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[Sweet Apple Acres]...The More Zap Apples Stay the Same. [PM for invite/Apple family welcome]

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Sugar Apple continued fetching jars for her grandfather, doing her best to deliver them as swiftly as possible. However, such a menial task strained the purple mare’s focus abilities to the absolute limit. Up at Cloudsdale, Sugar was the one giving the orders; down here in Ponyville, she was the grunt. Quickly becoming extremely bored of her mission, a sudden shout from a new arrival caused the purple mare to drop her current batch of jars, and it looked like those jars would crash down upon an idling, unsuspecting Ingrid Marie.....

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Elsewhere, Babs Seed look blankly at the Haywire kid (who perhaps she did meet a while back; she couldn't remember though) and the other foals around her as she fully grasped what preparing the water entailed. They all expected her to sing the ABCs while hopping around in a bunny costume? Really? This right here had to be the hokiest thing she’s ever seen before in her life... and knowing her Ponyville pals, that was saying a lot.

Adding insult to injury, cousin Valen came back to give Babs a pink bunny suit to wear. There was no way that all that the goldenrod filly would ever wear a pink outfit of any sort; she’d get thrown into a dungeon by Princess Celestia first before wearing something that’d make her look sickeningly-cute. Bleeeeh; time to act fast! [colour=#daa520]“Uhhh Granny Smith,”[/colour] Babs worriedly asked, flashing a giant unauthentic smile; [colour=#daa520]“Since, yaw’ know, got enough singin’ fo’ yaw’, is dere anythin’ else dat yaw’ need me to do ‘round hyar?”[/colour]

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Bramble winced at Willow's statement... didn't know it was a date? Really?! Why does that keep happening to me? And Braeburn thought he was just being like Applejack... [colour=#808080]"But-"[/colour] he started to say, but Braeburn was already ignoring him, talking to a host of other ponies.

Bramble Rose was from a small family - not a huge one like this. The chaos erupting around him ... well, AJ had warned him, but 'being told' was one thing, and 'experiencing' was another. The wild discord of the family, conversations half-finished, ponies holding on two, three, even four conversations at once... well, it wasn't anything like the social situations his dam had taught him to expect! It was a lot more like a fiesta down by Galloplajara Plateau! He'd held his own there, but he'd never thrived in it. Braeburn's not ignoring you, he told himself, these conversations are more about affirming relationships - how you say it, not what you say.

[colour=#808080]"Ah reckon she wouldn't like that,"[/colour] he said, soon as there seemed to be a lull in Breaburn's nonstop patter. He just had to make certain there was no misunderstandings, darn it! [colour=#808080]"But yer cuz, AJ, proper 'Miss' or no, is still a right purdy filly. Ah'm not."[/colour] He lightened his voice, then, trying to get the bitterness out of it. How you say it, not what you say. Mustn't let Braeburn think he was being rude, after all! [colour=#808080]"But all th' same, ah'm right glad t'meet y'all, pardner! Long way from home, how was yer trip?"[/colour]

His eyes darted towards some of the measurement devices he's plunked down here and there, trying to trace the flows of magic. There was a heck of a lot of it, true, but how did all these varied preparations really help?! Zap Apples were finicky things, that's for sure! He flicked his rump to toss the basket off into the gathering pile, and then moved to the nearest measuring device to the Zap Apple Orchard, where a quill on a stick scratched across a scrolling piece of paper. He gathered up the measurements in his hooves, and took out another quill, marking off a few points - marking off times that ponies had started various activities this morning.

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Pink Lady squealed suddenly in joy, leaving the basket she was pulling under a tree, bounding over as light hearted as a filly! Her dearest heart had arrived via her invitation! "Dearest Darling!" Moving to throw her arms around the Mustache'd unicorns neck, nuzzling her head against his neck "I was so worried you wouldn't come! But now that you are here oh we're going to have such fun! and my whole family is going to meet you!" She was so extatic! Giving him a gentle peck on the cheek, hugging him again! How could they not be happy for her? Someone that brought her so much joy, so much energy ! What could possibly go wrong?

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Scootaloo grinned at Babs "Things are going g-" Ofcourse Haywire happened to butt in and she chuckled "Babs this is Haywire, she's um she goes to school with me" She didn't really know Haywire good enough to call her a friend yet but she was getting there!"Oh come on Babs! Can't be afraid to look foolish to help out!" Scootaloo grabbed her own costume, it was black and had black bunny ears, moving to head over to the water buckets "Come on unless you are chicken..." She smirked a little bit, remembering the bullying, ofcourse she was just teasing Babs, having no plans to mock her if she were really uncomfortable singing to the water.

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((Too all characters:help yourself to any task while you continue interaction. The current projects include singing to the water, cleaning the kitchen, carrying apple baskets to under the trees, and possibly collecting jars and supplies if Granny wants to start that.))

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[colour=#000000]Applejack sighed relief seeing all the ponies, relatives, and friendly strangers come to the farm to help in the preparations of what was to be the biggest zap apple harvest in Equestria history. She giggled at the idea that Pink didn't like the idea that only stallions would be of use for carrying baskets around. Of course, Applejack would take any help anywhere she wanted. She just knew that most mares wouldn't share her rugged brute strength and endurance for hauling containers all over Sweet Apple Acres and under the trees. It's amazing how heavy a few empty baskets got when you started stacking them together and pulling them in a cart. [/colour][colour=#ff0000]"Heh, OK Pink, you can help with the baskets." [/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack started heaving baskets under the trees, three baskets per tree. She relayed herself back and forth to the cart full of baskets, which at the time, had no pony harnessed to it.[/colour]

[colour=#000000]And then she saw him. The mustached brother half of the Flim Flam. [/colour][colour=#ff0000]What in tarnation is he doin' here!?[/colour] [colour=#ff0000]"Wha-!?"[/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack started to yell out, but then realized Pink arrive to his face and greeted him very affectionately. Applejack just starred and spoke to herself. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "Is this a dream? This is a dream. It's all a really bad dream."[/colour][colour=#000000] She wasn't sure which part of this was worse. The fact that her cousin seemed to be in relationship with an enemy, or the fact both her and Pink shared the fact that they both have shared kisses with the barber shop maned fool.[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Applejack walked up to them. [/colour][colour=#ff0000]"Hey. Flam."[/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack looked left and right inconspicuously. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "What, um. What'er you doin' here?"[/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack asked innocently but held an aggressive pounce in her back legs in case he wanted to try something tricky. Applejack was not going to let him get under her skin. If it had been any other day or night, chasing him off the farm was a no-brainer. But not only was there serious work to be done, but her cousin seemed to have him tamed in the form of imaginary heart-shaped anchors.[/colour]

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Dazzle felt the hooves of her Apple Bloom used to steady her as she did some final tweaking of the maneband.

[colour=#00ffff]"Oh yes, sorry. Never put one of these on before rather strange outfit."[/colour] She nodded her head as she zipped up the back of Apple Bloom's bunny suit and giggled to see her in one finally. She herself finished putting hers on and spun around somehow hoping that Apple Bloom could fasten hers up as well despite the lack of hoof control she most apparently had.

[colour=#00ffff]"Well after we sing to the water what do we do next? Is it like a chain of events or do we just do things on the list that sound like fun?"[/colour] Dazzle wondered seeing as there was a rather large list of things or so she had heard. Well one thing was for sure that today was not going to be boring at all.

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Bumpkin had her bunny suit on, yes it was a bit small on her but she felt it was worth it for Cheerilee to get some pictures in while she did a hard days work as an Apple Family member. Today that was an odd saying since it seemed like hundreds of years of Apple Family intelligence was pooled into Granny Smith and things had to be done a very certain way to make sure that the Zap Apple Jam turned out perfectly. Sometimes Bumpkin wondered if Granny Smith had been around since the dawn of time as she knew a lot about...everything it seemed.

[colour=#a52a2a]"Do ya want ta take some pictures before'n I start to hop around all cute like or catch me in tha act."[/colour] She giggled and struck a pose for Cheerilee trying to show off the fact that yes in deed that suit was -really- small on her. She actually was worried that she might rip it if she wasn't careful.

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Apple Pie hugged tightly to Braeburn not letting him out of her sight, she had grown more accustomed to all of the other ponies in the Apple Family but it was still strange for her to be at an Apple Family gathering without Braeburn there. As he talked she simply nodded and followed as closely as he would let her. There was talks of a guided tour, basket placing, yelling at jars, even cleaning a kitchen, those were all things that Apple Pie normally did on the Buffalo Run Orchard to make sure that her Apple Pies turned out as best they could. That and to help Braeburn to make sure he didn't have to do any 'chores' around the house when he got back from whatever it was he did.

[colour=#00ff00]"Getting all the buckets out as fast as we can?"[/colour] An evil grin screamed across Apple Pie's face as her eyes narrowed out at the field in front of them. She assumed attack pony position and wiggled her flank ready to bolt off at a moments notice enjoying the mix of 'fun' and work.

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[colour=#00FF00]"Well Babs, let me think a spell on that idear," [/colour]Granny Smith said to the young filly as she continued to lead her bunny suited 'brigade' in the singing and leaping over water cans. It was when she turned the corner and spotted Flam that the elderly mare came to an abrupt stop. Following close behind her, Haywire couldn't stop as the blank flank filly leaped up and landed on Granny Smith's back, quickly tumbling to the ground.

[colour=#B22222]"Hay Granny! What's goin' on?" [/colour]she asked until the rust coloured filly also saw Flam. Seeing it all from a window in the barn, Uncle Apple Strudel immedately gasped in horror.

[colour=#006400]"ACK UNEEMAL!" [/colour]the bearded stallion shouted out. [colour=#006400]"Dere vill be trouble, mein granddaughter! Vee better go out dere und stop Granny before she hurts herself!"[/colour]

As Apple Strudel rushed outside, a furious Granny Smith walked towards the newest arrival.

[colour=#00FF00]"FLAM!" [/colour]she shouted out, [colour=#00FF00]"I thought I told you and that bamboozler brother of yours ta stay away from Sweet Apple Acres! Gimme one good reason not ta kick yur surry hide to the MOON!!!"[/colour]

[colour=#FF0000]"Now please calm yourself, dear lady!" [/colour]Flam shouted as the unicorn stallion hid behind Pink Lady. [colour=#FF0000]"I am here by invitation, and I hope this revelation will not cause a problem or care. Yes Granny Smith I come in peace, may all hostility cease, so I can help harvest Zap Apples with this MARE!" [/colour]

As he sang, Flam reached over to gently hug Pink Lady. Watching from a distance, Ms. Harshwhinney giggled a little.

[colour=#FF8C00]"Well, at least that stallion with the mustache has style."[/colour]

Still looking very upset, Granny snorted and stomped a front hoof to the ground.

[colour=#00FF00]"YOU expect ME to believe that buncha horse feathers?" [/colour]the elderly mare asked. [colour=#00FF00]"Thar ain't NO way any of MY kinfolk would wanna be with the likes of YOU! I orta mash yur mouth with my hoof fer ya even suggestin' such a thing!"[/colour]

[colour=#ff0000]"But I come in peace, Granny, I really do!"[/colour]

[colour=#00FF00]"And yur gonna LEAVE in PIECES!" [/colour]Granny yelled as she slowly walked ever closer to the scared looking unicorn stallion.

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Apple Susie took a side ways dive bomb to the right with her hooves pulled in, in order to avoid knocking into Haywire and Granny Smith and also to avoid knocking over the buckets filled with song filled water. She stood up and shook herself and her bunny outfit out to dust off and saw Granny Smith storming off towards a young unicorn stallion with a bright red mustache. Considering that this was her first time on Sweet Apple Acres she didn't really know the history but she sure didn't need to know history in order to know that Granny Smith hated this stallion as much as dogs hate fleas. She noticed that everyone in the vacinity seemed to start to take notice of the commotion and those that didn't kept doing their jobs. Apple Susie started trotting towards Granny Smith just in case she needed any restraint or back-up if needed (which she doubted considering Apple Jack was close to her). She stopped atleast 7 feet away and heard a name, "Who in the hay is this Flam??" she thought to herself. She looked at this "Flam" and saw him hiding behind a mare who she pressumed was also one of her distant cousins. She didn't know completely why but this kind of made her mad considering that this stallion didn't even have the guts to stand up to Granny Smith how he had the gaul to hug or even touch her cousin! She glanced around to see if anypony else was going to do anything.

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[colour=#daa520]Braeburn[/colour]

Braeburn trotted forward happily, carrying several baskets on his back, this was going to be easy! Big Mac was larger and stronger, sure, but Braeburn had speed and stamina on his side! When it came to getting all those baskets out to the hundreds of Zap Apple trees, it was the latter that really counted!

[colour=#daa520]"Don't feel too bad cuz' when we win, y'all can always find comfort in the hooves of yer mare friend thar!"[/colour] Braeburn couldn't resist egging his cousin on, they have been doing it to each other since they were little foals; and vexing his cousin Mac about a mare who was obviously interested? Just whip cream on a delicious apple pie!

There was one other pony who decided to join in the basket placing, a purple unicorn mare with a silver and white mane. Braeburn was impressed she wanted to do the most physically demanding job as she didn't seem the farmer type, but was equally puzzle by the unicorn's self-depreciation in regards to her looks, [colour=#daa520]"well ah'm sure cuzin' Applejack would appreciate you sayin' she be right purdy an' all, y'all shouldn't sell yerself short Miss Bramble, yer ah cute filly too!"[/colour]

Braeburn was about to take off with that compliment when Bramble asked him about his trip here,[colour=#daa520] "oh it t'was the usual, was just here ah few months ago for ah family reunion, it takes only ah day or so to get here from good ol' AAAAAAAAPPLELOOSA! (whinny). Must have been quite th' journey for y'all get here from Galloplajara Plateau though, traveling' across t' desert and all".[/colour]

Braeburn gave a friendly wink and turned to his little cousin Apple Pie, [colour=#daa520]"let's show all these ponies how we do things down in good ol' AAAAAAAAPPLELOOSA![/colour]" Braeburn whinned as he stood up on his hind legs before taking off towards the blossoming trees with the first half dozen or so baskets on his back.

[colour=#800080]Cheerilee[/colour]

Cheerilee couldn't help but let out a few giggles as Apple Bumpkin managed to squeeze herself into a bunny suit that looked to be a size too small, [colour=#800080]"good thing you're in such great shape, otherwise you'd never be able to get into that thing; I know I couldn't."[/colour] A few clicks of the camera immortalized the moment of the bunny suit that looked as form fitting as a Wonderbolt outfit on the Fillydelphia farmer. [colour=#800080]"Now don't go tearing it while you're hopping around or the foals will never stop snickering, they like nothing better then to see adults mess up in front of them."[/colour]

Speaking of the foals, Cheerilee took several pictures of the lot of them in bunny suits as part of her visuals for future lessons; if they were willing to wear them surely they didn't mind their teacher immortalizing the fact, at least until their older colt and filly years when such photos would be "oh so embarrassing!" At least for those who lived in Ponyville.

Cheerilee couldn't take pictures for long though, she promised the elderly Germane stallion she help bring the zap apple jars to him; besides she was most curious to what was possibly special preparations they had to do involving mere glass jars.

As she trotted towards the storeroom she spotted Ingrid Marie, whom she had a exciting time teaming with while helping with one of the craziest birthday parties the school mare ever attended. Cheerilee began to wave when she noticed the falling jars on their way to crashing on the beige unicorn mare’s head, [colour=#800080]"look out above-"[/colour]!

Without putting much thought into it, Cheerilee galloped and tackled Ingrid in order to knock the unicorn out of the way, the result was two ponies tumbling until school mare found herself along the storeroom wall with Ingrid on top of her, face to face in an awkward, rather undignified position, but at least the unicorn was safe as the jars crashed harmless on the earthen ground behind them.

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She hugged her Stallion back before huffing as her family acted ridiculously, she glanced at AppleJack first "I /invited/ Him" She said flatly 'He saw that I was in town and inquired why and offered to help! I'm ashamed my family would treat someone in my life in such a manner!" She moved then to put herself between Granny and the poor boy "Granny I INVITED him, and We're seeing each other.."Lady blushed darkly "I know you two have your differences but he makes me happy and I him, does it really seem that hard to try to get along? For my sake?" Pink Lady gave them her best sincere face, and her ears pinned down softly .

"I figured that instead of fighting and being a big chaotic mess if you two got along you would accomplish more.."

(Will post with Scoots next round)

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Winter was a bit confused, which didn't shock Apple Bloom any. Unless you saw the rituals take place or had at least grown up with their stories floating about, it all seemed a bit silly, a bit strange, rustic and unsettling in how random in all felt. But that changed quicker than the seasons after winter wrap-up once you had experienced it. Apple Bloom flashed a smile at Winter as she asked what else came after the water singing, knowing that that was an answer she wasn't liable to give- that was Granny's job!

[colour=#ff0000]"Plenty of things Dazzle, but one thing at a time! Can't put tha cart 'front of tha basket now, can we?" [/colour]She laughed as she started jumping over the cans ignoring the commotion with her accumulated elders and Flam. She was too busy being adorable as she hopped over the cans in front of Dazzle, blasting out her A-B-Cs as she did so. The bunny suit fit just as well as it did last year- this was a filly who wasn't packing on the pounds for sure as she hopped each bucket, [colour=#FF0000]"A! B! C!"[/colour] ringing loud for the rest to hear and follow.

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Valen meanwhile was a bit bummed to see Babs so quickly forego joining in on the others- half the fun about visiting a new place was losing yourself in local tradition and flavour, especially when it was brushed with the fineries of family tradition. But Babs was a filly with her own heart and spirit and was not going to be bound by the trappings of the past, and Valen wasn't going to leave her to blaze a new trail alone. That and he suspected his awkward hopping would likely tip the cans over, ruining zap apple season and branding him an outcast. Life was hard enough without family fortune boding ill due to his involvement! He followed Babs along for the ride, which took a very interesting turn when Granny went hog wild on some unicorn. He had heard rumblings of the whole shebang with the Flim Flam brothers, but had the distinct pleasure of never seeing them. Now that honor was no longer his. Granny Smith looked like she was about to eat the fellow whole, and Valen could swear that Applejack's hind legs were preparing for a thunderous discharge on the stallion's head. So it was not his cup of tea.

[colour=#0066cc]"Well, I suppose we don't want to get involved with this...perhaps if we walk in the other direction, we'll bump into somepony not about to get into a fight?"[/colour] Valen said, fake smile betraying his fading confidence in that statement.

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Before Ingrid Marie was aware of what was going on, Cheerilee tackled her and sent the two careening towards the storehouse. For a few brief moments, the confused unicorn tried to figure out just why the school teacher greeted her that roughly. Was this Cheerilee hasty attempt at making up for not noticing Ms. Marie earlier?

The cracking of a load of glass jars soon answered Ingrid’s inquiry; it sounded like Cheerilee just saved her from a bombardment of glass! And now their tumbling ceased, the magic counselor embarrassingly ended up on top of her Ponyville friend. [colour=#008080]“Eh heh heh,”[/colour] she awkwardly chuckled; [colour=#008080]“Thanks for the save, Cheeril-”[/colour]

[colour=#800080]“Oh mah gosh!”[/colour] interjected an apprehensive Sugar Apple, swooping down to hover besides the Ingrid and Cheerilee; [colour=#800080]“Are yah alright, err... what’s yer name... oh yeah, Ingrid?! Are yah hurt?”[/colour] Having dropped those jars, the purple pegasus wasn’t taking this all too well.

[colour=#008080]“I’m fine, I’m fine,”[/colour] the beige unicorn wearily replied, still a bit too shaken up to get off Cheerilee. Hopefully, nopony else witnessed this humiliating turn of events.....

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WHAT DID SCOOTALOO JUST SAY??? [colour=#daa520]“I’m NOT a chicken!!!”[/colour] a riled-up Babs Seed boldly proclaimed; [colour=#daa520]“Just yah watch me, Scootaloo! I’ll show you who’s ‘da chicken...”[/colour] If there was one thing Babs feared even more than looking cute, it was being perceived as a coward. If not being called a chicken meant putting on a pink bunny outfit, then by Celestia she’d put that costume on!

Just as Miss Seed finished getting into her bunny costume, a commotion rang out as a tall mustached unicorn arrived. Going by Granny Smith’s shouting, this stallion was Flam; somepony she hasn’t heard good things about from her family. Hearing another kid (probably some distant cousin) ask about him but not receiving an answer from Apple Bloom, Babs came by to fill her in on the details; [colour=#daa520]“’Dat guy Flam apparently tried connin’ ‘da family out of ‘dis farm once. ‘Dat guy’s just a losah ‘dough; let Granny take care of him.”[/colour] Thanks to the goldenrod filly's pink bunny costume, talking smack about a no-good pony never looked so adorable.....

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[colour=#DAA520]“’Dat guy Flam apparently tried connin’ ‘da family out of ‘dis farm once. ‘Dat guy’s just a losah ‘dough; let Granny take care of him.”[/colour] Apple Susie turned around from the commotion currently happening in front of her towards a young filly with a red mane with light red highlights and a tan coat just like her own but most of her body was surrounded by a small pink bunny costume. Apple Susie looked at herself suddenly remembering that she hadn't taken off her bunny costume the whole time. She stopped and slightly tilted her head to the side in confusion, one reason was because of her accent but mostly because of what she had explained to her about the stallion Flam, [colour=#FF8C00]"Well Howdy? what is your name? and what is this I hear of this fella tryin' to trick the family out of their orchard? That just ain't nice! not one bit!", [/colour]She stamped her hoof in the ground and snorted to let out her frustration. She quickly glanced back at Granny Smith still attacking Flam with a heating yelling fit, and noticing that the cousin sitting next to him seem to be standing up for him so her confusion built up even more. Susie turned back to the filly,[colour=#FF8C00] "Why in Celestia's name would one of our kin stand up for him then if he done such a bad things to the Apple Family?"[/colour].

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((-plays catch up after having a computer problem-))

With Braeburn off to help set baskets, Willow Wisp trotted over to where it was mostly fillies doing the singing, led by Granny Smith. Or at least it was until it seemed the older mare needed to intervene with an unwanted guest. She was going to ask if she could join, but with the leader busy with the personal matter, she decided to just jump right in. After all, she wanted to make a good impression on the Apple Family for Braeburn's sake.

However the only bunny suit in mare size seemed to be pink; and honestly she felt a little silly in it once she got it on. It clashed rather badly with her black coat and blue mane. She figured if she could see herself she would look quite strange. Ah, but it was a tradition.

Her eyes landed on the buckets of water to hop over. That was no big deal, but singing... well she sang Grimmy's favorite stories all the time. And she did it for show and tell for Cheerilee's class so, doing it on a farm shouldn't be too different. She took a couple hops first to get in rhythm.

[colour=#0099ff]“A-B-C-D...”[/colour]

No that was too dull. And much like her rather jazzy story songs, she put a little beat into it, hopefully not messing up the family ways.

[colour=#0099ff]“E-F-GHI..JK...LMNO-P...”[/colour]

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Pink Lady's passionate defense of Flam humbled Granny Smith. Whe she saw how much she cared for the mustached unicorn stallion, Granny's temper started to simmer down.

[colour=#00FF00]"Well, if'n ya say so, youngin," [/colour]the elderly Apple Matriarch said as she turned to Flam. [colour=#00FF00]"Ok then Flam, y'all kin help out with the Zap Apple harvest."[/colour]

[colour=#FF0000]"Oh thank you, dear lady, you won't regret this.."[/colour]

[colour=#00FF00]"BUT if'n ya try any funny business here on the farm or if'n ya harm Pink Lady in ANY way, I'll kick you so far in the sky yur gonna be eatin' stardust fer dinner!" [/colour]Granny neighed, punctuated with a nod and angry stare before she turned away and returned to the costumed ponies. [colour=#00FF00]"Surry ta interrupt our water singin', youngins! Let's git back at it!"[/colour]

[colour=#B22222]"Yes ma'am!" [/colour]Hayware neighed as she followed behind the elderly mare who had resumed her jumping over water cans while singing [colour=#00FF00]"A, B, C, D, E, F, G! H, I, J, K...."[/colour]

[colour=#B22222]"C'mon Babs, come join us! Any of the rest of y'all that ain't jumpin and singin, suit up and git in on this!" [/colour]the rust coloured filly shouted while jumping and singing.

Meanwhile, Uncle Apple Strudel heard the commotion behind him and galloped off to find Ingrid Marie and Cheerilee after the glasses had tumbled down with Sugar Apple nearby.

[colour=#006400]"ACH UNEEMAL!" [/colour]the bearded stallion shouted, [colour=#006400]"Are you alright, fraulien Marie und fraulien Cheerilee? Vee can replace dee broken bottles, do not vorry about dat but vee cannot replace broken ponies! Vill any of you require medical attention? I could send mein granddaughter Sugar Apple out to get a doctor if vee need vone."[/colour]

Flam breathed a sigh of relief when Granny walked away from him.

[colour=#FF0000]"Thank you, oh love of my life! Your kind words saved me from strife!" [/colour]the mustached unicorn stallion sang to Pink Lady. [colour=#FF0000]"Now what should I do next, so I can help and Granny won't be vexed!"[/colour]

Ms. Harshwhinney turned away from the scene and galloped back up to Big MacIntosh.

[colour=#FFA500]"My apologies for rushing off like that, big guy, but I had to see what all the commotion was about, So Big Mac, may I call you Big Mac? How can I help YOU today?" [/colour]the blonde orange Earth mare asked with a wide grin and a look of affection on her face.

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[colour=#000000]Applejack watched carefully the exchange between Granny and Flam. Pink Lady pointed out that she invited him, despite knowing the differences he and his brother had when they visited the farm a cider season ago. Not to mention the time when both of the fools came and stole kisses from Applejack during one of her crazy apple sale promotions. Applejack grabbed Pink Lady by the hoof, and pulled her aside to talk to her in private. [/colour][colour=#ff0000] "Listen, Pink. You do realize that what these stallions did is darn near unforgivable, right?. They tried to take our farm, and in the most rude way possible. Whats in the past is in the past. But even Granny's memory cannot forget the tom foolery these ponies put forth during that time, and neither can I. If you really think he'll behave himself, I'll believe you for now. But if he starts to cause problems, I will hold you mostly responsible for allowing him to walk on our property."[/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack slightly frowned as she rested a hoof on Lady's shoulder. [/colour][colour=#ff0000]"I think it's great that you have forgiven him."[/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack stepped away and looked into an opposite direction, but then looked back at Pink. [/colour][colour=#ff0000]"But I can't say that I have."[/colour]

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Bramble stopped in place, twitching, his face quirked. [colour=#808080]"Wha-"[/colour]

He glared over at Braeburn, counting carefully to ten in his head. Exactly how thick *was* this stallion? He dropped his baskets off, trotted up before Braeburn, and got right in his way, up in his face, glaring as Braeburn was forced to stop and lean back a bit to keep from running into Bramble. He reached up with one hoof, grabbed off Braeburn's stetson, and slapped it onto his own head. Some things just needed a hat to properly state. He tipped the stetson down half over his eyes at an aggressive angle.

He forced a grin onto his face - a gritted-teeth, strained, obviously fake grin, and carefully said through his teeth, [colour=#808080]"Now, look, pardner, there's no need for fussin' or feudin' over this, but ah need y'all t'pay attention real careful-like, cause y'all don' seem t'be gettin' it."[/colour] He paused, looked around furtively, suddenly worried. This statement he was about to make always seemed to be the sort of thing that guaranteed those blasted blue flowers would be around to make the statement a huge joke. Nope, only one magical plant, and it was Zap Apple Trees.

He looked back to Braeburn. [colour=#808080] "Ah'm not. A filly. Ah'm a stallion. Always have been. Theah's nothin' fillyish about me. If'n y'all find a stallion like mahself attractive, ah'm not goin' t'say boo 'bout it, but ah do not look like a filly. Now, if'n we kin talk about somethin' other than mah looks, ah'd rightly appreciate it."[/colour]

He whipped his hoof along the brim of the stetson in a decisive manner, then ripped it from his own head and shoved it back down atop Braeburn's, before stalking away with his silver tail swishing fiercely behind his lavender plot to fetch his baskets and start carrying them back out amongst the Zap Apple trees.
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[colour=#DAA520]"Don't feel too bad cuz' when we win, y'all can always find comfort in the hooves of yer mare friend thar!"[/colour]

Mac couldn't help but chuckle at his cousins words - he knew Braeburn well enough to know he was being playful...but still it wasn't like there was anything going on between him and this rather unusual mare - and although he certainly didn't mind keeping her around for company right now, he figured their 'companionship' wasn't something that would really 'evolve' beyond anything more than 'slightly amusing' for the time being.

[colour=#FFA500]"My apologies for rushing off like that, big guy, but I had to see what all the commotion was about, So Big Mac, may I call you Big Mac? How can I help YOU today?"[/colour]

At least she was trying to be helpful - which was definitely more valuable to him than being just a mare fawning and not taking part in the activities!

" [colour=#B22222]Ah figure if ya'all round up whatever apples ah kick out with hind-legs down...an' give me a hoof t'get 'em all loaded up... [/colour]"

Macintosh paused and cocked his head slightly, a small smirk on his features. " [colour=#b22222]Well, ah guess we might jus' be able to get ourselves a good l'il system worked out for this whole thing - mah cuz wants t'race, an' I'mma need a helpin' agile hoof to beat him out. Think ya'all be up to the challenge, missy[/colour]? "

If she could be as passionate about this as she was about her affection, then Braeburn was gonna be in a whole jar of victoryless applesauce, freshly served by Big Mac and her!

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[colour=#800080]Cheerilee[/colour]

Cheerilee shook her head loose of the cobwebs inside as she gathered her bearings; it looked as if the bottles missed them both. Thank Celestia! As relieved as Cheerilee was she felt suddenly awkward at her new-found situation of Ingrid splayed on top of her, practically muzzle to muzzle; how does she always end up in these situations?!

Before Cheerilee could even speak though, the indigo maned pegasus responsible for the jar accident was already there seeing if Ingrid was alright, “[colour=#800080]we’re fine, thank you for asking.[/colour]” Was Zap Apple harvesting normally this chaotic? It was just carrying empty bottles, how hard could it be? First thing first though, Cheerilee blushed with an embarrassed smile,[colour=#800080] “umm.. heh, Ingrid, if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to get up now, gotta get those bottles ready!”[/colour]

[colour=#DAA520]Braeburn[/colour]

Braeburn galloped out to the first zap apple tree and threw his flank so the baskets would fly off and land right in front of the tree. He proceeded to grab each one with his teeth and quickly toss the quadrigeminal of bassinets neatly around the trunk; done in less than ten seconds! Yeah, he was totally going to win this!

Braeburn turned to run over and grab the next set of baskets when that same purple unicorn mare trotted right up to him face-to-face and took his hat![colour=#daa520] “Now hold on thar missy-“[/colour]. Before the goldenrod stallion could finish his most justified protest, the purple unicorn, this Bramble Rose, declared a most surprising revelation! She was a he! Braeburn was so stunned he said nothing as Bramble finished his point in his peculiar pseudo Pinto accent, that is until the unicorn placed the Stetson squarely back on the goldenrod stallion's head. Braeburn smiled widely and began to laugh, [colour=#daa520]“how about that? Ha! Gotta respect ah stallion who come right out an' stand up fer himself! Did ya see that Apple Pie?” [/colour] Sure he may have been some Canterlot waft unicorn with an look of the upper-crust city life, but Braeburn admired his spirit and willingness to help, although no way he'd get more baskets out than either of the Apple stallions!

Braeburn turned and galloped back to get the next pile of baskets when he spotted his marefirend Willow Wisp in a pink bunny suit hopping with a merry rhythm as she sung the alphabet; it was such a site to behold, both ridiculous and endearing, Braeburn couldn't help but sport a large goofy grin. Unfortunately, his attention on Willow meant he wasn't paying too much attention to where he was going and tripped over those very baskets. Braeburn rolled several yards only to finally stop in front of Pink Lady and her gangly unicorn companion.

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Apple Pie looked about quickly before she bolted off after Braeburn with as much speed as she could muster at the given moment.

[colour=#00ff00]"Braeburn, whats the plan? Other then winning." [/colour]Apple Pie spoke quickly as she bucked bucket after bucket into place and tried to follow Braeburns lead. She had never been to a Zap Apple harvest before so all of this might have seemed a little strange at first but she quickly learned to not ask questions about the events of the day and to just roll along with things as they came. Apple Pie began to breathe heavily, not because she was working hard but due to the distance that her and Braeburn had traveled in such a short time. Upon hearing him call her name she quickly turned around and preformed a strange forward leap to roll maneuver that she had read about in some action novels that Braeburn had left around. Sometimes Apple Pie wasn't sure he could read them from start to finish, or on bad days, at all.

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Dazzle followed Apple Bloom's lead as the hopped over the watering cans yelling out the alphabet in order.

[colour=#00ffff]"A, B, C, D."[/colour] Oh come on Dazzle you know what comes after that!

[colour=#00ffff]"E, F, G, H!"[/colour] She had a hard time remembering the alphabet as the hopped over the cans trying to A: not bump into other ponies helping, B: trying to not knock over any of the watering cans.

[colour=#00ffff]"Apple Bloom, how much more of this must we do?"[/colour] She whispered quietly hoping the water wouldn't hear her and be displeased with her simply due to the fact that she was asking questions that were on a 'need to know' basis. Surely she could get at least a few answers out of Apple Bloom before they finished the alphabet.

[colour=#00ffff]"I, J, K, L!"[/colour] Dazzle kept at it though making sure to pronounce each letter loudly and clearly so the water knew she wasn't breaking the rules.

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Apple Bumpkin did her best to keep focused on the task at hand rather then thinking of where to take Cheerilee for dinner tonight.

[colour=#a52a2a]"ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ!~"[/colour] Bumpkin yelled the alphabet so fast and hopped at an absurd pace not sure how many laps she had to do but finding out soon enough that she had to pull to the side to take a breather. She unzipped the suit and stepped out of it taking some deep breaths.

[colour=#a52a2a]"Wow, that was hard, I best leave this to the foals, they obviously know what they are doing better then I do." [/colour] She folded her suit and put it into the dirty pile of the suits before she shook herself trying to get every last fiber of that suit off of her before she began to do her thing with the other ponies. She had heard Cheerilee say something about jars? Bumpkin looked about trying to figure out where to go and what to do that she ended up plowing straight into a tree and falling over, assuming the fainting goat pose and just laying there too ashamed to move at the given moment.

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She and Dazzle went back to singing to the water in devastatingly adorable fashions, even though watching the entirety of the Apple family crowd around the saboteur and his woefully ignorant fillyfriend as if they were going to sacrifice them to the apple trees for their vile crimes was something a bit scary and incredible to behold. They had a job to do though and that job was the sort of job both she and Dazzle were born to do- be in adorable bunny outfits and hop around water and sing to it. Maybe she was a bunny in a past life because she was hippity hopping like nopony had ever hippity hopped before! Oh, and she was singing the alphabet to the water, too.

[colour=#ff0000]"G, H, I, J, K!"[/colour] She was ahead of Dazzle for a bit and slowed down to let her catch up. Couldn't be seen as outshining somepony named Dazzle now, could she? Especially when she still had that toy to repair. She had tried her best at it so fair but even her pretty decent skills and knowledge base were little more than useless nuggets in the world of fancy toy repair. If it was a busted wheel she could probably fix it or an axle but nooooo, little fncy toys couldn't be like wagons or stands or barns or anything else practical. Dazzle should spend less money on toys and more on her, or at least on wagons or other things Apple Bloom could fix. If she had all that money, that's what she'd buy! Just stuff she could fix, not stuff that she COULDN'T fix! Seriously! She wouldn't buy any toys. Except for all the things on the three page list, but regardless of that she could fix anything. Probably. Hopefully. Maybe not but at least it wouldn't be as hard as Dazzle's toy!

As she was thinking, she let Dazzle catch up in the alphabet and they continued on in unison, finishing up yet another pass. By now, it was starting to hurt her haunches a bit- and there were plenty of ponies doing it, so why the hay did they? She was sure that Granny Smith had other jobs for them. Hopefully. Probably. As they finished the alphabet again, Apple Bloom hopped out of line and to the sign before standing up on all fours.

[colour=#ff0000]"Alright, Ah think that's 'nough water singing for naw. Let's go talk to mah big sis and see what else we can do!"[/colour]

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For several seconds, Ingrid Marie’s vision blurred as the unicorn momentarily forgot her surroundings. Once she heard Cheerilee’s voice however, Ingrid immediately came to her senses and rushed in panic to get off her Ponyville confidante. [colour=#008080]“Sorry sorry sorry,”[/colour] the beige mare apologized profusely, blushing in extraordinary embarrassment as she dusted herself off; [colour=#008080]“So... bottles huh? Isn’t that what that pegasus there was handling?”[/colour]

[colour=#800080]“Ah sure was,”[/colour] replied Sugar Apple, relieved that the two were alright; [colour=#800080]“It looks like we won’t have to take Grandpa Strudel’s advice today!”[/colour] Pointing towards the house, the hovering pegasus recommended; [colour=#800080]“If y’all want, you can help gather th’ jars from th’ and bring them on over thar. Ah’ll go clean up my mess before sompony gets their hoof cut...”[/colour] Thus, the mare flew off to find a broom and dustpan to scoop up the scattered shards of glass.....

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Elsewhere, an insanely-adorable costume-wearing Babs Seed used the excuse of conversation with the brown filly to avoid joining the other foals with their silly alphabet song;[colour=#daa520] “My name’s Babs; apparently, ‘dat guy and his twin bro tried to use some crazy machine to put my cousins outta’ business. Not sure where th’ other one is-”[/colour] Right then, one of the other kids from before shouted to get Babs to come sing. The goldenrod filly didn’t take too kindly to the interruption; [colour=#daa520]“Simmer down kid! I’m tryin’ to tawk to someone here!!!”[/colour]

Back to the topic on hoof;[colour=#daa520] “Anywho, it beats me why anypony likes him. Yaw’ll just have to ask him yawrself.”[/colour] At that moment, Miss Seed’s salvation finally came in the form of Apple Bloom, demanding at all singing cease in advance of a new task. Breathing a sigh of relief, Babs smirked as she took the bunny outfit off with one stroke, sending it flying into the air before it gently glided to the ground. Following Abby, the Manehatten pony felt like if she could dodge that last bullet back there, the rest of the day won’t be bad at all.....

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Bramble gritted his teeth as Braeburn laughed at him, very used to the laughter - though it's really been a while since he'd been laughed at. He stumbled at the hearty backslap, blinking in surprise as the cowpony seemed to ... approve? Was this some sort of game? He finished distributing his baskets - somewhat slower than the cowpony, grumbling the imprecations he'd grown up with on his father's side. [colour=#808080]"Consarn cactus-pricked sunglared sandy hooved varmint,"[/colour] he grumbled. [colour=#808080] "Ah don't look like a mare, not no way, not no how,"[/colour] he grumbled to himself, somewhat in a sour mood from the whole affair.

He took in a deep breath, let it out slowly. Gathered himself. Blast. Forget it... he pulled out his notebook and walked from device to device, marking down the numbers in his notebook, and then scribbling a quick time-marker on the paper scrolling out of the machine, his quill flying quickly. Ether flow seemed higher than usual, to be sure. His horn glowed briefly as he recharged the astragraphs, quick little green bursts of energy, then tucked his notebook away and started to head back towards the barn to pick up more baskets. No, wait! He needed to take readings on some of the other activities! So much to do, so much to do! He grabbed up a spare microastragraph and hurried over to where ponies were dressing up in bunny suits and hopping over water graphs, setting it down and directing it towards the activity. "right, quick, quick," he muttered, his horn glowing as he made the minute corrections due to the latent magical flow.

He took a deep breath, let it out, and nodded. [colour=#808080]"There we go,"[/colour] he said approvingly, and then moved to the stack of bunny costumes, holding the pink bunny costume up in front of himself uncertainly. [colour=#808080] "Riiiiiight..."[/colour] He looked up uncertainly ... but shrugged. Who knew what sort of magical rituals were truly needed? And he could hardly experiment with their harvest - it was too important to them. He'd have to make sure to do this run as the control group, and see if he couldn't talk them into doing variants in future years... perhaps just one tree at a time?

Well, with some of his part-time jobs, he was certainly used to wearing embarassing outfits. And this was hardly the worst of the lot. He squirmed into the bunny costume, which seemed a bit snug, his lavendar face peeking out from the soft pink fabric. He took his place in the back of the line, and followed after the other ponies, hopping over the watering cans. [colour=#808080]o/~ A B C D E F G...o/`[/colour] sang his soft voice.

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Granny Smith heard Apple Bloom's words and smiled.

[colour=#00FF00]"Alright youngin's, that's enough water singin," [/colour]the elderly mare said as she hopped out of line and began to take her bunny suit off. [colour=#00FF00]"Now that the water's all sung ta, we need ta USE it on the Zap Apple trees. Everypony grab a water can, pick ya a tree and start waterin' it!"[/colour]

[colour=#B22222]"Yes ma'am!" [/colour]Haywire neighed, giving the gray maned mare a salute before turning to the other foals in the group. [colour=#B22222]"Now we git ta do some real Zap Apple tree care! Ain't that excitin'?"[/colour]

As the rust coloured filly picked up a water can with her mouth and proceeded to follow Granny Smith into the nearby orchard, Uncle Apple Strudel was with Cheerilee, Ingrid Marie and Sugar Apple preparing to 'lecture' a new batch of glass jars.

[colour=#006400]"I am happy dat all of you frauleins are ok," [/colour]the bearded stallion said with a smile. [colour=#006400]"Vee don't vant to have any injuries during Zap Apple harvest time. Good vork, mein granddaughter! Vee must make sure dee floor is cleared of broken glass so no pony vill cut dere hooves. And before vee bring in more jars, I just vant to tank all of you for helping me in dis task. Since vee vill have more orders to fill, vee need more glass jar den ever dis season!"[/colour]

Meanwhile, Flam turned to Pink Lady.

[colour=#FF0000]"My lovely lady fare, what task do you think I'm best suited for? [/colour]the lanky unicorn asked seconds before he heard Granny Smith call his name.

[colour=#00FF00]"Don't jist stand around like-a satute, horn head! Git a water can and help us water duh trees!" [/colour]Granny said sternly, [colour=#00FF00]"and ya better do a good job er else I'm gonna make ya surry ya ever came here! Now move yur caboose!"[/colour]

[colour=#FF0000]"Er, yes ma'am, whatever you say, you're the boss!" [/colour]Flam nervously spoke as he levitated a water can into the air before turning again to Pink Lady, [colour=#FF0000] "Looks like I'm off and running now, be right back, my love."[/colour]

As Flam joined the foals and Granny on 'watering duty,' Ms. Harshwhinney smiled as Big Mac described the work detail to her.

[colour=#FF8C00]"Sounds marvelous," [/colour]the regal mare said dreamily as she tossed a basket on her back. [colour=#FF8C00]"I would be delighted to catch apple for you, ANYTHING for you, big guy!"[/colour]

Ms. Harshwhinney could hardly contain her excitement! She was going to work very closely with the handsome red stallion!

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[colour=#000000]Applejack fastened herself to a cart filled with dozens of empty baskets stacked on top of one another. [/colour][colour=#ff0000]"Alright. Whoever is going to help put out baskets, come follow me."[/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack pulled the cart towards the orchard's tree line near the front of the farm. Brushing into the thick grass that cluttered between the trees, Applejack continued to drag the wagon deep enough into the orchard to surround it with several trees. When she stopped, she unharnessed herself and unlatched the gate of the wagon. Using her teeth, she grabbed a basket, pulled it up and out, and started carrying it over towards the closest tree.[/colour]

Applejack.pngMadden.pngflaxseed.pngGranola_Gracie.pngArrow_Plain.pngMiracle.pngRemington.pngSugar_Rush-1.pngCoconut_Lime.png

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Apple Bloom and Valen both spotted Applejack putting down the baskets, they each knew what was next though the depth of the details they each shared was very different. Apple Bloom nudged Winter Dazzle, pointing at the baskets. It was an important part of the season and much more straight forward mission for the little fillies and colts, plus it took a lot longer. Apple Bloom also knew that it didn't require adorable bunny costumes, but the sacrifices one made- it was hard, hard work and nopony wanted a sweaty bunny suit.

[colour=#ff0000]"Hey Dazzle, let's go an' help mah sister with tha buckets. Pickin' is a whole lot easier than bouncin' about and singing,"[/colour] She offered to Dazzle before galloping towards her sister and picking up two buckets on her head.

[colour=#ff0000]"'Ey Applejack, how many helpin' hooves do ya need for this part?" [/colour]She asked, her mind drawing a blank on the specifics. Truth be told she was never all that focused in on previous zap apple seasons- this was the first where she was intensely focused.

Valen, for his part, trotted back to Babs Seed who seemed to have taken up Apple Bloom's mantle and was following close behind. Valen fell in line silently, happy to see that she was willing to do something for the season rather than find reasons to weasel out. He wondered what the hay she did last time she was here and resolved to ask Apple Bloom later. Nonetheless, he followed Babs who followed Apple Bloom who was followed by Babs, Dazzle, and Valen, and following Applejack.

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