• 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 3-Foundation-Take 1

Foundation-Take 1:


I never wanted this.

I never wanted my parents to die.

I never wanted to work from the age of thirteen for thirteen hours a day in harvest, when other foals my age were playing around and making friends.

I never wanted to have to tell my little sister, why she doesn’t have a mother or father.

But most of all, I never wanted to have to wait here, in the waiting room of a worn down hospital, to find out how sick my baby sister really is. All while being given a run around by government type ponies rather than getting straight answers from the doctors that I have known for years Like Dr. Stable and nurse Stable Pulse.

The rest of the family of course wanted to come too, however we can’t leave the farm completely unstaffed, even with hire-ons like Thunderlane and Carrot Top picking up the slack. Goodness knows Granny and Big Mac both need their rest at this time of night.

So I did something I hate to do more than anything in the world, I lied.

I told them that it was just a bad cold that would keep her out of school for a few days tops, and she would be right as rain in a few days with plenty of food, water and rest.

I told them that instead of the truth, which is ever since she go that nasty cut from that piece of a shooting star that fell in our south field, she has been battling a fever that makes me afraid; not for myself but for her.

I hate lying, I hate sitting here, reading the same magazine article over and over, but more than anything, I hate being so gosh darn powerless.

But if there is even a snowball’s chance in Tartarus of helping my flesh and blood, than I’ll endure anything, cause if there is one thing I am, it’s the most reliable of ponies.

And that’s because when it comes to the important things in life, I never back down, I never give up, and I walk to the end of the earth if I have to; all to see to it the job gets done.

“Number fifty six, number fifty six, the Government representative will now meet with you. Once again, the Government representative Twilight Sparkle will now meet with you.”

My name is Applejack and I’m about to get some answers.

……………….

Slumping out of her chair, an orange earth pony mare with a purposeful look in her eyes stares at the slip of paper that she was given when she asked to meet the pony ‘in charge’. Satisfied that she is indeed the pony whose turn it is, she picks up her hat, a worn brown Stetson, staring at it for a few seconds before letting out a repressed sigh. “Give me a Break. Ah knew they were tryin to stonewall me, but they kept me waitin fer half the night. Any longer an i would have had ta buck down the doors mahself…..”

The orange well-built farm mare slips the hat on her head like she had done it a million times before, her dark green eyes narrowing as she glances towards the double doors in front of her that lead to the inner labyrinth of the hospital. Her untrimmed golden blond mane, though obscured by her hat still, reflects light with a golden hue, as even her blond tail seems to reflect every stray beam of light from the fluorescent bulbs above. Her Cutie mark, that of a trio of Apples, marks her as not only a farmer, but a member of the illustrious Apple family, a family known throughout Equestria for their strength, endurance and adamant personalities that could move the earth itself with their sheer stubbornness.

Narrowing her gaze towards the double doors that she was told to enter when her number was called, the mare paces forward. Yet, despite her eagerness and endless frustration at the night’s events, the mare manages a leisurely gait towards the door, as if her sister’s life didn’t currently hang in the balance. Pushing aside the double doors with a glancing shove from her hoof, Applejack walks inside to the hospital proper to see an unfamiliar face if ever there was one.

A purple unicorn mare with a cutie mark of a sparkling purple star, whose demeanor and behavior practically scream high class Canterlot, stands talking to one of the many extra doctors that were ‘reassigned’ to ponyville following the mysterious outbreak that had affected her sister. Walking right up to the new faces in the middle of the hall, Applejack clears her throat, not willing to wait any longer for bureaucratic processes to claim more of her time. However, despite her loud coughing sounds, the orange mare’s voice is ignored by the two ponies in front of her, ponies who are currently engaged in a heated conversation.

“….. and make sure that the youngest of the patients receives the best of the medicines,” The purple mare orders.

“And as I said before, Mrs. Twilight,” the grey unicorn stallion with a black mane claims, as he pushes up his tortoiseshell glasses on his face. “You may have been directly assigned to this little burg by the princess, but I am a senior doctor from the RSD, who, in case you didn’t realize, specializes in these kinds of cases.”

“Your status doesn’t mean a thing here, Doctor,” the unicorn snaps back. “We aren’t here to progress any agendas, our only goal should be to help those ponies. So I am ordering you to get these civilians the best of the medicines from Canterlot; NO excuses.”

Countering back, the doctor gets up in the mare’s face as he too refuses to give any ground. “Now, who is trying to pull rank? As I already tried to explain to you, Mrs. Twilight, we need to conserve the best of the medicines if the situation changes, and only using them when it is prudent. Rationing the rarest, and may I remind you the most expensive of the medicines, should be our policy here, not doling them out on every John Doe.”

Before the unicorn mare can retort, she is cut off by another loud throat clearing noise that draws their attention to the orange mare that has seemingly appeared out of thin air. “Pardon me there, DOC.” Her voice dripping with enmity, “but from what ah was gatherin there, yawl were talkin about denying yer patients, patients like my sister, the treatment they need, cause of some issues of supply an demand?”

The doctor sneers at her allegations. “Humph I wouldn’t expect some…. Some…. What is it you do for a living, Mrs…….”

“Applejack. Mah name’s Applejack and yes, Ah’m a farmer.”

The doctor grins evilly. “Oh yes, a farmer. Forgive my impudence, Mrs. Applejack, but I wouldn’t expect a lowly farmer to understand the nuances of advanced medicine. You see….”

“Ah don’t need some fancy degree, ta tell a snake from a sheep, Mr. ‘I’m too good for other ponies’.” A sly grin crosses the mare’s face. “Ah just thought the ‘lowly farmers’ and common ponies of this town would feel about yer ‘rationing’ of medicines when their loved ones are sick.”

The doctor’s pale grey coat turns even paler. “That would be a gross breach of contract, to reveal that information. I’ll have you know that violating the nation of Equestrian’s secrets can elicit a penalty ranging anywhere from….”

“That ‘lowly farmer’ is right, Doctor Healthy Flesh,” the Purple unicorn interrupts, seizing the initiative. “And you were right about one thing, I am pulling rank. Celestia, the monarch of the sun, put me in charge of the patients in this town, and that means if I even hear a whisper that you are denying any one of them the best treatment that you have to offer, you will be cleaning medical supplies by hoof for the rest of your life.”

The previously overconfident doctor visibly blanches at this threat, fumbling with any proper response. “But I have..... Special clearance…….. And…….”

“Do I make myself clear?” the unicorn finishes.

Grimacing at the trap he has now found himself in, the doctor suppresses his rising anger as he hides his rage behind his own indifference. “Fine, Mrs. Twilight. Since you are pulling your rank, I guess I have no choice but to follow your lead….. For now.” The doctor backs of, as he begins to trot away from the purple mare. “But if we run out of supplies before the day ends, don’t come crying to me!” The doctor unceremoniously flees the scene of his defeat, allowing the purple mare the space to she needs to recover.

“Whew. That was exhausting.” Twilight clutches her chest, as she begins to breathe freely for the first time that night. “I have to deal with dozens of concerned family members and now this. Forgive me for the ‘esteemed doctor’s’ behavior.” Twilight extends her hoof to the orange mare in front of her. “My name is Twilight Sparkle.”

“Twilight Sparkle?” Applejack asks skeptically, cocking her eye at the mare before her. “Are you sure it ain't Twibright Sparkle?”

“Urgh?! Why do ponies here always think that?” Twilight asks with a twinge of frustration. “Is there a Twibright Sparkle here in ponyville or something? I swear you’re like the fourth pony to make that mistake,” the unicorn states with her hoof still outstretched, a small smile crossing her face, demonstrating the fact that she is pleased to meet a new pony. “No, my name is Twilight Sparkle, I’m the newly appointed princess representative here in ponyville.”

Looking suspiciously at the hoof for a few seconds, Applejack swallows her suspicions of the unicorn before her, and shakes hooves in a dignified and proper way. “Applejack, proprietor of Sweet Apple Acres.”

Breaking their hoof shake, the unicorn puts on her best face, as she tries to make a positive impression on the embittered pony in front of her. “Well, Applejack, let me be the first to assure you that whoever your friend, coworker, family member, or significant other is, they are currently receiving the best treatment in Equestria.” Twilight walks down the hall as the farmer mare follows on her heals. “The moment that we heard about this epidemic that is going around, we allocated spare doctors and medical supplies from canterlot to better face the problem at hand. I can assure you that we have everything under control.”

“Everythin under control hunh….” Applejack muses. “That’s pretty good, considerin yawl arrived not a few hours ago.”

Twilight beams with pride at this compliment as she trots down the hall. “What can I say, we move fast when our subjects are in danger. It’s one of the great things about Equestrian healthcare.”

“……And yawl received news of this here epidemic … when was it? Like I said, yawl moved awful fast.”

Twilight’s pace slows to a crawl as she struggles to properly answer the orange mare’s accusations. “He He….. well, we received news from scrying pool sometime this morning, so we just got everything together and rushed over here as soon as we heard how bad it was here in Ponyville.”

“That’s mighty impressive!” Applejack says with mock gratitude. “Ah mean, the day that an outbreak happens, yawl just happen to respond in under half a day. I mean, I knew that Canterlot doctors were fast, but whoee, that’s really fast.”

Twilight stops in her tracks as she begins to break down in the face of Applejack’s piercing insinuations. “Well…. That is…….. Canterlot doctors are just better! I mean, it is the capital of our kingdom for a reason after all!”

Applejack gives Twilight a deadpan stare. It is obvious as the hat on her head that she is not buying any of what Twilight is selling. “Shug, let’s quit the act and stop talking turkey like this.”

“What?” The shock on Twilight’s face is readily apparent. “I mean, whatever do you mean, Applejack? I’m not talking like a turkey! Turkey gobble, I’m a pony not a turkey! I know, let’s check on your sister, that will dissuade any further questions! I mean that will…...”

Applejack rolls her eyes, not knowing what is worse, the mare’s blatant lies, or the fact that the mare in front of her was about as bad as a liar as she was. “Ah mean, yawl should quit spewin out these half truths!” Applejack states sternly but plainly. “Yawl are a terrible liar and an even worse pony, if you can keep the truth from us common ponies like we’re stupid or somthin.”

In the wake of the unicorn’s weakness, Applejack decides to push the advantage intimidating Twilight with her bubbling anger and rippling muscles. “Now hurry up an spill! What’s’ really goin on round here! Ah’m a tax payin citizen and ah reserve the right ta know what’s’ goin on around here!”

“What!? I’m not a bad pony…….” The mare states as she is mentally backed into a corner, flashbacks of her failure with the Red Stone demolishing her self-esteem as she tries to repel the farmer’s sharpened words.

The sudden meek response of the unicorn in front of her makes the farmer realize painfully that she might have pushed the mare too hard. With a steady deep breath, the farm mare quiets her growing rage, as she prepares to discuss things like a civil pony. “Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to insult ya none. I’m sure that yawl are at least better than that snobby doctor I just met. However, it’s clear as the blue sky that yawl are hiding somthin from the common ponies, and that somthin is currently threatening the life of my little sister.”

“H-h-h-hiding something?” Twilight asks, fearful of discovery. “What do you mean?”

Raising her voice ever so slightly, just enough to display urgency, Applejack counters, “I mean this whole setup here! First off all tha normal doctors are replaced with these here shifty canterlot types, and now the entire hospital is guarded by the soldiers and all the medical staff that weren’t kicked ta the curb are as silent as a mouse in a cupboard.”

Twilight attempts to counter with a well-rehearsed bluff. “That is because the princess is very worried that this infection will spread to others in the town. She’s just making all the efforts necessary to insure that the ponies in the town are safe.”

“And about all that sudden help.” Raising her voice even more. “An infection breaks out, infecting tens of different ponies in a single day, directly after that little light show in Canterlot, and not a day later doctors arrive even before news reaches Canterlot ready to ‘help out’.”

Twilight literally backs herself up against the wall as her arguments fall completely apart. “Well… that’s…..”

“AND FINALLY!” Applejack practically shouts, “the Apple Family is known for being as strong as the earth itself. I got the pony pox when I was six and I was back up on my hooves in under two days. This ‘little pandemic’ must be something deathly powerful if it can make one of our kin this sick.”

Applejack presses her muzzle directly up to Twilight, pressing her further into the wall. “Now I’ll give ya one chance ta come clean. What is mah sister, my flesh and blood really sick with? What crazy magic ya unicorns conjured up is responsible for this, and just what in the hay are you covering up. Talk darn you or so help me…..”

Twilight babbles incoherently at Applejack’s scathingly accurate observations, all the while struggling to find a story that will convince the orange mare of her good intentions. However just as the purple mare was beginning to crack, Applejack was sent falling back on her flank by a sharp sudden blow, her Stetson flying in the air, as the butt of a guard pony’s spear comes to rest on Applejack’s chest, pinning her to the ground.

Dressed in the armor of the solar guard, a pegasus mare with a mane of various yellows stands over the orange earth pony, glaring down at her with piercing yellow eyes. Her helmet, though obscuring most of her face, cannot obscure her hostile gaze, or hide her light green coat that is well brushed and maintained even after long hours of duty. Her cutie mark, that of a lightning bolt surrounded by stars, stands as a testament to her speed and suddenness of her arrivals, as well as her stunning blows.

With flair the mare flips the spear around, pointing the business end of her spear at the Applejack's throat in a display of her power over the hostile threat beneath her. “I’d keep your hooves off of the princess’s personal protégé if I were you. The penalty for assaulting nobility is usually one hundred hours community service minimum, and that’s IF you’re lucky enough to survive a scrap with the royal guard.” Turning her head to face the recovering purple mare “Sorry for not arriving sooner, Mam. I’ll get rid of this troublemaker now.”

Straightening her head out and now able to think clearly after being mentally and physically backed into a corner, Twilight rises to her hooves. “No…. that’s not necessary, Sergeant Lightning Dust. I can handle this from here.”

The solder chafes at this, glaring at the orange mare with an even more hostile stare. “Permission to speak freely, ma’am? This mare is a troublemaker who just assaulted you; she is an obvious threat and needs to at least be taught a lesson against assaulting ponies in clear view of the guard.”

“……. dismissed, Sergeant”

“But ma’am!” Lightning Protests.

Walking over to the orange mare lying on the ground, Twilight begins to speak. “This mare is just concerned about her family. She’s just distressed and worried.” Twilight pushes the spear away from Applejack’s chest with a brief push of her magic. “You can understand how that feels, can’t you, Sergeant?”

Looking at Applejack with a slightly softer look in her eyes, Lightning Dust suddenly breaks out in a snide smirk. “Looks like you get off easy, farmer. It’s a good thing the princess’s protégé is a kinder mare than me.” Removing her spear from Applejack’s chest, she returns to her normal guard pose. “However, don’t let it get to your head. I’ve got my eye on you, and this spear isn’t just for show.” Saluting sharply to the purple mare, the Pegasus dismisses herself.

Applejack rubs her throat where the point of a spear was a few moments ago, as she rises to her hooves. Internally she thanks her lucky stars that Twilight was forgiving like that. As much as she hated to admit it, that guard was right; that was far too out of character for her to just back a mare into a wall simply because she was being lied to. Just as she is about to apologize to the purple mare for her behavior and thank her, she is cut off by an apology from the mare she just offended.

“Sorry about that,” the unicorn states. “Lightning Dust is a good soldier and she means well, despite her demeanor. She was just trying to do her job.” Twilight lifts the orange mare’s Stetson off the ground, as she presents the hat as a peace offering to the orange farmer.

Picking up the Stetson in her grip, Applejack puts it on her head. “Thank ya kindly, Twilight.”

“Don’t mention it, Applejack.” The purple mare gives a warm smile. “Forgiving others is a part of life. I just hope that you can forgive me….” The mare lowers her head in shame, rubbing her arm. “You see….. You are right Applejack; I am hiding something from you about what is going on, something that I can’t tell you about. No matter what.”

“What?!” Applejack is surprised at the mare’s sudden confession. She expected that after that display of her authority, she would cling to her story like a captain clings to their sinking ship. Instead, the purple unicorn in front of her came out and openly confessed to lying, even when she could have easily gotten away with it.

“But I promise you Applejack,” Twilight resumes, “your sister will be fine. I give you my word. Not the word of a government employee, but as a fellow pony that she will be fine.” Twilight crosses her heart. “I promise you, Applejack. That is all that you need to know right now.”

Stunned by the sudden truthfulness of a mare she has just met, a mare she has wronged, Applejack stares into Twilight’s eyes, searching for a confirmation of her words. More than anything she wants to believe in the promises of the purple unicorn she’s just met; she wants so desperately believe that her sister will recover from whatever illness has infected her. However years of being able to tell a fib from the kernel of truth and the uncertain look in the unicorn’s eyes, tell Applejack all she needs to know.

“Horse Apples.”

“What?”

“Ah said Horse apples, Twi,” the farmer states calmly. “Twi, it may not be the best policy in every situation I know, but I am a mare that needs the truth. Ah can’t just stomach yawl telling me what I want ta hear just cause I’m concerned about my sis.”

Applejack looks into her eyes, her earlier anger and frustration replaced with genuine concern and worry. “Do you have a sibling, Twilight?” she asks almost pleadingly.

“Yes….. Yes, Applejack, I do.” Twilight replies hesitantly understanding exactly where Applejack is going with her argument.

“Then yawl understand that I need to hear how my sister is doing, an what’s goin on with her, not some false assurances.” The farm mare stands in front of Twilight, her face creased in worry but her body still standing strong under the weight of her own concerns. “Ah don’t want some government horse apples, I want the truth, no matter how painful it might be. And if yawl respect me than you’ll give me it.”

They both stare each other down for a few seconds, neither one willing to break under the pressure of the other’s conviction. However, eventually, Twilight caves in to Applejack’s demands, sighing deeply as she prepares to become the bearer of bad news. “Your sister’s name is Apple Bloom, correct?”

The look of sadness in the purple mare’s eyes almost stops Applejack’s heart cold in its tracks “Ye…. Yes.”

“Your sister…… like all the other ponies here, has experienced an adverse reaction to a magical substance that is a matter of national security.” She breathes in deeply as she prepares to deliver more bad news “Her condition was….. bad…… so we, in order to better treat her……”

“Yea? Spit it out!” the orange mare wrings her hat in dreadful anticipation.

Twilight fumbles with the next words, choosing every one carefully. “So…. We put her into a magical induced coma in order to better treat her.”

Applejack’s heart stops. All her vital reactions slow as her mind tries to vaguely comprehend the magnitude of what she has just heard. The first stable thought that passes through her mind is one that chills her soul down to the bone ‘my sister may never wake up again’.

As if sensing the mare’s internal turmoil, Twilight rambles on. “It’s only a temporary procedure, Applejack!” the purple mare cries, shaking the shocked mare with her hooves to bring her out of her stupor. “She is fine, your sister is fine! We just put her into a deep sleep to slow her conditions until we acquire more medicine for the patients to better treat their conditions! Once she is better stabilized, we can work on bringing her out of the coma. All we need, is a few more pounds of poison joke in order produce more of the medicine, I promise.”

At the mention of this Applejack’s shocked mind immediately snaps back into the conscious world. “Then we Just need more of that plant?!? If we had more of that poison joke plant, mah sister would be okay?”

Now it is Twilight being shaken by a fanatic Applejack, her head being rocked back and forth by Applejack’s sudden display of strength. “Y-y-y-yes, A-a-a-a-applejack. Stop sha-a-a-a-aking m-m-m-me-e-e-e.”

The orange mare relinquishes her hold, as twilight continues. “That’s better, and yes, Applejack, the Poison Joke is a light blue flower with dark blue marking that has many mysterious properties,” twilight repeats, as if reading the response from a textbook. “If brewed properly, the transformative nature of the plant can be made to better combat changes in magical auras. Once we gather more of it, we can begin better treating the patients.”

Applejacks’ body surges with hope. “Then we just need to gather more of that there flower! I’ll gather up members of the town and we’ll gather it lickedy split!”

Applejack is about to turn and run out, but is stopped by Twilight’s telekinetic aura holding her fast. “NO, Applejack! You can’t just go running around, rallying up the town to search for Poison joke. The flower is rare and only found consistently in a few difficult to reach places.”

“Like where?” the pleading mare asks. “Where can it be found? I’ll go get it, you name the place an I’ll be there!”

Twilight gulps. “W-Well, Applejack, the nearest place, that is the place that you could conceivably reach within the shortest amount of time is……”

“Yea? Spit it out filly!”

The unicorn gulps again. “The Everfree Forest.”

Applejack’s blood runs cold at the mention of that cursed woods. Everypony knew that the Everfree Forest was not a place anypony would willingly go. Despite being a hop skip and a jump from the civilization of Ponyville, the Everfree Forest was filled to the brim with poisonous plants, wild fluctuations of weather and most appallingly, thousands of hungry beasts which would enjoy nothing more than to snack on the unsuspecting pony that was foolish enough to wander in. Applejack knew from a young age that the few ponies who had tried to brave the forest never made it out alive.

“The Everfree forest?” the farm mare asks with a twinge of fear. “Like the same everfree forest that is filled with quicksand, and timberwolves and poisonous plants and…. “Applejack nearly passes out, as she mentions the next part “Manticore?”

“Yes.” Twilight nods her head, as she prepares to deliver even more bad news. “That’s why I didn’t want you rallying up the town’s ponies or tell them that we need more of the flower to treat their loved ones. The Everfree is a dangerous place Applejack. For anypony that is not completely prepared, it would be suicide to walk into its depths, especially now that night has fallen.”

Applejack falls to her flank in despair as tears begin to fall gently from her eyes. In an act of cruel irony, the farm mare was told her sister was dying and shown the smallest light of hope, only for it to be extinguished before her very eyes. It is a level of despair that few should ever know.

“I’m sorry Applejack.” Twilight apologies, knowing her words are an empty balm for the mare in front of her. “I’ve already assigned a contingent of the guard to scour the forest in the morning to search for more Poison Joke. Until then, you should go home and get some rest.”

“So…. So there’s nothing that I can do?” the mare sobs. “There’s no medicine for mah sister?”

Twilight nods sadly. “It’s why the flower is in so high demand. It’s almost impossible to cultivate the plant in natural settings, and due the great demand across Equestria, we have almost none of it here. We have to ration what little of it we have for the most high profile cases, and those who need it the most.”

Applejack’s ears perk up at this the sorrow in her blood begins to take on a new form, that of anger. “Those who need it the most, hunh? So my sister, who’s in a coma right now doesn’t fit on that list?” Applejack asks menacingly.

“What? No Applejack of course all patients get the best treatment, it’s just some ponies need more treatment than others and….”

“So mah little sister isn’t a ‘high enough’ priority for her to get the best treatment?” Applejack growls.

“What? No, Applejack, that’s not what I…”

Backing Twilight into a corner, Applejack gets into her face with all the aggression of a raging bull. “Is it because we’re ‘lowly farmers’ that we ain't getting the proper care!? We all get pushed off to the side while you the fancy government unicorn gets to decide who gets treated while others like my sister are dying!”

The Unicorn begins to visibly cry at this point “A-Applejack, please….”

“Shut UP!” Applejack screams as she stomps her hoof into the ground. “Ah know yer type, Sparkle. Yer just another callous stuck up noble from Canterlot that thinks that she can tell all us ‘common folk’ what to do cause she’s naturally better than anypony else!!”

Twilight falls to the floor, her legs losing their support under Applejack‘s cruel allegations “A-A-Ap-p-p-plejack……”

“Does playing with our lives give ya a thrill? Does it?!?”

Suddenly, for the second time that night, Applejack’s rant is cut off by the well placed butt of a spear that knocks her flat on her back. Standing in front of the sobbing mare, Lightning Sust stares the farmer down with anger equal in intensity to the anger Applejack had displayed moments prior. “Ma’am, you may have told me to let you handle this, but from the look of it you were handling it poorly.”

Taking a menacing step towards Applejack, she strikes an aggressive pose, her wings unfurled as if she were prepared to strike the farmer down with the point of her spear. “Now you, the farmer with an attitude problem. Harming a government official is a serious crime as I stated before. So if you are aiming to start a fight, then I can oblige you. If not, then get the buck out of here, and leave Miss Twilight alone.”

Raising from the floor, Applejack straightens her Stetson as she stares at the Solar guard. “That’s fine then, cause ah was just leavin.”

Turning towards the double doors that lead to the lobby, Applejack walks towards them with the same controlled gait at which she entered, preparing to leave the hospital and it’s depressing setting behind. However just as she reaches the door, she turns her head to look behind her, her eyes locking with Twilight, whose eyes are still dripping wet with tears. Then, not willing to stay a second longer, Applejack walks out the swinging door, leaving behind the scene of her shame.

……………………………………….

“STUPID STUPID APPLEJACK! Why in Tartarus did ya go an do that!” the farm mare berates herself, as she walks the long dirt road home, the cold night air doing nothing to alleviate her fiery anger at herself and the world.

“She was just tryin ta help and what do yawl do? Ya blow up in her face not once but twice!” In her anger she bucks a tree off to her side, causing the wood on it to splitter and crack under the force of her hooves.

“Shoot, ya even forgot to give her that piece of the shootin star ya got from Applebloom!” fumbling through her apple emblem saddle bag, she produces a small black stone with jagged edges that seem to glisten in the moonlight.

“Maybe had ya given it ta the fancy doctors, then they might have been able to help her better, but no! Ya plumb forgot on account that ya have pa’s fiery temper!” Putting the stone back in her bag, the mare walks along the fence posts that border her property, slightly relieved that she has finally reached home. The mare sighs heavily as she trots along the path leading up to her house, utterly disgusted in herself as she slowly stews in her own guilt and self-loathing.

Finally, after what seems like days to the disgruntled mare, Applejack reaches the front gate to her property, the sign ‘Sweet Apple Acers’ clearly visible in the moonlight. “Well, home sweet home as they say.”

However, just as she prepares to enter through the gate and bring this long day to a close, Applejack’s hoof stops mid stride, as she realizes that she returned without Applebloom. Once again the farm mare realises, that she is the one who will have to explain why her little sister hadn’t come home with her.

Applejack collapses in the dust, face dripping with tears as she finally begins to release all the pent up anger and sadness that had been brewing in her from the moment she brought Applebloom to the hospital. Applejack cries; she cries for her losing herself to her anger, she cries for lying to her family, but most of all she cries to herself for once again being so powerless in a hostile world that seems dead set to destroy her.

Content to sob in the dirt for a few moments, Applejack finally raises her eyes to the stars above her that are still clear enough to be seen against the glow of the moonlight. “Ah’ve already lost mah parents! Do ya want mah sister now? What’s next?!? Mah farm? Big mac? Granny? Mah friends?”

Applejack screams up to the sky. “What more do ya what from me?!?” Applejack snivels, as she is greeted to her questions by the same thing she has always been greeted with whenever she asked life why it could be so unfair: silence.

Wiping her eyes with her hoof, Applejack finally picks herself off the ground. “Heh, it’s not like I was expectin an answer or nothing…..” Adjusting her Stetson, Applejack prepares to walk through the gate, when for the first time in her life she is answered.

‘………To be strong.’

All the hairs on Applejack’s neck stand on end, as a mysterious voice seems to emanate from nowhere. Her body freezing in place “What!?”

‘The world, and the ponies in it, wish for you to be strong. That is why tragedy befalls you mare of apples.’

Spinning around, the mare tries to locate the source of the voice that has decided to speak to her. “Who’s there? Come out where ah can see ya!”

‘You call yourself the most trustworthy of ponies, and you are correct for you are a foundation upon which others can base themselves. You are a pillar of strength in hard times, and that is why trouble seems drawn to you, because you alone can endure it.’

The mare wheels around, again backing up past the gate to her property, confusion taking the place of the surprise that dominated before. “Who’s there? What are ya doing on mah land?”

‘If you wish to be the kind of pony that others can depend upon, you must be like a tree growing in the middle of a raging river: unmoving to the trials the world throws at you, and growing with every passing day.’

The mare spins around and around, the source of the voice seeming to elude her as she tries to find the source of the wisdom seemingly coming from nowhere. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”

‘You must find your own resolve and found yourself on the rock that is your resolve. Only then will you possess a firm foundation which cannot be moved in times of trouble. Only then will you be strong. ‘

“AH said who’s... WOAH!” the mare shouts out, succumbing to her circling around herself, as she falls flat on her flank in the dust. Scrambling around on the ground in surprise, her saddle bags fly open from the force of her fall sending her personal effects skidding across the ground. Spitting out the dust from the road for a few moments, Applejack jumps to her hooves again, her face a mask of anger and confusion.

“Ah won’t ask again! Who’s there?!” Yet once again as before the mare is only greeted by silence.

“Now I may be a patient mare, but I won’t take being made a fool of. I’ve had a rough day so yawl come out NOW!” silence again.

“…..hello?” once again only silence greets Applejack as her pulse returns to normal.

Content that the hallucination has passed, the farm mare breathes out a nervous sigh of relief. “Heh, Ah really be plumb tired. Now Ah’m hearin things when no pony’s there.” Applejack takes one last look around, seeing the various items that have spilled out of her saddle pack lying on the ground. Apples for a snack, Applebloom’s medical records, and the wrappers of various energy bars and snacks litter the ground beneath her.

“Heh, look at me chasing after voices in the dark like this, ah must be crazy.” Applejack states to herself as she begins to pick up her lost items.

Finally she manages to pick out the last of the items of the ground, the strange piece of stone Applebloom discovered as she holds it cautiously in her hoof. “Seriously, hearin things? Ah may even need ta get mahself...… checked out….”

The stone in Applejack’s hoof, as if possessing a life of its own, slowly moves on her hoof, inching towards the path lying in front of her. And looking up from her hoof Applejack can clearly see the direction the path leads in, the Everfree Forest. Yet, even with the dark forest in front of her, the stone moving on her hoof seems to be pointing unflinchingly towards the path ahead of the mare without wavering in the slightest.

‘The Everfree is a dangerous place Applejack,’ Twilight’s voice resonates through Applejack’s head. ‘For Any pony that is not completely prepared, it would be suicide to walk into its depths, especially now that night has fallen.’

Looking behind her, Applejack glimpses for the first time the fork in the road that she had never noticed before. One path, the road to Sweet Apple Aches, the road home. There she can close her eyes for a moment and forget the tragedy of the world around her. There she can wait for her sister to hopefully recover while she lies safe in her bed.

And on the other road, the path to the Everfree, a forest filled to the brim with hundreds and hundreds of the most vicious monsters known to Ponykind, but at the same time, it is the path that holds a chance, the smallest of chances, of helping her sister recover, of seeing her sisters’ smiling face once more.

Applejack looks back and forth between the two paths, each one holding possibilities that could decide her fate. “Give me a Break……..” Applejack straightens her Stetson on her head. “Like there was any choice in the matter anyways.” Mustering up all her courage and resolve, Applejack stuffs the stone back in her pack and bolts at the fastest speed that she can manage down the path leading straight into the heart of The Everfree Forest.

…………………………….

At the same time, walking down the hallways of the nearly empty hospital, Twilight Sparkle is faring little better than she was two hours ago. Her mane is disheveled, her eyes bloodshot, her body jittery from several dozen cups of coffee and her attitude sour from a long day’s work, far past her bedtime. Her sour attitude not just the result of a long day, but also the fact that the hospital will soon run out of the much needed medical supplies without a resupply by next day’s end. Yet these things are far easier to deal with than the still lingering words left by a mare she might have called friend.

‘Yawl are a terrible liar and an even worse pony if you can keep the truth from us common ponies like we’re stupid or somthin’

“No, I don’t think I’m better than any pony.” The purple mare tries to assure herself “I didn’t mean to lie; I just had to, for the Princess.”

‘Ah know yer type Sparkle Yer just another callous stuck up unicorn from canterlot that thinks that she can tell all us ‘common folk’ what to do cause she’s naturally better than anypony else.’

“NO! I’m not a bad pony! I’m just……. Just trying my best to help every pony that I can…..”

‘Does playing with our lives give ya a thrill? Does it?!?’

Finally Twilight Sparkle has had enough and with a single deft blow she slams her head into the wall in front of her. Her head throbs from the impact, however for the price of being able to purge her mind of the infecting thoughts, it was well worth it.

“Ms.?” A nearby nurse walks up to the disturbed mare “Are you okay?”

Waving her hoof in an assuring fashion the unicorn responds “I’m fine nurse Fair Weather, just a little distracted. You can carry on now.”

“As you say milady.” The nurse bows and without another word walks off.

Finally able to breathe again, Twilight stares in her reflection in the glass window to her side and is greeted by her horrid reflection. Her eyes are bloodshot, her coat is a mess and her mane is disheveled from one to many emotional confrontations. “Eek. No wonder the nurse asked if I was okay. I look worse than the time my brother told me that changelings laid their eggs in pony’s stomachs while they slept.” Twilight chuckles as she remembers the panic she instilled in the castle when she, a twelve year old filly, triggered the emergency wards and locked down the palace under the guise that changelings were infiltrating Canterlot.

Conjuring up a steady glow of her magic, the adept magi straightens her mane, clears the bangs from under her eyes and soothes her rumpled coat as she grooms herself after a stressful day. Finally, after five minutes, her reflection is back to her good old self. Twilight smiles that at least one thing has gone right today. “Okay, Twilight, focus. There are still patients who need your amazing supervision skills. Get it together.” Recalling an exercise taught to her by Celestia, Twilight raises her hoof to her chest and breathes in. As she slowly extends her hoof she breathes out, falling into a steady, relaxing rhythm.

Breathe in

Breathe out

Breathe in

Breathe out

Breathe in

Breathe o- BOOM!

Before the mare can even respond, she is bowled over flat on her back by a pink torpedo that pops out of nowhere. “HI THERE! I’M PINKIE PIE!”

“Guhhh!” Twilight screams in terror, as she thinks of calling for backup to protect her fragile body from further assault.

However, much to Twilight's’ apparent relief, the mare standing on top of her seems to be anything but a threat. Her cotton candy pink coat, though silky smooth to the touch, seems to be wilder and haphazard as a fox in a hen house. While her matching Pink mane, so wild and curled that Twilight believes that it has never been brushed a day in her life, bobs up and down with every single movement the pony makes. Her Cutie mark, that of a trio of balloons, designate her as some kind of ‘super-duper party pony’ informing any pony that stares at her flank that her goal in life is to have a blast. Yet the earth pony mare’s most distinguishing feature is her smile, a broad cheerful and brutally honest that says to the world ‘I am genuinely happy just to be alive, and there’s nothing you can do to take that away.’

However, even Twilight’s razor sharp mind is having trouble thinking while the pink mare above her rants on with the speed and careful foresight of a summer thunderstorm.

“Oh my gosh, are you okay, not from the flying tackle to the ground, but from the saddies that you were going through. I was just bouncing around when my pinkie sense told me that some pony was feeling crummy. My pinkie sense is always right, and it told me that you were feeling crummy, so I WOOOOOOSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHed right on over to cheer you up, because I’m Pinkie and I love to see ponies smile on the inside and on the outside. And not on the inside in the literal sense, because I got in real trouble for that when I tried to swallow a pair of dentures. What I really mean, I want my smiles to come from the heart because if you aren’t smiling in your heart then you aren’t smiling at all.” The pink mare stares at Twilight with beady eyes. “So annnnnnyyyyyyyways are you smiling in your heart?

“Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.” Twilight’s one in a million genius mind falls to pieces as she tries to comprehend what the pink disaster is saying. “I’m sorry, can you go back to the part where you said that you swallowed a pair of dentures?”

“YEEPERS! I certainly did. You see, old Mr Flanagan was having a ‘I got a new pair of dentures party’ so I decided to try and swallow a pair of those chattering dentures that are SO funny so that when I broke out into a musical number I could open my mouth and they would be sitting on my tongue! That would have been a riot! But it actually turned into a riot when the chattering dentures got a taste for pony blood and went on a rampage of death. Cause that’s what I do, I throw parties for all the ponies of ponyville. HEY, you may be able to help me out with something Mrs. ‘I’m not sad anymore’.”

“uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh.”

“Come on, it's real simple!” Pulling out a magnifying glass from her hair, the mare scours the surrounding room with the precision of an ace detective in a dime store novel. “My pinkie sense told me that there’s a new pony in town! And not a new pony in the sense of all the guards and doctors that are here to treat all the sick ponies, cause I already threw them a party with lots of cake!”

‘hummmmm, so that’s why the entire break room was covered in frosting. And silly me, I thought it was a prank to spite me. Instead it was just an out of control hyperactive party machine.’ Twilight muses cynically.

Leaning in as close as physics will allow, the pony puts her magnifying glass directly up to twilight’s muzzle. “So have you seen any new pony around here? Is she hiding from me? I just want to throw her a party? Why is she hiding from me?!”

‘I can think of half a dozen reasons why a pony would be hiding from you.’ Clearing her throat Twilight responds “well, I don’t know if you are looking for a pony that is moving here with your ‘pinkie sense’.” Twilight makes air quotes to emphasize how ridiculous it is that a pony could have a sense that could detect new ponies. “But I am a princess representative, staying here in Ponyville for an extended period of time, or at least until all the patients are better and……. other business has been taken care of.”

The pink party pony’s face beams as she points her hoof at the lavender unicorn. “SOOOOOOOOO you’re the new pony!”

And in the space of time of hearing those five words, Twilight Sparkle, genius, realizes that she has just made a terrible mistake. “Wait, hold on there Pinkie!”

Pulling out no less than an entire carnival style wagon, four flippers, a pair of fake mustache glasses and a small toothless alligator from out of thin air, the party pony beams with joy. “Do ya hear that Gummy? A new guest for ponyville! And you know what that means!”

“No……” Twilight stares in abject terror at Pinkie pie.

“That means we get to sing our patented ‘WELCOME TO PONYVILLE PARTY SONG’!” Pulling out a tuba from behind her back, the party mare fills her lungs to the brim as she prepares to blow the loudest most offensive sound known to musical instruments. Thankfully however, before the offending note could be blown, the mouth of the pink pony finds itself zipped shut by a magical zipper, courtesy of none other than Twilight Sparkle.

“Pinkie Pie was it?” Twilight asks with the level of caution a bomb maker might use. “Look, I know you just want to make me feel better, but this is a hospital and it’s the middle of the night! In case you didn’t know, ponies are sick and need their rest and the doctors here don’t need any of your distractions!”

Unzipping her magically sealed mouth, Pinkie Pie continues her tirade. “But you HAVE to have a party! If you don’t have a ‘welcome to ponyville party’ how will you make friends! Or eat cake? Or eat cake while making friends?!”

Twilight gapes at the pink mare. “How did you…… that spell was one of my highest silencing spell and you just……”

“Come on there Grumpy Mc. Grumpy pants!” Pinkie drapes her free arm around the mare. “This your first chance to have a real Pinkie Pie party! Come on, It’ll be fun! I’ll make sure that it’s super quiiiiiiieeeeeeeet……” Preparing to blow another note on her Tuba, the brass instrument is suddenly yanked out of the pink mare’s hooves and thrown off to the side by Twilight’s telekinesis.

“NO Pinkie Pie!” the purple mare yells. “No parties, no music, no….. no…… nonsense... I have an important job to do here and ponies’ lives depend upon me and the decisions that I make. The fate of Equestria does not rest on me making friends! I don’t have time for silly parties and the ponies that throw them! I can’t……” Twilight sags as she remembers her earlier confrontation with Applejack. “I can’t be callous to the needs of others….. not anymore.”

Pinkie Pie visibly deflates at Twilight’s sudden statement, her mane losing its ordinary bounce and luster. “Oh…… I see.” The mare removes the flippers and the fake mustache glasses and with a halfhearted nudge pushes the cart off screen. “I understand, you just have too many important things to waste time with silly party ponies and their silly parties.” Pinkie Pie sighs as she prepares to walk off. “I’ll leave you alone then. Sorry for bothering you…..”

Seeing the normally happy mare this distraught fills Twilight’s heart with a sense of sorrow. Yet what stings even more, is the fact that once again her words had hurt a pony who was only trying their best to help. Suddenly a great idea comes to Twilight, causing a broad smile to cross her muzzle “Wait! Pinkie!”

The pink mare’s appearance visibly brightens as her hair returns to its normal fluffy appearance “Yes, Twilight? Did you change your mind about the party?”

Twilight shakes her head. “No, Pinkie. Like I said, I’m very busy.”

The party pony lowers her head again “Oh..…”

“But, there is a pony that I know that really needs some cheering up right now.” Twilight turns over to the clock on the adjacent wall. “Well not right now because it’s in the middle of the night, but you get the idea. Her sister is really sick and I may have hurt her feelings. Could you do me a favor and cheer her up for me?”

Pinkie Pie spirit fills with happiness at the idea of cheering up a depressed pony. “You bet! What’s her name?”

“Her name is Applejack, and she lives in Sweet Apple Acres. If you could go by in the morning or just whenever and cheer her up, that would make me feel a whole lot better.”

Pinkie laughs at this. “Silly filly, Applejack isn’t at Sweet Apple Acres right now!”

“Really?” Twilight asks with a curious expression. “I thought for sure she lived at Sweet Apple Acres.”

“She does, but I just saw her running into the Everfree Forest not too long ago, so technically Applejack isn’t at Sweet Apple Acres now, she’s in the Everfree Forest!” The pink pony bops herself on the head in a cute manner that completely ignores the fearful expression covering every inch of Twilight’s muzzle. “Silly me! I forgot the reason that I came to the hospital in the first place was to get some medical supplies for Applejack including some manticore antivenin! My pinkie sense told me I would really need it. So I whipped over here and ran into you! Funny story hunh?”

Twilight turns pale as she thinks of Applejack wandering into those cursed woods in the dead of night. “The Everfree Forest? You saw Applejack run into the Everfree Forest?”

“Yep!”

“The same perilous forest covered in head to hoof in ravenous hungry animals and various dangerous forms of flora and fauna?!”

“Yep!”

“AND YOU DIDN”T TELL ME SOONER?!?”

Pinkie rubs her hoof on her chin. “Well, it’s like you said, you have all this important stuff that you are doing here, so I thought that I would be rude to interrupt you. Plus this way we get to advance the plot!”

“Just what are you…. Never mind, it’s not important! Because right now Applejack has gone into the Everfree Forest, and it’s all my fault.” Twilight stomps the ground in an attempt to relieve the intense frustration she feels towards herself. “If only I hadn’t told her about the Poison Joke flower, she never would have risked her life like that! I just didn’t think that she would be foolish enough to go into the Everfree Forest at night!”

Taking in several deep breaths, Twilight manages to calm herself down and think through the situation she now finds herself in. “Calm down Twilight, keep it together. Panicking won’t accomplish anything here. We need to rescue Applejack, but I sent all that was left of the royal guard to fly in supplies from Canterlot, and I can’t leave the ponies here completely unprotected especially when they could manifest a dangerous out of control stand power.”

Twilight looks down the hall, glancing at the royal guards stationed there, each one willing to put their lives on the line at her slightest command. “And I can’t order these guards to leave their posts to go on a suicidal quest into a dangerous forest in the middle of the night! Even if I am a princess Representative, I can’t go against Princess Celestia’s orders.”

Twilight looks at the door in behind her, the door that leads out of the hospital. “And if I try to leave and find her, I can’t lead the guard in the case of an emergency. That and i won’t be able to address the public on the outbreak if it begins to leak out that this infection is more than it appears.” Twilight stands like a statue unable to make a decision one way or another “I can’t abandon the princess’ order….. but Applejack…...”

Twilight stands still, her eyes closed in intense thought as she weighs her options, flawlessly debating the pros and cons of such a vital decision. Seconds pass as twilight weighs every possible choice and decision and how it could affect not just her, but the ponies in her charge whose very lives may hang on her decision. Even Pinkie is silent as she pays witness to an enormous internal battle that rages in Twilight’s Psyche.

Finally, Twilight opens her eyes. “Like there was any choice in the matter anyways… I can’t abandon my task, it’s too important to fail at…”

Pinkie gasps “Twilight! You can’t mean….”

“That is why…” The purple mare continues “….I have to go as quickly as possible and save Applejack. That way no pony will die on my watch.”

The party pony’s expression changes immediately from surprise to joy as she embraces the purple unicorn in a full on bear hug. “I knew deep down you weren’t a grumpy-mcGrumpy pants!”

With a little magic and a great force of will, Twilight manages to free herself from the hug of the boisterous mare. “Thanks…. I think. Now Pinkie, I know that it is dangerous but can you guide me to the entrance of the Everfree Forest?”

“Yeppers!” The pink mare states as she pulls out a first aid box from behind her back. “I already got all the medical supplies that we’ll need while you were standing there all quiet so we’re ready to go!”

“That’s great Pinkie! Now hold on.” Clenching her face into a grimace of deep concentration, the lavender mare’s horn glows bright purple as an aura of magic surrounds the two ponies. All of a sudden space snaps around them, as both the mares find their locale dramatically changed.

Now outside the doors of the hospital proper, the lavender mare looks around, as she manages to make out the outline of the scary forest off in the distance. Wasting no time, the two mares begin galloping off at full speed towards the forest as Twilight turns continues her open dialogue with the party pony running at full gallop next to her. “All right. Once I get to the forest, I’ll go in to find Applejack. But I can’t ask you to risk your life by going with me, so you can go and get help. If I don’t find my way out within an hour, go back to the hospital and send the Royal guard in after me!”

Pinkie grins at this, as she keeps pace with the purple unicorn to her side. “That’s okay Twibright! I can handle my little old self! Besides, I would have gone into the forest to save Applejack if you hadn’t!”

“Wow Pinkie! That’s really kind of you.” The purple mare suddenly is struck by a lingering thought “Wait a second! My name’s not Twibright, it’s Twilight! You’re the fourth pony to mistake my name this night.”

The pink pony points to a white sticker on Twilight’s chest, reading ‘Hello My name is Twibright Sparkle.’ “Name tag.” Pinkie says like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Oh.” Twilight remarks. “I see…. And I don’t suppose that……”

“It was there the whole time.”

“And you wouldn’t be so kind to….”

“Nope! I’m telling everypony I meet!”

“Then could you at least……”

“YOUR NICKNAME IS TWIBRIGHT SPARKLE FROM NOW ON!!!”

Throwing control and moderation to the wayside, the lavender mare lets out an earth trembling groan of frustration as the two mares trot as fast as they possibly can in the direction of the Everfree Forest.

Author's Note:

To Be Continued→

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