• Published 16th Nov 2012
  • 1,932 Views, 24 Comments

Samurai Applejack - A. Tuesday



After being sent forward in time, Applejack must find a way back to her time to undo Sombra's evil.

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Chronicle

He steadied the vinyl in his hands, placing it carefully on the centerpiece. A press of the button later, and it spun smoothly and silently until the stallion moved the needle into one of its grooves. Sweet swing music began to pour out of the speakers.

“I hope you don’t mind,” he apologized to the stranger in his home. “My dad used to listen to it before me, and his father before him – it’s a hereditary thing to like this music, I guess.”

Applejack shook her head, feeling a bit uneasy but curious as she lounged on the couch. This was not her first choice, not by a long shot; but, Seashell and her father, who had since identified himself as Sand Dollar, had insisted she stay and rest. Excitedly, Seashell had pulled the glass out of AJ’s hide (“Do I get to be like, co-Spirit or something? Since I’m helping you out?”), and Sandy had offered the farmpony some water, which she gratefully accepted.

“No, swing music’s fine,” she replied, “I was always more fer country tunes, but swing’s all nice and dandy. Reminds me of when I lived in Manehattan.”

Sandy raised his eyebrows in the dim living room. “Manehattan? They have… morals there?”

In return, Applejack shot him a look of questioning. “Well, they ain’t the nicest of folks, I’d reckon… but, from my understandin’, it’s been some three hundred years.”

“Three hundred years?” The host stood up from where he was seated. “Three hundred years since what?”

“Since I came here, I guess.” Applejack found the answer simple enough to comprehend. Unfortunately, Sandy did not feel the same way.

“What?”

AJ sighed, realizing she was going to have to tell this pony that was kind enough to take her in about the whole ordeal. She left out details, but laid out the scenario that she and her friends were to stop Sombra and, apparently, failed because Applejack had gotten sent into the future. It was a lot to swallow; the concept was actually still lodged in AJ’s throat. She wasn’t sure what to make of it all.

When she had finished, her host had sat down and merely looked at her in silence, eyes as wide as dinner plates. Silence lingered between them as it sank in.

Applejack noticed Sandy staring directly into her own emerald eyes for a moment, before traveling down the length of her lounging body and onto her flank. He only looked there a moment – not enough to cause Applejack to say anything about “gazin’ in the wrong direction” – but, when he looked towards the floor afterwards, not meeting anything’s gaze, his breath was shaky.

“Is that…” he stammered, trying to force out the sentence, “Are those three apples as your cutie mark?”

AJ smiled at him. “Yes, sir! Jus’ like everypony else in the Apple Family, I’m destined for the trade.”

Sandy blinked. “You’re… you’re kidding me.”

The stallion once again stood up, this time walking across the carpeted floor to another darkened part of the room. AJ briefly heard a muttering of “gimme a sec” before he disappeared into the next area.

The farmpony took this time to look at her surroundings. There were only a few candles lit, no proper lighting in place. While there was some decent furniture in the room, there was only a fireplace and some picture frames that hung around for decoration. All of the photos were either of Seashell and her father or of a large structure or landscape, undoubtedly “jewels” of the Crystal Empire. Applejack found the minimalist quality of the room almost eerie.

A shriek of joy turned Applejack’s attention to the other room, followed by a harsh “Shh!” Seashell’s voice could be heard.

“I told you so, Dad! We have her in our house!”

“Quiet, will you?” her father replied, “And hand me the book.”

* * *

Swing music, a song about the joy that working hard can give a pony, clashed with the sound of the dusted tome falling onto the table. The father pushed open the cover with a hoof and sifted through it’s old pages, coming upon an illustration of the Crystal Palace in its glory days and stopping.

“’The Crystal Faire’” he read aloud, “’Was a festival held every year, where crystal ponies would join together in merrymaking and all-around good times, in order to strengthen their love and unity to power up the Crystal Heart, which powered up the Empire’s natural defenses and spread good vibrations to its southern neighbor of Equestria.

“’The Faire was halted during King Sombra’s First Reign, where crystal ponies were put to slave labor expanding his Empire. After years of torment, Sombra was taken off of the throne by two eventual leaders of Equestria, Princesses Luna and Celestia, in hopes that love would once again be restored to the Empire and its surrounding neighbors. Before Sombra could be imprisoned in the ice, he used dark, shadowy magic to allow the Empire to disappear.’”

“Yeah, yeah,” Applejack interrupted, giving a wave of her hoof. “I know all this stuff, we were told it the other day. Where’s the stuff about Sombra’s return?”

Sandy skimmed through the page, hoofing down the various paragraphs and lines until he came to a specific point, which he tapped with a beige hoof.

“’After 1000 years,’” Sandy continued, “’at the end of the Millennial Magic Cycle, the Crystal Empire re-appeared in the North, and Sombra along with it. This time, the then-ruler of Equestria enlisted the help of six ponies known as the Harmonic Spirits – ultra-powerful ponies who were the embodiments of the six Elements of Harmony, compared to the physical objects they were before. They had protected Equestria and more from various doomsday legends, such as the return of Luna after her imprisonment and the Queen of the Changelings attempt at seizing Equestria for herself.

“’Their attempt to stop Sombra was hindered, however, with the apparent disappearance of both the First and Second Spirits, presumably by Sombra’s shadowy magic. Without them in play, Sombra was able to retrieve the Crystal Heart that the crystal ponies so often used, and began his Second Reign, which is still carried onwards to the present day.’”

Sandy looked up from the book, but kept his hoof on one of the smaller pictures. “The image of the Spirits in this book – one of them, the Second, is identical to you. Are you… are you her?”

Applejack wasn’t sure what to say. She’d never been called a “Spirit” before – that title was reserved for the creatures that had control over the very way of life, like the Princesses or Discord. She was just an earth pony who worked on her family’s farm.

“Well,” AJ said, not quite sure how to begin, “I… I am an Element of Harmony, if that’s what yet gettin’ at. Honesty.”

“So…” Sandy seemed to be in genuine disbelief. “You’re… you’re actually a Spirit.

“Now, I wouldn’t go that far.”

“No, but, really – you are a Spirit. You’re the thing of legends.” He leaned in a bit closer, emphasizing his point. “There are paintings about the six of you in the recreational museums. Foals – my own Seashell – learns about you in school. There are sonnets and ballads and books – all of them outlawed, but still there – about the six of you. There are some about you specifically. You… you’re a Spirit!

Applejack was getting annoyed at all the blubbering. “Really, I’m not. I’m treated normal at home – why can’t y’all treat me like they do?”

“Why don’t they revere you at home?” Sandy asked, curiously. “You six are basically gods, you know. In our eyes, you’re nothing short of it. Like I’ve said, you six embody the perfect qualities of what makes this land flourish – you’re so beyond-“

“Look, Mr. Dollar,” Applejack interjected, beginning to blush and refusing to take all of the gushing over her, “This is all fine an’ dandy, an’ I sorta get it, but like I said, I’m itchin’ to get ta Equestria. So, if y’all could just help me back, that’d be mighty respectable.”

“But the thing is,” Sandy replied, standing up and pacing back and forth across the living room, “You can’t go back. There’s nothing to go back to.”

“And?” AJ placed a hoof on her lounging hip. “Whattaya mean by that? A whole country doesn’t just disappear. Well, ‘cept fer yers.”

Sand Dollar returned to the book, flipping viciously through the many pages, intent on finding one thing he knew would be in there. Dust rose into the air where he slammed his hoof down. “’Shortly after Sombra’s return, fear and darkness were traits spread throughout the neighboring lands. Without the Spirits full power or guidance, the ponies of Equestria began to riot, and the nation was on the brink of civil war.

“’Fifty years after King Sombra’s Second Reign had begun, the Princesses handed over the throne to a Council of ponies, and exiled themselves before they became insane; Luna, banishing herself once again to the moon, and Celestia seeking refuge somewhere else – her location is unknown.

“’The Council did not last very long at all – riots only escalated, and the Council was burned to the ground in the historic Canterlot Riots of 54 AMC, or 54 years After Magical Cycle, the only thing having been accomplished was the renaming of Equestria to the Ponies’ Republic of Canterlot. It has been said that the nation has had various leaders step in and out, but for the most part, the PRC remains in an anarchist state.’”

The father’s eyes met his guests’ – they were more frightened than they had been since she first arrived.

“I’m sorry, O Second Spirit,” Sand Dollar said, “But there is no Equestria to return to.”

* * *

Nighttime fell over the Empire. The alarms had ceased, and so had the peaceful music, but spotlights still went off occasionally outside, searching for a particular somepony that laid on the couch of a home that wasn’t hers lethargically. Applejack gazed at the ceiling, depressed and unsure of what to do.

A dimly lit candle beheld Seashell’s face, who sat with amusement just being next to somepony she had studied in her classes. Every now and then, she’d ask questions about life as a Spirit, but the answers never returned her enthusiasm.

“What does a Spirit do all day?”

“Buck apples,” Applejack would reply, “But, not anymore I guess.”

“Is being a Spirit a lot of work?”

“Depends. Doesn’t seem to be any point ta it anymore, though.”

“What do you do for fun?”

“I go to see mah friends. If any of ‘em were left.”

“Are you always this depressing?”

Applejack looked at the young filly with disinterest. “Not usually.”

Seashell slumped on the ground. She had figured that a Spirit would be wild, bouncy, and full of excitement and adventure, like all of the ones in her textbook were. But, this one just sat there and moaned about how much her life sucked. The filly understood that she was the Spirit of Honesty, but still…

The foal looked up at the Spirit, who appeared to be on the verge of sleep. “So… what’re you gonna do, then?”

Applejack sighed. “I don’t know. If I can’t find the Princesses, there’s no point in really doin’ anything – they’re my way back home. Otherwise, there’s not too much I can do. I don’t belong here.”

Seashell looked down to the floor. “You could always turn yourself in,” she offered, hoping to evoke a more enthusiastic reaction from AJ, “Then you could work in the quarry with Dad. Or maybe the orchard. You said you buck apples? Well, you could do it for 12 hours a day.”

Applejack raised on eyebrow. “Ain’t that a bit much?”

“Naw, that’s normal ‘round here for us crystals. Once you get your cutie mark, boom – it’s off to the Selection you go, where you work until you die.”

The filly sighed. “My daddy’s back has been hurtin’ him real bad. I’m afraid he’s not gonna last too much longer out there. I don’t have my mark yet, and my momma… well, I don’t rightly know where my momma is. But, I don’t wanna have to live on the street. Or worse… the pens.”

Applejack listened in silence to Seashell telling the chronicle of how life was for a crystal pony. It was bad. The pony hadn’t had a real idea of what slavery was involved with before, but now she could see it wasn’t pretty in the slightest. She wanted more than ever to get back home and stop this atrocity from happening. AJ also wanted to give Sombra a piece of her mind.

She was so busy thinking this that she didn’t notice Seashell had asked another question until the filly tapped her on the shoulder.

“Huh?” Applejack asked, “What is it?”

“I asked where you got the sword from.”

“Oh.” The farmpony glanced over at the sword, which was nestled in its sheath, leaning against the stone way. As long as she lived in this world, the pony had no desire to part with the weapon – it was the last thing her friend had given her.

“My friend gave it to me,” Applejack answered after a pause, “She was here when I got sent inta this time period, still imprisoned in the top o’ that Crystal Palace like she had been three hundred years ago. The sword is crafted outta her very love, she says.”

“Ooh…” Seashell gazed in awe at the sword. “Who’s your friend?”

“Twilight. The, uh… First Spirit, is what I guess y’all would call her.”

Seashell looked out the window at the nighttime sky, over in the direction the Crystal Palace was. “The First Spirit? You mean, she’s alive, too?”

Applejack nodded.

“But, how?”

“She said somethin’ about the prison havin’ some sorta magical charm on it. I don’t really know, I reckon. All I know is that there warn’t anythin’ I coulda done for her ‘cept done what she asked – find the Princesses.”

The filly continued to look out the window. “And?”

“An’ what?”

“Are ya gonna do it?”

Applejack stared at the small filly, who hadn’t even bothered to turn around yet. Her words struck the farmpony deeply.

Had she failed already? Had she failed to do the one thing her last friend, her only hope at getting home, had asked of her? In the course of less than a day, too? While it was no doubt impossible to locate and speak with the Princesses at a time like this, Applejack felt like had given up as soon as the very notion of the idea was laid out on the table.

“How can I?” she responded to Seashell. “Equestria don’t exist any more, Luna’s on the moon an’ Celestia’s missing in action.”

“Doesn’t mean you can’t find her,” Seashell replied. “And it’s not like the old Equestria is completely gone. I’m sure the towns and buildings and records are still there. All it would take is a visit to the PRC.”

Applejack remained silent, contemplating more. Finding a Princess across what could potentially be the whole world? And, finding… she didn’t even know what she would look for in the PRC. What was the point?

Seashell found one for her. The filly turned around and looked AJ dead in the eyes.

“It sounds like you cared about your friend. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to do wrong by her and not try to help her. Even if its just doing what she asked.”

Silence lingered between the two of them. Seashell said only one more thing.

“You are the Second Spirit, after all.”

Applejack closed her eyes. She inhaled, thinking of all the good times she and her friends had. All of the help they gave her, with the farm and her other expenditures, all of the times they had worked together to save Equestria or one another. It was a true and great friendship, one so powerful it apparently no longer existed. One so powerful it was revered as godlike. One so powerful it had saved the world – and could save it again.

Applejack exhaled. Who was she to let down her friends?

“Alright,” Applejack finally said, “I may be this Second Spirit, but I ain’t exactly the Spirit of Creativity. With the whole town lookin’ through every nook and cranny for me, how am I supposed to get outta town?”

A spotlight whizzed by the house, just grazing it and moving on, as a smile formed itself on the cerulean filly’s lips.

“I think I may have an idea.”