Applejack was positively miserable. A long week of Apple-bucking had left her so plumb-tired and exhausted she could barely stand for a nothin'. Her every muscle was part-seized and ached. She could barely move. Flopping over next to an empty apple cart, she moaned a little and shuddering at the hot and dull pain in her thighs and the pressure on the vertebras in her back. She heaved a great sigh, careful not to let herself fall asleep outside like she’d done so many times before. If she did, she’d wake up knotted up and unable to move. Big Macintosh did that now and then, trying to finish out his work. “I need’a— go see— Fluttershy.” Even her southern drawl was weak and sounded pathetic. Picking herself slowly, painfully up, she set her sights on the ground. “One hoof in front’a the other… c’mon Applejack.” She coached herself with a painful grit of her teeth. Turning towards town, she plodded slowly along.
Rainbowdash was assuming her final duties for the evening, flying around with her usual gorgeous acrobatics. Though the sun was almost completely gone and painting the sky an ever-dulling pink, she could still see well enough to get rid of the clouds. It had been requested of the cloud squad to give everyone a clear sky that night. Princess Luna enjoyed presenting an extra-starry night now and then, and they needed all those pesky clouds out of the way. Rainbowdash zoomed along, skidding on air and bucking up against one cloud after the next. A few strays always managed to escape the cloud patrol, so she was the last eye in the sky for the evening, being the fastest. And the strongest. And the coolest. And— was that Applejack? Rainbowdash could see her friend Applejack slowly approaching a mildly wooded area, by Fluttershy’s cottage. It was her hat that gave her away, even as the sun vanished behind Canterlot and helped birth the night. Where would Applejack be off to at such an hour? Didn’t the usual rounds of backbreaking farm work make her tired enough to sleep at night? “Hmm, looks like it's snoopin' time!” Rainbow locked her wings in the open position, banking until she was almost upside down and swooping low over the treetops. Stopping short so she could be mischievous and snoop on her friend’s travels, she hopped from treetop to treetop like a flying ninja.
Applejack was moving rather slowly along the path, finally approaching Fluttershy’s cottage home. Limping a little in her exhaustion, she almost bumped her nose on the door. She’d been so fixated on the ground and moving her hooves she’d almost started sleepwalking. Shaking her head quickly, she checked the windows. The lights were on, so Fluttershy was still awake. She knocked gently, as not to startle the soft-spoken pony. She heard a little yipping sound inside, and smiled apologetically when the pink-maned pony cracked the door a little to see who it was. “Wh-who’s there?” she whispered fearfully. “Oh, it’s you Applejack.”
“Sorry to startle you, sugar cube, but I just had’ta see ya.” Applejack said, leaning on the door frame rather painfully. Her ears were turned down. “I think I done thrown my back out or something, was wonderin’ if you could help me like you did for Big Macintosh all those weeks ago?” she took off her hat and made big soft eyes of pleading.
This was too much for Fluttershy to bear. “Oh, of course I’ll help you. We just need a big space.” She said in her whispery voice, smiling and making a squeaky toy sound as her cheeks bunched up. She reached out and took Applejack’s hat, gingerly setting it on the little end table inside her doorway. “Is the living room alright?” she said rather submissively, ducking her head and stepping aside so Applejack could come in. The door shut behind her with a gentle click.
Rainbow dash exploded from the foliage, curiosity burning through every fiber of her being. She hadn’t been close enough to hear, but she’d seen it all. Applejack leaning on the doorframe all friendly-like, then taking off her hat, then Fluttershy taking said hat, and then her going inside? Very strange! Applejack didn’t take off her hat much at all, what was going on in there? She flap-flapped as quietly as she could, pressing her muzzle up to the glass of a window, peeking inside. Thick glass that kept out the rain would keep her from hearing, but she could guess what was going on if she watched close enough. Squinting into the little cottage curiously, she frowned and tucked her wings. Good thing Fluttershy’s house was surrounded by thick shrubbery for all the little animals to hide in. It made good cover.
Inside, Flutteryshy was gingerly pawing at Applejack here and there with her hoof. “Oh my, yes, I see what you mean.” She nodded slowly, parting her hair just a little.
“I do 'preciate yer help, Fluttershy.” Applejack said rather weakly, ears turned back. Her golden, braided mane was even sagging. She was in a sad state. “I don’ mean ta overdo it like that, but Apple-buckin’ is a real important time of the year.”
“Oh, I completely understand. Now then—” Fluttershy reached up with strength untapped, grabbing Applejack by the muzzle and forcing her front end into the carpet with a thump. Turning her weight she seized Applejack’s tail and crunched her spine into a bent position!
“AUUUGH!” Applejack cried out so loudly Rainbow Dash could hear it outside. Turning with a heavy and not so shy movement, Fluttershy knocked her down onto her side and and stomped viciously onto her flank, right on the farm pony’s cutie mark. “Ohh-HUK!?” she cried out again as bones popped and snapped audibly. Fluttershy moved quickly, grabbing up her head in both front hooves and SNAP! Wrenched it to one side with such force that a whole new set of bones cracked like popcorn. Applejack yelped, falling limply to the ground, silent. Her braided mane fell like a golden snake whose head had just been lopped off, then was still too.
Rainbowdash went as pale as a sheet.
She’d not just seen that. She’d NOT just seen that. She stumbled backwards like an elephant confronted with a mouse. She couldn’t find her voice, couldn’t find her voice to scream in terror! She was choking on her own spit. This was worse than her Pinky Pie cupcake nightmare! This was real! Fluttershy! No way! She’d— She’d—!? Staggering back and working her wings into a frenzy, she left a pair of hoof craters as she took off as hard as she could!
“Oh yes, I can certainly see where all of the tension was…” Fluttershy said softly, rubbing her hooves in easy, forward motions. Applejack moaned appreciatively, unable to move in the slightest. Fluttershy could turn anypony or animal into dough in her hands. Who’d have thought she was such a good chiropractor?
Twilight Sparkle was humming lightly, poring over a book titled The Mysteries of the Underdark, Legends of the Vast Caves of Equestria. Spike had retired early that night, so she had some time for silent reading and enjoying the starry night. Chuckling and lighting her horn with magic, she turned the page and let her eyes race across the page once more. Sometimes, when she was lucky, she forgot she was reading and simply sank into the material. It was hard to do, but now and then it happened. Maybe tonight she would get lucky and— WHOOMP! She gave a startled sound, her tail frizzing out for a moment. Jerking her head to one side, she saw none other than Rainbowdash clod-hopping and struggling to get over the railing of her balcony. Frowning, she stood, opening the glass doors. “Uhhh, can I help you?” she asked as
Rainbowdash crashed ungracefully onto the balcony in a pile of feathers and kicking hooves. “Snapped her neck! Snapped her neck like a TWIG! I saw her do it!”
“What?” Twilight Sparkle leaned back a little, lifting a hoof slightly.
“I s-s-saw! Just crack, bam, lights out!” Rainbow grabbed herself by the cheeks, making a jerking motion. “I couldn’t stay, she might’a got me too!”
“I d-d-didn’t know she was such a powder keg of rage!” Rainbow babbled, already down on her belly with her hooves gathered up under her and her tail tucked. Her pupils were shrunken into a fearful expression, one that looked very alien on her face. “Sh-she went in all friendly-like, and then she just grabbed her and broke her in half like a wild animal!”
“Rainbow!” Twilight shouted at last, stopping her. “What’re you talking about!? That’s the most violent thing I’ve ever heard!” She came close to her shaken friend, studying her up and down with concern. “You look terrible! Tell me what happened!”
“I saw Fluttershy murder Applejack! Right in front of my eyes!” Rainbowdash blurted, practically spitting all over Twilight’s face. “It was the most messed up thing I’ve ever seen! Stomped on her back, and then on her cutie mark, and then grabbed her head and snapped her neck like a TWIG!” she suddenly burst into uncontrollable, wracking sobs. “Poor Appleja-hah-hahhhk!” she thrust her face into the startled Twilight’s chest.
The purple unicorn’s mouth was agape. She stared at her traumetized friend, trying to add up the facts from the babbled bits. “Oh no…” she whispered, mostly to herself, her eyes widening in realization. “I’ve— I’ve seen her do something like that before!” she pulled the sobbing Rainbowdash inside, locking the balcony doors for good measure. “I once saw her do the same thing to a wild bear. I don’t believe it, our Fluttershy!” She was pacing back and forth as soon as she’d thrown a thick blanket over the violently shaking Rainbowdash. “I-I-I should’ve stopped her right then or, or something!” Twilight’s mind was going at warp speed, trying to speculate any sort of reason that Fluttershy might turn her wrath upon Applejack. Rushing over to Rainbowdash, she put a hoof over her. “What’d you see? Tell me exactly.” She waited patiently, while Rainbow told her with a quivering voice everything she’d seen, down to the letter.
“And then boom! She was on the floor and didn’t move anymo-hoh-hohrrre!” the pegasus was wracked with uncontrollable sobbing. “I’m so scared, I dun wanna die too! What can we do?!”
“I— I—” Twilight was too overwhelmed to know what to say. Send a letter to the princess? Gather up the citizens of Ponyville to hunt down a murderer pony? Then what, lynch her?! It was all too terrible to think about! What had happened to drive Fluttershy into a sudden violent rage like that!?
There was a sudden knock at the door, making both phillies jump. “Stay here, we don’t wanna cause a panic or anything.” Twilight said soothingly, pulling the blankets up a bit for her friend. No panic yet at least, she thought silently. Staying on the plush pillow, Rainbowdash lay there quivering uncontrollably. Twilight cleared her throat, pulling herself upright and trying to look dignified and chipper as she pulled the door open by magic. “Who iiiis it?” She said melodically, eyes closed to accompany her smile.
“Oh, hullo Twilight.” Fluttershy was at the door.
“Eeee!” Twilight slammed the door so hard it almost knocked itself off its hinges. She pressed her back to it, hyperventilating with tiny pupils in her eyes. “She’s here! Rainbow! She’s here! She must’ve seen you running away!” she whispered feverishly. Rainbow squeaked in response, pulling the covers over herself.
“Oh my. Was it something I said?” the muffled voice of the shy pony was outside. She tilted her head, looking at the door. “Maybe I shouldn’t bother Twilight after sunset anymore, she’s probably busy.” Her voice was meek and thoughtful, and she nodded to herself. “But I— I do need help for Applejack. Hmm.” She fought a brief and rather impressive mental battle. “I don’t think it would hurt to try once more...” she reached up and knocked again, a little softer that time.
“Don’t answer it Twilight! Whatever you do don’t open that door!” Rainbowdash said, her face jutting out of the blanket with a terrified expression.
“W-w-we gotta do something! We gotta stop her!” Twilight said. “You can fly at like Mach TEN, for Celestia’s sake! Can’t you like… ram into her and stun her!?” the purple unicorn still had her back to the door and was sweating profusely when the knocking came again. “J-just a SECOND!” she called over her shoulder and through the wood.
“Oh… okay.” Came the whispy and ever-pleasant voice of the powder yellow pony. She sat idly on her haunches, staring patiently at the door with a soft smile on her face. She’d known other ponies to not let others into their dwelling if it was messy, perhaps Twilight was pushing books onto shelves before letting her in.
“Can’t you zap her with your horn laser!?” Rainbowdash shrieked.
“Horn laser!? Since when have I had a horn laser?!” Twilight shouted back in disbelief.
“You do it all the time to move stuff around, can’t you use it to defend yourself with?!” Rainbow had no inkling about how magic worked, so it was awkward to hear such ideas from her. She pulled the covers over herself once more, a shaking lump of cowering pony.
“I—I—I’ve never attacked anyone with my magic before! That’s against the rules!” Twilight whimpered, backing up with her horn pointed at the door.
Rainbowdash was suddenly clinging to her, front hooves dangled around her neck. “Us or her Twilight?! US OR HER?!” She made great big pathetic eyes to help with her argument.
Twilight slowly turned towards the door, where she knew the murderer was waiting for her to open the door. Gulping. She squinted as magic began to ball itself up within her horn. It glowed, flaking off sparkles of magic. Twilight gritted her teeth, eyes slowly starting to squeeze shut. The tension mounted, and Rainbowdash raised the blanket over the lower half of her face a bit more. The windows of the tree-like house began to shudder and flicker with bright light.
Outside, Fluttershy saw a bright light leaking under the door. “Ohh?” she leaned down as though inspecting a bug. “I wonder what’s going on in ther--?” She was cut off as the door blew off its hinges and one side of her mane was sheared off by a bolt of magic! She watched the long, beautiful pink locks fall from the side of her head. Rearing up with a whinny of shock, she looked into the dwelling where Twilight Sparkle stood, horn still aglow and giving her the worst look she’d ever seen. Tears welled up in Fluttershy’s eyes and she bolted in the opposite direction, bawling girlishly. “J-just wanted my cream for Applejack’s sore baaaaaack!” she cried out into the night as the rain started to suddenly pour. Her hooves thundered away into the night.
There was silence. Twilight looked back at Rainbowdash. Rainbowdash stared back at her. There was a long, awkward minute of the gears in their heads turning. Twilight looked over at her end table by the door. She'd borrowed a muscle cream from Fluttershy when spike had sprained an ankle last week, falling off a library ladder. “We’ve made a terrible mistake!” Twilight suddenly gasped. “Rainbow! Go grab her! We’ll meet at her cottage and sort this out!”
“Roger!” Rainbow saluted with all seriousness, wings flapping open so hard they flung the blanket to one side. She flew out the door. Twilight’s hooves never carried her so fast.
Applejack moaned pleasantly as she floated up into consciousness again. If there was one glorious thing about Fluttershy's... handling, it was a good way to inspire a nap. She felt her eyes slowly opening as she felt an icy-hot cream work its way across her flank. “Guhhh, izzat you, Fluttershy?” her southern drawl was slow and lazy, half-awake like the rest of her. “I can’t thank ya’ll enough for seein’ to my soreness.” Her vision slowly came into view to review Rainbowdash and Twilight Sparkle. “Uhh, when’d y'all get here?” she asked, lifting her head just a little.
“Oh, Twilight had a special cream I needed for your back, so I went to fetch it from her while you rested. You must’ve fallen right to sleep after the first bit.” Fluttershy’s voice was as soft and whispy-shy as usual. Applejack turned her head, and gasped. Fluttershy’s mane was half-gone, sheared down to the very pelt of her body! “Oh, do you like it?” She said softly, putting one hoof over the other in a curtsie. “Twilight helped me make it this way.” She said, casting a soft eye in the unicorn’s direction.
“Uhhhm… right.” Twilight said, smiling apologetically. Rainbow kicked at the ground a little, mumbling under her breath a little. “Huh?” Asked Twilight.
“M’sorry I thought you murdered Applejack…” Rainbow said, even her wings wilted.
“It’s alright. Chiropractition on strong creatures like ponies takes a lot of strength.” Fluttershy said soothingly. “I’m sure it must’ve looked quite violent. I’m sorry.” She said shyly, her eyes darting about in a meek way. “Perhaps if you ever need it, you can come see me? I would love to help you feel better sometime, if you like.”
Rainbowdash gulped. "Uh... s-sure!"