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

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Granny Smith was so busy cooking breakfast for the whole crew that she nearly missed the question Braeburn had asked her earlier.

"Didn't mean ta ignore ya, Braeburn, but right now I'm busier than an ant at a picnic! Anyhow, I reckon ya best help with the waterin' an anything else AppleJack has fer ya in yardwork. Soon as I'm done with servin' up all this grub, me, Uncle Apple Strudel, Flam and Haywire's gonna go out on a honey run!"

In the kitchen now, the elderly mare couldn't help but overhear all of the talk among mares about painting the kitchen, including Ingrid Marie's comment about the kitchen paint scheme. She turned to address them.

"Zap Apples like pink poke-E-dots, so that's why we need ta have the kitchen painted up with'm. Otherwise, the Zap Apple Jam won't cook up jist right. I'd stay an' supervise yur paintin' project, but I gotta fetch us some honey today! This here's important, gals, so please paint it up the way I told ya."

Haywire, eager to begin the search for honey, finished up her plate of food fast and then galloped over to her side.

"Granny Smith! I can't wait ta git started fetchin' honey!" Haywire neighed. "We'll beat them nasty bees! I kin bean'm with mah slingshot and if'n that don't work, I kin always..."

"Lands sake, kido! Ya don't attack bees! Bees are mah friends, and if'n ya don't treat'm nice, their honey ain't gonna be sweet enough ta make perfect Zap Apple jam! Ya gotta lot ta learn about makin' Zap Apple jam, youngin'!"

"Gee Granny Smith, I'm surry! I didn't know!"

"Don't ya fret none, life is like a big ol' school, every pony's got a lot ta learn, includin' THAT one!" Granny Smith neighed, pointing at Flam who was now taking a nap. Quickly, the angry mare bopped the snoring unicorn stallion with an apple. "GIT UP, YA LAZY GOOD FER NUTIN' BEAN POLE!"

"OWWW!" Flam yelled, rubbing his head, "who was the wise acre that clunked me with an apple?"

"I'm the wise acre! Ya ain't gonna be snoozin' when thar's work ta be done!" the elderly mare snorted.

"Oh, I do apologize, Granny! Won't happen again."

"It better not! Yur part of the Bee Team today, so go fetch all mah honey jars so we kin git goin' soon."

"I kin help with that too!" Haywire squealed.

"Just grand, now I have to foal-sit this little brat too," Flam snarled, provoking an angry Haywire to knock the lanky unicorn down with a slingshot propelled apple.

"I ain't no foal an' I ain't no brat, got that?"

"Nice shot, kido! Now the two of ya go git mah gear, I think Uncle Apple Strudel's already in the barn waitin' on y'all" Granny Smith said as Haywire galloped towards the barn followed by a grumbling Flam. Meanwhile, Ms. Harshwhinney, disappointed that Big Mac wasn't going on the Honey Hunt, decided to make the best of the situation by staying near the burly stallion.

"I'll help you with whatever task you're doing today, Big Mac," the orange Earth mare said softly, grinning wide as she spoke.

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Bramble Rose delivered a dark glower at Braeburn, not appreciating his brand of teasing humor. He'd had a few too many cruel cracks about his appearance... but he sighed and just let it go, stewing a little bit. There was no point to responding to bullies like that. It just encouraged them. He just tossed his silver mane and went on about his business.

But his smile didn't have to be forced at Miss Marie's offer of help. "Thank you, my dear ladies," he said, his mother's Canterlot Academic accent coming to the fore in response to Ingrid's own proper tongue. "I will be most grateful for your gracious assistance." Granny Smith's frilly apron and all, his horn glowed with a bright green, causing a green glowing (and transparent) fedora made of magic to appear on his head. He swept it from his head and to the side as he bowed to Ingrid, and then bowed again to Cheerilee while holding the fedora to his chest. "Doctor is technically accurate, but inappropriate outside of a scholarly setting. We otherwise find ourselves all too often mistaken for medical doctors, and all the responsibilities that entails, if we overuse our titles. At any rate, I do believe we have quite a bit to accomplish today, and I'm very glad for the assistance with the water. But I must keep on with my current responsibilities, I shall be with you ladies forthwith." He swept on, feeling quite a bit better about things.

Without waiting for an order of any sort, he slipped a couple of apple pancakes each onto two plates, along with some piping hot apple-cinnamon cobbler with that sweet sugary icing drizzled across it, and added some potato-and-apples hash to the plates, his magic also grabbing up a couple fresh glasses of apple cider, and carried it all out to the two mares who had just arrived. He set the first one down in front of Caramel Sweets with a nod and a big grin, and the other down in front of Presteza. "I would not dare to suggest that you are uncouth in any way," the delicate purple unicorn offered to the tomboyish Presteza, "But you might wish to let your stomach know that it should be using its inside voice ... I could hear it across the room." He winked and grinned at her as he settled the food in front of the mare.

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Seeing as none of nature's ability to wake up a pony had influenced the sleeping Apple Bloom to jump out of her dreams, Applejack realized an alternative way of waking up the filly would be required. So she rolled her eyes, and grabbed Apple Bloom by the neck, like a wolf would her pups. She carried her downstairs through the kitchen where all the ponies who were working that day were socializing before they split off into their job groups. Every pony seemed enthusiastic about working on harvest preparations, but that was more than Applejack could ever think about her little sister right now, who remained sleeping even as Applejack carried her around the barn house.

Applejack kept walking outside, with Apple Bloom in her mouth. She turned the corner of the barn and headed to the other side, the side with the large door. She walked in and towards a trough. One that the family used everyday to give water to the pigs. It was already filled with water, which sat overnight unchanged from the previous days' usage and spoils. Applejack, with one large non-regretting thrust, dropped Apple Bloom into the trough.

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Braeburn

It was then the goldenrod stallion noticed a newcomer, a golden colored unicorn mare with a silvery mane. Unlike that strange Bramble Rose fella, Braeburn was sure this mare was the genuine article! He took off his Stetson and held it to his chest and gave a huuuuge grin, "howdy miss! Welcome to AAA- uh.. Let me start again.. Welcome to SWEEEEET APPLE ACRES!! Y'all here for th' harvest? Well if y'all are, y'all arrived just in time! W'all still finishing' up breakfast so get yerself inside and grab some vittles before we start, uh Miss..?"

The mare chuckled a bit, this stallion's enthusiam seemed rather infectious as she gave her own smile back,"I sure am! I read up on zap apples when I was a filly and I just had ta see the harvest up close. I mean it's so excitin'! I'm kinda sad cause I think I might have missed the part where they bloom though... but still this is so awesome!" said the mare in an almost giddy state before losing her self in imagining what the blooming would have been like. It didn't take too long for her to snap out of it and laugh,"Oh... It's Presteza or "Pressy" ta my friends." Presteza looked a moment at what braeburn held to his chest and smiled,"Oh, nice hat!" she said in a cheerful tone.

Without waiting for an order of any sort, he slipped a couple of apple pancakes each onto two plates, along with some piping hot apple-cinnamon cobbler with that sweet sugary icing drizzled across it, and added some potato-and-apples hash to the plates, his magic also grabbing up a couple fresh glasses of apple cider, and carried it all out to the two mares who had just arrived. He set the first one down in front of Caramel Sweets with a nod and a big grin, and the other down in front of Presteza. "I would not dare to suggest that you are uncouth in any way," the delicate purple unicorn offered to the tomboyish Presteza, "But you might wish to let your stomach know that it should be using its inside voice ... I could hear it across the room." He winked and grinned at her as he settled the food in front of the mare.

The mare was rendered speechless as the delicious smell of the meal before her wafted over her, although this silence was was once again broken by her stomach growling in anticipation. SHe smiled in a somewhat cheesy fashion as a slight blush appeared on her cheeks,"Thanks, mister and uh... sorry about that I 'aven't gotten a decent meal in a looooooooooooong while... unless ya count my hat but ya probably don't." she happily sat herself down at the closest seat that seemed available and looked around taking a breath as she prepared to introduce herself,"'Ello there everypony! I'm lookin' forward ta workin' with all o' ya! The name's presteza by the way." she blinked a few times before looking to the elderly bright green earth pony in the kitchen,"That is if yer okay with that." she said on the assumption she spoke to the pony in charge.

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"I'm sorry Ingrid, I didn't mean to press you into the watering group; it's a good idea that all the foals get together and have some fun activities during all of this and someone will have to watch over them."

“Actually,” Ingrid Marie started to correct the schoolteacher; “I wasn’t thinking about getting the-” The unicorn stopped herself mid-sentence, realizing that Cheerilee may be on to something. Her mind picking up, Ingrid stroked her chin as she contemplated overseeing the foals for today; “You know, maybe I can look after the children today… give my niece a bit of a break, mmkay. I’ll go ask Applejack when she’s woken up her little sister.” As if on cue, AJ came down at that moment gripping a still-sleeping Apple Bloom in her muzzle.

"Doctor is technically accurate, but inappropriate outside of a scholarly setting. We otherwise find ourselves all too often mistaken for medical doctors, and all the responsibilities that entails, if we overuse our titles."

Evidently, Bramble Rose knew more about magic than he let on. While technically making a hat appear out of thin air did not count as a great feat of magic for Counselor Marie, it still was a trick that hardly any regular old unicorn could hope to accomplish on a mere whim. Now curious to learn more about this stallion, the middle-aged mare kept chatting with Bramble as he ate his breakfast; “I understand what you mean; I’ve got a doctorate too, but I prefer to be known as a magic counselor. That, of course, being what I do at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.” After a bashful laugh, Ingrid asked; “So uhh… Mr. Rose, what do you do for a living?”

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Overhearing the conversation between Ingrid Marie and her harvest group from yesterday was Sugar Apple, who also chowed down on breakfast like everypony else. Since it sounded like Ingrid planned to help out the foals today, the purple pegasus thought to make her assistance available to cousin Bumpkin’s team, seeing Sugar had yet to decide on how to help out with the zap apple harvest today. “Pardon me partners,” the pegasus animatedly interjected towards Cheerilee, Bumpkin, and Bramble; “Ah kin join yer’ group too eff ya’ll need assistance in waterin’ trees. Ah could even dig up a few rain clouds… eff zap apple kin be watered thet way.....”

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Ugh, mrs Harshwhinney was certainly a hard one to lose, being as persistant as she was about this thing - Mac fought the urge to make his inner monologues felt known to her as he strained a small smile at the mare...it wasn't in his nature to be rude to a pony who had offered to help, but the mare was definitely testing his limitations on patience.

" Why ah would LOVE to have a clearly capable mare like you t'come out with me an' help... " he utters, no trace of his inner thoughts leaking through. Professional straightfacer, right here.

" Ah jus'...don't know why you would possibly wanna do it, when it's jus' waterin' trees...even a filly could do it in an hour! " Macintosh reiterates with a small shrug, his effort to dissuade the mare in full effect. " 'sides, ah'll probably have t'help AJ at some point with other preperations, an' ah'm sure that you'd be much better suited t'workin' with the other ponies! "

It was an honest point, of course - he'd mostly chosen the watering trees because it wouldn't really take him particularly long to get the job done...sure it wasn't the most backbreaking labour he'd ever undertaken, but Macintosh was one to pace himself - there was plenty of time to get far more involved with things later on in the zap apple harvesting!

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Cherrilee

Cheerilee gave a bright smile as she suddenly had an idea pop into her head. It was obvious there was so much to do that day, watering the trees, fetch the honey, and paint the kitchen. It was the latter that thus far hadn't received much in the way of volunteers, but could be fun in an instructive, positive environment. "Say Ingrid, maybe you could lead the foals in the painting of the kitchen, I bet they'd love that far more than boring ol' watering trees!" She was in classroom mode again, but Cheerilee knew without some constructive activity, the foals were sure to get into all kinds of mischief; besides Ingrid Marie was a teacher like herself, Cheerilee was sure she would appreciate the idea.

The purple schoolmare worked on her breakfast as she listened to Bramble Rose give a rather weird response. He never directly answered her question, which was a little disappointing, but the morning was still young so there was still plenty of time to get the answers she needed. What took her aback was his sudden little show of magic and attempted Canterlot charm. She was sure he meant well, but to Cheerilee felt he was just trying too hard to be suave, his attempted alluring dazzle just felt uncomfortable to her. She gave a forced grin as Bramble placed some more breakfast in front of her. "Umm.. Once breakfast is done, I hope we can talk about the importance of watering the trees as we work out in the orchard. I mean, besides the obvious part about water and plants of course."

There had to be something special about the watering and how it all tied together; she was determined to find out what, for education!

Braeburn

The goldenrod stallion have a wide, warm smile in response to the golden colored unicorn's happy demeanor. " Come on in then! Our charming lil' daring of ah pony, Bramble Rose just came out with the rest of the food!" Braeburn held the door open as he watched the silvery maned unicorn walk though. She was pretty cute, plus she had a fine taste in hats as she complimented his fine headgear! "Why thank you Miss Pressy! It was Ah good luck gift from may kin just before Ah moved out to APPPPPPPLELOOSA!"

As he followed Presteza into the kitchen, Braeburn overheard his cousin Ingrid ask what Bramble did for a living. It suddenly dawned on him where he had possibly seen Bramble before, "well cuzin' Ingrid, Ah believe our lil' friend here is ah model! Ah swear Ah've seen him in those stallion glamour magazines posin' an' stuff! Ain't that right Mr. Rose? Do yah model for ponies?" He was just as curious if Bramble modeled for mares too, he met a few stallions who were known for dressing up in mare fashions, just something some of the Canterlot fasionista models were known for and Bramble certainty seemed like the type.

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As Granny Smith prepared to lead the honey 'expedition', Haywire and Flam joined Uncle Apple Strudel in the barn.

"Come here, mein friends!" the bearded stallion called out. "I have everyting ready for you. How many of you are coming on dis trip?"

"From the looks of it, jist me, Flam and Granny," Haywire said, turning an angry look towards Flam.

"Yes, that appears to be the case," Flam grunted.

"Vell, it von't take too many ponies for dee task! Granny vants me to keep talking to more jars vhile she is avay. Collecting honey is an important task in dee making of Zap Apple Jam! Good luck to you!" Apple Strudel said as he strapped on his Germaney pointy army helmet and walked back into the storeroom.

"Alrighty troops! Time to march on!" Granny Smith neighed, as she entered wearing a goofy outdated looking dress with matching big hat. "Haywire! You're outta uniform!"

"I am?"

"Here my dear," the elderly mare said as with a flurry of activity, soon Haywire found herself wearing a similar dress with a big bonnet. :There ya are, NOW you're ready fer some honey gatherin'!"

Flam burst out laughing at Haywire.

"You two look SO ridicious!" the lanky unicorn stallion cackled.

"Oh really?" Granny Smith grunted, "now it's YOUR turn to get inta uniform!"

"What? Me?" Flam yelped seconds before the surprising spry Apple matriarch tackled him to the floor and in a flurry of activity, dressed him in similar fashion to herself and Haywire.

"NOW we're ready to move out!"

"If YOU think for two seconds that I want to be seen in public like this..."

"Either ya come with us like that, er I'll boot ya off the farm! How would yur new girlfriend like THAT?"

Flam gave out a heavy sigh as he realized he had no choice but to go along with the eccentric mare's wishes. Meanwhile, Ms. Harshwhinney hung on every word Big Mac was speaking to her. Only now did she begin to realize that she was pressing too hard, and that perhaps the big red stallion was right.

"Well, alright," the orange mare said with a smile. "If you think I could be of better use doing something else, then I'll do it. After all, we're all working for the same goal."

The older mare would back off, for now.

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Dazzle was still worried that Apple Bloom hadn't shown up for the breakfast feast and would it really hurt if she missed it to just to check on her? No not at all right? Dazzle snuck out of the kitchen and stealthily trotted back to Apple Bloom's room and peared in the door. There she was still sleeping soundly. Dazzle let out a loud sigh as she looked in, a sigh of both relief and self-actualization.

"Hehe, I hope you have a good sleep then Apple Bloom." Was all Dazzle said before she turned and started to leave the farm and head home, she would be back the next day hoping that Apple Bloom felt better. Maybe it was that she was just sick.

-Exit Dazzle, for now-

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Apple Bumpkin slowly stood up and stretched, it had been a long night for her and an even earlier morning now that the her and Cheerilee were going to go on and water trees as well as whatever else is on the list.

"We can water trees, that would be fine as an early morning exercise. But we musn't forget ta do our stretches before we do anything too stressful!" She giggles before she arches her back and looks over to Cheerilee with a slightly snickering grin. Oh today was going to be an amazingly well off day with sunshine, love, and strange events.

"Oh 'Ah almost fergot, 'Ah have a gift for ya to commemorate your viewing of the Zap Apple Harvest!" Apple Bumpkin reaches out of one of the saddlebags and hands Cheerilee a notebook and a picture of the Apple Family from one of the more recent reunions.

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Apple Pie stood on Breaburn's back still waiting patiently for him and Bramble to finish cooking the food. She stood there, simply staring. Unwavering hooves and eyes as she stared on like a hawk. Only sounds of her tummy rumbling coming from the small filly as she narrows her eyes down on them. In her head she was most likely plotting and planning about how to get thirds and fourths out of this meal but she was surely going to take her time with it. Pie's being her favorite food, pancakes were her second.

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Apple Bloom had been having one of the greatest dreams in the history of all dreams, floating in an endless sea of fantasy with a healthy dose of action and adventure. With that sort of competition, how could reality compare? An endless field of apple trees were under attack by the fruit bats of untold number and appetite for destruction, and it was up to the dread pirate Apple Bloom and her band of misfits and family to put an end to the threat. They had fought and in the instance of one nasty fruit bat tickled their way through the horde. Now it was up to Apple Bloom and her trusty steed Scootaloo to put the coup de grace on the fight and win the day for ponies everywhere in need of apples!

Just as she was ready to strike the final blow in the name of truth, justice, and the Equestrian way, she was brought back to reality in a flash by being dropped into some cold water like she was a blossoming fire, cracking her awake in a flash. She splashed about in the air for a few seconds as she fought her growing awareness in order to remain her dream and eventually gave in to it, eyes busting open awake as she fell out, drenched and aware regretfully that she had not beaten that darn fruit bat. She struggled to her feet and started shaking herself free of the water which had bigged her down like a towel. After afew moments, and making sure everything around her had gotten good and wet in retaliation, Apple Bloom yawned and looked up to Applejack. This had not been the first time she'd slept in, nor would it be the last.

"Shoot Applejack, how the hay is a pony s'posed ta get a good night's rest 'round here without somepony tossin' her inta some water?" She stretched, remembering why she was there vaguely. Well, she was akways there, more like why Applejack seemed to determined.

"Alright, Ah suppose mah dream can wait. Whatcha need me ta do?"

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Bramble smiled and nodded to Presteza. "Bramble Rose, at your service," he said brightly, and then blushed a bit at Ingrid's question. "Ah... well, I'm afraid I'm between grants at the moment," he laughed softly. "I have a PhD in theoretical aetherics with a focus in nonstandard phenotyping expression and flora-aspected ley line application. Which means that for a living, I'm a flower deliveryboy. I also take a few odd jobs here and there to earn up enough to do ... this!" He gestures out at the zap apple harvest. "What research I can do. :) I'm hoping to be able to put together a paper on zap apples that might garner me a proper grant for a more complete study on local magical flora, especially from the Everfree."

He turned his attention back to Cheerilee. "And it's not so much about the importance ... it's just important that it get done, you know? After all the crazy yesterday, and everypony that was supposed to water the trees went off on some basket-spreading contest... at least that Flam chap seemed fairly responsible. But I'd be quite glad for your welcome aid."

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It was about time the filly woke up. And like a typical apple farm pony, completely unphased by the filth she found herself in. No need getting clean for some dirty work, Applejack would have suggested anyway. "I don't know, sis, I guess whatever you want. Isn't painting the pink polka dots your favorite thing to do? Ah'm gonna grab a wagon and finish distributing some of the baskets. You can keep helping with that, too. Whatever you want." Applejack walked away from her, but looked over her shoulder and pointed out, "As long as you don't return to you little dreamland. Dreams, wishes, and fantasy doesn't make zap apple jam."

Applejack walked back into the kitchen, grabbed an apple jelly donut, and swallowed it whole. "Well, Braeburn, ahma gonna finish the baskets. Any fillies wanna help with that, come with me." Applejack walked back out, set herself to the wagon's girth, and trekked into the depths of the orchard. It was time for another hard day's work.

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Mac had more or less finished his breakfast now - and since Harshwhinney had gone for his suggestion of looking for something else a little more active for herself rather than just hanging around watering trees and whatnot, he was in a decidedly more focused mood now that things were starting to take shape, with regards to the mornings activities. The Zap apple harvest was going just fine, and he certainly didn't want them to lose any momentum now whjilst this was all making progress according to plan.

Downing the last of his applejuice, he picked up his plates and cutlery with surprising dexterity in his muzzle and makes his way to the kitchen to clean off and put away what he had used...before he headed out the door to start things off for himself early - he wasn't a pony who wanted to wait around whilst the work was all ready and waiting to be done, and thus Macintosh heads to the door to start out on the day, determining it wouldn't really take him terribly long to water the zap apple orchard if he had anything to say about it anyhow!

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Cheerilee

Cheerilee listened as Bramble Rose explained his credentials and why he was here at the farm, it was all pretty interesting, and she was able to follow along even if he may have been showing off using explaining his field of study in the most academic way possible. Still, he definitely sounded like the right pony to interview about the magical workings behind the harvest. "Well that is certainly impressive Mr. Rose, I had read that some ponies totally devoted themselves to the study of how magic works and why it connects to us all, but until now I have never meant any; if you wouldn’t mind, while we water, if I ask you a few simple questions about the magic behind Zap Apples? I would really appreciate it, and more importantly so would my students!" She gave a large, appreciative smile, hoping that he be willing to accede to her request, especially if he leaned it would go towards education of the next generation.

Cheerilee stood up on all fours and placed her straw hat back on her head, ready to contribute her small part to the harvest when Apple Bumpkin reminded her to stretch beforehand. "Well, if you think it would help hon although I am still pretty limber from last night." She nuzzled Bumpkin and then moved to stretch each of her hind legs, as it certainly couldn't hurt to allow the farmer filly's advice.

Before she could inquire if Bumpkin would be joining them in the watering or helping with one of the other strange ritual preparations, the red maned Apple surprised her with an impromptu gift. Cheerilee was both genuinely surprised and touched as she opened the little notebook Bumpkin hoofed over to her. It was a picture of the entire extended Apple family posing for the camera, no doubt from one of their many famously talked about, at least in Ponyville, reunions. It was a wonderful gift, not so much for the picture itself, but what it meant in giving it to Cheerilee, saying in essence she too was seen as part of the family, at least as much as a non-Apple could be. Cheerilee gave Bumpkin a warm, cheerful embrace, “thank you, it is beautiful… I am so going to frame this when the harvest is over!”

First thing was first though, watering! “Shall we get to work Mr. Rose?”

Braeburn

Braeburn just smiled, Bramble Rose was obviously ignoring his inquiries about the unicorn’s modeling career, but Braeburn was sure that he was right. Truth was he liked the silvery maned stallion, as Bramble was taking Braeburn’s joking jabs very well in stride, something the goldenrod stallion admired, as it was just all in good ol’ fashion fun. He put his hoof around Bramble and jabbed him the shoulder, “so Bramble, y’all mind if ah tag along and help out? Ah guarantee we’ll get th’ waterin’ done before noon vittles!”

As he leaned on the purple unicorn stallion, Braeburb looked over and gave a boyish, shy smile towards the golden colored unicorn mare, “how about you Miss Presteza? Would you like to help us, ah would be so honored if y’all assist us in waterin’ dem ol’ Zap Apple trees.” Braeburn wasn’t deliberately flirting, at least not yet, but it certainly didn’t hurt to have a young mare along who wasn’t related to him in some way, besides it seemed his cousin Big Mac was far more interested in the older ones given how he and Harshwhinny kept hanging about! All for the best, as it meant no potential competition, not that he have to worry of course!

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"Bramble Rose, at your service,"

Presteza had already began to effectively dig in to her food when Bramble spoke. It had been quite awhile since she'd had a decent meal... and even longer since she'd such an incredible one as this. Looking with a small bit of cobbler around her mouth,"Nice ta meetcha, Mister Brambles!" she said, her speech mildly muffled by the food she was still chewing. It seems her time away from the family manor and the noble lifestyle had not done any favors for her manners.

"Why thank you Miss Pressy! It was Ah good luck gift from may kin just before Ah moved out to APPPPPPPLELOOSA!"

The golden-tan unicorn eventually swallowed her food and licked her lips, the look on her face of pure elation and delight before she calmed herself down to address the enthusiastic stetson wearing stallion,"Ah, so it's kinda like my scarf n' paintbrush!" she said with a smile before taking the mug of cider in her teeth and downing it. Oddly enough the unicorn didn't bother using her magic to eat her food either.

"My scarf was a gift from my big brother before 'e went back 'ome and joined the R.E.A. " looking back at her saddlebag she smiled with a mildly Nostalgic look on her face,"The paintbrush in my bag is the one my art teacher gave me ta paint my first landscape!"

Hearing Braeburn mention the town of Appleoosa reminded her of something. She was supposed to stop by Appleoosa sometime to paint the chief of the area's local bull tribe (if permitted) and eventually the running of the bulls as they passed through Appleoosa, "I'm gonna head ta Appleoosa someday, y'know! Maybe you could show me around sometime when I get there, Mister Braeburn?"

how about you Miss Presteza? Would you like to help us, ah would be so honored if y’all assist us in waterin’ dem ol’ Zap Apple trees.”

The peppy young artist leapt up from her seat and nodded, "Sounds awesome! let's go water the hay outta those trees!" she said rearing up a bit, her voice bordering on a whinny as it cracked momentarily in her excitement.

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-Apple Bumpkin-

Apple Bumpkin stretched herself giggling at Cheerilee's little comment. She took in a deep breath and walked over slowly behind Cheerilee and Bramble, the day was about to begin and Bumpkin was all in the mood for some good work to be done today!

"Yes, of course 'Ah'd be ready to help with anythin that need'n be done today." Bumpkin spoke with a rather large grin on her face as she pondered about all the fun adventures and jokes that could be had today. She was full of energy now and all ready to rock it out whatever it may be.

"Oh, ya don't need to frame it, well that is, if'n you don't want to. Its a sign that ya'll part of the family now. Yer like sisters with Apple Jack now!" Bumpkin giggled. The mare was in such a good mood she didn't see anything getting in her way today.

-Apple Pie-

Apple Pie hopped off of Braeburn's back.

"I'm sorry Braeburn but it seems that Apple Bloom would be doing the polka-dots all by herself and I can not let an Apple Family member work alone. You will have to please excuse me while I help her in the arts and crafts department." She nodded her head a few times before she hugged tightly onto Braeburn's forehoof. She was of course nervous about being away from Braeburn, but this was Apple Bloom they were talking about, one of Apple Pie's closest cousins and most dependable friend.

"Apple Pie, ready for service ma'am and filly." Apple Pie winked at Apple Bloom and let a soft smile escape her stone expression before she returned herself to her pseudo-emotionless state. She was actually very happy to be able to work with Apple Bloom today instead of having to work hard out in the fields. All though she was already having that strange itch behind her ear that meant it was work time.

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(ooc): In the interest of time and since only my characters are involved in this scene, I'm going to 'fast-forward' the honey-gathering scene.

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As Uncle Apple Strudel continued to 'lecture' all of the remaining zap apple jars in the barn, Granny Smith, Haywire and Flam all ventured out into the wilderness to gather more fresh honey for the jam making progress. All three were dressed in outragious Pioneer pony era dresses and bonnets. When the group returned a short time later, Haywire was pulling a small wagon with a dozen jars of fresh honey in them as they arrived back on the farm.

"Hot diggidty! We're back with plenty of honey!" Granny Smith shouted.

"And you was sure right about how ta handle bees!" Haywire neighed. "Treat'm nice and they'll treat ya nice right back!"

"Yur darn tootin', youngin! Ol' horn head thar should've listened to me, ain't that right. Mr. Flam?"

"Indeed, Miss Smith," Flam grumbled in a defeated tone. The lanky unicorn stallion quickly used his magic to levitate himself out of the dress to reveal that his four legs and rear were dotted with red bumpy bee stings.

"Granny and I tried ta tell ya not ta scare the bees or swing at'm with a stick, but you wouldn't listen ta us and..."

"That will do, ya little brat! I don't need YOU to remind me! I have all these painful bee welts to remind me and.." Flam's impromptu speech was immediately halted as a slingshot propelled rock struck the mustached unicorn stallion in between his eyes and sent him to the ground in a heap.

"And THAT'LL be a reminder to ya to quit callin' me a BRAT!" the angry blank flank filly yelled before Granny Smith rushed over to her.

"Hay kido! Ya shouldn't have hit that mouthy goomer with a rock like that!"

"I'm surry Granny Smith, but he.."

"That thar was a waste of a perfectly good rock! Next time, wallop'm with a rotten apple! They work a whole lot better!"

"Er, ok," Haywire said with a sigh of relief, "I'll sure remember that next time!"

"Is there... a doctor... in the house..." Flam groaned as he laid on the grass.

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Ms. Harshwhinney, though disappointed that she wasn't with Big MacIntosh, had taken a broom and had been busy helping to clean the freshly painted kitchen. After a few hours, she walked outside to take a break. As she did, she noticed a younger unicorn mare she hadn't seen (or perhaps noticed) before getting ready for a work detail. As she leaned her broom up against a wall, the blonde, orange pelted Earth mare walked over towards Presteza.

"Hello there, Miss. I don't believe we've been formally introduced. My name is Ms. Harshwhinney. I'm not an Apple Family member, but I came to help out for this special harvest. Are you, by chance, an Apple relative?"

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Mac had chosen to make sure the watering cans and other tools were prepared - there were a good few ponies selecting the detail, and he wanted to make sure that everypony who'd volunteered was due to receive one fully workin' can each...it wasn't exactly something that needed to be done right away, but he didn't exactly have anything else better to do until things were rolling..

It gave him a moment to ponder the breakfast - there had been plenty of eager ponies all willing to help out and do their thing this morning...this was always a boon come the zap apple season, since there was always a massive amount of things that needed to be done, as per Granny Smiths routine. there was gonna be a lotta hard work for the next few hours, and Mac felt a small pang of guilt that perhaps he should be doing more than one detail, that he should be throwing himself out as hard as he could at all directions to make sure that today went smoothly...but at the same time, he was entirely aware that today was more a various amount of smaller, easier tasks that weren't really in need of a herculian effort from one silly stallion with a desire to overdo it for the sake of being a workhorse.

Nope, he was gonna try and take today as it came - regardless of where it ended up, Mac decided that the best way to tackle this was to stick to the plan and work his hind legs off!

Moments later, after loading up all of the watering cans onto a cart, Macintosh headed out towards the desired location...ready to get this thing started!

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OOC: I'm also going to do a sort of timeskip.

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Unaccustomed to the unorthodox ways that farm ponies woke up their youngins, the eavesdropping Babs Seed was rather surprised to see Applejack drop Apple Bloom into water. Not only that, but Abby didn’t seem to be put off by it at all. Babs wasn’t sure how she’d react to having water dumped on her to wake her up, but she was pretty confident that Valen would make an absolute fuss over it. That’d be pretty funny to witness, Babs thought.

As Applejack walked out of the barn, Miss Seed trotted inside to ask Apple Bloom; “So Apple Bloom, what are we gonna’ be doin’ today? Get bored of doin’ baskets yet?” Despite the false cockiness in the goldenrod filly’s voice, Babs wasn’t too sure she wanted to get back to basket duty.....

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Ingrid Marie ended up watering the zap apple trees along with many of the other adults. Apparently, Applejack had other plans involving the kids. Just as got to the grove however, a wind-borne dandelion just happened to blow right in front of her. Out of idleness, the middle-aged mare decided to blow on it for the heck of it, causing the florets to scatter in all directions… and some of these blew into the face of a particular light-orange unicorn.....

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Bramble gave a broad grin as so many ponies volunteered to help out. Much better than yesterday, that's for certain! Today was looking up!

"Thank you, ponies all," he said politely, his eyes warm with the combined offers of assistance. "Though really the apple family is most benefited from your help." His horn glowed as Granny Smith's apron floated itself off of him and hung itself on a hook in the kitchen, and he scarfed down a couple last bites of apple muffins for himself before heading on out with the rest.

He wanted to chat with them a bit, but first he had to hurry out and check all the readings since the morning's events - what an amazing show that had been! He was SO excited about this! Sure enough, the readings were up today! Latent energies were on the rise. He reached out and grabbed the first pony to hoof, pulling in ... Miss Presteza! "Look!" he cried happily! "Look at these readings!" He hugged Presteza happily. "Isn't this wonderful!" He looked up to see Ingrid Marie. "Oh, Miss Marie! You would find these interesting, I'm sure!" He danced a happily little dance, giving Presteza a twirl. "Oh, today's readings are just what I was hoping for!"

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Cheerilee

Cheerilee gave Apple Bumpkin another hug, one of sincere reassurance about the picture; Cheerilee really did appreciate it as much as she previously expressed; wanting to frame it was just natural to her. "Well hon, I do want to hang it on the wall at home, and I am a bit too old for tape or tacks." She gave a playful wink as she placed the book back on the table. If there was one thing the purple schoolmate enjoyed, it was photographs, the walls of her own home was covered in them, with many more in all kinds of album books, mostly of places she traveled to over the years. First thing first though, time to get back to the business of learning about Zap Apples. "I'm ready to get outside hon, need to make sure I do my part for the Apple family!" With a smile of enthusiasm, and her straw hat, she trotted out after Bramble Rose.

The enthusiastic silver maned stallion was already out by the trees, standing in front of some device in exuberance when Cheerilee had caught up to him and the newcomer, a goldenrod unicorn mare who she hadn't gotten the opportunity to meet yet. Curious to get a closer look at what had them so excited, she recognized that Bramble had been running a monitor to read the intensity of the magical ley lines that invisibly permeated the land.

Cheerilee didn't understand all the nuanced details of the graphs printing out of the funny looking device, but she knew enough from her major hopping days at the university to understand its basic function. As she looked at the paper as she printed out, there were several colored lines representing some measurement of magic. Unfortunately she only knew enough to understand the green line near the top of the paper, it was a measure of magical intensity. "Wow! I didn't know you were actually doing field research for the harvest!" She gave a huge smile as she pointed at the green squiggly line with her forehoof, "I know this one means potency, what do the other lines mean? If you don't mind me asking and all."

Braeburn

Braeburn just smiled at his orange cousin, "still working on 'em baskets? Lil' Apple Pie and Ah got more den' half of 'em done last night! Y'all aren't getting soft livin' in ol' Centreal Equestria are y'all? Maybe y'all need to spend some time with us frontier folk out in good ol' APPPPPPLELOOSA! Good thing y'all got us here cuz'!" It was all playful banter to the goldenrod stallion. It was just natural, as much as he enjoyed rivalry with his cousins, he still loved them dearly, they were Apples after all; nothing could be more important.

Of course being an Apple also meant working hard, and now breakfast was done, it was time to get all those Zap Apple trees watered. Braeburn gave Apple Pie a warm hug, before trotting outside himself, confident his charge will be fine with Applebloom. For himself, watering meant getting more trees done than anypony else, and some more witty and mischievous banter if time allowed for it.

As he approached the trees, he was actually surprised no one else had started yet, instead they all appeared more interested in Bramble Rose's odd contraption. From what he was told the night before, it was for "measuring magic", whatever for, Braeburn didn't know. It seemed totally unnecessary to the stallion; the Apples never needed a reason to measure the magic before, why would they, when they could easily read the signs of the impending harvest day. Must be a unicorn thing, which at least explained Bramble Rose and Presteza. If they were earth ponies, and especially Apples, they would just know when it came to things that grow, that hard work and their mere presence was enough. "Well ah'll get started with the waterin' here, join me when y'all are ready." It didn't matter when they got around to helping, he could do it all himself. Well okay, it mattered a little, at least in regard to the cute yellow unicorn mare.

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"Hello there, Miss. I don't believe we've been formally introduced. My name is Ms. Harshwhinney. I'm not an Apple Family member, but I came to help out for this special harvest. Are you, by chance, an Apple relative?"

Before Everypony began to pack up all the watering cans on the cart pulled by a large red stallion, It seemed a certain middle aged mare was trying to start up some conversation with the yellow-tan unicorn. If she remembered correctly this was the mare that was sitting by the stallion who was currently pulling the cart at breakfast, while she couldn't hear much of what the two were saying earlier due to focusing on her conversation with Braeburn and Brambles she could see Big Mac seemed at best bored while speaking with her. Despite how the red stallion reacted to Ms. Harshwhinny it couldn't hurt to answer her question.

"Nice ta meetcha, Miss Harshwhinny! I'm in the same boat as you are. I'm no' Apple as ya can probably tell by my cutie mark." She gestured to her flank,upon which there was a paintbrush surrounded by a minty green magical swirl. "You were talkin' ta big mac right? 'e seems pretty cool, looks like one o' those gentle giant types... I should ask ta paint 'im sometime he's probably the most powerful lookin' stallion I've ever seen! Mister Braeburn seems more energetic n' fun though... Maybe I should paint 'im too... these apples always 'ave so much personality don'tcha think?" Suddenly Big mac began to pull the cart towards there destination,"We better get movin'! C'mon, Miss Harshwhinny!"

----Timeskip----

Once they reached the orchard of trees Presteza's bright blue eyes effective lit up in excitement. Even though she had missed the blooming of the blossoms she would at least be able to see the zap apples when they gained their characteristic looks. It seemed she wasn't the only pony who was excited as she soon found herself pulled into a dance by the silver maned stallion who served her up that delicious breakfast (even though she was sure he didn't cook it). Soon she found herself being twirled around as Bramble Rose expressed his excitement at the readings of magic, Presteza could feel that there was something magical about these trees but that should have been obvious to anypony, however it seemed this stallion's academic knowledge gave him a special appreciation for it.

"Look! Look at these readings! Isn't this wonderful! Oh, Miss Marie! You would find these interesting, I'm sure!" He danced a happily little dance, giving Presteza a twirl. "Oh, today's readings are just what I was hoping for!"

As she was twirled she gave a chuckle and glanced at the device. She had some basic knowledge of magic that she could never forget due to her exceptional memory. This machine was rather confusing for her though as she'd never seen anything like it... it was perfectly possible she had slept through the class in Trottingham that taught about magical readings and the like. Putting on a smile she looked to Bramble Rose,"That's awesome, those readin's sure are... high!" she said with a slightly nervous laugh. It seemed another mare seemed to know what the machine meant at least, or had some basic knowledge of it. Maybe the Mulberry colored earth pony would be able to explain it to her, before she could tr and introduce herself however a few florets from a dandelion came over and landed on her snout.

Suddenly the mare found her nose twitching this way and that way. This was not good! If her magic messed up here she might make a bad impression with the apple family, if they thought her magical inadequacy was an issue would they have to throw her out? the mentally pleaded for her nose to behave but it fell on deaf ears... or nostrils.

"aah... aah... aah... HA-TCHIEW!"

Soon the florets scattered and the unicorn's horn lit up like beacon and her magical aura engulfed the head's of Bramble rose, Cheerilee, Big Mac, Ingrid Marie, and Miss Harshwhinny. After a moment it faded and it seemed like nothing happened, although after few seconds to let somepony say maybe it was a dud or something, all those affected's mane's blew up into comically oversized puffs that could only be described as an afro Manestyle. Since presteza's left eye was still partially obscured it seemed her mane was unaffected.

"Uh... B-bless me?" she said with a sheepish smile and a deep scarlet blush.

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It seemed like everything was pocking up at last as ponies filed through from every direction to take part...Mac had already taken his own can and had filled it up ready for use...the days event likely to take up a good portion of time since there were a good amount of trees in the zap apple orchard. As Mac quietly set about getting ready for his morning work here, it seemed as though something rather unexpected occurred...something that made mac feel a rather weird static eminate through the back of his head and spread into his mane, forcing it to curl and frizz rather unnaturally!

" What in the hay? " Mac exclaims aloud, before raising a hoof up to check out just what had happened with his straw-colored mane, and being met with a rather tightly bunched up ball of fuzz. " Well, huh...Ah did NOT expect that at all! " he mutters to himself, looking to see just who might have caused the rather hair-raising issue.

" Consarn it, who messed up mah mane?! "

he was not a pony who got mad easily, of course, so his voice didn't exactly reach more than a raised-voice than anything else...although he certainly didn't exactly wanna be stuck like this for very long - he was rather partial to how his mane flowed normally, and the idea of being stuck with this rather odd looking style was not going to settle well with the stallion of the apples so It was clearly in his interests to talk to whomever had caused it and get them to reverse the situation as soon as possible!

" Whoever made this l'il hiccup'o'hair happen... " Mac announces. looking around at the ponies in the immediate vicinity.

" ah think it only right ya'all apologise an' fix it as soon as ya can! " - his gaze falls upon Presteza, who seemed to look oddly regretful...

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While Uncle Apple Strudel continued to 'lecture' more jars, as Granny Smith and Haywire start to walk away, they hear Flam moaning.

"Won't anypony come and help me? I'm in considerable pain here," Flam groaned.

"Y'know Haywire, I can't stand ya see that poor guy suffer," Granny Smith said as she grabbed a white blanket and threw it on top of the unicorn stallion, "Thar! Now we don't have ta see him no more."

"Huh?" Haywire asked in astonishment.

"Come along, youngin', gotta git this honey we got to the kitchen!"

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Meanwhile, Ms. Harshwhinney watched Presteza talking to Big MacIntosh with great interest.

"That young mare better not be making a play for MY dream stallion!" the orange pelted blonde Earth mare thought to herself. "I better keep my eye on her!"

Suddenly, she found herself engulfed in Presteza's magical misfired spell. Although her mane was now all puffed out, Ms. Harshwhinney didn't seem to notice since she was so intensely starring at the unicorn mare.

"Wait for me, everypony!" Ms. Harshwhinney shouted as she trotted to catch up with Presteza and Big Mac. "I've decided to come along and help your team after all! Sounds simply delightful! Hay! What happened to all of your manes? Did we have some sort of lightning strike? Why was mine not affected?"

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It sure as heck was nice to have somepony else to help her paint the kitchen the right way! If you didn't get the polka dots right the first time then they wouldn't be happy enough to grow right and the whole harvest would be trouble and that would be the worst outcome of all the outcomes. That would normally go without saying but this time it was possible that failing to follow the steps would result in simply no zap apples at all! A Ponyville without zap apples had never happened and it wouldn't survive, probably. But that probability, as terrifying as it was, also was super easy to avoid by doing the job! But she'd need help to do the job right, which made the first possibility even worse. Such was the complex inner workings of her mind as she went into the kitchen with the painting supplies.

Help she got!

First one was Apple Pie, one of her favorite cousins from Apploosa. She was still a bit funny in the way she spoke, her words coming out like she was possessed and trying to pass as a normal pony rather than simply just a pony, but ever since the incident at the reunion Apple Bloom had learned to just accept the ride that was her robot-voiced cousin. As much as she loved Apple Pie though, she wasquickly supplanted as her favorite cousin in her little work group by Babs Seed, who joined with all of her customary vigor and excitement for the job. Maybe with their combined efforts they could work up a mean nap to pass the time once they had their job licked proper and ready for approval by her big sis and Granny Smith. Together, the trio could get it done.

"Ah'm glad you two could come by and help me with this. It's sorta easy but you hafta get it just right. If ya don't, then everything else fails! We gotta paint this kitchen in pink polka dots, since the zap apples like 'em and this is where we make it all happen! I brought lotsa paint supplies so we can get on it quick as peas! You know how to paint, right?"

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