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Apple, Falling From the Tree (Open- Ponyville, PM for Entry)

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Apple Bloom felt great. The camping trip always made her feel a bit lighter than air but it was going better than usual today. She felt so energized, so much more than she was before. It probably had more to do with her being the tallest, fastest, and strongest she had ever been. Parts of her felt gangly and awkward somedays but not today. She felt whole. Heck, while she was still much shorter than Applejack she was getting close enough to mare height to start looking at clothes for the older set. Talk about exciting stuff. Well, it should be exciting stuff.

Truth be told from the way she was being treated you'd still think she was a filly. Not really intentionally and a whole heck of a lot better than she used to be treated mind you. But she reckoned it was hard for anypony to acknowledge the passage of time with anything more than frank acknowledgments. Changing what she did or what she was given to do was something beyond the pale for too many it seemed. She wanted more, frankly could deserve more, handle more, but it didn't feel like she was being treated the way she felt she should be treated. As a bigger pony. As an adult.

As they made their way over the final hurdle to reach Rainbow Falls, Apple Bloom started to open up to both Rarity and Applejack. Applejack wasn't responsible for it, after all. Not entirely. Everypony had. Rarity wasn't innocent either. But as Apple Bloom had started to speak about wanting to be treated her age, wanting to be given more responsibility and the freedom that came with it, Rarity's mind latched onto an idea. For a while she just allowed Apple Bloom to speak her mind, vent the frustrations that had built within her like a torrent or a fire. But even as the filly- err, young mare continued, Rarity was formulating a plan to help her.

A Debutante Ball. Symbolic passage from fillyhood to marehood and the introduction of the newly minted mare to society at large. And a perfect cause for wonderful, beautiful dresses.
It would be beautiful!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Apple Bloom thought it was beautiful. The venue was pretty simply. They had briefly considered the farm but it was decided to make it a more traditional affair in town. The Mayor had been more than agreeable to the renting out of town hall for the ball. Not that Rarity thought it would have been difficult regardless of their attempt but they had paid well for it. The decorations were elegant but simple. There had been some worries about overshadowing the mare of the evening with the extravagance of the decorations but Rarity was proud to say that the light yellow-white arrangements on the tables and banners were refined, simple, beautiful, and subdued. They added to the room and they would add to the mare.

The floral arrangements were sublime. Each guest was to receive their own individual, monogrammed mint julep cups while larger julep cups adorned the tables. Invitations had been personalized with Apple Bloom eventually settling on a simple invitations with the symbols of the Apple family woven in with care to ensure that everything popped and was warmly inviting, simple and fun without being garrish or over the top. The guest list was large- in general, almost anypony considered a family friend was invited, Apple Bloom's circle of friends were invited, even a certain Prince from over the sea was invited. She didn't expect to see him but a mare could dream, right?

Apple Bloom was in the back, in the former and current records hall. There she was sitting all nervous for her big day, a day bigger than she had originally thought it would be. What wasn't as big as she was worried about was the dress. Originally she had been shown some designs from Rarity that were beautiful but also a bit...well, they were rather poofy and big and she wasn't even sure how some ponies walked in them. Looked easy to trip in. Luckily Rarity had pulled back and Apple Bloom was working her way into something beautiful but far more practical white gown with matching hoof-socks and pearls, an inlain design of flower faintly seen.

Back in the main chamber, Rarity was putting the finishing touches on the decorations and keeping the roster of things that needed to be done in her head. It was a mostly simple occasion. Guests were going to arrive and once the ceremony started, would be expected to have the decorum and politeness the situation called for. Then Apple Bloom would be introduced to the gathered society by her sponsor, and then the newly minted mare would be escorted by a younger colt- in this case, dragon- around to mingle with guests. Apple Bloom's escort, Spike, was due to arrive. Due to the more unusual familial circumstances of the Apple family, Applejack was going to have an extended part to play.
 

Once that formal part was done there would be dancing, eating, and a general party for all. While it appeared to be a rather, almost purely, symbolic affair, many things could happen. Amongst royalty marriages were often discussed. Outside of royalty, depending on the culture and debutante, it was sometimes a signal that it was time for them to move away or simply live as an adult with all the responsibilities and rights that entailed. Jobs, work, living arrangements, they were all possible. Or nothing could change realistically and the entire event could simply remain symbolic. And if it remained that, Rarity would consider this a success. After all, Apple Bloom's concerns were concerned with more symbolic matters, were they not?

As she straightened the last bit of decoration, she took a step back and sighed. It came together so well, so nice, so Apple Bloom! Of course there were two things that were somewhat out of her control. Applejack had been placed in charge of food and entertainment. She had made her suggestions- light food at first followed by a three course and some nice classical music- but Apple Bloom had ensured to keep her older sister engaged in the process. Perhaps she was concerned it was all too much for her big sister, though Rarity had a sneaking suspicion that it had more to do with matching tastes.

Speaking of being engaged, Rarity's job was currently finished. Best to check up on the food and drink, which was being prepared in a side room- which she entered, looking back to admire her work. “Oh Applejack, you should see the town hall. It looks gorgeous!” She said giddily before turning around to face the farmer mare. Well, she thought to herself with a chuckle, the now-slightly-ever-so-older-by-comparison-to-the-star-of-the-evening...mare.

As Rarity stayed in the doorway, the door to the outside opened as the two attendants she had hired started to admit guests.

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"Luna please watch over me" Boulder Dash silently prayed as he nervously adjusted his collar for what had to be the thousandth time.  When the invitation for the debutante ball arrived at the Ranch he was surprised but was still honored due to the long standing Friendship between the Apples and Boulders.  Still the hardest thing he had to do was find something formal to wear to this occasion and as he still was getting his life back together after so long at sea that left only one thing.  Dressed in his formal Captain's coat, frilled shirt, and the Mercantile Medals he had earned on his lapel; Boulder Dash looked like the dashing sea Captain on leave as he adjusted his collar again.

 

"If you keep fidgeting with it, yer gonna strecht it out like Mama said you would" Rocky said as he walked with Boulder Dash to the Town Hall.  Having been around more then his big brother Rocky was dressed in a proper white suit jacket, a blue collar shirt, and a bollo tied around the collar with a tomato pendant.  He walked next to his big brother with a light step as if trying to contain his excitement.  He was happy when Boulder Dash invited him as his plus one, feeling it was proper that the Boulder Family be represented by them.

 

"Easy for you to say, yer going have a great time eating good food and dancing.  Me?  I gots to represent the family and hob knob with people to get customers for next harvest.  How did Pa do it?" Boulder Dash asked as they came upon the Town Hall.

 

"Pa did it with confidence and a smile on his face.  Kind of like the big one yer gonna have when you see Miss. Cheerilee tonight.  Don't deny it either big brother, I've seen how you look at her when she walks by" Rocky said nudging him playfully.

 

Boulder Dash looked at Rocky and said, "And I'm suppose to think you don't want to see cute little Apple Bloom in a dress after you watched her all the time running about Sweet Apple Acres."  Rocky recoiled with a big blush on his face, gulping nervously as nodded to Boulder Dash.  "Touche big brother" Rocky said in defeat as Boulder Dash messed his mane a bit.

 

Walking into the formally decorated Town Hall a pair of attendants stood at the door as they eyed the pair closely.  Boulder Dash handed one of them the invitation which was accepted and the attendant gave him the once over before speaking loudly, "Announcing the arrival of uh.... Captain Boulder Dash and his younger brother Rocky of Boulder Tomato Ranch."

 

Boulder Dash held his head in annoyance as he glared at the attendant and angrily said, "It's retired Captain boy, just Boulder Dash now."  He then reached into his saddle bags and roughly placed a wrapped gift into the attendants hoofs.

 

"Well we's off to a good start" Rocky said as he and Boulder Dash walked into the Hall.

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A Debutante Ball!

 

There were many kinds of events that a high-class pony, like Prince Blueblood, found himself compelled to go to over the rounds of his calendar.  He'd long since come to peace with that fact, as much as the dullness of it all would sometimes get to him.  Lately, though, he'd tried to bring himself to appreciate them more, to try and remember that all this was only blase and routine to him.  To a filly first entering social life as an adult, it was her first step into a world of wonder and glamour.  Perhaps, just perhaps, he could learn to see through their eyes, at least for tonight.

 

Still, every royal craved some variety in their routine, and Prince Blueblood decided to achieve this by going as.... Princess Bluebelle.  This long after the incident which gave him the gender-bending 'curse', the unicorn barely even thought of it as a curse at all.  Just a sip of tea and... there!  Time to look through her new closet of dresses to find one for the occasion!  Masculine tastes lingered, preferring the sleek to the frilly, but perhaps the darker colors were... not quite right for what she was going for.  Scarlet was right out; 'Femme Fatale' was entirely the wrong look for this sort of thing.  Black always worked in a pinch, but didn't quite fit Ponyville...

"Ah, of course!"  Why didn't she think of it before?  But there it was, right in front of her.  Silks and linens fashioned in a bright ensemble, with a floral pattern of (what else?) bluebells!  Just the sort of thing for a debutante ball in a country town.  "And now, to make sure my mane is done..."

***

 

After hours of preparation to make her look as if it didn't take hours of preparation to look that good, Princess Bluebelle arrived in Ponyville, not-quite fashionably late.  Among the first guests, in fact, though not the first, no, that would be gauche!  She was by no means shy when announces, acting demure, but really just angling herself to be better seen, before trotting past the pair of stallions, remarking, "Retired or no, I do like to see a stallion in a sailor's uniform.  Retired or no, the sea never leaves us."  Us?  Ah, but as a Prince, Blueblood often sailed.  Perhaps the two had once shared a pint of black beer in a dark dockside tavern, just glad to be out of the rain and storm after a hard sail to port.

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"Can't believe you're actually going to attend an Debutante Ball Auntie."a young filly groaned as she ran a hoof through a small collection of 'Hoof Beat' magazines. After spotting the right one, her horn lit up and the periodical took to the sky like an advertisement stuffed balloon. "It just seems so 'old timey'.", she muttered as she read her floating magazine while she rested ever so comfortably on a red sofa. "I'm pretty sure these things were made so fathers could announce to all of Equestria that their daughters were perfectly legal to marry now. Are you already looking to settle down?"
 
An older pony, while not a filly, was not yet a mare shook her head. "Pretty sure I've been over this before Ticker Tape.", the Pegasus pony know as Wind Walker turned away from a mirror she had been staring into so fiercely that she was rather surprised it not had cracked open. "This is just a fun little event Ponyville likes to have every year. I get to put on an big poofy dress and get to act all girly for a bit." she returned her attention back to her mirror as she tried her best to get her mane to look just 'right'. "Oddly enough, Miss Pinkie Pie is not running this event, but Lady Rarity. Guess that makes sense.", she grunted as ran her brush through her mane. She spent months growing it out, now it wanted to be curly, not straight! Bad!
 
The pair could hear as the door slowly squeaked open. The head of an rather large Pegasus stallion poked out from the small opening. "Sweetie.", it was Wind Walker's father. "You ready yet, it's almost time." The large stallion, while retired from the military, dressed in proper regalia.  His eyes teared up as he caught sight of his daughter. Look at her! She was almost an adult. Soon she would be heading off to officer school like her elder siblings before her. And as long as she kept with her training and classes, she would later be allowed to join the tryouts for the Wonderbolts.
 
"Almost dad..". Great now she was being pestered in stereo!
 
*****
 
Moments later, father and daughter slowly made their way towards town hall. They had been offered an quick taxi ride, but Wind's father quickly turned it down. This gave them time to talk as they walked, and that they did. They spoke of the past, they spoke about family and they also spoke about the future.  Some of Wind's siblings and her mother would eventually find their way to the event.
 
And in what seemed like seconds, the pair were soon standing right at the entrance of the hall. "Looks like things are starting up.", the stallion tried his best to contain his tears. His little foal was nearly all grown up!

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The Matriarch of the Apple Family, Granny Smith decided to stay up past her bedtime so she could attend this Debutante Ball.  After all, seeing her youngest granddaughter at such an important event was a once in a lifetime experience and Granny certainly didn't want to miss out on it!  

 

"This here seems ta be a real fancy smancy sorta wingding!  Lookie over yonder at the Town Hall!  Thar's two big ol' goomers standin' guard at the door!  Reckon that thar's the way high society folks is!  Oh well, I wanna see mah ganddaughters takin' part in this event, so I best try ta blend in with the crowd."

 

Granny Smith patiently waited in line for her turn to enter the building.  When one of the attendants asked for her invitation, Granny Smith gave it to him without argument.  Though she was a little confused by why he needed to hold it.

 

"ANNOUNCING THE ARRIVAL OF MISS GRANNY SMITH!"

 

"Why are ya yellin' so dang blamed loud, sonny?  I know who I am!  I ain't as senile as ya think I am!  Back in MAH day, when we hadda fancy dance, we held it in a big ol' barn out under the stars and.." Granny stopped speaking when she realized all eyes were now on her.

 

"Err, surry bout all that, folks, y'all git back ta debutantin' stuff, don't ya mind me," the elderly mare said as she began to search the gathered crowd for Applebloom and Applejack.

 

 

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There were times when Applejack wasn't exactly sure she knew Apple Bloom.  She knew the younger sister who was always being taught lessons from her older siblings and grandmother.  She knew the filly that would always do secret meetings in the treehouse with her friends about getting cutie marks.  She knew the yellow earth pony that argued with her older sister about how late she should get to stay up.  In fact, that filly still exists today.  But as the days go by, Applejack can't help but see the obvious in front of her.  Apple Bloom was growing older, and the angle at which Applejack had to tilt her head to meet her younger sisters eyes was becoming more and more horizontal.

 

It was easy for Applejack to agree to be part of something that would ceremoniously make Apple Bloom feel older.  When it was found out that Apple Bloom sometimes felt underaged, Applejack felt partially responsible, but she also understood.  She remembers when she was young and ponies didn't take her seriously, especially when she lived in Manehatten breifly.  And since it had been a few weeks since the last party in Ponyville, it seemed right to make this occasion official, thanks to one of Applejack's best friends.

 

Applejack had been to many hoedowns, hootenannies, and harvest parties.  But she had never experienced an authentic debutante ball.  Leave it to Rares to be the one to teach Applejack yet another fancy-schmancy gathering that involves sophistication, dresses, and tradition.  Applejack was relieved that the shindig didn't require heavy amounts of planning and preparation from herself or Granny, although the worry that the event would not go as planned always loomed.

 

As Applejack started putting the finishing touches on some of the appetizers (or as Rarity would call it, 'light fare'), she started to wonder if the amount of food made any sense.  The course would consist of salads, apple chips, carrot chips, and a peculiar kind of salsa Rarity suggested that was fairly easy to make but was something Applejack had never heard of.  Just as she was placing it on the tables, Rarity came in to exfoliate Applejack's attention to the things she was excited for.  "I bet!  I peeked in there a few minutes ago and it was lookin' frilly."  Applejack was excited too, and everything minus a slight misunderstanding of the food courses were going smoothly.  "You sure this is enough food for everypony coming?  I know there's a lot of steps in the meal, but I can't help but think that a couple bushels of apples next to every table would have been a good idea."

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Rarity held back her criticism of Applejack's thankfully un-acted upon 'hunch'. She knew that her rustic friend couldn't quite escape her culinary world which featured her family name so very prominently. And indeed, she did enjoy herself a nice apple on occasion. Delicious and nutritious, excellent work food. Also made for any number of fine desserts. She always wondered why the Apples didn't open up a restaurant. There were enough dishes to satisfy anypony with a culinary fetish. Nonetheless, this was an event steeped in the gentle good graces of the townfolk's sense of spirit and desire to honor a burgeoning member of high-society. Apples made find treats but lacked a certain...texture that such events called for. And there was always the cold hard truth, one that she would ever give open voice to but believed was quite evident in the whole makeup of the event. Food wasn't important in the slightest unless it was a distraction. And apples were so...on theme, so to the point, that it threatened to become tacky.

She shivered at that horror. Tacky? Rarity? She'd rue the day such connotations were made. She looked down at the food. Hmm. The light fare looked...well, it would have to do. Not necessarily what she would have considered for the event but she knew good and well her tastes were exceptionally difficult to nail down by others. “Applejack dear, this should be more than enough food. I have complete faith in you! We all knew the maximum number of attendees and- well, budgeting was no real problem, now was it?” She asked with a delighted chuckle. She wasn't taking a deep look at the food. She had rather complete trust in her friend int his rather banal field. Applejack was capable of almost anything Rarity could imagine putting her up to. Food was something more within her 'wheel house' as the fillies said. Why would she have to worry? Worry- speaking of, “oh, what is that?” She said, pointing at the salsa.



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One by one the guests were announced. Apple Bloom couldn't see them. She was hidden away in a hallway in the balcony corridor, undergoing final prep. Boulder and Rocky- she couldn't claim to know them all that well, but she knew they were local farmers that were well-bred and deep blooded Ponyvillians. She was happy to see that even ponies who didn't know her all that well but were important to Ponyville were willing to show up.

Speaking of willing to show up, was that royalty she heard being announced?! Princess Bluebelle. Oh, so she chose to come as Bluebelle? Heh. Well, Apple Bloom supposed it was only right to come in such a manner for an event like this. Was it weird if you had the choice to come to a shindig like this for a young mare as an older stallion if you could come as an older mare? Hmm. Weird question to ask. Nopony'd ever thought about it before, she was safe in assuming. She was happy that she came. Twilight had already sent a present and said she was not able to attend despite wanting to- she didn't reveal why- but heck, she liked Princess Bluebelle. That was a pretty cool get too!

The next trio weren't super well known to Apple Bloom either, but Applejack spoke highly of one of their family members and so they were invited. She knew Wind Walker the best: She was pretty cool. Indeed, she had always been planned to come along, but Apple Bloom had never met the dad. Formerly military, she heard. That was cool. Apple Bloom was always excited to meet new ponies, especially as she charged up the ladder of society to announce herself. She wasn't sure about th younger one but heck, as long as everypony had a good time she'd just have to count on Rarity and Applejack's ability to be adults and plan big events well.

Finally, but certainly not last in her heart, was her Granny Smith. She could hear her complaining fiercely for a few seconds all the way up here, making the young mare giggle to herself. She was always sharing her mind with each and every pony that passed on by, never just a piece of it, as truthful and forthcoming as morning dew. She loved her Granny. As Apple Bloom grew older it seemed like Granny Smith was timeless in her ways. She knew for a fact that wasn't true but, well, Apple Bloom felt like it was. And maybe tonight'd that would count for something.

She looked at the clock, the last of the helpers Rarity had hired for the evening drifting away. She was...a minute away, she believed, from Rarity starting the night's festivities. She took a big breath, deep and excited, as in the main town hall room music started up- classical music, lightly played by professionals, off to the side of the guests. Fifty seconds- forty nine actually. Oh, forty eight!

She needed to stop- forty-five- counting.

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When the blonde haired mare called out to Boulder Dash and Rocky, the two brothers stared at each other in surprise as Boulder Dash motioned to the confirmed Princess only for Rocky to shake his head.  The two brothers walked into the Hall together as they took in the sights and decorations.  "Looks like the Apples really went all out fer this one.  Course this could never beat the yearly festival" Boulder Dash said.

 

"Yer darn tooting on that big bro" Rocky stated as they watched the other guests arrive.  They didn't quiet know all the other guests arriving but there was one who stood out when she started yelling, one that always brought a smile to Boulder's face.  Motioning to his younger brother who followed him, Boulder Dash walked up to Granny Smith and gave her a gentle bow.

 

"Bless my eyes as I live and breath.  Granny Smith still with a twinkle in her smile and preaching the Celestia's truth.  Good evening Ma'am, I don't know if you recall me too much but I'm Boulder Dash.  I own Boulder Tomato Ranch, and if I wasn't butting heads with Big Mac I was learning the better parts of Farming from yer son.  This is my younger brother Rocky" he said as Rocky also bowed  to her.

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No reply from the Boulder Brothers?  Well, no matter.  Bluebelle was used to leaving stallions speechless, after all!  Leaving the pair with a wink and an elegant flick of her tail, she wandered over towards the presentation floor, passing Granny Smith on the way.  "Glad to see the family coming together, as always!"   While she knew that she wasn't the host of the event, and therefore not obligated to greet all the guests, as the high-marquee legitimacy-granting guest of Canterlot, the Princess felt it only her duty to spread the class and sophistication as far as possible.

 

A quick glance at the entrance showed a pair about to come in, father and daughter if she summed them up right.  The latter to be about the right age to be presented herself, actually; perhaps this event was doing double duty?  In any case, Bluebelle recognized the family, though she couldn't at the moment place exact names.  Military, she knew from her friend Fire Walker, but the rest... "Do come in, Commander Walker!"  She called out, hoping she got the rank correct.  If not, it could always be chalked up to civilian ignorance.

 

And now, last stop, the buffet table, where the two real hostesses were preparing the spread for the evening to come.  "Well, counting down the seconds now."  She approached Applejack and Rarity, speaking in low tones as a third member of their party planning committee.  "I think we'll have a somewhat decent turnout, at least one fellow filly at Applebloom's age, possibly more coming in.  Ooh, what's this?"  Noticing the salsa for the first time, Bluebelle wasted no seconds in satisfying her curiosity, levitating an apple chip to delicately scoop up a dab for her sampling.

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As Wind Walker watched the assorted ponies mill about, she suddenly realized she had lived in Ponyville as almost as long as she had been in Canterlot!  Had she really lost her accent? Over the years her Canterlot companions mentioned she was starting to sound a -little- like an Ponyville pony. She was not gawrsh'n and 'howdy'n like one of the farmers, but her tone had lost its elegance. Whatever that means. Well, at least they were not holding this in one of Applejack's barns. Thankfully her Polomare horseshoes would not have to endure the indignity of getting muddy hay all over them. And speaking of farmers, she was able to spot dear ol' Granny Smith. She as still on all fours and kicking. Just how old was that mare?
 
Then there was Applejack. The one pony who managed to start a whole chain of events for the blue Pegasus pony's elder sister. Fire Walker had apparently started to live a somewhat normal life. Between training new recruits and going on little trips with her then fiancée Swift Squall, she was living an somewhat normal, semi-charmed kind of life. Then she took a simple little mission with the farmer which turned into an adventure. And this only encouraged the mare to go even more silly quests. Then there was the school, and the monsters and the magic nonsense that usually fell upon her little village. Thankfully things always seemed to turn out for the best in the end, even when things were going way south.
 
Lady Rarity was as glamorous as always. Still, if only Pinkie could have been charged of this party....This was going to be a fancy party. Napkins on the lap, red menu with an book-mark kind of fancy. Here, they would not chew their food, but slowly  masticate it. Her father would not burp, instead he would eruct. That was what one would do at an fancy ball. In the corner of her eye, she spied Apple Bloom. She politely nodded at the young earth pony as she walked by. Things were just about to start, so there would be time for chatting. Wind was quickly removed from her train of thought as she heard her father sniff something. She could smell it was well. Was it the pleasing aroma of Apple Black Bean Salsa? That was her father's favorite! She was pretty sure there would only be little tea cakes and scones. Salsa did not belong in an fancy party.
 
Prince Blueblood, er Lady Bluebelle was also here  and apparently had long embraced his 'curse'. Like Applejack, her sister had also served with the royal pony. Fire had considered her first 'real' adventure had been with the elegant unicorn, along with her old friends Dunder and 'Muggo. Being the proper sort, both gave the princess a proper bow. "Good day Princess Bluebell.", the large stallion responded, "While I was once a Major, when they finally let me retire, I was an General." a smile formed on the Pegasus pony's face, "I was supposed to have retired awhile back, but Princess  Celestia still found some use for me." Was Fire Walker a Commander now? Her father was taking the whole thing in stride now, but it was years ago when he was ready to retire. Ready to move to Las Pegasus and live the idle life, but then Queen Chrysalis had to ruin that.
 
"Looks like it's just about to start.", the stallion added...
 
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Now Granny Smith was a little confused.  The elderly mare glanced all around the room, looking for AppleJack, Apple Bloom, or any other familiar pony.  There seemed to be a lot of mixing and mingling going on, but there really wasn't anypony here that was even close to her age.  Granny thought to herself, "Well, I'm here!  But wadda I say to all these here youngin's?  And how's come I can't find mah granddaughters?  Reckon they're doin' more debutauntin' an' such.  SAY!  I smell food!  I know I shouldn't eat this late in the day, but dang nabbit I'm hungry!  I'll jist foller mah nose till.."

 

Granny Smith's train of thought was broken when Boulder Dash walked over to her and introduced himself and his younger brother to the Apple Matriarch.

 

"Boulder Dash.. Boulder Dash.. OH YEAH!  I remember ya!  Ya got that thar tomater farm down the road a piece from Sweet Apple Acres!  And little Rocky!  Well, ya ain't so little no more.  Yur gittin' ta be a find young colt!  I kin remember when ol' Big Mac was that small, but he didn't stay little long neither.  I was haven' ta git'm a new horse collar fer'm every few months!   That sure were a long time ago.  So, Boulder Dash, whatcha doin' here?  Did ya git an invite?  Well, don't wurry none if'n ya didn't.  If them big goomer ponies guardin' the doors give ya any flak, jist tell'm yur with me!  You an' little Rocky thar!  Any friends of mine deserves ta be here, BY CRACKY!"

 

Granny was so 'worked up,' to emphasize her point, Granny Smith stomped her left front hoof hard on the floor.  But soon, her mood lightened again and her confusion returned.

 

"Er.. what was I a-sayin'?  Well, don't matter none!  How's about you fellers escortin' me to the food table?  I smells some mighty yummy stuff an' Rocky's a growin' colt.  We all could use some good gruff, ain't that right?  Have y'all met AppleJack and Apple Bloom yet?  Ya gotta see'm while yur here, they're in their party clothes.  At least, I think they are.."

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Applejack didn't plan on wearing anything special.  Although it was less for the reason of her personality and more that anything she tried to wear would certainly be ripped off by Rarity in a desperate attempt to perfect an ensemble.  Currently, Applejack was wearing an outfit just for the purpose of preparing the food.  It was practical enough to use in the kitchen, while frilly enough to be seen by party guests.  It was like a maid outfit of sorts, fitted with an apron that got the job done. She assumed Rarity had another gown prepared for the rest of the evening.

 

Applejack was puzzled at Rarity's curiosity of the salsa.  "Um, didn't you request it?  You said to make a salsa with a little bit of spice and jazz, some beets, saying that different kinds of ponies are into different salsas.  You said there was a Fillydelphia salsa, a Los Pegasus salsa..." Applejack paused and thought for a moment.  She wondered how it was this moment she was taking food advice from Rarity.  Rarity was much more proficient at other things, but it was obvious at this point it was a misunderstanding.  Applejack's eyelids flattened.  "You weren't talking about edible salsa were you?"

 

Just then, Applejack saw the first food guest trot into the food arena and try the salsa.  Applejack was relieved when a white unicorn mare tried it and liked it.  Applejack could recognize this pony, but before she could pay closer attention more started flooding into the side room.  Everypony seemed to be getting a little impatient and was ready to see the mane event.  Applejack could hear voices she recognized along with many new ones she was not familiar with.  And Granny Smith's signature drawl.  Apparently the smell of food had entranced the guests.  "Rarity, I wasn't sure the food thing was happening this early.  Is this right?  What's the schedule for this thing like?  Shouldn't we wait for Apple Bloom?"

 

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Applejack was a mare of unsurpassed talent in quite a few fields. Indeed, outside of Pinkie Pie, she wasn't aware of a pony in ton who could quite compare to Applejack when it came to food. But even such a highly talented and competent mare could fall victim to her own quirks and it appeared as though that had been the case today. In this case, Applejack could be quite the...literalist. Not the worst sin to hang about a mare but it could cause some problems. In this case, the fault was also Rarity's: She had expected Applejack to take catering into her own hooves. What had triggered the salsa debate within her friend? Her mind raced. Finally she came upon it- oh, silly Rarity! Of course the mistake was so simple to spot. Rarity had discussed salsa as in the style of dance, which was sometimes one of them that found their way to such events.  But Applejack wouldn't know that, would she? She'd know of the food. And now they had a...salsa. An unusual kind. It was an...admittedly intensely interesting blend she had created. Rarity's smile didn't fade but her ear twitched as she went through the possible repercussions. If Applejack really had crammed together all those ideas, hopefully that didn't mean those who decided to partake in the interesting salsa would get sick later.

She peeked out. Many ponies were here, some even trying the salsa. She looked back to Applejack, though her eyes were centered slightly above the Apple mare. “...Well, I had been referencing the dance style. You know, the exciting new trend from Maredrid? Oh, well, miscommunication aside haha...I'm sure that its fine,” she laughed, pulling her mane back, “you're an excellent cook, Applejack. I'm sure the salsa you made that combines very disparate and unique flavors from across the nation, with all of their intensely contrasting ingredients and textures, won't at all make anypony sick, hahahaha,” she chuckled nervously. Indeed, it sounded like a recipe for some stomach troubles. That wasn't very high-society! No matter though. She still had a job to do. “The schedule? Well, in about thirty seconds we start Apple Bloom's debut. I'll handle the introductions, we'll do the formal debut, then the dance. It shouldn't be food just yet but no plan survives first contact with the guest list! Hopefully that can give you time to change into something more...” she looked Applejack up and down. The maid uniform looked rather fetching on her, the frills a nice touch, but she needed to take her place at Apple Bloom's side. “Appropriate?” Rarity settled on.

She nodded. “Yes. Well, I best not be late. How exciting!” She said, reigniting herself as she gave Applejack a hearty hug and then started trotting to where she was needed. The balcony had a staircase in public view. As Rarity walked up it, she levitated some notecards in front of her. At the top she coughed to clear throat and then faced the growing audience, just as Spike took his place beside her.

“Welcome, friends and family, to the debut of Miss Apple Bloom to the good ponies of Ponyville. We thank you so graciously for your attendance today as we escort this young mare into proper adult society. Please line up along the end of the staircase, politely of course. Debutantes, of course, have a rich history in Ponyville, from Mayor Mare to yours truly!...”

Apple Bloom listened for her cue. Rarity had a small spiel and then the lights would focus on the curtains, they would part, and then she would walk out. Escorted by Spike, Rarity would introduce her to each and every guest. They'd share a moment and once that was all done, the party would begin. An elegant party, Rarity had made sure to point out. The music itself was kicking up louder than before, the classical music playing well to some ears. Apple Bloom could have done with more Songbird Serenade, but elegance had certain demands. At least that is what Rarity had said.

The lights focused on the curtain. It opened.

“...And welcome, for the very first time as a Debutante, Apple Bloom!” Rarity said as Apple Bloom stepped out in a beautiful white dress with adorable satin hoof gloves. Rarity gave the young mare two quick peeks on the cheek. “You look marvelous, Apple Bloom. Ready for all this?”

“As ready as I'll ever be,” the young mare responded, her voice caught between excitement and nervousness.

“Good to hear that, darling. You've got quite a crowd waiting for you,” Rarity said as she led Apple Bloom down the staircase, Spike holding onto one of Apple Bloom's hooves like a proper escort as they approached the very first pony in line.

OOC- At this point, it is first come, first serve, and the posting order is not in use.

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Boulder Dash smiled at Granny Smith and nodded approvingly to her as he said, "Oh don't ya fret none Granny Smith, your Granddaughter Applejack was kind enough to send us invites and I must say I'ma fine turn out it has become."  As he was about to take up Granny Smith's offer of food however an announcement was made that signaled the start of the festivities.

 

Taking Granny Smith by the hoof he motioned to the staircase and said, "If you would honor me Ma'am it looks like your Granddaughter gonna make her Grand appearance.  What say we greet her proper?"  He then led Granny Smith over to the staircase, Rocky following behind him.  Approaching he allowed Granny Smith to stand first at the staircase as she was Head of the Apple Family and more then deserved to go first.

 

Boulder Dash then stood next to Granny waiting his turn in line.  Standing next to him was Rocky, who made a final adjustment to straighten his Bolo before standing properly next to his big brother.  As Applebloom approached Boulder Dash grinned as he saw Rocky's face turn redder then a family tomater as he could feel the heat come off Rocky like a baked bean.

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A retired general, eh?  Well, Bluebelle had always known the Walker House as a reliable producer of 'war-horses,' and felt that as long as each generation continued the tradition with comparable competence, there was little danger of anypony calling the nobility useless anytime soon!  Reflecting on her friend Fire Walker's own accomplishments was enough for the Princess to banish such worries concerning her class' survival, freeing her to partake in it's rituals.

 

Admittedly, salsa was rather a new addition to such.  Tasty, Bluebelle had to admit, but still not exactly de riguer in the highest circles.  Of course, this was all a result of a verbal mix-up, though if you asked the Princess, the salsa dance was far too newfangled and rowdy for a debutante ball, and tango was pushing it.  "Oh, don't worry, it's all for the best."  The alabaster unicorn assured the pair.  "Nopony would expect you to do things exactly how we do it in Canterlot; otherwise, you'd host it there rather than here.  You want to showcase Applebloom in something like her natural environment, right?"  And though she wouldn't admit it up front, the guest list would be much better from a company standpoint by sacrificing a bit of status.

 

Speaking of, the filly of the hour was almost about to come out.  Bluebelle graciously stepped aside to allow Rarity to pass by, standing by attentive as she took another surreptitious bite of the salsaaAAAAAAAAAAAA!  *Ow, ow, hot hot hot!  I dipped into the wrong one!*  This would have been a great opportunity to remove herself to quietly expectorate into the nearest potted plant.  Unfortunately, it was just right now that Applebloom was being presented, and Bluebelle would be darned if she made an unsightly scene to take away from the filly's big moment, especially given the Princess' previous history with Rarity...

 

Nothing for it, then, but to swallow and hope for the best.  Unfortunately for her, this only spread the capcasin conflagration down her throat and into her belly, setting her whole innards afire.  *Steady on, old girl, steady on!  You come from fifty-four generations of unicorn royalty!  We have faced down full-blown invasions during our parties, and still the event would go on!  The House of Platinum will not have it's honor besmirched by a single hors d'ourve!*  However free from stain her honor may be, her complexion was beginning to turn a pinkish-red, with tears gathering at the corners of her eyes.... 

 

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OOC- Was waiting since Granny was put up front.

Apple Bloom was escorted along by Spike as gracefully as the little dragon could. The first they met was the Rock family. Apple Bloom didn't know them too well but it was always a delight to get to know others just like her. It was great to meet ponies that weren't like her, either. She liked meeting new ponies, as brief as this was gonna be. Led by Spike and Rarity, she met the other local farmer family.

“Hello there, Boulder family. I am pleased to introduce to you Miss Apple Bloom,” Rarity said, noticing only then that Rocky's blushing, sensory overload and general contentedness with events meant his collar was out of sync and messy. She fixed that with her magic, all the while stepping ut of the way Apple Bloom did a polite curtsy-it had taken her a while to learn them all well like so she was proud she didn't fall flat on her face this time- as she took notice of them.

“Howdy there- uhh, Boulder Dash Ah think it is? Big sis talks 'bout you sometimes,” Apple Bloom asked in her country drawl. Rarity sighed. You could put the farmer in the dress but you can never, ever take the farmer out of the fields.

“An' ah take it yer Rocky, right?” Apple Bloom asked, turning her attention to the blushing colt. Applejack was always talking about how the Boulder family ranch was a well-oiled machine and would continue to be in the future, and she guessed he was why. Sure they had their problems, everypony did, and nopony worked perfectly. Oh, and no doubt she knew why he was blushing. It was awkward but this was a fancy formal affair and she wasn't gonna make him feel worse for the wear.

Rarity watched the festivities with excitement. Part of the point of this party was to set up the young mare with career and business opportunities. The Boulder family didn't offer much that the Apples didn't, but expanding horizons was important no matter what. She allowed Apple Bloom to continue talking for a little bit. When she was finished with the Boulders, Rarity politely led her o the next pony in line. (OOC- Dashman, feel free to continue the Apple Bloom/Boulder conversation, I will definitely respond)

Bluebelle certainly looked a little uncomfortable. Rarity wasn't going to be untoward and ask if anything was wrong during the most formal part of the entire event, but she saw it all the same. “Hello, Princess Bluebelle. I am pleased to introduce to you Miss Apple Bloom,” Rarity said, stepping aside to let the filly speak. Apple Bloom approached and bowed respectfully. Then took a second and curtsied. It was awkward but there was an attempt being made.


Unlike Rarity, Apple Bloom didn't know better than to mention why the Princess looked uncomfortable.
“Happy ta see ya, Yer Highness, but...uhh, whats wrong?”

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Boulder Dash gave Applebloom a proper bow, the medals on his lapel clanking a bit as he did so, before fixing her with one of his big smiles.

 

"On behalf of the Boulder family it tis my honor to celebrate with you today Applebloom Ma'am.  Our families history will only grow stronger like the biggest apple tree.  My Ma made some special fer ya and I hope you will love it" he said in his thick country drawl.

 

Boulder Dash then noticed his little brother was being quiet and looking over saw him staring at Applebloom, that same red blush on his face.  It was no secret in the family that Rocky had a slight crush on young Applebloom.  They weren't that different in age and as a fellow Earth pony it was natural for attraction to occur.  Yet they had never been formally introduced due to Rocky hiding whenever she was near.

 

Well he couldn't hide now, and goofy look or not Boulder Dash wasn't about to let him miss a prime opportunity; thus Boulder non chalantly lashed out with swift kick to his brother's flank.  Rocky yelped in pain before looking at Applebloom and speaking rather loudly.

 

"Honor to meet ya Miss. Applebloom.  I am grateful to spend the evening with such a smart and purdy pony like you" he said before shoving his hoof in his mouth realizing what he said.

 

"Very smooth lil brother" Boulder said giving Rocky a sarcastic look.

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Oh, dear, it seemed Bluebelle wasn't able to hide it all that well.  Rarity wasn't going to comment, but the Princess' trained eyes could see it in her face.  Applebloom was held back by no such reticence, asking straight out what was wrong.  "Well, I- urp!"  She quickly brought up a hoof to stifle a belch of raging fire from within.  "Excuse, ah, ah, me, I'm just... a little thirsty, ah."  Yes, thirst!  Perfect excuse; she needed something to quench the heat within.  "I do, ah, believe a, oh, cool glass of, ah, your family's, eh, sweet cider would, ah, just... compliment the occasion."  She managed, gasping between each phrase, and hoping to Celestia that she didn't look like some kind of fish dragged out of her back-garden koi pond right now.  She was beginning to approach it in color, actually, as the pink blush intensified into a kind of golden tint...

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“Ooh, what did she make?” Apple Bloom asked, her mind constantly on the lookout for any sort of gift. She knew he probably couldn't say until it was ready and opened. But maybe he'd let something out, she'd be okay with that. “Can't wait fer it. Ah heard she's real good with her hooves!”

She still saw Rocky being all shy and such with her. She knew what was up. Apple Bloom didn't mind having admirers! Besides, she was a nice enough pony to not make Rocky feel too awkward, even after he called her pretty. Which was all fine and good, but that didn't mean she couldn't blush herself at the compliment, which she did.

“Well, uhh, thanks fer that, Rocky. Hehehe,” she said, rubbing the back of her neck nervously. She may want to let him off the hook but that didn't mean she couldn't feel award to about it. She didn't like him that way- heck, she just met him- but it was nice to know that he had good taste.

Apple Bloom wasn't sure if she bought the entire excuse of the Princess needing something to drink. It seemed more sudden than that. But she wasn't a pony given to making others uncomfortable unless she found it funny and she didn't find it all that funny right about now, so she was off the hook. Mostly. “Well...uhh, sure. You need something ta...drink, sure,” she said, looking at everypony and anything other than Blueblood. Bluebelle. Blue.

Rarity had a better understanding of what was happening but wasn't going to mention Applejack's culinary cultivation. If only they had done the dance instead! “Oh Spike, could you be a dear and get the Princess a nice cup of cider?” Rarity asked. Spike nodded and ran off. They had a few seconds. “Just a few seconds, Bluebelle. You'll be fine. In any case, I am pleased to introduce to you Miss Apple Bloom,” Rarity said, remaining on task while Apple Bloom gave another polite curtsy because she had practiced it and by Celestia she was gonna put it to good use.

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Seeing as ponies were enjoying the salsa, Applejack made short grief about the verbal mix-up.  Applejack just wanted everypony to have a good time, and Rarity can be the one to authenticate it.  As Rarity announced the enterance of Apple Bloom to the rest of the ball, Applejack was off to the side to watch Apple Bloom get that moment of high attention.  She was so proud of her little sister, and could see how well this ball idea Rarity had was paying off.  She was eager to give Apple Bloom an embarrassing sisterly hug, but she saw that several ponies were crowding around her to greet her.  So, Applejack took this moment to quickly change into her formal dress.

 

Next to the kitchen, Applejack had set it up just perfectly so that she could jump in easily and make quick time of changing.  The dress was hanging from a door frame just so that she could jump into it with one swoop.  She had to tie strings to the dress from the ceiling next to the door frame to make it work just right.  If it looks stupid but is practical, it's not stupid.  Applejack stripped off her kitchen dress and jumped in the formal gown.  She was able to do so successfully without tearing the dress.  Except for the lack of ability to tie the back strings of the dress herself, Rarity would be impressed, she thought.  Rarity would help her finish later.

 

Applejack came out of hidden view and started greeting more guests she hadn't seen yet, and she did so in such a fashion that would eventually get her next to her sister.  A few hoof shakes and neighborly hugs, and Applejack got within a hug's reach of Apple Bloom.  It looked like she was receiving some gifts.  Applejack couldn't help herself any longer.  "Oh, come'ere sis!"  Applejack gave her a huge hug from the side, breaking her attention away from whatever was in front of her.  "You look so beautiful and grown up.  You really are a mare now!  I don't need to keep you from other company any longer, but I just had to love on you for a lil' bit."  Applejack's eyes welled up.  There would be much more time for emotional pleasantries later, but she already started tearing up from the shear realization that her little sister was entering marehood.

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Sweet relief would soon be incoming.  Just had to hold on until then... "You do that... very well."  Bluebelle complimented Apple Bloom on her curtsy, even managing to smile through her reddening features.  "You'd be quite... the addition at any Canterlot ball.  Don't know if we'll see you there, but.... next year, I'll be sure your gala invite is as an adult."  It wasn't quite the transition it used to be; foals weren't even issued any kind of invitation or permission until a couple of years ago, when Auntie Celestia wanted to 'shake up' events.  Still, the foals had different invitations sent out, and generally had their own area where they hung out with themselves.

 

But now?  Apple Bloom would be issued a bone fide golden ticket, her first, which most young mares of noble disposition would frame (Bluebelle's hung proudly over her bedside table).  Whether Bloom would take advantage of it... hm, perhaps Blue would have to ensure a certain foreign Prince made a second visit to Equestria... Handsome fellow, quite the hot... breath, he possessed... 

 

Just as the Princess was feeling all the fires of a dragon be stoked within herself, Spike returned with the heat-quenching beverage.  Supremely grateful, Bluebelle bent down to receive the cider, giving the dragon an impulsive little peck on the forehead in gratitude.  What she did next was... extremely unlady-like.  It could only be described as 'quaffing', a huge knock-back gulp of the good stuff, with golden droplets spilling out around her muzzle.  She didn't care, right now.  All that mattered is the sweet, sweet relief being poured down her throat, soothing her insides and counteracting the capsacin.  

 

She pulled away with a gasp for air, heaving about half a sigh of relief before she felt the beginnings of an uncouth, stallion-level belch begin to brew in her belly.  Mildly panicking, she jammed a hoof over her muzzle, only barely in time to stifle it.  Big Mistake.  That only turned a merely embarrassing expectoration to a humiliating sound and fury, somewhere between a snort and a whinny, where an painfully concentrated burst of Carbon Dioxide gas shot through Bluebelle's nose at high speed, which left her doubled over in agony, desperately trying to keep her nosebleed from staining her dress.  Oh faust, oh faust, please don't let anypony see her like this...

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Apple Bloom beamed with pride at Bluebelle's words, even as she was mostly taken by the nature of how the Princess was speaking. She was having trouble thinking too clearly on that on account of the half-invite to the Grand Galloping Gala...as an adult! That was a mighty big deal to the big ponies and Apple Bloom would be a straight liar if she said she wasn't plumb excited about the idea herself. Sure, a big fancy shindig wasn't exactly in her wheelhouse, she had to admit that going to THE party for THE ponies had a certain...ring, to it. She would have to put it somewhere up high, along with all the other evidence of her being a big pony. Maybe then the Prince would like her! “Well, that's a heck of an offer there, Princess Bluebelle. It'd be real swell ta go!” She said, her voice loud and proud but her eyes looking the Princess up and down.

She was having a heck of a time. She took a big gulp, very ladylike and all for all the sarcasm a pony could muster, and Apple Bloom had to stifle a laugh. Well, nopony was perfect, not even a Princess that was a Prince and a snooty one at that. Apple Bloom always wondered why it was Bluebelle was so much better received than Blueblood. She was pondering whether the matriarchal structure of Equestrian society had something to do with that when Bluebelle had one of the loudest burps she had ever heard. It wasn't regal in the slightest unless she was trying to become the Princess of Taverns, in which case she was well on her way to earning that crown. Apple Bloom might as well go ahead and resign herself to Bluebelle being her favorite Princess because this was the funniest thing she had ever seen a royal pony do!

And she saw Twilight dance once, and THAT was a comedy.

Apple Bloom laughed in an unladylike manner, holding her hoof to her face in an attempt to hide it to no real avail or chance of success. “That was a good'n. Bluebelle. Y'all need ta show mah big brother how ta burp up a storm,” she said, her laughter coming in harder and fiercer until she felt a hug, a warm one, from the side. She reacted to it with all the studied experience of a little sister who had hugged her big sister an unreasonable amount of times. She gave her sister a quick once over. Her dress didn't look too bad considering she had been working on the food. And she called Apple Bloom a mare! Well, that was good. Considering it didn't feel like all that long ago that she had infantilized her like she couldn't leave the house without worrywartin' that was a huge step. “Thank you, Applejack. That means a lot coming from the best mare Ah've ever known...and the best big sis anypony's ever had!”

Rarity was too preoccupied with events to interrupt the hug. She was deeply disappointed for Bluebelle- no, not at, FOR her. No doubt she must feel like simply the worst, no need to rub it in publicly. She'd give her a good tongue lashing in private, though. No matter her past, a lady must comport herself with dignity in public. Speaking of...Applejack looked stunning in her dress, as usual. Any time that mare did so much as put a second of effort on herself she looked like one of Equestria's great, unsung beauties. She used her magic to tie the dress as the sisters gave each warm hugs and words. This gave her a moment of privacy with Bluebelle. She approached the Princess with a smile.

“Darling, perhaps it is best you sit down? You look better but perhaps it would be best if you took a break,” she said, imploring with her tone more than her words. As much as she would like to ensure that Bluebelle would be able to handle the event, she also had to make sure that they kept to the schedule. She allowed the sisters to exchange words and hugs and when one or the other pulled away, she went back to work.

“Apple Bloom dear, you have more guests to attend to. Come with me,” she said with a certain bounce in her words. As she walked by Applejack she whispered, “you looked amazing. You should really consider my offer...” she said as they made their way to the next group of guests.

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