• Published 3rd Dec 2017
  • 3,933 Views, 130 Comments

Heart of the Force - fluttershyfan17

In the midst of Order 66, Jedi Knight Kaleb Taymar is transported to Equestria. Starting a new life, he becomes friends with the Main 6. However, the Force has awakened in Equestra, and their lives will never be the same.

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Chapter 5: Sweet Apple Acres

The sun had already reached the sky as Kaleb walked down the lane towards Sweet Apple Acres. Wearing a bright red shirt and jeans along with his boots-- an outfit that fit the job description, he took in the landscape with an outfit that fit the job description. He stopped to catch his breath as he took in the sights. The leaves were still green but had started to turn to brown, yellow, and red, and there was a cool breeze in the air. Focusing his breathing, he looked up towards the sign up on the entrance that had an apple on it. Chuckling, he opened the small half-door and strode through it.

Although he had seen parts of the orchard yesterday, he had yet to see the rest of the farm. The barn had a fading red façade, but still stood tall and featured paisley decoration done in a rustic gold. Nearby, an old well stood with the bucket and rope swinging in the wind. The clucking of chickens could be heard through the henhouse as well as the muffled oinks of pigs from the other side. Kaleb had just been looking around when he saw the doors to the barn open and Applejack stepping out.

“Howdy, Kaleb! How are you doing this morning?”

Looking at her with a friendly smile, he responded. “I’m good, got a little less sleep than I wanted to but otherwise I’m good. That’s a really nice barn you have over there.” He pointed towards the entrance.

“Thanks, sugarcube. Though that’s actually the house. There’s a smaller storage section down there, but we live upstairs.” Applejack waved off Kaleb’s apology. “Come on, I’ll give you the grand tour.”

Walking towards the field of corn, Applejack pointed to another barn, this one less decorative than the other. Eventually making their way to it, she pushed the door open and they walked in. The smell of sawdust infiltrated the senses but added to the rustic theme. “That’s where we keep all of our farming equipment, buckets, and where all cider production is based. Each barrel is made by hand, using an old press that’s been that barn since Granny Smith was a filly. Anything you need, you’ll probably find it over here.”

Kaleb looked around, impressed. The press was made of solid iron, with a vat for putting in the apples and a giant tap for filling the barrels. Despite the rust that had surrounded some of its parts, it still shined in the sunlight coming out of the windows from above and made the logo of an apple with old-fashioned lettering underneath with the name of the farm. The handles were the only thing that looked new, with the wood of a sugar maple being used.

“This is amazing,” Kaleb exclaimed, his eyes widening as he looked at it. “How many barrels can it fill?”

Applejack chuckled as they walked over for a closer look. “’Just one at a time. Because it’s iron, it can be very tricky to handle to start cause of the weight. But once it starts, you’re in for a ride. We built secondary presses made out of wood for travel and harvest season, of course. You won’t need to worry about this now since it’s early in the season, but later on we’ll need everyone working with this. The cider is our best-selling product.”

Kaleb began to look around at some of the other objects in the barn, including a large vat, several giant caldrons the size of a small child and a bunch of small carts including a larger wagon. “I imagine that vat is for the grapes and those carts are for deliveries. What are the caldrons for though?”

Applejack had a look of astonishment when she answered him. “That’s spot on, sugarcube. The caldrons are for making jam, jellies, marmalades, and that sort of thing. It’s mostly used for our famous zap apple jam, but we use it for our grapes as well as any limited-time deals we get from other farms, such as citrus fruits.”

Walking out of the barn, they made their way to the carrot field, with the corn right behind it. Applejack began to explain. “Here’s the fields for the corn and carrots. Although not as popular as the apples, they are still important and are harvested this time of year. The carrots grow especially fast, so we’re always planting more.” Eventually, they made their way over to the animal houses, where Kaleb could now see the various chickens, pigs, and sheep out in the daylight.

“Although we primarily focus on produce, we do keep a few farm animals around. We get eggs from the chickens, and we keep the pigs and sheep for a few livestock farms outside of Ponyville that don’t have the same resources,” Applejack said, her voice loud and clear over the calamity of the animals. “You won’t need to worry about taking care of them, that’s mostly my younger sister Apple Bloom and my older brother Big Mac’s job."

Kaleb nodded as they went on towards the apple orchards. He noticed that among the usual reds, yellows, and greens, there were also particular apples that had the colors of the rainbow in stripes around it. They sun reflected off these particularly well, creating a golden glow around them. “What are those rainbow-colored apples?” He wondered, turning towards her.

Applejack pointed towards the trees and smiled with pride. “Those are the famous zap apples which we use to make zap apple jam. They grow all over the farm and in the Everfree Forest. Each of the sections is sorted by variety of apple, and I can give you a map in a little bit so you won’t get lost. Come on, there may not be enough time for lunch but I want you to meet the family.”

He followed her back to the house, and going through the barn door, walked up a small set of stairs leading into the main room. It was a simple but cozy, with green walls filled with family pictures. A red-brick fireplace stood near him, with a place to put a pot over the fire. The furniture had an old-fashioned feel to it, as if it was right out of an antique store. Hoofsteps echoed on the plain wooden floors, and Kaleb found himself face to face with a large red stallion whose head reached the top of his chin. He had a heavy wooden brace just around his neck and a giant cutie mark in the shape of a green apple.

Applejack turned and smiled. “Big Macintosh, this is Kaleb, Twilight’s friend I told you about. Kaleb, this is Big Macintosh, my big brother.”

Kaleb smiled, slightly alarmed by the size of the stallion, and raised a hand to shake. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Eeyup.” Big Mac’s deep voice echoed through the room as he shook Kaleb’s hand strongly. Although he could sense that he was shy, there was a calm, easygoing manner to him that assured his friendliness. The two made eye contact for a little bit before slower hoof steps were heard.

“Now what are you two going on about?” an elderly voice echoed as somepony new walked in. An older earth pony walked in, with a green coat with a cutie mark in the shape of an apple pie. Her mane was white, but her eyes still had a sense of youth in them, a tired steadiness but still as sharp as anything else. She sat down in a rocking chair near the fire and looked at the three with a look of curiosity.

Applejack, looking slightly nervous, spoke first. "Granny, this is Kaleb who I was telling you about yesterday. Kaleb, this is Granny Smith.” She indicated for him to sit down on a chair near her, and he sat quickly, looking up at Granny Smith. The old mare’s eyes studied him with curiosity with just a hint of alarm but also amusement. They sat in silence for a moment before she spoke.

“I’m sure you’ll do a good job today, young feller,” she said, her eyes on him. Slowly, her hoof extended for Kaleb to meet it. “Welcome to the family, Kaleb. Applejack, be sure to keep on eye on him.” Her voice held wisdom yet a sense of amusement. “Now, get back to work! Shall we!” she snapped slightly but with a wild sense of fun.

“Sure thing, Granny,” Applejack replied and left with Kaleb, who waved at them before going back out. Grabbing a map from the corner, she set it down on the table. “Now, the apple orchards really need the attention, so I’ll have you working there today. Do the gala apples first, followed by the golden delicious and the fuji, which is the new one we’re planting this year. You may not get to all of them but try to get an equal amount of each.” She handed him the map. “I’ll be working with the carrots here and getting the soil fertilized so that new seeds can be replanted. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions.”

Kaleb nodded. “I’m sure I’ll be okay, thanks.” He waved back at Applejack as he set of towards the direction of the apple orchards.

For the past several hours, Kaleb had been collecting apples from the trees and carrying them back to the main barn where Big Mac had been storing them to make various products as well as sell them as is. Since Kaleb could not buck the trees as a human, he had been using a ladder Applejack lent him from the barn, setting it against the tree and tossing apples down into the bucket. On occasion, he used the Force to set them down gently and to pick the ones that his arms could not reach. He had decided that it was best to use his power sparingly because of respect of earth pony traditions that Twilight had told him about before he left.

It was tedious work, and it was not so much the act itself but the repetition that exhausted him. Before he arrived in Equestria, Kaleb had been away from the battlefield for a few months which left him slightly out of practice when it came to endurance training. Mostly affecting his arms, legs, and back, there was a general soreness that drained the energy from his limbs. Stretching his arms, he massaged his neck gently. “I need to be more careful, the whiplash is still there,” Kaleb noted to himself. Although he had done the exercises this morning, there was still a stiffness that was there, even with the medication. “I suppose these things take time to heal. As long as I’m careful, I should be fine.”

It was the muffled hoofsteps in the distance that caught his attention. Staring out into the trees, he could hear voices whispering though could barely tell due to the rustling of the wind. Suddenly, he saw small shadows moving in the distance, their running fast and light. It appeared to be ponies, but he could barely tell. Slowly getting up, he crept slowly and quietly, using the trees as cover to discover the source of the commotion. He counted the seconds between the noise, with the soft wind replaced with his heartbeat.

Going about 250 feet, he came across a large a small area that was mostly the same as the one he had been working in, except for a small detail. There was a giant pile of leaves that covered the ground, taking up all of the space, the light reflected off of the multicolored leaves, creating a dazzled, attractive effect of color. He noticed that in the center of the pile, there was a slight hole curving downward, and he realized that there must be an animal burrowed and trapped down there.

Stepping carefully into the pile of leaves, he treaded softly on his toes, making sure he did not accidentally step on the creature. Looking at the ground the entire time, he used his peripheral vision to spot anyone else who was here, but except for a slight rustling in the bushes, there was no one here. Approaching the center, he stepped on a long twig, creating a loud snap. As quickly as the snap ended, he felt himself being lifted into the sky by a hidden net that had been disguised among the leaves, carrying most of them with it.

Three feet off the ground, Kaleb began to panic when he realized his situation. Using the mantra to calm himself, he tucked his knees into his chest and began to look around. He reached for his lightsaber, only to remember he had left it safe and hidden in his bedroom. All of a sudden he heard a young voice say with excitement, “Yay! We caught it!”

Out of the bushes, three young fillies came running out to see what they had caught. The earth pony who came first had a red mane with a bow in it and a pale yellow coat. She was followed by a pegasus with a spiked purple mane and orange coat with small wings. A unicorn with a purple and pink highlighted mane with a white coat and a small horn quickly ran back to one of the bushes and then joined her companions. Each of them had no cutie mark and together, they jumped up and said, “Cutie Mark Crusaders monster hunters!”

Looking slightly annoyed, Kaleb spoke up. “I’m sorry to ruin this moment, but could you please get me down?”

They looked up at Kaleb, who was three feet off of the ground, and the pegasus spoke up. “Not a chance! You’re just going to eat us like my other classmates said you would.”

Realizing how young these ponies were, Kaleb realized that this could be a teaching moment. Although it had been a long time since he looked over any younglings, he still remembered what to do. “And may I ask, what else did your classmates tell you about me?”

It was the unicorn who spoke up this time. “They said that you are being controlled by a giant mouse in your head whose goal is domination over everything.”

Kaleb chuckled. “Well then, I don’t believe I’ve met any of your classmates, but I can assure you that none of those things are true. How would they know that if they never met me?”

The trio was at a loss for words. The earth pony finally spoke up, her voiced filled with embarrassment. “I’m sorry about all of this. We saw you with Twilight yesterday and we didn’t know what to think.”

Kaleb nodded, realizing that they had learned their lesson. “Don’t believe everything you hear, and judge someone by their character, not how they look. Now then, I believe you were about to get me down.”

The earth pony ran to the various bushes around the trees, and cut the ropes that was cleverly camouflaged with the trunk of the tree. The ropes went loose, and the net fell to the ground, bringing him with it. Standing up with a newfound enthusiasm, he stretched quickly before sitting down to talk to them. Looking at the earth pony, a hint of recognition lit up inside his mind. “You’re Apple Bloom, right? Applejack’s sister?”

She nodded. “Yep. I assuming she told you about me."

The other two fillies stepped forward. “I’m Scootaloo,” the pegasus said, followed by the unicorn, who said “I’m Sweetie Belle.”

Kaleb smiled as he learned their names. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Kaleb, and Applejack hired me to work here for the season. As you can probably tell, I’m not a pony but a human, the first only one in Equestria. Twilight is giving me a place to stay here in Ponyville.”

Sweetie Belle had a look of realization. “That is absolutely fantastic! Although it looks like we did not get our cutie mark in monster hunting, the Cutie Mark Crusaders will never give up!” The confused look on Kaleb’s face was noticed by Scootaloo, who spoke with enthusiasm.

“The three of us try different things to get our cutie marks, and no matter whether we succeed or fail, we always do it together!” The trio said those words in unity and jumped up the air.

Realizing how much this idea meant to them, Kaleb held back his usual witty remark. “One day, I'm sure you will. I’m still on the clock for doing work and there are a few more trees that I need to get before the day is over.” The trio nodded in perfect synchronization. Kaleb got up and asked them one more thing. “Before I go, there is one thing I’m curious about. How did you set up the net?”

Apple Bloom answered. “I brought the net from a spare barn and covered it with leaves and hooked a few ropes to the wooden loop on the corners and tossed it over the branches. Scootaloo was the one who you saw running and Sweetie Belle was in charge of timing and bringing the fourth rope up using magic. We all thought it up together.”

Kaleb looked impressed. “Most impressive. You have great talent, just try not to trap anyone in a net next time.”

As the trio left he chuckled, brushing off the dirt from his pants before going back to finish off the final row of trees.

The bell rang out as it was 5:00 pm and time to head out for the day. Kaleb was already moving his last bucket of apples to the barn where Big Mac was working the cider press. He was careful not to overwork the muscles in his shoulder by constantly switching hands and taking small breaks no more than a few seconds. With a wave of gratitude to Big Mac, who merely nodded as he worked the press, Kaleb headed towards Applejack as she was organizing the carrots into crates.

“Thank you for your help, Kaleb! We could not have gotten ready for the market tomorrow in time without you. You were working as hard as Winona fetching a stick.” On cue, a dog with brown and white fur with a red collar came running out of the barn towards Applejack and then came to Kaleb. He chuckled as the dog licked his hand and in turn he petted her head.

“It’s not problem, just happy to help out. On what days do I get paid?” he asked, rubbing his back.

“I’ll pay you for today on Monday, and from then on it will be every Friday. Also, I was wondering if you could make a few deliveries before you go back to Twilight’s? I had Big Mac work on this cart for you with a few adjustments.” She pointed over to a cart over near the corn with two wheels and a small cargo area for crates. There were two wooden poles on each side but they had smaller handles on the inside with grips that would make it easy for hands to lift. Kaleb thought for a few seconds before replying.

“I could make a few deliveries, but I’m still recovering from the whiplash got from the crash. I was careful today not to overexert the muscles.”

Applejack looked at him with sympathy. “I hope your recovery is short, sugarcube. I can have you do two deliveries: the carrots to Fluttershy and the apples to Twilight. You could just leave the cart at Twilight’s and I’ll let you know whether you’ll need it for whichever day comes up.”

Kaleb gave a nod of thanks and loaded the carrots while Applejack loaded the apples. Gripping the grooves on the inside handles, he lifted the cart with relative ease and moved it to the road.Waving to Applejack, he used an open palm to point to her hat. “Since I’m part of the family, does that mean we get matching hats?”

Applejack chucked. “Not a chance, sugarcube.” Kaleb lifted the cart and began walking down the road, the dust trails moving behind him in a swirled manner.

Kaleb was surprised how smooth the cart handled on the dirt road. The inside handles made it easy to handle even though he would have to stop at some points to change direction when there was a major curve. Near the end of the road into town, he noticed there was a noise coming up behind him. All of a sudden, two foals ran up behind him, shouting at each other as they passed a ball. The noise startled him as he jumped suddenly and gripped the handles so tight that his knuckles started to turn white, releasing them suddenly and dropping the cart. As the foals continued to run farther from him, he leaned against the cart and put his hands to his head, feeling the sweat that poured down his face and the headache that persisted with the moment of panic. Taking a few minutes sit and calm down, he watched the leaves in the tree rustle gently.

“They probably startled me because I’m tired from the day; my senses are exhausted from the work,” He thought to himself, trying to believe it. Stretching slightly before going back to the cart, he made sure that the produce wasn’t damaged and lifted the cart, using the Force slightly to take the burden from his back for a second. Shaking the fogginess from his head, he headed into town.

It was a relatively quiet walk into town, with Kaleb only having to rest once due to the strain of the cart. As he went down the lane leading to Fluttershy’s cottage, he noticed the freshly planted flowers on the ground near the bridge. The wind carried the scents of the flowers and the soil to him, and he breathed it in. Noticing that the cart was too wide to go over the bridge, he set it down, and took the crate of carrots out and carried it over the bridge. Approaching the wooden door, he knocked and waited patiently. A few moments later, he heard scurrying that he recognized to be Angel and immediately backed up a few steps. When the top half of the door opened up, he was relieved that it was Fluttershy who greeted him. “Carrot delivery?” Kaleb said with a sly grin.

Fluttershy smiled as she let Kaleb in. “It’s great to see you! Though usually Applejack or Big Mac delivers the carrots.”

“Applejack offered me a job at Sweet Apple Acres for the season. Today was my first day and, along with helping in the orchards, she wanted me to run some deliveries as well. Where do you want me to set the carrots?”

“Over here is fine,” Fluttershy said and pointed Kaleb to a small table where he set them down. “I hope your whiplash is better today?”

He rubbed his neck slightly as he answered. “The stretches help along with the medication, but I think the cure is time. I had to be careful not to strain the muscles, and I used the Force when it was necessary.”

Fluttershy nodded, looking at him with sympathy. “For those injuries, time is often the best medicine. I was, maybe, uh, wondering if you wanted to have tea sometime next week? I know with the job your schedule must be very busy but it would be nice to see you, maybe help out with the animals a little?” She blushed slightly but covered it up with a cough.

Kaleb thought for a second and then answered. “That would be nice. My work schedule is long but maybe if I took my lunch break later in the afternoon, then that would work. I’ll talk to Applejack about it over the weekend and let you know, but I would love to, Fluttershy. There are still some teas that I’ve always wanted to try.”

“Well then, I’ll be sure to get a wide variety.” Fluttershy replied, with a slight voice of amusement.

As Kaleb walked towards the door, he remembered what he saw at the bridge. “I noticed that that there were some freshly planted flowers by the bridge. Did you plant them?”

Looking slightly surprised at Kaleb’s observation, she replied. “The flowers by the bridge are goldenrod. It’s a fall flower and it’s good for the honeybees, providing food and habitat. I’m hoping to get back into gardening and improve my garden for the animals.”

Kaleb smiled. “You’ll have to show me sometime. I’m unfamiliar with some of the plants on this world, but I would be happy to learn.” Fluttershy said goodbye as she went to take the carrots into the kitchen and Kaleb walked out of the cottage toward the cart.

Lifting it up, he took the cart with the remaining apples and headed in the direction of the library, where he was sure Twilight and Spike would want to hear about his experience. 

Author's Note:

Hello everyone! I know I'm very late with this chapter, but rest assured I'll try to be more punctual with release dates in the future. There's a business near my house which has giant apple orchards, so I drew inspiration for the press from what I saw during harvest festivals in the fall. Also, it was very satisfying to roast the House of Mouse. As always, may the Force be with you!
Edited by Menace of the Mines