if you fell from the entrance to the floor of the main room, you would be falling for nearly five minutes. Judge for yourself if he’s exaggerating,” Lucida added with a chuckle.

After a time that thankfully was a lot shorter than five minutes, the platform started to slow down and entered through the top of a much larger white room. It was rather difficult to judge scale until they stopped moving and a Chrome Changeling walked up to them.

“Hi, Lucida, Miss Cinder, Master Warfist. Looking for Techbird and Epiphany, I take it?” the 'ling asked in a happy tone. The tech changeling was dressed in a white lab coat, and it looked like he had a clipboard on his back. His horn lit up and he moved it around to look at it. “It appears that Tech and Pif are currently in the astro-science wing, working on a new kind of propulsion technique.” He flipped through a few more pages. “Multi-purpose asymmetrical thrust vectoring using atypical magical sources.” The changeling looked at the group with a smile. “Exciting stuff! I wish I got awesome projects like that.” He looked over a second sheet on the clipboard. “Okay, so you should be looking for room 7-12-3.”

“Why does the room number sound so strange?” Cinder asked.

The 'ling replied, “Oh, it’s because each number correlates to a designation on the X, Y, and Z axis, so it would be the seventh room down, the twelfth room to the left, and then the third room forward.” His horn started to light up. “Hold on tight – the platform can be kind of disorienting for the first-time user!”

“What do you mean disor-AAAHHHH!” Cinder started to scream yet again as the platform moved once more, but this time going in one room and out the other, giving them brief glimpses of other projects that were being worked on. It was not long before the platform slowed to a stop in another white room, but this time it was lined with what looked like black chalkboards. All of them were covered in equations and design schematics, and off to the side there was a strange device with several cords going in and out of it. A few were connected to a crystal mana battery, and beyond that they were able to see the two whom they were looking for, talking and pointing at an equation on one of the chalkboards.

“HEY, PIFFY!” Lucida yelled as she walked over to them as Warfist and Cinder followed.

Pif was in her compromise ponyling form – mostly earth pony, but with her distinctive changeling horn glowing as it manipulated a stick of chalk. She turned to look at her sister with a smile. “What’s up, Lucy? Did the meeting go okay?”

Lucida groaned when Pif brought up the meeting and she shrugged it off. “Let’s not talk about it. Has Blue been around lately? I know you still sometimes make him come down for some studies every now and then.”

“Actually I think I saw him going toward the Zenith Dome. Hey, Tech, can we take a break?” Pif asked. “I think we’ve been at this all night.”

“It’s nighttime? Or is it morning? Sometimes I forget what day it even is. Yes, yes! Go have fun with your family. I need to figure out why the vector system shuts down before it can reach max thrust.” Techbird waved her off as her attention went back to the chalkboard.

Warfist, Cinder, Lucida, and Epiphany all went back to the platform. Cinder couldn’t help but laugh this time as they took off in another random direction, heading back to the main entrance to the R&D department.

“You know, it’s almost like we’re assembling a party; at least that’s how it tends to go when I play Oubliettes & Ogres with the gaming club.” Cinder giggled as Warfist rolled his eyes.

Once the group left the small entry hut, they started to walk toward the Zenith Dome.

“We all have wings, so why don’t we just fly there?” Cinder suddenly asked. Everyone looked abashed at not thinking of that sooner.

Warfist face-clawed with a groan, then opened his wings and took to the sky. Lucida followed suit as Pif switched to pegasus form and did the same. Cinder bounded for a few meters before taking to the sky, heading toward the dome.

Zenith Dome was a project that was created by the combined efforts of Destined Path and Luna. It was a large observatory, and also a planetarium when it wasn’t being used by either the resident or visiting astronomers. However, when it wasn’t night time, Luna and Destined used it as a place to meditate and enjoy tea.

The group circled around the large dome. Since the sun had risen, the main doors that allowed the telescope to peer out were now closed. They landed at the door and settled their wings before they entered, and were greeted with the most pleasant of smells – vanilla, cinnamon, and lavender. The group walked in with soft smiles on their faces. In the center of the room next to the telescope, there was a recessed area where the two alicorns were sitting. Some incense was burning, and it looked like they were in the middle of… something. Every now and then, their horns would spark to life only to fade out again. They were completely oblivious to the four who were standing next to them.

Lucida grinned, leaned over to Destined, and licked the side of his face. As she moved up, the younger alicorn’s eyes opened slowly, and then once he realized what was happening, he started screaming as he flailed out of his meditative stance. His yelling combined jarred Luna out of her meditative trance, and she started scream also, only much louder. Eventually, everyone was screaming from the ear-piercing alicorn’s voice, except for Warfist who’d had enough, and he slammed his talons into the ground and let out a war screech.

This has gone on long enough! Somebody tell me where Blue Streak is, or so help me, everyone is getting encouragement!” He glared at them all with his wings spread as far open as he could.

Destined calmed down as Luna started laughing at the antics that she allowed herself to get wrapped up into.

“If thou really dost wish to know where he is, Warfist, thou should go talk to his Aunt Greenfield, as only she may tell thee where he went. Destined, thou should also go with them. We have been meditating for the past four hours, after all.”

Destined nodded and stood up. “Let’s go to the worker barracks. Around this time, I believe she would be getting ready to tend to the fields for her morning shift.”

Warfist was looking more and more frustrated; what should have only taken a few minutes was now into its second hour. “Princess Luna, would you be so kind to teleport us to the barracks?” Warfist asked as politely as he could manage.

Luna smiled and nodded. The group moved close together as Luna’s horn lit up, although it was hardly necessary. Such a short distance teleport with so few people was trivial for her. With a quiet pop, the group disappeared and then reappeared in front of the barracks.

The barracks were one of the most radically altered areas of the estate. The ramshackle shanties that Ravenclaw had forced the earth ponies to live in had been torn down after these had been built to replace them. They threw out the common Griffonian ideals when it came to housing construction, and instead approached them with Manehatten flair. There were three large main buildings, each of them three stories high and built to Tech’s and Clue’s specifications. The former slaves had been given well-appointed rooms as thanks for their previously unacknowledged hard work. They had also been given a stipend, and while it was not as much as a normal griff worker would make, it was all that House Path had been able to afford then without reducing the workers’ numbers. As the wealth and power of the House had grown, that gap had continued to narrow, and the House made huge strides transitioning the former slaves towards a fully free and equal status in Griffonian society. The resulting morale boost made the staff appreciate House Path all the more, and few had left to seek more lucrative employment when it had eventually become available to ponies.

Pif led the group up to one of the rooms and knocked on the door.

“How do you know this is her room number?” Cinder asked.

“I overheard Blue talking about his aunt once, and he mentioned this room number,” Pif replied. “Of course that’s now stored in the hive-mind, so I can always recall it.”

The door opened to reveal an earth pony mare. Blue’s aunt was quite a bit older now, but she was still a strong, toned mare who was as stubborn as ever. She welcomed them in and offered them tea. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you all. You have grown so big, Miss Lucida, just like Blue Streak.”

“Speaking of him, do you know where he is?” Cinder asked.

“Oh… oh, hon, he didn’t tell you yet? Well, it’s always hard for him to let people see that part of him. I’m not surprised that he keeps it to himself.” She sighed sadly as she sipped her tea.

“Is Blue okay? Did something happen to him?” Cinder started to get concerned.

“On this day when he was two, something did happen, yes. It was the death of his biological parents. It’s a loss that still hurts him.” She looked at Warfist. “Can you let him rest for just one day? It’s not as if he is out merely enjoying himself,” Greenfield said with a sigh.

Warfist nodded gravely. “I won’t do what I was planning on doing today.” He looked at Blue’s mate and siblings. “However, I believe that you four should go to him and console him. If you are all here, he is probably grieving alone.”

“So, where is he?” Destined asked.

Greenfield replied, “Do you know the hill on the south-eastern edge of the estate? I believe the foals are calling it Blight Hill nowadays.”

Destined nodded. “Oh, you mean that creepy small hill that can’t seem to grow anything, not even grass?” Destined asked. “Actually, now that I think about it, quite a few ponies are afraid of going up there. All that’s left is the corpse of a tree.”

“That’s the tree that fell on Blue’s parents. The strange thing is that it used to be so full of blossoms, and the ground below it always erupted into bloom when the springtime rolled around, but once Blue came and fetched everyone, everything was dead… his parents… the tree… the grass…. We tried for nearly six years to get anything to grow on that land. Animals don’t even tread there, and we never figured out how or why that is the case,” Greenfield said sadly. The group could tell that she found the topic painful.

Warfist nodded in understanding, and he said gruffly, “You four go check on Blue. I’m going to go back to the training barracks after I finish talking with Ms. Greenfield. I don’t intend to bring anything up with him for a couple of days, so just make sure that he’s going to be okay. I know what loss can do to a person. Dwell on it long enough and bad things can happen.”

The youths said their farewells and left, while Warfist continued to have tea and talk to Blue’s aunt about him.

“Come on, it’s only a few moments away,” Cinder said as she ran out of the house, bounding and leaping to catch enough air to take to the skies. Lucida, Pif and Destined followed quickly after. They sailed together, catching a breeze that pushed them over toward the hill. As they came closer, they saw a blue dot on the brown, barren hilltop. They landed right at the boundary where plants ceased to grow, and Cinder motioned for them to be quiet. They could hear Blue talking apparently to nobody. He was looking down at one hoof that was holding what looked like a picture frame.

“I could do it, so why don’t I? I can hold enough power within myself, so that’s not an issue. I can get access to a spell… it’s in the Crystal Archives. I can program a tekhorn. One Aspect and two alicorns… I could do it… I would do all of it to see you two again. I can barely remember your faces without this picture. I can’t even remember your voices…. It wouldn’t be that bad… they would forgive me… eventually.” He sighed softly and his shoulders slumped. “But you would not.”

They saw the earth pony slowly set the picture frame back down onto the sheet it was sitting on before one of his ears twitched.

“I really wish you wouldn’t eavesdrop on me,” Blue said a bit more loudly. “Normally I wouldn’t care, but I can’t deal with it today.” Blue waved them over.

“How could you tell we were here?” Cinder asked.

Blue waved one of his hooves; it didn’t have his specialized shoe on it. “When I have the shoes off, I can sense changes to the magic of the area I’m in. I felt you the moment you landed.” He turned back to them with a sigh as he put the shoe back on.

“So what can I do for you guys?” Blue smiled weakly, but it was apparent that he had been crying for a while. There was no way his eyes would be that red and the fur under his eyes that matted otherwise.

Destined however looked deadly serious. “What would you do if they would forgive you?”

“It doesn’t matter; I won’t do it. Nothing can undo what has been done. I could lie to myself, but I have read enough to know that it’s a path I can never go down if I wish to remain who I am.” He wiped his nose slightly as he started to perk back up with a silly grin. “So, does anybody wanna go get a drink or something? I’ll buy! It could be f-u-u-n-n.”

Pif shook her head. “Brother, did I ever tell you how foul hollow feelings taste? You aren’t fooling me.”

Blue’s ears drooped again. “Listen I–”

Blue Streak was cut off as the sky suddenly darkened and a strange dark blue hole appeared in midair. What looked like a grey pegasus emerged from it, shooting straight at the group before she slowed down and came to a halt by smacking into the dead tree and falling onto her rump.

 

 

“Hi!” the mare said brightly, apparently unaffected by her precipitous arrival.

“What…? What?!” Destined started to fret as he felt a kind of magic – no a kind of force that he had never felt before as he looked up at the hole and the whirling pattern around it.

“Who the hell are you?!” Cinder asked.

“Oh, it’s Derpy!” Lucida said with a smile of recognition as she helped the pegasus up. “She’s the mailmare in Ponyville. I think she and Time Turner are special someponies.”

The vortex disappeared as Derpy tapped a device strapped on above her left forehoof.

“Oh! I need to take you to the Doctor right now! There isn’t even time for muffins!” Derpy started to tap on the strange device again.

Destined looked at the horizon. “What’s that strange glow?” he asked. A band of something indescribable rushed towards them at an incredible rate.

“Oh, no! The timeline is already changing!” Derpy exclaimed. She hopped into the center of the group and pressed a button just before the shockwave washed over the estate. Pif was alarmed as she felt the connection to her hive snap as the five of them were flung through a new vortex.

They came to rest in the middle of a strange chamber filled with arcane devices. The group groaned as they untangled themselves from each other and slowly stood up. Pif however was shaking; she had not been disconnected from the hive-mind since the incident with Chrysalis, and she was finding the silence in her head unnerving.

“Okay, what the hell just happened and where are we?” Blue asked with a growl as a tan earth pony with an hourglass cutie mark trotted up to him.

“Hi there, Blue Streak! Ready to save the world?” the Doctor asked cheerfully.

Blue was stunned. “WHAT?!” he yelped.

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To be continued in: “QUANTUM GALLOP”.

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Author's Note:

Yes, "The Growing Years" ends on a cliff-hanger, but you can find out what happens to the five young adults of House Path in the new story arc - Quantum Gallop.

Oh, and in case someone thinks that we're copying the time meddling of Starlight Glimmer from the Season 5 finale, let me point out that I had mentioned two more series would be coming, including Quantum Gallopmonths before anyone knew anything about that episode.

 
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