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.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/328566/quantum-gallop

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8. Chapter 5 - This Day...

“I should have done this the first time.”

“Are you sure that this is will achieve all your desires, my dear?”

“Without a doubt. This time it’s going to be perfect!”

# # #

Six bodies fell out of the vortex and sprawled in a heap on the floor with a mixture of groans and curses.

“I’m complaining to the management about their shuttle service,” Epiphany grumbled.

“Yeah, this is getting old fast,” Blue Streak agreed as he scrambled to his hooves.

“Just the ponies I wanted to see!” came an overly cheerful and very familiar voice. “Well done, my dear. Hopefully we can nip this little problem in the bud early.”

“You’re welcome, Doc,” Derpy said as she fluttered over to his side and gave him a peck on the cheek.

The Doctor blushed slightly before focusing on the House Path ponies again. “Come, come! Surely you knew that our little problem wasn’t over yet. We have work to do!”

“But why us, Doctor?” Destined asked. “Surely you have other ponies and resources at your command?” He gestured at the contents of the Doctor’s workshop. “You obviously know a tremendous amount about many things that we know nothing about.”

“Isn’t it obvious, Prince Destined? Your alicorn ability to sense time and space like no other pony is vital to the mission. However, you are still growing into your power, so you need a secondary power source, hence Blue Streak’s inclusion. Additionally, he and his lovely mate are warriors, and provide the defensive capabilities for your team.” He turned away from Blue and Cinder and indicated Pif. “Epiphany has her shape-changing abilities for covert operations, and of course Lucida has her remarkable planning and leadership skills to guide your group….” The Doctor paused as he stared uncertainly at Citrine. “Didn’t you used to be a hippogriff?”

The crystal pony grinned and posed. “Like my new look, Doc? I thought I’d give it a try and see what it’s like.”

Pif rolled her eyes and said, “This is Citrine Quartz. She was with us when Derpy fetched us, but Lucida hadn’t caught up with us yet.”

“Oh dear! This is bad,” the Doctor muttered.

Cinder frowned in annoyance. “Hey! It’s not as if we aren’t capable of running a tight operation without her.”

The Doctor waved his hoof dismissively. “You don’t understand. Yours was a near perfectly balanced group. This just throws it all out of kilter!”

“Then get Derpy to fetch her too,” Blue suggested.

“Too late – I can’t release the time anchor now to fetch her, or else the changes to history will overtake us too. I’m afraid that you’re going to have to deal with the problem without her input.”

“Don’t sweat it, Doc!” Citrine said with a confident grin. “Me and Pif have got it covered, whatever it is.”

The Time Stallion sighed, and then smiled. “Nopony ever said things had to be easy. Shall we get this show on the road?”

“Not without tea and muffins!” Derpy announced cheerfully as she entered the room with trays balanced on her back and partially spread wings.

“Shouldn’t we get on with our task?” Blue asked.

“History has already been changed; ten more minutes won’t make a difference,” Destined replied. “Besides, I hardly started on my drink and snack back at the café.”

“And there was a disturbing lack of muffins there!” Derpy added with deadly seriousness.

“Eat and drink while you can,” the Doctor advised. “Who knows what it will be like out there?”

“Why don’t you go look?” Citrine asked with her mouth half full of muffin.

“I’m keeping this pocket of reality stable, my dear. If I leave, it will collapse, and history will be irrevocably changed.”

The crystal pony snorted. “Must be tough having to let others do your dirty work.”

The Time Stallion cast his eyes to the floor and murmured sadly, “You have no idea.”

“Can you give us any clues at all, Doc?” Blue asked.

“The nature of the time meddling leaves me very little window of opportunity to fetch you, let alone gather intelligence. However, I can tell you that the epicenter of the time change was almost two decades ago. Other than that, same as before – go out and reconnoiter to try to identify the change.”

The refreshments were soon consumed, and the group readied itself for the task. Pif changed from her default earth pony/ changeling cross to her incognito unicorn guise.

“Why the change?” Citrine inquired. “I thought you preferred your earth pony form?”

“I do, but I might need my magic in a hurry, so it’s better if I take unicorn form now. And it would probably be dangerous to go in changeling form.”

“Have you got the vortex manipulator, Blue Streak?” the Doctor asked.

“Yep. I always have it with me in my saddle pack, along with some basic weapons. As a warrior leader, I need to always be prepared.”

“Yeah, he even brings that lot to parties!” Cinder added with an affectionate grin for her mate.

The Doctor led them to the front door of the workshop and opened it for them. “Good fortune to all of you. Allons-y!”

Blue led the way, saying, “Take nothing for granted. Remember what happened last time. Be discreet and watch out for anything strange.”

The others followed Blue out, and the door closed behind them. Despite bracing themselves for the unexpected, they were all still surprised when they realized that they were standing in a Canterlot back street. They turned around to see the familiar workshop of the Doctor, but positioned alongside the architecture of the nation’s capital instead of the Ponyville dwellings that most had expected.

“What the hay?” Pif exclaimed.

“Remember it had disappeared from Ponyville,” Destined reminded her.

“One more thing to figure out about that strange pony,” Pif said with a sigh.

“Okay, everypony focus!” Blue commanded. “We’re on a mission now. Time for mysteries later. Let’s go!”

They ventured cautiously out of the unusually quiet back street towards a large thoroughfare. It was also far less busy than it normally would be, but what they saw had them immediately ducking for cover.

“Those are Blue Changelings!” hissed Destined.

Pif was already seeking a surreptitious link to the hive-mind. “I know! Give me a moment!” she replied irritably.

While they waited, the rest observed from their place of concealment. Blue Changelings were in abundance wherever they looked, most of them with a pony in tow, some actually on leashes. Every pony had a collar, but none looked happy about it. Even the vendors without a changeling obviously in attendance had collars.

“Okay, first guess,” Blue said quietly, “Chrysalis won the invasion of Canterlot.”

Pif nodded, her eyes unfocused. “From what I can tell from my private connection to the hive-mind, your guess is right. The Blue Hive controls this city, and perhaps more. Yes… I see. Chrysalis used the unicorn population of Canterlot to help subdue the rest of Equestria. All the ponies are enthralled, feeding their changeling keepers their love, like Shining Armor did to Chrysalis while she was disguised as Cadance.” Her eyes snapped back into focus and she frowned. “We have a big problem. I can disguise myself as a Blue Changeling because although I’m a mutant, I’m still basically a Blue. However, every pony I see has a collar, and you will stand out badly without one.”

“Auntie Luna taught me some illusion magic; I can make a fake one, and hide my wings at the same time,” Destined said, putting words into action.

“That’s fine for you, but what about us?” Blue Streak asked.

“Eh! I don’t like this sneaking about anyway,” Citrine said.

Pif looked at her with concern, tasting the rapidly growing anger that the changeling drones were evoking in her. “Citrine – calm down! You’ll get your chance to act once we figure out what went wrong.”

Citrine sullenly nodded, but her anger barely subsided.

“What about me?” Cinder asked. “I don’t see any other species here, not even a griffon.”

Pif shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know. I can’t even tell if Chrysalis has kept any of the other species around.”

“Do we even need to go out among them?” Destined asked. “If we agree that the invasion of Canterlot was the critical change, perhaps we should go then immediately?”

“Two things – first Blue has to build up energy for the jump. Second – I’m not absolutely sure that that was the event. I can’t dig too deep into the hive-mind without setting off an alarm. Subtlety takes time! Besides, maybe we can learn a lot by looking around.”

Destined looked uncertain, but eventually nodded. “Okay, I’ll come with you then. Cinder, Blue, and Citrine – you three stay here and stay out of sight while we scout around.”

“No way! I’m coming with you!” Citrine declared.

“But…” Pif trailed off. She could taste Citrine’s utter determination. “Okay, but try to stay out of the direct view of the drones.” She looked at Blue and Cinder. “Sorry about this.”

Blue shrugged. “Sometimes it’s the warrior’s lot to just be patient and prepare.” He took off the shoes that helped him control the inflow of power through his hooves. “I’ll be ready by the time you return.”

Pif nodded, and then her magic flared as she took on the appearance of a Blue Changeling drone. “Okay, let’s head for the palace,” she told her companions.

Pif stepped back out onto the street, and Destined followed, hanging his head in imitation of the other ponies plodding down the road. Citrine had a harder time following suit, but she did keep the other two between her and most observers. In any event, they did not cause an alarm.

As they progressed towards their goal, Pif and Destined surreptitiously studied everything around them. Destined leaned close to his sister and murmured, “This feels so wrong. It’s like walking through a crowd of zombies.”

“That’s a pretty accurate assessment. Every pony here seems to be feeding their keeper constantly, while obeying their every command.”

“That doesn’t seem sustainable to me.”

“It isn’t. Everypony is enthralled to a changeling, so they have no love to give to a mate, which means that there won’t be any new foals, and eventually ponies will die out unless some escaped to other lands.”

“What about the other hives?”

“Good question. Maybe they were forced to reveal themselves to fight back against Chrysalis? Judging by how things seem utterly under control here though, I don’t think they fared well. They might still be a problem though. The fact that all the ponies have a collar must be significant. Perhaps there are rebels, and the collars are what are used to subdue them? Or at least mark them as being enthralled.” She looked over at Citrine. “That’s what’s making me nervous about Citrine being without one.”

The whispered conversation lapsed until they approached the gates to the palace.

“Are you sure we should do this?” Destined asked.

“I… we have to know,” Pif replied grimly.

The gates were flanked by changeling soldiers who halted them. One with an officer’s markings approached Pif.

“What is your business here?”

“The Queen has summoned me,” Pif answered, hazarding an educated guess as to what would work.

The officer nodded. It did not occur to him that a drone would lie about that. Instead his attention turned to Citrine. “Why has this slave no collar?”

“The fool pony damaged hers. I was in the process of getting it replaced when I was summoned.”

The soldier’s tongue flickered out briefly before he turned back to Pif. “I can taste her love for you, so the enthrallment is intact. Have the collar replaced immediately after attending to the Queen. You may proceed.”

Pif was surprised by the officer’s candid statement about Citrine, but hid it and gestured to the two ponies to follow her. When she was sure that they were out of earshot, she turned to Citrine. “You emulated love for me to fool the guard?”

“Who was emulating?” she replied with a wink.

It was too risky to pursue that revelation for now, but Pif intended to follow it up later. She led the way to the throne room where she logically assumed that she would find Queen Chrysalis. Despite her fears, they had no further confrontations until they reached their destination. They did not even have to be particularly careful there as the throne room was filled with drones attending to various business with their Queen, some of them accompanied by pony thralls, and some not, so Pif’s companions did not stand out.

Chrysalis was conspicuous as she lounged on the throne in the middle of the dais, issuing orders and taking reports. Also conspicuous was the fate of the nation’s rulers, with Celestia and Luna also present, seated on smaller thrones on either side of Chrysalis. It was a mere mockery of their status though as each wore a thrall collar in place of their royal peytral. Pif snorted in grim humor. Of course she would reserve the two most powerful ponies in existence to feed her personally.

They worked their way closer, intent on trying to pick up clues on how these circumstances had come about. They were almost up to the dais when Chrysalis stood up.

“Enough!” the changeling Queen declared. “I declare this day complete. Celestia, lower the sun immediately.”

Without a word in response, Celestia lit her horn, and the three adventurers saw the rays of the sun coming through the windows start dropping, turn red, and then fade away.

Well, that answers what they do about maintaining the day-night cycle,’ Pif thought to herself.

“Luna – I want a full moon over the gardens tonight. I wish the celebration of my latest conquest to be perfect.” Then she turned to crowd in the room and said menacingly. “And there had better not be one bucking cloud in the sky, or else some drones are going to get recycled!”

Chrysalis started marching from the dais to head for her chambers, only to stop abruptly as she was passing Pif. She turned and stared intently at the disguised princess before demanding, “Who are you?”

Pif reminded herself that she had dealt with Chrysalis before, and she could learn things from the conquering Queen. She gave Chrysalis her most confident smile before resuming her natural changeling form. “Don’t you recognize your own granddaughter, Gramgram?”

The revelation shook Chrysalis. “What is this? It cannot be! But your chitin – it’s the same as Gossamer’s! Does this mean that she still lives? Why have I not heard of it before now? Tell me, child!” she screamed at Pif.

“You have not heard of my mother’s whereabouts because your drones killed her while she was disguised as a griffon during your invasion of Canterlot.” Whether that was true or not, Pif had no idea, but that did not matter right now.

NO!” Chrysalis wailed as she sank to her knees.

Pif smiled internally. This was going well. Chrysalis was off-balance and not thinking clearly, and no ’ling was paying the slightest bit of attention to Destined or Citrine. “Yes, Queen Chrysalis, you are responsible for your daughter’s and my mother’s death. If only Twilight Sparkle had managed to stop your invasion, we would not both be grieving for our loss,” Pif accused.

Chrysalis threw her head back and screamed incoherently. Even Pif was surprised by the intensity of the reaction, even though she knew that it was the loss of her last hope for a successor that had ultimately driven her to madness. What the Queen said next though was a bigger surprise.

“He told me that I could only succeed if I killed Sparkle! He promised that I would rule Equestria only if I rid myself of that one unicorn. But he killed my daughter!” she snarled.

Pif realized that there was a lot more to this than what Chrysalis had just said, but with little doubt, this was the source of the time interference, and they now had a target to seek out. They had gotten lucky, and it was time to leave before that luck ran out. However, it was not going to be that easy.

Chrysalis abruptly got to her hooves and threw one foreleg about Pif. “At least I have a granddaughter and an heir,” she said with terrible intensity.

Pif shuddered and tried to disengage from the Queen’s grasp. “I want nothing to do with you, Grandmother!”

“I’m not giving you a choice!” Chrysalis said with finality.

The changeling princess was suddenly afraid that things had gone badly awry. However, just as Chrysalis started to drag her away, she managed to wrest herself free, and Destined flung himself upon Pif wresting her from the Queen's grasp, and teleported them to safety.

Citrine had hung onto Destined’s tail and had been brought along also, and the three safely materialized back where they had left Cinder and Blue in concealment. Pif staggered as through the hive-mind, one powerful demand came screaming:

FIND THEM! FIND THEM OR ELSE HEADS WILL ROLL!” Chrysalis’ virtual voice was accompanied by an image of all three.

All the drones within view suddenly went into a frenzy of searching.

“We have to get out of here now!” Pif said, switching to unicorn form again.

“I’m ready,” Blue replied.

“And I know to when we need to go,” Destined added.

“Do it!” Pif ordered, just as two drones spotted them.

The fivesome abruptly dropped into the time vortex, leaving the danger behind.

# # #

Canterlot was a picture of normality – except for the four ponies and one dragon that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and sprawled over the roadway. If it wasn’t for the dragon, the citizens would probably have passed it off as some bizarre event that was no business of theirs, but they were more than a bit uneasy about Cinder.

The dragoness noticed their stares as she got to her feet, and she sighed. She held up one arm to focus attention on her and said, “No need for alarm, folks. Just visiting your beautiful city and had a minor incident. No harm done!”

The ponies remained wary but mostly mollified, and they continued with their business.

“I am never going to get used to this,” Blue complained as he shakily got back onto his hooves, his energy severely depleted by the trip.

“It’s still better than dealing with a dangerous changeling horde,” Cinder pointed out.

“Not as much fun though,” he quietly grumbled.

Pif smirked before turning to Destined and asking, “Exactly when did you bring us back to?”

“A couple of days before Shining Armor put up the shield to protect Canterlot before the royal wedding. Or at least I think so. Practice makes perfect, I hope.”

A quick inquiry of a passing pony soon confirmed the date, and they wandered off to find somewhere to have a meal… or two in Blue’s case. It was off peak meal times, so they were able to have a quiet table by themselves while they discussed their plans.

“So, all she said was that he told her to kill Mama Twilight?” Blue asked between mouthfuls. “No hint of who this ‘he’ is?”

“None, although I suspect it’s a drone sent by Future Chrysalis, just like the one that gave her past self the warning at the Crystal Kingdom,” Pif replied.

“And that not necessarily in person,” Destined added.

“True enough,” Pif agreed. “The question now is when he will do so, and how can we either prevent the message getting through or it being successfully acted upon.”

Destined nodded. “Mom hasn’t arrived here yet, so nothing will happen until after Chrysalis meets her for the first time. From what I recall, Mom was never alone with her until after she confronted her in front of everypony and denounced her as being evil.”

Blue said, “After that, Chrysalis banished Mama Twilight to the caverns with Cadance, right? Wouldn’t that be the perfect time to kill her instead?”

“If I was a deranged changeling Queen, that’s when I would,” Pif agreed.

“Then that’s what we need to prevent,” Cinder decided.

“It’s not that simple,” Destined said with a shake of his head. “We will need to do it without alerting Mom to future knowledge, while deceiving Chrysalis into thinking she succeeded so that the rest of the events can proceed without change.”

“I know, I know!” Cinder said with a scowl. “But any result is better than letting Twilight Sparkle be killed.”

Blue sighed. “Really, Cinder? If everything doesn’t go virtually exactly as it should, we will never meet. Do you want that?”

Cinder slammed a fist on the table. “Of course not! It’s… just that I feel so useless this time.”

“Sometimes it’s not our fight to win, my love.”

Cinder nodded in resignation.

“That said, does anypony have a plan yet?” Blue asked the others.

“Actually, yes,” Destined replied. “It’ll take some tight timing, but I think I can switch out Mom at the last moment.”

“You think?” Pif asked skeptically.

“Give me a break, sis. We’re working blind until we see exactly what Chrysalis does.”

Citrine spoke up for the first time. “Hey! If you don’t get it right the first time, you can always go back and try it again, right?”

Blue chuckled. “Yeah. What’s the point of being time travelers if we let one failure stop us?”

The mood lightened among the group after that, and they were able to enjoy their meals. At least this time they had Equestrian Bits to pay for them.

“What’s next?” Cinder asked.

“We settle in somewhere and wait, and give Blue time to recover,” Pif replied.

“And I have the perfect place to do it,” Destined said with a grin. “Everypony hold onto me.”

Each put a hoof or a talon on the stallion, and a moment later, they disappeared in a flash…

… and reappeared in familiar quarters.

“Isn’t this Mama’s room in the palace?” Blue asked.

“Yep,” Destined replied, letting the illusion that hid his wings fade away. “It’s permanently reserved for Mom’s use, so it’s left untouched in her absence. As long as we’re quiet, nopony will know we’re here. We will only need to leave when Mom and her friends arrive, and the servants come in to freshen up the room in preparation.”

“Great idea, Des!” Pif said, taking a cue from him and relaxing into her preferred ponyling form.

“If only we could call for room service. I’m hungry again,” Blue lamented.

Everyone else chuckled, but Pif found him some oat snacks that Twilight had stashed away, and gave him the lot to nibble on until they made a supply run.

“And now we wait,” Blue said as he made himself comfortable on the opulent bed, and Cinder climbed in beside him.

“Got any ideas how to pass the time?” Citrine asked Pif with a leer and a cheeky wiggle of an eyebrow.

Epiphany just laughed nervously.

# # #

While they waited, Pif and Destined took turns scouting the palace on general principles. While they were familiar with the important events of that time, they did not want to be tripped up by some minor point that did not bear mentioning, and yet could have a significant effect if ignored. Their familiarity with palace procedures enabled both to blend in easily, especially Pif with her shape-changing abilities. As a consequence, she found out just how many of the staff were also changelings. She knew of the Red Changelings that took positions in the Royal Guard, but had not paid much attention to the rest of the work force that kept the castle and the grounds functioning smoothly. It made her realize just how easy it was for Chrysalis to slip in and replace Princess Cadance because back then, Blue Changeling staff were no more unusual than ones from any of the other hives. Each hive tended to mind its own business, and did not usually interact with any of the drones from the other hives unless it was because of their alter ego’s tasks. Back in her normal time, they cooperated more openly, although as a consequence of the invasion, changeling staff levels had plummeted drastically and never quite recovered. Neither Pif nor Destined spotted the switch being made, although their observation of ‘Cadance’ led them to suspect that it had happened before they had arrived.

Cinder was put to use scouting the caverns to locate Cadance. If, as they guessed, Chrysalis intended to kill Twilight rather than transport her to join the Princess of Love, they needed to know exactly where she was in order to get events back on course. The extensive system of tunnels and huge caves had caused Cinder to take two days to find her, and she had nearly given herself away after stumbling upon her prison accidentally. Fortunately Cadance had thought that it was Chrysalis coming back to taunt her, and had yelled at her before Cinder was revealed.

It was with a little relief that the fateful day arrived, and they could finally act to deal with the impostor, and save their mother’s life.

“Okay, let’s review,” Destined told the others. “I’ve found a good place to conceal myself in the throne room. From there, I will be able to clearly see Chrysalis interacting with Mom. I have a few spells prepared to counter anything that I can think of that Chrysalis might use, so it’s mostly a question of timing. Whatever she does, Mom has to end up in the caves below and think Chrysalis sent her there. Although I’m almost sure that she intends to kill Mom then, just in case, Cinder stands by with her comm and waits for confirmation from me.”

Cinder nodded and took up the review, holding up a pendant with runes upon it. “Once Des confirms that it was he that sent Twilight to the caves and not Chrysalis, then I will use this joke voice-modifying charm to imitate the fake Cadance and taunt Twilight from concealment in order for her to break down the wall of Cadance’s prison, just as Twilight said she had done. After they start making their escape from the caverns, then I let Des know and he will teleport me back up.”

Pif spoke up next. “Because the sequence of events might be altered from that point, Citrine and I will spy on Chrysalis to ensure no surprises happen. If so, I will report with my comm and /or try to deal with it without betraying myself to her. However, if all goes smoothly, nothing should happen before Cadance and Mom burst into the throne room to reveal Chrysalis as a fake.”

Blue Streak adjusted the Royal Guard armor that Destined had borrowed, its standard enchantment making the big earth pony look just like all the other guard ponies. “I will be standing by in the throne room to protect Mama Twilight from a second attempt to kill her. Destined, Pif, and Citrine will also join with me to protect her in the fight that occurs when they try to fetch the Elements of Harmony. We continue to do so until Twilight gets the opportunity to free Cadance, and Chrysalis gets expelled from Canterlot, along with all the Blue Changelings. Pif must make sure that she teleports as far away as possible before that though, because although it won’t affect a Chrome mutant as much as the Blues, from what Papa Free told us, it will hit her hard.”

Destined said, “Sounds like we’re ready. Okay – places everypony!” He teleported Cinder to the caverns below, and then the rest of them set about their tasks.

# # #

It had been galling to witness his mother be humiliated when she could not offer proof of her suspicions to Celestia and the others, and as Destined watched her weeping on the steps of the throne’s dais, his heart went out to her, and he wanted to go to her to offer comfort. Instead, he had to wait in concealment as ‘Cadance’ approached her and patted her solicitously on the head.

Twilight looked up with tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry!”

Cadance’s smile abruptly changed to a frown. “You will be!” she declared, and her horn flared with green-colored magic.

Twilight was surrounded by a sphere of magic flames, confining her completely. At this point, it should have phased her through the floor and down to the caverns. Instead, Cadance snarled and said, “Now die!” and the sphere started contracting inexorably.

Despite his mother’s peril, Destined was relieved to recognize the spell that Chrysalis was using. He immediately had the counter-spell ready, but he had to disguise his actions at the same time. “I hope all your lessons on illusions have paid off, Auntie Luna,” he murmured as he simultaneously cast two spells.

To Chrysalis’ eyes, the sphere continued to contract until it flared up and disintegrated Twilight. In reality, the disintegration spell was nullified and Twilight was teleported to the predetermined place in the caverns, while an illusion showed Chrysalis what she wanted to see. The Changeling Queen nodded in satisfaction, and then headed out of the throne room.

“Step one completed successfully,” Destined said quietly into his comm. “She’s all yours now, Cinder.” He then started to discreetly follow the fake Cadance.

They had anticipated a couple of destinations for Chrysalis after she had dealt with Twilight, but they weren’t sure because there had been no accounts of the changeling’s whereabouts after she had banished the unicorn. When Destined reported that she was heading towards her chambers, Pif and Citrine concealed themselves on the room’s balcony. From there they could observe, but if by chance Chrysalis came out onto the balcony, Pif could fly them both out of sight.

The fake Cadance entered the chambers with a broad grin on her face. After she secured the door though, she surprised her watchers by what she did next.

This day is going to be perfect,
The kind of day of which I dreamed since I was small….

“Is… is she really singing about this?” Citrine whispered incredulously.

Every pony will gather ’round 
Say I look lovely in my gown, 
What they don’t know is that I have fooled them all!

“Apparently so,” Pif eventually replied,

They listened as she continued her gloating song, and Pif could taste the growing anger in her companion.

I could care less about the dress, 
I won’t partake in any cake, 
Vows – I will be lying when I say
That through any kind of weather, 
I’ll want us to be together, 
The truth is I don’t care for him at all!

“Citrine! Calm your emotions, or else she’ll notice you!” Pif hissed urgently.

Suddenly Citrine’s emotional radiation died away, and Pif sighed in relief, turning back to watch Chrysalis. She failed to notice when the crystal pony slipped away. Moments later, something entered Pif’s peripheral vision, and she turned to look. She gasped in horror and she saw Citrine advancing upon Chrysalis with a coat rack firmly in her teeth.

“Citrine!” Pif hissed urgently, but was ignored. She desperately leaped up to grasp Citrine’s tail to drag her back, praying that Chrysalis would not notice. Pif might as well have been trying to hold back a train as Citrine advanced inexorably towards her target. Astoundingly, the disguised Queen remained totally self-absorbed with her singing.

 

 

No I do not love the groom, 
In my heart there is no room, 
But I still want him to be all– URK!”

Citrine swung the coat rack and connected hard with Chrysalis’ head. The changeling Queen collapsed instantly. Green flames flared, revealing her true form.

What have you done?!” yelled Pif. She looked at Chrysalis closely. “She’s still breathing…”

The coat rack came down again with a sickening crack.

“Now she’s not,” Citrine said with finality.

Pif just gaped in shock for a long moment before she started fumbling for her comm. She quickly made a connection and said, “Des! Get in here now!”

“What are you talking about, Pif? Where’s Chrysalis?” Destined’s voice came back.

“Everything’s gone wrong. Get in here!” she repeated.

Destined wasted no more time and complied. He burst into the chambers and immediately spotted Chrysalis’ lifeless body. “Oh, shit. What happened?”

Pif indicated the crystal pony. “Citrine clobbered her with a coat rack – twice!”

Destined stared at Citrine in disbelief. “I can’t believe you did that!”

Citrine nodded. “I helped kill her in the Crystal City; I actually killed her here. What’s the problem?”

“The problem?! She was supposed to be defeated in the Crystal Kingdom, but she was supposed to be alive this time. Do you know what disasters that you’ve just caused?!” he yelled.

Citrine shrugged. “All I know is now my pony posse won’t be killed.”

That statement shocked both Pif and Destined as they both suddenly understood Citrine’s motivations. Several ponies who had been near and dear to her would now never have to deal with a changeling invasion. They would go on to live their lives, and Citrine could go back and be with them once more.

Pif looked over at her brother and said, “Des, take us to Mom’s room and fetch the others too. We have to reconsider our course of action.”

Destined swallowed and nodded. His horn flared, and the three of them were back in Twilight’s chambers. A call was made to Blue, and the puzzled earth pony was soon making his way back to join them. As soon as Cinder was ready, Destined fetched her too. When Blue arrived, they explained what had happened while Citrine remained sullenly tight-lipped.

Pif sighed and said, “We’re going to have to go back and see what history has turned out like.”

Destined frowned. “You can’t possibly think that things will be okay? So many factors went into the chain of events that brought about House Path and our family just from this one event.”

“No, I don’t think things will be okay. I think that Citrine needs to see just how not okay things will be due to her actions.” She sighed. “But we also have to think about ours too.”

“Ah, I see. Blue – are you powered up?”

“I've been ready all day.”

“Time to go home then… if we still have one.”

They gathered together and triggered the time vortex. Once more, they fell endlessly through the time continuum, not knowing what they would find at their destination.

# # #

 
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