Chapter 26: Reunion
I look down the road we’re walking along, “Almost there girls! I recognize these hills.”
Pinkie frowns. “Tell me again why we didn’t have that limo drive us all the way to the farm? I mean, the plane landed, a brand new limo came, and he told us he would drive us anywhere. Why did we have him drop us off on an abandoned road ten miles back behind us?”
Shining replies, “It’s safer that the limo guy doesn’t know our final address. We don’t want any humans to know the location of the farm.”
Pinkie nods. “How many miles to the farm? And what time of day is it now?”
“It’s 7pm and we are less than a mile away”. Rarity rolls her eyes. “Pinkie, we discussed all this a few minutes ago, honestly you never listen.”
Pinkie scoffs, “Hey I knew all of that, I’m just asking questions for the sake of getting information out there.”
I raise an eyebrow. “For what?”
She giggles, “Don't worry about it, honey.”
I narrow my eyes. “Don’t call me honey, Pinkie.”
She nods. “Fine, I won’t call you Honey Pinkie. Not sure why that has to be a rule, but whatever you say Dashie.”
Shining rubs his eyes, “Pinkie, sometimes I don’t know about you.”
“Only sometimes?” Rarity questions, bemused with herself.
I laugh at the exchange, which causes Shining to raise an eyebrow. “Amused, Dash?”
I grin. “I’m just in a really good mood here guys. I can’t wait for you all to meet Jack.”
Shining glances at me again. “Calm down missy. We’re talking about Applejack here, not Jesus.”
I give him a playful shove. “Haha, very funny. But seriously, our world’s AJ is pretty awesome, just you wait and see. And there’s more to it than that, I’m super excited to finally have us all together. All of the elements under one roof! It’s a reunion twenty five years in the making.”
Twilight nods. “Discord did specifically work to ‘scatter the six’, the fact that we are all back together is in itself a pretty huge blow to his plans.”
“Exactly,” I confirm. “And once we are all together I know we can figure this out. If I learned anything from the show, it’s that we are unbeatable as a group. No task will be too great, and nothing can stop us!”
Shining smiles. “It's the power of a group. It’s like that saying goes: ‘I have witnessed the tremendous energy of the masses. On this foundation, it is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever’.”
Twilight raises an eyebrow at her brother. “Shining, you read the Little Red Book?”
He looks over at her. “What? No, I don’t even know what that is. I’m just quoting the Civilization Five trailer.”
Twilight shakes her head. “Don’t quote that line, it’s from Mao Zedong. You know, the guy whose rule caused the deaths of over fifty million people through starvation, forced labor and executions? He’s one of the worst perpetrators of genocide in the past century.”
Shining tilts his head. “Twilight, why you gotta bring genocide into this?”
Pinkie pokes the alicorn in the flank. “Yeah, we were talking about accomplishing tasks, meeting friends, and the book of Little Red Riding Hood, but then you come in here and start talking about genocide? Not cool Twilight, not cool.”
Twilight groans and then looks over at me. “Dash, please tell me there is at least one new pony on this farm that is educated enough for me to converse normally with.”
I chuckle. “Well, Big Mac is a really somber guy who takes everything very maturely. Also, Fluttershy is actually a lot smarter than you would think. She actually figured out the Discord thing all by herself, oh, and she was the one who got the idea for me to go find you guys.”
Twilight smiles for the first time in a while. “I’d love to meet her.”
Shining makes the equivalent of a male ‘squee’ and claps his front hooves together. “Oh god, I never even thought about that. Fluttershy is here? I have to see her! Is she as adorable in person?”
I laugh at his expression. “Yes, and yes. See, this is why I’ve been trying so hard to get you guys here! This reunion is going to be awesome!”
Pinkie hops in front of me. “Will there be a party? We totally need a welcome party! Maybe even a welcome wagon!” Pinkie taps her chin. “Wait, can you arrive with a welcome wagon? Or are welcome wagons only for people that are arriving?”
“Too late to worry about that Pinkie.” I stop and wave a hoof to a dirt path on our right as excitement fills my voice. “We’re here! Taa-daa!”
Silence falls on us and a few crickets are heard. Rarity looks at me. “Darling, what can I say, I think we expected more.”
I roll my eyes and gesture at the crummy path. “Gah, you city ponies are strange. This is just the entrance, the farm is over the hill, sheesh.”
“Oh,” Shining mumbles as we make our way on the path. “Well, next time save the taa-daas for when we actually arrive at the buildings.”
I shake my head and follow behind them. “Well, I texted Jack when we landed, she said she would meet us at the edge of her property.”
Shining peers ahead as we crest the hill and see the farm buildings below us. “That must be her. Jack carries her hair in the ‘AJ ponytail’ and wears a Stetson, right?”
I laugh, “On a cold day in hell maybe. Nah, Jack hates the Applejack look, she would never dare wear something like that.”
Twilight glances back at me, then points a hoof forward. “Well, then who is that?”
I make my way to the front of the group and spot Jack dressed up in the stereotypical Applejack appearance. Before I can register what the hell is going on, the farm mare is upon our group. “Jack?”
She does a small bow. “Well howdy y’all, my name’s Applejack and seeing you gals makes me happier than a rattlesnake in a prairie dog hole!” The earth pony rears up on her back legs. “Yee-haw!”
I tilt my head. “Uh, Jack?”
She ignores me and trots forward. “Hot diggity-dog ponies, welcome to the Apple Family Farm! We’ve got the only farm as wild as a peach orchard hog in these parts!”
I scratch my head with a hoof, what the hell is up with Jack? She is not supposed to be this far on the country bumpkin scale. “Apple Family Farm? Jack, I thought this place was called the Smith family farm?”
She looks at me with a disconcerting smile. “Jack? That name is nonsense, call me Applejack darlin’, I ain’t worked the apple fields this hard to not be called an Apple myself, ya hear?”
“What?” Shining takes a step back.
AJ sees the white unicorn and rears up on her hind legs again. “Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit! We got ourselves royalty here on the farm!”
“What?” Shining takes another step away from the deranged earth pony.
“Royalty right here on our humble farm, well I'll be. Cut off my legs an’ call me shorty, you know what that calls for?”
“I’m afraid to ask,” Shining replies as he glances nervously at me.
I stare at my friend. “AJ, tone it down a little, I don’t know what’s--.”
I cut myself off as I hear the sound of a banjo come from behind one of the sheds. Applejack stomps her hooves to the beat. “You see, on the Apple Farm we got...”
My ears slide forwards. “Oh no, don’t you dare. Don’t you fucking dare.”
The banjo gets louder and AJ takes a deep breath then bursts out into song. “~Our farm has apples and bushels, and spades and socials! Crops and horses, and tools and tortoises~”
Twilight stares at her, oblivious to the music. “But why would you have tortoises?”
The earth pony continues unabated. “~The Apple Farm, the Apple Farm, things are better on the Apple Farm. From peas to potatoes, and tulips to tomatoes, it’s all better on the Apple Farm~”
“Jack...” I feel my heart sink in my chest as the farm pony dances around to the bluegrass beat. I’m getting the feeling we lost Jack. She’s a goner. Human Jack is no more, redneck Applejack has taken over her mind completely.
Pinkie starts clapping her hooves, “Oh boy, this is a welcome wagon! Can I sing along?”
Applejack slides up alongside her and they sing the chorus in unison, “The Apple Farm, the Apple Farm...”
Rarity glances over at me. “She wasn’t like this when you left Dash?”
“~Not a normal farm, no, the Apple Farm! Barns and silos, and fields and fallows, it’s all here on the Apple Farm!~
“No!” I exclaim, a bit of panic filling my voice. “She wasn’t like this at all!”
“~The Apple Farm, full of happiness. The Apple Farm, void of pettiness.~”
Shining walks over to me and puts a hoof on my shoulder. “I’m sorry Dash, if only we got here sooner, maybe we could have saved her.”
“~The Apple Farm, ponies without a stirrup! The Apple Farm...~”
“...Eeeeeyup!” Big Mac appears from the side to fill his line.
My ears fall flat. “Oh no! Mac, not you too!”
Applejack and Mac sing the chorus in unison as Pinkie joins in on the lines shes knows. “~The Apple Farm, the Apple Farm, things are better on the Apple Farm. From peas to potatoes, and tulips to tomatoes, it’s all better on the Apple Farm!~”
I glance at Jack’s eyes and notice a familiar twinkle, then I notice her foretelling grin. I facehoof and laugh softly to myself. “Haha, Very funny, Jack.”
“Apples and wheat, and hay and... aww fuck it, the gig’s off.” Jack and Mac burst out laughing, with the latter pony actually falling over as laughter fills his body.
“You should have seen your face, oh my God.” Mac wipes the tears of laughter from his face and turns to shut off a speaker that was playing the background music. “That was priceless! We should have gotten a camera for that.”
I shake my head. “You guys are assholes, I actually thought you were that far gone.”
AJ grins wide. “It was only fair after all the pranks you played on us over the years.”
Pinkie looks around, confused. “Wait, so is there more song or are we done here? I was just getting into that.”
Twilight allows herself to laugh. “Very clever, we were actually worried for a while.”
Rarity observes everything from a few steps behind me. “Well then, you certainly know how to make an introduction. And speaking of which...” She trots forwards. “My name is Rarity, it’s a pleasure to meet you, and I thank you for allowing us to stay here on your estate.”
Jack spits off to the side. “It’s more a farm than an estate, but thanks Rarity, the pleasure is all ours.” She shakes her hoof.
Mac follows suit. “Pleasure to meet you Miss Rarity.”
She blushes slightly. “Thanks, and fair notification, I’m not on the market.”
Mac laughs softly, “Wow, I think that’s a new record for me. I barely said hello.”
Shining steps up to shake Mac’s hoof, and presumably to change the subject “Ah, yes the name’s Shining Armor. Thanks for hosting my friends and I.”
The red stallion nods at his white counterpart. “Another male, finally! I was worried I would be the only one here.”
Jack stares at Shining as the other ponies exchange introductions and hoofshakes. She eventually pokes me in the side. “Lucky bastard, how come Shining Armor got to keep his manhood and we lost ours?”
I smile. “Oh, Shining didn’t win as much as you think he did, Jack.”
She continues to look at him. “He certainly looks like a winner to me.”
I blink. “Wait, Jack? Are you...” I start to laugh.
She glances at me. “What’s so funny.”
I gesture at the white stallion. “The only other stallion you’ve seen up to now was your brother.” I raise my eyebrows. “I think little Miss Apple Jackie is admiring the handsome looks of the first guy she’s seen since becoming a girl. Jack, I think you have a crush on Shining...”
I brace for impact but Jack doesn’t strike. She just looks the other way and stammers for a moment. “Gah, shut up Dash, why you gotta bring that out into the open?”
I stick out my tongue. “Hey, you got me with that song and dance routine prank. I owe you a few solid jabs.”
“You know, things were really peaceful here when you were gone.”
“Yeah, but I bet it was boring.”
“This is true.” She laughs softly and looks back over at the stallion. “You were right though, he is the first real stallion I’ve seen. Damn, this is awkward. I was just getting used to being a girl, and now this new facet of this life has to show up.”
I knew I could bring up the fact that Shining is already in a relationship, and that would calm her thoughts about whether or not he would be interested in her. But nah, it’s far more fun to see her mind running wild. I nudge her in the ribs. “Isn’t this great? We’re both girls now and both admit to ogling over stallions. We can legitimately have girl talk! We can cuddle under blankets, talk about cute guys, and then have pillow fights with each other!”
She glances at me with one eye. “How did pillow fights come into this?”
I smile mischievously. “Oh, so you question the pillow fights, but you don’t reject the idea of us girls having a slumber party and talking about cute guys? My my Applejack, how the mighty have fallen.”
She shakes her head and repeats herself. “Things were so quiet and peaceful when you were gone.”
I giggle. “I’m still not hearing a no to the girl talk. This is great, I’ll go tell Rarity! She’s going to be so excited. We can put on makeup and hold a fashion show together while we talk about guys!”
“Go buck yourself Dash.”
“I would if I could!” I laugh aloud. “And I still didn’t hear a no!”
“Where’s Fluttershy by the way?” Shining asks as he goes to the kitchen to get a third helping of food. “I was really looking forward to seeing her.”
AJ picks her teeth clean with a piece of wheat field grass. “She’s out in the forest.”
I glance up at Jack. “The forest? What? Why?”
Mac answers for her. “Dash, right after you left Fluttershy decided to start a little project right at the treeline. She’s building a little cottage or something out there to call her own home. I told her a hundred times she was more than welcome to sleep in the farmhouse, but she seemed pretty determined to have a place out there.”
AJ chuckles and continues the story for her brother. “She said she found it hard to sleep indoors over here. Said she found it more relaxing when she had her animal friends close by.” AJ sighs, “She really is becoming Fluttershy. I mean, I know it’s expected, but yikes.”
Shining nods as he scarfs down the food. “Can we see her tomorrow?”
Mac waves a hoof, “Yeah of course, she spends most of the day helping us out on the farm proper.” Mac pauses for a second as he eyes the stallion. “You seem pretty interested in seeing her. You got a thing for yellow mares?”
I choke on the glass of water I’m drinking, and Twilight, Rarity, and AJ all turn to stare at Shining, who blushes profusely. “What? No, no, I just like her character on the show!”
“Mmhmm,” Mac scratches his chin with a hoof.
Shining trots over to Rarity and gives her a nuzzle. “I have zero interest in Fluttershy. I'm together with Rarity.”
I feel a small pang of jealously, how come Rarity and Shining get to be in a public relationship?
On the other hand, AJ looks half relieved and half disappointed. “Oh, you’re taken?”
“Mmhmm.” Shining nuzzles Rarity again.
Mac raises an eyebrow. “Isn’t that a bit weird? I’m guessing Rarity was a man before. Isn’t that a touch weird getting with a former guy?”
I stare at Mac. “Oh? And what’s wrong with that sort of relationship Mac? You have something against mares that used to be guys?”
Mac swallows nervously and blushes slightly, but Rarity answers his question. “Not that it matters, but the two of us were male and female before we changed.”
I smile at her omission of one crucial detail about that wording, but I guess it’s fine either way. Shining kisses her on the cheek. “I love you Rarity, and I want everyone to know it.”
“Wait.” Jack furrows her brow for a few seconds before looking back up at them. “Wait a second here.”
“I love you too Shining.” Rarity professes.
Jack says three words, and the world stops spinning: “What about Cadance?”
It was quiet enough to hear a mouse blink, and I glance over at Shining along with every other pair of eyes in the room.
“I, uh.” Shining stammers. “Well, I brought this up before, way back when this started.”
Rarity nods. “Yeah, we both agreed that since he’s not really Shining, he doesn’t have to worry about Cadance.”
Jack leans forward. “But you are Shining. Like, really.”
He looks off into the distance. “Okay, so I never really thought about that part of this before...”
Pinkie giggles loudly. “You’re married Shining! You have a pink pony for a wife!” She smiles wide. “Shining has a wife and he doesn’t even know it!”
I laugh softly as well, I can’t believe I never made that connection myself. “Damn Shining, you’re married to Cadance. I bet she’s a fox too, a perfect ten for sure.”
AJ nods. “Well, she is the Princess of Love.”
Shining swallows nervously, then rubs Rarity gently. “I haven’t seen her in twenty five years, I’m sure she would understand that our relationship has passed. I’m with Rarity now, and only Rarity. The princess and I are not together.”
Rarity beams. “Thanks darling, and if Cadance ever does show up, I’m not letting you go without a fight.”
He laughs and gets up for more food. “Good to know honey.” He returns with his bowl full once again, and he seems eager to get off the romance topic. “You know, I never had any food quite like this. What is it again?”
“Alfalfa sprouts.” I say with a chuckle, amused at Shining’s drastic topic change. “Get used to it, alfalfa is easily the best stuff that grows on this farm. Well, for pony’s taste buds anyway.”
Mac smiles. “And our farm has the tastiest crops in the state. Therefore making that the best bowl of food within a five hundred mile radius.”
“Well your hard work certainly pays off. Thanks again for taking us in.” Twilight nods politely from the end of the table. “You certain us being here won’t deplete your food stores?”
AJ and Mac laugh at the same time. Mac turns to the alicorn. “Miss, this farm grows enough food to feed a small town. Our water is all from our own well, and we have a generator that runs on plant refuse. Trust me, the farm can support four new bodies. We could support fifty times that number if we wanted to, the only real limiting factor right now is beds.”
Several ponies across the table all exchange looks. I decide to ask the question, “Yeah, how are we doing that by the way?”
AJ nods slowly. “Well, we have four bedrooms. Mac’s, mine, and two guest rooms. With Flutters out in the woods at the moment we have seven ponies for four rooms.”
Rarity speaks up, “Shining and I can take a room.”
AJ agrees, “Makes sense. I'm okay with sharing a room with my brother which in order to free up some for our guests. Twilight gets one room and then Dash and Pinkie share the other one I suppose. That okay with you gals?”
Twilight nods. “That's extremely generous of you.”
Pinkie agrees, “Fine by me, I can sleep anywhere!”
Jack stands up to carry some plates to the kitchen and Twilight leans across the table to get closer to me as she whispers, “Dash, I know you might not wanna share a room with Pinkie. If you’d like, we can switch spots every other night and you can have the solo room.”
I grin wide. “Don’t worry Twilight, I don’t plan to sleep in any of the guest rooms.”
Night fell and as the ponies made their way to their rooms I went for the front door. Once outside I take a breath of the fresh air and leap into the night sky, circling the house a few times as I gain a little altitude. Flying out in the open once more feels nothing short of divine. I don't know how I lasted all that time in Seattle without really being able to fly freely each night.
I circle around a few times to loosen my wings, then find the target I'm looking for. A few seconds latter and I land with a soft puff on a cloud before me.
I roll around on the plush material that is softer than a feather. “Oh cloud, you so fluffy!”
I giggle and roll around in it a few more times, before slowly flapping my wings and bringing the cloud down to the ground. I am all for sleeping at higher altitudes, but it's windier up there and I don't want to wake up in the next county. In any case, down here just a few feet of the ground is ideal. There's little to no wind and there is a much lower chance that any outside humans will spot me.
I snuggle into the airy cumulus, and put thoughts of outside humans out my mind as I drift off into sleep on what I know is the softest bed on Earth.
“Hey, Rainbow Dash, I’m going to check the perimeter, you want in?”
The cyan mare looks up from her morning grits, “Hmm? Thanks for the offer Shining, that’s really kind of you.” Dash stops to yawn. “But, nah I think I’m going to pass on that offer right now. This pony is not exactly what you would call a morning mare.” The pegasus yawns again and goes back to eating.
I shrug and look around at the other pony at the breakfast table. “That’s fine. Hey, Big Mac, how about you? Up for a morning run?”
He looks out the window. “Sure, I suppose I can show you around.”
“Awesome, this is really great.” I smile wide. “I can’t get over all this open space you have out here. The idea of waking up and going to a run across the open fields is just amazing. Do you ever do that here? Wake up early and just go outside and get the blood flowing?”
“You’re not familiar with farm work are you?” Mac smirks. “Wake up early and get the blood flowing from working outdoors? Yeah, we do that sometimes. You know, on days ending with ‘y’.”
“Ah, right.” I flatten my ears a bit. “So, shall we?”
“You kids have fun!” The pegasus waves from the table. I never quite understood that woman. Half of her is the laziest being in existence, but her other half is the most determined, athletic one here. It scares me to think what she could accomplish if she ever gets 100% determined.
Mac and I don’t say too much as we canter around the entire farm and I get a feel for my surroundings. I like knowing where we are and how to defend it. Since I’m technically still Captain of the Guard, I feel like I’m largely responsible for the defense of the farm. “So, Mac, how often does this farm get visitors?”
He gives me a glance. “You mean other than you ponies? Not often at all. We’re in the middle of nowhere, and we’re surrounded by state forests just for good measure. I mean, in April we get the tax evaluator for that year, but other than that we don’t get visitors unless we specifically invite them.”
I nod. “We’ll have to think about a way to deal with that guy when he arrives. If nothing else, maybe we can bribe him to not report back about talking horses running a farm. Secrecy and staying under the radar is going to be, by far, our best defense.”
Mac laughs. “Defence against what? Jack and I are more than capable of protecting our land. We’ve done so for decades, and I daresay it’s even easier to run this place now that we’re both ponies.”
I raise an eyebrow. “No shit? I figure it would be hard to do manual labor with hooves.”
He looks at my horn and chuckles. “The curse of being a unicorn, you rely on your magic for so much that you don’t learn how to do things with your limbs. I mean, sure, some farm things are hard or impossible to do with hooves. But, on the other hoof, having a body as resilient as this lets me get around all those things.”
I shake my head. “I don’t follow.”
Mac smiles. “As a human, I had to do lots of things I don’t have to do anymore. For example, I used to have to mend horseshoes for our stallions and work on training them to pull the plow. Well, I don’t have to do that anymore.”
I scratch my chin with a hoof. “Because what, the horses listen to you now that you’re a pony?”
Mac laughs, “Screw that, I just pull the plow myself. Saves so much time, trust me.”
I stumble. “Wait, you what? You pull a farm plow? Like an animal?”
Mac waves a hoof. “Newsflash prince we are ponies, ain’t nothing wrong with doing a little manual labor for the sake of the farm. And like I said, it’s actually less work than training the horses to do it.”
I sigh, “I guess that makes sense. But what about other tasks? Surely some things on the farm are harder to do as a pony than they were as a human?”
Mac chews his lip for a moment. “Not really, the stamina of this body more than makes up for the use fingers had around here. I can work 20 hours a day and not break a sweat, if I tried that as a human I would die of exhaustion on the second day. And like I said, so many things are just easier as a pony. Let’s say I want to clear a small tree. As a human I would need to get my chainsaw, then I would have to oil and sharpen the chain, then burn some diesel and operate it. It would take me the better part of an hour to get that all done. Now, as a pony I can’t do any of those things, but I can just go up to the tree and buck it until it’s nothing but splinters. Boom, tree down, job done in thirty seconds. Afterwards, I’m even strong enough to just drag the entire tree with with me. That last part is a hell of a lot easier than breaking it down into pieces tiny enough for a human to carry.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Wait, are you telling me you can knock a tree over with a kick?”
“Well it takes more than one sometimes, but yeah.” Mac nods somberly. “Lesson for the future, you don’t ever, ever want to get kicked by an Earth pony.”
I stammer. “Yeah, but, a tree? How do you kick an entire tree over?”
Mac spits off to the side. “Prince, I don’t think you fully understand how strong earth ponies are. Let me tell you something, in our stables we have the mares and stallions separated for obvious reasons. In front of each section is a reinforced steel gate that gets locked. It’s specifically designed to hold back fully grown horses. I mean, we’re talking 4 inches thick of reinforced steel built to contain stallions that go crazy smelling the heat.” The red earth pony gestures at the stable house off to the side. “Well, back when this started, Applejack went into those stables.”
I raise my eyebrow. “What? Why?”
He shrugs. “I’m not sure, Dash and I weren’t here when that went down. All I know is that when we came back, Jack was outside and the stable door was bucked open. And I mean bucked open. The steel gate was literally kicked clean off it’s hinges. Darndest thing I’d ever seen.”
I let out a low whistle. “Your sister is that strong? Damn, we could have used some of your farm ponies back in Seattle.”
Mac gives me a smirk. “Had some metal doors you needed kicked down?”
I nod slowly. “We were locked in a jail cell built by a gang.”
“A jail cell for what? Where?”
I laugh softly. “It’s a long story...”
I look up to see Shining Armor and Big Mac walk down the path. I smirk, “Hey look, it’s guys’ night out.”
Rarity glances over at them. “Oh Dash, let them be. I think it’s great that they are getting along. I do think Shining needs a male figure to hang around with. I mean think about it. He spends twenty five years as a girl, and then once he turns into a guy male he gets surrounded by nothing but mares. How is he supposed to learn what it means to be a guy?”
I point in their general direction with a wing. “Assuming he wants to be a guy. Shining seems to be in the camp where he’s not happy with his body and wants to change back.”
Rarity sighs. “True, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Honestly, Dash, why must you look down at Shining’s hesitance to let go of his past? It does seem like the more logical way to approach this situation. My own rapid acceptance of being this dainty, fashionable mare scares me sometimes. I mean really, why am I so amazingly comfortable in the skin of a female pony?”
“Because you are a female pony,” I say with a sly grin, but then pause and sigh. “But you’re right, Rarity. Maybe I have been a little hard on Shining. I can’t read him that well, but I suppose he really is the most reasonable, sane pony out of all of us.”
“Ooo are you guys talking about me?” Pinkie appears out of nowhere, grinning wide.
“No.” Rarity and I say in a loud unison.
Pinkie's ears go flat a little, but AJ’s sudden arrival changes the mood. “Ah, Pinkie, why’d you run off like that? I was in the middle of telling you a personal story and then I turn around and you’re just gone.”
Pinkie shrugs, “I had to enter an awkward pause that was nearby.”
Rarity laughs softly but Jack just nods. “Yeah, sure. Anyways, are you ready to help me feed the horses?”
I glance at the pink mare, then back at Jack. “You really trust Pinkie around your livestock? You do realize she will probably just try to draw smiley faces on them with lipstick.”
Pinkie pouts, “Hey! That only happened once!”
“Twice.” Rarity corrects her.
Jack facehoofs. “Look, doesn’t matter, we have a ‘two man’ rule, I need someone to go in there with me.”
I tilt my head. “Two man rule? Jack, this isn’t a nuclear launch protocol, you’re just feeding horses.”
She bites her lip and rubs a hoof into the ground nervously. “It’s just a rule we came up with. It’s not, well, safe to go into the stables by yourself. It gets weird, trust me.”
“Right.” I nod slowly, then stretch my legs. “I’ll go with you Jack.”
I glance over at Rarity. “You want to come too, Miss Unicorn?”
Rarity hesitates. “Sorry Dash, mind if I sit this one out? Wild horses are not really my thing.”
I smile at her. “Of course Rarity, I’ll catch up with you later.”
AJ, Pinkie, and I turn tail and head for the farm. We don’t get far before Jack turns to me. “You and Rarity seem awfully close.”
I sigh. “Why does every pony keep saying that?”
Pinkie does a scrunchy face. “Wait, every pony? I never said that about you.”
I nod politely. “This is true! Thank you Pinkie, you’re a good friend.”
Pinkie beams, but AJ just shrugs, “It’s just strange is all. Rarity and Rainbow Dash are not really that close.”
“Says who?” I implore, even though I already knew the answer.
“The TV show,” Jack replies. “Rarity and Dash were not enemies, but you never really saw them being super close.”
I smile. “Well, clearly the TV show is missing a few details then, isn’t it? Really though, Rarity is seriously awesome. There’s a lot more to her than you think.”
“I suppose.” Jack muses as we enter the stables. “Anyways, Pinkie, you can do whatever for a minute. Dash, help me carry these feed bags.”
“Sure thing boss.” I head over to help her, but then pause as I take in her appearance once more. “So, Jack, you really went for that Applejack look? I thought you loathed that idea.”
The farm mare blushes for a second and adjusts her Stetson. “Well, you know, I found this hat and braided my mane in a ponytail just for the sake of that welcome prank yesterday.”
I lift a bag of feed. “But, now we’re in today. So what’s the deal?”
“Dangit, Rainbow, you’re gonna make me admit it?” She blushes slightly. “I, well, I realized I sorta like wearing this hat. And the tight braided hair is actually really practical for the farm work.”
“I see.” I head back for another bag of feed. “Well, that’s fine. No shame is looking the part. You look good AJ.”
She mumbles an embarrassed thanks and I just smile. I do actually like her new look. Well, I guess technically it’s her classic look, but whatever, it suits her.
The work continues for a bit longer and I start to think about the animals in here that we are feeding. “What are you going to do with these horses Jack? You guys really don’t need them anymore.”
She nods. “Yeah I know. But we can’t just let them go, they are all registered with this farm. If we set them free and someone finds one, they would report it to the police. The police would then come here asking if this was our horse.”
I rub my neck, attracting police to us is never a good thing. “Can you give them away to some other farmer?”
Jack nods. “Big Mac and I were talking about that. We know some local farms that could take them for us. But how would we handle the hand off? We would have to meet them face to face to give them the horses.”
I frown. “Yeah, meeting someone who deals in trading horses, probably isn’t a good idea when you’re in the body of a pony yourself. Yikes.”
Jack agrees, “At best, it would be really awkward. And at worst...”
I wince. “They decide to take you as part of the trade. They put a bridle on you, you are forced to go with your new owner, and you become just another head in the herd.”
“Mmhmm,” Jack murmurs as we both try to forget about that disturbing thought.
I haul one final bag of feed over to the last feeding trough, and I suddenly spot Pinkie. It shocks me for a second, as I totally forgot she was even in here. She’s staring at one of the mares for some reason. I approach her slowly, and study her expression as her eyebrows furrow in concentration. She continues to study the mare as I take another step closer to her. “Uh, Pinkie?”
The carefree pony ignores me and tilts her head. Her eyes twitch from some great effort as she seems to be struggling with seeing something. I look at the mare she’s staring at, then look back at Pinkie. “Pinkie, are you okay?”
I’m about to call Jack over, when suddenly the feral mare turns her head slightly out of boredom. A second after the movement the hair on Pinkie’s neck stands straight up and she stumbles backwards a few steps. I reach out to catch her. “Whoa, easy there Pinkie, what’s the matter?”
She looks at me as swallows nervously. “Nothing! It’s nothing, it’s, it’s, well you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Jack appears beside us. “You two ready to go?”
Pinkie nods eagerly at the suggestion. “Yes please! This place is weird.”
Before we go, I glance once more at the common mare that Pinkie was staring at. It’s just an ordinary mare, she’s just poking around at the feed Jack laid at her feet. “Hey Jack, what’s the deal with this horse? Anything special?”
Jack glances at her. “That’s Sara, remember? She’s got a bad hoof infection and has been running a fever. She should recover though.”
“Right.” I scratch my head for a moment before following Jack and Pinkie out of the barn. Before long my mind already starts wondering what Mac is up to.
I would have thought being the only alicorn around made me special, or maybe made others look up to me or something. Well, that’s not really the case, is it? I sigh as I sit next to the pond. I don’t know why I’m complaining, back when I was in charge I kept cracking under the pressure and telling people to stop asking me for questions. But now, well, now I feel completely useless. People listen to my brother, people listen to Rainbow Dash, and now people listen to AJ and Mac since this is their farm. Where does that put me, fifth on the totem pole? Am I that useless? Am I a side character in my own life?
I make my horn glow to summon a breeze, the same useless spell that I learned back in Seattle. Woo-hoo, I can make a breeze that creates a soft melody as it blows through leaves. I am totally up to the challenge of fighting Discord. Rampaging demi-god of chaos coming at me? Fear not, I can summon a breeze and then teleport away! I sigh, some ‘Element of Magic’ I am.
“Hey, that’s pretty awesome.” A sudden voice appears behind me.
I turn around. “Oh, hey, Big Mac.”
He trots down to my side. “That’s pretty neat, you can just summon wind at will? Just like that?”
I chuckle. “It’s pretty useless, trust me. Having the power over a soft breeze is about as pathetic as it sounds. Most of my magic is like that, little more than parlor tricks with no real application. It won’t get me anywhere.”
Mac nods slowly, then draws in the sand with a hoof. “Pythagoras found that square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the remaining sides.” Mac studies the triangle for a moment, then erases it with a hoof. “What a useless, stupid theorem. Who measures the squares of triangle sides? I don’t see any application for it, it’s nothing more than a parlor trick. I think it's fair to say that this theorem is just as useless as your magic.”
I feel a slow smile spread across my face. “I never took you for a philosopher Big Mac.”
Mac remains silent for a moment. “There’s more to a farmer than his farm.” He looks me up and down softly. “How are you doing by the way? You’ve been really quiet since you got here.”
I chuckle. “I’ve been quiet for longer than that.”
“Nah, it’s not just the introvert side of you. There’s more to it than that.”
I shrug. “Maybe a little? I don’t know, I used to feel ready to take on any challenge. Then this pony thing hit and I fell lower and lower as I realized I could no longer explain things.” I shake my head. “You don’t know what that’s like Mac. That’s all I had. I was the girl that knew everything. That was my purpose in life, and everyone looked up to me for it. Have a question about something? Ask Tess! Need something figured out? Ask Tess! Have a problem no one can solve? Ask Tess!”
Mac nods. “And then Tess became Twilight.”
I stare off ahead. “And just like that, just like flipping a switch, my usefulness vanished. All my friends were in a panic and needed answers, they needed my skills more than ever before. Where is Tess? Where are the answers? Well, she’s gone. Twilight is here now and she hasn’t been able to answer a single damn question since she arrived.” I wave a hoof at Mac as I fight back tears. “And before you say ‘Oh that’s okay, none of us have been able to answer questions’--.”
Mac clears his throat. “But it’s different for you, because that’s all you had. That was your real purpose, and you no longer have it.” The stallion sighs. “So you’re worried about what your purpose is now, if you even have one.”
I smile and lean into the stallion beside me. “You have no idea how good it feels to hear someone else say the words on your mind.”
Mac remains silent for another moment before nodding slowly. “You should talk with your brother about this, you know he really cares about you.” Mac closes his eyes with realization. “Ah, wait, let me guess, before the change he was the little one, and you were the one who cared for him?
I chuckle. “We were twins, but yes, I generally was in charge of things.”
Mac finishes my thoughts. “So now, when you feel useless, going to him with your problems just makes your own feeling of ineptitude that much worse.”
I look up at the stoic stallion. “You know, the show never really portrayed you as being this collected and wise Big Mac.”
He raises his eyebrows and stares at me. “Well, I think we need to blame the pony responsible for writing that entire script.”
I bite my tongue. “Touché Big Mac, touché.”