• Published 4th Oct 2014
  • 3,738 Views, 78 Comments

Sugar, Cubed - BlazzingInferno



Twilight has loved math since she was a filly. Much to her surprise, Applejack has too.

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A Meeting of the Unsuspecting Minds

Twilight couldn’t help but smile. She was standing in Ponyville Town Hall with no less than fifty other ponies. For the Ponyville chapter of the Equestrian Math Club, fifty ponies was a gathering of epic proportions. Normally five or six of them would squeeze into a member’s house for the monthly meeting, but not today.

The banner hanging over the stage only made her smile broaden: “144th Annual Competition: Regional Judging.”

Her hooves guided her closer and closer to the hallowed podium where the winner would be announced. She’d seen this spectacle every year since she joined the club as a filly and never tired of it. Winning in this contest demanded the very best research papers and theories, and the ponies who dared to enter never failed to rise to the challenge.

A solid bump against another pony brought her immediate surroundings back into focus. “Oh, I’m so sorry I didn’t see…”

The pony she’d bumped into pushed her Stetson out of her eyes. “No problem, I was…”

“Applejack?”

Applejack cringed. “Uh… Hi, Twilight.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Uh… I mean… doing where?”

Twilight looked over their surroundings. “At the Equestrian Math Club. I didn’t expect to see any of my friends here for–” her face lit up “–are you a member too? Why don’t you ever come to our meetings?”

Applejack’s eyes darted around, and she started backing away. “Math Club? You don’t say… Guess I must be in the wrong place… yep. Best be going back to the farm, lotsa chores to do…”

“What?”

“Yep. I couldn’t possibly be in the right place, what with this being a math competition and all.”

Twilight darted forward and locked eyes with her. “The prime factors of forty-two are two, three, and…”

Applejack smirked. “Seven of course.” Her breath caught in her throat and her eyes darted back and forth. “Wait… I mean ten! Ten!”

“Aha!”

“Horseapples…”

Twilight threw her hooves in the air. “You are a math enthusiast! This so great; I never have anyone to go with to these meetings. I can’t even get Spike to…” Her enthusiasm drained away when she realized her friend was staring at the floor. “Applejack, what’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing, Twilight… Why don’t you just tell me about what I’ve gotten myself into?”

Twilight looked from her friend to the stage. “They’re announcing the regional winner for the national competition today. I’m so glad they’re doing it in Ponyville; it’s brought in members from all over.”

Applejack looked over the crowd and took a few steps back. “Might bit busy in here… maybe I should go.”

“Applejack are you… nervous?”

She pulled off her Stetson and fanned herself with it. “A bit.”

“Why?”

“I… I entered the competition.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped. “You submitted a research paper? What’s it about?”

“Oh just a little something I’ve been working on… nothing special.”

“I’m sure it’s special, Applejack. I can’t wait to see it.”

Applejack found a nearby chair and sat down. “So… you come to these meetings often?”

“Every month. Normally there’s just a few of us. We discuss our new findings, read the minutes from last time, send out the newsletter and minutes to… That’s why I never see you at the meetings! You just read the letters we send out to all the local members.”

She nodded. “Guilty as charged.”

“But I send out those letters myself; there’s no Sweet Apple Acres in the membership address list, and no Applejack.”

“I rent a box at the post office under the name SC.”

“SC?”

She managed a grin. “Sugar Cubed.”

Twilight resisted the urge to cheer. “I’m so happy you’re here! I finally have a close friend to talk math with.”

“About that… I’m not sure I want this getting around.”

“That you’re in this club?”

“That I’m into math at all. Most ponies just think I’m a farm hoof, and that’s how I like it.”

“But why? What’s so wrong about celebrating your talents and interests?”

Applejack twisted her hat in her hooves. “Nothing. I suppose that’s why I entered the contest this year, it’s just…”

A pony in a suit walked across the stage and tapped his hoof on the microphone. “Good afternoon, everypony, and welcome to the regional judging round of the Equestrian Math Club’s annual contest. We’ll be announcing the winners in just a few minutes. All contestants are encouraged to sit in the first two rows so we can all see you.”

Twilight pulled Applejack out of her chair. “That’s you, SC. Let’s get you up front.”

“Now, Twilight…”

“Oh come on, since when does Applejack ever back down from a challenge?”

She sighed. “Fine. Let’s get this over with.”

The first row was completely packed, and the second wasn’t far behind. Once they found a pair of seats, Applejack pulled her hat over her eyes, and Twilight resumed her giddy pony-watching. “Oh, there’s Double Factorial! He’s the chairpony of the math department at Canterlot University; I heard he’s one of the judges this year. I should introduce you after this is over.”

Applejack’s head sank even deeper into her hat. “Cool it, Twi, I’m perfectly fine keeping a low–”

A deep blue hoof clad in a silver shoe touched the back of Twilight’s chair. “Why, Twilight Sparkle, are you here to compete against me, Princess of the Night?”

Twilight jumped up and then bowed. “Princess Luna! I didn’t expect to see you here. Won’t you join us?”

Luna smiled and took the seat next to them. “Thank you. My treatise on planetary motion is complete at last, and what better way to share it with ponykind than a friendly competition?”

“But why here in Ponyville? Why not in the Math Club’s Canterlot chapter?”

Luna’s smile faded. “There has been some… unpleasantness between myself and the other members in Canterlot as of late.”

“Oh no, what happened?”

“The debate on gravitation at the last meeting became intense and I… might have threatened the chapter president with getting to witness the full lunar cycle in person. I was joking of course, but apparently Princesses should not even jest over such things.”

Twilight held back a laugh. “Well, you’re more than welcome here.”

Luna’s smile returned in an instant. “And what did you submit to the contest, Twilight?”

“Oh I’m just here to watch. Applejack’s the reason we’re seated in the second row.”

Applejack felt her hat levitate off of her head, bringing her nose to nose with Luna. “H-howdy, Princess. Come to compete in our little contest?”

“Indeed I have. It’s an honor to engage in an intellectual pursuit with a pony such as yourself, Applejack.”

Applejack smiled. “Why that’s awful big of you, Princess. I never thought I’d ever compete hoof to hoof with royalty. You said your entry’s about the motion of the planets?”

“Yes, and I could not feel better about my chances. I have raised and lowered the moon for thousands of years, and now I have updated physics itself to properly account for the forces involved. What, pray tell, have you submitted?”

Her smile faded. “Well…”

Twilight grinned. “You might as well tell us, Applejack. All the entries are published right after the contest anyway.”

Applejack sighed. “It’s actually about the farm… or farming in general I guess. My Pa tracked our crop yields his whole life, and I created a statistical model for it. I call it the Apple Distribution.”

Twilight’s mouth hung open. “You invented a new statistical model? That’s amazing! How come you’ve never mentioned this before?”

“It’s… a bit of a complicated story.”

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