• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf



What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000

Episode 41 – The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000

I couldn't sleep well.

I woke up after shifting around in my bed for a while. Despite having blankets over me, I still felt cold for some reason. I finally gave up and opened my eyes. I tried wrapping the blankets around me tightly, but it didn't seem to help. I sighed. Maybe being at Fluttershy's will help me again… I don't want to bother her but… I just hate having this feeling… I rose out of bed, tiredly. Sure, I was exhausted…but it wouldn't help staying here and not getting any sleep at all… I walked downstairs, continuously bumping into the wall, and eventually reached the door.

Finally, when I was outside, I looked around under the night sky. I took in a deep breath and exhaled, allowing me to relax a bit. I began walking to Fluttershy's cottage, hoping she wouldn't get upset…well…maybe not…based on what she told me last time..

When I arrived at her silent home, I took another deep breath and knocked on the door, lightly enough to not startle her, but loud enough for her to hear. As last time, she walked out rubbing her eye after a moment.

"Oh, Alex… It's you."

"Yes…I'm sorry. I'm just having some trouble again like last time…" I looked away apologetically.

Fluttershy managed to smile. "You don't need to be sorry. Come on in." She grabbed my hoof and led me inside.

"Thank you, Fluttershy." I gave her a soft and gentle kiss, since we were both tired. "Let me get the blankets. You should get back to sleep."

"Are you sure?"

"Mm-hm." I kissed her cheek. "Sweet dreams."

She smiled and blushed lightly. "You too." Afterwards, she began walking back upstairs to her room.

I carefully grabbed a couple of blankets near the couch and placed them on there. I laid down and close my eyes, wishing to go to sleep as quick as possible. I sighed mentally. I love Fluttershy so much…

Around the middle of my sleep, I heard a slight harsh knocking. However, I remained asleep…but I began to hear Fluttershy. She yawned. "Who could that be? It's still dark!" Suddenly, something crashed in her room and spoke to her.

"C'mon, Fluttershy! Cider season's about to start!" It sounded like Rainbow Dash. She seemed very anxious… Something was thrown, and then I heard a squeak in embarrassment. "Fluttershy! I don't have any time to waste, c'mon!"

"Shh." Fluttershy shushed. "Can I at least wake up Alex?"

"Fine! Hurry and wake up your boyfriend, we don't have time to waste!"

Fluttershy began walking down the stairs, nearing closer to me. Once I felt and heard her beside me as I continued to sleep, she slightly giggled. "Aw, look at him, Rainbow Dash. Isn't he so cute when's he's asleep?"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Just hurry and wake him up!" Rainbow Dash impatiently responded.

"Okay…" Fluttershy began speaking softly to me. "Alex, it's time to wa—

"WAKE UP ALEX!" Rainbow Dash shouted loudly, causing me to become startled, jolt awake, and fall off the couch.

"Oh, my, Alex. Are you okay?" Fluttershy asked, placing her hooves to her mouth. Before I could answer, Rainbow Dash grabbed me and placed me on her without question. She then flew speedily out the cottage. I had to wrap my hooves around her to make sure I didn't fall. She was flying to somewhere I had no idea of and was pretty high off the ground. Fluttershy was flying by her side. "Careful, Rainbow."

"We have to make it before any other pony does!"

"What are you talking about?" I tried to question as I attempted to stay on Rainbow Dash. "Why are you in such a rush?"

"Yes, Rainbow Dash." Fluttershy agreed. "What's the rush?"

"The rush? Don't you remember what happened last year? Or the year before that? Or pretty much any cider season ever?

"Um, well, uh—

"Pinkie Pie." Rainbow Dash narrowed her eyes. "She always ends up ahead of us in line and then they always run out of cider!"

"I guess I—

"Well not this year! 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—

Her sentence was cut short when we noticed a huge line of tents in Sweet Apple Acres, causing her to gasp.

"Gee Rainbow Dash. It looks like a few other ponies had the same idea."

"Few…?" I expressed.

When Rainbow Dash was close enough to the ground, I carefully jumped off of her and observed the huge line. I heard a zipping noise from a pink-colored tent and noticed balloons being released along with Pinkie walking out as if she just woke up. She had bed-mane.

"Oh, gosh Pinkie." Fluttershy commented, observing her messed up mane. "I love your new style."

"Who are all these ponies?" Rainbow Dash joined us, looking back at all the tents.

"Isn't this great?" Pinkie Pie waved her hooves excitedly, replacing her bed-mane with her regular one. "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! Woohoo! Oh gosh, that's a lot of ponies. Hope they don't run out before you get any."

Rainbow Dash returned a growl.

"Pinkie Pie? What's all this talk about cider season?" I asked her.

She immediately rushed towards me and grabbed my cheeks with her hooves. "You don't know what CIDER SEASON is?"

"No…" I responded, grabbing her hoofs and gently pulling them away from my cheeks. "It has something to do with Sweet Apple Acres?"

"Of course! Apple cider! Duh! Haven't you ever had a cup of it?"

"No…" I repeated.

She gasped. "I can't believe it! You really need to try it!"

I observed the huge line that camped out just to buy cider. "Uh… No thanks… Not with this kind of line…"

"No, worries!" Pinkie replied. "I've got you covered!" She smiled brightly. "I'll buy you a cup!"

"Pinkie…that's really not necessary." I tried to reason with her.

"Alex, you need to taste the magic of apple cider! And after all those things you've done for me, you deserve it! Don't worry about it! I always buy a whole bunch of cups of apple cider!"

"Well…if it's no problem then…"

"Of course not!"

"What?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed in disbelief and groaned.

"Well, I say we should start waiting in line Rainbow." Fluttershy advised.

"Whatever…" She muttered, dragging herself all the way at the end of the line.

"You're really going to wait in a line this huge?" I asked Fluttershy.

"Sure. Apple cider is really good, and I don't really mind waiting."

"Oh… Well." I rubbed the back of my head and yawned. "I think I'm going to take a nap… I'm still tired."

"Okay." She kissed me and began walking away. "I'll see you when you wake up."

I lightly smiled and waved. Afterwards, I walked to a nearby tree and made myself comfortable. I lay down on the grass and closed my eyes, beginning to feel good when they were closed completely.

When I reopened them, I was surprised to see everypony awake and eagerly standing in line. Obviously, Pinkie Pie was the first one in line, waiting to receive her apple cider. I looked in front of me to see Twilight, Spike, and Rarity standing in line. I assumed that they hadn't noticed me, so I stood up and began walking towards them.

"Isn't this exciting, Spike? Opening day of cider season!" Twilight expressed.

"Yeah! That means it's only thirty more days 'til sapphire season!" Spike looked up and rubbed his claws together as he licked his lips.

Rarity and Twilight rolled their eyes.

"Hey." I greeted briefly along with a small smile towards them.

"Hi, Alex." Twilight responded.

"Alex, where did you come from?" Rarity asked a bit surprised.

"Oh, I was taking a nap over there." I pointed towards a tree past the white wooden face.

"Oh…wait…Aren't you going to get some apple cider?" Twilight questioned.

"Well…Pinkie said she'll give me a cup, but it's because I've never tasted apple cider…" I answered.

"Never?" The girls exclaimed, now highly surprised.

I shook my head. "I don't know how it tastes…but obviously it has to be amazing if so many ponies line up like this…" I looked at the line that trailed behind them continuously.

"Well you have to taste it. It's simply divine!" Rarity commented.

I smiled lightly. "Alright. What about you girls? How did you get this place in line?"

"Oh. Pinkie Pie told us about it and we all camped out here last night." Twilight replied. "What about Fluttershy? Is she waiting in line for apple cider too?"

"Oh." I looked at the line to see if I could see her. "Yeah… she's waiting in line somewhere back there…but I can't see where…"

"Well I hope—

"Attention, everypony! Cider season is now officially open!" Applejack announced suddenly in the megaphone, interrupting Twilight's sentence.

Ponies waiting in line, especially at the front, began chattering excitedly. I looked towards the front to see Pinkie Pie bring a huge bag of money and spill it in the pink box for collecting the funds. Granny Smith then signaled Applebloom, who was working the pump, making her fill the cups with the cider. Pinkie wrapped her hoof around the beverage and chugged it down, releasing a great breath in pleasure as she still contained some foam on her lips. Afterwards, she collected several cups of cider and carried them all with both of her front hooves as she walked on her two back ones. She saw me and tossed a cup towards me. I quickly caught it and looked at it.

"There you go, Alex! Bye!" She walked carefully off, continuing to hold her cider.

I could only seem to stare at it for a moment in silence.

"Aren't you going to drink it?" Twilight asked me as they were nearing the stand.

"Um…I guess…" I carefully raised the cups to my lips and slowly took a sip of it. Hm… it tasted really sweet… of course the taste of apples was in there…but it just somehow seemed to attract me… I began drinking more. I wasn't chugging the whole drink down my throat, but it was tastefully excellent. As I continued to drink the contents in my cup, the line resumed its shortening of the length; ponies continued to place their bits in the stash and purchase a cup of cider, drinking it happily and excitedly after. I also stood by the stand until Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash came by. I had just finished my cup, even licking my lips a bit, when Fluttershy walked by the stand. They were on their last barrel. Fluttershy happily placed her bits and walked over to Applebloom to receive her drink. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash excitedly placed in her two bits as well. She watched as the cider poured into Fluttershy's drink. When they began preparing Rainbow Dash's cider, she opened out her mouth and released her tongue.

However, the faucet sprayed out the remaining cider leftover, which was barely anything. Fluttershy had received the last cup. This caused Rainbow Dash to form tears in her eyes sadly. Afterwards, she growled in annoyance.

"Heh, Sorry everypony! That's it for today!" Applejack announced.

The other ponies waiting in line groaned. Wow…I think I would be annoyed if I had to wait in such a long line, just to find out that the cider ran out when I was at the front…

"Surprise surprise. You ran out again!" Rainbow Dash pointed out in anger.

"Yeah, you always run out!" Another pony joined her.

"For the record, I don't mind—

"Why can't you make enough cider for all of us? Or at least for me!" Rainbow Dash interrupted Fluttershy's sentence and caused all the other ponies to agree and share general complaints.

Applejack jumped on the stand. "Hold on everypony. We've done our best to improve supply this year—

"You always say that!" The same pony attacked.

"And it's always true. But Apple family cider is made with love and integrity, and only the highest quality apples in Equestria. Sorry, but that recipe takes time." Nonetheless, more of the ponies continued complaining. I guess I could understand how they felt… They were too angry and thought more about how they waited in line so long, just to be disappointed with no cider. "If y'all just be patient, we'll have plenty more tomorrow." Applejack announced as the other ponies began leaving angrily.

"She's right, y'know!" Pinkie Pie added cheerfully. "You can't rush perfection! And this year's batch was perfection! Right, Alex?" She asked me.

"Uh…" I could only release as I began analyzing Rainbow Dash glare violently and steam.

"I'll never forget the cider I just drank! It was a moment in time that will never exist again..."

Rainbow Dash began growling as if she was literally going to explode, but a sudden honking interrupted us all. Motorized noises followed after. We looked to the left side of the trail to see something come our way. It seemed to be some kind of vehicle or machine. I could see some kind of light bulb on the top.

"What in Equestria is that?" Applejack asked, walking towards us.

Two objects near the light bulb polluted the air, releasing small puffs of smoke. The machine seemed to somehow gain the attention of Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. They widened their eyes at the sight and walked towards the machine excitedly, being followed by other ponies as well. The machine moved closer to the stand until it halted after damaging the white fence nearby, annoying Granny Smith. Well… there goes my first impression.

Two tall ponies jumped out of the machine and faced the crowd. They looked…odd…

"Well, lookie what we got here, brother of mine, it's the same in every town." He randomly began singing. "Ponies with thirsty throats, dry tongues, and not a drop of cider to be found." He provided an example of this with one of the ponies in the crowd. "Maybe they're not aware that there's really no need for this teary despair"

"That the key that they need to solve this sad cider shortage you and I will share." His obviously twin brother finished, causing the other ponies to awe and excitedly chatter.

"Well you've got opportunity

In this very community" They both sang.

"He's Flim."

"He's Flam"

"We're the world famous Flim Flam brothers

Traveling salesponies nonpareil"

I narrowed my eyes.

"Non-pa what?" Pinkie Pie questioned.

"Nonpareil," Flim answered. "And that's exactly the reason why, you see

No pony else in this whole place will give you such a chance to be where you need to be." He grabbed Applebloom and kissed her on the forehead.

"And that's a new world, with tons of cider

Fresh squeezed and ready for drinking."

"More cider than you can drink in all your days of thinking." Flam slid down a sort of tube that was connected to the machine. It appeared to be some sort of vacuum or suction device. However, I managed to spot Derpy in the crowd as well. She was flying above us, noticing the scene as well.

"I doubt that." Rainbow Dash commented.

"So take this opportunity." They sang.

"In this very community." The crowd joined.

"He's Flim"

"He's Flam"

"We're the world famous Flim Flam brothers

Traveling salesponies nonpareil

"I suppose by now you're wondering 'bout our peculiar mode of transport."

"I say, our mode of locomotion."

"And I suppose by now you're wondering, where is this promised cider?"

"Any horse can make a claim and any pony can do the same."

"But my brother and I have something most unique and superb

Unseen at any time in this big new world."

"And that's opportunity"

"Folks, it's the one and only, the biggest and the best"

"The unbelievable"

"Unimpeachable"

"Indispensable"

"I can't believe-able"

"Flim Flam brothers' Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000!"

"What d'you say, sister?" Flam asked Rarity, oddly causing her to sigh and faint with her hoof on her head, causing me to catch her before she fell to the ground as the crowd now joined the brothers in their song.

"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" I could only look at the crowd in surprise.

"Young filly, 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 spell-bindingly fragrant apples for our little demonstration here?" Flim asked Applejack.

"Uh, sure, I guess." Applejack answered, still a little confused about what is going on.

"Opportunity, in our community." The crowd added.

"Ready Flim?"

"Ready Flam?"

"Let's bing-bang zam!"

"And show these thirsty ponies a world of delectable cider!" They exclaimed as they powered the machine with their magic."

"Cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider..." The crowd continuously began to chant.

"Watch closely my friends!" Flim advised as the suction device hovered over a tree and sucked in the apples from it.

"The fun begins!"

"Now, here's where the magic happens." Flim stood on top of the machine. "Right here in this heaving roiling cider press boiling guts of the very machine…" I looked to my sides to see Twilight, Spike, and Rarity all chanting with the crowd as well. I could hardly believe it. "Those apples plucked fresh are right now as we speak being turned into grade-A top-notch five-star blow-your-horseshoes-off one-of-a-kind cider!"

"Feel free to take a sneak peek!" Flam encouraged, causing several ponies to race over to the machine.

Although, Granny Smith interrupted, causing the crowd to cease their chant.

"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, Apple Acre's quality and care!"

"Well Granny, I'm glad you brought that up, my dear, I say I'm glad you brought that up" Flim responded. "You see that we are very picky when it comes to cider if you'll kindly try a cup." He caught a cup out of nowhere and hoofed it to Granny Smith, who took a sip and looked shock.

"Yes, sir, yes ma'am this great machine, it's just the very best" I looked over to the machine to see it perfected in passing fine apples and discarding the bad ones.

"So whaddaya say then, Apples

Care to step into the modern world

And put the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 to the test?"

"Cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider…" The crowd again began to chant while I could only remain speechless, feeling that these two were bad news…

"What do you think, folks? Do you see what the Apples can't? I see it clear as day! I know she does! So does he!" He pointed at me, causing me to feel very irritated. "C'mon Ponyville, you know what I'm talking about!"

"We're saying you've got," They began.

"Opportunity" The crowd joined.

"In this very community

He's Flim, he's Flam

We're the world famous Flim Flam brothers

Traveling salesponies nonpareil"

"Yeah!" They finally finished.

"You got a deal!" Applebloom announced out of nowhere, causing the ponies to chatter excitedly.

"Not so fast!" Granny Smith exclaimed, stomping her hooves on the ground. She and the Apple family then huddled together for a team talk.

"Isn't this great, Alex?" Twilight asked me. "If these ponies work with Sweet Apple Acres, then that means there will be enough cider for everypony!"

"It won't be the same…" I sighed. "I don't feel good about these guys… There's something about them… What if it proves to be a threat again Sweet Apple Acres? The crowd doesn't really care about how special it's made…as long as it's just as good or even better."

"What do you mean…?" Twilight asked, beginning to feel concerned.

"Well…"

"Don't you worry, everypony!" Flam announced by the podium near the machine. "There'll be plenty of cider for all of you!"

After, I looked at Twilight and pointed at Flam to try to reference what I meant. Then, we saw Applejack walking towards as the Flim Flam brothers began leaving in their machine. Applejack stopped by us, looking down literally and figuratively.

"AJ, what's wrong?" Twilight asked, noticing her expression.

"…They said that they're going to drive us out of business…"

"What?" I quickly exclaimed.

"We wouldn't be partners with them because they would be makin' seventy-five of the profits, so now they're going to be competitors."

"That's unreasonable!" I felt like bursting. I began feeling so much anger swell up inside of me. "We can't allow them to do that!"

Twilight placed a hoof on me and patted lightly. "Don't worry, Applejack. Sweet Apple Acres has been able to withstand anything, I mean think about Zap Apple Jam! They can't make that, can they?"

Applejack managed to smile a bit. "Yeah… Yeah, you're right Twilight. Their machine can't make zap apple jam!" She paused for a moment. "Or can it…?"

I sighed and finally cooled down. "Don't worry about it Applejack… if they try anything, I'll be there to support you. I won't let everything you love be destroyed by some random show ponies."

She smiled lightly at my comment. "Thanks, Alex… You're the best..."

I nodded. "Well, I'm going to go check up on Fluttershy. I'll see you girls tomorrow."

They waved and continued to talk as I left looking for Fluttershy. Fluttershy seemed to be flying in the air talking with Rainbow Dash about something, probably with what just happened a while ago. I began waiting below her until Derpy came up to me and smiled. "Hi, Alex."

"Hey, Derpy." I smiled and offered her a quick hug. "You saw that whole scene, right?"

"Yep. They look pretty cool." She responded, accepting my hug.

I shrugged, beginning to feel a little irritated about them again. "Maybe…but I have a bad feeling about them…"

"Why?" She asked, tilting her head and looking at me with crossed concerned eyes.

"Well… They're threatening to take the farm. I don't know if they are just talking bluff, but I always take these kinds of threats seriously…"

"Really? Oh no! Is there something I can do to help?"

I thought for a moment, but didn't really come up with anything. "I'm not sure at the moment… but first we'll see what happens tomorrow."

"Okay, Alex. I'll try thinking up of something." She began flapping her wings.

I smiled. "Thanks, Derpy."

"You're welcome, Alex!" She waved. "See you tomorrow."

"See you." I waved as well. She flew away, and after a moment, Fluttershy landed next to me. "Hey, Fluttershy. Where's Rainbow Dash?"

"She left home. What'd you think about those two new ponies?"

I sighed and repeated how I felt about them and what they said they were planning to do.

"They want to take away the farm?" Fluttershy softly exclaimed with slightly widened eyes.

"Yeah…we're not sure…but they might be serious. We'll just have to wait until tomorrow…"

She lightly sighed. "Okay…"

We had not much of a choice but to wait to see what would happen. We spent the day a little uneasily about their threat. It actually made a little anxious about the next day coming, but that was the day we would know for sure. No matter… Applejack's my friend, she's family, and I'll make sure she doesn't lose her farm…somehow…

Tomorrow…

Applejack continued to sell her signature apple cider to thirsty pony folk. However, judging by the length of the line, and how much apple cider was left, I knew there wasn't going to be enough for all the ponies again…

Applejack noticed this and returned a worried look when she saw the last barrel being loaded but still many ponies were waiting in line…

"Still worried about Flim and Flam?" Twilight asked as she held a cup of apple cider in her hoof.

"Granny Smith says they were just blowing hot air." Spike, who was with us, also stated.

"I'm not so sure. They sounded mighty serious when they threatened to run us out of business." Applejack responded.

"I agree…" I added. "Not to make things seem worse… but these guys seem too confident about their machine. I'm pretty sure they feel like they have the power to do anything…"

"That's just what I'm afraid of…"

"That's it! Last cup!" Applebloom sounded from the stand.

"Oh for Pete's sake!" We heard Rainbow Dash from the far end of the line as everypony, who didn't get a cup, groaned.

"C'mon back tomorrow, everypony!" Applebloom directed, causing for all the ponies to complain. I heard a flutter of wings and looked to my side to Derpy landing beside me.

"I thought of something!" She said.

"Really? What?" I questioned.

She pulled out something from her saddlebag. "We should politely ask them to leave with these muffins!" She presented a tray with muffins.

I sighed. "Derpy…you're really nice…but some ponies care about business more than about friendship…"

She frowned. "…then what should we do…?"

"Well…"

We suddenly heard that machine clunking its way over here. We knew that there was going to be bad news… Granny Smith had just finished fixing the wooden fence, but the machine just broke it again. I'm really starting to dislike these guys…REALLY…

"What seems to be the problem here?" Flim asked, arrogantly.

"Oh my oh my, out of cider again?" His brother repeated.

"What have we here?" Flim leaned by the back of the machine as a barrel began being manufactured out. "Who'd like a cup?"

The crowd that still needed a cup of cider quickly ran over to the machine, sending cries of excitement along the way.

"Don't worry, everypony, we've got the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 to make more in an instant!" One of them created a cup of cider and gave it to Rainbow Dash. She was just about to take a sip until Applejack grabbed a lasso, caught the barrel with the rope, and pulled it towards her, knocking Rainbow's cup out of her hooves along the way.

"You can't sell that cider!" Applejack announced as she placed her hooves on the lid of the barrel. "That's made from Apple family apples!"

As Applejack acknowledged that, I saw Rainbow Dash desperately tugging at the ground to see if she could suck up any remaining cider that spilled out, but instead, she grabbed a bunch of mud and placed it her mouth, crying a little. "Is this some kind of cruel joke?"

"Don't worry, everypony, there are plenty of apples in Equestria. We'll find some others and make more cider than all of Ponyville can drink!"

"Why don't you just leave Ponyville alone and go sell somewhere else!" I exclaimed stepping up. "Ponyville already has a great apple cider seller: The Apple family!"

"But what about all these other poor thirsty ponies?" Flim presented, raising his hoof at them.

"You don't care about them! All you want to do is destroy the family business and keep all the profits towards yourself!"

"Us? Why we never! We just want to make the best quality cider available for everypony." Flam answered. "Am I right everypony?" He asked, beginning to make the crowd around us discuss and mumble.

I growled and grabbed the tray of muffins from Derpy's saddlebag. "Here's what I think of your cider!" I began to furiously throw the muffins at them, causing them to widen their eyes and try to avoid them. I'm not sure if I managed to hit them, but they did jump over their machine and hide behind it. Before I could throw more, Fluttershy quickly grabbed my hooves and held them back.

"Alex, Alex, please calm down."

I released a deep breath and calmed myself down. "Sorry…"

One of them poked their heads out from behind the machine. "Looks like some of our cider will calm that angry self of yours!"

I wanted to literally chase after them, bursting in anger, but I shook my head and took in a deep breath. Don't let them get to you…

"Well… As we were saying before we were so rudely interrupted…" Flim continued, both of them now standing on the machine. "We'll make enough cider for the whole town!"

"We'll make more cider than you could ever imagine!" Applebloom joined in on the fight, possibly feeling the same emotions I was feeling. She caused the crowd to gasp.

Big Macintosh quickly grabbed her and pulled her away by the tail. "Now, it ain't about the speed, young'un, it's about quality." Granny Smith commented to her.

The crowd returned disappointed sighs.

"Who cares how good the cider is if I never get to drink any?" Rainbow Dash explained irritably, which made Flim grab her cheeks with his hooves.

"Oh, look at these poor, dissatisfied ponies."

"Ponyville is Sweet Apple Cider country!" Applebloom argued. Big Macintosh released the grip of her tail, having her land on the ground harshly.

"Our cider speaks for itself!" Applejack added.

"Let's put it to the test!" Flim, who was now lying on the couch lazily as he wore his hat, expressed confidently.

"Anywhere, anytime!" Applebloom responded competitively, causing the crowd to form shocked mutters.

"Well, that's enough, now." Granny Smith whispered to Applebloom.

"With our machine, we can make enough cider in one hour to satisfy this entire town!" Flam replied, announcing to the whole town.

"We'll do it in 45 minutes!" Applebloom exclaimed, ignoring Granny Smith and gaining positive remarks from the crowd of ponies.

"Easy, Applebloom, easy." Granny Smith resumed her warning.

"What's the matter, Granny Smith?" Flim asked, continuing to lay on his couch. "Chicken?"

"What did you call me, sonny?" Granny Smith asked, changing the tone of her voice.

"If you're so confident in your cider, then what's the problem?"

Granny Smith rushed over to Flim and challenged him face to face, which also surprised him. "Tomorrow mornin', right here!"

"But I'm afraid we haven't any..." Flam expressed as he grabbed an apple from a bucket with his magic and spat on it. "...apples." He rubbed it on his shirt.

"You can use our south field, and it'd be worth it to teach you all a thing or two about cider making!" Granny Smith responded.

Observing Granny Smith… it seems that these two annoying and arrogant ponies were getting to a lot of us…

"Excellent; we have a bet. Whoever produces the most barrels in one hour wins the exclusive right to sell cider in Ponyville." After Flim negotiated the details, I noticed Applejack begin to sweat nervously.

Nonetheless, Granny Smith agreed by accepting his hoof-shake angrily. "And after we beat ya, I don't never want to see you bimbahoozalers around here again!"

This caused the ponies around us to chatter about the situation. The two brothers stood on their machine and prepared for their leave. "Until tomorrow." Flam expressed, allowing them to both bow and their machine to drive off.

"Don't worry, Applejack, I know you'll win tomorrow!" Twilight encouraged.

"We'd better, 'cause if we don't, we're gonna lose our farm." Applejack answered, walking off with closed eyes afterwards as the crowd dispensed.

I realized I had been quiet the whole time after the little burst I had. I sighed and looked at Derpy, who was still standing next to me. I immediately felt bad. "I'm really sorry, Derpy… I'm really sorry I threw your muffins just like that…" I lowered my head and frowned.

However, Derpy smiled. "It's okay! I made those muffins for them and you sure gave it to them good!"

This caused me to smile lightly and chuckle a little as well. "I guess I did…"

Derpy giggled a little. "Well, don't worry about them. I can always make more! In fact, once Applejack wins and keeps the farm, I'll make a whole bunch of muffins to celebrate!"

"That sounds great."

She smiled while closing her eyes. "I better go. Bye, Alex!" She waved and flew off.

"Bye." I now turned to face Fluttershy who was smiling lightly at my better mood. "Thank you too, Fluttershy."

"For what?" She asked.

"For calming me down. I don't know what I would have done if you weren't here…"

"Yeah… you really surprised us." Twilight added as she and Rarity walked over to me. "I don't think I've ever seen you get so mad like that…"

"Yes, it almost scared us to where we began worrying about you…" Rarity commented.

"Sorry, about that girls… I guess it's easier to push me beyond my limits when some random ponies are messing with my family."

They all smiled understandably and created a group hug, involving me.

"Still…" Twilight offered when we pulled away. "I'm worried about Applejack… What if they aren't able to catch up with the cider making machine? Even if they are able to keep up, the machine is powered by magic. As long as it is powered by magic, it won't have to rest. But with Applejack and her family… they have limits to what they can do…"

I sighed. "You're right… The best option we can take to support her is to be there in the crowd and cheer and encourage her… and hopefully they will win or we'll find something to help them…"

They nodded their heads and agreed. Thus… we could only wait until the next day came…hoping some ray of light would shine on Applejack and her family.

The next day, all six of us stood behind the white wooden fence in front of the crowd. I was standing next to Fluttershy, looking a bit worried as I saw the Apple family prepare intensely for their challenge as the twin brothers just lazily laid on their couch. Big Macintosh was pacing his legs, warming them up. Granny Smith smelled the apples, probably for seeing which one is good and which one is not. Applejack was harshly kicking a punching bag while Applebloom held on to it, allowing for the bag to carry more weight.

"I'm going to go check on Applejack…" Twilight announced and hopped over the white fence.

I looked at the others and decided I could give some encouragement to Applejack. "I'll be back too…" I hopped over the fence and walked towards Applejack.

"Applejack? Are you sure this is such a good idea?" Twilight asked as she continued to release sounds of exertion.

"Me 'n' the family are..." She kicked the bag. "…one hundred percent confident..." She kicked it again. "…in our cider making capabilities."

"And besides, nopony calls Granny a chicken." Applebloom added, Applejack knocking her off the bag after kicking it with enough force.

"Attention everypony!" The Mayor announced in the megaphone.

"Well, good luck." Twilight offered with a hint of unease as Applejack continued to kick the bag and walked away.

"Thanks Twilight." Applejack responded, but then noticed her sister fall after being dazed. "We'll need it…"

I walked up to Applejack, placing a hoof on her shoulder. "You've got this… don't worry… I believe in you. After all the work you've put into this farm, there's no way you're going to lose it… You've always stood up for what you believe in, and it will all pay off, trust me. You'll win this battle…"

Applejack looked at me understandingly and nodded. "Thanks, Alex… That really means a lot."

I nodded and smiled a bit. "I better get back."

"Alright…"

After I stood back in my spot near Fluttershy, the mayor continued on with her announcement as another pony and Spike stood near a huge hourglass. "The teams have one hour to produce as much cider as they can, after which the barrels will be counted, and the winner will be named the sole cider provider for all of Ponyville!" The crowd returned shocked gasps. "Are both teams ready?"

"Ready!" Applejack answered boldly, standing near her family.

"Ready!" The two brothers answered in unison, continuing to lay on the couch.

"Then let's..." The mayor began, causing the pony to turn the hourglass and start the time. "Go!"

The Apple family quickly rushed off to begin their work, except Granny Smith… She was trying to rush too, but her age kept her behind…

The twin brothers merely yawned and casually laid on the sofa as they used their magic to power the machine. As the suction tube began attracting all the apples in the machine, Applejack was fiercely kicking the apple trees, allowing for all of them to fall and Applebloom to come by and catch them with a bucket. She dropped the bucket by Granny Smith, who began smelling them to see if they were good or not, and quickly picked up another bucket to catch more. The apples rolled on to a horse-powered machine ran by Big Macintosh, literally. He ran on a treadmill in order to crush the apples for cider. When a barrel filled up, he quickly placed a lid on it and removed it from sight in order to place another one.

"Great job, y'all! We've already filled an entire barrel!" Applejack encouraged.

"I'll bet you those guys don't even have—

Applebloom's sentence was cut short when they noticed the machine working smoothly and easy, already making five barrels to one of theirs. The two brothers waved tauntingly, causing Applejack to gulp nervously and sweat while I could only narrow my eyes in anger.

The machine continued to work their magic as it made barrels of cider rapidly… I couldn't believe it! The sight of this even began distracting Applebloom as she stared with widened eyes, missing the apples that Applejack kicked off.

"C'mon, Applebloom, focus! We gotta forget those guys if we're gonna have a chance of winnin'!" Applejack explained.

"Sorry, sis!" Applebloom shook her head. She raced over to Granny Smith with another full bucket. I noticed that there were many buckets full of apples near her that were way too much for her to keep up."Better keep up, Granny, we're fallin' behind!"

She wiped the sweat off of her head and continued, tiredly.

She wasn't the only one. At the machine, I could see Big Macintosh panting heavily as he sweated as well.

"Rest when it's over, Big Macintosh! Ride! Ride!" Applejack ordered encouragingly, causing him to try to remove the thought of fatigue from his mind and continue on with a determined face.

As I continued to observe all this, I couldn't take it anymore. I had to help them! They were working miserably and exhaustively!

"This is just dreadful. Even at top speed the Apples are only making one barrel to the twins' three!" Rarity commented.

"I can't take this anymore!" I exclaimed and jumped over the fence to go help Big Macintosh run the machine, but Twilight's voice stopped me.

"Alex, wait!" She called after me.

I turned around and looked at them with a determined face. "We can't just stand around here and do nothing! We're a part of her family too! We have to help her!"

Twilight then thought for a moment, moving her eyes away. She looked at me and hopped over the white fence. Then, she walked towards the mayor, who was observing the hourglass. "Um, Miss Mayor! Are honorary family members allowed to help in the competition?" She asked, having the other girls join her.

"Well, I'm not sure..." She faced towards the brothers who were still lying on the couch under no pressure. "Flim, Flam, would you object to honorary family members helping?"

"Are you kidding?" Flim responded calmly.

"We don't care if the whole kingdom of Canterlot helps. It's a lost cause." Flam finished.

I furrowed my eyebrows in anger from their response, but then I slipped out a smile as well when I realized that they made a terrible mistake.

"Hm, I guess it's okay. Applejack? What do you think?" The Mayor asked.

Just as Applejack finished kicking another tree, she looked at us, tiredly. "I think I'd love to have the rest of my family helpin' out."

"All right!" The girls cheered.

Afterwards, Twilight and the other girls lined up in an ordered line before me. "What are your orders, sir?" Twilight asked, playfully, but determined at the same time.

I smiled defiantly and walked across them. "Alright, everypony. We're not going to let some obnoxious twin brothers take the heart of Ponyville and destroy it completely, are we?"

"Sir, no, sir!" They responded in unison with a proud and bold voice.

I walked towards Fluttershy. "Fluttershy, go and help shake the apples off the trees."

She returned eye contact and agreed. "Got it."

"Pinkie Pie, use your ability of quick sense and speed to catch the apples that fall off of the trees."

"Sir, yes, sir!" Pinkie responded, saluting me.

"Rarity, you have a great eye in inspection and quality. Help Granny Smith with figuring out which apples are good or not."

"Of course."

"Twilight, use your magic and amazing organization skill to quickly stack and refill the barrels of cider."

"No problem!"

"Rainbow Dash, you and I will give Big Macintosh a break and run the pressing machine, alright?"

"Sure thing!"

"Alright, then let's save Sweet Apple Acres!"

"All right!" They cheered and we immediately took action.

Fluttershy doubled the speed of shaking the apples off the tree as she swiftly flew tree by tree. Pinkie Pie held a bucket on her head and caught the apples that Fluttershy removed. "Over there, Applebloom! Don't miss them!" She advised cheerfully.

Applebloom quickly dove to the ground to catch the apples. "Right behind you, Pinkie Pie!"

Granny Smith and Rarity were quickly separating the spoiled apples from the good ones. "Good 'un, bad 'un, bad 'un, good 'un..."

"Lovely, horrid, horrid, lovely..."

Rainbow Dash and I allowed Big Macintosh to rest as we ran the pressing machine. We looked at each other and nodded. As we pressed the apples to fill the barrels with apple cider, Twilight was placing the lid on them and stacking them as she placed another barrel under the faucet. "Based on these figures, we're making five barrels for every three of theirs!"

The crowd watching cheered.

"Keep it up, everypony!" Applejack encouraged. "We're back in this!"

As I continued to run, I noticed Flim spit out his apple cider on his brothers face. "Come on, brother, we've gotta pick up the pace!" I heard them… was it like last time when I was heard Spike and Rarity during that whole "huge dragon" incident?

"Right, uh, double the power!" He agreed. They both produced more magic towards the machine. The suction tube stretched out and not only sucked all of the apples, but literally tore the whole tree off, surprising me.

I could somehow hear the noises from the machine, indicating that all the apples were bad, due to the tree coming with them.

"We gotta try something else!" Flim panicked.

"I've got it, brother of mine." Flam answered and pressed the red button below the green check mark. All of the apples were now being accepted into the cider making, even the ones covered in leafs and twigs. Those little…

"Well done, Flam! We're at top productivity!"

The crowd, seeming not to notice this, cheered.

Rainbow Dash noticed how they were now making barrels faster than before, even if they were cheating. She flew off the treadmill, causing me to almost lose control until I had to achieve the same speed we were running at to keep up. "Rainbow Dash!" I scolded.

"We don't have time for quality control if we wanna win this thing!"

"No, Rainbow Dash!" I tried to say as I attempted to keep up. "We can't conform to them! We won't be any better if we cheat!"

"He's right, Rainbow Dash!" Applejack agreed.

"We'll just have to work harder! C'mon, everypony!" Twilight announced.

"All right then, double time!" Rainbow Dash then joined me back on the treadmill. We increased our pace. We were growing tired, but we can rest once it's over. For now, we have to focus and give it our all!

As I continued to run, I controlled my breathing in a rhythmic motion, allowing me to preserve longer in my sprinting. At the same time, it felt as if time was going by slowly from all the hard work we were doing, but then again it felt fast as we had to hurry and create as much barrels as we could under the clock.

"Time's up!" We suddenly heard, causing us to all look back and groan, falling to the floor exhausted. We could hear the crowd cheer as the mayor began to count the barrels created.

"I'm proud of you, Applejack." I heard Twilight tell Applejack as we all panted to regain our energy.

"Thanks." She replied.

"Integrity like that will always be... rewarded." Twilight added.

"She's right." I told Fluttershy, who was lying next to me, through heavy breaths as I smiled. "We did it…"

"So the farm is safe…?" Fluttershy asked me, tired as well.

"It should be…especially with all the hard work we did… I won't let anypony ruin our family!"

Fluttershy smiled and we both began to lean in to share a victory kiss until we were interrupted by a horrible announcement.

"Flim and Flam win!"

"What…?" I questioned, shocked.

We all stood up, surprised by the outcome.

"Wh, wh— Applebloom tried to speak, but couldn't…

"We... lost?" Applejack questioned, highly surprised as well.

"Daww, too bad, Apples." Flim commented, causing me to furrow my eyebrows and narrow my eyes in anger at them.

"Guess you'll just have to find a new line of work that doesn't match your names quite so... perfectly." Flam added.

"Now should we tear down all these tacky old buildings and put up new ones, brother?"

"I don't see why not, brother. After all, this isn't Sweet Apple Acres anymore. How about 'Flim Flam Fields'?" Flam tugged at a rope, causing their banner to cover Applejack's family's one.

"I ought to press you into jerk cider!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed and began flying towards them, but Applejack caught her tail with her teeth and stopped her.

"No Rainbow Dash. A deal's a deal." The two brothers began laughing highly obnoxiously and arrogantly, reminding me just like what happened with the snooty ponies. The anger inside me continued to grow. "Congratulations to y'all. The cider business in Ponyville... is yours. C'mon, Apples. Let's go pack up our things." They began walking off while I could only send worried eyes towards them.

"Fear not, everypony, there's more than enough cider to go around." Flim announced to the saddened crowd and the two joined in laughter once again. That's it…

"What's wrong with you two!" I asked, shouting at them as I stood directly in front of them. "Haven't you ever heard of 'Quality or Quantity'? You two aren't cider makers! You're just jokes!"

"It's no use, little pony." Flam answered, placing a hoof on me which I quickly slapped away. "We made the most barrels of cider. We won. We win the farm." They laughed once again.

"Oh really?" I questioned and walked over to their huge stack of spoiled barrels. I kicked the bottom portion of the stack of barrels, causing the one at the very top to fall and land on my back. I stretched my hooves and caught the barrel. After, I carried it near the brothers and in front of the crowd. I placed it and immediately removed the lid. Then I kicked it, revealing the contents of spoiled apples, twigs, leaves, and other disgusting things as it spilled all over the ground. "Tell me something." I directed towards the crowd of ponies. "Is that something you'd really want to drink?"

The crowd of ponies all shared looks with each other, mumbling and questioning a bit.

"It doesn't matter!" Flim responded confidently. "It is still cider! Cider that was made in our wonderful machine." They placed several cups of their spoiled cider on a table. "Drink up, Ponyville! Down the hatch!"

The ponies showed some hesitation, but tried the apple cider anyway. Expecting it, they immediately spat out whatever they had in their mouths, responding in disgust.

"I can't get the taste off my tongue!"

"Mine's got rocks in it."

"I wouldn't pay one cent for this dreck!"

I smiled defiantly, knowing that I now had the crowd of ponies on my side.

"You wouldn't pay even one cent?" Flam asked.

"No!" The crowd of angry ponies answered.

Flim and Flam then turned to their sides and mumbled to each other. "How about two cups for one cent?" Flam asked the crowd.

"No!"

They mumbled to each other again. "Two bits for a barrel?" They nervously asked. These guys weren't getting the message…were they…?

"No!"

Finally, they began responding with nervous sounds from their shaking voices. "It looks like we've encountered a slight... problem here in Ponyville." They tried to dance to try to save their ego…but it really only made it worse.

"Nopony wants our product. Next town?" Flim asked.

"Next town. Let's go, Flim!"

"Let's go, Flam."

They hopped on to their machine and began driving off, but before they could get far, I grabbed a cup of their own cider and threw it over to them, causing their own spoiled and hideous product to spill all over them. Now they were drenched in their own shame… This caused them to hurry even more to race out of Ponyville. Yeah… they won't be coming back.

When I turned around, Applejack had raced towards me and quickly wrapped her hooves around me. "Alex! You did it! They're gone!"

"No, Applejack." I patted her. "The ponies of Ponyville would have already found out on their own because it's you and your family who are the real cider makers."

Applejack pulled away and sent me a thankful expression anyway. Twilight walked over to us happily as well. "That means Sweet Apple Acres is still in business!"

"Plus we can have high quality Apple family cider!" One of the ponies from the crowd announced as he pointed towards the stacks of barrels we had made in the competition.

"Because of this silly competition, we've made enough of our cider for the whole town!"

The crowd cheered loudly afterwards.

As other ponies celebrated by drinking a lot of cider and knocking them together in victory, Twilight was taking down a letter for Applejack. "Dear Princess Celestia, I wanted to share my thoughts with you." She cleared her throat. "I didn't learn anythin'!" She began skipping around as she bounced a cup of cider on her head. "Ha! I was right all along! If you take your time to do things the right way, your work will speak for itself. Sure I could tell you I learned something about how my friends are always there to help me, and I can count on them no matter what, but truth is, I knew that already too."

I smiled as she celebrated in joy. I felt the cup of cider in my hoof. I raised it to my lips, about to take a sip from it until I noticed Rainbow Dash waiting anxiously at the stand. Applebloom raised her hooves to press the lever down. When she did, she was surprised to see that there wasn't any cider left in the barrel. Rainbow Dash widened her eyes as the same outcome occurred and began to cry. But, I walked up to her and placed a hoof around her shoulder. I held out my cider with a smile planted on my face, offering it to Rainbow Dash. She smiled and thankfully grabbed it. We joined the other girls who were gathered in a circle. Pinkie Pie noticed how I was empty-hooved, so she tossed me a cup of cider that she seemed to have sneaked out. I chuckled and raised my cup of cider proudly towards all the girls. They smiled and gladly knocked their cups with mine.

Afterwards, we drank our cider together…as a family…

We spent the rest of the day having a party…well…more like an outdoor and not as much Pinkie Pie party… but it felt great. Derpy had also kept her word and brought muffins for us to eat and enjoy. However, each of us had to go home as it was getting late. As usual, we exchanged goodbyes and goodnights to each other, Applejack expressing it a bit more to me as she felt that I was the reason Sweet Apple Acres was still in control when I thought it really wasn't. Then, I walked Fluttershy home, holding one of the cups of spoiled apple cider the twins made.

As we walked towards the cottage, Fluttershy noticed this. "Alex, why do you have one of those cups? Aren't they bad?"

I chuckled a little. "Heheh, yeah. Exactly."

We reached her door. Fluttershy turned around to look at me with a couple of concerned eyes. "What are you going to do with it?"

I smiled and stared at the cup of cider that was full of unnaturalness, inequity, and arrogant pride. "Let's just say I'm going to put this right where it belongs…"

"Alright…I'll see you tomorrow, Alex."

"Same here, Fluttershy." I replied. "Goodnight. I love you."

She smiled when she heard me say that and wrapped her hooves around me. I was only able to wrap a hoof back due to the other holding the cup.

"I love you too, Alex." She answered and then pulled away to kiss me.

As she did, I couldn't help but add in a little more passion to the kiss, pushing my lips on hers a little more. When our lips parted, she was blushing. I returned a loving look towards her. She smiled softly and turned around to enter her home. I watched as I made sure she ended the night in a comfortable manner. She sent me one last wave before closing the door. I felt great, especially for what I was about to do when I reached my house.

Returning to my home, I walked inside and pushed the trash can from the kitchen towards the outside. I placed the cup of spoiled cider on the ground and picked up the trash with my hooves. I poured all of the contents that were inside on to the ground. I placed the trash can back and stared at the trash that was on the ground. The only actually trash that was in my trash can were the pieces that I tore from the flyer. I stared at them for a moment, even being able to still see her face through the dark night. I didn't get angry. I didn't become sad. I kept my smile on and grabbed the cup again. Then, I rotated the cup upside down and poured all of the same cider onto the pieces of the flyer. Once every last drop was spilled onto the paper, I walked back inside and threw the cup in the trash. I closed my door and walked upstairs to my bed. I nestled warmly under my covers and closed my eyes.

I slept well.

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