• Published 4th Oct 2014
  • 3,754 Views, 79 Comments

Sugar, Cubed - BlazzingInferno



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

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Lessons in Numbers

As always, Applejack and Pa were up before the sun. This time Applejack was the one holding the book on her hoof. “This tree makes two hundred sixty-seven apples, right in line with your notes.”

Her Pa was a few feet away inspecting a neighboring tree. “Yep. Not bad.”

“Not bad? It’s great! Why I bet next season you’ll have the whole harvest predicted down to the barrel.”

He laughed. “Now don’t go inflating my ego, Sugar Cubed; Ma wouldn’t care for that one bit.”

“But it’s true, you’ve got apples figured out.”

“That I might. Still I need to formalize the whole thing.”

“How do you mean?”

“Just flip through that book a bit. What do you see?”

She knew the answer without touching the pages. “Good notes.”

“Numbers, just numbers. See, for this to really fly we need more than that, we need an equation that tells us all the numbers we don’t have.”

“How do you mean?”

“Say one year we had an extra two acres of trees that’d been given half as much fertilizer. How many apples would we get? Or what if we had five days less rain than usual? All those things are just numbers. What we need is an equation to plug them all into to tell us what kind of crop we’re looking at. When we can do that, when we can say right at planting time how many barrels we’re expecting at harvest and figure in everything that happens in between, then we’ve got apples figured out, skin to core.”

Another stallion’s voice called out across the fields. “A little early for your numbers, isn’t it, Apple?”

Pa sighed. “Run along, Sugar Cubed.”

“But, Pa–”

“Run along.”

Applejack passed him the book and took off into the trees. After running for a few minutes she found a good hiding spot and held her ears up high. The still morning air carried voices further than most ponies would guess, especially a deep one like Pa’s.

“…And how I run my farm isn’t any concern of yours.”

“To hay it ain’t. All your talk about seeing the future isn’t doing any of us a lick of good, your family included. You need to quit stealing our business with these lies, Apple.”

“It’s not lies, Carrot, and I don’t see the future. It’s some calculations I’ve been doing.”

“It’s a sham, and it’s gonna stop right now. I know you’ve been stealing our fertilizer for your own crops; that’s the only explanation. Why, my bean crop’s been so bad this year I wouldn’t be surprised if you went and salted the ground too. You’re nothing but a thief and a liar.”

“This is my farm we’re standing on, and if you think you can come over here and–”

Pages fluttered as the book sailed through the air. A thud and a grunt followed.

“Maybe it’s time the boys and me teach you a thing or two.”

Applejack raced back to find Pa rubbing his side while one of the Carrots brandished a hoof.

“You leave my Pa alone!” Before any of the adults could react, she spun around and bucked Pa’s attacker square in the jaw. A tooth flew out of his mouth and nearly caught one of his brothers in the eye.

She shouted as loud as she could, just to hide the quiver in her voice. “And… and if you ever come back again… I’ll… I’ll…” She couldn’t hold back the tears in her eyes, or the shiver in her legs. “I’ll–”

“That’s enough, Applejack.”

Her Pa’s stern voice froze her in place. “But, Pa…”

“You’ve done plenty already. This is just a little discussion between adults, no need to get all worked up over it.”

The oldest Carrot brother pushed her aside. “A little worked up? You gonna stand for this?” He parted his lips to show off the new gap in his teeth. “Why if my little Golden Harvest ever–”

Pa was standing on three hooves in an instant; the fourth was busy pinning the other pony to the ground. Applejack’s gentle giant of a Pa had been replaced with a monster: fiercer than a timberwolf and twice as big. “I do intend to stand for it, and if you so much as say a word I’ll be planting a full set of teeth instead of apple seeds this year. We clear?”

The remaining Carrots backed away. “Whatever you say, Apple.”

Pa nodded. “Now get off my farm.”

Applejack’s tears wetted the ground while the bullies ran for it. “Pa… Pa, I’m sorry… I…”

“It’s all right, Sugar Cubed. Ol’ Carrot had that one coming, even if it should’ve been from me.” He chuckled. “In a year or two you’re gonna be as good an apple bucker as Big Mac.”

She wiped her nose with her hoof. “But they… why’d they run all of a sudden?”

He stepped to the side of the tree and retrieved the records book. One of the edges was wet with mud. “It’s a mite bit complicated.”

“They were calling you a liar, and a thief! Why didn’t you just make ’em leave right off? Why let them call you that?”

“Sugar… I let them. It wouldn’t be the first time, either.”

She gasped. “But… why?”

He brushed off the book and handed it to her. “Figuring out apples isn’t an easy thing, Sugar Cubed; same goes for ponies. Some love you for your talents, some don’t.”

“But the Carrots… they–”

“They don’t understand how we’re increasing our apple yields season after season, and it bothers them to no end. It bothers them so much that every once in a while they come over and give me some hay about it. They burn off some steam, and then we all get back to work. It’s never gotten physical before; never figured the Carrot boys were fool enough to take a swing at me. I don’t know how I’m gonna explain this to Ma.”

They both looked at the bruise forming on his side. She started crying again. “It still ain’t right.”

His hoof touched her chin, raising her gaze up to meet his. “Hey now, bruises aren’t nothing to worry about.”

“But…”

His hoof tapped her forehead next. “It’s what’s in here that counts. Even if nopony ever knows it’s there but you. It’s what’s in here that’s gonna take you places. Why, by the time you reach my age you’ll probably have some fancy degree and a whole lot of better things to do than count apples with your old Pa.”

She wrapped her hoof around his leg. “Never, Pa. Fancier math or not, I’ll always count apples with you.”

He coughed twice. The force of it shook them both. “We should get inside.”

“You okay, Pa?”

He coughed again and nodded. “I’ll be fine. Just head on in, and tell Ma I fell off the ladder to the hay loft.”

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