After a well deserved (and way too short) night’s rest, I got to get up and then fall flat on my face again. I know, I know, “But wait, how is it possible for you to fall out of a pile of hay?”
It’s simple. I did it very carefully.
Anyways, I groaned, rubbed my face, and then walked out of the barn to see that the rest of the family was already up and about. They looked anxious for some reason, as they moved frantically, trying to arrange some banners and stuff. As I hadn’t had my morning cup of soda yet (Or even a cup of soda this entire frigging WEEK!) I couldn’t figure out what all the hub-bub was about. That is, until I yawned and asked, “What’s with all the hub-bub?”
Apple Bloom dashed by, balancing a stack of Apple Pies on her nose (D’awww, again I say!), saying, “Remember? Today’s the start of the family reunion!”
I groaned again, stumbled over to Applejack, who was setting up a table covered with food (I still miss my muffin), and wearily stated, “Sorry if I sound like a jerk for saying this, but before I can help, I need some apple juice or something.”
Applejack looked at me and smiled, saying, “I reckon you’re not a morning pony then?”
“My dear Applejack, I am a morning pony! I just need a little something to get me rolling,” I said, suppressing another yawn.
By now, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a bit of a soda/juice addict. I can’t help it; they’re just both so delicious! It honestly made me wonder why the heck people would go for alcoholic drinks when there were more delicious and satisfying alternatives like Coke! Or Mountain Dew! Or anything that’s fizzy and caffeinated!
Applejack chuckled, and said, “I know how that can be. Here, try this.” She nudged a bright blue bottle with a bendy straw towards me, and I eyed it warily, not wanting to be tricked into drinking anything with alcohol (If I’m that bad with soda, imagine me with beer. Not a pretty picture, is it?) . She must’ve guessed what I was thinking, so she continued, saying, “That there is a Sweet Apple Acres Special! It’s one of our sweetest drinks, and can definitely put a spring in your trot!”
At ‘Sweetest Drinks’, I simply thought to myself, “Good enough,” grabbed the straw out of the drink, and tossed it to the side. Grabbing the bottle in my teeth, I lifted it up and started chugging like there was no tomorrow. In about five seconds (Or however long it takes for the Popeye theme to play), I had drained the bottle and tossed it into a nearby trash bin.
Burping slightly, I said, “Thanks. MORNING PONY, AWAY!” I shouted the last part in an overly dramatic voice and then galloped over to another table. Five seconds later, I ran back to Applejack, and said casually, “I guess I kinda need something to help you with, huh?”
After a couple of hours of setting up tables, putting out dishes of food, and the other family reunion thingies, I finally mustered up the courage to ask Applejack about something that had been bothering me for the past few days.
“Hey, uh, Applejack?” I started hesitantly, as we finished setting up a banner across the rafters of the barn.
“What’s wrong Omnius?” She asked instantly. Damn, how did she do that?
“I was just wondering, um, since I’m technically not really part of the family, and this is supposed to be a FAMILY reunion, are you sure that it’s alright if I stay here?” I looked down at my hooves as I talked and tried not to make eye contact. I’ve already said this, but I feel awkward around family moments, and family reunions are as big a family moment as you can get.
“Aw, well shoot, you saved Apple Bloom from that storm, and you didn’t even know us! Not only that, but you’ve been helping us set up for the Summer Sun Celebration!” She patted my shoulder with one of her hooves, and said, “Why, I reckon you’re already part of the family!”
I let out a sigh of relief, and smiled. “Thanks A.J.”
“Anytime there, pardner,” She said, playfully punching my shoulder. There were a lot of unsaid things in said punch (And me gasping in pain, as she punched a bruise) and it made me feel better (And it made me feel pain).
“Well, enough chit-chat! It looks like we’ve got everything set up!” I said, my cheer restored by the pep-talk and the juice.
“Not quite. I gotta go and wake Granny Smith up.” Applejack walked out of the barn and left me standing in confusion.
“…Granny Smith is alive?” I shook my head in disbelief, walked out to stand by Apple Bloom and Big Macintosh, and wait for the rest of the family to show up. Big Mac and I made idle chit-chat while we waited for Applejack and Granny Smith to come out.
After a few minutes of waiting, Applejack and a green, wrinkled, and incredibly old (so old, I bet she knew dinosaurs when they were young) pony finally came out and waited with us. When I saw Granny Smith, I did what should by now be expected by everyone and said the first thing that came to mind.
“GRANNY SMITH! You’re alive!” I said joyously, as the other Apples grinned.
“Of course I’m alive, what else would I be?” She asked in the way that only Cranky Kong or Old Man Jenkins could pull off (In other words, extremely irritated and tired).
“Well, it’s just that the whole time I’ve been here, I haven’t seen you, so I guessed that, well you know…” Luckily, I was spared having to give an answer, as Applejack spotted a group of ponies headed our way.
“Look alive, pardner!” She hollered (She didn’t yell, she hollered. There’s a difference), “Here comes the family!”
Aaaaaannnnd here’s where things get confusing (for me at least). Remember how I mentioned that we had to add on to the barn in order to make it big enough to hold the Apple family?
Well, I thought that they’d be arriving in smaller groups. You know, couples, maybe a few small families, that kind of stuff. Instead, it seemed like they had all arrived at the SAME freaking TIME.
Trust me folks, you don’t want me to give you the details of the introductions. I’ll give you the shortened and abridged version instead.
As all of the Apple Family knew each other, and I was the only new pony, Apple Bloom and Applejack insisted on introducing me to the rest of the family. I felt like my arm was going to be ripped out of its socket from all the times I had to shake somepony’s hoof. It didn’t help that they were all enthusiastic country ponies, and they had the southern hospitality to go along with it. Oh, and Applejack told me everyone’s name in less than a minute (There were too many names for me to even think about counting).
Needless to say, I was lost in a swirl of apple related names, and then I had to put a hoof on a table in order to make sure I didn’t fall over.
As I tried to keep my breakfast from making it’s less than triumphant return (Good Gandhi, but there were a lot of ponies!), Big Mac walked over to me, and chuckled.
“Please tell me (Burp) that I won’t have to memorize all of those names? And do you think that I’ll ever get the full use of my leg again?” I asked, swaying slightly.
“I reckon that you won’ have to memorize all of them. They only come by every now and then. And your arm should get its feeling back eventually,” Big Mac said in that slow tone of his, still grinning.
“Okay, that’s good. So is everyone here named after an apple?” I asked, starting to feel better. At least the floor wasn’t trying to trip me up anymore.
“Eyup,” He stated simply. Gotta love Big Mac. I mean, he could probably sum up War and Peace in five words! How cool is that?
I shook off the last of the sudden sickness, and said, “Well, come on! We’ve got some Family to entertain!”
As we walked back into the crowd, I felt a prickling sensation on the back of my neck and looked around. For some reason, I started feeling nervous, like something was about to try and attack us. Seeing nothing, I wrote it off to me trying to delay the family moments, and tried to make conversation.
“Hey,” I said casually, standing next to a yellow colt with a single red apple as his cutie-mark.
“Well howdy there stranger! Say, you’re that feller that got Apple Bloom out of that storm, aren’t you?” He said in the now too-familiar southern drawl that I had come to expect from the Apple family.
“It’s better than being known for getting struck by lightning,” I said shrugging. I grabbed an apple from a nearby table and bit into it. Damn, but I gotta hand it (Hoof it?) to Applejack, she wasn’t kidding when she said that they grow the best apples in Equestria. Well, at least they were the best apples I’d ever eaten!
“Oh right! Applejack told us the whole story!” He said, adjusting his cowboy hat (I don’t care if they’re ponies; I’m still calling it a cowboy hat!).
“Figured as much. Erm, Rage-Urn, right?” I asked, scratching my head, and struggling to remember his name.
“That’s mighty close. It’s Braeburn!” He stuck out his hoof and I took it, shaking it before he could get a chance to shake mine.
Rip my arm out of my socket once, shame on you. Rip it out twice, shame on me. Try to do it again, realize that you’ve already ripped out both of my arms, and that you CAN’T do it again!
“Oh, sorry about that Braeburn. Hey, mind if I shorten it to B.B? I mean, you have to admit, Braeburn is a bit of a mouthful,” I said cheerfully as he rubbed his arm a bit.
“Not if you mind me calling you Omni,” He said good-naturedly.
“Not at all B.B…okay, I’m gonna go back to calling you Braeburn. You don’t seem like a B.B,” I said, finishing off the apple I was eating. What kind of apple was it you ask? I’m not telling you! Some things you just have to leave to the imagination of the reader…oh, who am I kidding? It was the classic red apple.
We kept up the chit-chat for a few minutes, and I ended up getting an invitation to come and hang out in Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (I’m gonna cut it off here. It’d take a while if I included all of the “A’s”) appleoosa! I told him I’d keep that in mind, and then heard someone call out that they were doing a couple of competitions.
Normally I would have ignored that, but then I heard that there was an Apple Juice drinking contest. Naturally, being the epitome of cool, I jumped up, squealed in girlish delight (I know, I know, I’ll hand over my man card later!), and galloped full speed toward a table completely covered with bottles of apple juice.
“I guess you’re joining the Apple Juice Chugging Competition then?” I heard Applejack say from right next to me.
I hopped giddily in place and nodded furiously. A big goofy grin had done a hostile takeover of my face, and I must have looked a little crazy.
“Excited aren’t ya?” Another pony asked from the end of the table.
“Excited? Dude, I am the MASTER of drinking contests!” I said, laughing happily, glad that I finally had found something I was good at on this world. “I will not be out drunk today! Or is it out drank?” I paused, and tried to figure it out, and then said, “Doesn’t matter! The point is: I am the MASTER drinker!”
A lot of the other Apple family had gathered to watch, and they cheered at my enthusiasm. Apple Bloom stood on top of Big Mac’s back (Hey, those last two words rhymed!) so she could be seen, and she shouted over the crowd, “Ponies! Get ready!”
Applejack, me, and maybe five other ponies each grabbed a bottle and placed it in front of us.
I removed the straws from all of the ten bottles I was supposed to drink and set them on the table. I grabbed a bottle in my mouth and prepared to chug.
I tilted the bottle back, and drank like I was a guy who had been lost in a desert for two weeks with nothing but pond water. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some of them try and copy me, only to splutter and cough out some apple juice that had went down the wrong pipe.
“Amateurs,” I muttered under my breath as I went for the next bottle. I didn’t mean to sound rude but it was true. Plus, I kind of go crazy in drinking contests, as proven by my loss of a man card earlier.
Five minutes later, I was down to my last bottle! I was in the clear! I was gonna win! I picked up the last bottle and chugged it straight down in one gulp. I heard a bell ring, and I dropped the bottle, letting out a record breaking belch. Yep. Epitome of Table Manners too!
“And we have a winner!” I heard someone call out, and then I felt my hoof being raised into the air, like I had won a boxing match. I heard a bunch of cheers, and then I realized two things:
One: I was having fun. Honest-to-Gods good fun! And even though I might have looked crazy, everyone else was having a good time too. I felt like I was honestly a part of the family. It was a good feeling.
Two: Holy Apple-kabobs Batman! I needed to pee REALLY badly. I guess I forgot the fact that while I’m incredibly talented at drinking, I can’t say the same for my ability to hold more than four drinks.
“Hooray, yeah, I win, but if I could please be excused for one moment!” I rushed to a nearby outhouse that had been setup just for the occasion, only to find that, to my extreme horror, it was occupado.
“Okay, I can wait,” I told myself, and I stood outside, waiting. At this time, Applejack’s mischievousness must have kicked in, as she, Braeburn, and Apple Bloom walked up to me, and started talking in overly loud voices.
“Hoo-Eee, Apple Bloom. Shouting at all them ponies sure must have made you thirsty,” Applejack said/shouted.
“It sure did sis! Why in fact, I could sure go for a nice, tall, cool, glass of water!” Apple Bloom replied, putting extra emphasis on the word water.
Just ignore it, just ignore it! You can hold it! YOU. CAN. HOLD IT!
“I know I sure could!” Braeburn added, pulling out one of the bottles he hadn’t managed to finish. He made sure the straw was in place, and then started draining the bottle loudly, making sure I could hear every moment of it.
I groaned, and started trotting in place. Dammit! This is SO not funny!
Now both Apple Bloom and Braeburn were both drinking juice, and making loud noises. Applejack decided to cut in, saying stuff about waterfalls, and leaking roofs, and GAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!
I decided it wasn’t worth waiting for, and then I dashed into the nearby woods. I made sure that I had gone far enough so that I couldn't see the barn, and then relieved myself in some nearby bushes.
Bliss. Pure, unadulterated bliss. I won’t bore you with the details, since it would be extremely awkward if I described myself taking a piss. Just know that I was in the Orchard for at least five minutes, and that the trees got a healthy dose of nutrients to help them grow (No, seriously, that actually helps them grow. Just don’t try it at home).
I trotted back to the farm, a look of pure relief on my face, when I spotted something that filled me with pure dread.
To others, it may have been innocent enough. It was just a shadow of movement that probably would’ve gone unnoticed if they hadn’t been trying to look for it. As this was something that I constantly kept an eye out for, I noticed it.
“No, no no no,” I repeated to myself out loud. “He can’t be here. He shouldn’t be here!” I steeled my nerves and went to the place where I had seen the movement. I looked around the area, and spotted it: A set of footprints that were in the shape of elongated pentagons. That would’ve been weird enough, but I could also feel how even though I was standing in broad daylight, in the middle of a ray of sunlight, the air was somehow colder and more corrupt somehow.
“Dark feelings in the middle of the day, chills in the middle of a bright ray of sunlight, something that’s clichéd beyond all belief?” I muttered to myself. I swallowed, and after a moment of silence, said fearfully, “There’s only one thing that fits into all three of those categories…Torrentican is here, on Equestria, and he’s brought his Shadow-stalkers with him.”
That alone terrified the piss out of me (thankfully, I didn’t have any left, or I would have wet myself). I allowed myself a silent prayer to the Gods of Good and hoped that Torrentican wasn’t planning on a full scale invasion yet.
Wait, I need to tell you guys about his Shadow-Stalkers, right? Okay, well, it’s kind of confusing, but I’ll try to explain. See, I told you guys about my auras, right? Of course I did, it was in the last section! Go look at it if you need a refresher. Well, as I had my auras, Torrentican had his minion creating ability. Ever play Kingdom Hearts? If yes, then you know what the heartless are. If no, then Google image a shadow heartless, and take a good look at it. That’s the base ingredient for Torrentican’s minions. They’re easy to create and simple to control. Like Legos.
Anyways, after he gets the base, he adds on to it, giving it shape, certain powers, and he can even make it look like himself if he has to (again, just like Legos). Basically, he can create an entire army from that. That’s kind of why I call them Shadow-Stalkers. Partly because they’re all made of shadows of evil, and partly because the name Darkstalkers was already taken. Stupid Japanese fighting games. They always get the cool names!
Wait…games, names…oh no…I’M SPEAKING IN RHYME!
“Okay, come on Omni! Calm down!” I spoke to myself as I walked back to the farm. “Be rational: How does Torrentican operate?”
They say it’s a bad thing when you start talking to yourself. I can see why people would think that. But what do they think when you can get an answer?
“He waits for whoever is the villain to make their move,” I responded instantly.
“Not all the time! Sometimes he’ll wait until it looks like the good guys have won, and then he’ll do something to make life miserable!” I shot back at myself.
“Okay, that’s true. But what about when he decides not to do anything at all?”
“Hey, this is TORRENTICAN we’re talking about! He always tries something!”
“Alright, that’s true, but remember, you always come out on top! You’ve always managed to find a way to pull a last minute trick out of your sleeve and turn the tables on him!” I tried to say confidently.
“Yeah, but only because I’ve got my friends by my side. Without them, I’m nothing! I wouldn’t have anything to fight for!” I retorted, beads of sweat starting to form.
“Well then make sure that you keep your friends!”
“Have I already forgotten about that Technicolor Dream Vision that I had just a couple of nights ago?”
“What about it?” My mental self asked. (Holy crap, talking to yourself is confusing! How do I manage it?)
“He said that people would see me as a monster,” I reminded myself, and I fell silent. Was that really my biggest fear at the moment? Being seen as a monster? I shook my head, and firmly rejected it. I already had enough on my plate without having to worry about what the future would hold. As it was, the only thing I could really do right now was wait and see what would happen.
As I caught sight of the barn, I took a steadying breath and tried to look like I had just heard an angelic choir playing in the background (Not too hard when I remembered why I had gone into the woods in the first place).
All three of my tormentors were waiting for me, and they cracked up laughing once they saw my face.
“Laugh all you want good apple family, but I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!” I cried out dramatically, and then said, “Poof! That was the smoke bomb going off, and me disappearing in the mysteriousness of said poof!”
They laughed even harder and I joined in, hoping they didn’t notice that I kept glancing at the woods in fear.