• Published 20th Aug 2013
  • 5,813 Views, 581 Comments

A Hairier Problem: Rise of the Furball - BlueBastard

Applejack is back to normal and one of the greatest threats in Equestria's history has finally been laid to rest. But if that's the case, then what's going on with Apple Bloom?

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Ch.1: Anniversaire du Soleil

Rise of the Furball Chapter 1: "Anniversaire du Soleil"

In the land of Equestria, there are many holidays, but none as important or as widely followed as the Anniversaire du Soleil. The birthday of the sun, nopony would dare fail to not celebrate the day Princess Celestia was issued forth into the world. While Celestia herself wasn’t too fond of the extra level of attention, her secret obsession for cake was indulged as bakers from all over Equestria sent their finest cakes to her, among everything else sent as a birthday present.

But this year would be a little different. In addition to the usual fanfare and secret cake gorging, entertainers from all over the country had banded together to put on a special, one-time event to be held in Canterlot for the beloved princess and family. Virtually overnight on the eve of the Anniversaire du Soleil, a carnival sprung up at the Canterlot Fairgrounds, a gigantic yellow-and-blue tent forming the centerpiece of the tarp-topped town. While the surrounding stalls functioned like a conventional marketplace, the actual show inside the biggest tent was the main draw. Word having been spread months before of the one-in-a-lifetime event, tickets had been sold out for weeks and the only way to get a seat was to try and beg a friend to give up their ticket.

Or, conversely, to have Princess Celestia herself invite the ponies closest to her and their families as guests in her private VIP box.

“Oh, this is going to so fun!” exclaimed Pinkie Pie, bouncing up and down with excitement.

“I, for one, can’t believe all this was able to be put up overnight!” said Rarity, “I mean, to erect what amounts to a large city overnight and to put on an all A-list performance without a single rehearsal? I know these ponies must be confident in their abilities, but even then a no-rehearsal show in front of the princesses!”

“I’m sure they’ve rehearsed all this almost non-stop” replied Twilight Sparkle, “just because it’s all so sudden here doesn’t mean it’s just a spur of the moment thing. Tickets for this event went on sale months ago - they must have been practicing at some location miles away from here. Maybe even in the desert area near Appleoosa?”

Rarity just rolled her eyes. “Yes, that’s the logical answer, darling, but that also takes away from the fantastical nature of all this.”

Currently, the six friends from Ponyville, plus Spike, were making their way through the fantastic carnival, seeing the sights and getting all kinds of swag. At various other places in the carnival, the families of the Mane Six were also having their own adventures. They all would meet at the entrance to the great tent around showtime, where they would join the Princesses to watch the great show. Twilight was nervous, as she usually was around her mentor, but this time she had the extra problem of wings, which even months after getting used to were still prone to open up randomly. They did so now, accidentally hitting Applejack in the face.

“Ah! Sorry, Applejack, didn’t mean to do that,” apologized Equestria’s fourth princess as she folded her wings back.
“It’s alright, Twi,” replied the orange mare, “Not everypony has to deal with managin’ somethin’ like becomin’ an Alicorn. Although from what you told us about that weird place on the other side of that mirror, gainin’ wings probably is easier than bein’ put into a completely separate body.”

“You can say that again!” grumbled Spike, walking alongside the other ponies. “I got turned into a dog. A dog! Having to pretend I couldn’t talk, ride on Twilight’s back in some kind of pouch, and generally being treated like some kind of freak when I did anything while standing on two legs…you have no idea what that was like!”

Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I think Applejack probably has the best idea out of all of us in terms of what it’s like to turn into a dog….” she snickered.

Applejack shot an evil look at her blue-hued counterpart. “Have Ah mentioned that you still look delicious enough to eat, Dash?” said the farmer, licking her lips hungrily. Rainbow in response seemed to have all her colors turn several shades lighter as she froze in place. Everypony else laughed, much to RD’s embarrassment.

“Not cool, Applejack,” chided Rainbow, trying to salvage her damaged pride. She was then brought into a side embrace by a laughing Applejack.

“Aw, come on Rainbow, it’s been almost a year since then, if there was any chance Ah was still a werewolf don’t ya think you or any of us would’ve noticed by now?”

“Yeah, I would have noticed before anypony else!” said Pinkie, popping out of a bucket full of little dolls made to resemble ponies in jester outfits. “I would have noticed your breath would have smelled really, really bad, like all you eat was meat and stuff!”

“Ugh, don’t remind me!” complained Princess Sparkle, looking slightly green in the face. “I still can’t believe I liked meat so much on the other side of the mirror! Seriously, how did you cope with such a thing during your, er, ‘rough patch’, so to speak, Applejack?”

“Ah really don’t know, to be honest. Probably was just the whole lycanthropy thing messin’ with mah taste buds. The worst part was how Ah could still taste the last meatburger Ah ate about two weeks after bein’ cured. It sickened me that Ah’d eaten so much dead animal and it was stuck inside mah mouth!”

“No kidding” agreed Twilight.

“Oh, er...we better be careful, I think it’s getting close to showtime. So...um, we should make our way to the big tent...if that’s okay with all of you, I mean.” said Fluttershy.

With the revelation that they might be late for the start of the show, the six ponies and one dragon took off to find the nearest entrance. It would never do to be a part of Princess Twilight’s peerage and be tardy to this event.

Within the tent was an area which could encompass a small stadium. Hundreds of ponies had already found their way inside to their seats while many more were still waiting to get their tickets punched. The upper classes complained about the lack of VIP options that would speed the process up, having to wait in line among less wealthy ‘commoner’ ponies, but the truth was that the expected audience was so great that the only VIP section that could be made was for the birthday mare herself.

“Oh, I do hope everypony will get a good view of the show!” said a worried Celestia, ever the benevolent figure to her subjects.

“Celly, I’m sure everypony can get a good view from their seat, the tickets were expensive enough to justify that much,” replied Luna, who was apparently more concerned about the security force stationed at key traffic locations than with the clowns moving among and mingling with the seated audience.

The rest of the Mane Six and their families were also comfortably seated in the Royal VIP box. Unlike how they would sit together during such events, this time they sat apart with their own respective families. The CMC, in contrast, were crowding together at the edge of the box with wide eyes, waiting for the show to start.

“Oh, yes, she’s just like Rainbow when she was young!” said Firefly to Flower Shower. While Scootaloo wasn’t directly related to one of the Mane Six, compared to her CMC counterparts being the direct younger siblings of Applejack and Rarity, Rainbow Dash had taken Scoots under her wing as a kind of sister figure and as such Celestia had insisted the parents of the orange filly come along with Rainbow’s own parents to the great performance.

“Well, that’s good to hear,” Flower replied. “Slipstream and I used to worry that, because of our general absence in her life, we couldn’t guide her as much as proper parents should and so she’d end up with the wrong kind of ponies. It was a relief to learn about her making friends and forming that little club of theirs, but even more so when Rainbow offered to be a surrogate big sister figure to Scoot. Especially since there is the other problem of my little filly still struggling to fly….”

“Hey, she’s just a late bloomer, that’s all. Even though I’m to blame for my daughter’s speed addiction with my legacy as the fastest flyer to ever come out of Cloudsdale, I was probably two years older than Scootaloo when I finally managed to lift off under my own power, so I know what she must be going through.”

“No, it’s not that,” murmured Flower, looking away as if ashamed about what she was going to say next. Leaning in to whisper into Firefly’s ear, Flower intoned, “The real reason why my poor daughter can’t do anything more than hover is-“

The blaring of trumpets and the dimming of lights signaled to the now-fully-packed audience that the show was going to begin. Flower made a we’ll-talk-later face and turned to face the stage right as a heavily clothed stallion took the stage, his defining features hidden under a large top hat and large red coat. It quickly became clear that he was the ringmaster of the Cirque du Salle, the main sponsor and organizer of the event, as he began to speak.

“Mares and Stallions, Fillies and Colts, to all ponies of all ages, I welcome you all to tonight’s special exhibition of the finest performers Equestria has to offer, all in celebration of Princess Celestia’s birthday!”

On que, a spotlight swing over to illuminate the Royal VIP box to show a deeply blushing Celestia, with the entire audience erupted into cheers and claps for their regis. The ringmaster waited for the noise to die down before continuing.

“Now, without further ado, let’s get this show on the road!”

From the get-go, the show was a spectacular marvel of what ponies could do. There were entertainers from every kind of performance giving their all to please the princess. The rodeo like spectacle, starring the great Calamity Mane and Wild Bull Hikock. The Flying Graymares, the best earth pony trapeze artists, flew through the air as if they had been born as Pegasus ponies and left the audience awestruck. The afternoon began to blend into the night (with Luna having to temporarily leave to raise the moon, secretly admitting later that she was glad to do so during the period when the comedian Wordplay said some unintentionally insulting things about how much he disliked the night), with the crowd barely being able to get a break between cheering for the pony performers, Celestia included.

However, when the last act ended and the stage cleared, there was no indication the show was over. Or, at least until the ringleader shambled onto the stage. He appeared to have great difficulty moving in his clothes all of a sudden, stumbling about in a comedic way that some ponies couldn’t help but laugh at. Everypony else was confused. What was going on? Was the ringleader suddenly drunk? Why was he acting like such a fool in front of the princess of all ponies?

However, as soon as the ringleader finally managed to get to the center of the stage and was about to say something, another pony dressed in the exact same clothes ran into the open.

Hey! What do you think you are doing, impostor?!”

The crowd was shocked at this revelation. An impostor of the ringleader of the Cirque du Salle? Why in Equestria would anypony try to do that and manage to do it so horribly that they hadn’t even incapacitated the real ringleader? Those were the questions going through Luna’s head as she started to motion for security to handle the matter, but Celestia stopped her.

“It’s okay, Lu-Lu,” Celestia assured her sister in a hushed whisper, as to not alarm anypony else.

“What are you talking about?!” responded Luna angrily, in the same whisper volume. “He could be an assassin for all we know! A very, very bad one, admittedly, but one all the same!”

“Unless he’s here to kill us with laughter, I highly doubt that is the case.”

“l ask again, sister; what are you talking about!?”

“Look, do those two look like they actually aren’t doing something staged? It’s clearly all an act, my dear sister.” Celestia motioned to the stage, where the ringleader was arguing with his duplicate. Except the duplicate was not responding loud enough for anypony except presumably the ringleader himself to hear. Luna watched the actions closely, and had to admit both ponies were moving in a practiced manner. Extremely convincing that this wasn’t rehearsed, but to somepony trained to detect such movement to avoid actual would-be assassins, Luna knew better.

“Furthermore,” the sun princess added, “just look at Pinkie for your answer.” Following Celestia’s suggestion, Luna turned to see the pink pony. While every other pony in the VIP box had expressions mixed with shock and amusement, Pinkie’s face was downright serious, at least as serious as Pinkie got. With half-lidded eyes and a knowing grin, Luna immediately realized that whatever was going on down on the stage, Pinkie was watching intently as if waiting for something. That “something” soon occurred as the argument in front of thousands reached it’s climax.

“Okay, so you sold the turkey to the dressmaker, we’re finally clear on that mark, but for the last time I must ask you why the hay are you trying to pretend you’re me?!”

The pony seemed to whisper something to the ringleader.

“You want to ask them a question?”

The pony nodded.

“Well, what is it then? Out with it!”

Slowly, the mysterious stallion turned to face the VIP box, all eyes on him. Then, with a motion so fast that some Pegasus ponies would be jealous, he moved one hoof and appeared to rip off his clothes. But it was his ‘question’ that got everypony’s attention.

“Wa-hey hey! Who’s ready to laugh?”

The crowd erupted into a wild cheer, every single member of the audience reinvigorated from the drain of sitting through such a long performance. Gone was the mysterious fake ringleader from earlier, in his place stood a true legend of comedy. Ponyacci, the greatest clown in Equestrian history, stood before the masses. What truly made his presence special was that every single performer except him had been listed in the promotional material for this event, along with little expectation for him to have been on the ticket in the first place due to his semi-retirement some time ago due to health complications. But for him to make a surprise appearance as what had to be the last act, meant that all the stops were being pulled out and this event would truly end with a bang.

“Pinkie, I thought Ponyacci had stopped performing and had-“ started Twilight, who turned to discover her own local comedian had vanished.

“Where did she go?” asked Rarity, finally removing her fancy viewfinder to look at Twilight. The rest of the VIP box was of the same questioning opinion. While Pinkie’s tendency to randomly disappear and break conventional laws of nature at will was nothing new, it was a worry now since Ponyacci was revered by Pinkie as the avatar of comedy itself, and whatever she might do in his presence could be a national embarrassment.

“Wait, is that her?” asked Sweetie Belle, motioning to the stage. Indeed, now next to Ponyacci was a similarly dressed up mare, her true birth colors disguised by heavy makeup. But her big blue eyes and bushy mane were telltale signs of her involvement.

As it would turn out, Pinkie Pie - or as she was introduced to the crowd, “Scaramouche” - was Ponyacci’s assistant to help him with his own set of acts. Her biggest role, though, was being tied to a vertical wheel that spun clockwise. The crowd was stunned that for this next act, Ponyacci would not only be throwing knives at the spinning wheel, but be throwing them at his assistant blindfolded while doing acrobatic tricks.

The next few minutes would see the audience rapidly change from gasps to applause back to gasps as Ponyacci juggled knives while balancing on a giant bouncy ball, occasionally throwing a knife and barely missing Pinkie. For her part, Pinkie was simply smiling with confidence as what had to be razor sharp knives flew by, embedding themselves into the spinning board mere centimeters from her body. Then, while doing a one-legged hoofstand on the ball, Ponyacci threw one last knife with his tail, hitting the board right above Pinkie’s head to the point it disappeared in her mane. In response, the crowd roared with delight.

That wasn’t the end of Ponyacci’s performance, but while the rest of the crowd was enraptured by an amazing display of slight-of-hand hat tricks combined with multiple party cannons, the attention of three specific fillies was turned inward. To them, Ponyacci and Pinkie had already given them the next sure-fire idea for their cutie marks.

One Week Later…


Upon hearing her name, the farm pony went in from the fields to the homestead where Granny Smith waited with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, Granny?”

“Ah know you might still be havin’ some, er, ‘issues’ what with that whole werewolf thing from a few months back, but Ah don’t remember you sayin’ you ever had a problem with silver or anythin’ made from it.”

“What are you talkin’ about, Granny?”

“Don’t you know? Ah thought you’d have some bad thing happen involvin’ silver durin that period of yours, after all isn’t silver supposed to be bad for werewolves?”

“Ah don’t see what that has to do with me, Granny.”

“Mah knives, mah silver kitchen knives! They’re missin!”

Applejack was surprised. “What, you think Ah took ‘em?”

“Well, now that Ah think about it, you probably weren’t the one who took ‘em since it was all of mah good cuttin’ knives that went missin’, not just the silver ones.”

“Granny…” flatly began Applejack, “why would Ah want to steal, or hide, your kitchen knives. Ah’ve never had a need for ‘em outside of cookin’, an’ Ah never take ‘em out of the kitchen.”

“You gotta point there, youngn’,” replied Granny, stroking her chin. “But if you didn’t take ‘em, and Ah know Big Mac wouldn’t touch ‘em, then who…?”

Applejack didn’t need an answer before she immediately ran off to the CMC’s clubhouse. She’d seen them bring in some lumber supplies left over from the remodeling of Carousel Boutique (the damage from the Cerberus attack had almost completely destroyed Rarity’s house), with a poorly drawn circle outline drawn on one big, flat piece of plywood. Apple Bloom was the only unaccounted Apple Family member who would even know where the knives had been, and a bunch of knives plus a generous amount of wood could only mean one thing. One very, very bad thing.

“Are you sure about this?” squeaked Sweetie Belle, who was slowly spinning like a sideways Frisbee.

“Come on, Sweetie Belle, it won’t be that bad!” answered Scoots, who was slowly walking on a treadmill.

“Yeah, Ah’m sure if we try knife throwin’ we’ll get our cutie marks for sure!” replied Apple Bloom, whose signature mane bow had been converted into a blindfold of sorts.

Right in front of the CMC clubhouse, the trio had constructed an extremely crude copy of the spinning wheel they’d seen Pinkie strapped to back at Ponyacci’s surprise act. Sweetie Belle, having taken the place of Pinkie, was firmly secured into the not-quite-round backing of the wheel. Scootaloo was powering the wheel on a treadmill (“borrowed” from the Apple’s cider making machine), although she needed an anchor point simply so she could push with her hind legs. Finally, Apple Bloom would be playing the role of Ponyacci, the “borrowed” knives all together in one giant box next to her.

“No, what I’m talking about is how we’re not doing this exactly like Ponyacci!” pointed out Sweetie Belle, “I mean, wasn’t he blindfolded while doing acrobatic tricks on a bouncy ball?”

“We need to build up to that with practice. That’s why Ah’m only gonna start out blindfolded, if all goes well we should be able to bring the ball in tomorrow when we’re ready.”

“Oh. Okay!” chirped the tiny unicorn.

Apple Bloom motioned for Scootaloo to give it her all, and she did. With all of her might, the Pegasus managed to make the wheel spin slightly faster (and wobblier), which did not improve Sweetie’s sudden feeling of nausea.

“Alright, here we go!” announced Apple Bloom, lowering the blindfold over her eyes and feeling around for a knife handle. She found one, proceeding to rear up in preparation of throwing the knife. However, just as she was starting the throw.…

“GIRLS! WHAT IN TARNATION ARE YOU DOING?!” screamed Applejack, barreling at top speed towards the CMC. The sudden billowing from her older sister startled the yellow filly, causing her to fumble the toss and let go far too early. The result was the knife did not fly towards the restrained Sweetie, but merely spun in the air before coming back down, not even going forward a few inches. However, as it came down, it’s razor edge came into contact with Apple Bloom and cut deep, leaving a nasty, bloody gash before it hit the ground.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” screamed the unfortunate filly, falling to her side as she clutched at the wound. She was soon surrounded by two orange ponies, the older earth and the younger Pegasus.

“Scootaloo, go get the first aid kit from the barn!” ordered Applejack, immediately tending to her younger sister’s wounds.
“Bu-but I don’t know where it would be in the barn!” a scared Scootaloo answered back.

“Half-way inside, just below the hook where Ah keep mah ropes!”

With that, the Pegasus retrieved her scooter and zoomed away. Applejack looked away from the wounded Apple just to make sure Scoots was doing what she was told, before resuming to wound tending. She wanted to yell at her sister for being this dumb, for even thinking trying something this dangerous would be easy and her cutie mark. She wanted to yell at all three of the CMC for that, but scaring them would not mend this gash.

“It’s gonna be okay, Bloomie, it’s going to be okay!” soothed Applejack, elevating the bleeding foreleg as to cut the blood flow. Apple Bloom, still blindfolded, could only nod in response, her tears clearly an indicator of the pain. It was a very bad injury, possibly requiring stitches at Ponyville General, but until a bandage of some sort was applied Applejack knew the filly could not be safely moved.

Thankfully, Scootaloo quickly returned with the first aid kit. Rapidly, AJ took the kit and pulled out wrapped bandages and scissors. The leading end of the bandages looked gnarled and nasty, it would need to be cut off. Yet, in her hurry to patch up Apple Bloom, Applejack fumbled with the scissors and managed to cut herself in the process.

“Ow!” whimpered Applejack, waving her injured limb back and forth. Unlike Apple Bloom’s gash, the minor cut on Applejack’s own foreleg was extremely minor. That being said, it did bleed a little bit, and when the straw-maned apple farmer was shaking her lower foreleg, a single, tiny drop of her blood bled from the cut and was sent flying due to the motion of the foreleg. As fate would have it, that blood droplet would fall right into the bloodiest part of Apple Bloom’s injury, where it went deep enough to be drawn into the filly’s blood stream and all the way to the heart, to be pumped elsewhere.
Nopony present noticed the blood drop exchange, it was too small and too fast an occurrence to notice. Applejack was too concerned with the bandages, and Scootaloo was too nervous about not being able to do anything to ease her friend’s pain other than taking Apple Bloom’s good foreleg hoof and soothing her. Applejack soon had the nasty bandage end cut off and the good bandage wrapped around the gash.

“Alright, we need to get her back to the house,” stated Applejack, trying to figure out how to do just that.

“Maybe we can put her into the wagon and I’ll haul her up with my scooter!” suggested Scootaloo. With little else to work with, Applejack had to agree and so Apple Bloom’s stretcher-on-wheels was hauled via Scooter-loo back to the house. Applejack was about to follow before Sweetie Belle finally spoke up.

“Um, Applejack, mind letting me down from here?” As it turned out, she’d ended up upside down on the wheel. “I’m feeling dizzy all of a sudden….”

AJ wasted no time in getting Sweetie Belle down, then bucking the entire contraption in order to break it just to ensure the CMC didn’t try that again. Taking the box of knives (with the bloody knife wrapped in bandages so it wouldn’t contaminate the other knives) with her so they wouldn’t be randomly lying around, the farmer and the unicorn took off to follow Scootaloo and her wounded passenger.

Author's Note:

In the immortal words of Heath Ledger's Joker;

"And here...we...go."