• Published 28th Nov 2019
  • 1,592 Views, 276 Comments

Quantum Leap Forward - Halira

Cheerilee wakes up twenty years in the future, in the body of Big Mac's daughter. Now she must find out how to get back to her proper time and body.

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Chapter 1: Show and Tell, Disaster Preparedness

Cheerillee carefully compared what was on her list to what she had hidden away under her teacher's desk.

"Bandages, check. Smelling salts, check. Burn treatment, check. Fire extinguisher, check. Safety helmet, check. Cragadile repellant spray, check. Magical emergency signaling crystal to reach Starlight Glimmer, check. Looks like everything is ready to go for another session of show and tell!"

If it was one thing she had learned after years of dealing with the likes of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Snips and Snails, and even occasionally, her other students, it was that she could never be too prepared for whatever might happen when she asked a student to share.

Having completed her checklist, she consulted the clock. There was still a good hour before the students should start arriving at school for the day. She was an early riser, and liked to get ready for the day we'll before the students arrived.

Honestly, though, there wasn't much to do today. The younger students had today off, so she only had to deal with her soon-to-be graduating class. This day came every year, and it always left her a little wistful. Today, her graduating class shared what they wanted to do when they left her. Some would move on to further education, others would go straight into apprenticeships or jobs, and there were always some who were still undecided what route they wanted to take.

This year's class was one of the most notable that would be moving on. Eight of her foals were moving on to be young mares and stallions, the largest single class she'd had since she started teaching at this single-room schoolhouse. Among those graduating were also the students who had made the last few years most interesting, the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Somehow, she felt disappointed that next year she would not be subject to the mischief and chaos they sometimes brought into her class.

Glancing down at the cragadile repellent, she giggled to herself. Some of the mischief she wouldn't miss.

Sitting down at her desk, she pulled over the papers the graduating students had turned in yesterday. These were their early reports on what they wanted to do with themselves right after leaving her. She'd deliberately refused to look at a single one of those papers yesterday, fearful she would get melancholy for the remainder of the day after thinking about how they'd all be gone soon. Still, it couldn't be put off any longer.

After a brief delay, to pour herself a mug of ginger tea from her thermos, she picked up the first paper and began reading it.

Dear Miss Cheerilee,

I've decided that when I graduate, I want to go and work for Miss Bon Bon at her candy shop. I'm really good at making my peppermint sticks, but Miss Bon Bon can teach me how to make lots of other candies! I want to learn from her, so when I grow up, I can have a candy shop of my very own, and sell candies to all the ponies and other creatures in Ponyville! Can you help introduce me to Miss Bon Bon and help me get a job with her? I'd like that very much.


She smiled after reading the paper. This was something along the lines of what she'd expected from Twist, and given Twist's cutie-mark and talents, it seemed like a career path that she would be very successful at. Helping set up an interview with Bon Bon wasn't going to be a problem. Various ponies around Ponyville always casually inquired about whether any of her students seemed ideal to come work with them, and Bon Bon was among them. Twist's name had long ago come up in those conversations, and Bon Bon had already strongly hinted that she was eager for some additional help at her shop, especially since she wanted the opportunity to spend time with her new wife-- who did help at the shop, but was not talented at candy-making. Lyra was actually a disaster in the kitchen by what Bon Bon had frazzledly described, and she kept her wife to the cash register when her wife insisted on 'helping'.

Satisfied that she would have no trouble helping Twist, she moved onto the next paper. This one was from Silver Spoon.

Dear Miss Cheerilee,

I have thought long and hard about what I want to do after graduating, I really have, but I just don't know! I don't know what is with all this pressure to have a plan for what to do anyway. I know Diamond is planning on going to a business school all the way off in Manehatten, and leaving me here. I don't know if I should ask my parents to send me there too, or if I should get a job apprenticed with my parents' silver company, or if I should do something else. It's just all changing so fast, and I don't want it too. Does that mean I'm going to be a failure? It's not fair. This is too much! I'm sorry, but I don't know what to do.

Silver Spoon

She frowned and shook her head. There was always at least one student who felt this way when graduation was looming. It was a little surprising to be hearing this from Silver Spoon, who was usually a very calm filly, but it made a certain amount of sense. Reading these types of papers every year always stung a little, as it made her feel like she had failed the student in some way. She had to remind herself and those students every year that not everypony was the same, and that some sometimes needed a little more time to figure things out. The business school in Manehatten seemed like the ideal choice for the filly, for multiple reasons, but if Silver Spoon really didn't feel drawn to that, it was best to find out why. It was clear she would need a little more personal attention in the final days of school, and possibly a parent-teacher conference to discuss the filly's worries and concerns.

She set that paper aside in a different spot than Twist's, noting this new stack as students she needed to give extra attention to. That being done, she grabbed the next paper in line, which happened to be Diamond Tiara's.

Miss Cheerilee,

My dad has always said that he wants to pass his business on to me when I'm old enough. Barnyard Bargains has gotten much bigger in the last few years, with new branches opening in places like Manehatten, Trottingham, and there's supposed to be a new branch opening soon in Appleloosa. It's a big responsibility, taking that over, and I want to make sure I do a good job.

I'm really good at getting ponies to do what I want, but that doesn't mean I know the right thing to make them do. I thought it would be a good idea to go to the business school in Manehatten, so I could learn all about the right things to do with a big business. I told my parents, and they both seemed very proud of me, even my mother, and she never seems proud of me. But when I told Silver Spoon, she acted all upset about it.

I think it is the right thing for me to do, but I don't want Silver mad at me. I don't even know why she got mad, but it hurts. Now I don't know what I'm supposed to do, because I don't want to lose my best friend.

I need advice.

Yours humbly,
Diamond Tiara

Her eyebrows rose as she re-read the paper over again. Maybe she needed to get in touch with Starlight Glimmer about these two fillies, because this seemed like a friendship problem. As a teacher, she did what she could to help with these problems where she could, but with the futures of her students in the balance she wanted to make sure she was giving them the best help she could give. The fact that there was a literal School of Friendship available meant that she had extra help she could call on. Surely Starlight Glimmer, as the principal of that school, would be able to offer some additional aid.

She placed Diamond Tiara's paper on top of Silver Spoon's and continued onto the next paper.

Hi Miss Cheerilee!

We decided to write out paper together, because we all have the same goals. The Cutie Mark Crusaders are a team, and we are planning on staying a team!

This part is me, Applebloom. I'm going to keep learning about potions from Zecora as I have time. I really want to get good at them. Both Zecora and Twilight said I have a natural talent for them, but I need a lot more practice and understanding to really be a potion master.

Hi again, this part is Sweetie Belle. I really want to get better at singing and learning about theater and stuff like that. Rarity said she could hire me personal tutors for those things.

And this part is Scootaloo. I'm going to keep practicing tricks with my scooter, and I thought I'd learn more about all kinds of other sports and things.

This part is all of us, but it is Sweetie Belle writing, because I have nicer writing.

My writing ain't that bad.

Yes, it is!

Are you writing that down? Why are you writing that down?

It's called a dictation spell! It writes everything we say down.

Should we stop and start over?

No, it's fine. Let's just get this done.

Anyway, we're always going to be helping ponies with their cutie marks, that's not going to change. We thought it would be a good idea for us all to become teachers at the School of Friendship. We talked to Starlight about it, and she agreed we could be tutors, but she wants us to get more experience and learn more stuff before she'll give us actual teaching jobs.

So, we all talked about it, and we thought it would be a great idea if we apprenticed under YOU! You're the best teacher we ever had, so you can teach us how to be good teachers too.

Cutie Mark Crusaders Apprentice Teachers Yay!

Tea spewed out of her mouth onto the paper, and she hastily wiped it off with the side of her leg. They weren't serious, were they? Yes, she was going to miss them not being in her class anymore, but was she prepared to deal with them for the four years (or more) that an apprenticeship entailed? Taking on a single apprentice would be doable, one Crusader apprentice probably so, but three at once, and those apprentices being the Cutie Mark Crusaders? A sudden desire to drink something stronger than ginger tea grew within her at the thought.

A few deep breaths later, and she looked again at the paper. As she re-read the paper again, more prepared for the contents, she put more serious thought into what was said and what her response should be.

From what the Crusaders described, they were actually going to each be doing dual education for themselves. Yes, they'd be apprenticed under her, but Applebloom would also be apprenticed under Zecora. Sweetie Belle would be receiving a private education in the arts and music. Scootaloo it wasn't as clear, but ideas formed as she looked over Scootaloo's section. This might actually have some promise to it, if done correctly.

They'd be teaching in the School of Friendship, eventually, so they would need to specialize in different subjects and arts. Thankfully, it looked like they already had them planned out, and they were already well versed in friendship. Even Scootaloo's interest in sports and stunts might direct her to being the school coach; Rainbow Dash was already doing that, and doing reasonably well. Her focus would be on teaching them how to handle students and teaching methods. She could have them working as an apprentice for her part of the time and somepony in their specialized area the rest.

This might not be too bad. She could rotate through the week who was assisting her so she only had to deal with one or two of the Crusaders in her classroom at a time, which would limit the potential for hijinks. They were a dedicated group, and she did trust that they would take this seriously. The three of them would probably always be slightly crazy, but they had matured over the years, calmed down a little. Having a teaching assistant always available wouldn't be too bad, and towards the end of their apprenticeship she could even get days off to herself while they taught some of the more run-of-the-mill class days.

Pleased with herself for coming to a reasonable solution for this, she placed their paper with Twist's, and moved onto the last two papers. These were for Snips and Snails, and both seemed to be written in Snips's sloppy penmanship. A quick review of those had her roll her eyes. Snails was going to be a famous buckball player and Snips intended to be his agent and merchandiser.

After a brief moment of consideration, she shrugged, then placed the two papers on the pile with the Crusaders and Twist. A few short years ago she lamented the idea of those two ever amounting to being more than general labor ponies. Not that there was anything wrong with being a general labor pony, but she always wanted more for her students. She didn't know for sure if this scheme would work out, but it was more promising than anything she might have previously envisioned, and she would do what she could to help them with that. She wanted the best for all her students.

Everything she needed to do before the students arrived today was done. They'd get their final session of show and tell, and then she'd sit down and talk to each of them about these papers. Another year would be wrapped up, and another class of students ready as she could prepare them to be for whatever came next. She took a contented sip of her tea, and waited for the school day to begin.

"Thank you for that... informational display of your merchandise, Snips," she said dryly.

She had to give it to the colt; he definitely had the makings of a salespony. She was ready to buy whatever it was he wanted to sell, if only to get him to sit down. His showing had lasted a full twenty minutes more than what he had been allotted for time, and he'd managed to sidestep every effort she'd made to bring his sales pitch to an end.

"I can do home delivery... for a fee," Snips added on as he finished gathering up his mugs with Snails's face drawn on them. It was a good likeness; Snips was capable of doing excellent work when money was involved.

She managed not to give an eyeroll to his continued efforts. "I'll keep that in mind. Please, take your seat so Applebloom can have her time to present."

Applebloom came up carrying a heavily laden saddlebag. The youngest of the Apple clan set the bag down and began unpacking a large number of partially filled capped vials.

Cheerilee gave the vials a wary look. "And what exactly are you planning on doing today with all those?"

The filly put on safety coverings over her legs, and then looked over to Cheerilee with a grin. "I'm gonna mix a potion that will temporarily change ma color!"

"You mean like a dye?" Diamond Tiara asked in confusion from where she was sitting at her desk.

Applebloom shook her head. "No. Dyes would just cover up ma color with a different one. This'll actually change the color, at least for a little while."

After taking a quick glance under her desk, to make sure the fire extinguisher was in place and ready to go, Cheerilee looked back at her student. "Are you sure that this is safe, and that you know what you're doing?"

Applebloom waved a hoof dismissively as salve sat down a vial with an odd milky white liquid. "I read all the instructions in my book, three times. I've made much more complicated potions than this before."

Still not completely reassured, Cheerilee looked over the various other vials, each containing liquids or powders in a host of different colors. "And what are all your ingredients?"

The preteen filly finished unpacking and pointed to each vial in turn. "Chimera drool, poison joke extract, ground-up dandelion fluff, copper powder, moonwort juice, mandrake extract, cat whiskers, and orange juice."

Sweet Celestia! Wait, Celestia is retired; am I supposed to be saying sweet Twilight now? Cheerilee flusteredly thought to herself. She wasn't sure, and that got her more flustered. "Poison joke?" She whispered fearfully. "This sounds dangerous. Maybe you should share something else. Just telling where you managed to get chimera drool might be an interesting show and tell in itself."

Applebloom gave one of the vials with a sickly yellow liquid a quick glance. "It's just called chimera drool, it ain't actually from a chimera. It oozes out of certain types of rocks when you get them really hot. Same thing with ‘eye of newt’; that’s just a fancy term for mustard seeds. I'm not real sure how they’d got those names, but it's pretty borin' to talk about." The filly pulled out a wooden bowl and set it down in front of her. "Give me a sec and I'll have this all mixed up, all good to go!"

Cheerilee frowned and grit her teeth, glancing down again at the fire extinguisher she had at the ready. It was perhaps a failing of hers that she didn't like to directly tell a student not to share something in show and tell, though she would hint strongly that they shouldn't. Applebloom just wasn't catching the hint in this case. All she could do was be ready to spring into action if something went wrong.

The red-maned filly began mixing the various ingredients while the class looked on curiously. Most of the class, anyway; Sweetie Belle had a wary look on her face, and Scootaloo was donning her helmet. The fact that Applebloom's two closest friends were showing worry made Cheerilee reach down and pull the fire extinguisher up into her seat, ready to aim at the bowl.

Applebloom paused as she held the final ingredient in her fetlock, the milky liquid she had named moonwort juice. The liquid seemed to be bubbling and fizzing. "Hmm... it ain't suppose to be doin' that. I must have shaken it up too much on the run over here."

"Maybe you shouldn't do this then," Sweetie Belle nervously suggested. "No offense, Applebloom, but when you mess up with potions you really mess up. If this messes up you probably turn us all plaid or something. I don't want to be plaid, my sister would have a heart attack!"

"Re-lax," Applebloom said, with an audible groan. "It will be fine. Even if it did turn you plaid, it wouldn't last for more than a few minutes. Just watch." The filly then poured the bubbling contents into the bowl with the other ingredients, stirring as she went with a spoon in her other fetlock.

The bowl started to bubble and shake. Applebloom dropped it, eyes wide and smelling of worry. That was all the prompting Cheerilee needed. She grabbed up the fire extinguisher and hopped towards the bowl with ready to let loose the fire extinguisher's contents on the volatile mixture.

Applebloom gasped and tried to wave her away. "Miss Cheerilee, no! You can't do that. You'll add new ingredients to the potion!"

The warning came too late, as she had already pushed down the nozzle to let loose the foamy liquid inside. It sprayed out onto the bowl, covering the entire bowl and surrounding floor with foam in a mere second. The alchemical reaction happened immediately, as the bowl began to hiss and smoke underneath the foam, shooting off small sparks of magic like they were fireworks. Thinking of her students' safety , she reached down with her forehooves into the foam and grabbed the bowl, intending to toss it to the far corner of the room away from her class.

Then there was a bang, and everything went black.

An excruciating headache set in as she came to. The light stabbed at her eyes when she first tried to open them, and it took several blinks before she could open them without pain. Her head felt like a herd of yaks had decided to celebrate one of their smashing holidays inside it. Applebloom was never going to be allowed to demonstrate making potions in this schoolhouse again; not after this, not even if she was brought on as a teaching assistant.

She rubbed her head and her hoof touched a massive lump right in the middle of her forehead. That would explain the massive headache. She'd need to have a doctor take a look at it as soon as possible. Hopefully she wouldn't have to miss any days of work. The school year was almost over, and if she needed time off now it would delay the students getting out for summer. They needed their time away from school in the summer, for the sake of their mental well being, and so did she.

She noticed while rubbing that her fur on her leg was now bright red. It looked as if the color changing part of the potion had actually worked. Applebloom had said this was temporary, so she didn't worry too much about that. If something else went wrong with it that made it permanent she was sure Zecora or Starlight Glimmer could fix it. Having the wrong color of fur was very low on her list of concerns right then.

"Is everyone alright?" She asked, without looking up. Several seconds passed with no answer, and she grew worried. "Students... ?"

She looked around the classroom. Everyone was gone. There was nopony in the building but her. They must have all run away when the explosion, or whatever it was, had happened. She didn't really blame them. One of the things you learned while living in Ponyville was how to run for your life in the face of danger. Danger came far too often to their town.

Something else caught her eye. The familiar posters and decorations on the walls were gone, replaced with new ones that she had never seen before. On further observation, she noticed the student desks were arranged in a different way, and they weren't the same desks as before. Over her head, hanging from string, were various drawings clearly drawn by foals. All of the drawings were signed by their creators, and none of the names were familiar to her at all.

She turned to her desk. It was the same desk, she could recognize a small chip on the side of it where it had been damaged in a previous show and tell, but there were additional marks of damage on it, many themselves scuffed and dented. Glancing atop the desk, she stared at the inboxes, files and- where was the inkpot, and what were those metal tubes?- that definitely weren't hers. What was going on?

As she stood to her hooves something else immediately became obviously wrong. The room was much bigger than before, and everything within it. Logic asserted itself against her growing anxiety, and the more likely scenario came into focus. She had gotten smaller.

She noticed a mirror that hadn't been there before, propped against the wall. A paper banner had been hung at the top of it that read 'The creature displayed here is very special and loved!' Her head was still pounding, and her frayed nerves wasn't helping it. She stood up and carefully avoided the shattered glass and liquids that surrounded her. Despite her legs being less than half their normal length, she was steady on her hooves.

Taking one last deep breath, she stepped in front of the mirror and looked into it. Her eyes went wide immediately, and she gasped aloud. The reflection in the mirror was not her; the reflection in the mirror was a filly, young enough to be in her classes, with bright red fur, and a deep purple mane. What was more, what she had interpreted as a bump on her head earlier was actually an equally bright red unicorn horn, peeking out of the filly's curly purple mane.

Her breaths became more labored with her rising panic, and the world went dark again.

Author's Note:

No real schedule for updates for this one, but they should be frequent.

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