• Published 19th Feb 2014
  • 2,992 Views, 198 Comments

At The Drop of A Hat - Tchernobog

A particularly strong gust blows Applejack's hat away. What follows is a chaotic chase across all of Equestria to retrieve it.

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Fancy hard apple cider was not her friend.

It should’ve been her friend – there was no lack of affection on her end, that was for sure. But still, no matter how much she cozied up to it, no matter how many tankards she knocked back with the utmost appreciation, it had betrayed her. It had made promises it couldn’t keep. It shouldn’t have been able to do that – it was made out of apples, for Celestia’s sake! Apples were, like, the fruit of truthfulness, weren’t they? Any fruit that could sit happily upon the flank of Honesty incarnate should at least absorb some of that mojo, right? But maybe that was the problem. These weren’t Sweet Apple Acres apples – she could tell – and therefore they had no connection to smokin’ hot, honesty-powered plots. These were stupid fancy apples, that got made into stupid fancy cider, that had conspired, along with her unsuspecting gullet, to lead her to this. This happened to be her dancing a stupid fancy dance with a stupid fancy pony, a pony who couldn’t keep his stupid fancy eyes off of her definitely not stupid, not fancy friend.

“So, tell me, Rainbow Flash – ”

“It’s – hic! – Rainbow Dash – geddit right, Trenderpoop.”

The fancy stallion adjusted his stance so that Rainbow didn’t faceplant when he performed the required turn. They whirled almost in tune with the rest of the dancing ponies.

“Yes, quite sorry. Rainbow Dash. I was just wondering, since I have you aside – has Applejack mentioned me at all since I left? I mean, I don’t expect she has, but well, if maybe she happened to – I’ve been very inspired by her influence, is all. I don’t know if you noticed, but I even had some Griffonian apple cider imported, to give everyone a chance to get a little taste of the homegrown country style that has so affected my own! Of course, “homegrown” may be a bit of a fib – you have to take baby steps with some of these ponies. Tell them that apple trees grow in dirt and they’ll demand to have their products sanitized.”

“Yeah, I – hic! – noticed.” Grumbled Rainbow sourly. “Look, fancy pants – ”

“Oh, Fancy Pants couldn’t make it, sadly. Something about a private fitting in Ponyville.”

“Ugh, whatever! What I mean – hic! – what I mean is, she’s mine, gottit? Yer probly a really nice guy’n’all, but Applejack,” a dreamy grin overtook Rainbow’s vaguely shaped frown, “Applejack needs more’n nice. She needs awesome. An' I’m as awesome as they – hic! – come.”

Trenderhoof paused in his eloquent movements, movements that had been no less so even with an inebriated pegasus clinging to his foreleg. “She – you and Applejack – ”

“Thas right, buddy! Me and AJ are the best o’ pals.” She leaned right up to Trenderhoof’s ear. Or what she thought was his ear. It happened to be his stylishly upturned collar, but she spoke in a stage whisper loud enough that it didn’t really matter which part of his body she was addressing. “Pals who kiss. Like – like a lot.”

Trenderhoof’s stillness normally wouldn’t have been a problem. In a regular room, on a regular day, it wouldn’t have meant a thing. He could’ve stood still for hours and the only consequences would’ve been stiff joints and possibly a severe case of boredom. Sudden stillness in the midst of a tightly packed garden party, in the middle of a complicated whirly, shuffly dance with precisely timed movements, however, meant that he and Rainbow were not where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be there.

Which meant that other ponies, ponies who had not suffered a sudden momentary lapse in concentration, were where they were supposed to be. With fancy, trailing sundresses abounding and substandard cider flowing freely, reaction times were not exactly up to par, and so two twirling ponies twirled their timely, twirly way right into the non-twirling, non-timely ponies, which in turn sent everyone involved twirling again, this time with a lot more shrieks of surprise and cries of indignation.

This isn’t – hurp – a fun type of twirl. Thought Rainbow Dash in what were sure to be her last moments. This twirl's all wrong. Oh Celestia, whose hoof is that? You didn’t even buy me dinner or anything! Oh crud, never mind, I think I just returned the favour. I’m going to need a really good cloud soak after this…

Applejack wasn’t a fan of fancy parties. Sure, there may not have been a tux or an evening gown in sight, but there were enough overly priced Haywaiian button ups, polo t-shirts, khaki shorts and flowery printed dresses present that she knew she was at what Rarity would dub a “swanky soiree,” and she didn’t like it one bit. Free food and drink aside, (Griffons, being larger, apparently put a lot more of the “hard” than the “apple” into their cider) Trenderhoof apparently hadn't shut up about her, if the random rich ponies that kept sidling up to her to talk about the ins and outs of farming – of which they knew nothing about – were anything to go by. Still, they were slightly better than the ones who would walk past her, slight sneers on their faces, apparently due to her lack of appropriate attire.

To top it all off, Trenderhoof had snatched Dash away at the first possible opportunity, and now they were…well, dancing didn’t really cover what Rainbow was doing. One crystal flute of cider and she’d been loopier than a barrel tossed down a hill, so she looked more like a wounded solider leaning on a surprisingly sprightly comrade than one pony cutting a rug with another. And her hat still hadn’t been found. Applejack was about to grab her intoxicated friend and go search for it herself, hospitality be darned, when it happened.

It happened to be a complete and utter pile up on the dance floor. Applejack was rolling her eyes before she realized that a twitching blue hoof was sticking up through the conglomeration of pool party chic, and her heart rate bounded faster than her legs. She was on the pile in a second, tossing guests this way and that, ignoring their cries of “I say!” and “Well, I never!” in favour of freeing her buried, silent, friend. The blue hoof grew to a full leg, then a torso, and finally, a rainbow mane popped free of the living debris.

“Rainbow – ya alright? C’mon, girl, speak ta me!”

One hazy eye twitched open. “Heh, ish it my birthday? Two…two Applejacks…the fun…the fun has been…”

“Hold that thought, Sugarcube.” Applejack was distinctly aware of a shifting below her flank, and stood up, dragging the drooling, daydreaming pegasus onto her back as she went.

“Oof! One never knows how much they will miss oxygen until it is denied them by a particularly shapely – Applejack!”

“Howdy, Trenderhoof,” Applejack tried not to frown at him, seeing as her butt had nearly smothered him, but she was finding it difficult, because her butt had nearly smothered him. “Sorry to cut this reunion short, but we gotta go. I ‘preciate the effort and all, but I didn’t leave all the chores to Mac just ta party it up.”

She looked around at the piles of groaning ponies, some still struggling to their hooves. Other guests had come over to help, and it looked like little lasting damage had been done. The only casualty seemed to be a sadly deflated pool duck. Two butlers clutching rolls of silver duct tape knelt beside it, talking in hushed voices.

Just as the chaos of the situation was growing manageable once more, a shadowy figure leapt onto the scene, freezing the tableau of poolside renewal.

“Consarn it!” shouted Applejack. She stomped a hoof, jostling the prone pegasus on her back. “What in the hay do you want now?”

The figure, dressed suspiciously like a familiar scruffy ninja, grinned. “Why, what I have always wanted, Applejack.”

“What, my hat?” sighed Applejack, her bravado fading into weariness. “Look, I don’t know where it is.” She looked back to Rainbow Dash, who was beginning to stir in a semi-coherent manner. “My friend and I have been chasing the dang thing all day and have nearly bit the bullet more times’n I can count. If you want it so dang bad, go and get the Celestia-forsaken thing yourself.”

The ninja frowned, threatening pose faltering as shoulders slumped and ears wilted. “Well, way to steal my thunder. Now what am I supposed to do? I’m a ninja without a rival! I think that goes against my whole ninja code, or something! Does this mean I have to turn in my stealth license?”

“No.” replied a voice from among the throng of awestruck partygoers. A brown-coated, long-eared individual trotted up. He sported a sunshine yellow, palm-tree bedecked vest, and atop his head…

“Ma hat!” shouted Applejack in spite of herself.

“No,” repeated Mr. DeMule, tail lashing from side to side. “My hat.”