Quantum Gallop

Five of the youth of House Path are abruptly whisked away by the enigmatic Doctor Whooves, and they find themselves in a Ponyville that they can scarcely recognize. A tyrant queen rules Equestria, alliances were never forged with Griffonia and the Changeling Hives, and three of the group had never been born! Someone has changed history, and it's up to them to figure out when, how, and who did it, or Equestria will suffer, and the rest of the world along with it.
This is the direct sequel to "The Growing Years" and "A Different Perspective", and I advise reading those stories first.



7. Chapter 4 - Fitting In Part 2


Citrine was pleased to hear that, and she gave Pif her widest and happiest grin. “What do you want to do right now? Let’s do it! Don’t think – just do it!”

Pif grinned and her horn lit up, lighting up the entire bar for a brief moment before the pair disappeared.

They reappeared in the air – high in the air. They could see the entire House Path compound far beneath them as they started to fall.

Citrine held onto one of Pif’s hooves, laughing. “Skydiving? You wanted to skydive?! I’ve already done that tonight!” Citrine asked with incredulity mixed with humor. She hung onto Pif as she spun and flipped.

“I love this feeling!” Pif declared with a laugh. “Let everything go... close your eyes… just… be in the now....” Pif closed her eyes and leaned her head forward to kiss Citrine.

The crystal pony half-closed her eyes and let herself go deep into the kiss for a few moments before she opened her eyes. “I don’t want to be a mood killer, but the ground is coming up close.”

“I didn’t think that far ahead,” Pif admitted. Her gossamer wings buzzed, but at that time she was not up to the job of slowing down the fall of both of them. Weak green magic flames flickered around her, and it seemed that she was about to shape-change, but then the effect died. “Hee! *Hic* Don’t drink and fly!” she said in a sing-song voice.

“How about teleporting us down then?” Citrine suggested urgently.

“Mmm, nope. Don’t have enough energy for another teleport.” Pif said as she laughed.

“Oh… we will see about that.” Citrine grinned as she moved in, wrapping her hooves around the princess as she kissed her deeply and let her unshielded feelings for Pif pour out.

The princess’ eyes opened wide in response to the flood of affection empowering her. “Oh, Citrine... let’s make this a night to remember!” Pif’s horn began to glow as she drunkenly cast the teleport spell again.

The night watch-keepers saw a glowing mass hurtle down from the sky, only to disappear a mere moment before it impacted the ground. It would be the source of confusion for many days.

The pair appeared in the air near the ceiling of Pif’s room, but while the teleport had killed most of their velocity, they still slammed into her bed quite hard before bouncing back up to nearly as high again. By the time they bounced to a stop, Pif was already snoring.

Citrine slowly sat up with a groan, rubbing her back. Her face held a huge grin though. “Best date ever!”

She slipped off the bed and covered up Pif with the blankets before pausing to observe the unconscious changeling. She rubbed her head thoughtfully before murmuring, “Mmmm...I'd love to stay, but it’s too soon.” Citrine turned to walk out of the room, her thoughts turning back to the tavern. “I’m gonna need to win a few matches in the honor fights to pay off that bar tab, but it was totally worth it!” She slipped out of the room and headed for her own quarters.

As Citrine moved down the stairs a pair of light blue eyes opened up in the shadow near Pif’s room, then a grin slowly followed. “Good girl.” The grin faded and the eyes disappeared.

# # #

The family looked up as Pif stumbled into the dining room and virtually collapsed onto a seat. With her right forehoof draped over her aching head, she dully looked over the table’s contents.

“Why are we having fish and fries for breakfast?”

The others stared at her for a moment before they all burst out laughing.

Pif clutched her pounding head. “Not so loud, pleeeeeze!”

Path put a comforting arm around his daughter. “Pif, it's dinner time. You’ve missed both breakfast and lunch. When Citrine told us that you'd had a big night out, I didn't think you had it in you.”

“If it's always going to be like this, it's going to be the last,” Pif groaned.

“I kind of doubt that, Sis,” Blue Streak said with a knowing smile. “Don't worry though - you'll learn moderation, I'm sure.”

Lucida nodded in agreement. “Next time we invite you out, we won't accept no for an answer. We'll show you how to have a good time without overdoing it.”

“Not that letting go of your inhibitions is a bad thing. It did start us on the formation of this House, after all,” Roseclaw remembered fondly.

“Not trying to start a new House or Hive,” Pif grumbled as she reached for some food, hoping that she could keep it down.

Twilight poured her a glass of vegetable juice. “Here – this should sit well enough in your stomach, and help rehydrate you too,” she said sympathetically.

“Thanks, Mama.”

Free said quietly to Path, “For the first time in ages, her sub-net is idle, so she's not thinking about her projects. All twenty-four members of her team are relaxing, either doing something personal or sleeping. I was worried that she was going to tax them too hard.”

“Excellent. When Luna reported how Citrine had taken Pif out for the night, I was happy that somepony had finally managed to break her away from her projects.”

“I’m happier that she seems to have a growing emotional attachment to Citrine. Our little girl has improved since the incident with Chrysalis, but she still could do with a bit more to balance her out.”

“So do you think Citrine will make a good companion for Pif?”

Free grinned. “Don’t you see? They’re a lot like us. We needed each other to balance out our needs and desires. Heaven knows what we would have turned out like if we had never met. Citrine might be the answer to Pif’s needs.” He chuckled. “Anyway, I like having her around. She makes me laugh.”

Although the rather wild crystal pony had caused him and the House some problems, Path had to begrudgingly admit that Citrine often made him smile also. And if even Twilight could tolerate their daughter’s indiscretion, then perhaps this episode was an overall positive one. Now if only he could restrain himself from grinning so much at Pif’s hangdog expression!

# # #

“Could you please make up your mind and finish so that we can go back to Ponyville!” Destined complained, ears lowered and a pathetic look on his face.

He, Pif, Lucida, Cinder, and Blue had taken Citrine on a shopping trip in Canterlot. While it was not the crystal pony’s first time there, she had seen little more than the palace during their impromptu arrival during the meeting of the Queens, and this was the first time that she had gotten the chance to see more of the magnificent city, having spent the majority of her time at the Griffonian House. Today though, the family had come to Canterlot to attend an event, and the youths had taken the opportunity to bring along Citrine and get her a few things while showing her around. Unsurprisingly though, the two stallions in the group had quickly grown weary of the endless shopping. Destined just happened to be the first to crack.

“You just want to see your coltfriend at the spa,” Pif said with a smirk.

“Silk’s not my coltfriend!” Destined protested. “I just enjoy his massages a lot, and he’s always booked up. I don’t want to miss my appointment!”

“Sure, sure!” Lucida said agreeably, although her grin completely belied her words. “Tell you what – you can all go to the last stop while I finish up here. That’ll save us ten minutes.”

“Great idea!” Destined exclaimed, already starting to chivy out Citrine and Pif.

Blue brought up the rear with Cinder, an amused smile on his muzzle. He was glad that his little brother had brought up the complaint first because he had been loath to spoil Cinder’s fun.

The last place they visited killed two birds with one stone. Twilight had asked them to pick up a few treats and say hello to friends of the family. Thus they soon found themselves at the True Brew Café.

“Hey, Mixxy!” Blue called out as they entered the cafeteria.

A Violet Changeling in the café’s uniform looked around and smiled. “Blue Streak! Sweet Celestia – you keep growing bigger every time I see you.” She looked at the others following him. “And you’ve brought your siblings. Come in! Come in! Hey, Frothy – House Path is visiting!”

“My wife could see that, Mixitkl. Speaking of which – go fetch her for me,” the coffee-colored unicorn said as he walked from behind the counter. The stallion walked up to Blue and hoof-bumped him, then nodded to the others with a smile. “Hello – is this a new face among you?”

“This is Citrine Quartz, Frothy,” Pif replied. “She's a crystal pony who we met while on a mission in the Crystal Kingdom… and my… companion.”

“Welcome to the True Brew Café, Citrine. I don’t know how you got Epiphany away from her work, but keep it up.”

“I intend to!” Citrine replied with her best grin.

“Now, is it too much to hope that Princess Twilight is coming also?”

Destined shook his head. “Sorry, but Mom's busy, but she asked us to pick up some of Cherry’s treats for tonight. She says she hopes to stop by next week.”

Frothy nodded. “A Princess’s work is never done, I suppose. So, are you stopping for coffee and cake?”

“They had better be,” came a mare’s voice from behind him. Cherry Delight stepped up to the group with only the slightest guiding from Mixitkl. “It has been a while since anyone from House Path dropped by to tell us the news.”

Destined replied, “That’s what we’re here for. And some of your desserts too. We’re entertaining some special guests at Mom’s castle tonight.”

“I’m flattered as always. Frothy – could you make me some tea while I’m getting them their order?”

“Of course, dear,” Frothy replied, stepping back behind the counter. “The usual for the rest of you?”

There was a chorus of assents even as Frothy got to work.

“And for you, Citrine?”

“Tall black espresso for me, please!”

Cherry smiled. “You sound as if you hardly need the caffeine, dear.”

Citrine examined the mare closely. “You’re blind,” she concluded.

“I know,” Cherry replied with an amused smile.

“Yet you baked those cakes and desserts I see over there?”

“I did.”

“Cool! Can you guess what I like?”

“Someone like you seems to need a lot of energy, so something really sweet, I assume. Hmm… I would guess… everything.”

Citrine guffawed. “Yeah, you got me!”

Most of the group made their way to a large table, while Pif went to the baked goods display with Cherry and Mixitkl. She read off their requests while the two selected and carefully packed the cakes and desserts for transport. The ponyling then paid for them before taking them to the table. Cherry joined them, followed moments later by Mixitkl levitating a tray of drinks with her. Frothy was momentarily delayed as he dealt with another customer.

“So,” Cherry began, “tell me what’s been happening lately.” She took a sip of her tea.

The others found that they had quite a thirst and sipped or slurped their own drinks.

Blue was the first to speak up. “Dad's thinking of putting together a mission to Zebrica. With relationships improving over the past few years, he thinks it’s time to go to the next level.”

“From what I have heard of the zebra culture, I think even House Path will have its hooves full with that quest.”

Blue chuckled. “Yeah, you’re probably right, but that’s never stopped us before.”

“How about something that you’ve already done? I think I overheard something about a mission to the Crystal Kingdom?” Cherry prompted.

“Oh, yeah. Umm… we can’t really say much about that. It involved some very scary consequences, but it’s also where we met Citrine….”

There was a sudden burst of light above the table, and a sparkling swirl surrounding a dark hole in mid-air appeared. Moments later a grey mare fell through it, landing butt-first on the table and scattering much of its contents.

“…and that happened,” Blue finished almost automatically.

“Oh, there you guys are!” Derpy proclaimed happily. She looked over at the cake display. “Aw – no muffins?”

“Derpy!” Pif exclaimed. “Don’t tell me it’s happening again?!”

“Yep! The Doc wants you back as soon as possible,” the messenger mare replied cheerfully.

“But Lucida isn’t here with us!” Cinder protested.

“Can’t wait – the time-change is almost here. Gotta go now!” Derpy tapped the device on her foreleg, and the vortex opened again, pulling them in.

“Oh, horsefeathers! Here we go again!” Destined exclaimed.

Frothy pulled Cherry back just in time to not get engulfed by the vortex also… then suddenly it was quiet again, and nothing was left to show that the youths had been there except for their abandoned drinks.

The bell on the door tinkled, and Lucida walked in with a couple of shopping bags tucked under her wings. “Whoo, sorry to take so long…. Where's everypony?”

Frothy turned to the hippogriff with a nonplussed look on his face. “They left in a hurry. Looks like you have to deliver some cakes and desserts, and one heck of an explanation for what just happened here!”

# # # # # # # # #

Author's Note:

So Citrine is the new time-traveler, but will she be a help or a hindrance? What will the team do without Lucida's cool head? What change to history must they contend with? And will they get back in time to eat some of those delicious cakes and desserts? I'm afraid you might be kept waiting a little longer than usual to find out because I'm heading off to America for a vacation next weekend. I might find time to write a few words though.

All art as usual by Foxena.
But speaking of art, it's still expensive to provide so many illustrations, and although I intend to continue to do so, I could do with a bit of financial help. If you have been enjoying the art and would like to tip in a bit to help, you can send money to https://paypal.me/Goldfur

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