• Published 27th Dec 2021
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My Little Mages: The Rogues' Entries - Foxhelm

Friendship might be magic, but not everything is rainbows and sunshine.

  • ...

The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000

The sun was the pre-dawn hours, and there was a loud knock on one of Fluttershy’s bedroom windows. This broke the silence that had been the norm of her cabin at that hour and caused some of the non-nocturnal animals and the druid to wake slightly before trying to go back to sleep. Fluttershy, however, was slightly more awake as she yawned, “Who could that be?” she asked. She could barely open her eyes above a squint, but even she could tell it was far from what any sensible person would call ‘morning’. “It's still dark.” she noted before the window was pushed open from the outside as Rainbow Dash, fully dressed, came in with, nearly crashing into the wall on the far side from the window.

Rainbow turned on a dime and flew to Fluttershy’s bed, “C'mon, Fluttershy!” the elementalist shouted before she pulled the covers off and grabbed Fluttershy, who was in a rabbit themed adult-onesie. “Cider season's about to start!” Rainbow continued as she dragged the druid out of the window. The druid shrieked all the while. Rainbow stopped after a few meters. “Seriously, you don’t recall last year’s cider season?” The question was rhetorical, but Fluttershy was expected to see ‘I know’. But the druid was too tired for this. “Pinkie Pie got ahead of us, and they ran out of cider.”

“Didn’t you have a keg set aside?” Fluttershy asked, calling out some of Rainbow’s actions earlier that year.

Rainbow let go and rubbed the back of her head, “Well, I lost a bet with AJ.” she confessed. Fluttershy dipped her head, shocked it and sighed. “But still, we got to beat Pinkie!” Rainbow shouted and grabbed the druid’s arm before she bolted in the direction of Sweet Apple Temples. “This year I'm gonna get there before sunrise, so I can drink all the cider I want and laugh when she doesn't get any! It's the perfect plan. Y'know, I might even buy some cider and hold onto it for a while, drinking it drop by drop in front of her–'' Rainbow exposed her plan before she noticed that there was a line of tents starting at the gate of the fence of Sweet Apple Temple and going the length of the side of the fence that was closer to town to three meters from the end of Sweet Apple Temple grounds. Once she saw this, Rainbow gasped in horror.

Fluttershy, now more awake, took in the situation, “It looks like others had the same idea.” she pointed out. The two more or less hovered to the front of the line with a pink tent, that screamed ‘Pinkie Pie’ was first and foremost. Pinkie, dressed also in a onesie, but pink and covered with balloons, then got out of the tent with bed hair that was in part a result of the static electricity from a handful of balloons. Noticing the bed head and electing to be polite. “Oh, gosh, Pinkie. I love your new style.” Fluttershy said to her eccentric friend.

Rainbow, however, was stuck on the fact that there were so many others in line, “Who are all these people?!” It really wasn’t a question, they were her neighbors, fellow townsfolk, but seeing every one of them there at that hour, left Rainbow in a state of bewilderment.

Pinkie stretched and took a deep refreshing breath, “Isn't this great?” she asked as she turned to face and talk with Fluttershy and Rainbow, “I couldn't sleep last night 'cause I was so excited about cider season, and I had this brilliant idea to come down here and camp out, so I told a few others about it, and they all thought it was a great idea too, and now it's just a big old cider party! Woo-hoo!” she explained, unable to contain her excitement over the whole thing. She stopped and looked at the line of tents, her eyes widened in horror. “That’s a lot more people than I told,” she stated. She gave a nervous smile as she turned back to Rainbow and Fluttershy, “I really really hope they don't run out before you get any.” she said with guilt, remorse and shame in her tone. Rainbow flew up into the air and started to curse like a sailor. Fluttershy and Pinkie turned to each other, cringing at the sight, “Maybe this year I’ll only order one mug.” Pinkie said.

Fluttershy shook her head with closed eyes, “Even if everyone ordered one mug, they are likely to sell out before Rainbow or I could order one.” The druid pointed out having done the math. Rainbow overheard it and could only curse more.

A few hours later, with the sun about a quarter of the way in the sky, everyone who had a tent had packed them up and they were all waiting in line. Twilight was among the first dozen, with Spike on her left shoulder. “Isn't this exciting, Spike?” she asked the small dragon. “Opening day of our first cider season!” she barely reframed from shouting. Behind her stood Rarity and Sweetie Belle. Spike however was licking his lips for a different reason.

Yeah! That means it's only thirty more days 'til sapphire season!” he chipped and growled in Draconic, looking beyond the beverage moments away to the gems he intended to devour. All three Magicborn rolled their eyes and shook their heads.

Before more could be said, “Attention, everybody!” came Apple Bloom’s voice, through some sort of voice enhancer. “Cider season is now officially open!” she declared, and everyone cheered and chattered, however no one seemed to notice the absence of Applejack. Pinkie was the first, she placed two bits into the money box and after Granny Smith filled a mug of the cider from a tap connected to a barrel and handed it to Pinkie, the jester left and started to drink it. This continued as people exchanged two bits for a mug of cider until the last of the two baker’s dozen kegs there. Fluttershy paid her two bits and got her mug and then Rainbow paid hers’ but the tap fizzled out. The last of the cider was gone. “What the actual-”

“Watch your tongue, little lady!” Granny Smith cut Rainbow off. Before she walked around the booth, after she gave Rainbow back her two bits. “I am sorry folks, but that’s the last of the cider for today!” the matriarch of the Apples announced. This was met with depressed awes from everyone that had not gotten a mug. “Now don’t go and belly ache, yah hear!” she scowled the crowd and silenced them. Granny took a breath, “We’re doin’ our best to increase our supply, Applejack is currently recruiting as many of our kin as possible and should be here tomorrow.” she tried to explain. There were calls of various complaints about the quantity of the cider. Granny raised her staff and slammed it down causing a small quake which knocked everyone off their feet and silenced them. “Our cider is the best dang gone cider in all of Mystica! Made with, our love and integrity and only the highest apples in all of Mystica!” She continued. Everyone slowly got back to their feet. “Our recipe takes time.” This didn’t have the desired results of ending all the complaints. She tapped the ground, causing another small shake through the ground, this silenced everyone. “Now, if y'all just be patient, we'll have plenty more tomorrow. Y’ah can’t rush perfection!” Everyone gave muted protests as they started to leave, but nothing to counter Granny’s point. “Also, everyone who already had a mug, can’t buy another mug until everyone else has been served!” Granny called out. This seemed to lighten the mood. Granny wiped the sweat off of her forehead before Big Mac handed her a glass of water as Apple Bloom handed her a neckerchief. As several of the townsfolk started to head off there was a honk followed by noises that seemed to come from some sort of steam powered electrical machine. Everyone turned to see a repurposed train engine that was made into a more terrestrial vehicle. There was a couch about midway along with a podium just above the cow trap. The back looked like some sort of combination of a shredder, sorting means and something to press apples. “What the sam hill is that?” Granny asked the question that was on everyone's mind at the site of this contraption as it stopped on the Everfree side of the gate.

Two men then jumped off of the couch and off the vehicle. They both wore vests with blue and white vertical stripes over short sleeve white shirts and black bow ties, with a pair of pale pants each and straw hat with blue around the base just above the brim, much like the hats often worn by members of a barbershop quartet. They both had red and white striped hair, green eyes, with one with a thick red mustache and seemed to be ten years older than the one without facial hair. The one with the mustache had an aura mark that looked like an apple with a quarter cut out of it. The younger looking one had an aura mark of a quarter of an apple cut from a full apple. The one without the facial hair began to sing, well started as speaking in meter, but shifting into singing properly, “Well, lookie what we got here, brother of mine, it's the same in every town.
People with thirsty throats, dry tongues, and not a drop of cider to be found
Maybe they're not aware that there's really no need for this teary despair.”
The older looking one then took over the song, “That the key that they need to solve this sad cider shortage you and I will share.” Almost everyone went over to this site and began to chatter with great excitement.
“Well you've got opportunity
In this very community.” The two men sang together.
“He's Flim.” the older looking man sang as he pointed to the younger man.
“He's Flam.” The younger looking man sang as he pointed to the older man.
“We're the world famous Flim Flam Brothers
Traveling salesmen nonpareil.” The two sang together ending this part of the song.

While everyone seemed to be caught up in the excitement, Pinkie, of all people, was perplexed by what the two said. “Nonpa-what?” she asked.

Flim started up the song proper, but more of a speaking in the meter of the song than actually singing at first but did morph into singing, “Nonpareil, and that's exactly the reason why, you see
No body else in this whole place will give you such a chance to be where you need to be
And that's a new world, with tons of cider
Fresh squeezed and ready for drinking.”

Flam took over the song, “More cider than you could drink in all your days of thinking.” he offered.
Then the two brothers sang together, “So take this opportunity,”
Only to be joined by the throng, “In this very community.”
“He's Flim.” Flam sang as he once again pointed out his brother.
“He's Flam.” sang Flim, doing likewise.
“We're the world famous Flim Flam Brothers
Traveling salemen.'' The two sang together, getting the crowd to eat up their pitch.
”Nonpareil.” the crowd sang.
Flim then started up the song again as he sang, “I suppose by now you're wondering 'bout our peculiar mode of transport.”
“I say, our mode of locomotion.” Flam sang.
“And I suppose by now you're wondering, where is this promised cider?” Flim took over the song as he jumped back onto their vehicle and stood at the podium.
“Any man can make a claim, and anybody can do the same.” Flam sang as he got back on their device.
Flim took over the song again, “But my brother and I have something most unique and superb
Unseen at any time in this big new world.”
“And that's opportunity.” The two sang together.
“Folks, it's the one and only, the biggest and the best,” Flim sang by himself.
“The unbelievable.” Flam sang, continuing the description.
“Unimpeachable.” Flim then sang, adding another adjective.
“Indispensable.” Flam then sang, adding another adjective.
“I-can't-believe-able.” Flim sang and combining three words into one, while splitting another.
“Flim Flam Brothers' Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000.” The two sang together as they finally identified the compration.
The crowd of their own volition started to sing on their own, “Oh, we got opportunity
In this very community
Please, Flim, please, Flam, help us out of this jam
With your Flim Flam Brothers' Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000.” pleading with the brothers.

Flim turned to Granny Smith, “Young lady, I would be ever so honored if you might see fit to let my brother and I borrow some of your delicious, and might I add spellbindingly fragrant apples for our little demonstration here?” he asked trying to cozy up to the only source of apples around.

“That will be ten bits an apple.” Granny declared, you can’t get something for nothing, someone somewhere had to pay the price and if these two and the music stopped. Flim and Flam looked at each other. They reached behind the couch that made their seat and pulled out a chest. They opened it and allowed Granny, Apple Bloom and Big Mac to count out the coins and verified that they were authentic. After counting out five hundred coins, which was all the coins they had in the chest. “You can use that tree.” Granny said before she pointed to one with all its apples.

“Opportunity, in our community.” The crowd sang as the music picked back up.
“Ready, Flim?” Flam sang as he asked Flim.
“Ready, Flam?” Flim sang as he asked Flam.
“Let's bing bang zam!” The two sang as they cast a spell on two pillar-like structures on the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 and it started to activate. Flim then spoke as a funnel attached to a hose started to move and raise until it hovered over the tree offered and it suctioned the apples off of the tree and sucked into what looked like a barrel and it started to spin “And show these thirsty of a world of delectable cider!” All the while the crowd chanted “Cider, cider, cider, cider…”As the barrel spun, Flim spoke continued as he pointed to a couple of upside down large glasslike vessels that was collecting what looked like apple juice, “Watch closely, my friends!” he requested.
“The fun begins!” Flam sang.
Flim then took over the pitch as he said, “Now, here's where the magic happens. Right here in this heaving, roiling, cider-press-boiling guts of the very machine,” he started as he pointed to the contraptions. “those apples plucked fresh'' he pointed out that the apples were just collected, “are right now as we speak being turned into grade-A, top-notch, five-star, blow-your-horseshoes-off, one-of-a-kind cider!” he said as he continued the pitch calling attention to the quality of the cider.
Flam then took over the pitch as he sang, “Feel free to take a sneak peek!” as he pointed to a window in the Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000.

Just as Flam finished, Granny Smith started to sing, “Now wait, you fellers, hold it!
You went and over-sold it!
I guarantee that what you have there won't compare
For the very most important ingredient
Can't be added or done expedient
And it's quality, friends, our acres' quality and care!” She called attention to the fact that there are trade-offs between quality, prices and production time, and the Apples have selected quality over production, as it is next to impossible to get both and have the honestly low price of two bits per mug. This caused the chanting to end.

Flim, however, was not going to be set back and started the pitch up again as he sang, “Well, Granny, I'm glad you brought that up, my dear, I say I'm glad you brought that up
You see that we are very picky when it comes to cider if you'll kindly try a cup.” As he sang, he offered a mug of the cider the Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 just made. Granny tried it. She couldn’t help but smile, it was good cider, not Sweet Apple Temple Cider Season cider good, but in the top fifty recipes of cider she had drank throughout her life.
Seizing the opportunity, Flam took over as he pointed back to the window that he called attention to earlier and sang, “Yes, sir, yes, ma'am, this great machine let's just the very best.” In the window there was a conveyor belt that had each apple go through a magical scan and it rejected bad apples and sent the good ones to be made into cider. “So whaddya say then, Apples?
Care to step into the modern world
And put the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 to the test?” he asked the family, directing his attention and pitch not to the crowd but to the Apple family, just as the crowd started to chant, “Cider, cider, cider, cider... “.
Flim then spoke up, “What do you think, folks? Do you see what the Apples can't?” he asked rhetorically as he continued the pitch by saying, “I see it clear as day! I know she does! So does he!” he said as he pointed to random members of the crowd. And as the excitement continued to build, “C'mon, Magiville, you know what I'm talking about!” he declared.
“We're saying you've got,” Flim and Flam sang as they started the last part of their song.
The crown then joined in, “Opportunity,
In this very community
He's Flim, he's Flam
We're the world famous Flim Flam Brothers
Traveling salesmen nonpareil!.”
The song then ended as Flim and Flam sang, “Yeah!”.

Once the song was over and there was a second to breathe, Apple Bloom bolted from the stand and held out her right hand, “You got a deal!” she declared. This caused the crowd to start chattering in excitement. More quality cider and sooner than the next day, they would gladly part with a couple more bits a piece.

Granny Smith was not so impressed, “Not so fast!” she called out before she pulled Apple Bloom and Big Mac into huddle. “No way no how that machine matches up with the care we put in our cider!” She declared and informed her grandchildren. Having tasted the FlimFlam cider, and with decades of cider consumption, she spoke true.

Apple Bloom dipped her head with a frown, “But if it really does work, we could make everybody in town happy!” she pointed out. The young girl was right, a happy customer was a repeat customer, and a repeat customer was a customer more willing to purchase more.

Granny smiled at this, “Ah know, little seed, but they love our cider for its quality, one we’ve made the same way for over the last fifty year.” the sage pointed out.

“Eeyup.” Big Mac agreed with the most frequent one-word response. He then noticed that Flim and Flam had joined the huddle on opposites of him. “Huh?” he asked, calling attention to the two uninvited additions.

Flim was the first of the intruders to speak, electing to alter their pitch, “We'll sweeten the deal.” he started. He nodded to the apple orchard on the Sweet Apple Temple grounds. “You supply the apples…” he trailed off. Here Flam picked up the pitch, “...We supply the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000.” he nodded toward the contraption that they arrived in town on and with. The two brothers then spoke together, “Then we split those sweet sweet profits…” they trailed off as called attention to the fact that the profits from this was not going solely to the Apples, which was to be expected. Flim then gave the first part of the split, “...Seventy-five…” he then trailed off so that Flam could complete the pitch as he stated the other end of the split, “...Twenty-five.”

Apple Bloom smiled at the idea of this offer presented by the two brothers, “Deal–” she started before she was silenced by Granny Smith covering her mouth.

After she silenced her currently only present granddaughter, Granny Smith spoke, “Now hold on there, little one.” She said to Apple Bloom. She then focused on Flim and Flam. “Who gets the seventy-five?” she asked, striking at the heart of the matter.

Flim was the first of the two to answer, “Why, us, naturally.” Flim informed, pointing out that they were providing the thing that did most of the ‘heavy lifting’. Flam then took off his and Film's hats to show their focus gems, “And, we'll throw in the magic to power the machine for free.” he added as the two actived their focus gems to show that they were Magicborn.

Granny snorted, “We planted the seeds, we grew the trees, we tended to their needs. We made sure the soil was just right. And we incur the costs of not just the apple orchard, but all of the farming land.” Granny pointed out. “We’re the ones that actually provide the salaries and wages of every other farmer that grounds on the grounds, the only farming land in town, and for us Apples, it’s our cider sales makes sure we have all that covered. With anything less than a 50/50 split, we’d have to sell off everythin’ to stay afloat through the winter. We'd lose the acres, maybe even Sweet Apple Temple, we’re clergy, if y'all haven’t noticed, we don’t have much to spend willy nilly.'' She pointed out the many facets of running the temple and the farming lands on its ground. This revelation resulting in many of the townsfolk to feel like they have been stealing from the Apples, and among the ones that lived and worked on the other farms in the temple grounds soon realized they never really appreciated what they have been offered by the Apples.

“We can do 60-40, our way.” Flim countered, he and Flam had to concede to some of Granny’s points, but their equipment was still doing the heavy lifting. “So?” Flam asked. “What'll it be?” the brothers asked together.

Shocking everyone in town, Big Mac stepped in front of his grandmother and sister, between them and the two brothers and with two words, “No deal,” ended the discussion.

Flim gave a ‘Hmph.’ in defiance. “Very well.” he admitted defeat, “If you refuse our generous offer to be partners, then we'll just have to be competitors.”

Granny then started to laugh, “With what apples?” she asked, still hooting. “We Apple's own every apple tree for kilometers. And even if you went to any other towns with apple trees, good luck convincing them to give yah any when yah explain that yah plan to compete with that cider in Magiville’s Cider Season. Besides, you wouldn’t even dare, yah snake oil charlatan.”

Flim grinned, “Oh no?” he asked, clear that he was going call this as a bluff. Flam joined his brother as he called the focus to the crowd, “Don't you worry, everybody!” he called out, “There'll be plenty of cider for all of you!” he and Flim got back on the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 and the two started their departure. Flim spoke, just barely under his breath, so that only Flam could hear him, “Once we drive the Apples out of business.” Flam fought back a smile, “After we show those stuck-ups that Dad wasn’t a quack.” he said just barely under his own breath so that only Flim could hear him.

The next day, the line was just as long as the day before and no one that had a cider the day before was in line, but it was still ridiculously long, from Rainbow’s point of view. She found herself again near the end of the line and she was the only one of her closest friends in line. Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie and Fluttershy with Spike, having had her cider the previous day, went around the line to talk with the Apples. It was then that they finally noticed Applejack’s absence. However, their focus was more on the possibility of there being someone that could drive the Apples out. Twilight was silently elected to be the spokesperson, being the newest person in town offered her some shielding, and so she would speak to Granny as the sage and her present grandchildren, Apple Bloom and Big Mac, continued to serve the residents of Magiville, two bits for a mug of cider, one cider a person. “Aren’t you worried about Flim and Flam?” Twilight asked the question.

Granny chuckled, “They were just blowin’ hot air.'' She dismissed Twilight’s concerns.

Just then Rainbow arrived with a massive grin, she managed to get to the front of the line. Much of the town was served she would finally… “That's it! We’re out!” Apple Bloom called as the last keg proved to be empty.

Rainbow was about to grab the stand and flip it, but Pinkie and Fluttershy managed to grab and pull her back as the elementalist started to curse like a sailor, with the furry and rage of a tempest. Everyone cringed as the two, and Rarity tried to calm Rainbow down. Apple Bloom was the first to recover and after she cleared her throat, “C'mon back tomorrow, everybody!” she announced. The crowd that had not got any cider that day and the day before could not help but complain somewhat.

Just then the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 (SSCS 6000) came down the road from the Everfree side. It then stopped right next to the gate. Flim was the first to stand and looked at the crowd before he shook his head in disbelief, “What seems to be the problem here?” he asked rhetorically. Flam, then Flam took over as he too shook his head, “Oh my, oh my, out of cider again?” he asked rhetorically. The two stepped off the SSCS 6000 and walked around to the back to a collection of barrels. “What have we here?” Flim asked as he pulled a level and a barrel rolled off the vehicle. Flam then tapped the keg and readied a mug. “Who'd like a mug?” Flam asked. The crowd gave cries of excitement. Flam held out the mug before Rainbow took it, without paying, “Don't worry, everybody, we've got the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 to make more in an instant!” he declared.

As Rainbow was lost in admiring the foam and the prospect of the beverage, Granny knocked the mug out of the elementalist’s hands. “You can't sell that cider!” she called out before she raised and lowered her staff sending a small tremor that shattered the barrel. “That's made from Apple family apples! You thieves!” she accused the two. Well to call it an acquisition would imply that either Granny could not prove it, or it was in fact false, and Granny could both prove it, and it was true.

Rainbow dove to the dirt that was shocked with the spilt cider and put some of it into her mouth in a desperate attempt to taste the faintest amount of cider only to taste dirt. She refused to spit it out as she wept, “Is this some kind of cruel joke?” she asked, almost broken.

“For crying out loud, girl!” Granny slapped Rainbow, forcing her to spit the dirt out. “Show some self-respect!” Granny chided the elementalist. “And you want to be a Wonderbolt?” she asked Rainbow rhetorically. She rolled her eyes, “Back in my day, Wonderbolts were the most dignified of the most dignified.” she continued as she shook her head in disgust at Rainbow’s actions.

Flim smiled as he saw a chance to capitalize on the situation, “Don't worry, everybody, there are plenty of apples in Mystica.” he pointed out that the two weren’t limited to the apples there. “We'll find some others and make more cider than all of Magiville can drink!” The crowd gasped at the prospect, a cider season during which everyone had even more than just one mug.

Apple Bloom leapt around the stand and pointed at Flim, with every intent on issuing a challenge, “We'll make more cider than you could ever imagine!” she declared, the crowd then gasped again, more cider to drink than ever.

However, before Apple Bloom could say any more or for Flim or Flam to respond, Big Mac picked her up and brought her back to the other side of the stand. There Granny Smith waited, “Now, it ain't about the speed, young'un, it's about quality.” she pointed out what has been the family’s modus operandi of the family’s cider production. The crowd all sighed disappointed in the revolution that they were not going to get much more cider after all.

One among those present was more vicious, “Who cares how good the cider is if I never get to drink any?” she asked belligerently.

“And she wonders why the universe seems hellbent on denying her our cider.” Apple Bloom whispered to her big brother. Big Mac fought back with a smile and laugh.

Flim, seizing on the chance to better market his and his brother’s possible cider by taking hold of Rainbow and patting her on the head affectionately, “Oh, look at these poor, dissatisfied people.” he declared.

Apple Bloom broke from her family, “Magiville is Sweet Apple Cider country, and our cider speaks for itself!” she shouted ready to challenge the two.

Flim and Flam smiled, “Let's put it to the test!” Flim beat her to it.

“Anywhere, anytime!” Apple Bloom opened the floor as she squinted at the two, ready for a brawl. The crowd could only mutter in shock.

Granny Smith placed her right hand on Apple Bloom’s right shoulder, “Well, that's enough now.” she tried to stop her granddaughter from doing something stupid.

Flam took over the pitch and challenge, “With our machine,” he said as he pointed to their machine, “we can make enough cider in one hour to satisfy this entire town!”

“We'll do it in 45 minutes!” Apple Bloom countered boasting about the possible speed of the Apples to make the cider. The members of the crowd looked at each other in utter awe.

“Easy, Apple Bloom, easy.” Granny tried to pull Apple Bloom back and try to undo any potential damage that the young girl might have caused.

Flim seized upon this and went after the grandmother, “What's the matter, Granny Smith? Chicken?” he asked, goading her on.

Granny squinted as she turned from her granddaughter to the younger of the brothers. “What did you call me, sonny?” she asked. It was clear Flim got her goat.

Flim smiled at Flam and then turned back to Granny, and as the two leaned against the SSCS6000 and dipped their hats forward, “If you're so confident in your cider, then what's the problem?” he asked.

Granny took two steps forward, “Tomorrow mornin', right here!'' She declared the time and location. “You can use our south field!” she added before either brother could point out that they didn’t have any apples to use to make cider. “It'll be worth it to teach y'all a thing or two about cider making!” she added the last part, there are things more valuable than money at times.

The two brothers looked at each other and smiled. Flam nodded and Flim spoke, “Excellent; we have a bet.” he said, and he held out his right hand, “Whoever produces the most barrels in one hour wins the exclusive right to sell cider in Magiville.” he declared pointing out the stakes.

“And keep the rights to the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, its patent, all 5999 previous model’s patents, the trademark and copyright of the term ‘Super Speedy Cider Squeezy’.” Granny added as she tapped on the SSCS6000 calling attention to other stakes. Flim looked to Flam and the older brother, after a moment of thought nodded. Flim turned back to Granny and with gritted teeth nodded. However, before Granny accepted the hand, “Assuming three selected barrels pass the Magiville Taste Test!” Granny pointed out there was more than quantity and if the people of Magiville found that the cider was lacking, then it didn’t matter how much each side produced. Flim again turned to Flam, Flam nodded to his brother. Flim then nodded in agreement to the last condition of the bet. Granny and Flim then shock hands, after the shake, “And after we beat ya, I don't never want to see you bambahoozlers around here again!” she declared. The crowd could chatter at the idea of all that fresh cider.

Flim and Flam then stepped back on the SSCS6000 and started it up to head off, “Until tomorrow.” Flam bid everyone a due as they tipped their hats and left down the road.

“What is going on here?” came the voice of the town’s favorite paladin. Everyone turned to see Applejack almost sprint down the road. “Where are they going?” she asked just as she reached the gate and took a deep breath.

“Those snake oilers thought they could just mossy on up and start sellin’ cider here.” Apple Bloom informed.
Applejack covered her face and groaned before she spoke, “Those were our cousins, they’re the last of the Skim’s Branch as in Enterprise Skim.” she said as if the others knew who she was talking about.

“That quake?” Granny asked. “You’re sayin’ those two are related to that fool?” she continued.

Applejack nodded before she took a breath “Ah managed to convince everyone to come and have the family reunion after this cider season. Everyone else should be here either later today or early tomorrow.” she told her family. “And those two,” she said as she pointed in the direction that Flim and Flam went. “Promised they would arrive; well it would have been yesterday to help.”

Granny, Apple Bloom and Big Mac looked to each other than back to Applejack, Granny spoke for the family, “They weren’t interested in helpin’ with the cider season, but to sell their own cider.” Applejack could only sigh. “They even had the audacity to wager ownership of Sweet Apple.” Applejack was about to cry.

Twilight, of all people, walked up and placed a hand on Applejack’s shoulder, “Don't worry, Applejack, I know you'll win tomorrow!” This didn’t bring any comfort to the paladin, but Applejack exhaled and then looked at her family, there was nothing that could be done to alter the past.

Early the next morning, everyone in town was drifting in and finding a place to sit just outside of Sweet Apple Temple, all were there to watch and maybe be judges of the competition. The Apples were preparing for the competition. Applejack was using a boxing bag to practice her blows, with Apple Bloom providing some counterforce, Big Mac was stretching and loosening his joints, he was going to do a lot or running. Granny was looking through each of her glasses to find the perfect pair. Twilight with Spike on her shoulder, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rarity, Rainbow, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle approached the farmers, Twilight spoke to Granny, “Granny Smith, are you sure this is such a good idea?” she asked the sage.

Granny snorted, “Are y'all doubtin’ our cider makin’ capabilities?” she asked rhetorically, everyone knew that the quality of the cider would not be in question, but could they match the quantity. Before she allowed anyone to answer, “Besides, nobody calls me a chicken.”

Applejack then pulled away, “Oh, before Ah forget, are y'all coming for the Family Reunion?” she asked Twilight et al. As the paladin noted the confusion on their faces, “Y'all honorary Apples, remember, that means your kin.” she clarified.

The seven Mysticans and one dragon looked to and from each other, and in the end, all looked to Twilight. Twilight looked back at Applejack, “You should focus on the competition first, but yes, we’ll be there.” She answered. Not even Rarity contradicted her as they others nodded and gave various agreements. Applejack too nodded. “Best of luck.” Twilight said on her and the other’s behalf.

Applejack smiled, “Thanks.” she said and took a moment to collect herself before the hour. The mayor then spoke into a device to amplify her voice so that all could hear her, “Attention, everybody!” she announced to get everyone’s attention. All turned to the mayor, with Time Turner next to her and a large sandglass. “The teams have one hour to produce as much cider as they can, after which the barrels will be counted. Then the team with the most barrels will choose who’s barrels will be tasted first and which of their three barrels will be tested.” The mayor stated the conditions for determining the victor. “The side that passed the taste test will be declared the winner and they will be named the sole cider provider for all of Magiville and owner of the rights to the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy!'' She stated the prize to the victor. The mayor looked between the two teams, “Are both teams ready?” she asked. Granny Smith snorted before she, the three other Apples, Flim and Flam all declared “Ready!” The mayor looked to Time Turner, “Then…” she trailed just as Time prepared the glass, once it was about to flip fully and start pouring, “Begin!” she called.

The Apples each dashed to their spot, Applejack began to box one tree, then another, as Apple Bloom carrying a large basket collected as many as she could. Big Mac got on the treadmill for the press as Granny got to the quality control station and started looking over each of the apples in the first basket Apple Bloom collected as the sage said, “Ugh, bad 'un. Good 'un! Bad 'un…”. Flim and Flam rested at ease on the couch and using their magic started up the SSCS6000 and it vacuumed up the apples of one tree then another.

As the Apples finished the first barrel in just under thirty seconds, Applejack commented, “Great job, y'all! We've already filled an entire barrel!”

Apple Bloom was much more prideful, “I'll bet you those guys don't even have–” she stopped herself as the whole clan gasped as Flim and Flam’s SSCS6000 had finished filling a sixth barrel.

Applejack was the first to spring back into action, “C'mon!” she shouted. “Focus everyone! We gotta forget those guys if we're gonna have a chance of winnin'!” she said as she moved to the next tree, Apple Bloom barely keeping pace with her sister. Granny Smith got back to the apple sorting, but it threw her off. Big Mac was fairing the best after Applejack, but the towering cleric was starting to feel the burn of his leg muscles starting to resort to lactic acid fermentation.

In less than five minutes, as the Apples kept pushing themselves, it became clear to anyone that they were going to lose the first part of the competition. Rarity was the first to put to words what everyone was witnessing, “This is just dreadful. Even their top speed the Apples are only making one barrel to the brothers' three!” she said, the Apples had managed to double their output, but Flim and Flam were way ahead and getting farther.

Twilight broke from her friends and the crowd, save Spike who was still on her shoulder and approached the mayor, “Excuse me, Madam Mayor!” she called getting the mayor’s attention. The mayor turned to the newest resident of Magiville. “Are honorary family members allowed to help in the competition?” she asked as she was joined by Rainbow, Pinkie, Rarity, Fluttershy, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. The mayor thought with a slight grimace, “Well, I'm not sure…” she trailed off with a non-committal answer, not that she could give a committal answer. The mayor turned to Flim and Flam as they each reclined on their couch and enjoyed a mug of their own cider, “Flim, Flam, would you object to honorary family members helping?” the mayor asked.

Flim was the first to sit up, “Are you kidding?” he asked and took another swig of his cider. Flam was the next to sit up and looked at Twilight et al and didn’t even bother to fight back a laugh, “We don't care if the whole extended Apple clan, even dishonorary members, helps. It's a lost cause.” he declared.

“Funny you should say the whole extended Apple clan.” came the voice of a young man somewhere between Applejack and Big Mac in age. Everyone turned and saw that it was Braeburn and with him was the rest of the extended Apple Clan, “Sorry for bein’ late,'' Braeburn apologized on behalf of himself and the rest of the family. The two brothers looked at the recent arrivals and shrugged clearly bored and returned to their cider not moved and saw no threat.

Everyone turned to the mayor. She rubbed her chin in thought, “Well if Flim and Flam are alright with it, I guess it's okay.'' She then turned to the Apples. “Granny Smith? What do you think?” she asked the matriarch of the Apple Clan.

Granny lifted her gaze from the apple she was examining, “Well don’t just stand there yah idjits and getta workin’.” the sage stated and went back to her apple sorting. The mayor shrugged her shoulders Twilight et al then went to

Twilight got the recently arrived Apples and the Magiville honorary Apples in a line. She took a breath and looked at them, “Okay, everybody, we're not gonna let those smooth talkers take our friend's and family’s farm.” She informed them of the objective. Everyone gave various affirmations that they followed. Twilight continued speaking more to the extended Apple Clan, “Apples, you all know your talents, and I know you will divide yourselves to the role you know best, so I will ask you to go to the position you will do the best.” Each member of the extended greater Apple family gave a vocal agreement and scattered, the youngest helping Apple Bloom with apple collecting with the rest either helping Applejack clear the trees, help Granny Smith with quality selection or Big Mac with the press, with some sealing and rolling away the full barrels as a couple others rolled in the next barrel to be filled. Twilight turned to Fluttershy, “Fluttershy, help Applejack with the trees.” Fluttershy nodded and then jumped into the air, she took a deep breath and spoke in the language of the druids called the animals of the farm and of her cabin to help with the harvest, mostly with the clearing of the trees. Twilight turned to Pinkie, “Pinkie Pie, you're on apple catching detail with Apple Bloom.” Pinkie pulled a basket out of her hair and skipped to the closest tree with apples on it. Twilight then turned to Rarity, “Rarity, you've got a discerning eye. Help Granny Smith with the quality control station.” Rarity nodded and rushed over to the apple sorting and quickly picked up on how Granny and the others easily determined the apple quality. Twilight then turned to Rainbow, “Rainbow Dash, help with the press.” Rainbow all but snorted and rushed over to the press and jumped on the wheel. Twilight then turned to the last two, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, “Would you help two help Apple Bloom with the apple collection?” she asked. The two nodded and rushed over to help with the apple collection. Twilight then took Spike off her shoulder, “Spike, help with quality control.” The dragon nodded and went off to help sort the apples. Twilight smiled and elected to help with the barrel removal and replacement all the while keeping a tally of full barrels produced both by the Apples’ and by the FlimFlam brothers. The help from everyone quickened the pace of cider production immensely. First the pace of getting the apples off of the trees by Applejack, Fluttershy and every Apple that joined Applejack and the animals that Fluttershy called upon. Second was the collection, with Pinkie’s, for lack of a better term, teleportation and the adult collectors able to get more than just Apple Bloom. The third place this helped was actually the press. Big Mac was still the main one running the press, but those that joined did manage to keep it going as it was clear the strain was starting to take its toll on the cleric. The last place where the help increased the speed was the quality control, but that was to be expected. Twilight looked over the figures. She smiled as she spoke up, “Keep it up everyone, we’re making ten barrels for every three of theirs!” she told the Apples and friends. There was cheering from the crowd.

Flim and Flam, while mostly ignored following the entry of the extended Apple clan and Applejack’s friends, spat out the last bit of cider they just drank. Flim turned to Flam with a slight panic in his eyes, “Come on, brother, we've gotta pick up the pace!” he voice was starting to hint that his eyes didn’t lie. Flam slapped his younger brother to get the younger to focus, “Double the power!” he ordered and the two took a breath and used more of their magic to get the SSCS 6000 to quicken its production, but it was not enough to match the Apple’s new production rate. Flim turned back to Flam, “We've gotta try something else!” he was about to fight back a shout. Flam looked to his side of the SSCS 6000 and saw the dial for the quality control. Flam turned the dial to the lowest setting, “I've got it, brother of mine.” he said. The SSCS 6000 started to run faster and faster. Flim smiled at this brother, “Well done, Flam!” he said. He turned to the crowd, “We're at top productivity!” he shouted. The crowd cheered.

Rainbow was the first to see the increased production of the SSCS 6000, she jumped off the treadmill and started to fly to the quality control station when she was stopped by Twilight’s magic. “Rainbow, we need you to keep grinding!” Twilight made clear.

Rainbow struggled, but could not break free of Twilight’s magical hold, “We don't have time for quality control if we wanna win this thing!” she challenged her friend calling attention to how

“The number of barrels is only the first part of the competition.” Twilight reminded Rainbow, “Also where do you think the expression ‘One bad apple spoils the bunch’ comes from?” she asked the elementalist. Rainbow was about to protest, calling upon Applejack for help, but as she saw Applejack was wiping sweat off her face as the paladin was about to strike another tree. Rainbow took a breath and turned back to Twilight and nodded accepting the situation. Twilight ended her spell and Rainbow got back on the treadmill and got back in the rhythm.

Before anyone knew it the hour was up as the mayor called, “Time's up!”. Every one of the Apples then dropped to the ground, everyone was almost soaked in their own sweat and panted. The crowd cheered at the collection of cider kegs. The mayor of Magiville started to count each stack of barrels. After a minute she recorded the number of the Apples’ cider kegs and then started to count the FlimFlam kegs, and after another minute and jotting the total down, the mayor called out “Flim and Flam have more barrels ready.” She announced the winners of the first phase. “Now for the selection. Since Flim and Flam produced the most barrels, they will choose the three Apples barrels first.”

Flim and Flim looked to each other and barely fought back a laugh, “Whatever three you want.” Flam spoke as he waved to three of the easiest barrels. Twilight and Rarity levitated the three kegs for them to be taste tested. Everyone enjoyed every mug of cider. It was clear the Apples seemed to have the lead in the taste-test. The mayor then turned to the Apples, “Now the Apples can cho-” she started.

“The last three!” Rainbow declared as she seemed to become the voice for everyone that helped the Apples. They all looked at her in confusion, but after a second or two of thought, they decided to trust the elementalist.

Flim and Flam levitated the three kegs and started to serve, “Drink up, Magiville! Down the hatch!” Flam order, he failed to notice that cider was full of small pieces of wood, leaves among other things. Everyone almost at the same time spat out the cider after one swig, grunting and gagging. “I can't get the taste off my tongue!” one of the townsfolk shouted. “Mine's got rocks in it!” a second declared as she poured her cider out to show that there were in fact rocks in it. Everyone then glared at the brothers and threw their mugs at them. Surprisingly, very few missed their mark even as the brothers ran to hide behind the SSCS 6000. Flam was the first to speak “It looks like we've encountered a slight... problem here in Magiville.” there was a pause in the middle of the statement. Flim looked slightly forward as more and more mugs were passing over the SSCS 6000, “Nobody wants our product.” he pointed out. He looked to his brother, “Next town?” he asked. Flam nodded, “Next town. Let's go, Flim!” he agreed as he got up and prepared to run. Flim joined his brother, “Let's go, Flam!” Flim agreed and the two started to run as fast as they could, all the while more mugs of the disgusting cider were chucked at the two.

Once Flim and Flam were out of any responsible throwing range, “The winners are the Apples!” The mayor declared as she got in front of the crowd, and everyone cheered. Apple Bloom then spoke up, “Once we go through all the kegs and find all the bad ones filled by Flim and Flam, we’ll have more than enough cider for everyone in town to have all they want.” Everyone cheered. “Rainbow Dash gets the first mug, and it's on the house.” she added. Rainbow cheered the loudest and got her well-earned cider, it was better than she ever imagined.