60w, 3dAussie Bronies
By Celestia's nipple-hair, I will change that!
Buckshot gamely trotted down the path to Ponyville. Darkness had fallen, but he'd made it out of the forest before the nocturnal predators of the Everfree awoke from their diurnal hibernation. A half-moon lit the way back to town, and the few stars out tonight glittered furiously, seeming to shine brighter in the absence of their nearby fellows. A few clouds were moving from the forest behind him towards the town, but that was nothing the town's new weather-Pegasus couldn't handle. Buckshot grinned as he thought about the newest addition to Ponyville.
Crikey, that filly could make gold from those clouds if she ever had half a mind to. 'Bout time we got one of those bloody fliers, I was gettin' fed up with not knowin' what the weather would be.
He adjusted his path towards the side of the road, unwilling to step in the deep ruts left by the supply caravans that had been coming in from Canterlot on a weekly basis. Supplies to the fledgling town of Ponyville had been fairly steady, and for that Buckshot was grateful.
Ponyville had been founded not five years earlier, and his family had been some of the first to sign the town charter. Originally just a few stores clustered together on the road from Canterlot to the Royal Palace, Ponyville had begun to grow after Buckshot's father, Crab Apple, moved his family here to start a new life. The Apples had come to Equestria two decades ago from the far off continent of Austailia, across the southern ocean. They had spent the first ten years roaming their new land, never settling down for long as Crab performed odd jobs in various towns and cities. Then, after renting rooms for a while at a ranch, the Apple family had tried their hoof at farming, for which they seemed to have a natural aptitude. The Apples soon bought a stretch of land outside Manehattan, in the village of Stable, located at the base of Stable Mountain. Five years had gone by, five wonderful years of full harvests and even fuller bellies, until the fateful day that the ironically named Stable Mountain had revealed itself to be a volcano, violently erupting.
Great clouds of smoke had blackened the sky, and if it wasn't for the timely intervention of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, many miles of surrounding countryside would have been buried beneath rock, ash, and fire. Sadly, the area directly around Stable Mountain had been lost, including the village and the Apple's farm. Both of his parents had been lost to the inferno, swallowed up by cloud of superheated gas that raced down the mountain at near super-sonic speed. Buckshot and the rest of his family had barely escaped with their lives. A few meager possessions had been hastily stashed into saddlebags, and now they were all the Apple family had left. A few hundred bits, the family didgeridoo, two bags of food, various items of clothing, and a new cutie mark.
Buckshot had earned his mark through sheer determination and and a strength born out of desperation to protect his loved ones. The Apple farm had had a large basement used for preserving crops and barrels of grain. His family had hunkered down there, before hearing of the Princess' evacuation order. As they raced to pack up, a boulder had fallen onto the house, crushing the top two floors together like a pancake, and rendering the staircase out of the basement an invalid escape route. The house's collapse had broken large holes into the basement ceiling. His mother and father had been buried by falling debris coming through the biggest of these holes. Buck had heard his father's muffled voice, coming from under the wreckage, calling for him to take his kin and flee. The sky could be seen through several large gaps in the newly damaged ceiling, and the family realized they were now trapped in a hole, which is never a good thing with lava heading their way. Buckshot had risen to the occasion, and pounded his way through solid stone slab used as a basement hatchway to create the only path out. His cutie mark appeared on his flank once they were all outside. He didn't even notice it until several hours later, when they had all managed to get to safety. To this day, the image of the horseshoe on the apple-red shield on his flank gave him bittwersweet feelings.
I found my special talent all right... But at what cost?
Mourning the loss of their land and kin, the now diminished Apple family had struck out once again, this time settling in the most peaceful place they could think of, halfway between Canterlot and the Royal palace. Five more years had passed, and as the Apples built up their new home, the few scattered thatched huts around them had grown as well. Thanks to the new source of food coming from the farm, the area could sustain more inhabitants. Almost all of the new arrivals had been Earth Ponies, whose innate connection with the land had tipped them off to the potential for new life here. The town had not grown overnight, and it wasnt until recently that they had been getting raw supplies for building shipped from Canterlot, which had recognized the importance of a stopover on the long path between it and the Royal Palace. A lot of hard work had gone into building the town, but there was still much to be done. With barely over one hundred and fifty residents, Ponyville was the smallest official settlement in Equestria. Buckshot was proud to say that he knew the name of every single pony in town, though. Every new addition to the population was meaningful.
Now, with Ponyville's first Pegasus resident managing the skies from a newly constructed cloud-tower, crop production had risen threefold at the farm. The trickle of new arrivals had blossomed into a small but steady stream. The loud bangs and crashes associated with the building of houses had become a constant companion to the town's inhabitants. Although initially bothersome, it had grown into a comforting background noise.
As Buckshot made his way through town, many ponies stopped to wave and call out their respective greetings. Buckshot was one of the most prominent members of their burgeoning community, both figuratively and literally. His farm fed the entire town, after all, and there was nopony else in the closet hundred leagues that even came close to resembling him. Buckshot plodded up the newly worn path that ran through the rough center of Ponyville; the one that ponies were beginning to call "Stirrup Street". The large stallion stumbled a little on the ruts left by the latest caravan to have passed through. He dimly remembered seeing cobblestones in some of those wagons. That explained the deep tracks they left.
Maybe we're gonna pave the streets with 'em. 'Bout time those wankers in Canterlot got off their plots and sent us something useful. What was their last shipment? Oh, right. Fenceposts. Next we'll be getting scones stuffed with dynamite! Unhelpful bastards.
The Apple family house wasn't much to look at. A squat, unpainted two story ranch house with a small roofed patio circling the front to overlook the fields, it had been hoof-built by Buckshot and some of the older members of the clan.
They weren't very good builders.
But as they say, home was where the heart was, and Buck's heart was definetly in that house.
A small yellow mare with a long, curly strawberry-red mane and ocean green eyes shot through the front door and off the deck at near the speed of light. She proceeded to slam into her father, wrapping her forelegs around his neck in an embrace. Caught off-guard, Buckshot was knocked flat onto his hindquarters. Not an easy thing for a half grown mare to do to a pony so big. He cracked a dazzling smile as he returned the gesture, squeezing his daughter tightly to his chest.
"Blossie!" he said warmly. Buck simply couldn't put his happiness into words, so he just called her by her nickname instead.
Apple Blossom stopped nuzzling his chest to hopefully looked up into her father's eyes. "Did'ja get 'em, daddy?" she asked hopefully. She spoke with a curious mix of Austailian and Equestrian accents. A human overhearing it might have thought it sounded like she was from the American South-lands.
"Eeyup." He set his saddlebags down and pulled something out of the left pocket. "Gotcha something' too, ta boot."
He opened his hoof to reveal a small pink bandanna, with which he carefully folded into a strip before wrapping around Blossom's head, pushing her long mane out of her eyes.
Blossom's eyes grew to enormous size and her smile grew with them. She felt the new accessory on her head with a hoof.
"Good onya, daddy! Ah love it soooo much!" She hugged him all the tighter.
If cutenesss could kill, this would have been a death sentence for the universe.
"Oh, righto, I almost forgot. Blossie, I found a new way to pick things from trees. You just give it a whacko with your hind legs, and the fruit falls like rain in the outback."
A new voice spoke up. "Hey there, handsome."
Leaning on the porch railing was a slender, light red mare with a spiky, shortly cut (but highly stylish) golden mane, and cyan eyes. Adorning her flank was a trio of leaves, silhouetted by a sun.
This was Leafdapple; Buckshot's beloved wife.
Buckshot rose off his haunches to stand, slightly off balance due to a giggling Blossom still dangling from around his neck. He ran to his wife and proceeded to tightly embrace her. He breathed in her scent, burying his nose in her mane.
Discord's dingleberries, she smells like seven kinds o' wonderful.
"Happy to see me, dear?" she said with a smirk, slightly out of breath. Buckshot's hugs tended to compress one's lungs a bit. Buck answered by Planting a long, tender kiss on her lips. After finally surfacing for air, he looked at his wife. She was blushing furiously, eyes still half-lidded from the kiss.
"You've got no bloody idea." he growled.
Apple Blossom, sandwiched between the two, let out a gagging sound. "Blech! Botha ya'll stop that nonsense 'afore I hurl my lunch!"
Buckshot stepped out of the embrace, slightly embarrased to have done that in front of his foal. Leafdapple shot Buck a wink that said, "We'll continue this later." She motioned back towards the ranch. "Are you going to stand outside all night, or do we have to bring out some blankets?" Buckshot sheepishly picked up his saddlebags by the teeth and nodded towards the house, indicating that he'd follow her in. Apple Blossom disengaged from her iron grip and fell down to the ground on her hooves. She happily pranced around her father as the three Apples made their way through the threshold of the building.
The first room of the house was a large eating room. An enormous, thick slice out of a pine tree trunk served as a table. Several threadbare cushions were thrown haphazardly around it. The kitchen could be seen behind a wooden countertop. Leafdapple and Apple Blossom sat down around the table, eagerly motioning for Buck to join them. Buckshot sat his saddlebags down onto the pine slab. Before he sat down, he asked, "Where are the others?"
Leafdapple shrugged. "They're already in bed. It's very late, and we volunteered to be the ones who would stay up on watch for your return." She guestured to the saddlebags. "So... did you find it?" She half whispered, half sang. Her husband nodded eagerly. He opened up the bags and dumped the apples onto the table in a red tide. Apple Blossom picked one up in her hooves, eyeballing the fruit like it might burst into flame.
"Do they really do what the Princess said, daddy?"
Buckshot didnt answer. He got up from the table and trotted into the kitchen. Apple Blossom and Leafdapple could hear the large stallion rummaging through drawers. Mother and daughter shared a look. Buckshot tended to speak only when he felt it was needed. If he was going to answer that question, it would be in an interesting way. Buckshot returned to the table with a knife in his mouth.
"What are you...-" Leafdapple started.
Buckshot quickly drew the tip of the blade over his hoof. A thin red line appeared as some blood began to ooze out of the shallow cut.
"Daddy?!" Apple Blossom couldn't make heads or tails out of this. What was her father doing?
Buckshot set the knife on the table, and picked up one of the apples. "Watch." he said. He took a large bite from the apple and set it down. Then, he held up his wounded hoof. His family's eyes widened as the small gash closed itself up. Not even a scar remained to tell of its existence. The apple's magic was flawless. Leafdapple slumped backwards to lean against the wall. She closed her eyes in thought, brow furrowed. A long time passed.
"This will change everything." she eventually stated with a sort of regretful finality.
Apple Blossom nodded sagely in agreement. "Eeyup. Folks will be comin' over from all over Equestria, Ah reckon."
Buckshot picked up the bitten apple. "Not yet, sheila. There's a hitch to this grand scheme of ours." He presented the face of the apple which he had taken bite of to his family. "What do you see?" he questioned them.
Silence. Then, Leafdapple's eyes widened as it hit her. "There's only one seed!"
Buck sighed wearily. "Righto. That means I'm going ta have ta go back for round two."
"But why? We've got at least fifty apples here! Thats fifty seeds, eventually growin' inta fifty trees!" Blossom reasoned.
Leafdapple answered this one. "We plowed our field for double that number. We can't let half of our work go to waste. There are no other spare seeds to plant there, either. Might as well fill it to the brim with magic apples."
Buckshot broke in. "And time's slippin' by like water through a barbie grill. I'm leavin' tomorrow for another haul."
Blossom shook her head. "Jus' seems like a waste of a day to me. Ah don't see the sense in goin' out fer more when ya'll got a perfectly good stock right in front of ya."
Buck rubbed his temples with his hooves. "Your mum and I have been hoping for this for years, Blossie. Now that the Princess has so generously let our dream become real, I dont plan on throwin' any bloody half-strength kicks. Its all or nothin', savvy?"
"Iffin' ya say so." Blossom's voice agreed, but her eyes blazed with a stubborn dignity.
Buckshot rose from the table and cracked his weary joints, starting with his fore-legs and ending with his hind ones. This signaled that it was time to go to bed. The discussion had taken a long time, and the night was beginning to lighten as Celestia's sun approached the horizon. The three Apples would only have a few hours of sleep tonight.
I'm not heartless, I'll let them sleep in. Bless their hearts for watching out for me. But I'll be up with the sun. I've got another bloody trip to make, after all.