The sound of twigs and grass snapping beneath your hooves fills your ears as you make your way through the apple orchard.
You had spent the better part of the day scouting out your next target. This time, however, you weren't after cold-hard cash. No, you wanted to get the goods right away. In this case, the goods were food. With your supplies back home having been rather scarce lately, you needed to restock as soon as possible.
You walked through the market square looking for something that peaked your flavor interests. Stands all around showed off products and produce of all kinds. It was a bit like window shopping, only without the windows or the shopping, and with more stalking and stealing.
You wanted something tantalizing to the tastebuds. Carrots are good, but you weren't in the mood for those. There was the possibility of strawberries, but then you remembered the last time you ate strawberries and shuddered. That would be the last time a pony dressed as a vampire carrying a tuba would fool you.
In the end, you settled on the Ponyville classic: Apples.
After having decided your target, you waited until night, as was your custom. You couldn't get away with taking the produce right then and there in the market, not with the prying eyes of ponies all around. You opted to wait until later, when there would be no one within the vicinity.
Unbeknownst to you, the apple stand was going to close up early that day, forcing you to miss your chance at it then. Not one to accept defeat, you decided to make your strike at the home of the stand. On Sweet Apple Acres.
Which is exactly where you are now. Hiding within the confines of the trees, the scent of apples filling your nostrils, you slowly made your way towards the barn. On the specific section of the orchard you were on, the trees were barren of any apples. It must have been harvested recently. Well, there goes the easiest heist you could have ever pulled off.
Then again, what fun would this be if it were always that easy? The thrill of the hunt is one of the things you lived for. If all jobs were as simple as kicking a few trees for your lunch, why would you still be doing this?
You quickly, yet quietly, dart from tree to tree, ensuring that you are out of sight from the barn. As far as you know, there are only two ponies at the barn at the moment: An orange mare, and a red stallion.
At this point, you had ventured close enough to see potential targets. There were quite a few barrels near the entrance to the barn, but that would be too risky. If one of those ponies came out to see you taking one, you would be done for. On the other side of the barn, the trees had apples hanging from the branches. The sound of you bucking the trees for the produce might alert the farmers. Besides, that would be too boring anyway.
You decide to shift to another tree to get a better view, but you stop yourself just before you move. With good timing too, as the mare had just come out of the barn. Your heart begins to race as that familiar feel of "the rush of the hunt" kicks in. This could be a risky heist, but you were all for it.
The mare walks to the side of the barn closest to you, directing your attention towards a cart you hadn't noticed before. Rather than hitching herself into it as you were expecting, she simply stands in front it, looking at the contents. Resting in the cart were multiple boxes, of which you couldn't see the contents. It looked as though she were counting them.
You realize that your three preferred methods of getting the goods won't apply here, seeing as the goods aren't immediately on a pony. You'll need to do a little improvisation.
A voice from the entrance of the barn catches both your's and the mare's attention. The large, red stallion was calling out to the mare, beckoning her back inside. You couldn't make out the words he said, but it sounded rather urgent. The mare quickly trots back inside with the stallion.
You decide that now is the time to strike.
Coming out from behind your cover, you quickly trot towards the cart the mare had been examining earlier. You know this would be your best bet for a successful heist.
You press an ear up to the side of the barn. You can hear the voices of the mare and stallion talking. The voices were muffled, but you could tell that they were having quite a heated discussion.
Convincing yourself that they wouldn't be coming back out for sometime, you decide to take a peek into the contents of the cart. Clambering up to the top, you very delicately crack the lid off of one of the crates. Peering inside, you see the shapes of many, many apples. But the odd thing was that the shapes were a little...off. It was too dark to make out any colors, but the shapes were a little more...square than usual.
You didn't care, apples were apples. Setting the lid back onto the box, you slowly descend back to the ground. You need to quickly decide just how much of this you were going to take. Hauling one of the boxes onto your back could be grueling work, and won't be easy to transport. The time it would take to find a bag or something similar to transport some of the produce would take too long.
However, it hasn't rained recently, and the ground was noticeably dry. If you were to take the entire cart, there would be no tracks...and you could easily take a route around the town to avoid being spotted by anyone...
That settles it. You decided the contents of the entire cart would be your reward this time.
Taking one last listen to the two ponies in the barn, you notice that their conversation hasn't stalled in the slightest. Feeling confident that they won't be coming out anytime soon, you walk around to the front of the cart.
You position yourself in front of the cart to latch yourself in. Taking the clasp in your hooves, you fasten the rigging around your frame. Pulling on the clasp, you ensure that it is locked tight.
You give a little test pull to see how heavy the cart is. Surprisingly, it moves with little resistance. The rest of those boxes aren't empty, are they? you think to yourself. No, surely they wouldn't just have a cart of empty boxes.
You quickly look around for an escape route. You can't take the path leading away from the barn entrance, that would put you in plain sight. You needed to leave through the trees. Turning yourself around, cart in tow, you look behind the barn for a potential route. You notice a clearing in the trees that would allow you to maneuver easily, while still keeping you relatively out of sight.
Perfect, you muse to yourself. You begin to shift toward your new path as-
Wh...what was that?
Wh-Where is that coming from!?
You crane your head around to see a small dog with a brown and white coat, looking at you rather furiously. The little mutt lets out a barrage of barks and howls at you.
"ARF! ARF! ARF!"
"Winona?" You hear someone call from inside the barn. "Winona? What is it girl?"
Oh shit.... It wasn't just a random mutt. It was their mutt. It was protecting it's turf.
Simply put, you've been caught.
With no other options, you bolt down the path you had previously chosen. With no time to unhitch yourself from the cart, you drag it along with you. While it wasn't particularly heavy, it still managed to slow you down a bit. The howls of the dog (Winona, was it?) grew more distant.
Glancing behind yourself, you see the two ponies had exited the barn, and were now in hot pursuit of you. Great. Just what you needed. More pressure.
Ignoring your two pursuers, you look ahead to dodge the incoming trees. With no real plan of action, you settle on simply avoiding the obstacles in your way. Adrenaline numbs your body as it kicks into gear. If you thought the thrill of the hunt was strong, then this was something else entirely!
Taking sharp turns, the cart slams into the surrounding trees a few times, weakening it's foundation. You do your best to avoid letting this happen, but there isn't much time for you to plan against it as you run.
At this point, the two farmers had gotten much closer, to the point where you could hear their voices.
"Stop!" The mare yells. "Ya thievin' varmint!"
...Thieving varmint? You think to yourself. What am I, some rabbit in a kid's show?
Looking around yourself, you notice the trees becoming more dense. It looks like you're leaving the orchard now, and are heading into some woods.
The cart was really taking its toll on you now. It wasn't really designed for this sort of activity, so it wasn't in the best shape now. At this point, you admit it. You may have gotten a little greedy with this heist, but it was too late to do anything about it. You couldn't take the time to unhitch yourself from the cart. If you did, they would have caught you with no trouble, and Celestia knows what they would do to you.
With bullets of sweat running down your face, you narrowly weave your way through the growing number of trees. Your breathing has become very heavy, and you don't know just how much longer you can keep this up.
As you run through the thickening wood, you are forced to stop dead in your tracks. Slamming the proverbial brakes, you come to a rather violent river, only mere inches in front of you. Of course this would happen, you think to yourself.
You begin to run alongside the river, following the current. Risking a glance back, you see the farmers are still right on your tail. It doesn't even look like they are tired in the slightest, which only makes you more nervous.
The cart was in bad shape. Not designed for this sort of terrain, you can feel the rig becoming weaker. One of the wheels was wobbling somewhat dangerously. It was only a matter of time before it collapsed.
Your heart pounding, your head throbbing, and your mind racing, you consider your options. Sadly, there aren't many. Trying to reason with them is out of the question. Releasing yourself from the cart won't work. In all actuality, your only choice is to keep running. You didn't know where you were running, but anywhere but those farmer ponies hooves was fine by you.
Looking ahead, you see a relieving sight. An exit from the woods! Granted, you're still being chased, but getting out of these woods would certainly give you more options. Kicking it into high gear, you make a mad dash for the clearing.
Just when you think you might be in the clear, the unimaginable happens.
The wheel on the cart breaks. The wheel closest to the river. The cart begins to fall to the river.
Your hooves fly out from beneath you as the cart drags you with it. All of time seems to slow down as your body approaches the rapidly flowing water.
Your mind races a mile in a minute, all sorts of thoughts flying through your brain at light-speed. How long has it been since you last failed a heist, let alone this badly? You couldn't remember. Why did you have to be so overly confident in this heist? Why couldn't you just take one crate and be done with it?
Hundreds of 'why' questions flew through your mind, but one stood out among them.
Why is this happening to me?
Of course, you already knew the answer to that.
Because you screwed up. Big time.
Taking in one last breath, you hit the water without any sort of bravado. The cart was quickly dragging you to the bottom of the river.
Regaining your senses, you quickly bring your hooves to the latch. You pull on the latch with all your might, but to no avail. It was jammed. Fruitlessly, you continue to fight with it. Your lungs were beginning to strain at the lack of oxygen, and your vision was starting to fade.
All around you, the literal fruits of your labor were floating through the river. The contents of the cart had spilled out into the water, and were now floating all around you. It's funny, knowing that your lunch tomorrow would be the death of you today.
Your lungs were screaming in pain for the air that you knew you couldn't provide. Your mind had given up at this point, and your vision was nearly gone. Your life's passion would be your demise.
The last thing you saw before you passed out was an orange blur, rapidly approaching you.