Once upon a time when Equestria was young, stallions were a dying breed. Mares fought over many a stallion hoping to bare more. The stallions of course had no problems with it but Princess Celestia, still new to the throne, felt the discord and disharmony in the cities. With nothing better in mind she decided the only way to solve the problem was to make the mares share. So the Herd Program was created. The stallions were happy with the choice and well the mares could think of nothing better and agreed. One mare rose up though and demanded that females could be leaders of herds too. Princess Celestia saw nothing wrong and bestowed the rare power of herd leading to a small set of mares. And so....life went on, the male population grew and herds became a secret society of sorts. Hidden yet in plain view. The female Herd leaders....well that is another story. Not shunned, rare, and valued above the male's because of not only the fact they were female but they also could.....well......that last thing is a secret.
All work and No Play Makes for One Angry Mare
The sun was still low in the sky for it was the early morning and most ponies were still in dream land. Well most anyway. One family in question was already up and doing what needed to be done. The Apple Clan was already hard at work, trying to get their chores done before the sun rose and made the work insufferable. A certain orange mare was glaring at an apple tree deep in the fields. "Ah tried bein' nice to ya! Now Ah gotta get dirty." She snapped before backing up a few feet and running at the apple tree. The tree would have cringed when the mare skidded to a stop a few inches from the tree and spun, her hind legs pulled in, before she delivered a rib shattering kick to the middle of trunk of the tree. The tree shuddered then the apples fell while Applejack smirked and pumped her fist, much like her friend Rainbow Dash. "Yes!" She shot the tree a smug look before dragging the barrel to her cart before getting the other barrels. She hitched herself to the cart then began her walk towards home, hoping she could reach the barn before the sun got higher into the air.
When she reached the barn she grinned and unloaded the cart before trotting outside. She hummed then nodded to herself, thinking about one thing or another before blinking, evidently she was in the fields for a bit too long, and realized it was probably time for her to pay Twilight a visit since Twilight had asked her too. Twilight had rambled she needed to show her a book on fast growing seeds. Applejack pulled her hat a bit lower on her face before unhitching herself from the cart and hitching herself to her selling cart, after meeting with Twilight she could probably get some sales in. She trotted down the worn path and hummed a cheery tune, waving to the three cutie mark crusaders as they zipped past. She grinned up at the sun before trotting a bit faster. She made it to the library and parked her cart off to the side before trotting up to the door. She knocked and grinned when Spike opened it. He grinned up at her and she smiled softly before looking in. "Hey Spike! Can you get Twi' fer me? She wanted ta talk about some seeds 'er somethin'." She said, grinning lightly. He nodded before leaning back and looking around.
"Twi'?" He yelled before getting one in return.
"Applejack's here." Their was a muffled thump and they both blinked before a disgruntled looking Twilight popped into existence.
"Sorry Applejack, I have some really important work to do, so here’s the book it's mentioned in. I'm really sorry." She said, grinning slightly but a sorry look was in her eyes. Applejack smiled then tipped her hat before taking the book in her mouth and waving. She trotted to her cart and put the book away before hitching herself to the cart. She trotted off and began to hum again, waving to Lyra and Bon Bon, who were headed to the library. She continued on her way and smiled softly when she got to her usual spot, then set up her stand before beginning to sell.
Applejack soon found herself eating at Sugarcube Corner and reading the book on seeds when she heard a crash. She looked up and blinked when Pinkie bounced into the kitchen. Applejack frowned to herself then trotted to the door, opening it slightly and looking in. "Sugarcube?" She called in, hoping her friend was okay. It seemed like the pink mare had hurt herself because she held her hoof to her chest and was seated with her back to Applejack. Applejack quickly trotted over and looked at the tear stained face of the party pony. "Sugarcube! You okay?"
"I-I burned myself." Pinkie said, sniffling a bit. Applejack frowned then blew on the wound before helping her up.
"Come on. Let's go get this checked out." She said, leading her towards the sales floor and to Fluttershy, who just so happened to be waiting on a strawberry cupcake for Angel Bunny. Fluttershy was whispering to the irritated rabbit before she looked up and gasped. She took over while Applejack smiled at her and nodded. "I should get going. Take care girls and be more careful Pinkie." She said before leaving. She trotted to her stand and took a seat, relaxing into it before yawning. Slow lunch hour. She was about to doze off when Rarity rushed over and looked at her frantically.
"Hello darling, do you mind if I rush you with giving me some food? I've gotten a big order and I'm stalking up so I can work." Applejack smiled then nodded before handing over the apples. As Rarity moved to give her the bits needed she shook her head.
"Just take'em sugarcube."
"Oh I couldn't."
"Take'em. Don't you need ta get to those orders?" She asked, grinning as the frazzled mare smiled back and rushed off, the apples in her telekinetic grip. Applejack hummed softly then relaxed behind the stand, humming a tune softly. The rest of the time behind the stand passed uneventfully and she soon found herself on her way home. She looked up at the clouds and grinned lightly. Rainbow seemed to be slacking. She looked around for teh multicolored maned friend and located her, sleeping on a cloud. She rolled her eyes then trotted over and under the cloud. "Rainbow?" She called up, frowning when the mare continued to sleep. "Rainbow!" She yelled irritation leaking into her voice. When the napping mare refused to get up she grabbed an apple and threw it at the mare. She heard a yelp and a disgruntled Rainbow poked her head over the side of the cloud.
"You need to finish clearin' the clouds." Applejack said simply before trotting off. Rainbow stuck her tongue out after her but began to clear the clouds.
Applejack sighed weakly when she walked into the house, much tired than earlier. Granny Smith had put her to work in the southern field and her cart had broken shortly after meaning she had to make several trips to get her work done. She groaned and looked around the living room and smiling lightly when she found Apple Bloom sleeping contently on the floor, homework spread around her. She walked over and lifted the filly, placing the sleeping filly on her back. She trotted silently upstairs and laid her down then slipped out of the room. She was trotting towards her own when she realized her brother's light was still up. She frowned then opened the door. "Big Mac?" The silent lug shoved something under his pillow then glared at her. She rolled her eyes then trotted in and took a seat. "You okay?"
"Yes." He rumbled out before looking out the window, his eyes clouding over as he thought. She was used to his daydreaming ways and moved to get up but he placed a hoof on her shoulder. "Applejack?"
"Yes?" She asked, pausing. He sighed softly then looked away.
"Do you think Ah'm attractive?" She shot him a look then shook her head.
"What are you talkin' about? Ah know some people poke fun at us for bein' hicks or whatever but..." She trailed off as Big Mac shot her a withering look.
"Ah meant if ya didn't know me and weren't mah sister." He said in irritation. She coughed then shrugged before frowning.
"Ah don't know. Maybe. Why are ya thinkin' about your looks now?" She asked, retaking her seat. He sighed and looked away, his face coloring. He coughed into his hoof then sighed once again.
"Well a blue um......stallion came by today askin' fer pie and...."
"Wait a minute, stallion? Are you gay?" She asked in shock. He colored a bit more and shot her a look of contempt, causing her to hold up her hooves. "Hey Ah'm only askin'." He slowly shook his head and sighed softly.
"Ah'm not attracted ta any stallion just him......Ah'm fond of mares too." He said before frowning. She nodded and hugged him.
"Ah'm not one ta judge. What's the lucky stallion's name?"
"Soarin'." He said, his eyes glazing over a bit and a small smile coming over his face. A soft chuckle escaped Applejack and she settled better on the bed as he began to talk about how he had met the stallion.
The day was bright and sunny, Big Mac watched as Applejack trotted towards town with the apple cart. He shifted the wheat stalk in his mouth from one side to the other before trotting inside, hoping to get Granny to relinquish control over the stove. He was halfway to the kitchen when a crash came from the front door and he spun around. He blinked in shock as a blue coated stallion with a wild blue mane and emerald eyes, looked up at him from his position on the ground. He was blinking to clear his head before jumping up. He wore a grey bomber jacket and was grinning. "Hey! Um....." The wild maned stallion coughed then grinned weakly.
"Um, hello sir. What can I do ya fer?" Big Mac asked while trying to process the fact that a mysterious stallion was in his house. The stallion perked up and grinned.
"Well, my name's Soarin' you see a while ago I ate the most delicious apple pie from a worker of yours. I've been really busy but finally I got the time off and wanted to get another pie." The stallion said before sheepishly looking at the messed up door. "I-I can fix that."
Big Mac hummed lightly looking back at Soarin', who was grinning and talking to Granny Smith. Big Mac flushed a bit before turning and continued to work.
"He was just so...."
"Different?" She supplied, feeling her eye lids droop. Applejack felt a bit bad but she was falling asleep and wanted to head to bed. Big Mac began to go on and on about the stallion, which surprised Applejack more than the initial admission. Right when she was afraid he was going to continue he paused and blushed.
"Um.....Ah'm sorry sister. Looks like we need ta get up." Applejack's eyes snapped open and she looked up in shock and horror when she realized the sun was rising. She gritted her teeth then grinned weakly.
"It's okay, Ah'm happy yer so happy." She shot him a genuine smile before getting up and totting from the room. She hoped the day would be easy.
For the next few days she found herself repeating a routine of work and sleepless nights. Soarin' had returned to the farm to eat and talk to Big Mac, causing him to fall behind in his work and for Applejack to take up the slack and also Apple Bloom had caught a fever leaving Applejack was also caring for the sick filly. Applejack was currently harvesting some apples for another pie when she heard a twig snap. She turned her head and frowned slightly. She was hoping one of her friends was their but alas it was only Braeburn and a mysterious white coated unicorn mare. All of Applejack's friends were very busy and she didn't want to bother them but she did miss them terribly. Applejack paused in her work and tipped her hat in greeting. "Howdy Cousin."
"What are you doin here?" Applejack asked before starting her work. Braeburn trotted over and said, "Can you wait a minute?" She paused and frowned at him before nodding.
"What is it?" She asked, looking to the white coated mare. The mare smiled and extended her hoof.
"Name's Fortissimo Staccato but I like to call myself Vinyl Scratch. I'm here to deliver this." She produced a scroll from her saddlebags and gave it to her. Applejack blinked then took it and blinked.
"Just read it." Applejack frowned hen opened the scroll and began to read.
Dear Applejack Apple the Daughter of Late Herd Leader Apple Cider,
I am pleased to announce that you have been invited to this year’s Spring Beginnings Alpha Ball coming next month. All incoming Alphas will have two Student level Alphas to help them settle into their new and upcoming life. On a personal note, you already know you are a special mare but being an Element of Harmony doesn't even scratch the surface. Please try to make sure you can come to this event, I am very excited to see how you will adjust and care for those who will become your life. Please, if you can, try to come in dress clothes a simple tailored suit with your cutie mark on it so we may know your Herd insignia, will do. I look forward to your arrival and your Alpha induction.
Princess and Lady Celestia
Applejack finished the letter then glared at them. "What the buck is this?" She snapped, her patience already stretched rather thin. Braeburn coughed while Vinyl snickered.
"Told you we should have come early." Vinyl said before yawning. Braeburn glared at her then smiled weakly at his angry cousin.
"Well you see..."
"Tell me what this is about. Ah don't have time ta play games. Apple Bloom is sick, Big Mac's gone crazy and well Ah just want to know what this is about." She said, trying to keep a level head. Braeburn opened his mouth but Vinyl cut in.
"You look like you haven't slept in a while, go sleep while I handle the kid and Braeburn works the field."
"You need sleep before we explain anything. Go rest." Applejack sighed softly before nodding and trotting towards the house, inside and to her room. She collapsed onto the ground and relaxed a bit before passing out.
When she awoke, feeling ten times better, she trotted out of the room and checked on Apple Bloom, who was napping. Applejack smiled weakly then trotted out of the room and down to the living room. Vinyl was sipping some tea while Braeburn gulped down his own. Granny Smith hummed softly in the corner while Big Mac watched the two. Applejack took a seat and a cup then frowned. "Okay, Ah'm all ears." Vinyl nodded then finished her tea before humming.
"Well where to begin? Um, A long time ago around the time after Discord was defeated by the princesses, stallions were very few. Most had died attempting to end Discord's life so with so few stallions mares fought over them. Princess Celestia was still new to ruling and didn't want the mare's fighting over stallions so she created the Herd Program. Stallions could have more than one mare. The mares were irritated at first but soon got over it. Some mares figured they didn't need a stallion to do the work and asked to have the power to have a herd. Princess Celestia didn't see the problem and gave them powers too. Well now here we are." Vinyl finished. Applejack frowned deeply and looked down in thought while Granny Smith got up.
"So she's like Apple Cider?" The older mare said almost silently. They looked to her in shock but Vinyl nodded. Granny Smith stared at them then looked to Applejack. Silence reined in the house before the old mare chuckled. "Always knew you would end up as an Alpha." The tension in the room disappeared and Applejack scratched her head.
"Well then why ain't Ah heard anythin' about Alphas?" Vinyl chuckled weakly then coughed.
"It's kind of like a secret society." Vinyl said before shrugging. Applejack nodded then sighed softly. She took a sip from her tea before looking at Vinyl and Braeburn.
"Are you both Alphas?" She asked, when she saw their nods she frowned. "So what about that ball.....do Ah have ta go?" She asked. They nodded and she groaned almost silently.
"There are four balls that take place. The Spring's Beginning, Summer Solstice, Falling Hour and the First Frost. Each take place three months between each other and on the first of spring, summer, fall, and winter respectively. The Spring's Beginning is when we welcome in new Alphas and the Falling Hour is when we say goodbye to old Alpha’s.” Applejack nodded weakly before rubbing her head.
“A-Ah think Ah get it but why now? Why me?” Vinyl placed her cup down then shrugged.
“It happens at random really…but glad to have you aboard.” She stuck out her hoof and Applejack looked to it before shaking it.
“Nice ta be aboard Ah guess.”