• Published 20th Aug 2013
  • 5,815 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.2: Over the Line

Rise of the Furball Chapter 2 : "Over the Line"

“They were trying to WHAT?!” shouted the confused doctor.

“Uh-huh. Ah bet they got the idea from that big ‘ol performance that Princess Celestia invited us all to some weeks ago,” Applejack replied, her facial state emoting a combination of irritation and concern.

It had been chaotic when Big Mac saw Scootaloo pulling the wounded Apple Bloom with her scooter. Acting with agility that his large body implied didn’t exist, the stallion almost trampled Scootaloo as he immediately transferred his youngest sister into a larger hay cart. He was already off towards Ponyville General by the time Applejack and Sweetie caught up, and when those two plus Granny and Scootaloo reached the hospital they found the filly had been taken into the E.R. while Big Mac could do nothing but sit in the lobby and wait. For what seemed like forever, they all had waited in the lobby until a doctor finally came out and asked to see Applejack. He wanted to know what had happened, so Applejack explained what she saw and that she figured they were trying to replicate that knife throwing act from Ponyacci’s surprise finale.

“Please tell me this isn’t a regular occurrence with her.”

Applejack just rolled her eyes. “To be honest, it’s what she and her friends do all the time as they keep tryin' to force their cutie marks to appear. However, somehow they’ve always managed to escape serious bodily harm…at least, until today.” The farmer then went into full-concern mode and asked “Doc, we gotta know; how bad is it?”

Oddly, he chuckled. “You all can relax, I’m sure the amount of blood that was coming out must have given quite a scare, but it’s surprisingly not as deep as the incision would indicate.” He paused to let Apple Bloom’s friends and family take a big sigh of relief, then continued. “She’ll need some stitches, of course, but they’ll be sewn with a new organic thread that will simply dissolve off once the incision is fully healed. Judging from the state of the wound, I’d say it will heal up in a week’s time, and although there will be a scar her fur should grow back and cover it right up.”

“Well, that’s good to hear,” said a thankful Applejack, even though she was suddenly having flashbacks to the one night when Sable Loam had driven his fangs deep into her neck. She shuddered at the recalled memory.

“Are you alright, miss?” inquired the doctor.

“Wha? Oh, yeah, Ah’m fine. But what about Apple Bloom? How is she takin’ all this?”

The doctor’s tone became slightly more serious. “Unfortunately, Miss. Bloom was not as open to the idea of stitches and became rather uncooperative, so we had to get some anesthesia and put her to sleep. It was a small amount, so she’ll be back up and moving around in no time.”

At that point, two nurses wheeled out a groggy Apple Bloom in a wheelchair. Her wounded foreleg looked pretty bad, with a good little margin around the cut having had the fur cut away to make the stitching easier, but in return leaving a giant pink, fleshy rectangle visible to the world that had a red line drawn down the middle and criss-crossed by black lines.

“Hey…everypony….” said Apple Bloom, almost drunkenly. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle instantly jumped up and nearly tackled the poor filly had they not suddenly been stopped by the doctor’s telekinesis.

“There is something I do need to mention, however. Even though the wound may heal up in a week’s time, I would highly recommend that she refrain from putting pressure on it for a week after the cut disappears, in order to ensure it heals properly.”

“Wait, are you sayin’ Ah can’t walk on mah own four legs no more for some time?” a now-suddenly-awake Apple Bloom asked. “How am Ah supposed to get around the farm, or get to school, if Ah can’t even walk on mah legs?”

“Well, there is one way to circumvent that,” the doctor said soberly, though for a second, Applejack thought she caught a flash of whimsy in the healer’s eyes.

Clop clop clop CLACK!

Clop clop clop CLACK!

“What on earth is that annoying noise?!” whined Diamond Tiara. “How am I supposed to enjoy this milkshake with that racket?!”

“You wanna check it out?” replied Silver Spoon.

Sigh.... Might as well….”

Temporarily leaving their milkshakes on the table, Tiara and Spoon walked over to the side of the malt shop to investigate.
What they saw made the pink pony grin evilly.

Walking on the other side was the Apple Family and the CMC, the latter of whom DT still held extreme animosity for as their formation had ruined her cuticerena. But it was Apple Bloom that drew the filly’s eye. For whatever reason, one of her forelegs was bandaged up and rigged into some kind of apparatus with several plastic pegs sticking out of the bottom. The clacking noise was this device hitting the ground.

“What do you think happened to her?” asked Silver Spoon, trying to hide the fact she was actually concerned about the answer for she knew DT wouldn’t care if she couldn’t take advantage of it somehow.

“Who cares? I know how we can still humiliate her with it tomorrow,” replied Tiara, on the verge of cackling.

Wordlessly, the two fillies turned to finish their shakes, Diamond already coming up with plans to ruin Apple Bloom’s life.
Meanwhile, the oblivious group just kept on walking. It was starting to get late, so the Apples would escort Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle home before returning to the farm for supper. At least until they passed Sugarcube Corner, upon which a pink form burst out of the top window and crashed into the ground.

“Ohmigosh, what happened?!” inquired a concerned Pinkie, standing as if she hadn't just fallen two stories into a rock road in such a way that any other pony would have broken several bones upon impact.

“Well, you’re partially to blame, actually, Pinkie….” said Applejack.

“WHAT?!” shouted Pinkie, “How could you even think I would have anything to do that would cause physical harm to another pony? I mean, sure there was the one time when I was babysitting the Cake twins and they were driving me so crazy I wanted to shove them in the oven and make baby cupcakes but I-“

“Pinkie! You didn’t actually do anything, at least not directly. What these three were tryin’ to do was replicate that knife-throwin’ trick you and Ponyacci did back at the circus.”

“Wait, Sweetie can use magic?”

Sweetie was confused. “Uh, no, I can’t. At least, not yet I can’t. How does that have anything to do with what Ponyacci did, though? I saw him, we all saw him, throw those knives perfectly right at you!”

Pinkie remained silent as she just looked down at Sweetie as if she’d just said something crazy, like “Set phasers to hug” or somesuch. Then Pinkie realized why everypony was so confused.

“Oh, sorry! You guys wouldn’t have known, but the whole knife trick thing was an illusion. Those weren’t real knives Ponyacci was throwing, they were actually magical constructs meant to look like real knives. I think Trixie made them, if I recall correctly.”

That surprised Applejack even more. “What? Trixie Lulamoon was there? Ah would have thought somepony with her ego would have demanded a performance, but she wasn’t even on the ticket!”

“That’s because she wasn’t performing. She was the performance coordinator! Sure, she can put on a decent magic act, but that’s namely because her magic isn’t as good as Twilight’s. What she does know is how to plan out performances. Twilight herself said she recommended Trixie for the position.”

“Really? After Trixie had come to town and nearly destroyed it?”

“Yeah, how she and Twilight became friends after that episode, I don’t know, but that’s besides the point. What is the point is that the knives weren’t real nor sharp. Trixie had also enchanted them such that when Ponyacci threw them, it didn’t matter where they actually would hit, they would slightly slow down in flight such that they appeared to be expertly thrown to miss me by super-duper-tiny amounts.”

“So what you’re sayin’ is that the whole knife throwin’ thing was faked?”

“Yep! All Ponyacci did was throw the knives my way, the blindfold even had little slits in them such that he could still see through it. He’s talented, but he’d never done knife throwing before. I mean, really; actually trying to do the act legitimately? With zero experience? You’d have to be a few cookies short of a baker’s dozen to think that was a good idea!”
She was oblivious to the nervous looks exchanged between the fillies. The Apples, however, weren’t.

“Well, Ah guess some ponies will know better next time, eh?” rhetorically asked Granny, glancing down at the three blushing crusaders. “Anyway, we better get these youngins home, it’s gettin’ late.”

“Alrighty!” chirped Pinkie, bidding her friends farewell before turning and heading back into the confectionary. Just in time, too.

AAAAAAH! Pumpkin! Pound! Get out of the oven this instant!”

It was promising to be a good day as the school bell rang. Cheerilee was busy at her desk, doing some final organization of her lesson plan. Despite the one-room nature of the school (two counting the basement), Cheerilee only taught the morning classes. Another teacher, Autumn Crisp, handled the upper level classes for the teenage ponies in the evening.

The mulberry-hued teacher sighed. While she loved being a teacher and the pay was actually higher than the national average, the catch was a lack of vacation days as she and Crisp were the only ponies with the credentials for teaching kids in town. And although she knew many of her students meant well, the constant headaches of the job were a thing she would be only too happy to take a break from.

“Good morning, Mrs. Cheerilee!” spoke a voice Cheerilee knew only too well. For whatever reason, Diamond Tiara and her PFF Silver Spoon were at school far earlier than usual. And far happier about it, too, although it was obvious Spoon’s wide grin was a little forced.

“Oh! Um…good morning, girls!” said Cheerilee, putting on a smile of her own even if that wasn’t what she felt like doing. “You’re here awfully early, aren’t you?”

“Well, we were so eager to come and learn today that we just couldn’t stay away! Especially when it’s our favorite teacher in class!”

More like the only teacher you’ve ever had, thought Cheerilee.

Thankfully, more students started to arrive and prompted DT and SS to break off the awkward conversation. Although she knew there had to be a reason for the two wealthiest kids in class wanting to be the first students in the classroom, Cheerilee couldn’t work out what the two were after. All she could do was shrug and go back to work, this time writing out the morning message on the chalkboard for all to read. Her attention was momentarily called elsewhere when she began to hear an unusual noise among the hoofsteps of incoming students. She looked over to find Apple Bloom walking in with some kind of support device on one of her forelegs.

“Oh! Apple Bloom, what happened?” inquired Cheerilee. While she, along with the majority of the town, had gotten used to the rather disproportionate results of the CMC’s antics, she couldn’t recall them having done anything that actually got them critically injured.

“Ah…accidently got cut with one of Granny’s knives.” Replied Apple Bloom, flatly. She immediately noted the stifled giggle from Public Enemy No.1; one Diamond Tiara, but didn’t feel like immediately starting trouble. The fact she was only going to be able to use one hoof today was bad enough.

“I…see. Well, I won’t ask you to go into details, but do you think you’ll be alright with that apparatus on?”

“Ah’ll be fine.” And with that, Apple Bloom moved to take her seat.

Outside of the uncomfortable beginning, the class went through without a hitch. Well, it did right up until the end when the students were packing up to go home. That was when it all went downhill. Apple Bloom was packing up her saddlebag, which wasn’t easy with only one hoof, and required help from Sweetie and Scootaloo.

“Wow, I didn’t think an injured foreleg could make even a workpony less than useless!” called out Diamond Tiara, a malicious grin on her face.

Apple Bloom just sighed. “Tiara, can you please not start this today? Ah really don’t want to-“

“Aww, what’s the matter, that busted leg take out all of your confidence?”

Scoots was next. “Wow, so now you’re picking on ponies who are injured? That’s a new low for you, especially considering how low you already were.”

The evil grin got wider. “Not as low as a flightless Pegasus such as you!”

Sweetie tried to defuse the situation. “Just ignore her girls, she’s just looking for-“

“Y’know, I wonder why you three don’t just call yourselves the ‘Cutie Mark Failures’, since you’re the only lame-os in the school who don’t have their cutie marks. In fact, I’m betting that injured foreleg was the direct result of one of your doomed attempts to get them, wasn’t it? Maybe you three should take that as a sign meaning perhaps you three don’t even HAVE special talen-“

“ENOUGH!” shouted Apple Bloom, slamming her hooves on the table. Suddenly, all eyes were on the confrontation taking place, including Cheerilee (who had been distracted by talking to Featherweight about his latest set of pictures for the Foal Free Press).

“Looks like I hit a nerve, didn’t I?” taunted Diamond Tiara.

“Ah’m willin’ to take a lot from you…” seethed the yellow filly, raising her head to look DT in the eyes, “but Ah will not tolerate somepony sayin’ me or mah friends don’t have special talents…when that somepony doesn’t have one herself!”

Tiara was not expecting this kind of resistance, but decided it wasn’t anything of concern. “How dare you say such a thing, you country hick!”

“Now girls…” said Cheerilee, trying to intervene unsuccessfully.

“Oh, Ah dare, because Ah’ve come to realize that even though you have a cutie mark, you don’t know what your special talent is!”

“I know very well what my special talent is, blank flank!”

“Then what is it? Ah’m sure everypony wants to know now…”

Diamond Tiara opened her mouth to speak, then realized Apple Bloom was right. The tiara on her flank should mean she had a special talent, but for the life of her there was no way she could actually explain what it is.

“Well, erm…my special talent is being important!” she blurted out, trying to save face. Unfortunately, it was clear nobody bought it, even Silver Spoon looked incredulously at her friend as if not believing she’d just said those words. DT continued regardless. “At the very least I’m more important than you!” she gestured to Apple Bloom, dramatically.

“Ah think your father would say otherwise,” smugly replied the bow-wearing Apple.

“What does my father have to do with this?!” stammered a shocked Tiara. This was not how she’d planned things to go. She should have been in control and Apple Bloom reduced to tears. And yet somehow, the young apple farmer instead had some sort of advantage.

At the same time, all those not involved directly in this confrontation looked nervously all around, especially Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. This wasn’t like the Apple Bloom they knew so well. Normally, she would have just stood her ground against the insults, but now that the mighty Diamond Tiara was losing ground, the cute, bow wearing filly suddenly became a lot scarier.

“Everything. You say Ah’m not as important as you? Well then, tell me how to make Zap Apple jam.”

“What does that have to do with this?!” questioned Diamond again. She didn’t understand where her former target was going, but it wasn’t looking pretty.

“Oh, of course, Ah should have known better than to expect you to remember what mah granny said back durin’ Family Appreciation Day. Especially the part how the only reason your family even got involved with sellin’ stuff is because of mah granny inventin’ Zap Apple Jam. And even today it remains one of your father’s best sellin’ products throughout the whole year!”

“So what? You’re still just a worthless blank flank toiling away on some useless farm!”

“Maybe so, but at least Ah help mah family stay afloat by workin’ the land! Even if Ah never get mah cutie mark, never know mah special talent, at least Ah’m not some bratty little wannabe princess who hasn’t worked a day in her life!”

That was it. The proverbial gauntlet had been thrown down. Apple Bloom, who had slowly walked around the desks to come face to face with her enemy, just breathed heavily and glared at Diamond. Conversely, the crowned filly had shrunk back from Apple Bloom out of complete fear. It would take months to try and regain the social standing this one argument had taken from her. But there was still one thing she could resort to using, the one thing that could save this situation.

“Maybe so, Apple Bloom, but at least my parents weren’t morons who froze themselves to death!”

The collective gasp silenced even the crickets. It also snapped Cheerilee out of the daze she’d entered when Apple Bloom started waling against Tiara.

“Now, girls, that’s enough!” she shouted, trying to regain control. But it was too late. Diamond had struck Apple Bloom’s hairtrigger.

“Don’t you dare talk about mah parents like that, you sorry little spoiled bit-“

“Ah’m awful sorry for what mah granddaughter said to yours, Mr. Rich. Ah just don’t know what got into her!”

“It’s not your fault, Mrs. Smith. My daughter probably started the whole thing and is just as guilty of what happened as Apple Bloom.”

Granny and Filthy Rich were standing outside the schoolhouse, having just finished talking to Cheerilee about the incident involving Diamond Tiara and Apple Bloom. The two fillies in question had been escorted home by other family members; Apple Bloom by Big Mac and Diamond Tiara by her mother; Champagne Dreams.

“Your daughter…Ah’ll be honest, she doesn’t seem to have any interest in bein’ nice to anypony, really, especially not mah granddaughter.”

“I fear it’s my fault, really. She’s always been my little princess, nothing will change that, either, but she’s become spoiled and believes the wealth she’s in line to inherit already makes her the most important pony in town. The fact neither my wife nor I are usually around due to business probably doesn’t help that. However, I do believe her focus on your granddaughter is mostly out of jealousy.”

Granny was surprised. “Jealousy? Correct me if Ah’m wrong but your family lives rather luxuriously compared to how we Apples don’t have many extraneous things.”

“True, but you Apples have something Diamond Tiara will never be able to have no matter how much of my money she tries to throw at her problem: Applejack.”

“Do yah mean a big sister? Ah’m pretty sure they have some kinda program for that. Rainbow signed up so she could be Scootaloo’s foster big sister.”

“No, although having a surrogate older sister probably would be good for Tiara. What she wants is to be a part of the highest echelons in society, to be famous for being famous, and have exclusive connections. I can not tell you how she will rant about how Apple Bloom doesn’t deserve to have the things she does because she’s just an apple farmer, such as a close relationship to the Royal Family.”

“Have you considered making her do chores or somethin’? Puttin’ her to work might change her opinions, even if it isn’t that much you make her do.”

“That’s an idea to try…oh, is that the time? I really need to go, my family will need me for dinner.”

“Same here. Oh, do you still want that load of Apple Jam ready next week?”

“That would be lovely, Mrs. Smith.”
And with that, the two business partners bid farewell and left for their homes, where two fillies waited and were deep in trouble.

Apple Bloom knew the only reason she wasn’t in nearly as much trouble as she should have been was because of her injury, although she was still grounded for a week. Despite having been patched up, it still hurt if pressure was put on it, which was going to make sleeping rather difficult. Just to be sure, she moved to touch it again. Yep, it still hurt…but not as much.

She raised an eyebrow at that. It was hurting something fierce just a few hours ago, but now it just felt really, really sore. Maybe the doctor was wrong about the time frame in how long it would take to heal up?

“Not like it matters…” mumbled Apple Bloom, nudging herself down into the bed covers and to sleep. She was grounded, she was injured, and she was no closer to her cutie mark. But she was alive.

But best of all, she’d still made Diamond Tiara look like a fool in front of the entire class, which had been totally worth being grounded, and still brought a smile to the young filly’s face.

On the other side of town, a very irate Diamond Tiara pouted in her room, having also been confined to quarters for seven days.

“This is all that stupid farmer’s fault! Making me look bad in front of everypony…I will not, can not accept being outdone by a blank flank! I’ll show her once and for all when I get the chance. That injury of hers will be nothing when I’m through with her.” Her oft-declared promise of revenge made, she promptly tucked herself in her double-size bed and began to dream of various ways she’d grow up as a member of the Canterlot Elite.

At the same time, deep within the confines of the Everfree Forest, where Celestia had once created a giant crater in her failed bid to end the curse of Lycanthropy, something stirred. At the bottom of the crater, where the remains of a shattered tombstone remained, the silence was interrupted. Like a whisper covered by the breath of a pony exhaling, something started to leak out of the ground. As the strange, wispy emissions from the ground continued to emerge, they also coalesced into a larger, single body. Eventually, the growing, gaseous body started to grow what looked like limbs. A pair of forelegs and hindlegs emerged, planting themselves onto the ground. A head soon emerged afterwards, the curve of its muzzle suggesting the gender of the pony shape was female. An image soon appeared on the pony’s flank – a faded picture of a sunrise between two peaks – and her eyes opened to reveal bright pink irises. Simply from the colors, one would think of a pretty, spring day.

But closer examination would reveal the true nature of this pony poltergeist. Her coat and mane clearly looked harrier and more unkempt than one would expect of a mare. Her ears looked far straighter than pony ears had any right to be. Her teeth included sharpened canines that implied a diet of meat. Finally, where her legs ended, there were not hooves but well defined paws.

The pony looked herself over, a look of surprise on her face. ”Huh, so much for ‘rest in peace’ I guess.” It said. She then noted the shattered tombstone, knowing instantly who it had been for and who had placed it. Worse still, the area around the site showed signs of a battle having taken place and hastily covered up, yet the most painful details remained. An almost invisible piece of bloodied fur colored green caught in the tree just behind the tombstone, the terrain still bearing the scars of two predators having fought tooth and claw, and the whispers of a specific individual still clinging to the wind.

Sable Loam was dead. He’d been as such for a while, now, although the pony could not be sure the exact length of time. But his absence left a hole in her non-existent heart, a pain she’d never imagined could be felt after being completely disintegrated by a really pissed off pony princess. And yet… here she was, at least in the spiritual sense if not physical. She knew not how this had come to be, her return to the physical realm, but the why was obvious. With little time to waste she darted off into the night.