• Published 9th May 2016
  • 2,810 Views, 488 Comments

Quantum Gallop - Goldfur



The youth of House Path are abruptly whisked away to a Ponyville where a tyrant queen rules absolutely, and the alliances with Griffonia and the Changeling Hives have never been forged. Who has changed history and how do they fix it?

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Chapter 1 - A Glitch in Time

Her eyes closed.

“How many days has it been? I've lost count. Still those damn ponies continue to dig, to uncover my entire hive. If I had the power, I would destroy them all!”

… … … …

“Why won't they give up?! I can hear their picks, and mallets, breaking through the rocks, most likely taking all the treasures that I rightfully earned...”

… … … …

“They are asleep…. I'm so tired. Why won't they stop digging? Will they find my retreat after all?”

… … … …

“I won't let them win! I won't let them have the satisfaction. I won't rest until I have all their heads on pikes!”

… … … …

“So hungry… No love left to sustain… So very, very tired….”

… … … …

“Left my escape… too late…. Too weak…”

… … … …

“H-help me…”

“Your pain, your hate, your sadness – they are so strong, my dear. You should put it to better use.”

“Who are you?!”

“I am but a moth drawn to your flame, my dear.”

“Get out of my head!”

“As you wish.”

… … …

“Come back… Help me...”

“You want my help, my dear?”

… … … “Yes.”

“Aren’t you the slightest bit curious what the cost will be?”

“If it gets me the heads of those who have crossed me, then no cost is too great.”

“My dear, when we are done, you will have the finest alicorn horn necklace, your daughter and granddaughter will be loyal and at your side, and the one who started it all will be a soulless husk to play with as it suits you.”

“Yes! Make them puppets! Make them suffer! Make them pay!”

“All you need to do is accept my offer.”

“I accept your offer!”

“It hurts!”

“As it would, my dear.”

“My mind – it's splitting apart!!”

“That's just the change happening; the pain will be over soon.”

“AaaaaAAAAARGH!”

“Your pain will be felt ten thousand times over by those who have wronged you.”

“T-too much…. I-I can't....”

… … …

“It's time we woke up; there is work to do!”

Their eyes opened.

# # #

A swirling hole opened in mid-air and several bodies tumbled out onto the floor of a large room filled with devices mostly of arcane nature and unknown purpose. With various groans and expressions of annoyance, the pile started to resolve into separate forms – a large blue earth pony stallion, a female hippogriff, a golden dragoness, a dark blue and red maned alicorn stallion, a female ponyling, and a grey pegasus mare.

Blue Streak looked about him and growled, “Okay, what the hell just happened and where are we?”

“Hi there, Blue Streak! Ready to save the world?”

WHAT?!” Blue yelped. He stared incredulously at the tan earth pony stallion with the hourglass cutie mark who had just walked up to the group.

“Well, not just you, of course, but you were the one to ask. Welcome to my humble workshop. Derpy, my dear, would you get our guests some refreshments?”

“Sure thing, Doctor!” the grey pegasus replied brightly and trotted out of the room.

Pif was looking with great interest at the equipment. She pointed at one and asked, “What does this do?”

“Oh, you don’t want to bother with that old thing. Just a souvenir I picked up in my travels.”

Destined peered closer at what had attracted Pif’s attention, and his eyes glowed briefly. “Quite a souvenir, Doctor. It seems to have a four-dimensional structure.”

The Doctor grinned at the alicorn. “Quite. That’s what makes it so interesting. Also, it’s a lot less likely to destroy a city while it’s in my collection.”

Both Destined and Pif jerked away from the device.

Pif looked at the Doctor incredulously. “Wha…? You can’t be serious?”

However, the stallion turned away as if he had suddenly lost interest. “Now I asked my lovely partner to fetch Blue Streak and Destined Path because they are essential to fixing this little problem that has cropped up, but it seems that you other three are so intertwined with events that you’ve been drawn into it as well.”

“Yeah, what’s up with that, Time Turner?” Lucida asked sternly. “Miss Hooves said something about the timeline changing just before she conjured a hole in space and dumped us here. I want to know what’s going on!”

“Ah, Lady Lucida Path – future head of the House of Path, warrior-scholar and negotiator – you have perhaps your greatest challenge ahead of you.”

“That didn’t explain anything,” Lucida said with a growing frown.

“True, I admit, but I did want to impress upon you the importance of what I’m about to tell you all. Someone is meddling with time, and history as you know it has been changed.”

All five of them stared at the Doctor with looks that varied from stunned to incredulous.

Cinder spoke up first. “Prove it,” she challenged.

The Doctor shrugged. “Step out of my workshop and see for yourselves.” As a couple of them started forward, he held up a hoof to halt them. “First, you have to stay for tea. My dear Derpy would be most offended if you left without enjoying the refreshments she has prepared, wouldn’t you, darling?” he asked the pegasus who had suddenly arrived with trays held up on her outstretched wings.

“I made some muffins just for you. I’d hate to have to eat them all myself,” she replied with a touch of disappointment.

The Doctor continued, “And while you’re enjoying muffins and tea, I’ll explain a bit more.”

Each of the Path family members guiltily took a muffin and a mug from their hostess.

The Doctor took one of each also, but he started talking again after just taking a sip of his tea. “Now, as I said, history has been changed. I barely had time to drop out of the time-stream and isolate us from the changes. Then I had to find the nexus of probability that could undo the change, and imagine my curiosity when it pointed at you. Well, Blue Streak and Destined Path in particular, but there are obviously other elements in play that I haven’t determined as yet.” He took a bite out of his muffin, chewed thoughtfully, then swallowed. “Apple-cinnamon – my favorite! Thank you, my love.”

Derpy smiled radiantly. “I know you always like them in a crisis.”

“You know me too well. Anyway, I had you fetch our heroes, and hopefully we’ll sort this out in time for dinner.”

Lucida looked unimpressed. “Sounds like a tall tale to me, especially since we should have already been affected by this fanciful time-change of yours. That hole in space was a neat trick though.”

The Doctor shook his head vehemently. “No, no! It’s not just a hole in space, but in space-time! Derpy went back to before the change had affected you.”

“Cut it a bit close, Doc,” the cross-eyed mare complained.

“Oh? Sorry about that, dear. It was right at the limit of the vortex manipulator.”

“S’okay. I got ’em, and that’s what counts.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek before she trotted out of the room with the empty trays.

The Doctor watched her leave with a happy smile on his face before returning his attention to the group. “Anyway, you need to figure out what happened to change history, and then fix it.”

“Why don’t you do that if you’re so clever?” Cinder asked.

“I have to maintain this stable nexus, or else the changes will become permanent for you. You won’t know what history used to be.”

Destined’s eyes opened wide in realization. “It’s like the map table in Mom’s castle! She told me how it was always still there whenever Starlight Glimmer changed the past.”

The Doctor grinned happily. “Now you’re getting it! That table is an object of such high probability that it exists in the majority of all possible alternate histories.”

“Then you’re familiar with my time theory?” Destined asked.

“Sixteen-dimensional space-time? Every possible permutation of events exists at all possible times, and what we perceive as history is merely the most probable path between them. Someone has changed that probability and thus changed history. The map table is such high-probability that it remains in that new history. What I have done is lock the probability of my workshop at that same level, so it also remains unchanged.”

“But how?” Pif demanded. “What you’re describing seems to be beyond even what Starswirl the Bearded was capable of doing, and he invented the spell that Starlight used to go back in time.”

The Doctor chuckled. “Oh, I remember him – such a prankster. You know he made this time spell that would take you back only a few days to meet your past self for only a few seconds before returning you? Can you imagine the reaction of their past selves trying to convince others of what they had seen, or their future selves trying to say anything meaningful in that short time? The cheeky colt got away with the joke for quite a while before Celestia had the spell put away in the restricted archive.”

Pif boggled at the thought of Starswirl being described as a colt, and the intimation that the Doctor seemed to have known the wizard who had died centuries ago. There was something decidedly odd about this stallion. “You didn’t answer my question – how did you stop your workshop from being affected by history being altered?”

“Your whole world has changed, but you want to talk about that?” the Doctor asked, throwing up his forelegs and waving them incredulously, while deflecting her inconvenient inquiries.

“If you’ve finished your refreshments, I think it’s about time you find out for yourselves what has been changed. All of you, assume nothing, and you, Princess Epiphany, I suggest that you hide your changeling nature.”

Pif eyed him suspiciously but shifted to one of her Ponyville unicorn forms anyway.

The Doctor ushered them to the door and let them out, saying, “Remember – don’t trust anyone or anything until you’re sure they are what they are supposed to be!” He then firmly closed the dark blue door in their faces before they could protest.

They all stood around, a little bewildered for the moment, barely taking in the fact that they were now in the middle of Ponyville after having been in Griffonia a short time ago.

Blue said dazedly, “I’m the fastest pony on Equus, and I still feel that things rushed by me too quickly.”

Cinder nodded in agreement. “Anyone get the feeling that there are things he’s not telling us?”

Lucida shook her head. “No – I feel there’s a huge amount he’s hiding from us.”

“Like the equipment in his workshop,” Pif said. “You know it’s my forte, but I didn’t have a clue what most of that stuff is supposed to do, and the ones that I think I can figure out seem far more advanced than is possible.”

“Whatever he’s hiding, I think we had better start taking him seriously,” Destined stated with finality.

“Why’s that?” Lucida asked.

Destined raised a hoof to point in the direction of Twilight’s castle. “Where’s the Chrome Hive?”

They all stared at the mountainside close to the castle where the new hive had been built, only to see pristine slopes and no sign at all that there ever had been anything in that location.

“Oh boy,” Blue said with dread chilling his spine.

# # #

With no particular goal in mind, they all nevertheless headed in the direction of the castle. It quickly became apparent to them that more than the disappearing hive had changed in Ponyville. The town had always been lively and pleasant, with ponies greeting friends frequently, streets bustling with ponies going about their business, and the neighborhood bright and cheerful. Now, however, most ponies they encountered did their best to ignore them, hastening about their errands, and those that did look seemed to regard them with suspicion or fear.

“What’s with these ponies?” Lucida complained. “It’s like they’ve never seen a hippogriff before?”

“Maybe they haven’t,” Destined replied. “Have you noticed the double-takes they make when they realize I’m an alicorn? If the hive was never built here, maybe we never visited here like whenever Papa Free used to attend it.”

“Well I don’t like the way they cringe whenever they look at me,” Cinder sulked. “I’m a warrior-scholar of House Path, not one of their uncivilized dragons.”

Pif picked up the pace. “We’d better get to Mom’s castle before somepony freaks out.”

Whether any of the ponies did more than scurry away from the group remained unknown as they arrived at the castle without anything more significant happening. They slowed down as they approached the great doors, perturbed by the sight of the squad of Royal Guards posted outside of them.

“What’s going on?” Lucida wondered. “Momma Twilight never had this many Guards at her castle outside of a big royal event.”

“Yeah,” Blue Streak agreed. “She always reckoned they didn’t fit in with a Princess of Friendship.”

They continued onward anyway until Epiphany suddenly bumped into an invisible wall which flared brightly. Immediately six of the Guards approached her – two pegasi with spears lowered, an earth pony with sword drawn, and three unicorns with horns charged.

“Halt, changeling! Why are you trying to enter the Princess’ castle? Who is this changeling’s keeper?” The unicorn officer who had spoken looked accusingly at Destined before blinking in confusion upon realizing that he was looking at an alicorn.

“She’s with me,” Destined answered, not sure what the Guard meant by keeper, but sensing that it was best to play along.

The unicorn suddenly cast a spell at Destined who automatically threw up a shield against it, but because it was not an offensive spell, it remained unaffected. The Guard looked even more puzzled.

“Not an illusion, so you really are an alicorn. What is your business here?”

“We’re here to speak to Mo… umm… Princess Twilight about a threat to Equestria.”

“Why are you bringing a disguised changeling? And who are these foreigners?” the Guard asked as he pointed to Lucida and Cinder.

“They are members of the House of Path from Griffonia, as am I. This changeling is part of the reason why we are here, but I was unaware of any restrictions regarding them.”

“Since when do the griffons accept ponies and dragons into their nobility? No matter – where are your credentials? If you are an envoy from King Glimfeather, your visit should have been advised to us in advance.”

“We are not from the King’s Court. Our House serves the world, not the King.”

The Guard looked even more skeptical. “I have never heard such nonsense! You are strangers bearing supposedly alarming news bringing an undocumented changeling in disguise. You will see the Princess alright, but as our prisoners. Sky Staff and Thunderbolt – confiscate this changeling. The rest of you will come with me to escort these four to the Queen. You are authorized to use force if any of them try anything suspicious. You – the blue one – relinquish your sword.”

The pegasus, Sky Staff, poked Pif with his spear, and she flinched from the sharp point. “Move it, changeling!” the Guard commanded, prodding her again in the direction he wanted her to go.

Pif looked at the others helplessly. While she had options, none of them would help their cause at this time, and she decided to play along for the moment.

“Don’t worry, Pif, we’ll get you back soon,” Destined tried to reassure her, but the Guard’s amused chuckle made them think it would not be as simple as that.

Blue Streak glowered at the unicorn who had stepped up to him to take his sword. The Guard cringed a little, intimidated by the big and powerfully muscled stallion despite his training and the other Guards backing him up. Blue reluctantly surrendered his sword, wondering what the quivering unicorn would have done if he had seen the warrior pony decked out in his full battle gear. He amused himself with that thought as the group was chivied inside.

It was a strange feeling for the group as they entered the familiar castle hallway. Royal Guards lined the length of it, and they could feel the suspicious stares following them. They passed into the map table room and were relieved to see that it was still there, although the chairs were all absent from around it. They were led off into another room which Twilight normally reserved for royal functions. This had a dais at one end with a fancy throne upon it, and there they finally saw Twilight Sparkle. She was dressed in some kind of gold robe, and had a crown upon her head, one far bigger and more imposing than she had ever worn previously. Her attention was focused on a book held up in her magic, and there were two piles of books beside her throne.

The officer stopped the party just inside the doorway and stamped a hoof before announcing loudly, “Your pardon, Your Majesty, but something has come up that requires your attention.”

“What is it, lieutenant?” Twilight asked without taking her eyes off the book. Her voice was cold and hard, unlike what any of the group had heard before.

“An alicorn claiming to be representatives from the House of Path say that they wish to talk with you about a threat to Equestria.”

Twilight’s head snapped up upon the mention of the House of Path, and she stared at Destined who had retained the lead as nominal head of the mission, although Lucida was the true ranking leader.

“The House of Path died with my herdmates! Who are you to claim to represent it, and why have I never heard of an alicorn stallion before now?”

Lucida was the one to answer however. “The House could not die while I still live, nor for that matter while you still lived because you were one of its founders.”

Twilight looked properly at the hippogriff for the first time, and her eyes widened in surprise. “Lucida Path? What are you doing here? You vowed that you would not come back to Equestria while I still sat on the throne.”

It was becoming clearer to Lucida what changes to history had occurred because Twilight recognized her but not Destined. “I am not the Lucida that you know. Someone has been tampering with time, and history has been changed.”

“What kind of fool do you take me for? The key to travelling through time is Starswirl’s scroll, and that has been safely hidden away for decades.”

“Obviously somepony else knows a method. We are proof of that. You say that your herdmates died? For us, they were our parents who raised us, and we saw them hale and hearty mere hours ago. To answer your question about this alicorn, he is my half-brother, son of Long Path… and Twilight Sparkle.”

“WHAT?! How dare you claim kinship with me and Long Path! I have borne no children, and if I had, it would have been with my husband, not our herd stallion.”

Both Destined and Lucida took a half-step back from the furious Queen Twilight. However, an undaunted voice behind them took up the argument.

“As I heard it, your gestalt with the herd led to your pregnancy with Dad, something that you never regretted… Momma Twilight,” Blue said as he pushed between Destined and Lucida.

Although she had noted the presence of the huge blue-furred earth pony, Twilight had not paid close attention to him yet. She took in his mane pattern and cutie mark before gasping in shocked recognition. “No! You’re dead! I saw you die in the Crystal Kingdom!” She stumbled backwards, tripping on the dais and falling over backwards.

Blue Streak said, “I did not die in that battle, Momma. You protected me after I was injured saving Dad, and you all defeated Chrysalis.”

Twilight stumbled to her hooves, staring wildly at the group. “No! This has to be a trick! I don’t know who you really are, but you have to be some sort of agents of the changelings trying to trick me. What are your true intentions? Did you seek to use my memories as a means to get close enough to assassinate me?”

Blue and Lucida were flabbergasted. “That doesn’t make sense…,” Lucida began.

“They were in the presence of a changeling when they arrived,” the unicorn officer interjected.

Twilight latched onto that statement with obsessive determination. “Ha! And now the truth comes out. Well, your plans have failed, and for your crime, I sentence you all to death. Lieutenant – take them away!”

“What?!” Blue exclaimed, but then his expression hardened. “None of us will die today.” Before the lieutenant could react, Blue whirled and lashed out with a devastating kick. The armor saved the Guard from being killed, but he was knocked unconscious as he slammed into the wall.

The other Guards moved in with weapons at the ready, and more started pouring into the room moments later, led by a familiar pegasus.

Twilight screamed, “Captain Dash – execute the prisoners! The blue one first!

“You got it, Your Majesty!” Rainbow Dash yelled as she dived at Blue. She was surprised when he easily dodged her. “Oho! This is gonna be fun!”

The other Guards left Blue to their captain while they concentrated on the rest. However, given the opportunity to recover due to Blue’s quick reaction, they all went into defense mode. The Royal Guards did not know it, but they were up against elite warriors of the House of Path. Even Lucida, who preferred words as her weapons, was more highly trained than the average soldier, and her talons precluded the need for an actual weapon. Cinder was used to making herself look unintimidating so as not to agitate ponies, but now she reared up, spread her wings, and roared in defiance. Destined powered up his horn, ready to defend them all.

Twilight did not leave everything to her Guards though. She lashed out with a blast from her horn, but was blocked by Destined. She sneered at him. “You think that you can stand against a true alicorn? I slaughtered thousands of changelings, and I won’t stop at one of their sympathizers!” She fired again with a stronger bolt, but believing that he was a fake, she still underestimated Destined’s power and the attack failed again.

The alicorn stallion was hard pressed despite his strength because he also had to Guard against attacks by the Royal Guards on himself and his companions, and he had no wish to exert his full power which would have been fatal to most of the occupants of the room. His siblings and Cinder were wreaking havoc on the Guards, but more kept pouring in. They might have had even more trouble if Blue had not been able to keep Rainbow Dash preoccupied. As fast as she was, the dimensions of the room confined her movements, while Blue had no such problems, able to make short but vision-blurring moves. He had quickly recovered his sword from the Guard who had taken it away, and the only thing that had saved the pegasus so far was the fact that Blue did not wish to harm his long-time friend. However, when the opportunity came to take her out without permanently harming her, Blue did not hesitate. Rainbow crashed to the floor, unconscious but relatively intact, and Blue turned his attention to the other Guards.

A Guard screamed as Lucida slashed him with her talons before she yelled to the others, “We can’t keep this up all day; we have to get out of here!”

“What about Pif?” Destined grunted as he blocked yet another deadly blast from Twilight.

“We’ll just have to come back and fetch her later,” Lucida decided reluctantly. “Take us away, Destined.”

The alicorn stallion hated the idea of leaving his half-sister behind, but he saw the sense in a retreat. “Cinder – grab Blue!”

The dragoness snaked out her tail at an opportune moment to snare Blue. When he was in warrior mode, it was dangerous to try to interrupt the earth pony, but his mate was safe from the repercussions. She folded a wing about him, their private signal to him to stand down, and drew them closer to the others. A moment later, Destined’s horn flared and they teleported out of the room.

Twilight screeched in frustration. “Find them! Find them and kill them!” she yelled, even as she started tracing their magical trail.

# # #

Epiphany meekly complied with the Guards’ directions as they led her to a fortified compound close to the castle. Upon entering its gates, they made a left turn towards a drab building with few windows. Once inside, they were confronted by a security checkpoint, and the Royal Guard behind the desk looked at Pif suspiciously.

“Another changeling who thinks she can sneak in disguised as a unicorn? Not too bright, are they?”

Sky Staff replied, “This one was a little different. She came with an odd group who claimed to be coming with a warning of a threat to Equestria.”

The Guard snorted. “OK, that’s a new one. Maybe it deluded them somehow. Anyway, not our problem. You know the drill.” He opened the door that led further into the building.

Row upon row of cells confronted Pif as she was herded inside, each of which was occupied by changelings grouped by their hives. She saw Reds, Violets, Greens, Oranges, and Yellows, but not a single Blue. She did not know whether this was a good thing or not, but she strongly suspected that she would not like the reason. What puzzled her though were the small tables with colorful tablecloths that were directly adjacent to each cell, and the balloons and streamers that decorated the entire facility.

“Drop your disguise, changeling. It’s time to put you with your buddies.”

Showing her uniqueness was the last thing that Pif wanted, but she had a feeling that if she tried to deceive them, she would be caught out and punished. Any prison specializing in holding changelings could not be underestimated. With a flare of green fire, she revealed herself.

Thunderbolt gaped and exclaimed, “What the hay is this?”

“I’m from the Chrome Hive,” Pif explained.

“I’ve never heard of a Chrome Hive,” Sky Staff said suspiciously.

“I come from Griffonia,” Pif explained, neglecting to mention that the actual hive should have been just a short distance away but for the meddling with time, nor did she look anything like the Griffonian changelings.

Thunderbolt snorted. “Bad enough that we have the Equestrian hives – now we have the foreigners coming in also. At least that explains why this one thought it could get into the Queen’s castle.”

“So where should we put it?” Sky Staff asked.

Thunderbolt shrugged. “Pick the block with the most empty cells. That should make the party a little livelier.”

Sky Staff chuckled, and Pif wondered what amused the pegasus so much. And what did the other mean by a party? Did it have something to do with all those decorations? It didn’t make sense to her.

Pif was taken into a row containing Red Changelings and locked in a cell. Her captors then walked off, leaving her to consider her fellow inmates. She scanned their faces until she came to one that was more than familiar. “Queen Carpacia?” she gasped.

The Red Queen regarded her curiously. “You have the advantage of me. Chrome Changeling you claim to be, but I have never heard of such a hive from the eastern lands. You strike me as being a mutant, and seeing as none of the other Equestrian Hive Queens have mentioned an offspring like you, I would have to say that you’re a Blue.”

Pif was impressed by Carpacia’s reasoning. “You’re mostly right. I am the daughter of Gossamer, and granddaughter to Chrysalis. Gossamer was the mutant, but it seems her trait breeds true and all her offspring are chrome like me. So yes, I was telling the truth about there being a Chrome Hive, except for one important detail.”

“Besides the fact that you’re the kin to the insane Queen who brought ruination upon all changelings?” Carpacia said coldly.

“Don’t compare me or my mother to Chrysalis! She denounced her and fought against her, as have I. No, the important detail is that we won! Someone has meddled with time and changed history so all this…” Pif waved her hooves to indicate the cells and beyond, “…never happened. Chrysalis’ invasion of the Crystal City was defeated and my mother took over the Blue Hive. She and House Path rebuilt it into a modern and progressive Hive right here in Ponyville. I was conceived after that battle, so if Chrysalis had won and my mother was defeated, I probably would not exist.”

Carpacia regarded Pif with skepticism. “You spin a wild tale, and yet one thing that you said makes me think that you’re telling the truth.”

“What’s that?”

“What makes you think that Chrysalis won the battle?”

“Huh? But why would Equestria turn against the changelings otherwise? From my history studies, I know that our kind was making great strides towards integration with pony society at that time.”

“Because before Chrysalis was eventually killed, she caused so much harm that Queen Twilight Sparkle sought revenge on all changelings.”

Pif gasped in shock. “That… that doesn’t sound like Mom at all!”

“Mom?” Carpacia asked with a quizzical tilt to her head. “I thought you said your mother was Gossamer?”

“I come from a herd family. Momma Twilight was one of my herd mothers, as was Momma Roseclaw. Long Path was my sire, and Gossamer was my birth mother, but her normal form was Free Agent, a male griffon who was more of a second dad to me.”

Carpacia was startled. “Free Agent was Chrysalis’ daughter? I heard about how mightily he fought against Chrysalis before he was killed. His body was so obliterated that none of my surviving ’lings ever knew.”

“Although Queen Dianthia and a few others knew before the battle, Free Agent revealed his true nature to everyone only after the victory at the Crystal City.”

“Remarkable. So you belong to the House of Path; did Lady Lucida send you then?”

“You know of Lucy? No, she was with me when we were snatched away before the time changes could affect us.”

“This talk of changes to history still seems unreal to me, and yet you are an obvious contradiction to what I know as fact.”

Pif nodded in agreement. “I know – it all seems unreal to me too. It’s only just happened, and I haven’t adjusted to it yet. I especially can’t understand how Momma Twilight could turn so much against changelings. We were one of her dearest projects as Princess of Friendship! Can you tell me exactly what happened to change her?”

Carpacia smirked. “Well, my appointment list seems to be empty, and the party won’t start for a little while, so I suppose I can squeeze you into my busy day. Where should I start?”

“It sounds like whatever happened to change history occurred during the siege of the Crystal City, so I suggest you begin there.”

“That makes sense as that’s when everything went sour for us. No one knows all the details because Twilight Sparkle hasn’t sought fit to tell us, but apparently all her herdmates were killed. Free Agent was the last to go up against Chrysalis, but although he fought magnificently, she had an advantage over him that he could not overcome, and eventually he was slain also. Chrysalis’ strategy of overcoming the might of the alicorns by swamping them with sheer numbers worked excellently, and she was able to take the time to build up a huge amount of power to blast the shield several times. The strain on Shining Armor caused him to suffer a ruptured aneurysm, and he collapsed along with his shield. The prince suffered brain damage, leaving him mostly unresponsive to anyone. This, combined with the deaths of her foster son and many of her friends after doing so much killing that was against her pacific nature, finally caused Twilight Sparkle to snap.”

“Blue Streak died too?” Pif murmured. “Mom had always been paranoid about his safety.”

“Twilight Sparkle perhaps cared too much,” Carpacia continued. “She was unable to cope with the mental trauma, and she went insane with rage. It was known for a long while that she was the Avatar of the Element of Magic because magic is her special talent, and one day she was likely to exceed both Luna and Celestia in sheer power. Well, the events of that battle brought forth that well of power, and she unleashed it on her enemies. Chrysalis died in the first blast, then hundreds of ’lings died in the torrential blasts of magic fire that she unleashed into the skies. Every being in their paths died, including the red Changelings who fought on her side, and any griffon warrior who was unlucky enough to be in the way. Twilight did not care. She fired bolts of magic until the skies were empty. Only two of my ’lings who were on the ground survived to tell me about these events.”

“What’s with calling her Queen Twilight though, and taking revenge on all changelings?”

“I meant it when I said that she snapped. Twilight Sparkle went insane that day. She blamed Celestia and Luna for not being strong enough to turn away the enemy, and usurped their power. Don’t ask me how she did it – I just know that the only things that they can do now is manage the heavenly bodies that are their birthright. Although they are effectively prisoners in Canterlot, they maintain the day and night out of a sense of duty towards Equus. Twilight took the title of Queen of Equestria, and started the program of incarceration or elimination of all changelings. In her mind, we had all become the enemy. Such are the thoughts of the insane.”

“What about Princess Cadance? Surely she could have helped Twilight?”

Carpacia laughed without humor. “No, she made it worse. Cadance suffered the deaths of her subjects after the shield fell, but she was totally lost in grief when she realized that Shining Armor was a living vegetable. She used her power to try to heal him, but failed. She wanted to use the Crystal Heart to try again, but ironically it was destroyed in the battle. Now she obsessively tries to repair it to heal her lost love, and we are instrumental in those efforts.”

“That makes some sense. I remember learning how the five Hive Queens had combined power with Cadance to repair the cracked Heart. And years earlier, Flurry Heart actually shattered it, but the combination of a powerful restoration spell and a Crystalling ceremony was able to put it back together again.”

“That won’t work now. The Crystal Heart was not merely cracked or even just shattered; it is beyond repair, which makes our situation hopeless.”

“What is our situation then? Why bother to incarcerate us?”

“Because Cadance is so lost in her grief that she no longer has a grasp on reality. She continues to try to repair the Heart, and Queen Twilight helps her because it gives her some measure of revenge against the changelings that destroyed her world, or so she thinks anyway.”

“So what happens now?”

Carpacia smirked. “We party.”

Pif blinked uncomprehendingly for a several long moments. “What? That’s the third time a party has been mentioned. What in Tartarus do you mean?”

“You’ll see. It’ll start soon.” Carpacia walked over to her cot and lay down upon it, apparently losing interest in the conversation.

Pif mulled over what she had learned. She now knew when history was changed, and she knew what the consequences of that change were – now all she had to find out was how it was changed. It seemed that even with the benefit of a couple of eye witnesses and subsequent events, Carpacia was unaware of the cause, so she was unlikely to learn more about that. She still had to understand what Cadance was doing to the changelings though, and especially what the hay this party was supposed to be!

# # #

Destined, Blue, Cinder, and Lucida popped back into reality at the foot of a bridge over a ravine that led to the ruins of a castle surrounded by a dense forest from which strange sounds emanated. They were all still hyped up with adrenaline from the fight they had just escaped, and they just stood there for a long moment to calm down and reorient themselves.

Cinder took her wing away from around Blue and as she furled it up, she said, “Shards! That meeting went to Tartarus quickly. Has Twilight gone completely insane?”

Lucida nodded gravely. “I believe that’s exactly what has happened. The Twilight Sparkle who raised and taught us would have been fascinated by our tale of time changes, and she most certainly would not have ordered anyone’s death.”

“The same might be said of Rainbow Dash,” Blue said. “She has always been headstrong, but she would not have so readily carried out orders to execute us. Did anyone else besides me see her eyes?”

“We were kind of preoccupied,” Lucida commented.

Destined shook his head. “I didn’t see her eyes, but I did have a sense of an enhancement spell on her. If I was to make an educated guess, I think her innate loyalty to Twilight has been boosted to obsessive levels; she will do anything that Queen Twilight tells her to do.”

Lucida nodded. “More evidence that Twilight has gone totally nuts; she’s always hated the idea of imposing spells on people without their knowledge and consent. Something about an experience with a ‘Want it, Need it’ spell I once heard about in a lesson, I believe.”

Blue growled. “Well, we now know for sure that history has been changed, and we know that it had something to do with the battle at the Crystal City. Now we have to figure out exactly what and how to fix it. First we have to rescue Pif though.”

“Yeah,” Cinder agreed. “So where did they take her?” She looked around and added, “For that matter, where are we?”

Destined replied, “I took us somewhere that I was familiar with and not too far away but wasn’t likely to have too many ponies to deal with. Welcome to the Castle of the Two Sisters.” He waved a hoof at the ruins.

“Bit of a dump,” Cinder opined.

Lucida sighed sadly. “It is in this version of history, it seems. In the proper timeline, Twilight and others have been working to restore it, and the last time that I visited here, it was looking very nice, and some maintenance staff had actually moved in on a permanent basis. Nobody would want to live here now though.”

“Ah wouldn’t rightly say that, sugah,” came a voice from behind the group.

While the four had been preoccupied with looking at the castle, a large number of people had quietly emerged from concealment with weapons trained upon them. Blue cursed himself for his carelessness even as the others gasped in surprise, not only for the ambush, but who those ambushers were. Several changelings of various colors stood alongside ponies, and at their head was the one who had spoken.

“Applejack?” Lucida said with surprise. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, it seems you know me, but I don’t rightly know you, missy. Who are you and your companions?” While the question was asked pleasantly enough, there was a strong hint of threat behind the inquiry, and the weapons aimed at them never wavered.

Lucida knew some of what they were up against this time, and it was going to be hard to convince this hostile group of their intentions. However, this time she had one advantage – the apple farmer herself. “I am Lucida Path, and these are Destined Path, Blue Streak, and Cinder. In another time, you knew us all, but history has been changed, and we’re trying to find a way to fix it.”

The cream-colored earth pony standing next to Applejack with a crossbow aimed at Destined spoke up. “This one’s an alicorn – where did he come from? We have no reason to trust any alicorn nowadays.”

“Ah reckon that’s a pretty good question, Bon Bon,” Applejack agreed, looking pointedly at the alicorn.

Destined took a step forward. “I am the son of Long Path… and Twilight Sparkle.”

That statement caused quite a stir among the group, and several looked ready to attack right then. Applejack held up a hoof to restrain them.

“Y’all don’t look like ya wanna commit suicide, so why’d you claim kinship with the Queen?”

“Because if history had not been warped, she would be a friend to changelings and not a queen.”

“Not being convinced here,” Applejack stated coldly.

Lucida motioned Destined back and stepped up as closely as she dared to the earth pony. “Applejack Apple, former Bearer of an Element of Harmony, Avatar of the Aspect of Honesty, I call upon you to heed my words and know that they are true. We four and my sister Epiphany were taken out of the time stream before a change in history could affect us. We believe that something happened around the time of the attack on the Crystal City by Chrysalis that changed events leading to what drove Twilight Sparkle insane. In our proper time, she and her herdmates in the House of Path went on to build relationships between Equestria, Griffonia, and the Hives. We are the children of Herd Path, and we are here to set things right.” Lucida let those words hang there while Applejack regarded her intently.

There was a very long and tense silence before Applejack nodded. “Ah believe ya. Stand down, everypony,” she ordered.

The changelings and ponies lowered their weapons, some more reluctantly than others, but it was obvious that Applejack was very much in charge.

“So, children of Herd Path, hey?” she said with an eyebrow quirked as she looked at Cinder.

“My mate,” Blue explained.

“Fair enough. How about some better introductions now that we ain’t gonna have ta lock ya away?”

“I’m the daughter of Long Path and Roseclaw,” Lucida explained. “You should know of me because I was born before the battle at the Crystal City.”

“Come to think of it, your name does ring a bell. It’s been a long time though since I heard it mentioned.”

“Dad conceived three foals soon after that battle. Destined was Mama Twilight’s son, my brother Flix was Mama Roseclaw’s chick, and Epiphany was Free Agent’s daughter.”

Applejack was startled. “Free Agent? But he’s a…”

“Changeling queen,” Lucida interjected. “She went into breeding mode and Long Path consented to sire a child with her. Pif is our sister, and she was with us when Queen Twilight’s Guards identified her as a changeling and took her away. We need to rescue her before we try to fix history.”

“Well, y’all got your work cut out for ya. Ain’t nobuggy ever come back outta their changeling facility.”

“If anyone can, she will. Anyway, your turn now. How come you’re in league with changelings when Queen Twilight seems determined to capture or kill them all?”

The hippogriff grunted as Applejack clapped her on the back and grinned proudly. “Welcome to the Resistance! We’re dedicated to bringin’ down the usurper queen and freein’ the innocent.”

Lucida snorted in amusement. “As I recall the past, you were the last of the Mane Six to warm up to the changelings, and yet here you are apparently leading a group of them.”

Applejack smirked. “Yep, Ah’m aware of the irony, but Ah ain’t got time for repressin’ them just for what they are. And that’s not the only thing Twilight Sparkle has changed for the worse. Equestria suffers daily under her reign.”

“So what are you doing about it?”

“Twilight knew the location of only two of the hives – the Red and the Green. She raided those and captured their Queens, but some of the changelings managed to escape. By that time, Twi and Ah had parted company because Ah could not stand what she had become. Ah discovered some Red Changelings hiding in mah barn, and from there Ah started collectin’ more refugees. Ah couldn’t hide them all on the farm, so Ah brought them here to the old castle. It looks bad, but we’ve fixed up the insides, and the Everfree protects and hides it. Ah’ve been recruiting ponies to find and help any other buggies they find. Bon Bon here was mah first, and she’s mah right hoof mare.”

“So Queen Twilight doesn’t suspect this at all? How do you support all of these people?”

“We have our sympathizers in town who help.”

“Do you suppose they can help us get Pif?”

“If you’re thinkin’ of breaking into the changeling facility, forget it. We haven’t figured out how to do that yet.”

“Maybe we won’t have to. Pif is pretty resourceful. We just need to be on hoof nearby when she makes her move.”

“Hmm… Well, Ah reckon we can smuggle ya’ll back into town if ya can’t get back the way you came. How did ya’ll get here without us noticin’, anyway?”

“Destined teleported us here.”

“Are ya sure Twi can’t follow ya?”

Destined spoke up. “I obscured our mana path. Mom… er… Queen Twilight should not be able to trace us.”

“Good. Ah gather ya can’t just teleport back? Too conspicuous, Ah reckon. Your flashy arrival drew us here.”

“Exactly right,” Destined agreed.

“Well, Ah reckon Ah have the answer for ya, and a chance to show ya’ll some hospitality at the same time. Looks like our daily provisions have arrived.” Applejack motioned towards the bridge that was on the approach to the castle.

A butter-yellow pegasus with a pink mane was drawing a cart covered with a tarpaulin over the bridge. She approached the group and came to a stop as she stared at the four newcomers. “Oh! Oh dear! Strangers have seen me.” She shrunk down, trying to hide behind her mane.

“Don’t ya worry none, Fluttershy. They’re friends too.”

“Oh? That’s nice,” she replied as she cautiously got back to her hooves. “You can’t be too careful. If Twilight ever found out that I’ve been bringing you food, she would lock me away, and then who would feed my animals?”

“You’ve been a lifesaver, Fluttershy. We appreciate everythin’ ya do for us.”

Fluttershy smiled shyly. “I try, but I couldn’t do it all by myself.”

“Bravin’ the Everfree every day just for us? Ah’d say that you’re the real hero.”

Fluttershy blushed fiercely. “I… I’d better get this food inside.” She hastily trotted off to the castle.

“Still can’t take a compliment,” Lucida commented.

“So ya know Fluttershy too? Ah suppose that makes sense. Anyhow, she’s your way back into town. She can fit maybe two of ya in her cart.”

Lucida smiled. “No, one would be enough. If we can get Destined to some secure place close to the changeling prison, he can fetch us back there.”

“Yeah,” Destined agreed. “Once I have a place locked in, I can teleport back and forth easily.”

“Sounds like a plan, and Ah think Ah know just the place. Now we just have to convince Fluttershy to do it for ya.”

“Great! Let’s do that.”

Applejack led them off in the direction of the castle.

“So what does Fluttershy bring you?” Cinder asked.

“Mostly food donated by sympathizers. A lot comes from Sweet Apple Acres,” Applejack replied.

“Are you able to work your farm at all now?” Blue asked.

The earth pony shook her head sadly. “Nope. Twi figured out Ah was part of the Resistance, so Ah can’t go back home. Apple Bloom and Big Macintosh keep it goin’ now with the help of cousin Braeburn.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Doesn’t Queen Twilight suspect that they’re helping you?”

“Probably, but Sweet Apple Acres feeds a lot of the town with more’n just apples, so for now they’re tolerated.”

Once they passed within the dilapidated walls of the castle, the condition of the structure rapidly changed. It became apparent that much covert reconstruction had been done, and the castle was very livable. One large hall had become a common dining room, and in a room to one side, a kitchen was busy starting to prepare the food that Fluttershy had brought in. While they were waiting for her to finish unloading, they watched the activity of the other occupants of the castle.

Lucida said, “I notice that almost everyone travels in pairs – one pony and one changeling.”

Applejack nodded. “Yep. Standard procedure is ta give everypony a suitable partner. They work together at all times to provide each other backup. The changeling gets the positive emotions they need to feed on, and they keep their partner happy in ways that work best for them.”

“So where’s yours?” Cinder asked curiously.

“Closer than you think,” Bon Bon said before magic fire engulfed her to reveal a Red Changeling.

“Told ya she’s ma right hoof mare, didn’t Ah?” Applejack said with a smirk.

Lucida blinked in surprise. “Makes me wonder which other ponies who I know in Ponyville are also changelings.”

“Not as many as you might think,” Bon Bon replied, “but there were representatives of the Green, Yellow, Violet, and Orange Hives there too. That is until Twilight started sniffing them out with a changeling detection spell. I escaped before I was discovered, but others weren’t so lucky.”

When Fluttershy was finished, Applejack pulled her aside to discuss their request. They noticed that the pegasus shivered a bit at the risk, but she nodded.

“Alright, I’ll do it,” Fluttershy declared quietly but firmly.

They followed her outside once more, and they decided that Destined would walk along with Fluttershy until they were near the edge of the Everfree Forest, where he would conceal himself in her cart. The rest of the group watched them depart until they disappeared among the trees.

Lucida turned to Applejack and said, “While we’re waiting for Destined to return, how about you tell us all you know about what happened at the Crystal City battle? Every bit of information that you can give might help us figure out what was changed and how we might be able to fix it.”

“And how do ya plan to do that? Goin’ to catch the train to the past?” the apple mare asked sarcastically.

“I’m not sure yet, but I suspect a certain Time Turner might have the answer to that.”

# # #

The cart was not the most comfortable form of transport, but if the bumps and bruises he endured were the worst to happen, Destined would be more than satisfied. The cart came to a stop without incident, and he heard Fluttershy undoing the harness. A moment later, her soft voice came to him under the covers.

“Wait here while I make sure that the coast is clear.”

Destined desperately wanted to stretch his legs and wings, but he endured for a few more minutes. It wasn’t long before Fluttershy returned, and he heard her say, “Here’s your shipment. I hope it’s everything you needed.”

“I’m sure that you did a fine job, darling. Let me get that for you.”

Destined was certain he knew the owner of that second voice. He almost yelped when he felt himself being magically lifted and carried away with the tarpaulin still draped over him. He was soon put down on a floor and he heard the sound of a door being closed and locked.

“It’s safe to get up now, dear.”

Destined pushed off the tarpaulin and stood up to face the owner of that cultured voice, unsurprised to see a white unicorn with a carefully coiffed purple mane. “Rarity!”

She smiled at him. “I see my fame precedes me, but you have the advantage of me, sir. Who is this handsome alicorn stallion that I see before me?”

“My name is Destined Path, and in a different history, we knew each other well enough. You were, after all, one of my mother’s best friends.”

Rarity’s eyes narrowed. “Am I to infer that you are Queen Twilight’s son?” she asked with a touch of suspicion.

“No, I am not Queen Twilight’s child – I am the son of Princess Twilight Sparkle of Herd Path of the Griffonian House of Path. History has been changed, and my siblings and I are on a quest to rectify it. My sister has been captured though, and we need some help to retrieve her before we can continue.”

Rarity raised an eyebrow. “An interesting heritage and an intriguing goal. Where is this sister of yours?”

“In the changeling holding facility.”

“Your sister is a changeling?” Rarity asked with surprise.

“Half-sister if you want to be pedantic, but we have the same father – Long Path.”

“Then who is your sister’s mother?”

“Queen Gossamer, but you probably know her better as Free Agent.”

Rarity gasped. “Free Agent was a Queen changeling?”

Destined grinned. “Yep. That’s something that most people didn’t know until after the Crystal City battle.”

“Oh my! I had no idea. You poor dear – if your sister is the daughter of a changeling Queen, she is in worse danger than you might think. Queen Twilight is obsessed with capturing all queen changelings for her nefarious plans.”

“Are you able to tell me more about where she’s being held?”

“Oh, darling, I wouldn’t be caught dead in there.”

“Then we’re going to have to wait for her to get out on her own.”

Rarity gave him a flat look. “Really? I believe in optimism, but you really should base your hopes on more than wild expectations.”

Destined smiled knowingly at her. “You don’t know Pif like we do.”

“I do hope for your sake that you’re right. What are you hoping to do in the meantime?”

“First I have to fetch the rest of the group. Will it be okay to bring three more here?”

“Yes, as long as you are prepared to stay concealed upstairs and not give Queen Twilight any idea that I am connected with the Resistance.”

“Of course not! Umm… what do you do for the Resistance anyway?”

“Oh, good heavens, darling, you don’t think the Resistance runs on apples alone? I use my business contacts to procure all kinds of other essential materiel!”

“And you’re happy to work against your friend?”

Rarity scowled. “Queen Twilight is no friend of mine. She betrayed everything our friendship stood for. I would never have believed that I would find more in common with those uncouth changelings than her, but that is the case, and for the sake of the good of Equestria and all free species, I will do my utmost to see that she is brought down!”

“Nice speech, Rarity.”

“Thank you, dear. I’ve been rehearsing it for a while.”

“Pardon me for a minute while I fetch my friends.”

“Of course. How do you…” She paused as Destined teleported away. “Ah – he really is an alicorn, Rarity,” she gently castigated herself for forgetting.

It was just a bit longer than a minute before four figures flashed into existence.

Rarity was startled by the mixture of beings, but her eyebrows really rose at the sight of the huge muscular blue stallion. “Oh my! Where have you been all my life?” she asked Blue Streak.

“Ummm…” was all the disconcerted earth pony could say.

Cinder stepped between him and Rarity. “Mine!” she declared with a toothy grin that held no humor whatsoever.

“Really? Oh well, I thought it was too good to be true. Now I really must ask all of you to move upstairs so that I can reopen the shop. If I stay closed too long at this time of the day, it might look suspicious.”

The foursome moved in the direction of the stairs that she indicated.

“The spare bedroom is the second on the left. Please don’t touch anything!”

They found themselves in a room that had obviously last been used by a filly, but not for some time. There was a photo on the dresser of Rarity with her sister Sweetie Belle, taken on the day that she had gotten her cutie mark. Destined picked it up and looked around at the other objects in the room, wondering where Sweetie was now. Perhaps there was more than one reason for a fashionista to be so actively opposed to the tyrant Queen?

# # #

Pif reclined on the cell’s cot and considered her options. She had to escape, of course, but this changeling prison facility was proving to be a mine of information so far, and she suspected that she would learn a lot more before this day was done. She at least needed to know what this party that they kept mentioning was all about, and why she sensed that Carpacia was dreading it.

Just then her thoughts were interrupted by a bright and excessively cheerful voice. “Hi there, colts and fillies! Do you know what time it is?”

There was a chorus of groans, curses, and various replies such as: ‘Time for you to drop dead’, and ‘Time to shove a cactus up your sphincter’, as well as some even more unpleasant suggestions.

“That’s right – it’s Party Time!” was the exuberant response, utterly undeterred by the attitude of the changelings.

Pif recognized the owner of that voice, and she moved back over to the bars in order to peer as best as she could up the corridor. There she spotted an extremely cheerful Pinkie Pie pushing a cart laden with cakes, donuts, cream buns, chocolates, sweets, and other sugary treats, plus bottles of various flavors of soda. She was heading down one of the other corridors though, and she quickly disappeared from view. However, her voice continued to carry to Pif.

“I know what you’ve all been waiting for, and here it is fresh from Sugarcube Corner! Now don’t push – there’s plenty for everyone.”

Pif wondered what the hay she was talking about. She had not heard any cells being unlocked, so there was no way that any ’ling could be crowding the pink pony.

“Well, it looks as if I won’t starve, at least,” she said to no one in particular.

A derisive snort came from Carpacia’s cell. “She’s here to feed us, alright, but it’s not what’s on her cart.”

Pif recalled the times that she had met Pinkie, and how the bubbly mare was always a font of joy and laughter. Her positive emotions were plentiful and tasty, and Pif had often overfed on them as a child, causing her parents no end of grief until Free drained the excess from her. At least she had a lot more self-control now, so she would not over-indulge this time. “So we get a meal plus dessert – what’s so bad about that?”

Carpacia chuckled humorlessly. “That’s all the physical food that you’re going to get.”

Pif considered that statement. All of the energy needs of changelings were supplied by consuming the ambient energy of positive emotions, but they still needed some solid food and drink to supply their need for mass to build their bodies and replace worn-out parts. And one other thing…. “Wait – are you saying that we won’t be getting any vegetables, meat, or fruit?”

“Nope – those aren’t party foods.”

“But what about vitamins?”

“You catch on fast; none of us are getting any. Several of us are sick due to vitamin deficiencies.”

“That’s ridiculous! Have you tried asking for other foods?”

“We gave up trying. You’ll soon find out for yourself.” Carpacia then lost interest in the conversation once more.

Pif resigned herself to waiting until Pinkie returned. Meanwhile she tried to listen to what was happening. Most of what she could hear was Pinkie’s exuberantly loud voice, exhorting them to eat up, play games, or sing songs. The sing-along was particularly bizarre as it consisted of the pink mare singing all the parts herself. Eventually she turned into Pif’s corridor, and even from a distance the changeling was inundated with a flood of laughter and joy. Reflexively she consumed it even as she watched the mare work her way down the corridor, putting party treats on the shelves outside the bars of each cell. Finally Pif could see what she had only surmised until then – Pinkie kept telling the inmates to stop crowding around and that there was plenty for all, despite the fact that no ’ling could get out of their cell, and in fact several completely ignored her.

When Pinkie got to Pif’s cell, she gasped in delight. “OH! A new foal! Happy birthday! I have a special treat for you.” She dug around on the lower shelf of the cart and pulled out a huge birthday cake with six candles on it already lit.

“What the hell are you talking about, Pinkie?” Pif asked. “I’m not a foal nor is it my birthday.”

Pinkie seemed to not hear a word she said though, and she slapped a party hat on Pif and started singing the birthday song. “Make a wish, it’s your birthday…!”

Pif was about to try again when she noticed Pinkie’s eyes, and she shuddered. The pupils were contracted to pinpoints and a swirling miasma of magic colored the rest. “She’s under a spell!” Pif gasped.

“Now you’re getting it,” Carpacia said. “To Miss Food Feast here, we’re all foals here for a never-ending party, and any new prisoners are foals who have been sent to join the party as a special treat for their birthday. You can literally say anything to her, and she will either not hear it, or she will interpret it in some party fashion in her delusional way.”

Pif decided to give it a test. “Pinkie, can I have some vegetable soup for my birthday?”

“You want ice cream? Sure! Which flavor is your favorite?” Pinkie replied as she whipped out several kinds from seemingly nowhere.

“Tuna and onion.”

“Pistachio it is then!” Pinkie replied, doling out a generous dollop. “Enjoy! Now who’s next?” Pinkie pushed her cart to the next cell where the ridiculous behavior continued.

Pif was feeling a bit bloated from all the emotional energy that she had gained from Pinkie, and she really wasn’t in the mood for the sugary treats. She didn’t plan to stay too long if she could help it. “What’s the point of all of this? We’re kept prisoner, but then treated to a feast of joy and party food – it doesn’t make sense!”

“You’ve only seen half of it so far. You’re not going to like the second part,” Carpacia replied snarkily.

Pif frowned in annoyance. “Well, how about you telling me instead of being so mysterious about it?”

“I have to get my entertainment somehow.”

Pif regarded her with pity. “How low have you sunk, Carpacia? You used to be the queen of a powerful hive, and now you’re just an apathetic shell of your old self.”

Carpacia snorted. “When you’ve been in here as long as I have, I’ll bet you won’t be so self-righteous.”

“So you’re not going to tell me because you’re sulking. Okay, I’ll remember that in future.” Pif decided to eat some of the food anyway – Pinkie’s food was always delicious, and vitamins or not, she could do with a bit of solid food to keep herself at maximum potential.

Eventually Pinkie had fed every inmate, sung several more songs, played games with them (a bizarre sight in itself), and then finally left them to recover from the emotional overload. Pif reclined on her cot, trying to digest it all when she heard the cell block’s door being opened again. She got up to observe what was happening this time, hoping that Pinkie had not returned already. Her eyes widened in surprise at the unexpected visitor.

Princess Cadance walked slowly inside, turning into Pif’s corridor. She looked positively awful. Her mane looked so unkempt that it probably had not been cared for in years. Her face fur was damp with tears that never seemed to cease, and her expression was of bitter woe. She wore a sack strung around her neck, and strangely, she was also carrying a white pony on her back. As she got closer, Pif recognized Shining Armor, although barely. The stallion had an utterly vacant look on his face, and was drooling onto Cadance’s fur. It was immediately obvious that his mind was gone.

Cadance stopped outside of Pif’s cell and looked her over. “So it’s true – they’ve caught another queen. She’s young and healthy, Shining; she’ll be able to give us lots of love energy. With her, we’re closer to healing the Heart and restoring you.” Her horn lit up.

“Auntie Cadance, what are you doing…?” Pif began before she was struck by a beam from the horn. She screamed in agony as she felt the love energy that she had digested being ripped from her. She had eaten so much of it that it took a very long time to drain it from her, and she writhed in severe pain on the cell floor until it was almost all gone and the drain stopped. She was left gasping and weak, and she barely was able to whisper, “Why?”

Cadance was utterly unmoved by Pif’s plight, and the changeling only then noticed that her energy was being fed into the sack before she moved on to Carpacia’s cell and repeated the performance. Pif listened to the Red Queen’s screams even as she lapsed into semi-unconsciousness from tiredness. She still heard the cries of agony as the former Princess of Love used her talent to rip it out of the rest of the inmates.

# # #

Pif woke up, stiff and sore from sleeping on the hard concrete floor of the cell. She struggled to her hooves and barely made it to the cot to collapse onto it. Cadance had left her barely enough emotion energy to stay alive, but she suspected that that situation would soon change. In fact she was only lying on the mattress for about ten minutes before Pinkie’s voice echoed through the cell block once more.

“Who wants hot chocolate?!”

Sure enough, the pink mare was pushing her cart once more, but this time laden with mugs of steaming hot chocolate with marshmallows floating on top. Along with the mare came a wave of joy and laughter which re-energized Pif, but not nearly enough yet. She made her way over to the cell bars to get as close as possible to Pinkie and consciously tried to consume as much energy as she could, but without actually being able to touch her, it was still limited. However, now that she was partly restored, Pif was able to think clearly again.

“Pinkie! Remember me – the birthday filly?”

“Ooh, yes! Are you having a super-duper funtabulous day?” Pinkie asked eagerly, her eyes swirling with magic-induced madness.

“I am, but one thing could make it even better.”

“Oh? What is it? Another cake? More games? Wanna play with Gummy?”

“No – all I want is a big long hug from my favorite party mare.”

“Ooh, clever,” Carpacia murmured just loud enough for Pif to hear.

Pinkie was thrilled. “Sure! I love hugs!” She thrust her forelegs through the bars and embraced Pif, who promptly began draining her positive emotions as fast as she could. The Avatar of Laughter seemed to be an almost limitless font of energy, and she didn’t seem to notice Pif’s affect upon her, but eventually she regretfully broke the hug. “I have to give the rest of the colts and fillies their hot chocolate now.”

“Thanks, Pinkie,” Pif said sincerely. It was not Pinkie’s fault that she was ensorcelled. Pif was feeling almost one hundred percent again though, and she could go ahead with her plans. There was still one thing that she needed to understand first, however.

When Pinkie had given Carpacia her hot chocolate, and incidentally fed her some emotional energy to revive her, Pif confronted the Red Queen again. “Okay, tell me what that was all about, and don’t give me any shit this time.”

Carpacia looked as if she was going to ignore her again, but something in Pif’s expression changed her mind. “That sack around Cadance’s neck contains the remnants of the Crystal Heart which was destroyed during the invasion of the Crystal City, which meant that population had to be evacuated to Equestria. As I said before, Cadance believes that if she can restore the Heart, she will be able to cure her husband, and she’s trying to do that by draining love energy from us changelings. She fell in with Queen Twilight to capture and incarcerate us in this special facility in order to drain changelings for that purpose, bewitching their good friend Pinkie Pie to do so. They continue to pursue this goal even though it’s utterly futile.”

“But the Heart has been shattered and restored before, so why do you reckon that it is completely futile now?” Flurry Heart’s example was more than sufficient, and Pif refrained from mentioning how the damaged Heart was repaired by Cadance in conjunction with the five Hive Queens in the proper time-line.

“Shattered, yes, and repaired with a combination of a Crystalling and a special restoration spell. However, the Heart isn’t merely shattered this time. It was burned out by the excessive draw upon it during the battle. It’s a sackful of slag and rubble that cannot be repaired under any circumstances, and so we are doomed to our miserable existence. Cadance can’t use Pinkie’s energy directly, so she uses changelings to process it into a usable form which she then extracts from us. While we can share that energy easily with our drones, Cadance does not have the hive-link to enable her to do so also, so she rips it out of us the hard way.”

Pif nodded thoughtfully. So Cadance had endured so much mental trauma that she had probably gone insane, and there would not be any help from her. Maybe Twilight was using her to punish the changelings? It didn’t really matter because they had two crazy alicorns to deal with in any case, and two helpless ones to rescue. It was time to rejoin the others and compare notes. Hopefully they had found out some useful information too. She certainly wasn’t sticking around for another round of binging and purging!

“Thanks, Carpacia. Now that I understand what’s going on, my siblings and I can do something about it.”

“Did that energy drain twist your mind or something? There’s nothing that you can do here.”

“You’re absolutely right – I can’t do it here, so I have to leave. I’m sorry that I can’t take you with me.”

“What are you blathering about?” Carpacia asked irritably.

“I have enough energy now to teleport out of here.”

“HA! You have gone nuts. Changelings can’t teleport.”

“I am the child of an unusual mutant changeling conceived in a gestalt with all four of my parents, including an alicorn. I am not your normal changeling queen. Unfortunately I need to be touching you or someone else touching you to take you along, so I have to leave you behind. I can only do this once before needing recovery time too, so I can’t teleport to your cell and then teleport out again.”

Carpacia shook her head. “If you can get out and do something about our situation, then do it! That’s more hope than we’ve had in years.”

Pif was now seeing the Changeling Queen that she was more familiar with. “You have my word that we will fix this. Goodbye, Queen Carpacia.”

Pif first changed to a unicorn form before she closed her eyes to concentrate. Her range was very limited, and she intended to put as much energy as she could into the effort to get as far away from the changeling facility as possible. Fortunately her familiarity with Ponyville let her focus better and extended her range a bit. She poured her energy into the magic and flashed out of her cell.

A pink-maned and tan-furred unicorn popped into existence in the middle of the parkland. As Pif had hoped, it was deserted, and her arrival had not been noticed. Now she had to try to find the others while avoiding identification as a changeling, but where to find them? Getting close to the castle again was too dangerous, and Sugarcube Corner was out of the question. Who knew how her mother’s other friends were like, but maybe she had to take a chance? It was still a better alternative than trusting a stranger. She made up her mind and headed for Fluttershy’s cottage.

Pif looked carefully about when she reached her destination, but Fluttershy’s home and yard looked exactly as she remembered them. She extended her senses to try to detect any inimical emotions, but found nothing except for a small but intense angry spot that she recognized as Angel Bunny. Situation normal then. She took a deep breath, marched up to the door and knocked. After a slight wait, the top half of the door opened slightly.

“Yes? Can I help you?” came Fluttershy’s timorous voice.

“I’m looking for some friends of mine, and I was hoping that you might have seen them.”

Pif felt the butter-yellow mare’s fear skyrocket. “M-maybe. Who are they?”

“A blue earth pony, an alicorn stallion, a hippogriff, and a dragon.” Pif was committed now. If Fluttershy was siding with Twilight, she could have given herself away.

“Umm… just one moment.”

There was a confusing mess of emotions that Pif could make no sense of before the door flew open wide, and a paw shot out and grabbed her by the throat. She was pulled inside the cottage before she realized that Harry the bear had grabbed her and was moments away from crushing her throat.

Fluttershy peered from behind the bear’s legs. “Who are you?” she asked suspiciously.

Pif was both terrified and impressed. Who knew that the timid pegasus would prove such a threat? “My name is Epiphany,” she choked out, “but my family calls me Pif.”

Fluttershy seemed to recognize the name. “Umm, could you prove it… if you don’t mind?”

Pif certainly didn’t mind! But did this mean that the mare knew what she was as well as who she was? Time for a leap of faith. Pif’s form flared with green fire and revealed her natural form.

“Oh! Harry, you can put her down now. Thank you, my friend.”

The bear actually seemed to smile at Pif as he put her down carefully and shuffled off. Pif sighed with relief.

Fluttershy smiled shyly at the changeling. “Your friends are safe. They are staying with Rarity at the moment while they look for you. I never expected to see you come to my door though.”

“In another time, you knew me well, so I hoped that we could at least be friends here too. Anyway, I need to rejoin my brothers and sisters. We have to find a way to fix this situation.”

“Applejack explained to me what they told her. How can you do anything though?”

“With the help of a certain Time Turner, I expect. That pony has some explaining to do.”

Fluttershy looked confused, but eventually just shrugged. “I’ll take you to your friends.”

“I know where Rarity’s place is – I can get there by myself.” She resumed her unicorn disguise.

“But you don’t know where the hidden changeling traps are, and you have to dodge the Royal Guards who have changeling detection spells.”

Pif wondered what a changeling trap was like. “Okay, I can see the need for a guide, if you think you’re up for it. I wouldn’t want to impose on you.”

Fluttershy straightened up and looked proud. “It’s no imposition for the Resistance!” she said in her small but determined voice.

Now there’s a phrase I would never have believed I’d hear from Fluttershy,’ Pif thought. “Okay, let’s do this.”

# # #

Pif’s nerves were somewhat frayed by the time they reached Rarity’s home, and she wondered how Fluttershy could stand it. Adversity certainly had toughened the mare, it seemed. They entered the building, and as the doorbell announced their arrival, Rarity’s voice floated to them.

“Welcome to the Carousel Boutique… oh, Fluttershy dear, who would your friend be?”

Although the question was asked in Rarity’s normal tone of voice, her suspicion had flared instantly at seeing the stranger. Pif went back to her changeling form as Fluttershy said, “This is the changeling our friends are looking for.”

“Hi, Rarity. My name is Epiphany, but you can call me Pif.”

Rarity gave her a genuine smile this time. “I am delighted to meet you, dear Epiphany. If you would like to hurry upstairs, I think you will find what you’re looking for.”

“Thanks!” Pif turned to Fluttershy. “And thank you for your help too. I couldn’t have done this without you.”

Fluttershy glowed with embarrassment but smiled and nodded. “You’re welcome, Pif. I better get back to my animals – it’s nearly feeding time.”

Pif waved to the pegasus before heading upstairs. The first person that she saw was Blue Streak anxiously pacing up and down the hallway. His eyes widened in surprised delight.

“Pif! You’re safe! Thank Celestia!”

The two embraced as the others poured out of the bedroom after hearing Pif’s name called out, and they joined in the hug. Eventually Lucida spoke up.

“Come into the bedroom and take a load off. We have to compare notes and decide our course of action. As the Doctor said, it looks like we have to save Equestria.”

# # #

“Let me sum up,” Lucida said. “With what we have learned from Mom… I mean Queen Twilight, plus Applejack, Rarity, and now Carpacia, we can determine that something happened at a crucial moment during the battle at the Crystal City to drastically change the outcome, resulting in Chrysalis killing Path, Free, Roseclaw, Blue, and other close acquaintances. Shining Armor was rendered brain dead and Cadance suffered a nervous breakdown from which she has never recovered. Twilight went insane from all the killing combined with the loss of her herdmates, son, and close friends, and usurped Celestia and Luna’s power and authority. I still find that part incomprehensible, but we have to deal with it anyway. Ironically, Chrysalis still was killed when Twilight used all that power to attack her. Changelings are not only persona non grata, but are actively captured and tortured for their ability to process emotional energy for Cadance’s futile quest to repair the Crystal Heart. The Kingdom suffers under Queen Twilight’s heavy-hoofed rule, and Harmony is disrupted. So, the question is – what are we going to do about it?”

Pif replied, “It seems obvious to me that the Doctor hasn’t told us everything as yet, but then again he probably had good reason not to do so. We now know what has happened, so the trick is to find some way of going back to that moment and fix it. From what the Doctor has told us so far, I believe he has the means to do that.”

“Then why hasn’t he done so himself?” Cinder asked.

“Good question,” Lucida admitted. “I think it’s time we go …”

This building is surrounded! All rebels come out and surrender immediately!” The voice thundered through the building, shaking everyone to the core.

Blue dashed to the window and peered out. “It’s Queen Twilight and a company of Royal Guards! They’ve surrounded the building alright. What are we going to do?”

“Teleport out,” Destined replied. “We’ve found out what we needed to, so let’s waste no more time.”

“What about Rarity?” Pif asked.

“We leave her. If we fix history, nothing will ever happen to her,” Lucida replied pragmatically. “Or ever have happened. Time tenses are confusing.”

They gathered together and Destined’s horn glowed, and then… nothing.

“BUCK!” Destined swore. “Twilight’s put up an anti-teleport field. We’re stuck here.”

“We can’t be captured – we might not be able to escape and undo all this,” Cinder said.

Blue scowled. “I want to know how they found us.”

Just then, Rarity’s voice came up to their window. “Whatever is the matter, darling? What’s this talk of rebels?”

Twilight replied, “That is Your Majesty to you, Rarity – not darling. Don’t play me for the fool. My spell has detected the alicorn in your home. He is one of the rebel group that tried to trick me this morning, and I have no doubt I’ll find the rest with him.”

“Ask, and you shall have your answer,” Lucida said with an ironic look at Blue. “No need to pussyfoot around anymore.”

“Why, Twilight Sparkle, I have never heard such nonsense! Why would they have any reason to trick you?”

“Why would you have any reason to conceal them? Stand aside, Rarity.”

“If our friendship ever meant anything, you will not do this, Twilight.”

“Friendship got my fiancé killed, my herdmates slaughtered, my foster son murdered before my eyes. I will not tolerate anything that threatens Equestria ever again.”

“Many of the changelings were your allies and no threat to Equestria, yet you imprison them and abuse them in spite of the fact that your own fiancé was one.”

Free Agent was not like them! I betrayed his trust once and swore I would never do so again!” Twilight screamed at Rarity before she quieted down a bit. “Free was different. He never let me down like I did to him.”

“For shame, Twilight. When did you ever give the others a chance?”

Twilight glared at Rarity. “Enough! Either step aside, or we go through you.”

“I will not step aside for a monster.”

Twilight screamed and engulfed the alabaster unicorn in her magic, hurling her away to crash into the wall of a nearby building. Rarity slumped to the ground, unmoving. Twilight then made the signal for the Guards to enter, but they had only just started to comply when an enormous shockwave scattered them like leaves in the wind, knocking most unconscious. Twilight had a basic shield spell up, but even she was stunned because it was not well-suited to blocking shockwaves.

While Rarity had stalled Twilight, the group had hastened downstairs and prepared to fight their way out. As usual, Blue would lead the charge, but his kind of charge needed a bit of a run-up. Back when he first broke the sound barrier, that meant several hundred meters to build up momentum. Years of practice and experience had pared that down, but he still could not do it from a standing start. Everyone hastily made a clear path between the front door and an adjacent room that more or less lined up with it. With furniture out of the way, Blue took off his two front shoes to draw up as much power as he could quickly. When it became apparent that Twilight’s patience had expired, he slipped the shoes back on and braced himself. The moment the front door opened and the first Guard entered, he took off. He slammed the first two Guards aside as if they were nothing, pushing the final amount to break the sound barrier just a few meters past the door.

The others had been protected by Destined’s force-field, and they charged out as fast as they could after the speedster. More Guards poured around the building which had protected them from the shockwave, and pegasi dropped from the sky. Twilight had come prepared for a big fight, but still she had underestimated the group. Whereas they had originally fought in confined space and with a view to not causing unnecessary harm, the warriors were now free to act within their full capability, and with the knowledge that if they were successful in correcting the time changes, any harm they caused now would never come to be. The Guards never stood a chance.

Pif took full advantage of her natural queen changeling abilities to blast her foes, but she also called forth her spirit weapon. Far from the dark and dangerous tool that she had manifested when escaping from Chrysalis, this one had been crafted carefully to be in tune with chi, and she had practiced long and hard with it. Spears, swords, and even arrows were deflected until she could get in close to deal a disabling strike, the gleaming scythe temporarily paralyzing the victim without actually harming them.

Cinder’s hide was impervious to all but the most powerful blows, and she had the fighting skills pounded into her by Warfist to not let her enemy get the chance to do that. Between her fire-breath and her talons, she wreaked havoc on the Guards.

Although she was also gifted with deadly talons, Lucida fought with a more intellectual and calculated style. She moved with grace and precision to dodge and disable opponents. She took on more of the pegasi as she was the superior aerial fighter, and was aware of their weaknesses.

Blue had circled back, and while he was a graduate of Warfist’s intense training methods, he also had the advantages of strength and speed. He never needed to block an opponent’s attack because he simply moved out of the way of it faster than they could comprehend. He backed up his brother, sisters, and mate whenever it looked as if they were getting overwhelmed.

Destined, ever the pacifist, was loathe to fight, but part of being a warrior-scholar was being able to do so when necessity called upon him. He used his wings to batter and confuse the Guards, then used his alicorn-level power to blast them with intense stun spells that overloaded their armor’s protective enchantments.

However, they did not waste time fighting more than they needed to. Lucida knew that Twilight could call upon more Guards until they were eventually overwhelmed, and that was without taking into account the alicorn herself. Twilight was already showing signs of recovery when Lucida directed the group to head to the Doctor’s workshop. Ideally, they would not have led the enemy there, but she realized that they had extremely little chance of escaping without being tracked. It was a calculated risk to box themselves within his workshop, but she believed that the enigmatic Time Turner could deal with their problem in a timely manner.

Destined brought up the rear of the group, projecting a shield to protect them from missiles and magic blasts, and they made their way very swiftly to the workshop. To their surprise, the Doctor was standing in the doorway, watching them approach. He stood aside to let them dash inside, and then calmly closed the door behind them.

“Good! Right on time. Preparations are complete,” he declared.

“On time?” Pif asked between pants. “How could we be on time if we didn’t even know that we were going to come here until a few minutes ago?”

“Oh, I had confidence that you’d make it,” the Doctor replied with a smile.

“Well, I hope you have confidence in your workshop’s integrity, because we have a pack of pissed-off Royal Guards plus Twilight Sparkle on our tails!” Cinder snarled.

“Not to worry – this workshop exists in a state of grace. Nothing can break in,” he replied with a confident smile.

The whole workshop shuddered as if hit by a huge mallet.

The Doctor’s smile slipped a little bit. “On the other hoof, I never did fully understand this magic stuff. All that power coming from a single being is quite remarkable!”

Derpy trotted up to them. “Now Doc, there isn’t time for that. These people need to be on their way.”

The Doctor’s confident grin returned. “Quite right, my dear. Come along!” Without waiting to see if they complied, the Doctor led them deeper into the workshop. He took a device off his workbench and held it out to Blue. “Here – strap this onto your foreleg.”

Blue regarded it with suspicion before complying.

“That looks like the device that Derpy was wearing when she rescued us from the time-changes,” Lucida observed.

“Excellent! Quite right, my dear. Well, mostly right. It’s a vortex manipulator, but with a vastly greater range than the one my darling Derpy was using. Also, it needs a far more powerful energy source than can be contained within the device.”

“Then what good is it?”

“Aha! That’s where it gets clever! It’s been adapted to draw on Blue Streak’s earth power. He need only charge himself up, and the vortex manipulator will do the rest. Well… not all the rest; it still needs to be guided, and that’s where you come in, Destined Path.”

“Me? What am I supposed to do?” Destined asked with a perplexed look.

“You do know what a septendecapetadakon is?” the Doctor asked.

Destined was startled. “Are you talking about my model of space and time in sixteen dimensions?”

“What else? You know how it is constructed, and that means you can navigate. You will provide the guidance for the vortex manipulator.”

“Are you crazy? I can barely visualize it, let alone navigate it.”

The workshop shuddered once more.

The Doctor looked up with the barest hint of concern. “It’s either that or deal with your friends outside.”

Destined looked over to Lucida, pleading with his eyes for some support.

Lucida hated the pressure of dealing with important decisions on short notice, but she was very good at it. “If the Doctor says you can do it, I believe he’s right, and I have confidence in you.”

The Doctor grinned. “Great! Now that that’s settled, Blue Streak, take off your shoes. All of them please.”

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Doc,” Blue replied even as he slipped off his two front shoes.

“You’re going to need a lot of power…”

The Doctor was interrupted by another more powerful blow to the workshop.

“… and you’re going to need it fast. You’ll only need to keep it under control for a short time before activating the vortex manipulator.”

“Okay, if you say so.” The rear shoes came off also. “That’s odd – the power isn’t flowing into me as quickly as it should.”

The Doctor shrugged. “Can’t be helped. The same thing that is protecting my workshop is interfering with the flow. Just do your best.” He turned back to Destined. “Meanwhile, you should know when you need to go back to.”

“Yes, the day of the Battle of the Crystal City.”

“No!” Lucida immediately contradicted. “At least three days prior to that. We need to scout around and set ourselves up first to observe. We know roughly when, but we don’t know exactly how and who did what. And another thing – will this vortex manipulator take us to the Crystal City also?”

“Yes… well… no – spatial displacement limits the temporal. You could get to the city, but not back far enough in time. Or you can go to the right time but have to travel there.”

“Right, I figured something like that could trip us up. We have to allow time to travel there by our own means, and I know Destined can’t teleport all of us that far. Better make it a week to allow for unknowns.”

Destined looked at the Doctor with an eyebrow quirked. “That seems to be a strange limitation considering the space-time theory.”

The Doctor shrugged. “Best I could throw together in a few hours. Do you have something better?”

Destined looked away in embarrassment. He was quibbling with a pony who seemed to know more about time than anyone including Starswirl the Bearded, and he was complaining that he didn’t get the luxury model.

The workshop shuddered again.

The Doctor raised his eyebrows. “My! Twilight Sparkle is taking her time and building up a lot of power to hit us with. It might be a good idea if you depart sooner rather than later.”

“I’m pulling power as fast as I can,” Blue replied testily.

“And you still haven’t shown them how to work the vortex manipulator, Doc,” Derpy reminded him.

The Doctor facehoofed. “I knew I was forgetting something. Alright, pay attention. It’s simple enough, and it has a fail-safe, but you could end up in real strife if you’re counting on it but you screw it up.”

“Like now,” Cinder commented.

“Yes, exactly.” The Doctor then showed them the functions of the device, and how Destined was to interact with it as navigator. He had just finished when another attack made the workshop shudder the worst yet, and deep-toned bell started tolling somewhere else in the building.

“Well, that seems to be all that we have time for,” the Doctor said. “Put your shoes back on, Blue Streak, and give it a whirl.”

Blue complied, and then allowed Lucida to activate the vortex manipulator. They all gathered in a huddle and Destined let his consciousness extend until he meshed with the field from the device.

“Let’s get this over with,” Blue said impatiently.

“Goodbye, Doctor, and thanks,” Lucida said.

The Doctor smirked a little. “Have fun!”

A large swirling hole in space-time suddenly manifested underneath the five and, with startled yells, they dropped out of the universe.

“Oh bother,” Derpy said with a pout, “I forgot to pack muffins for them.”

# # # # # # # # #

Author's Note:

The story's title is obviously a pun of the TV show - "Quantum Leap", but other than involving time travel, it doesn't have any other bearing on the story. You will also notice that I will never refer to the Doctor's place as anything but his "workshop" and not the TARDIS. While keeping to the spirit of Doctor Who, I am trying to keep the character as close to the MLP's Doctor as practicable.

A big THANK-YOU to my pre-reader Jeff for his editing help.

Art by Kat Miller a.k.a. Foxenawolf. Check her out for commissions!

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