• Published 11th Sep 2013
  • 1,110 Views, 19 Comments

Equested Development - Sage Runner



And now, the story of the Apple Family who lost everything, and the one grand-daughter who had no choice but to keep them all together. Based on the television series Arrested Developement.

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Morning in Ponyville

Sure, it was a beautiful day in Ponyville. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, the temperature was at a nice not-too-cold-not-too-hot balance, and the aroma of freshly cut grass filled the air from one end of the town clear to the other. Even so, there was one family who might not call it a "nice" day. That family was the Apple Family.


Hours earlier, Applejack woke up at the crack of dawn, as she always did. She sat up in bed and grunted in pain as her head connected with the bottom of the top bunk. "Tarnation!" she hissed under her breath, carefully sliding out and standing up. She checked the top bunk to make sure she hadn't woken Granny Smith, and found that the elderly matriarch was still snoozing peacefully. Stepping lightly, so as not to rouse the inhabitants of the other bunk bed set up in the room, she entered the hallway.


Passing the open door to the tiny bathroom they all shared, and the second bedroom from which more loud snoring could be heard, she entered the small living room and kitchen combo, cracked open the fridge, and began to prepare her breakfast. There were seven eggs in the carton, one for each of the small house's inhabitants, half a gallon of milk... and not a whole lot else. "Reckon I'll let Apple Bloom and Babs split this'n," she thought, leaving her egg behind and sticking a slice of bread in the toaster oven.


Letting the toast cook, she walked over to the front door. Leaning her head out, she spied the newspaper that had only just been tossed on her doorstep. Her gaze wandered to the nearby buildings, including the adjacent Sugar Cube Corner. Of course, those buildings were all much older. The house that Applejack currently called home had only been completed a few days prior, and was still unfurnished and unpainted. Indeed, ponies who bothered to investigate were always shocked to see that its inhabitants had already moved in.


Spreading the paper across the kitchen counter, Applejack read the first story on the front page to catch her eye. "Flim Flam Fields Open Appeloosa and Manehattan Locations," it said. She groaned and slid the paper straight into the trashcan. "Flim Flam Fields," she sighed as the toast popped up, slightly burnt, "where did it all go so wrong?" That was a rhetorical question; she knew where everything had gone wrong. It started with an ill-conceived wager and a very predictable loss:


***


"No deal!" Big Macintosh said, stomping a hoof and scowling at Flim and Flam.


"Aw, that's a shame," Flam replied.


"Ah well, if you don't want to be partners, we'll just have to be competitors!" Flim added, grinning.


"You wouldn't dare!" Applejack hissed. It turned out that yes, they would dare. The Brothers quickly proposed a contest to see which force of nature, between the Apple Family's ingenuity and work ethic, and the Flim Flam Brothers' Super Speedy Cider Squeezy Six-Thousand could produce the most barrels of cider in an allotted time. The stakes were the entirety of Sweet Apple Acres and the exclusive cider-production rights for the whole town.


"Any time, any where!" Apple Bloom shouted, glaring at them.


"Uh, no," Applejack interjected, placing a hoof over Apple Bloom's mouth. "The Apple Family practically founded Ponyville, and our apples are the only ones around. Go peddle your wares in some other town, we ain't interested in some petty competition that could cost us our livelihood."


"What's the matter, Apples?" Flam asked, wagging his eyebrows.


"Chicken?" Flim added. He stood up on his hind legs and began prancing back and forth, clapping his forehooves together and chanting, "KAW-KUH-KAW-KUH-KAW-KUH!".


"Have you ever actually seen a chicken before?" Applejack replied dryly.


***


Applejack was jolted out of her little flashback as Apple Bloom wandered into the kitchen. "You makin' breakfast, sis?" she asked, rubbing her eyes.


"Sure am," Applejack replied, smiling, as she pulled a frying pan out of the cupboard and grabbed an egg from the fridge.


"Is that today's paper?" Apple Bloom asked, eyeing the waste bin.


"Jack and Ass made the front page," Applejack sighed, rolling her eyes.


"Soup's on?" Granny Smith asked, as she hobbled in to greet them. Applejack gritted her teeth just a little. She loved her grandmother dearly, but the elder mare's latent competitive nature had really shot them in the hoof recently:


***


"What did you call us!?" Granny Smith asked, slowly approaching Flim and Flam.


"A-coodle-doodle-doo! A-coodle-doodle-doo!" was Flam's response as he stood up and waved his arms up and down.


"You've got yourself a contest!" she fired back, vehemently. "And after we whoop your hind-quarters from one end of Ponyville to the other, I don't ever wanna see you two hooligans in this town ever again!"


"As much as we'd love to take you up on that," Flim replied, "I'm afraid we don't have any apples of our own to use in the competition. Rather convenient for them, don't you think, hermano?"


"Indeed I do, brothiero," Flam replied. "In fact, I'd hazard a guess that the Apples will deny us the usage of their south field so that they can save face and avoid the competition!"


"Yeah, my great-grandparents deliberately laid claim to the trees they planted on the land they owned just so we could avoid losing a competition to a couple of Mom-and-Pop business killers that hadn't been born yet. Are you hearin' this nonsense?" Applejack asked, nudging Big Macintosh, who remained silent.


"You can use the southern field, and we'll whoop ya anyway!" Granny shouted.


"Wait, what!?" Applejack gasped, swiveling her head towards her grandmother.


***


"Well how was I supposed to know their new-fangled doohickey could make cider like that?" Granny Smith asked, guessing why Applejack appeared to be frustrated.


"Gee, I don't know, Granny," Applejack replied, frowning. "Maybe because they literally gave us a full demonstration of it before challenging us!?"


"Yeah, I might have zoned out for a bit there," Granny replied, blushing. "Still, we came close to winning, no denying that." They actually hadn't come close to winning at all:


***


"This is bad," Twilight Sparkle said. "Flim and Flam are producing five barrles to every one from the Apple Family." That was when she got an idea. "Mayor?" Twilight asked, galloping over to Ponyville's mare, who stood with her identical-voice-twin, Spike the dragon, next to the giant hourglass that was calculating the elapsed time. "Would it be alright if honorary family members participated in the competition?"


"Well," the mayor replied, looking off to the side, "I don't know. Flim? Flam? Is that alright with you?" Finally, Applejack saw a glimmer of hope as her family toiled in vain.


"Absolutely not!" Flim replied.


"Blood relatives only!" Flam agreed as they both nodded.


"Aw, what's the matter?" Twilight asked, grinning coyly. "Are you chicken? BAGAWK-BAGAWK-BAGAWK!" She coupled her impersonation of the sound a chicken makes with the act of running around in a circle on her back hooves while flailing her arms wildly in the air, appearing to attempt to take flight.


"Sure, we're chicken. Why not?" Flam chuckled.


"What!?" Twilight shouted.


"You can't bullshit a bullshitter, young filly!" Flim added with a grin.


***


"Flim Flam Fields," Granny groaned, staring into the trash can and shaking her head. "They've already produced enough cider for the whole town every day since they opened for business!"


"Well, that's what happens when you're on the cuttin' edge of technology, I guess," Apple Bloom quipped.


"Their 'Limit one mug per customer' sign doesn't hurt either," Big Macintosh added as he exited the hallway. It was true, in all the years that the Apple Family had run out of cider before satisfying every customer that spent the day waiting in line, it had never once occurred to them to put up a sign limiting each consumer to a single mug. Sadly, this would have actually allowed them to serve every single pony that waited in line and left Flim and Flam with no hook for their impromptu song-and-dance number.


For the Brothers, on the other hand, the sign had been a day-one innovation. They had even painted a few apples around the words so that it looked more festive. Some would argue that the small wooden sign was the key to their success. They'd have to ignore the giant machine that could mass-produce the product in the blink of an eye in order to say that, but the sign was still a pretty good idea anyway.


"Mornin', cousins!" Braeburn exclaimed as he and his wife, Little Strongheart, joined the others in the kitchen.


"If you're cooking eggs, I would like one as well, please!" Strongheart said, offering a weak smile.


"We've got plenty," Applejack replied, nodding, as she glided the frying pan back and forth over the stove. "Well not plenty, but enough."


"I'd like to thank you again for taking my wife and I in after, uh, you know..." Applejack did know, as did anyone who lived in Appleoosa at the time of the incident:


***


"And what makes you think you're more fit to run this town than I am!?" Mayor Braeburn shouted, glaring at Flim and Flam.


"Well for starters, we didn't build a struggling settlement over Buffalo stampeding ground," Flam replied.


"Not that it matters," Flim continued. "You lost our little cider-making bet fair and square. The mayoral position as well as the exclusive rights to produce cider and grow apples in this town belong to us!" The townspeople turned their watery eyes and quivering lips toward the deposed Braeburn and his buffalo gal, who had already packed their bags and were preparing to leave.


"D'aww, cheer up, Appleoosans," Flim replied softly, "to commemorate our first day of business, please help yourselves to these complimentary buffalo wings!" He gestured toward a long buffet table that had what appeared to be oversized drumsticks and other assorted cuts of meat, none of which fit the definition of "buffalo wings" save for the most literal sense of the word "buffalo". The crowd cheered.


"What do they mean by-" Little Strongheart's question was cut short as Braeburn pushed her away from the crowd.


"Go, go, GO!" he whispered quickly. Before you condemn the Flim Flam Brothers as murderers, no, they were not actually serving Chief Thunderhooves and his tribe to the Appleoosans. The meat in question was actually made of soy, like every other dish served to ponies that could have otherwise been delicious. Braeburn and the other Appleoosans didn't know that, however, which made the whole situation really awkward for the Buffalo, who would show up to partake in the freshly pressed cider only a few minutes later.


On the outskirts of town, Braeburn and Little Strongheart were confronted by a gray, wall-eyed mare with a satchel around her shoulders. "Telegram!" she declared loudly.


"Dear Cousin Braeburn," he read aloud. "You will soon be visited by a pair of brothers calling themselves Flim and Flam. Have them tarred and feathered before running them out of town, they are only there to swindle you out of everything you own. Sincerely, Applejack. Dagnabbit!" he shouted, throwing the piece of paper to the ground.


"I just don't know what went wrong!" the mail-mare said, smiling.


***


"Shoot, that's what family's for," Applejack replied with a smile. Babs Seed, the house's final inhabitant, yawned as she joined her cousins at the kitchen counter.


"Jeepers, it's crowded up in here. You cookin' eggs, big cuz?" she asked.


"Darn tootin'!" Applejack replied with a wink and a nod. "You and Apple Bloom each get one, plus you can split another!"


"Apple Bloom can have both of 'em," Babs replied, grinning, as she ruffled Apple Bloom's mane. "She's a growin' filly, after all." Apple Bloom rolled her eyes as she gave Babs a playful nudge. Yes, it was a typical morning in the Apple Family's new life, filled with sorrow and regret, but so long as they had each other- oh that's right, I didn't explain how Babs wound up there:


***


We accept your challenge!" Mosely Orange declared, straightening his stance and snorting.


"Dear..." his wife interjected. "You read Applejack's letter, right?"


"It's in the bag, honey," Mosely whispered. "These ruffians make apple cider, but we make orange juice! We're outside their area of expertise!" He turned to Flim and Flam and shook their hooves.


"Splendid!" Flam declared. "Activate the Super Speedy Orange Juice Squeezy Six-Thousand, brother of mine!"


"The Super-What-Now?" Mosely asked, his smile falling.


"We've tweaked our design a bit to allow for easy orange juice production, pulp-free and all natural!" Flim explained, nodding.


Mosely Orange's eyes grew wide before he spoke again, "...SH*T!" In all fairness, he really should have noticed that the bright orange machine in front of him didn't match the red one in the photograph Applejack had sent him.


***


So after the Oranges lost everything, they had to find a new line of work and a new place to live. Since Babs was especially upset about the whole thing, her parents and older sister decided to send her to live with the her favorite cousin in Ponyville for the time being. So that's how that happened.


"Really pisses me off to see those jerks doin' so good, know what I'm sayin'?" Babs asked.


"Language, young filly," Applejack replied, shooting Babs a glare. Even though she did know what Babs was sayin'.


"Least somepony around here had the good sense to buy some land in town for development," Big Macintosh said, patting Applejack on the shoulder.


"Shucks, the real estate business had always interested me," Applejack replied. "Seein' all those fancy buildings back when I lived in Manehattan, I wanted to bring some of that here to Ponyville. 'Course, that ain't too likely now, seein' as how we need to live here."


"Don't you worry," Granny Smith replied. "Once our new business finds its feet, we'll be back on the old farm, lickety split!"


"I sure hope so," Applejack replied. "Apple Bloom, you and Babs best be headed off to school." Apple Bloom and Babs each gave a nod, waved goodbye to the others, and were out the door. The adults in the house finished breaking their fasts as well and dispersed across Ponyville to their new occupations.


Granny Smith was baking her famous apple pies for the Cakes at Sugar Cube Corner. Braeburn fulfilled his growing political ambitions as the Mayor's personal assistant. Well, he was one of four. And he mostly just emptied the trashcans around Town Hall. And picked up the donuts for the office each morning.


Little Strongheart had actually found her new line of work as they left Appleoosa, being informed by the less-than-stellar mail mare, Derpy Hooves, that it was her last day on the job, her employer having grown tired of her questionable sense of direction. Strongheart threw her new boss for a bit of a loop, as the commonly accepted terms of "mail mare" and "mail pony" did not apply to her. She wasn't particularly happy with the settled-upon "mailfallo" either, but decided to wait until she had worked her way up the chain to do something about that.


As for Applejack and Big Macintosh, they set up shop, as they always did, in the market square. Pulling the cover off of the wooden structure they now did business from, then turned the rotating sign suspended above the desk from "CLOSED" to "APPLE FAMILY LEMONADE (does not contain apples)". The parentheticals were added in response to the lawsuit the Flim Flam Brothers had threatened them with during their first week of business.


"It ain't much," Applejack conceded, "but it's a start. So long as we keep puttin' the same TLC into our lemonade that we put into everything else, eventually our hard work will speak for itself!"


"Eeyup," Big Macintosh replied, nodding. "It's like pappy told us when we were little: 'There's always money in the lemonade stand!'"


"And as long as we all stick together," Applejack continued, "the sky's the limit!"