Carrot Top raced after Trixie. “What happened?”
“I have no idea! But her yelling woke me up. I think she’s trying to get Berry and the others to stop helping you.”
“Is she really that afraid of losing to me?”
“I hope so, ‘cause the other option is her just being angry that you aren’t letting her win, and if that’s the case she’s lost her mind completely.”
Carrot Top shook her head. “I don’t understand her.”
“I think you might be the first pony to stand up to her in years. Well, not counting me, back at the Longest Night festival.”
“…and after that, she helped wreck your house, didn’t she?”
Trixie smiled weakly. “Uh. That was, technically, more related to Corona’s return, and…”
“Trixie, the next time you tell me to do something, remind me not to do it.”
Trixie laughed and sped up.
They arrived in the center of town just as the sun was starting to rise. It was easy to find the commotion; Berry Punch and Applejack were having a screaming argument outside Berry’s bar. A small ring of ponies had already gathered around them.
“Ya OWE ma!” Applejack roared. “Ya varmint, ah always gave ya whatever help ah could! How many times did ah let ya pay yar cider bill a week or two late, back when ya were just startin’ out? How many times did ah plug fer ya at ma stall?” She stomped her hoof. “An’ ya repay ma generosita by helpin’ Carrot Top try ta wreck ma farm?”
Applejack looked agitated. Her mane wasn’t in its usual ponytail, and her coat also seemed a bit frazzled. There were very deep circles under her eyes, and Carrot Top wondered if she’d slept recently. She certainly seemed to have lost any sort of discretion, given how loud she was yelling and how insulting she was acting.
“It’s no business of yours what I do with my business or my free time,” said Berry Punch. “Long as I pay my bills to you. When did you ever care about anything else?”
Berry Punch looked like she was hungover, Carrot Top thought. Her head was held low and she was squinting, even though it was barely light out. It had to be painful for her to stand there and get shouted at by Applejack. “Hey!” called Carrot Top. “AJ, you want to say something, say it to me!”
“Quiet, Carrot Top,” snapped Applejack. “Berry Punch, ah ain’t askin’ anythin’ unreasonable. Just stop givin’ Carrot Top an unfair advantage.”
“What, like your huge farm, your farmhands, your special ingredients shipped in from all over Equestria, none of that’s an unfair advantage?” yelled Berry.
“We earned all that. We worked hard ta feed this town an’ the surroundin’ countryside!” Applejack’s eyes bulged. “Afta all we have done fer ya! Ah can’t believe ya’d try ta hurt ma!”
“Done? You sold me your farm’s goods! That’s not a favor!”
Carrot Top saw a small foal hiding behind a large rock. It looked like Apple Bloom. She was watching the argument with big, wide eyes.
“The Apple Trust could double its profits if it charged ‘xactly what the market would support!” Applejack glared at Berry, and the other ponies who had come out to watch the shouting match. “We sell most of the food in this town; if we wanted ta double apple prices, y’all’d just have ta pay up! An’ that includes cider, Berry, if ah doubled the cider price, ya’d pay it or ya’d go bust ‘cause it makes up such a huge portion of your business. But we don’t. We feed Ponyville at reasonable rates cause it’s our job an’ our duty ta make sure y’all have food. We feed y’all cause we don’t want y’all ta starve. We work real hard just fer that purpose. So yeah. We do a lot fer ya.”
Carrot Top tried to rush over and get between them. “Applejack, if you have a problem, talk to me. Berry Punch didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Carrot Top, get outta ma way!” Applejack shoved her aside, sending her stumbling to the ground. Trixie ran over to her and helped her up, glaring daggers at Applejack. The apple farmer continued. “Look. Ah don’t ask fer much. Ah charge a fair price fer ma product, an’ the only other thing ah want’s the ‘casional acknowledgement that ah’m helpin’ out the town. That it maybe ain’t fair ta try ta get the Trust ta lose this competition by helpin’ out some upstart who don’t do a tenth as much! Hate ta say it, but if Carrot Top went bust tomorrow, nopony’d even notice! If we did, the town would die!”
“Upstart?” snapped Carrot Top. “I’ve been in this town for years, you—“
Applejack ignored her. “Ah do a lot of work ‘round here,” she said, and her voice lowered even more, and her gaze – distorted from lack of sleep – looked outright menacing, “In fact, ah do so much that ah’m not gonna sit here an’ be lectured by some lazy mare who can barely run a bar! Quit helpin’ her, or ah’ll make dang sure every Pony in Equestria knows what a traitorous, backstabbin’--”
“What did you say?” demanded Berry Punch. “Did I just hear you call me lazy?”
Oh, Hay, thought Carrot Top. Applejack was running on fumes, and now she’d just said exactly the wrong thing.
“Ah work full days, Berry. Ah get up at dawn and don’t get ta bed till afta dark, every single day. Ah don’t just wake up at 10 an’ throw tagether two dang dishes fer a ‘lunch service,’ an’ ah ain’t partyin’ an’ drinkin’ by eight with ma customers. Sure it might be fun ta live like ya, but some of us gotta actually support this here town.”
Berry’s eyes flared. She began to walk, slowly but decisively, towards the apple farmer.
Carrot Top nudged Trixie. “Can you use your telekinesis to stop Berry from bucking Applejack?”
“Probably not, no. She’s really strong.”
“Okay, do it.”
“Do – what part of ‘no’ do you not understand?!” Trixie hissed.
“The part where it’s not the right answer! Get ready!”
Applejack stood her ground and let Berry Punch approach. Carrot Top began to try to move between them. “Let’s all just calm down, and—“
“Let me explain something to you, Applejack” said Berry Punch, in a dangerously calm voice. “I work extremely hard. I don’t have a huge Trust to fall back on if I fail. I don’t need you trying to hurt me with your idiotic narcissism to—“
“Ya like ta party an’ drink yar mind out, an’ now Ponyville subsidizes it,” said Applejack. “That’s all there is to it.”
Trixie managed to cast her telekinesis just before Berry Punch struck, and between her and Carrot Top shoving Berry back as hard as she could, they managed to restrain her. “Lemme go!” hissed Berry Punch.
“No, she’s not worth it. Besides, if you get arrested for assault, you can’t help me and I lose my farm,” whispered Carrot Top.
Berry Punch hesitated, then lowered her hoof. “Hmph.”
Applejack laughed. “Hurt ya? If ah wanted ta hurt ya, Berry, ah’d just cancel yar cider contracts. Maybe that’d show ya.”
“Hold it!” Trixie, sweating nervously, raced between them. “Now, Applejack, you just said that your farm is the only thing standing between us and starvation. If you cancel her contracts, then she’ll starve, right? You wouldn’t do that, would you?”
Applejack paused, and Carrot Top thought she saw a glimmer of rationality in her tired eyes. “Yeah… yeah, guess that’s fair. Even if she’s bein’ a jerk, ah ain’t gonna do that ta her. But ah--“
“Then I’ll cancel them myself,” said Berry Punch, suddenly. “Don’t bother with the cider shipments tomorrow. Or any other time.”
Everypony – and there was quite a crowd by now -- turned to stared at her, but she just stared back at Applejack.
“Ya’r hungover, Berry, ya ain’t thinkin’ straight.” Applejack seemed nervous, all of a sudden, like she knew she’d gone too far.
“I’m thinking that, if you’re going to try to use your contracts to tell me who I can associate with, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. I’ll find a way to get by.” Berry Punch turned away from Applejack. “Now get off my property.”
Applejack stared at her, then at the other ponies. Carrot Top noted that they all seemed to be glaring at the apple farmer.
“Well – well, fine! We’ll see how ya like it in a day or two once ya’ve used up yar reserves!” She spun on her hoof and began to trot off. “Get outta ma way!”
Apple Bloom hurried after her, and the two apple farmers left.
The ponies in the street began to disperse, whispering amongst each other.
Trixie approach Carrot Top. “I tried,” she muttered. “Sorry.”
Carrot Top ran over to Berry Punch. “You didn’t need to do that,” she said quickly. “Hurry, you can apologize—“
“I’m not letting her tell me who I can and can’t teach to cook,” said Berry Punch. “She’s just being a bully now.”
“You don’t need to risk your business for me,” said Carrot Top. “I know how much cider you use. Besides, we both know I’m a long shot anyway, and—“
“Stop it.” Carrot Top was surprised by the quiet vehemence in the bar owner’s voice. “Don’t you dare give up now. Don’t you tell me that you’re going to go home and let yourself get evicted because you’re worried about me or the rest of us. Fight back and win this thing. We’ll figure the rest out later.” She shook her head, then winced. “Ugh…”
“Would you like me to mix you up one of the hangover cures?”
She smiled. “That would be nice, thank you.”
Two hours passed.
Applejack stared at her table. Three notices had already come that day, all from other businesses in Ponyville. They were all canceling their cider contracts, saying that Applejack had now shown that she would violate them without notice and they couldn’t trust her.
Berry canceled, not me, and they know that! But the truth doesn’t matter, I guess. They’re all against me. Every dang one of them.
Okay, maybe she shouldn’t have shouted at Berry Punch. But the bartender deserved it for betraying her! And – even if Applejack had maybe gone slightly too far – it still didn’t make sense for the other Ponyville businessponies to be doing this to her now. They were only hurting themselves!
She wanted to scream at the sheer irrationality of it all. She fed them! They needed her to eat, and thus to live! Why would they starve themselves just to make some point against her? They were making it harder for her to do her job, harder for her to feed everypony, and –
She froze as a revelation hit her.
She’d been telling them for days that she considered it her most important duty to feed everypony in town. They all knew it. So they knew they could do whatever they wanted to her, hurt her however they could, and she’d still grow them food. Because they knew she was honorable and would fulfill her duties, even if they threw boulders in her way.
They’re holding me hostage. They know that I’m too kind and dutiful to let them starve, so they’re using my kindness, compassion, everything against me! This plan would never work against some cruel, greedy monster who didn’t care if any other pony lived or died, but against me, who cares so much about the town and its ponies…
She slammed a hoof down on the table. So that was it. They were all just taking advantage of her. The farmers, the business owners… about the only ponies who hadn’t turned against her were her family and her farmhands.
What if her farmhands were helping the enemy too? They knew her farm, her techniques, her crops. They could be feeding Carrot Top all kinds of useful advice. She didn’t think they would, but she never would have predicted the town’s betrayal either. With stakes this high, she had to be certain.
“Big Mac! Call a meetin’ of all the help!” she roared, leaping from her seat. She had to check. Had to make sure none of her farmhands, who she paid and fed and looked out for, was helping to cripple her.
It wouldn’t take long. She would just have to make it clear. They could work for her, or join the enemy. One or the other.
Carrot Top’s training that morning had a tense, nervous air to it, as if the Apples might show up at any moment and start burning things down. But nothing untoward happened, the usual number of farmhands and other volunteers showed up, and Carrot Top could even feel her anger starting to dissipate as she focused on the carrot turnovers.
“You need to get the butter and sugar just right with this one,” said Berry Punch. “And if you bake it too long, it burns. Be careful.”
“I know,” said Carrot Top. “I mean, I think I’m getting pretty good by now. You don’t need to keep--”
The oven began to smoke.
“Uh,” said Carrot Top, as Berry Punch dissolved into giggles. “Little help?”
They took the flaming turnovers out of the oven and put in the backups, and Carrot Top smiled ruefully. She didn’t want Berry Punch’s bar to suffer, but she did have to admit that she needed her help.
The rest of the day went well (and the second batch of turnovers were delicious). Berry Punch left shortly before lunch, as usual, and Carrot Top continued with the other helpers. Part of the afternoon was spent with Oratorio, a tall pony who did ad copy and who gave her pointers on presenting her dishes and communicating with the judges. She also presented several entrees for the other farmers, who of course knew their own produce best and gave her all kinds of tips about how to better prepare their food to work with her dishes. Thanks to her training, she was even able to come up with some ideas and innovations of her own that impressed the other farmers and the helping farmhands.
Carrot Top smiled, full of confidence. She really did have a chance to take on the Apples.
Her next unexpected visitor of the day arrived at about seven, after the volunteer farmhands and farmers had gone home. “Trixie?” Carrot Top asked, opening the door. “What’s going on?”
Trixie was laughing, and Carrot Top wondered if she was drunk. But Trixie didn’t seem to be liquored up; there was a spark in her eyes that wasn’t there when she was wasted. She just seemed oddly happy about something.
“Applejack blew it,” she said, grinning. “Spooked the whole town when she threatened to cancel Berry’s orders without any kind of good reason. They all figure they could be next. And got a lot of ponies angry too. Well, nopony ever liked her anyway, but she just threatened the most popular party animal in town! Ponies are canceling their contracts with her all over the place.”
“I know!” Trixie laughed. “Isn’t this great?”
Carrot Top felt sick. “This is a little extreme,” said Carrot Top. “I didn’t mean for this to happen—“
“Wait, it gets better. She threatened her farmhands that, if she saw them helping you, she’d never hire them again. A few of them told her that, if she wanted to control what they did on their days off, she’d have to hire them full-time. She fired ‘em for disloyalty, and a whole bunch of others quit too!”
Carrot Top didn’t know what to say. After a moment, she managed, “No. I’ll talk to them, tell them that they need to see if they can get their jobs back. I don’t want them to be unemployed for me, and—“
“Applejack’s losing her grip! Can you think of what would happen if everypony in town began boycotting them?”
“Yes, Trixie, I can. The economy would collapse, assuming we didn’t starve first.”
Trixie frowned. “I don’t think it’d be that bad.”
“As much as I don’t like Applejack, she does sell more food around here than any other pony. I’m not sure the other farms could produce enough without Sweet Apple Acres. We might have to import food from out of town, and that’s expensive. Applejack also employs enough workers that, if she fires all of them for helping me, that’s going to cause other problems. I mean, problems besides the big one of a whole bunch of workers going hungry.”
“Well, if she’s going to hold the whole town hostage like this, maybe it’s good that you’re fighting her now. If the other farms start selling more, they can hire those farmhands, right?”
“And if you win that prize money, you’ll be able to use it to help build up the other farmers so that they can make even more food, right?”
“Sure, if I win, but—“
“Thought so! Well, I’m going to go spread the news. You let me know if there’s anything else you need!” Trixie almost hopped out the door.
“Great,” muttered Carrot Top. “I’m glad they’re helping me, but this is insane. I never asked for any of this…”
Two hours later, when Carrot Top was in the middle of a complicated salad recipe, the farmer heard a soft knock at her door.
“Trixie, I’m kind of busy,” she called, but there was no response. Frowning, she trotted over to the door.
The foal was looking up at Carrot Top with an enraged expression, but it vanished almost immediately. Her eyes began to water.
“Why d’ya hate my sister?” she managed, and then she was sobbing on Carrot Top’s doorstep, and the carrot farmer had no idea what to do.
“I don’t hate your sister.”
Carrot Top had rummaged around in her cabinets and found a small supply of candy. This was usually for when Ditzy came over to visit and brought Dinky along, but Carrot Top figured that Apple Bloom probably also liked sweets. So she had offered Apple Bloom a peppermint stick, which the foal was licking.
“But ya’r hurtin’ her! Nopony’s ever tried ta compete ‘gainst us before in Ponyville, an’ now ya’r doin’ that she’s stayin’ up later an’ later, an’ last night she stayed out in the fields all night! An’, an’ Big Mac says he’s worried ‘bout her but we can’t do anythin’ cause she’s gotta win, she’s just gotta, ta get money fer the town! An’ now all the other farmers hate her too an’ they won’t sell ta her or talk ta her or even buy stuff from her! An’ ah offered ta stay home from school t’morrow or ta write the other Apples in other towns an’ have ‘em come in ta help, but she won’t let ma.”
“She’s that stubborn?”
“She says she can do it herself, an’ it’s her job an’ her duty ta provide fer the town. Don’t you want the town provided for?”
Carrot Top paused. “Of course I do.”
“Then please just quit, an’ then ma sister can sleep an she can smile again! An’ we can get money ta help the town!” Apple Bloom looked to be near tears again.
“Apple Bloom… if I quit now, I’ll have to leave Ponyville and go somewhere far away. I don’t want to do that.”
“Ah don’t want ya ta do that, but ah don’t want us ta have ta leave either!”
“You’re not going to go bankrupt if you don’t win this competition.” Carrot Top sighed. “Your sister doesn’t need the money—“
“Yes she does! It’s our duty ta make sure Ponyville’s fed! An’ if we win the prize we can buy two more fields an’ grow more food an’ be safer in case there’s a fire or somethin’ awful happens.” She paused. “Everypony thinks ma sister’s a greedy monster, but that ain’t true. She really cares ‘bout this town. She works real hard!”
“I know she does.” Whatever else one could say about her, Applejack was a very hard worker.
“When there’s a blight or somethin’, she’s always workin’ real late helpin’ keep the trees safe! She doesn’t need ta do that, she’s got enough bits ta buy more, but she says we gotta or else the town won’t have food. When there’s some disaster, like when the dam broke three years ago, she was one of the first ponies ta help fix it! But no one else cares that she’s doin’ all that an’ workin’ real hard, cause now they all hate her cause ya told ‘em too!”
“I didn’t tell them to hate her. Your sister tried to disrupt a bunch of the other businesses—“
“Cause she’s tired an’ upset an’ she ain’t thinkin’ straight. Ain’t ya ever had a bad day? She’s been doin’ great fer years, but she has one bad day an’ now they all hate her! She’s not a bad pony!”
Carrot Top had no idea what to say. Apple Bloom looked completely distraught. “Apple Bloom, if your sister really wants to make sure all the ponies in town are fed, she should want there to be as many farms as possible. More crops means less of a chance a single bug or blight will take out the whole food supply.”
“We’re growin’ other crops too now, in case that happens. We’ve got corn an’ grapes, an’ Applejack wants ta plant carrots next year.”
Oh, great, just what I need. “Or a single personal emergency. What happens if, I don’t know, Granny Smith gets sick and Applejack has to take care of her? What happens to the farm?”
“Big Mac an’ ah’ll run it,” said Apple Bloom. “That’s why she’s trainin’ ma so hard so ah know what ah’m doin’. But it’s gotta be one of us, okay? It’s gotta be an Apple!“ She paused. “Ah’m gonna tell ya a secret, but ya can’t tell anypony.”
Carrot Top nodded, thoroughly mystified.
“Hundreds of years ago, there was this horrible famine. A lot of ponies all starved ta death. But a few ponies with real big farms managed ta produce just enough food, despite all the bad conditions, ta save Equestria! Princess Luna herself said that those families were then responsible for keepin’ Equestria safe from famine forever more. An’ the Apples were one of ‘em.”
Carrot Top didn’t believe the story – it sounded like an old legend – but she listened attentively nonetheless.
“That’s why we can’t just count on all y’all ta grow food,” said Apple Bloom. “Ma sister says, if we do an’ y’all fail, it’s on us. All the ponies’ll starve an’ it’ll all be our fault!”
Carrot Top didn’t know how to parse this. “Apple Bloom, you know that you and your sister aren’t single-hoofedly responsible for making sure nopony in Ponyville goes hungry, right?”
“But we are! That’s what Applejack says! An’ she gets so tired tryin’ ta make sure that every one of ya is okay! An’ she’s always tryin’ ta figure out how ta grow more apples an’ make more money so we can buy more fields an’ grow even more stuff, cause if she doesn’t, y’all are gonna starve ta death!”
Carrot Top felt a surge of anger at Applejack. She had no right, the carrot farmer thought, to terrify her little sister like this and tell her that they alone were standing between Ponyville and death by famine. If the apple farmer really thought that, she was completely deluded. “Do you really think that I want everypony to starve? I work hard too—“
“Ah know, but Applejack says we can’t rely on that! What if ya get sick, or ya inherit money an’ retire an’ let yar farm go under? Or ya find another job ya like better? Or Trixie sacrifices ya in some kinda evil magic spell?”
“…wait, what was that last one?”
Apple Bloom began to whisper. “Diamond Tiara says that Trixie’s got a secret basement where she sacrifices ponies she doesn’t like and uses their bodies ta cast evil spells and turn into monsters like sirens and cockatrices!”
Carrot Top paused, trying to figure out exactly what to say. “First of all, I’ve been in Trixie’s house. She doesn’t have a big enough basement. Second, she’s way too vain to turn into a monster.” Apple Bloom couldn’t help but smile a little at that. “Seriously, can you picture her as a siren? She’d spend all her time whining that the water was too cold. And third… do you really think that I’d stop farming just because I inherited money?”
“Ah don’t know, but…” Apple Bloom trailed off. “What if ya did? What if all y’all did?”
Carrot Top had an idea. “I’ve still got a couple chores to do tonight. Do you mind if we talk outside?”
“Okay. First I need to dig a hole.”
It was dark out, but the moon was bright enough to see by. Carrot Top showed Apple Bloom her shovel. “I’ll go six inches down or so.”
“A shovel?” Apple Bloom frowned, apparently distracted from her sister’s problems by the out-of-date technology. “Wouldn’t it make more sense ta use one of those pressure-popper things?”
Carrot Top thought she knew what Apple Bloom was talking about, but to be sure, she said, “What do you mean?” At the same time, she began digging the hole.
“Well, it’s like a shovel, but more efficient. Ya put it in the dirt an’ it burrows down – hey!” Carrot Top had accidentally dumped a shovelful of dirt on Apple Bloom. Fortunately, she smiled a little. “Aw, ah’m gonna need a new bath. But anyway, it gets under the dirt and then it lifts up an’ sends all the dirt above it flyin’ inta the air!”
“And then you quickly plant the seed, and the dirt falls back on top of it for you? Yeah, I’ve seen those in stores. They look really amazing.”
“Why don’t you use those?” asked Apple Bloom.
“Don’t own any. They cost five hundred bits apiece, and they’re hard to maintain. I don’t really have the expertise or time to handle them.” Carrot Top finished digging and put the carrot seed in. “But at least a shovel doesn’t cost much.”
“Oh.” Apple Bloom watched.
“Then we pack the dirt in like this, see? Now we need to get a little water.” She began trotting towards the back of her fields.
“Where’re we goin’?” asked Apple Bloom.
“To the well.”
“Well?!” Apple Bloom looked stunned. “Don’t ya have pipes an’ stuff?”
“Yeah, but they’re too old. Here, listen.”
They were passing by one of the old irrigation pipes on Carrot Top’s farm. She dug down a little until she reached it, then tapped it with her shovel. The result was a dull, thumping ‘plonk.’ “What’s that sound like?”
“Like there’s something stuck inside.”
“Pipe collapsed last month. Been trying to find the time and bits to fix it, but can’t. For this half of the field, I have to carry the water myself.”
They soon reached the well, where Carrot Top filled up an old bucket. Apple Bloom offered to balance it on her head as they went back. “Why’s it a well an’ not a real pump?”
“Ground’s too soft there for a pump. Whole thing would just slide down and break. Shoring it up… well, again. I’d need more bits to do that.”
They returned to the little pile of dirt indicating a new carrot seed location. Carrot Top watered it lightly. “I need to repeat this a couple hundred times to plant my field. It’s hard work, Apple Bloom.”
Apple Bloom didn’t say anything.
“If I wanted an easier job, I could get it. Probably get a more reliable income too. But I like this. I like growing things, and helping other ponies have delicious food. I’m not going to stop unless I get really sick or die.”
“But to keep doing it, I need money. Whatever your sister’s motives, she’s making it very hard for me and the others to stay afloat here. And I want to stay here, and keep my farm, just like your sister.”
“But she wants hers cause she’s gotta make sure everypony in town eats. How could ya want yars that badly? Ya don’t have that responsibility.”
Carrot Top paused. “I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. But… but trust me. I’m not going anywhere so long as I can help it.”
Apple Bloom didn’t say anything.
“If you’re worried about your sister, I can ask a doctor to go look at her.”
“No, that’s okay. Ah already suggested that, but Big Mac says it ain’t that kind of a problem.” Apple Bloom sighed. “Ah love ma sister. Ah don’t want anythin’ bad ta happen ta her. But she don’t listen ta ma, an’ now ya ain’t backin’ down either. Ah don’t know what ta do.”
“You shouldn’t have to think about these things. Go home and get some sleep… or you can stay over if it’s too late for you to be walking around.” Carrot Top looked up at the night sky. “I’ll talk to the others tomorrow. See if I can get them to stop hating your sister. I didn’t want there to be any kind of boycott. Honest. All I wanted was a fair competition between us.”
Apple Bloom smiled a little. “Thanks, Carrot Top. Ah think ah’ll head home, but… thanks fer sayin’ you’ll talk ‘ta ‘em.”
She left, and Carrot Top sighed. This was just a farming competition, and now she’d become some kind of diplomat. Making peace between the Trust and the town would be hard enough on its own, not to mention doing it while also trying to win the competition and keep her farm. Why did there have to be so much at stake?
But it was what it was, and Carrot Top was who she was. She couldn’t not be generous, anymore than she could turn into a zebra. Besides, from what she’d been hearing for the past few days, her generosity had helped half the ponies in town, and that was unquestionably a good thing. So she went inside, got into bed, and tried to figure out how to stop the hate campaign without alienating her supporters.
Two unicorns stepped off of the late-night train and into Ponyville.
“We have enough at last,” said Flam, smirking and swinging a stuffed saddlebag. “I think that, in very short order, a certain farmer will find herself singing a different tune, eh?”
Flim looked doubtful. “I don’t know about this. I mean, um, isn’t this dangerous?”
“Come on, we’ve broken the law a hundred times.”
“I don’t mean like that. We could destroy the whole town if we—“
“Who cares?” Flam shrugged. “Then the Elements have to leave. Might be able to pick up more of them. Come on, we have work to do.”
The two ponies slipped into town and were lost in the shadows of the night.