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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10. Chapter 6 - Different Lives Part 2

 

Path stepped back and said, “Ancient Text told me that you came to see me, and got side-tracked by this interesting little group.”

“Yes, and they have revealed some astounding things to me, some of which has led me to make a decision. There’s something that I should have told you long ago, but I was too scared of the consequences to go ahead and do it.”

Path smiled softly. “You should have had more faith in me. You should know that I would listen and understand.”

Free gulped and steeled himself. “I know I should have long ago, but I’m doing it now. Long Path, my beloved soulmate, I am and always have been a changeling.” With a flare of green fire, Free assumed his natural form of a changeling Queen, and he braced for the reaction.

I know,” Path said in the changeling language, his smile never fading.

Free’s eyes widened in shock. “You know?! When did you find out? How did you find out?”

Path’s eyes had been wandering curiously over Free’s form, but he returned his gaze to meet the changeling’s. “Oh, come on, Free. I didn’t get to be head of the Hippology Department by being stupid. I saw what was happening to you after the changeling invasion, and I observed and investigated when you wouldn’t confide in me what was troubling you. When I discovered the truth, I was impressed by what you had taken on, and I’ve tried to support you discreetly. I figured that you’d tell me one day when you were ready.”

Free started shaking his head and chuckling. He resumed his griffon form and embraced his soulmate. “Path, you’re a bloody wonder. What did I do to ever deserve you? I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.”

“You’re forgiven, but I’m curious to know what brought about this decision.” Path looked at their audience. “You said that these youngsters had something to do with it.”

“They had everything to do with it. Epiphany, if you will?”

Pif resumed her changeling form and smiled at her sire’s alternate self, and Destined revealed his wings too.

“Path, meet our kids!” Free said with a grin.

One of Path’s eyebrows rose considerably as his curiosity was aroused. “I sense an interesting story coming up.”

“Make yourself comfortable, Dad,” Pif said with a grin. “We’re going to blow your mind.”

# # #

After proving who they were once again, they conversed for a long time until Path had to go back to work. Before he did though, he and Free invited them around to their home for dinner. Free gave them instructions on where to find his gymnasium, which was also where the pair had made their new home. That made a lot of sense to the others as it was convenient to both his public job and his hidden hive. As Free also had work to do, the group elected to spend the afternoon relaxing in the relative familiarity of Canterlot before proceeding to Free and Path’s home.

Dinner was an interesting affair. Free had prepared meat for their dragon guest, and she had been impressed by his culinary skills.

Cinder cut a piece off her steak and held it up on her fork in front of Blue. “You have to try this! It’s mouth-wateringly good!” she urged.

Free started to laugh at the thought of any pony besides Path eating meat, but his eyes bulged in surprise as Blue casually leaned forward and took the piece and chewed it thoughtfully.

Blue nodded and said, “You’re right – that is really nice. How come my Papa Free never cooked this before?”

Free shook his head and gave him a lopsided smile. “If there were any doubts that you’re our kids, that just put them to rest.”

He was still a little surprised when Destined admitted to eating meat also, although the alicorn had no particular preference for it. A curious question from Path to Cinder about the sharing of the meat soon morphed into an impromptu lesson in draconic.

“You pick up the language remarkably quickly,” Cinder said with admiration.

Path smiled self-deprecatingly and shrugged. “It’s my special talent – that’s how I got my cutie mark.”

“Ah! That could be why you’re better than the Path I am familiar with. He lost his cutie mark, and has no magical amplification of his talent.”

“I feel a bit sorry for my other self for that.”

“He never let it hold him back. In fact, I could suggest that it pushed him to take a more affirmative course that did not rely on magical help, and that’s why he became such a respected noble and House leader.”

“While I’m just a rather unfit scholar,” Path said with a sigh.

“You aren’t just anything,” Free said. “You’re a respected academic, and moreover, my rock. I would never have been able to cope with the hive if it wasn’t for you.”

Path’s appreciation for Free’s compliment added a bit of spice to Pif’s meal. She considered an idea briefly before she said to Free, “How would you like it if I help you out with the hive for the next couple of days until we’re ready to go? After all, I have the benefit of knowing how mine is run.”

“That… is a great idea, but is it worth bothering? After all, you told us that history as we know it will change when you fix past events, and none of this will matter anymore.”

“Are you going to stop work with your hive or your gym for that reason?” Pif asked.

“Of course not.”

“Then it’s not a waste of time. Besides, I can’t just sit around and do nothing when I can be helping.”

“I’d be happy to give a few more lessons in Draconic,” Cinder offered.

“Could I use your gym tomorrow?” Blue asked. “I want to get back into optimum shape again before we go. I hate all this laying around doing nothing.”

“That seems a fair exchange to me,” Free agreed.

Conversation devolved again into a discussion of the differences between their histories, and all involved later said that it was just like they had always been family. The time-travelers were quite reluctant to leave when the evening got late. Pif was the last out the door, but before she left, she turned to Free and Path with a sly smile.

“You know I’m the child of your alternate history selves; so, might I suggest that you find out for yourselves what it was like to conceive me?” She winked and joined up with the others, calling out, “Bye, Dads!”

The very startled griffon-changeling met the gaze of a furiously blushing earth pony and gulped.

# # #

Two days later, Blue declared that he was back to peak fitness and powered up. The group bid a reluctant farewell to Free and Path, before returning to their base of operations in Twilight’s castle suite. They went over their plan of action one last time before Blue powered up the time vortex, and they journeyed into the past once more.

Destined again foiled Chrysalis’ attempt to kill Twilight, and Cinder was in position to goad Twilight into blasting the walls using the joke charm to imitate the changeling Queen’s voice. They had agreed that Chrysalis was not going to do anything significant before the wedding ceremony, so instead of staking out her room, Pif and Citrine backed up Blue in his Royal Guard armor for when Twilight returned with Cadance. They had to ensure that the Queen did not try a second time to kill Twilight. However, Chrysalis was sufficiently distracted by Celestia to pass up the opportunity, but when Twilight left with the other Element Bearers, she had called out, “You can run, but you can’t hide! Bring the Element Bearers back, but kill Twilight Sparkle!”

Twilight and her friends fought remarkably well for non-warriors, but it was the discreet intervention by the House Path warriors that foiled several attempts to assassinate Twilight. However, the mares were eventually overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and five of them were led away while Twilight’s lifeless body was carried on the back of one of the changeling soldiers.

A very confused mare tried to reorient herself after being snatched abruptly from the mêlée. “What’s going on here?” Twilight whispered fiercely as she watched herself being taken away.

Destined had cast a spell of invisibility over them both while Pif had assumed Twilight’s appearance. Because she was a changeling, Pif didn’t leak any emotions to betray the fact that she was very much alive. This had been by far the trickiest part of their operation, trying to make the very fewest changes to the sequence of events that they could manage under the circumstances.

“No time to explain, Twilight. I’ve got to get you back to the throne room where you can free Princess Cadance. Without the Elements of Harmony, it’s up to her and Shining Armor to save the day.”

“But Shiny’s under Chrysalis’ control!” Twilight protested.

“Have a little faith in your brother and future sister-in-law. They have a power that can overcome Chrysalis.”

“Who are you?” Twilight demanded of her invisible rescuer.

Destined smiled even though Twilight could not see it. “I’ll tell you later. We have a city to save right now. Hang on!”

Destined teleported them both to the throne room to an inconspicuous spot that he had predetermined to be safe.

“Wait until your friends arrive. When Chrysalis is distracted, you can go to Cadance and free her.”

“You won’t get away with this!” Cadance vehemently told Chrysalis. “Twilight and her friends will….”

The throne room doors burst open and the Element Bearers were brought inside, to Cadance’s shock. She gasped when she noticed Twilight’s still form.

“You were saying? You do realize the reception has been cancelled, don’t you?” Chrysalis gloated. “Go! Feed!” she exhorted her drones.

Chrysalis walked up to where ‘Twilight’ had been dumped on the floor. She placed her hoof on the pony’s head and said, “It’s funny, really. Twilight here was suspicious of my behavior all along. Too bad the rest of you were too caught up in your wedding plans to realize that her suspicions were correct. I fooled you all!” she said with a chuckle.

Applejack bowed her head over Twilight’s body. “Sorry, Twi, we should have listened to you.”

Chrysalis then walked over to the window to observe her drones taking control of the city and feeding on their captives. She started to sing:

This day has been just perfect,
The kind of day that will never ever pall.

‘She’s singing again?!’ Pif thought to herself as she lay on the floor. ‘I never knew how much of a nutcase grandma was!’

Every pony I shall soon control,
Every stallion, mare, and foal.
Who says a girl can’t really have it all?

As Chrysalis laughed maniacally, Destined pushed Twilight out of the invisibility spell, saying, “Go free Cadance. Tell her to go to Shining.”

Twilight crept forward, trying not to attract attention. Cadance noticed though, and her eyes widened and jaw dropped in surprise.

“Quick! Go to him while you still have the chance!” Twilight said before using her horn to free Cadance from the changeling resin that trapped her hooves.

Cadance nodded and went over to Twilight’s bewitched brother. From that point, everything resumed taking its proper course. Cadance freed Shining’s mind, and Twilight urged Shining to perform his shield spell. He was too weak though until Cadance fed him the power of her love. Pif teleported as far as she could out of range well before the lovers unleashed the love blast that expelled Chrysalis and all her minions far from Canterlot.

Twilight rushed over to Celestia’s side, forgetting for the moment her curious invisible rescuer.

Destined heaved a sigh of relief that everything had gone as planned, and then teleported back to Twilight’s room where the team was to rendezvous after the mission. They had to wait a while for Pif to fly back from her teleport though.

“Damn – I have to get the hang of teleporting more than once,” Pif grumbled as she flew in the window.

“Are you okay?” Citrine asked with some concern.

“I’m fine, but now I know why Papa Free was knocked out. At least I was out in the open and wasn’t slammed into a wall like he was. So, I take it that everything went well after I left?”

“According to what Mom told us about the invasion, history is exactly on track again,” Destined confirmed.

“Then it’s time we went home, don’t you think?” Blue asked.

“It is… if you haven’t used up too much energy while fighting?” Destined queried.

“I’m good to go, so let’s do this!”

Blue put actions into words, and activated the vortex manipulator. The five adventurers disappeared into the depths of time once again.

# # #

“Would you all get off me right now!

Twilight’s command of the Royal Canterlot Voice had improved over the years, and the five youths scrambled to get off the irate alicorn. Quite apparently, Twilight’s castle suite was not unoccupied this time.

“Sorry, Mom!” Destined said as he helped her to her hooves.

Twilight straightened her ruffled feathers, brushed her mane back into place, and then regarded them sternly. “So, back from your time trip, I take it? Just because you sent a message to say that you went on another mission, doesn’t mean that I haven’t been worrying about you for the past few weeks!”

Destined looked at her curiously. “Y’know, that’s the second time that you said we sent a message, but we didn’t. We couldn’t.”

“Maybe the Doctor sent it?” Pif suggested.

“All I know is that our mailmare, Derpy, said that she had a message from you,” Twilight explained.

The five looked at each other and nodded. “That makes sense,” Destined agreed. She would have known to tell you after history was corrected. Wait! You said weeks – how long have we been gone?”

“Nineteen days, to be precise,” Twilight answered.

Destined glared at Blue. “I knew you were too tired! The energy imbalance threw off my navigation.”

“Sorry, Des. I just really wanted to go home,” Blue said contritely.

Destined sighed. “No, don’t be. I wanted to go too; otherwise I would have stopped you. Besides, I’m supposed to be the time-space expert, and I need to improve my control to compensate for things like that.”

“Well, you’re back now, and apparently none the worse for it,” Twilight said happily. “Can you tell me what event you had to fix this time?”

Pif grimaced before saying, “You were assassinated at Cadance and Shining Armor’s wedding.”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “Oh.”

Citrine grinned. “Yep. Chrysalis won the invasion without you to foil her plans. I got to clobber her in return.”

“But… Chrysalis was still alive after the wedding,” Twilight pointed out.

Pif gave her companion a stern look. “We had to make a do-over. We’ll explain the details when everyone else is gathered. We have quite a story to tell.”

Destined said, “Mom – do you remember the part that you told us about the wedding just before you freed Cadance from the resin in the throne room?”

“You mean the bit where I was hiding under an invisibility cloak with the mysterious ally?”

“Yes. You never worked out who he was though.”

“He said he would tell me later, but he never returned.”

“Sorry that it has taken me nearly twenty years to do so.”

Twilight blinked in surprise. “You were him?”

“Yep. I saved you while Pif took your place. Actually, that was the second time I saved you. Chrysalis intended to kill you rather than send you to the caves as she did before the time meddling.”

Twilight sat down abruptly on her rump. “Sweet Celestia! What a revelation!”

“Just wait until Dad and Papa Free hear about their alternate selves,” Blue said with a grin.

“You can tell us all about it at dinner tonight,” Twilight said. “We’re all here in Canterlot for a meeting with Queen Gilda. Griffinstone’s increased prosperity has meant great changes in trade and… well… that can wait, can’t it? I was just freshening up a bit before the next round of talks. I have to get back to that. I’ll let Lucida know that you’re back; she’s been fretting since you left her behind.” Twilight headed for the door. “You can all rest up here in the meantime if you wish. Don’t touch my oat snacks!” she shouted as she disappeared down the hallway.

Blue chuckled. “I wondered if she’d miss those. I’m going to have to get Mama some more later,” he said as he fished the packet out from where Twilight stashed them and headed for the bed. “Call me for dinner,” he told the others as he laid down for a long nap to recover his energy.

“At least we can get room service now,” Cinder pointed out.

“Buck that! I’m heading for the kitchen!” Citrine exclaimed. “Coming, Pif?”

Pif returned the crystal pony’s smile. “I doubt that you’d accept a ‘no’, right?”

Citrine put a foreleg around Pif’s shoulder and began pulling her in the direction of the door. “At last you’re getting it,” she said happily.

Destined and Cinder looked at each other, laughed, and followed the others.

# # #

Lucida had been involved in the talks, of course, and had to wait until they were done for the day before she could see her siblings. They told her all about what she had missed, but when they got to the part where Destined had assigned Citrine and Pif to watch Chrysalis, she interrupted them.

“Don’t tell me you seriously left Citrine practically alone with Chrysalis! Surely you realize that Citrine is emotionally compromised and could well have attacked her in revenge for her friends?”

Destined and Pif looked chagrined and gave her a guilty smile.

“Yeah, we found that out the hard way,” Pif said.

“We really missed your analytical leadership,” Destined added.

“What’s done is done. Hopefully if there’s a next time, and I’m fairly certain there will be a next time, I’ll be there with you.”

The others fervently agreed.

They completed the description of what they did to correct history, but left their encounter with alternate Path and Free for a later conversation.

“It’s almost dinnertime,” Lucida pointed out. It’s a formal one that the Princesses are holding for Queen Gilda and her entourage, so I suggest you spruce yourselves up a bit before coming down. I’ll introduce you to Gilda’s son, Glenn. She brought him along to learn something about trade negotiations, but I have a feeling he’s not the slightest bit interested in any of it.”

They made their way down to the banquet hall, arriving after the griffon delegation. They recognized Queen Gilda immediately as they had met her on several occasions, but this time a young male was by her side. He had light brown fur, purple and brown feathers, plus a yellow crest and patches around his eyes. His eyes lit up when he saw them arrive, and he needed no urging to come over and greet them.

“Hi, Lucida! These are the siblings that you told me about, right?”

“That’s right. These are Epiphany, Destined, and Blue Streak. Cinder is Blue’s mate, and Citrine is Pif’s companion. Guys, this is Prince Glenn of Griffinstone.”

“Pleased to meet you,” the young cock replied with a genuine smile.

 

 

Pleasantries were exchanged before Glenn invited Lucida to sit with him at the banquet table. Pif hung back, giggling softly.

“What’s so funny?” Destined asked while the others followed after Lucida.

“Glenn has the hots for Lucida, and our super smart leader is totally clueless!” Pif replied.

Destined looked over to where Glenn was pulling back a chair for Lucida to sit upon, and he grinned. “After all the teasing that I’ve been getting about Silk, it’s about time I got a little revenge. Care to help me, sis?”

Pif gave him an evil grin. “Count me in!”

# # # # # # # # #

Author's Note:

I changed one line of Chrysalis' song – ("The kind of day of which I’ve dreamed since I was small") – because this alternate world version of her has slightly different motivations. Otherwise I tried to keep everything exactly the same as the words and events on the show.

The illustrations are both by Kat Miller a.k.a. Foxenawolf.

   
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