• Published 24th Mar 2013
  • 12,558 Views, 400 Comments

A Hairy Problem - BlueBastard

Strange things are happening with Applejack after a mysterious wolf-like creature attacks her when she looks into the aftermath of another CMC incident.

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Ch.2: The Beginning of Issues

Chapter 2

Applejack woke up to find herself staring at a blue wall. It was hard enough just to open her eyes, to say she felt like crap was an understatement. But at least she knew she was safe, this couldn’t have been anywhere else other than Ponyville General Hospital. Which would explain why she was in a bed, had something wrapped heavily around her neck, and one of those electronic heart rate monitors attached to her right foreleg. Her vision slowly getting better, she could see her familiar brown hat hanging on the coat rack next to the door, waiting for its owner to wear it again. But she didn’t remember asking anypony to put it up there. Then again, she didn’t remember what-

“Oh no!” exclaimed the orange mare as she sat up in the bed. Her friends! Where were they, what happened?! She only grew more panicked as the hazy memories returned. The amount of time since the attack was unknown, but all she could remember was some creature attacking her in the forest and her passing out when her friends rushed in to help.

Thankfully, as she chanced to glance to her right, she didn’t need to worry. Her friends were very much alive, having kept vigil over her in the room overnight as evidenced by them all having fallen asleep. AJ couldn’t help but chuckle when she saw Rainbow, who was curled up in a chair and sucking on her hoof like a baby. Somehow, that didn’t surprise her.

But that didn’t change the fact there was something in the forest that was dangerous, but more importantly also silent as the night when moving about. Sure, the Everfree forest was full of dangerous creatures such as the Manticore, the Cockatrice, and most dangerous of all the Timberwolves. In fact, AJ was thinking it was a Timberwolf that attacked her, but while extremely vicious they do have the problem of not being as stealthy as they would like since all that wood in their bodies gives them away. They also have extremely bad breath, which this creature that attacked her did not (well, she didn’t actually remember smelling it, but even if it was bad it wasn’t nearly as noticeable as the breath of a Timberwolf). AJ also reasoned that Twilight had come up with this rationale beforehand and sent a letter off to the Princesses to let them know of this new problem.

That was when a nurse pony entered the room. Applejack immediately identified her as Nurse Redheart, who had been at both the temporary emergency clinic after the “baked bads” incident and had been annoyed by Pinkie’s antics when the Cake twins had been born.

“Oh, good, you’re awake!” Redheart said, the relief in her voice showing her concern for AJ’s health. “You gave the hospital quite a scare when your friend over there teleported both you and the rest of her party to our front door. You’re lucky that she acted so quickly, you were losing a lot of blood by the time you arrived last night. Had she not acted as quickly, you might have received permanent brain damage.”

“Nurse,” Applejack asked in response, “does mah family know Ah’m here?”

“Of course. After you were admitted your pegasus friends flew off to let them know. You have some dedicated friends, Miss Applejack, normally visitors aren’t allowed past 8pm but since you six have saved Equestria so many times, you all get to be the exception,” replied Redheart with a wink.

“Thank you, nurse.”

“Of course. However, when you were admitted, all we could get out of your friend's rapid-fire talking was that something had happened in the Everfree Forest involving some contraption called a ‘car’, do you think you could give us a little more information on why that relates to what we’re guessing was a Timberwolf attack?”

“Um….” Applejack had to think on that one. She couldn’t outright say it wasn’t a Timberwolf, she knew it wasn’t but Nurse Redheart probably wouldn’t believe her and/or think she actually had brain damage from blood loss. Then again, whatever had attacked her had been vaguely wolf-like, so it wouldn’t exactly be lying if she said as such, and maybe she could keep this a secret as Twilight would most likely have recommended in the face of a new threat in the Everfree. Making up her mind, Applejack decided to tell as much as she felt comfortable in telling Redheart; “Well, this whole thing started when Ah learned mah sister decided to try inventin’ this thing called a ‘car’ with her friends…”

The hospital staff didn’t know what to make of Applejack’s injury. Or rather, how fast the injury had healed. Most ponies lucky enough to survive a Timberwolf bite to the jugular and not lose enough blood for there to be brain damage take weeks or even months to recover to the point of being able to function normally.

But with Applejack, the wounds had stopped bleeding within twelve hours of her receiving them, and after a full day of her staying in the hospital (the hospital insisted on it in case the wounds were infected or worse) they had completely healed up. Her fur had even grown back, so there was no sign of her ever having been nearly fatally wounded. The doctors didn’t know what to make of it, although a popular theory was that Applejack was in fact granted rapid healing abilities due to her connection with the Elements, objects of power so great even the great Princesses didn’t fully understand them. With the mare herself showing no signs of the injury having any lasting effects, the staff had no choice but to let her go.

Upon arriving home, Applejack was tackled by her family, all of them grateful that she was alright. Apple Bloom especially, who burst into tears while hugging her big sister like she was going to lose her again very soon, since she blamed herself for causing the whole situation in the first place due to building the car. The car itself, which was slightly damaged and been left on the path in the Everfree Forest due to Twilight’s quick reactions to the attack, was recovered a few days later. Applejack and friends, along with a few Royal Guards sent by Celestia to ensure safety, towed the vehicle to the barn where it had been conceived. There it would stay until the Apples decided what to do with it.

As for Applejack, she was just glad that after the whole ordeal, everything was returning to normal. As she returned home after a shopping trip to buy more red barn paint (for which the crown also paid for, much to her relief), she noted that she no longer felt afraid of the night. While she figured she’d been afraid of the thing that had attacked her, the fact she knew what it generally was and had even faced it probably had something to do with her now absent fear.

“Probably somethin' to talk with Twilight about,” she mused as she stored the paint in the barn, this time well out of reach of Apple Bloom in case she tried building something like a larger car with a cardboard Twilight in the back (why Apple Bloom would want another car with a fake Twilight in the back, AJ had no idea, but the idea struck her as funny). Then, drawn by the scent of fresh apple-based food coming from the kitchen, the farm pony locked up the barn to join her family. All was as it should be.
Or so they thought.

Little did Applejack know the horror of what was in store for her. It was about a month after the attack that Applejack started to show signs that maybe something wasn’t right with her after all.

At the time of the car being recovered, Applejack had intended to confront Sandalwood about the whole affair the next day. However, due to family matters, Sandalwood had been out of town for a week to return to Fairflanks. But now she was returning home, much to the joy of Lotus and Aloe, whose business had been markedly improving ever since Sandalwood had lent her perfume expertise to them.

And it pleased one orange earth pony who had a score to settle.

It was the day after Sandalwood resumed her post at the spa, a bright sunny day that would never imply the dark times that were ahead for several of the town’s residents. The tan-and-brown earth pony was busy organizing her stock of perfumes for the aromatherapy options the spa had recently added to their services.

“Hey, Sandy!” called out Lotus, “There’s somebody here who wants to talk to you!”

“Okay, be right there!” answered Sandalwood, wondering who could possibly want to talk to her.

She found Applejack waiting in the lobby, wearing a rather unhappy expression. Sandalwood couldn’t help but think it wasn’t related to how the farm pony normally didn’t visit the spa unless her friend Rarity was also present.

“Can I help you, miss?” asked Sandalwood. Even if the pony wasn’t a regular customer, she wasn’t going to turn her down. No discounts, though, even if she was a friend of Rarity’s, since Sandy needed to prove the aromatherapy was profitable. The perfumes she had to import were not cheap.

“Yeah, we have a little problem to discuss,” Applejack answered. Coldly. That immediately got Sandalwood on edge; she’d evidently done wrong by this pony but for the life of her she could imagine why.

“A problem? I apologize, but I don’t know what you’re-”

“Ya encouraged mah sister an’ her friends to build a wood-and-metal deathtrap ya call a ‘car’!” Applejack interrupted. It was clear she was getting angry about this, more so with every passing second.

“I what? I did no such thing!” exclaimed Sandalwood. She legitimately didn’t know what the other pony was talking about, or more worryingly how she knew about ‘the car’ project. Then again, Sandalwood didn’t even know who this pony was, unless… “Wait, your sister? As in that yellow filly with the red mane?”

“Yes, mah sister Apple Bloom, and her friends; the orange Pegasus and the pale gray unicorn, yah inspired them to make a ‘car’ that nearly killed them, an’ then later nearly indirectly killed me!”

Sandalwood immediately knew what had happened, the expression on her face evidence enough. “Oh, Celestia…look, I’m really sorry if they caused any trouble, but I did not say anything about them building a car.”

“Then what did ya say?!”

Letting out a sigh, Sandalwood did her best to explain; “Okay, I know the fillies you’re talking about. I told them what a car is, Lyra and I are working on making one ourselves, but don’t tell anyone since it apparently involves parts from an incident nobody wants to tell me bout, at least according to Lyra. I had to, I dunno how they found out about it but they wouldn’t leave me alone. They’d also known it was red somehow, so I told them the color made it go faster. At no point did I ever suggest they actually try to make one themselves!”

“LIAR!” exclaimed Applejack, who suddenly rushed forward to throttle the other pony, slamming her into the wall. Sandalwood could only convey fear at the expression of rage on Applejack’s face, which she could only describe as extremely unpony-like.

“Applejack, what are you doing?!” a very fancy sounding voice suddenly shouted from behind her. Turning to see the source of the voice, Applejack was shocked to see it was none other than Rarity, who was also wearing her custom spa robe.

“Ah, um…” answered the orange mare. She then realized she was still holding Sandalwood by the neck and reacted as if she hadn’t known she’d been trying to kill the aromatherapy expert the whole time. “Oh Celestia, Ah’m so sorry!” Applejack said apologetically as she let go of Sandalwood, letting the gasping pony fall to the floor. “Ah...Ah just don’t know what came over me!”

“Sandalwood, are you alright?!” Rarity said as she rushed to the other pony’s side, letting her farmer friend try to reason out her actions from a moment ago.

“Yeah, I’ll…I’ll be fine,” replied the shaken, but not stirred pony. “Look, uh, Applejack is it? I understand your anger, but please understand that if I’d had any knowledge your sister and her friends were actually trying to make a motorized vehicle I would have done everything in my power to stop them. But next time, don’t try to choke anypony, okay?”

“Uh, yeah…” AJ said in response. This wasn’t like her, not at all. Sure, she got angry, but never enough to actually try to choke another pony out of pure rage.

“Applejack, darling, are you feeling okay? Maybe you need to go home and lie down, let yourself relax. After all, you’ve been working those apple trees almost around the clock ever since the doctor said you were okay to go back to work.”

“Yeah…maybe yer right, Rarity, maybe the whole car business went to mah head…”. With an acknowledgement through nods, Applejack slowly turned and left the spa.

“What was her problem?” asked Sandalwood once she was sure her assailant was out of earshot “I was trying to explain what I knew about this car business when she just screamed at me and tried to strangle me!”

“While it is odd for somepony like Applejack to go that far into rage, she’s been through a lot lately. How about I tell you about it while you demonstrate this new aromatherapy that Lotus and Aloe have been just gushing about?”

“Of course, those two have been telling me that of all the ponies in this town, you’re the one who needs to experience my skills firsthand. And then after you tell me why I just nearly died, we can discuss some of your new fashions? I must admit, I’m somewhat of a fan of your work, Miss Rarity.”

“Oh, but of course!” happily exclaimed Rarity as the two headed into the back areas of the spa, “I can tell we’re going to get along just fine, you and I, just fine indeed!”

Meanwhile, at Golden Oaks Library, Twilight was very pleased with a recent arrival to the collection. The book, a rare copy of Magical and Maniacal Monsters of Malicious Mayhem, was one she’d been wanting to look at for weeks, but due to a recent scientific discovery involving the connection between the race known as Changelings and the formerly-believed-to-exist selkies; the water horses of the west, most of the available copies had been checked out and the waiting lists so long that even the Princesses had trouble putting Twilight at the top of the waiting list. It had annoyed Celestia to the point she’d ordered that Golden Oaks to receive a copy to be permanently added to its inventory. “Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes!” Twilight shouted over and over, bouncing around the library.

“Twilight are you actually going to read that book or just stare at the cover all day?” asked her companion Spike, number one assistant and adopted younger brother.

“I’m sorry, Spike, but I’ve been wanting to look at this book for so long that the fact the Princess was willing to give me a private copy is just so…amazing!”

“I read the letter that came with that book, Twilight, the princess said that book is for the collection, not exclusively for you” smugly commented the purple dragon.

“Honestly, Spike, you think anybody is going to check out a book like this?” countered Twilight, equally smug. As the librarian, she knew the books most of the ponies checked out in Ponyville, and outside of Lyra and the transplant Sandalwood nobody really checked out books dealing with scientific anomalies. And there was no way in hell Twilight was letting those two get their hooves on this book, the crazy ideas they might come up with from the cover alone would be disastrous.

Deflected, Spike just rolled his eyes and went back to re-alphabetizing the “Magic 101 for Young Unicorns” section, noting how poor the condition of many of the books were, no doubt from young unicorns trying higher level spells on them such as setting them on fire or attempting to turn the books into Daring Do fanfiction.

While Spike went back to work, Twilight decided to set her new book aside while she worked on her own reports, which was another summary of the recent letters to the princess both she and her friends had sent in the past few months. Had she given into temptation and read the book then and there, much of the events she would later be involved with could have been prevented.

“LYRA!” exclaimed Bon-Bon. Derpy had just delivered the mail, and much to Bon-Bon’s annoyance another one of “those” letters had arrived.

“Be right there!” called out the unicorn. Bon-Bon just rolled her eyes and dropped the mail on the kitchen table. There needed to be an intervention, now, or else Bon-Bon was going to lose her mind. Finally, Lyra entered the kitchen with a smile on her face, greeting the other pony with a smile.

“What’s up?”

“I’m not sure how much more I can take of this, Lyra. This is the fifth letter in two months from your father. I know it’s to you but don’t pretend we both don’t know what it’s about.”

Lyra’s face fell. Her father had been sending letters about the same subject for some time, but she’d just figured he’d stop after a while. But if Bon-Bon was going to snap before then, Lyra had no choice. “Fine, I’ll call him later when I know he’s home and we’ll settle it right then and there.”

“Please, Lyra, if your father ruins this relationship then…then I don’t know what I’ll do!” Bon-Bon exclaimed while trying to avoid breaking down into tears. Always ready to support her close friend, Lyra walked over and draped a foreleg over Bon-Bon, drawing her into a hug.

“I know how much Chocolate Chip means to you, Bonnie,” soothed Lyra. “Even if he found one of these letters, I know he loves you too much for this to breakup with you.”

“I know, it’s just that…you know the trouble I’ve had with stallions, I don’t want to lose Chip, I know he’s my special somepony and that we’re meant to be together, so for your father to-“

“Bon-Bon, it’s not going to happen. I know my dad thinks we’re a lesbian couple even though I’ve told him many times we’re just flatmates. I think he just wants me to get married, even though he knows I’m straight. I swear to Luna if this one even suggests that you secretly want to have my babies, I’ll have him committed to an insane asylum.”

“I’d do it myself if that was the case. I like you Lyra, but suggesting I’m that much in love with you to the point of physical impossibility, well that’s just crazy. Then again, you believe in humans and managed to convince me to give you the shed outside for that weird-ass machine project, so crazy must run in the family!”

The two friends shared a good laugh. Lyra’s fascination was a point of mockery, but the unicorn took it in stride, and while many ponies insisted she and Bon-Bon were a gay couple they were just extremely close friends.

“Speaking of that thing you’re building in the shed, are you willing to tell me more about why it allegedly nearly got Applejack killed?”

“I told you, Bonnie, the CMC tried building their own car, they crashed it in the Everfree, and when trying to salvage it for parts a Timberwolf attacked her. But this car, well…let’s just say when it’s done, you’ll make the fastest confection deliveries in all of Equestria!”

Big Mac, ever the stallion of small words and stoic expressions, was worried. Something was wrong with his little sister that much was obvious. She’d come home from town earlier today looking down about herself, enough of a character change that Big Mac had to ask what was wrong.

“Nuthin’,” AJ replied despondently before moving on towards the house.

Watching silently, Big Mac watched the light in her room go on and then off, indicating she’d gone to bed. But at this hour? This was very unlike her. The sun was never above the horizon when AJ finally went to her bed, not as long as she’d been alive, not even when she was sick. Or was she sick?

The thought hit Big Mac like a falling anvil. It had been a silent agreement between himself and Granny to never reveal the truth as to why the Apple Family had a grandmother and three kids, but not the parents. As far as Applejack and Apple Bloom knew, along with the rest of the town, the parents had died from an extremely rare case of pneumonia during a freak magical storm. But the real cause of death was something Big Mac felt they never needed to know. He’d been told at the time and it had nearly destroyed him emotionally, and he could not let the same happen to his sisters.

But the last time an Apple Family member went to bed this early…Big Mac feared the worst. There was still time, though, so he had to act fast. Informing Granny and Apple Bloom of his intentions, the red stallion cut loose and turned a fifteen minute walk to town into a five minute gallop. He’d never run so hard in his life, but his family may be on the line and he couldn’t lose them to the same thing that claimed their parents.

Spike was shocked to find the knocking on the door was from Big Mac, who was also uncharacteristically out of breath. Before Spike could even ask what he was doing there, the mighty pony had one request to make of the dragon:

“Spike…Ah need…to send ah letter…to Canterlot!”