12:15 p.m. (Rainbow Dash)
“It's hot as buck out here,” I said.
“Stop yer complaining,” Applejack responded, “You are always bragging of how yer stronger than any earth pony, even me.” Applejack hit me on the shoulder and smirked. She was having fun. I bet she was used to being outside in this scorching heat.
We had already gotten a bunch of cotton tunics, and straw hats for our journey into the desert. I thought they looked ridiculous, but Applejack insisted they could help us. We dropped them off at a storage area that Twilight “commandeered” for us. I'll admit, even though I was jealous of Twilight’s “princesslyness”, it sure comes in handy sometimes. We didn’t expect to need those goofy outfits, but better safe than sorry I guess.
We were walking down a less busy street, with only a few ponies on the cobblestone streets. We still needed some bottled water in case we were in the desert for a while longer than we would like.
“Know where we can find a place that sells water?” Applejack asked.
“How the hay would I know who sells water? There are literally waterfalls coming out of this place.”
“Ya ah know, but we need it bottled,” She reminded me, “Ah never like this snooty place, even if most of the ponies look normal enough.”
“They look normal, but I can tell they long to give bad food reviews” I joked. Applejack laughed and we exchanged a hoof bump.
“Yer funny when yer not arguing with Twi.”
“I know, but… tell me the truth here. Do you think i'm in the wrong, and that Twilight is right?” I asked. She kept walking with me, but she didn’t say anything.
“Fine, don’t decide now. We have work to do anyway.” I was disappointed, but not surprised by Applejack’s answer, or lack of one. She was smart, patient, and down to earth, but she can never commit to a side in anything.
“What is that?” Applejack asked.
“No, no, ah mean look” she put her hoof on my chin so I would look up. She pointed me towards a construction site. There was a hole in the mountain, along with wooden scaffolding around it.
“What do you think they're building?” I asked.
“Let's go find out, looks like they're diggin’ into the mountain fer something’,” She said. We walked across the cobblestone street over to the site. We walked up to the orange tape that read Hard Hat Required over and over again.
“Let's git inside,” Applejack said. She pointed to a bucket filled with yellow construction hats.
“Applejack, I never took you for an outlaw. I like it,” I said with a smirk.
“Ahm not breakin’ no laws, just gettin’ a closer look, it won't take long,” she said as she lifted the tape and grabbed a hat. I flew over the tape and grabbed a hat as well. We walked over to the hole in the mountain surrounded by scaffolding. There was a sign at the front of it all that read Funded in full by Gold Chip Casinos. Beneath the words was a picture of a golden poker chip flipping in the air.
“Ah've heard of these guys, they own the biggest casino enterprise in Equestria,” Applejack said as she walked up next to me.
“Casino enterprise? I barely see any Casinos at all, there isn’t one in Ponyville that’s for sure.” I'd never even seen a casino in Equestria. I'd barely believed they existed at all.
“Ponyville’s small time, they’re all over the rich neighborhoods in Canterlot and Manehatten and such” she explained.
“I guess that explains it. I make it a point to avoid those places.”
“Aint that the truth.” She remarked. She continued on to the tunnel, and she stopped when she saw a crimson Earth pony with a gray mane and tail walking towards us. He had a hammer over a piece of paper for a cutie mark. He wore the same yellow hard hat as all the workers.
“What in Celestia’s name are you doing here? Get up and start working on…” he stopped when he shifted his eyes from Applejack to me. “A Pegasus?”
“What’s so weird about that?” I asked, slightly offended.
“Uh, nothing, you aren’t supposed to be here. This place is for workers only, please leave,” he commanded.
“Sorry, we were just wondering, what’s going on here?” I asked.
“Gold Chip Casinos has funded a project for a new Railroad System through the mountain, as well as funding its own private construction team. Now if you are satisfied, I will ask you to leave, or else I’ll be forced to call the authorities,” he threatened.
“Alright, Alright, no need fer that, we was jus’ leaving anyways,” Applejack assured him. We walked away and threw our hats back in the bucket on the way out.
“I wonder where those train tracks will go.” I asked
“We’ll find out when they're finished, I reckon,” she said. I nodded and we kept walking along the cobblestone streets. The streets were quiet until we turned onto a different road. This road was obviously the market area. It was much more bustling than the quiet streets we came from, and there were gift shops and mobile stalls set up along the street. Applejack and I looked around, looking for a place that sold water. We both found the same thing at the same time as we both yelled, “There!”
The building we were looking at was called Sparkling Springs: Water Fresh from Canterlot Falls.
“Perfect, this couldn’t be more convenient!” I blurted.
“Ah know, let's go get us some water,” Applejack rallied. She started running towards the store and I flapped my wings and easily flew past her. I landed at the door and waited until Applejack caught up.
“No fair, if you had to use hooves, ah'd win fer sure,” she complained.
“I don’t think so, remember the Running of the Leaves?” I asked.
“You mean the one we tied for last on?” she said.
“Hehe, maybe that was a bad example.” We both chuckled a bit and opened the double doors into the shop. I was rushed with a wave of hot, moist air.
“Ugh, it’s worse than outside, not only is it hot, but its humid now too,” I complained.
“Is all ya do is complain? Come on, we shouldn’t be too long if ya git a movin’,” she reassured me. The shop had an aquarium in the middle of it, with all sorts of fish contained within. The shop only had one room, with four walls. There were shelves of bottled water all over the walls. There were categories for sparkling water, mineral water, flavored water, even chocolate water. Who would ever drink that? The desk where I assumed you bought everything was in the back, with one lone cashier. Applejack walked to the back and started talking to the mare.
“Do ya have any big jugs o’ water, plain water, not whatever chocolate water is?” she asked.
“Yes, of course we do, how many do you think you'd need,” the mare asked. Her voice was sweet, young sounding. She was eager to sell us what we wanted. I wondered if this might have been her first job. She was an earth pony with a bright lavender coat, with an even brighter, almost blinding purple mane and tail. Her cutie mark was a bouquet of flowers.
“Give us six to start, then ah’ll decide fer sure when I see how big they are,” Applejack said.
“Right away ma’am, please wait here,” The mare said as she went into the back room.
“Ma’am? Ah’m not that much older than she is.” Applejack complained to me with a cheek turned up in dissatisfaction.
“Be careful Applejack, I think I’m seeing some gray hairs.” I joked.
“Oh, ha ha, yer such a card,” Applejack said while rolling her eyes. The mare returned with three jugs of water on her back, each one fairly thick around and about two feet tall.
“Will these do ma’am?”
“Yes, but stop callin’ me ma’am now, yer not that young.”
“Oh I'm sorry, I messed up, sorry, sorry. I'll go get the other three,” she said, scurrying back to the back room.
“What a people person you are Applejack,” I chuckled. Applejack scrunched up her face trying to look for a comeback.
“Like yer any better,” she said. The mare returned with three more water jugs.
“Here you are, ma… i'm sorry, here you are.” She placed down the jugs on the counter, with six in total now. “Its six bits per jug, so thirty-six bits all together.” she said.
"Ah know how t' count," Applejack reached for her side, but stopped early.
“Celestia damn it, I forgot mah saddlebags.” Applejack cursed.
“Buck! Good job Applejack, now what are we going to do?” I was lost, I didn’t want to walk out of the shop like an idiot.
“Well, I am sorry, but... I can't give you them for free,” the cashier said.
“Ah know that. Rainbow, yer gonna have to fly as fast as you can back to storage. Ah think I left it there,” Applejack suggested.
“Okay, good thing I’m the fastest flyer in Equestria,” I bragged.
“Ya, well stop sayin’ and start showing,” she mocked. With that, I ran out the building and took off into the skies. It was exhilarating to feel the wind on my face once again. I made a few barrel rolls and loops in the air before locking onto the storage area. I dived as fast as a pegasus could, and landed a little harder than I would have liked and it felt like I sprained an ankle.
“Celestia no, don’t let it be hurt over something stupid like this.” I waited a bit, just holding my leg, and after a while the pain started to subside. I sighed in relief and walked up to the storage garage. I put in the combination, it was a series of symbols. These Canterlot locks were too fancy to just use numbers. It opened up and I looked inside. I saw the cotton tunics with the hats, along with the saddlebag. I looked inside and there were about a hundred bits inside. I closed it back up, closed the storage locker, and began to fly.
I was flying at break neck speeds back to the shop, how awkward it must be for Applejack to wait there. I almost made it, until I saw a familiar purple pony running towards the castle. I didn’t particularly want to talk with her, but I was curious. I flew down and hovered just above her as she was running.
“Hey Twilight! I thought you were supposed to be meeting with the other princesses!” I yelled down. She put on the brakes and looked up.
“Rainbow Dash? What are you doing here?” Twilight asked.
“I asked first!”
“I found something extraordinary, meet me at the library in ten minutes!”
“You’re going to have to make it twenty, me and Applejack are doing something right now!”
“Okay, but be in the library in twenty flat, it is imperative to the mission!” she yelled. I nodded and she looked back ahead and started running. I gained altitude again and raced to the shop where Applejack likely still resided. I opened the front doors and was again rushed with hot, moist air. I started making my way back to the desk where I walked into a conversation between Applejack and the mare behind the counter.
“Oh no, I could never, I make money here. How else will I make a living?”
“But ya don’t enjoy it, swindling other pony’s outta their money. Ya have that there cutie mark fer a reason, do whatch ya love. Ah can help start ya off.”
“Applejack, call me Applejack”
“Thanks Applejack, this really meant a lot to me.”
“Hey, Jacks, I got the money.” I interrupted as I threw her saddlebag at her. She caught it with her teeth and wrapped it around her back and stomach all in one swift motion. After she latched it in place, she opened it up and took out a pile of bits.
“Here you are,” Applejack said with a smile as she took put the money on the counter and took three of the jugs, balanced on her back.
“Well, let's go, get those jugs on yer back, and let's git a rolling,” she said. I did so and she waved the mare goodbye. The mare did the same, and smiled with a glistening in her eyes. We made it out of the store, and the air returned to a hot, but dry state.
“So what was that all about?” I asked Applejack as we walked to the storage area.
“About what, Sweet Rose? She’s a sweet girl, she wanted to start a flower shop, but she never had the money” Applejack explained.
“So what makes you think she would do any better after an inspirational talk?”
“I gave her some starting money.”
“What do you mean? There were quite a few bits in the saddlebag, but those jugs cost a lot of that.”
“Ya gotta start being more observant Rainbow. Water aint six bits, that’s how much mah cider costs. She was swindling us, water from those jugs could only be two bits, and maybe some shillings. Ah confronted her ‘bout it, and she came clean. So I talked to her about it and decided to help her out, by giving her all of the bits left in my saddlebag.”
“Oh, what a giving tree you are. Rarity would be proud.” I mocked. I was only slightly annoyed that Applejack just gave away all that money, but it was technically Applejack’s in the first place, so I let it slide.
“You wanted t’ know. Anyway why’d ya take so long? Ah thought you were the ‘fastest flyer in Equestria?”
“Oh ya, I talked with Twilight—”
“You talked with Twi!”
“Ya, but she was in a hurry. She said to meet her in the castle library in twenty minutes.”
“Twenty minutes! Well let's get a going, we’ll be late!” Applejack started sprinting and I sped up after her.