• Published 24th May 2015
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My Little Pony Bizarre Adventures - Part 1: Ponyville Central - LateBronyWriter



One Thousand years ago, the saints Celestia and Luna drew upon the power of the Red Stone of Aja to defeat the demon Discord. Now one thousand years later the Stone is destroyed, beginning the tale of six ponies and their quest to redeem the world.

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Chapter 17-Love Bug-Take 1

Love Bug-Take 1:


“Alright class, that concludes today’s lessons!” Cheerilee, teacher for Ponyville Elementary, states happily. The bell rings throughout the schoolhouse as the sluggish students pack up to leave. “And remember to do your assigned reading on the third Zebranican civil war of 752 A.N.; we’ll be having a test on it next class period.” The entire class groans in discomfort at the thought of another one of Cheerilee's assigned readings as they trot back into the world of sunlight.

That is, all except one two-toned, purple-maned, white-coated unicorn filly, otherwise known as the third member of the newly-formed Cutie Mark crusaders, Sweetie Belle. Pulling back from her friends, the white filly looks at her teacher Cheerilee, the elder mare’s breath heavy and brow filled with sweat, then back to her friends before walking over to the teacher’s desk. “Um…. Miss Cheerilee?”

The teacher pulls her head off of her desk, looking right at the white filly. “Yes, Sweetie? Is there something that you need? You’re not going to ask for another extension on your assignments are you?”

The white filly waves her hooves frantically. “No, that’s not it, Miss Cheerilee, honest!” Sweetie relaxes. “I was just wondering are you feeling alright?”

“Humh?” Cheerilee asks with feigned surprise “Whatever do you mean, Sweetie Belle?”

“Well….” Sweetie shuffles her hooves. “You just seemed really tired when you were teaching… and you let us have small group for a whole two hours today, so I was just wondering if you were feeling okay…”

The teacher beams at the innocent curiosity and concern of her student. “Aw, Sweetie Belle… Thank you for being so considerate. However I can assure you that I always feel my best when I’m teaching my students.”

The mulberry mare pinches Sweetie’s cheeks, causing the white filly to giggle bashfully. “Especially students like you who care so much about others. Now run along, I’m sure that you and your Crusaders have big plans today so why don’t you catch up with them. Go on, and have a blast.”

Sweetie Belle takes one last look at her teacher before shrugging and running out the door to follow her friends. Cheerilee waves politely to the innocent filly as the door of the schoolhouse closes, leaving her completely alone in the building. Only when she is sure that anypony who could have heard her is out of earshot does she lay her head on her desk, taking ragged deep breaths, while her body breaks out in a cold sweat.

“I-I really….” the teacher swallows deeply, “I really shouldn’t have come to school in my condition. A teacher, a teacher should never endanger the welfare of her students by getting them sick.” Cheerilee pants. “But there were no substitutes available and I couldn’t just cancel school again! Not after it took a whole week to repair the hole in the roof.” She groans.

The mulberry mare rises from her desk. “Well…. Maybe that new unicorn Twilight would have been qualified… But she is far too busy with government matters to even be bothered. And besides,” Cheerilee remarks. “With all this panic about a mysterious illness going around town, the last thing that the foals need is to believe that their schools aren’t safe anymore.”

Picking up her bags and slinging them on her back, Cheerilee fastens the latches as she continues to talk to herself. “I’ll just have to get better by tomorrow.” Cheerilee slaps her cheeks causing new fresh blood to course through her veins. “Get better, CHEERILEE! Your students are depending on you! You can’t afford to be sick now!”

With fresh blood coursing through her head the teacher opens the door outside and breathes in a lungful of fresh clean air. “Well that worked better than I expected! I feel better already!” Cheerilee comments as she trots outside.

Unnoticed to the mulberry mare, peeking out of her saddle bags a dark insectoid shape with glowing pink eyes scans its surroundings with alien purpose. From the safety of the mare’s bag, the glowing pink bug watches intensely as Cheerilee's other saddle bag shuffles and moves, their presence completely lost on the mulberry mare as she trots obliviously on her road back home.

………………

“Run for your lives! It’s after me!”

“Lyra! Why are you always getting me into these messes! I mean, ghosts?!”

“It’s not a ghost, Bon Bon! It’s called a Stand!”

“Well whatever it is, it’s chasing us! DO SOMETHING”

Cheerilee watches with a bemused expression as Lyra and Bon Bon spirit through town as if chased by invisible forces that they can’t even begin to understand. Lyra continues to scream something about ghosts while Bon Bon criticizes Lyra for dragging her into another mess, as the teacher blinks in confusion.

“Well,” the teacher remarks to nopony in particular, “… at least since Twilight has moved into town things have been more lively.” The teacher watches the two mares vanish off into the distance as she continues on her way home. “And lively is most certainly better! Aside from Pinkie’s parties, bless her soul, there is very little in the way of action in this…. Wait, what is that yelling?” Cheerilee turns her head to look across the square as her ears begin to pick up the sound of loud arguing.

Standing before the family’s trademark apple stand is the strong and hunky stallion Big Macintosh, the most eligible bachelor of Ponyville. From his red coat, to his orange mane, and large muscular body that complimented his cutie mark of a large green apple every inch of the stallion was a picture of physical perfection. The yoke around his neck and his cutie mark symbolizing both his incredible physical strength and his enormous levels of patience. It is no small town secret that, despite his wondrous physique and rumored ‘endowment’, the brother of Applejack was single, which made him a target for almost every mare (and a few stallions) in town.

And for Cheerilee, a single mare in her early thirties, she is no exception to this rule. However what really caught her eye was the flustered expression of the stallion before Big Mac, one Filthy Rich, father of Diamond Tiara. Filthy is one of, if not the, richest ponies in Ponyville, and his status as CEO of Backyard Bargains is as well-known as Mac’s single status. In contrast to Big Macintosh, however, Filthy is far more lithe and manicured, typical of a pony who spends more time in meetings than working or exercising. His light brown coat, impeccably well groomed, is dressed up in the finest business tie and golden hoof cuffs that money could buy. His cutie mark, that of a bag of bits, represents both his talent and his love for acquiring and investing money, and few things other than that and his daughter could hold his attention for long.

From what little Cheerilee can make out from across the square, it seems as though Mr. Rich is complaining about a business deal of some kind, something about not being able to provide…. something. Suddenly, as if by magic, Cheerilee is able to hear every word of the argument, as if she was standing right beside the yelling stallion.

“… and I’m telling you, Macintosh. I need those fifty crates by week end. Supplying is the job of the supplier so pick up the pace! My stockholders are depending on your shipment!”

“…. An Ah'm telling you, Mr. Rich, that we just don’t have the horsepower to fill that order on such a short notice…. An rushing things will decrease our quality.”

“Well then hire more workers! That shouldn’t be a problem with you kissing the flank of the local Princess Representative!” Filthy sneers as he tries to comb back his rapidly-degenerating mane style. “Don’t think that I’m blind, Macintosh, the entire town knows what a hooligan your sister has turned into ever since….”

“So,” Cheerilee talks to herself as she tunes the argument out, “it’s a business argument between Big Mac and Filthy Rich… Well it’s none of my business anyways. I should do the polite thing just walk away.” However despite her efforts the mulberry mare cannot tear herself from her spot.

Cheerilee continues to stare ahead as Filthy vents his frustrations on an unreadable Big Mac. “But I can’t just leave the prospective guardians of two of her students in such a shape. What about the children? Besides….” Cheerilee grins broadly as she walks towards the two stallions, giggling all the while “… If I help out Big Mac it might just be the excuse that I need to take him on a date!”

Walking up to the two stallions, who have to this point ignored her and been ignored by everyone else in the marketplace, Cheerilee clears her throat. “Um, hello!” Both stallions turn towards the teacher. “Um, yes! Hello! I couldn’t help but hear your little argument so I thought that I might help by being an arbitrator in this discussion! See, I know both your children from school, and if I can be of any assistance…”

Filthy turns to Cheerilee, “You want to help? Then butt out.” The stallion turns back to Macintosh. “As I was saying before I was interrupted, get that sister of yours under control and have her help you fill my order. You promised me that order by the end of the week!”

Big Mac continues to stare down the business pony with a slight look of frustration. “We promised ya thirty crates of apples, not fifty.”

Filthy rich groans. “Thirty, fifty, same thing. Just make it work! I have…”

“Excuse me!” Cheerilee yells, “Now, Mr. Rich! This is positively atrocious behavior. Now I know that you are busy but that is no reason to make such unreasonable demands of….”

Filthy Rich moves so close into Cheerilee's face that she backs off immediately. “Tell me, what does a school teacher know about the finer points of business? How many multimillion-bit corporations have you run lately?” Cheerilee can only stutter wordlessly as the brown stallion backs off. “I didn’t think so. Now, as I was saying, Big Macintosh….”

Cheerilee stares blankly at the rude stallion before her as he continues to yell at the muscular hunk she admires. “All I wanted…. I just wanted them to behave…. Is that so wrong…… why can’t that thick-headed stallion see how rude he’s being? Why if I had the power, I’d…”

Suddenly Cheerilee freezes in terror as she sees a large bug, about the size of a hoof, land on the stallion’s flank. If it were not so large it might have reminded Cheerilee of a ladybug, with its round shape and pearl-studded shell that matches her own coat’s color perfectly. The insect though large would appear almost cute, if Cheerilee were not so afraid of the fact that it had extended its long needle-like proboscis and was in the process of biting into Filthy’s flank.

Acting in the same way any normal mare would if she saw a large hoof sized-bug landing on a pony’s flank, Cheerilee screams at the top of her lungs and slaps where the bug has landed, right on Filthy Rich's exposed rump. However, before her hoof can even connect the bug flies off with amazing speed, hovering in the air in front of Cheerilee as if confused by the mare’s behavior. This causes the most humorous scene of a schoolteacher spanking a business pony in the middle of the town square for everypony to see, much to Cheerilee's embarrassment.

Needless to say Filthy Rich did not react well to this, rubbing his injured flank and turning around to face his assailant. “What in the name of Dickens?! Miss Cheerilee?!? What do you think you are doing?!”

The teacher points her hoof towards the giant hovering insect. “A bug! It was a huge bug! It bit your flank and I tried to stop it but…”

“A bug?” the stallion asks incredulously as he looks around trying to locate the supposed bug hovering a distance to his left. “I see no bug, Miss Cheerilee! Have you lost your mind?! Or is this your idea of a joke?!”

“How could you miss it? It’s right in front of you!” The teacher turns to where the insect once was, only to see it fade away in front of her eyes. “W-What? It…. it flew away? No, it was like it just disappeared ……”

The brown stallion rolls his eyes. “Oh how convenient! The bug just happened to vanish into thin air after supposedly biting me! Well I didn’t feel anything and I see no bug! That means you have either gone crazy teaching those little foals of yours or you are so intent in sabotaging me that….”

“Now see here!” Cheerilee yells, her eyes suddenly glowing with an inner fire. “I may be a patient mare, slow to anger. But no pony,” The teacher gets up in the brown stallion’s face. “I repeat, NO PONY insults my students. Now you sit down and be quiet.”

For a second the stallion looks like he wants to continue to yell at the mare before him, to tell her off simply because he himself is wealthy. But at Cheerilee's words his eyes glaze over as he stares at Cheerilee with a new look of admiration and respect on his face. “Very well. I will sit down and be silent.” The brown business pony sits down in the dirt, looking at the teacher before him as if what she has to tell him is the most important thing in the world.

Impressed that she is finally getting somewhere, Cheerilee nods in approval. “That is more like it, young colt. Now I know that you need those apples for your business, but you have to see how unfair it is to Big Mac to simply be so rude to him like that. First, you should be polite and talk thing over like gentleponies…”

“Be polite….” the brown stallion echoes.

“Yes, be polite, very good!” Cheerilee nods. “Second, you should put yourself in the position of others, no more of these unreasonable demands. Need I remind you that you have a daughter that is a student of mine? You need to set a reasonable example for her sake! Your daughter is a jewel but you obviously need to spend more time as her father and less time as a business pony. And the best way to do that is be patient and kind.”

“…. No unreasonable demands…. Spend more time with daughter… Be patient and kind…” the stallion drones on.

‘Wow, this is working even better than I had ever imagined! Points for being a figure of authority!’ The teacher nods again, reinforcing Filthy’s compliance. “Good! Now, you go back home and think about your behavior, young colt!”

Picking himself off the ground, the haze clears slightly from the stallion’s eyes as he walks back home, resolute on spending some quality time with his daughter and adjusting himself into a better, more well-rounded pony.

Cheerilee, confident that she has saved the day, turns back to Big Mac. “Well, I sure showed him! Now, are you alright, Big Macintosh?”

Big Mac stares dumbly failing to process the fact that the most difficult customer he ever had the misfortune of knowing has just agreed to give him more time on his order. Turning towards the mulberry mare, he promptly displays this surprise by staring at her completely slack-jawed. Finally Big Mac is able to pick his jaw off the floor and properly thank the pony who saved him from having to put up with a pony more draconian than a dragon. “Thanks, Miss Cheerilee. Don’t know what ya did or how ya did it, but Ah thank ya for it.”

Cheerilee blushes. “Oh, Big Mac, I didn’t do anything! He just got bitten by that bug and he….” Cheerilee's mind stops in its tracks as she begins to process what just happened. ‘The bug? Could it be? It made Filthy want to listen to me? But how? True I’ve never seen a bug like it… but where did it come from? And for that matter, where did it go…?’

Cheerilee looks at the stallion as he tilts his head in confusion. “Bug? What bug?”

‘Oh! Shoot, Cheerilee! You’re blowing it! You’re blowing it! Just act natural!’ “So….” The teacher rubs the back of her head nervously. “…are you doing anything right now, Big Mac?”

Big Mac looks to his cart. “As a matter of fact, yeah.” Cheerilee beams at the implications of spending quality time with Big Mac. “Ah was just bout ta pick up mah goods and head in.” Cheerilee's previous mood instantly dissipates at the stallion fixes his cart to his harness and begins to pull the cart away.

“But… But…”

“Thanks again, Miss Cheerilee, Ah really owe ya!” Big Mac waves good bye to the mare as he pulls the cart off into the distance.

‘No! I can’t just let this prime opportunity go! If he leaves… I might never get another chance like this again!’ Reaching after the stallion Cheerilee calls out, “W-Wait!” Cheerilee rushes after the stallion, who turns back in confusion to the mare. “I-I-I mean… what’s the hurry? The day is still young! It’s barely sunset after all, surely you can spare a few minutes for the mare who helped you out?”

Big Mac chews the stalk of hay in his mouth, still utterly confused. “Bout what?”

“About… About……” Cheerilee desperately thinks up any excuse, any topic that would keep the stallion from leaving. “About business, of course!” Cheerilee beams at the cleverness of her own lie. “I mean, Filthy Rich may have been very rude about it but he was right to say that I knew nothing about it. I mean..… It was wrong to involve myself in Sweet Apple Acres’ business without knowing the first thing about it.”

Big Mac looks back at the mare with a thankful look on his face. “T’aint no problem, Miss Cheerilee. In fact Ah'm real thankful ya showed up when ya did…”

Cheerilee nervously gulps as she thinks to herself. ‘All right Cheerilee! This is your one chance! Don’t blow it!’ “So… perhaps if you were willing… You might be able to give me some pointers. Say, over dinner sometime?”

Big Mac’s face suddenly dawns in comprehension as he notices the burning red cheeks of the mare. “Look, Miss Cheerilee. Ah owe ya big fer dealin with Filthy like that. An yer a real nice mare and all… but…”

Cheerilee's heart sinks in her stomach. “But? BUT?!”

Now it is Big Mac that is the nervous one. “Look..… I’d be more than willing ta pay ya back another way an all. But Ah know what yer are after, Miss Cheerilee, and ta tell ya the truth, at this stage in mah life mah family and mah business comes first an Ah got no time between harvest, runnin Sweet Apple Acres and raisin Bloom and Jackie ta be thinkin all romantic-like.”

The stallion smiles at the dumbstruck mare, closing her jaw with his hoof. “Maybe once things slow down a bit then Ah'll have time for all the lovey dovey stuff, but until then business comes first. Ya understand right? Ah mean yer a teacher, and that’s a full time responsibility. Yawl should be able to understand…”

With that, the red stallion again picks up his cart with his strong back and waves good bye to the teacher. “Like Ah said, nice meetin yawl, an have a nice evenin.”

The mare stands dumbstruck as the potential love of her life begins to trot off, leaving her all alone. True, Big Mac had obligations just like she did, she should respect his opinions and let him say when he’s not ready…… right?

Suddenly Cheerilee looks back on her own life with a new perspective as venom seeps into her mind. But what have her obligations really gotten her? A class with so few students who actually made a sincere effort to learn? Ponies who snicker and chortle at her behind her back just because she spends more time grading papers and organizing presentations than having fun? What have her years of schooling and dedication brought HER?

And it isn’t just the children, but adults who look down on her profession; adults like Filthy Rich and his snobby wage earners, who make three times what she does in a day knowing a fourth as much as she does. And more depressing than that, night after night spent completely alone grading papers and preparing tests by candle light while lovers cradle each other in bed. What have her obligations gotten her but resentment and misery?!

And now, obligations threaten to pry a prospective lover from her arms, another lonely soul who is forced to choose between his own happiness and the happiness of others. Is she really going to let this happen again? Why can’t he see how much she is hurting? How much that he is hurting thanks to his Celestia-damned obligations?!

Cheerilee's heart breaks. “I just wanted the chance to get to know him……” The mare lets loose a single tear as she watches the red stallion walk off into the sunset. Yet as she stares at the stallion’s flank, she sees a familiar sight that moments ago was invisible: a large hoof shaped insect that has landed on the stallion’s back, its long needle-like proboscis ready to strike. Suddenly, the madness in Cheerilee's mind takes hold as an idea forms. “Oh no, Big Mac, I don’t think that you’ll be leaving anytime soon. In fact, I believe that we will be getting to know each other very well.”

In a single moment, the insect bites and the eyes of the stallion begin to glaze over……

………………….

The next morning at the library begins as any other does, slowly. Twilight organizes the town model with her magic making her plans as she waits for the last stragglers of their group to arrive. Rarity is filing her hooves in the corner while Fluttershy is talking amiably with the Great and Powerful Trixie; Pinkie and Dash are snickering in the corner about one thing or another as they both point to the bookworm Twilight. Twilight, however, is oblivious to the chatter of the other ponies, engrossed as she is in her team's success. So far their team, ‘The Stardust Crusaders’, have found a great many of the Red Stones in a relatively short amount of time, results which have greatly impressed her mentor Princess Celestia. And to make things better, this time they will be accompanied by a newcomer, the Great and Powerful Trixie, whom Twilight hopes will be a great help in their mission. Yes, things couldn’t get any better than this.

“Alright everypony, I’m glad that we could all set aside our busy schedules to meet today,” Twilight comments as the others draw into the main table. “I know you all have your own lives and jobs that require attention, but I thought that we could all meet together today to greet a new member of our team and show her the ropes.”

Trixie straightens her hat on her head as she scoffs at the very notion. “Show me the ropes? If you think that you would be able to show me anything, Twibright, you are sadly mistaken. Trixie is a Stand agent who has seen more action than your entire group combined.” the showmare chuckles. “If anything, it is Trixie who will be showing you a thing or two, being that Trixie is the strongest, most experienced and most amazing at using her Stand power.”

Trixie points at everypony at the table as she flaunts her superiority. “Why, Trixie doesn't know how you made it without her! You must have been hopelessly lost without Trixie!”

Dash rolls her eyes. “Ugh! Can we please move on before Trixie the Loudmouth starts another of her long-winded bragging storms?”

Trixie, using all her superior acting skills, puts on the most offended look that she can manage. “Loudmouth!? How dare you insult the Great and Powerful Trixie, you….”

The door bursts open with a full-force buck as a heavily-panting orange farm mare comes barging in. Applejack looks positively ragged, with large bags under her eyes and a worried look across her face that everypony can’t help but share. Every pony in the room looks at the mare with concern in their eyes, wondering what could have Applejack - the most dependably and level headed in their group - so worried.

That is, everypony except one.

“UGH!” Twilight yells, “Every time! I repair the door and the next day it is blown off its hinges! I swear the ponies in this town must want this library destroyed!”

Twilight levels her most disciplinary librarian’s stare at the panting orange mare. “Applejack, I know that you are upset for being late but I sincerely hope for your sake you have a better excuse than that for busting down my door in the middle of a group meeting!”

“No…. no time fer yer antics… Twi…” Applejack gasps, panting with every syllable. “Have any of you…. Seen mah brother…. Round these parts……”

“Her brother?” Trixie’s eyebrow perks up. “The hayseed has a brother?”

“Yeah!” Pinkie cheers. “Big Mac! He’s Applejack’s brother! You can’t miss him! Just look for the buffest pony in town and you’ve found him!”

“Pinkie dear… I think that you are over-exaggerating. I think that there is far more to Big Mac than simply his physique….” Rarity remarks. “...Then again he is quite buff.”

“Yeah, that’s him. He’s big, an has muscles like a tank….” Applejack continues, “he’s got a red coat and an orange mane an he’s got a cutie mark of a big Macintosh…”

“Clever,” Trixie sarcastically remarks.

“…… an he never goes anywhere without his yoke! He was supposed to be home with the cart yesterday! He always comes home at seven sharp but yesterday Ah had to go out lookin fer him!” Applejack begins to tear up a bit. “….But all Ah found was the cart with his yoke right by it! He’s been missin fer thirteen hours so far!”

Fluttershy moves close to the distraught mare, putting a comforting hoof around her. “There, there Applejack…. It’ll be alright…”

“Sniff…. Thanks, Fluttershy.” Applejack wipes the tears from her eyes. “Ah… Ah just don’t know why this craziness hurts our family like this…”

Twilight looks at the orange mare, her hooves covered in dirt, her mane and coat a mess, and her eyes bloodshot and tired. ‘She must have been up half the night looking for him,’ Twilight thinks to herself as she looks over the distraught farmer.

Her mind made up, Twilight turns back to the group. “Alright, everypony, change of plans. Today we need to find Big Mac.”

“Let Trixie get this straight,” the showmare works through Twilight’s logic, “we’re wasting the day combing the entire town looking for one stallion? He probably just found a cute mare to spend the night with or decided to crash at a friend’s house. Why should Trixie waste her time and resources on a pony who hasn’t even been missing a full day?”

“Big Mac ain’t like that!” Applejack yells. “He’d never abandon his family an leave us to worry like that! Heck, Applebloom was bout to skip school ta help me look; an Apple would never leave family worried sick bout them.”

“Applejack is right.” Twilight turns to face Trixie. “I may not know anything exclusively about Big Mac, but him disappearing is unnatural. It’s likely this could be the work of a Stand user. But more than that Trixie….” Twilight narrows her gaze at the showmare, causing Trixie to sweat nervously. “….Applejack is our friend, and we never abandon our friends and comrades when they need help the most. Do you understand?”

Surprised by Twilight’s sudden outburst and tone, Trixie backs off. “…Very well, we help look for the hayseed….”

Twilight nods. “Good, I’m glad that you’ve seen things my way! I’d hate to have had to……” The purple mare leans in, whispering words just out of earshot of the rest of the group into Trixie’s ear. Their effect on the showmare is readably noticeable, the blue mare’s coat flashing white from fear as she listens apprehensively to the librarian. “…… Understand?” Twilight asks. Trixie nods furiously. “Good! Now onto a plan of action!”

“Pinkie Pie, Rarity.” Twilight turns to the two mares, causing Pinkie to salute sharply, pull out a soldier’s helmet and place it on her head. “You two will search the east quarter of town for signs of Big Mac, while me and Trixie will handle the west side.”

“Okay… well what about me?” Dash asks.

“Dash, I want you to search the outlying sections of town. With your speed you should easily be able to cover Ponyville's perimeter for any strange happenings.” The rainbow pegasus salutes sharply as the purple mare turns to address the rest of the library. “No matter what, we’ll meet back here in two hours to coordinate our finds and report on our status.”

Applejack stares at Twilight perplexed for a few seconds as the rest of the group is about to rush out the door. Suddenly, just as Fluttershy is about to speak, the orange mare shouts over the din. “W-Wait! Twi, I think that ya fergot somepony! What bout me! I have to help yawl find Big Mac! He’s mah brother.”

Twilight turns back to Applejack with a look of worry on her face, walking up to the farmer and placing a hoof on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Applejack, I really am, but you’re just too close to this to think clearly…”

“Too close ta this?! But….”

“No buts, Applejack, look at yourself!” Twilight points her hoof to the orange mare. “You’ve practically run yourself ragged already! You’re almost dead on your hooves.” Twilight pulls the orange mare into a tight hug. “I promise you, Applejack, we’ll find your brother.” Twilight releases her hold on the farm mare. “But in your state, you’d be doing more harm than good. That’s why I need you to stay here to wait for any leads we may get.”

Applejack looks deep into the eyes of the purple mare before her, part of her mind wanting to believe Twilight and trust her friend. But the other, larger part of her psyche is telling her that right now her brother is in trouble and that completely overrides any rationality the sleep-deprived mare possesses. “Ya can’t stop me from wantin to go, Twi….”

Twilight sighs. “I thought that you would still feel that way…” The purple mare scoots aside, whispering something into Fluttershy’s ear that causes the orange mare not a small amount of worry. “…That’s why Fluttershy is going to stay here to keep an eye on you.”

“Fluttershy?” Applejack snickers at the very thought of the yellow mare stopping her. “Yer serious? Fluttershy? Yer goin ta have ta do better than that! Fluttershy has bout much chance of stoppin me as a….” Before the farm mare can even finish her southernism she locks eyes with the butter yellow mare in front of her and gazes into the void of Fluttershy’s Stare. Applejack tries to move, to muster up any amount of willpower and manifest her Stand, however she finds herself unable to do anything apart from breathe and stare into the eyes of the pink-maned pegasus.

“I’m sorry, Applejack? What was it you just said?” Fluttershy continues to stare into the motionless mare’s eyes. “Now I know you want to help your family, Applejack, but this isn’t healthy. Right now what you need is rest….”

“N-N-No… Ah….” The orange mare struggles with the gaze of Fluttershy. “….Ah don’t need…. Rest…”

Twilight looks at Applejack with a sorrowful expression on her face. “I’m sorry, Applejack….” The purple mare turns back to the group. “All right let’s head out! Keep Applejack here, Fluttershy!”

“No……. Ah can….” However, despite the orange mare’s protests she is able to do little more than watch out of the corner of her eyes as her friends leave without her. Suddenly her exhaustion catches up with her and the merciful darkness of sleep overwhelms her senses.

………………

Applejack awakes with a start from formless nightmares created from her worries and she instinctively reaches for her Stetson on the night-table across from her.

‘……. Wait? Night-table?’ Applejack looks down to see that she is laying on a comfortable reading couch, her hat and a glass of milk lying across from her and a light green blanket resting over her body. Reaching for the glass from her couch, the mare gulps down the warm milk and places the Stetson on her head as she tries to make sense of her surroundings. The mare combs through her memories as she tries to piece together why she was lying on a couch in the middle of the library. The last thing that Applejack could remember with certainty was the fact that she was out looking for her brother……

Looking for Big Mac……

And it all comes flooding back.

Without a second thought, the orange mare rushes over to the door and flings it open with a single fluid motion as she prepares to run outside. Only for her to run face to face with Fluttershy and her momentum-stopping stare. “Going somewhere, Applejack?”

Under the complete influence of the Stare Applejack has no choice but to shake her head ‘no’. “Good, I thought so…” Fluttershy comments. “You need your rest and your good friend Fluttershy would be ever so upset if you just up and abandoned her, so why don’t you just stay indoors for the time being.” Walking back with all the caution a pony backpedaling from a hydra would demonstrate, Applejack trots back indoors as Fluttershy walks in behind her, closing the door behind her.

“That’s good, Applejack, now you certainly look better after your little nap but you still need plenty of rest, It's only been an hour since the others left!” Fluttershy takes Applejack’s Stetson off her head placing it gently on the night table to Applejack’s side. “And don’t worry about Big Mac, I’m sure that the others have found him by now and are on their way back.” The yellow mare picks up the blanket off the couch and delicately drapes it over her friend. “It’ll be alright… you’ll see….”

Applejack wants to scream, to tell her that everything's not alright, that her family is in peril; however all that she can manage is a defeated sigh. “Give me a break, Ah don’t want ta admit it but…… I guess yer right, Fluttershy…… Ah'd just be in every pony’s way in mah state…” Applejack painfully smiles as she is forced to concede to her own weakness. “Ah'm so pathetic all Ah can do is just lay here, some ‘dependable pony’ Ah am….”

A look of immense compassion crosses Fluttershy’s face as she takes in Applejack’s defeated posture. Never in her life had she seen the confident, proud mare look so defeated before; it brought a tear to her eye that such an event could wound Applejack so greatly. To Fluttershy, Applejack had seemed invincible, now she was beginning to see a side of a pony who she thought she had all figured out, to see all the doubt and fear that she kept bottled up inside while she was out there being brave.

“It’s not that’s Ah'm upset with Twi for leavin me behind like this, she’s a true friend….” Applejack looks down at the floor as she clutches the blanket around her. “Twi was in the right, I’m more upset in myself fer letting my emotions get hold of me like this again. After Applebloom…… Ah just promised myself that I wouldn’t let it happen again. Guess that didn’t last long now did it?”

Applejack snuggles tighter into the blanket draped around her sitting form, needing the emotional comfort more than the physical. “Ya know what the really sick part is? When I heard my brother was missing I wasn’t angry at him or getting himself into trouble or whoever took him………. Ah was angry at myself.”

Gentle tears flow across Applejack’s face as she recounts her feelings to a mare who she barely even knows. “Even now, even though I love my brother more than anything, I’m angrier at the fact that I am unable to help him than him being missing. I’m…I’m just so tired of being so gosh darn powerless when ponies need me the most. Ah really am pathetic now aren’t I?”

A strong yellow hoof lashes out with speed and unpredictability that leaves the orange mare stunned as Fluttershy backhooves her across the face. Applejack blinks in shock as she puts a hoof up to her face rubbing the sore area as she stares back into the angry eyes of the pegasus before her. “Fluttershy… wha….”

“THAT IS ENOUGH, APPLEJACK!” Fluttershy stares deep into Applejack’s eyes. “Now you quit that thinking right now, missy! You are not powerless! You are personally one of the strongest ponies that I know!”

Fluttershy rips the blanket off her friend, not even giving the orange mare a chance to respond. “Now you quiet down and listen here! The Applejack that I know is always trying to help others even at her own expense. She is brave and always comes through when ponies really need her. I…… I always admired that Applejack….”

Fluttershy suddenly looks down at the floorboards away from her friend’s gaze “I could never… Could never be relied on like you were, Applejack. I was always afraid and doubted myself because I thought that I didn’t have anything to offer… And because of that…. I was always the first to run away from my problems….”

The yellow mare pauses as if in deep thought as Applejack rises back up to her hooves. The silence goes on for so long that Applejack is about to speak up when she is interrupted by Fluttershy. “But…. But I’ve realized something, Applejack and you need to realize it too. Rarity, your best friend and mine as well, taught me that one pony can’t do everything… But a group of ponies can do anything.”

Fluttershy takes Applejack’s hoof and places it in her own. “Sometimes If you want to help others, you have to depend on them. You have to be willing to let others do what you can’t do and just do what you can. So please, Applejack, don’t say that you’re weak. You’re not weak, just let the others do what they can… and do what you can in turn.”

The yellow mare smiles as Applejack begins to smile back. “And I promise you, it may not be today, or tomorrow or the day after that. But I promise you, Applejack, that ponies will depend on you and what you can do… A-And I know when that happens that you will step up to the plate because Applejack is the most dependable pony that I know!”

“…Fluttershy….” The orange mare’s face brightens considerably as she wipes tears from her eyes. “That’s mighty good words there! An Ah'm……”

BAM!

Both mares heads turn sharply to the front door of the library where an exhausted orange pegasus filly with a scooter and helmet drags herself into the library proper.

Applejack picks her hat off the side table as she looks at the pathetic condition of the library door. “…Twi was right…. That happens way too often……”

“Which one…” the orange filly gasps, “which one of you is Twilight…… Need help….”

Fluttershy, always sensitive to the injured and woes of others, rushes over to the tired filly. “You…. You’re Scootaloo aren’t you? Applejack says that you’re friends with her sister Applebloom?”

The filly smiles as she collapses into Fluttershy’s outstretched arms. “Heh is that how everypony knows me…… as Applebloom’s friend? Man I really need to work on my image….”

“Well for what it's worth I’m glad to see you too, Scootaloo.” Managing practically the lightest slap in existence Fluttershy spanks the filly. “But still, shame on you! How could you just skip school if you’re Applebloom’s friend? I knew that Applebloom and Rarity’s sister Sweetie Belle got into trouble on occasion. But this……”

“What the…. Never mind that!” The filly slaps aside Fluttershy’s hooves, standing on her own. “I had to escape from school as fast as I could! Cheerilee was…”

“You deliberately ran away from School?!” Fluttershy shouts. “And your teacher?!”

“Would you let me finish?!” Scootaloo shouts.

“Gladly!” Applejack slaps Fluttershy upside the head. “Let Scootaboom finish.”

“Scootaloo!”

“Scootaboom, Scootaloo, same thing, now what’s the rat in the grain silo?”

“…… Like I was trying to say…” Scootaloo continues, “Miss Cheerilee's lost it! We were just starting class, you know, talking amongst ourselves, being rowdy, throwing paper balls… You know, the usual when she sort of snapped!”

The orange filly extends her hooves creepily as if telling a ghost story. “Suddenly all the students started looking like zombies from Indiana Colt and the graveyard of the Brain Munchers!” Scootaloo scratches her chin. “That and her guest speaker looks really out of it! I mean Big Mac is usually really quiet anyways but he just looked really…. weird, and he didn’t talk much unless he was complimenting Miss Cheerilee.”

“BIG MAC? He’s at yawl’s school?!” Applejack yells.

“Yeah! Applebloom thought that was strange as well cause he was supposed to be missing or something. All of a sudden Applebloom told me to get Twilight as soon as possible and told me to get going. She even punched Big Mac in the face so I could escape.” Scootaloo picks up her scooter brimming with pride. “So I got on my trusty scooter and got here in ten minutes flat! Pretty awesome, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yeah, yeah, Scootaboom. Whatever you say.”

“Scootaloo!”

Applejack narrows her gaze, letting the filly know she’s not taking any backsass. Parking her Stetson on her head the orange farmer looks down on the little filly. “Scootaboom, yawl rest here and when Twi gets back tell her what happened.”

Scootaloo gives Applejack a skeptical look. “Why? What are you going to do?”

“Me?” Applejack places one hoof confidently outside the broken library door as she looks back at Scootaloo. “Well, now that Ah know where ta go……Ah’m gonna have me a little parent-teacher conference with mah two best friends Kicks Mcgee and Bucks Magillicuddy in attendance.”

However the orange farm mare once again finds her way outside blocked. “NO, Applejack!” Fluttershy shouts barring Applejack’s way. “I know that you want to help your brother but you’re in no shape! Let’s wait until Twilight gets back like she asked……”

“We ain’t got time fer that, Fluttershy!” Applejack takes another step forward causing the yellow mare to back off. “All the others are scattered round town, we can’t leave our foals at a crazy teacher’s mercy. Ah’ve seen how Crimson Harvest ends! And that aint right!”

“Oh…” Fluttershy nervously shuffles her hooves. “I’m sure that Scootaloo is just over exaggerating everything… I know Cheerilee. And she’s a calm reasonable pony… I’m sure that Applebloom and her friends are…”

“We can only do what we are able to do, ain’t that right, Fluttershy?” Applejack tilts her hat as if acknowledging Fluttershy’s past point. “Well now we are the only ones that can reach the school in time, so it is up to us to do what we can. An that means both of us, together!”

Fluttershy looks at Applejack, her confidence swelling as she feeds on the confident aura that seems to pour out of the farmer without limits. Taking a deep breath, Fluttershy stares back, her own confidence returning. “All… all right then… I guess… No, you’re right! Now it’s our chance to do something!”

Applejack nods. “Good, that’s the spirit, Flutters! We’ll make a brave warrior out of you yet!”

Author's Note:

To Be Continued→

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