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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15. Chapter 8 - Power Shift Part 2

After the initial shock of watching her mate attack Destined, Cinder tried to intervene, only to be blasted by Pif. The magic-resistant dragoness was not so easily taken out though, and she shook it off and turned to confront Pif. The changeling was already powering up for another blast though, and there was not enough time to avoid it. The blast came, but was intercepted by another. Citrine’s form had gone crystalline, and the energy of the attack was partially deflected. The young mare grunted from the impact, but immediately recovered.

“Go help the others!” Citrine shouted. “Pif is my responsibility!”

Cinder did not waste time arguing, and she turned her attention back to the rest of the group. In the meantime, Lucida had decided to strike at the heart of the problem, and surprisingly, Silk had unhesitatingly followed suit. Gossamer saw them coming for her, but merely smiled. Suddenly, every staff member in the room surged forward to protect Gossamer, and both Silk and Lucida were almost overwhelmed before Cinder came to their rescue. The three of them fought with the skill of their training, but not only were some of their foes competent fighters, but all of them fought with the single-mindedness of the enthralled. Despite the pain and injuries inflicted upon them, they kept coming back.

Destined barely noticed his companions’ problems as his kept getting worse. In desperation, he tried levitating Blue so that the speedster could not run, but momentum kept bringing him into contact with walls or solid furniture, and the earth pony would kick off them and come bulleting towards the alicorn. Destined realized that was no better than before, and he was burning power for no reason, so he stopped that course of action. He only managed to survive the last charge because Citrine had knocked Blue off course.

The crystal pony had not planned on the saving move; she had been pushed off balance by Pif’s attack, and had blundered into Blue’s trajectory. It did have the side benefit of also knocking her away from Pif’s next blast, and she had a moment to brace herself. House Path had been training her fighting skills, but most importantly they had also been trying to develop her latent crystallomancy talent. She now called upon it like never before, and a crystalline shell formed around her. When Pif’s next blast hit her, she winced reflexively, but although a few shards of crystal shattered off her shield, she was untouched.

 

 

Citrine fixed her gaze on Pif and decided on a course of action. She leaped at the changeling, while Pif futilely tried to blast her again. The crystal pony grappled her, pulling her into a wrestling hold. While Pif had reluctantly taken courses in hoof to hoof fighting, it was her weakest ability, but Citrine’s best. Citrine quickly had her helplessly locked down, putting the changeling out of the action. Unfortunately, so was the crystal pony until assistance came.

Destined finally called on his own special talents to make some headway against Blue. He had touted himself as the Alicorn of Space and Time, but now it was truly the moment to prove it. While he could not speed himself up like Blue, he could extend his perception of time so that it passed much more slowly. Suddenly Blue seemed to be fighting at a much more normal rate, and Destined was able to counter the attacks rather than merely dodging them. He realized though that he was still unlikely to win this fight at this rate because Blue was an extraordinary warrior even when apparently slowed down. However, now the alicorn had the time to think. Taking him on directly was futile. Wearing him out was not an option. He had to have the enthrallment broken, but the only way to do that was to get to Gossamer, and now that he had a chance to glance at the state of the battle, he could see that was not likely to happen either. There was no way… wait! Yes, there was! Every time they went through the time vortex, Pif’s link broke, so if he could send Blue through it, that would break the enthrallment too. But could he do it? Destined said a short prayer and leaped at Blue.

The earth pony had not expected that maneuver, and he reacted a fraction too late to stop Destined from grappling with him. If this had been intended to be a hoof to hoof fight, that would been a bad mistake on the alicorn’s part, because Blue was already making a counter-maneuver. However, Destined did not wait for that. Even as an elbow painfully pounded into his ribs, the alicorn tried something that he had never done before – activate a time vortex without the help of the vortex manipulator. He managed to ignore a couple more blows before the power built up sufficiently to initiate the time-jump. There was an extremely brief sensation of falling, and they both fell to the floor.

“Sweet Celestia! What am I doing?!” Blue exclaimed.

Destined heaved a pained sigh of relief. They had jumped forward in time a mere second or so, but it had been enough. “Pif was enthralled, and she apparently did the same to you. We have to break hers too.”

They looked over to where Pif was still entangled with Citrine, blasts from the changeling’s horn futilely reflecting off the crystalline armor.

“I’ve got this,” Blue stated. He dashed over to the duo and put his forehooves on either side of Pif’s head. Then he started drawing power out of her, just as he normally drew it from the earth. The blasts immediately failed, and soon the struggling stopped too as the changeling collapsed unconscious. Blue looked over to Destined and said, “Can you do for her what you did for me?”

“I think so, but I’m going to be pretty tired out after that.”

“Do it! I have to help the others.”

Blue raced off to join the melee while Citrine got to her hooves.

“Is she going to be alright?” the crystal pony asked.

“She’ll be completely back to normal, only still unconscious because Blue drained her. Give me a moment.” Destined put his forelegs around Pif and concentrated on repeating his time-jump trick. This time it was easier as he now knew how to initiate it, but the jump was just as short as the first time because he did not want to waste energy.

To Citrine, it was as if the two had blinked out of existence, only to reappear a moment later. Destined rolled to the side, panting from the effort. Citrine then took Pif into her arms and poured her deepest feelings into the changeling. In very little time, Pif’s eyelids fluttered open, and she turned her head to look at the crystal pony.

“Citrine… I… Thank you. I’m….” Pif seemed stuck for words, but then she reached up and pulled Citrine’s face towards hers and kissed her. It was brief but meaningful, and she smiled at her companion. “Our friends need us. Shall we?”

Citrine grinned hugely and pulled Pif to her hooves. “Let’s go!”

Citrine joined the battle, while Pif drew on some more positive emotions to power up and then join her. Destined wished that he could replace his consumed energy so readily, and decided to stay back from the fight unless he was really needed.

The tide had turned quite strongly against the Queen’s minions, and Gossamer had lost the amused look on her face. Real worry had replaced it, and she shifted form in a blaze of green fire. She started using her horn to attack the House Path team, but made the mistake of targeting Citrine first because she was the nearest. Her blast deflected from the crystalline armor just as had Pif’s, and Gossamer was forced to retreat. A shot at Blue proved just as ineffective as the earth pony instantly held up a hoof to block it, absorbing the power into himself. Gossamer decided that discretion was called for, and started to make a retreat, heading for the door through which she had entered earlier. Her way was unexpectedly blocked by one of her minions though.

“What are you doing? Get out of my way, fool!” Gossamer demanded.

“As you command,” the unicorn mare replied, stepping aside to let Gossamer pass.

The changeling queen pushed past, but suddenly felt an excruciating pain penetrate her side. She gasped and stumbled, collapsing to the floor. She turned her head to see a blade buried nearly to the hilt in her chest, and her lifeblood pouring from the wound. She looked back at the mare, only to see her form change into the one she hated most.

“Hello, daughter,” Chrysalis said with a malicious smile. “It took me forever to infiltrate your seat of power. It was very kind of you to provide this golden opportunity to take you down. Now I will be the ultimate power in Equestria.”

“Curse you, mother!” Gossamer managed to say before starting to cough up blood. She then gave Chrysalis a sinister smirk. “Perhaps you haven’t won at all…” Gossamer coughed again and shuddered before her head slumped to the floor and life left her eyes.

Abruptly, all Gossamer’s minions stopped fighting, and so did the House Path members when they realized that they were no longer being attacked. Lucida looked over to the stage and saw Gossamer’s corpse, and Chrysalis standing over it.

“Fall back!” she commanded the others.

As they backed away from the stage, Chrysalis’ attention was drawn to them.

“I do not know why my daughter brought you here, but I doubt that I should let you leave,” Chrysalis said thoughtfully. “I have invested far too much time and effort to smash my rival’s hive, only to have you odd visitors reveal everything.”

“We only came here to talk to Gossamer. We don’t care what you do here now,” Lucida replied, fully aware that anything Chrysalis did now, they could easily undo by going back in time.

“So you just want me to let you go? Hmm? No, I think I have better use for you.”

“Then I hope you’ll pardon us for declining your invitation and leaving,” Lucida stated firmly.

Chrysalis laughed. “You might find that a bit difficult. With the death of my daughter, my drones can now enter this building unhindered. As we speak, they have been pouring in and will soon greatly outnumber you. Additionally, even as we have been chatting, I have been attaching Gossamer’s drones to my hive network.”

The quiescent drones around the group started turning to face them, eyes staring intently. It was clear that the odds were starting to get very bad.

They were all bunched together now, and Lucida glanced towards Destined, who nodded and fired up his horn. The magic sputtered and died though.

“Oh, by the way, I have set up an anti-teleport spell,” Chrysalis said in a matter-of-fact manner. Her nasty smirk made Blue growl.

“You made a big mistake, Queenie. We could have left quietly, but now I’m going to make sure you regret making us stay!”

An angry hum grew among the drones in the room, and more disturbingly, louder from outside.

“Bring it on, fool!” Chrysalis snarled.

Blue braced to make a super-speed charge, when the wall to his left abruptly exploded. At first he thought it was Chrysalis’ reinforcements, but the look of shock on her face soon disabused him of that notion. As the dust cleared, the real reason was readily apparent.

Princess Celestia stood among the unconscious forms of dozens of drones, her eyes flaring white with power, and her normally ethereal mane and tail were blazing infernos. Behind her, Royal Guards were pouring into the building. Chrysalis stumbled back from the sight, taken completely by surprise.

Villains! I have been used and defiled, and you shall pay for my humiliation and the harm that you have done to Equestria! Surrender or be destroyed!

Lucida realized that Celestia’s enthrallment had ended the moment that Gossamer had died, and while the hive network was transferred to Chrysalis, the enthralled were apparently bound to Gossamer alone. Celestia clearly remembered everything that had been done to her for however long she had been enthralled, and she was probably in no mood to distinguish between Chrysalis and her minions, and the House Path group. She turned to Destined again.

“Can you time-jump?” she asked urgently.

“Yes. That won’t be affected by an anti-teleport spell.”

“Do it!”

“How far?”

“Doesn’t matter – just get us out of here!”

“No!” Pif interjected. “Go back thirty-seven years!”

Destined wasted no time in querying Pif’s figures. Blue had already pulled out the vortex manipulator, and Destined activated it even as his brother poured power into it. They had attracted the attention of the Royal Guards though, and they started to move in on the group, but the vortex abruptly formed and drew them away just in time.

The bizarre and inexplicable sensation of falling through time ended abruptly as the team fell out of the vortex and onto a moonlit field of grass. They started disentangling themselves with the usual groans of annoyance.

“Where are we, Des?” Lucida asked.

“I shunted us slightly sideways so that we wouldn’t end up in the club again. This should be the Royal Canterlot Gardens.”

“It is,” Silk confirmed. “My night vision can see everything clearly enough. Now can someone explain just what happened?”

“I’d like to know also,” came an unfamiliar voice.

They all turned to face the one among them who had spoken, only to recognize in the dim light one of the Royal Guards who apparently had also gotten caught up in the vortex. The unicorn held his sword somewhat unsteadily, but determinedly.

“Peace, Guardpony. We mean you no harm,” Lucida said soothingly.

“That is for me to determine. Answer my question, miscreants!”

Although it was obvious that the unicorn was very much outnumbered, they were very impressed by his dedication to his job. Then Pif noticed something.

“Guys – that’s a Red Changeling.”

That explained his fierce devotion to duty. Red Changelings would rather die than fail to do their duty.

The Guard looked at Pif closely with puzzlement. “What are you? I have never seen your like before.”

“Something very different,” Pif replied. “And for now, that’s all I can say about myself. As for the rest of us as a whole, we are travelers caught up in events, and now so are you.”

“Why has my connection to the hive network been broken?”

“Because you fell through a time vortex,” Destined explained. “You became disconnected from previous reality.”

“Time vortex? What is going on?” he asked again.

Lucida sighed. “I will explain everything as soon as you stop threatening us with your weapon. On my honor, I swear that we intend no harm to you, or to those to whom you have sworn loyalty. I also swear that we had no association with the group that Princess Celestia came to take prisoner or destroy if necessary.”

The Guard stared at Lucida for a long while, weighing her words carefully. Then he nodded and sheathed his sword. “I cannot taste any deception coming from you, so I believe your oath. Now can I have that explanation?”

“Certainly, but first I just need to ask my sister a question. Pif, you told us to go back thirty-seven years. Why?”

“While Gossamer had enthralled me from the time she took me over to talk to us, she drew on my knowledge through the hive network, but it wasn’t entirely one way. I caught glimpses of events that led me to believe that I know the source of the interference to history, and it’s right about now.”

“That makes sense. We’ll discuss it more in a moment. Meanwhile, we have a Royal Guard to placate.” Lucida turned back to the changeling Guard. “What I am about to reveal to you has the ability to radically affect the future of the Princesses, Canterlot, and all of Equestria. If you feel that you cannot refrain from acting upon this knowledge in a premature fashion, say so now, because the consequences if you don’t could be unbelievably severe.”

“Do you think so little of me that you think that I would do that?”

Lucida shook her head. “Not really. I just intended to impress upon you the seriousness of this situation… What is your name?”

“I am Sergeant Sterling Shield of the Her Highness’ Royal Guard,” he said proudly.

“Well, Sterling Shield, you are now caught up in a time battle that is damaging the fabric of History, and we’ve just jumped back in time thirty-seven years to try to fix it. Want to join the team?”

Sterling looked around at the serious faces looking at him and gulped nervously for the first time in his life.

# # # # # # # # #

Author's Note:

What could have happened to Cirrus to have this strange changeling grow up to be the very antithesis of Free Agent? Will the House Path team finally get the clue they need to track down Chrysalis?

Tune in next time to find out if I'm just teasing you!

(EDIT 26/10/2016) Small addition to the text as suggested by jeffh4.

All art by Kat Miller a.k.a. Foxenawolf 
except "The Duel" (Blue Vs Destined) by Backlash91

   
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