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Apple Adonis (Invite)

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@tacobob

 

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Sweet Apple Acres was a big place. Aside from the number of orchards they had, from reds, to greens and even Zap Apples having their own patch: theirs was a land built on the backs of their ancestors who had first settled Ponyville. It t’weren’t no small operation. It was up to them to provide food for all the ponies settling here and so as more and more came to settle more orchards were planted. Sweet Apple Acres came to be more than just the acres originally settled. That meant there was a whole lot of work to do. The work fell squarely on the shoulders of the Apples and their kin to tend the fields.

 

The spring was finally here. Thanks to Twilight being in charge of the planning for the committee Winter Wrap-up went by faster letting them sow seeds sooner. Though it meant starting work earlier, something Mac was at odds at. He liked keeping busy and maintaining the barn was a regular chore, upkeep with the fields seasonal, but it was a full time jo and Mac here liked taking naps on occasion. His sister was more the workaholic where as he was responsible so stealing away for naps in a pile of hay wasn't much a surprise for his kin to spot.

 

Today was such a day. With lunch abiding the red apple a well deserved break he decided to just take a moment to collect himself. It was in that moment he was leaving the barn. Shaking out his boss the substantially built Apple would loose hay from his fur, catching a straw between his lips before he let out a snort. Reaching up he'd give a good brush of his honeysuckle colored mane to ensure any and all evidence of his leisure was dusted away.

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This is what Zelda really needed! After being cooped up for so long while feeling sorry for herself, the black griffon had finally accepted a project! And since it was her first in a good month, she decided to go with something simple and rather boring. Barn guts! She spent days forging the best galvanized nails made with the finest of griffin steel. Along with the nails she made basically what she referred to as an 'barn pack'. Steel beams made to exact specification along with other forged, practical building materiel. He father would be so proud! After meeting a team of ponies at the train station, the blacksmith helped transport her handy-work to waiting wagon. From there, they would head off to Sweet Apple Acres and delivery her supplies to the Apple family.
 
Being the professional sort, she was clad in her usual work overalls which were topped with thick boots and gloves. She could never understand ponies that would do this sort of heavy work in the buff. The ride was short, but it gave her time to ponder things...Odd things. Her dreams. She had one that involved Princess Luna and Discord and considering how clean it was, she could only assume it was really them.  The Princess of the moon was trying to help her, but Discord got in the way! What a Farshtunkener!
 
As the the farm appeared into the distance, the griffon wondered who was going to be at the farm. Would the entire Apple clan be there? She hoped to see Applejack's new baby. It completely blew the bird's mind after she found out the farmer was several months pregnant while using the earth pony as a model for one of her statues. That gal was in top shape! Perfect for what she needed. And there was always her hunky big brother Big McIntosh! Hubba hubba!
 
At the entrance of the farm was an area specially marked for deliveries, where the wagon ponies stopped and began the process of unloading the proud griffin's metalwork. "Ring Ring.", Zelda rang a nearby bell and waited to see who would meet her.
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Mac didn't like spending on new things when old stuff worked just fine, but that meant going through a lot of nails repairing old walls and screws to rotate wobbly wheels. But the barn, despite how much he repaired it, saw the most peril with his strength. Much of the farm's equipment was stored in the main barn, safe from the weather. It was also a nifty place to nap between jobs. The nails he used to raise the barn just would no longer do the job so he had to spend a little extra to get some stronger tools for the job.

 

Mac was just getting out of the barn as Zelda was clearing the way. He raised a hoof to fleck off the last bits of straw from his secret, but well deserved break. It wouldn't do good if he didn't look like a hard working stallion! He looked around before spotting where he had left his cart. Around his neck was that hefty work collar he was often seen with. Shuffling towards it he moved to prepare to holster himself up to it until he heard the bell in the main house.

 

He blinked and shook his head. “Oh!” A delivery at this hour, how queer.  “Wait a minute…” Was it perhaps the nails he had ordered?!

 

Rearing up he took off trotting toward the delivery side. You'd often see carts lined up there getting stopped with apple barrels or casks of cider! The mail pony didn't have to walk to the main house as the post was close to the farm’s entrance. Zelda was pretty lucky that today's hoof traffic was light. With spring here most of the Apples were busy planting the new stock for summer and fall harvests. The big, red Apple made his way to the fence. He reached his head up to grab a hanging rope and gave it a tug with his muzzle.

 

The gate opened wide. “Uh, howdy. Can ah help you?” Mac called to the Griffon, hopeful she had his nails!

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Zelda could not help but give off a beaky grin. This almost felt like the start of a few movies she had seen recently. Oh no! Her customer forgot about the order and doesn’t have enough bits! If there was another way to pay! The griffon’s mind had shifted so far into the gutter she was pulling out mutant zombie ponies! Mind on the job!
 
“Hello Mister Mac!”, she pulled out a small scroll from her pocket that was marked WORK ORDER. “I'm Zelda and I’ve brought along the nails you have ordered.”, she lifted up an wooden box. “These are griffin steel galvanized barn nails. Best in the business." she handed over the form for the stallion to sign. "And as per the order, I'm also offering up my services to help you with your project as part of my 'Total Package Guarantee'. so if you need a hand.", she wiggled her free claw, "Just say so and I'll be more than happy to do you..", she quickly added, "A favor." Ho-Boy! Almost had an old 'slip of the beak' there.  And this was a slight fib. She did not need to do anything extra. She just needed to drop off the nails, take the bits and move on, but her schedule was clear today. She had friends in Ponyville, but they were working! At least Fire Walker was....Poor gal left her comfortable job in Fillydelphia training young grunts to work with Princess Twilight! She even gained new armor that the griffon did not craft herself! That was -slightly- annoying. But it looked good.
 
"And I've also brought along a 'Barn Pack', which is mostly forged metal items one would use while working on farm buildings. I always bring it along for my rural jobs. You'd be surprised what ponies forget they need." But the Apples were real pros.  She patiently waited for the farmer to take her invoice.
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The affluent Apple, who only spoke what was necessary, often found himself at a loss of words for his own actions. The nails in question wouldn’t really be necessary could he control his own strength. Of course what made that difficult was because strength was all part of his job. Pulling, plowing, bucking, building why he was surprised his parents hadn’t named him Buff Apple! That aside the big, red farmer sighed as he nearly tore the fence off its hinges as he pulled it open to politely welcome the dark Griffon in. He wasn’t sure why she was there until  she popped out a roll of papers. His red ears perked, jostling his honeysuckle bangs. He parted his jaw to speak, but only was able to grunt out an: “Oh.”

 

“O-oh!” He came further into his realization.

 

He stepped to the side, allowing the Griffon to pass him. Just in time, he was growing pretty sour at how nothing around here ever seemed to stay fixed! Sure small repairs were a thing to expect when you ran a farm. Equipment needed care just as much as the ponies working the fields. He was tickled pink, well redder? … didn’t matter. He moved to st as she seemed to continue on with her explanation, the dutiful Apple listening closely. It seemed she put a lot of work into her goods, which did put a bit of Mac’s mind at ease. Barn pack? That sounded dandy. He stood once more and moved to take up the invoice with his muzzle, before turning his head toward the dilapidated barn.

 

“Well uh, if’n you can see…” The paper flapped about in the stallion’s muzzle as he spoke.

 

It was quite a mess in deed. The wood was worn, some was splintered as if it had suffered a stampede, which almost never happened at the Apple’s farm!  Her help with this extra care package could certainly do the farm some good. The barn could really use some help and Mac gladly lead her towards the disastrous attempt at repair.  

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As the impressive pony started to ponder the griffon's offer, Zelda took a moment to get a good look at her surroundings. Boy, there were sure a lot of farmland here, but only two real full-time employees? She could not figure out how they managed to cover so much ground with such a low amount of workers. Add that to taking care of a foal and an school-aged filly. Applejack also had her class to teach in the new private school they made, and there was also random days where they had to save the world. The black bird was usually impressed with herself when she managed to wake up earlier than 11 AM.
 
The Apples were a little behind when it came to their barns as from what she could tell were still mostly wood and not even white oak, which was decay resistant and very solid. Most modern farmers built their barns using steel along with layered Stubbornite or even Obstinatanium  as a frame. Still, she needed to be polite as the Apples were a family that stuck to traditions. And maybe residents of Ponyville preferred the more attractive wood buildings that bookended part of their village as opposed to more industrial looking steel buildings that were better situated in cities like in Rockwington.
 
"I have a feeling you want to keep building your barns the old fashioned way.", Zelda ran a clawed hand over the wood, "There's no problem in that, but what you need to enforce he wooden beams with some of my steel side plates.", she made her way over to the gear that had been left behind. "We can place these inside the barn so you keep the pretty aesthetic of an country barn and the steel will take up the slack the poor wood was handling by itself....And thus getting damaged easily. We could replace whatever wood that needs to be taken care of, but you won't have to replace everything."
 
With that, the big bird started to work....
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There always seemed a misconception that the Apple farm was run by Granny and her three grandfoals. It was expected and with how hardworking pair Applejack and Big Mac were it was simply impossible! There was a reason why the fsmy was so big! Orchards sometimes were shared with members visiting or friends willing to help. While an older Big Mac welcomed it in his youth the apple bucking was an affair reserved for more immediate members of the Apple Acre Farms clan. This, of course, included his mom and pop… No long the years did it seem they had the farm all to themselves. He was glad AJ has matured in a way he didn't and made friends. He was glad to see her honestly and her words had found her peace in solidarity as opposed to his calamity in solitude.

 

Ponyville was traditional. The closest source of wood was in the Everfree Forest and it was not a sort of place you cared to frequent and Whitetail Woods was protected so there wasn't much they could take without the Forest King's permission. With the Town surrounded by the woods and mountains it had many resources, but its old fashioned ways it was often on the cusp of falling apart under modern pressures. Thanks to the planning and organizational skills of a certain Princess of Friendship they had progressed exponentially without sacrificing their homely ways.

 

Mac was a stickler for tradition, but even he could see the old wood they used just wasn't enough for strength like his. “Well…” he lowered his head, straw colored man falling bashfully over his face. “Tradition.” He'd regard.

 

Turning his emerald eyes to her he parted his jaws. She was really a go getter wasn't she? Mac wouldn't be opposed to reinforcement as his hooves did a right job of tearing down the door from its hinges near every chance! Course it didn't help he was hooves tall and had the sun given strength of an Earth pony. Top onto that his lifetime of work on the farm and he could practically stand hoof to hoof with the Princess’ raw power! Well pretty darn close. That hoof wrassling contest he once has with Luna was with him a night distracted looking for nails!

 

“Well, hey now!” He hopped on to and lent the bird a hoof. He was a tough fella and even without the flexible claws of a Griffon he still sure as hay had the power! “Where should ah…?” He looked to her tools. Should they head in the barn?

 

Though it was a bit embarrassing seeing as they mostly stored farm equipment in there and some old barrels. He snuck in there on occasion for naps, but more the problem, that not even Mad was aware of -- were the hungry like bugs that had been having at his wood on particularly wet spring months.

 

DUN DUN DUN

 

T e r m I t e s.

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The griffon gave off her usual beaky grin as the large earth pony pondered her suggestions. From what she had heard about the Apple family, she could not help but realize how similar her own family was.
 
They both lived in the same town for generations, and worked with family. Zelda had her smithy in Rockwington that was run by her parents and siblings. She later learned how it felt to lose an parent at a early age. And they created what was needed by pretty much everyone. Except this foolish bird flew the coop and wanted to do something more. Which included being a bit of an the artsy fartsy and even dating ponies! Oddly enough, this had not bothered her parents one bit. They wanted her follow her dreams.
 
"Oh, I know traditions alright as I'm from Rockwington and there isn't a single thing they do out there that's not bound by some ancient code..From how you greet a neighbor to wiping your behind....We tried our best not to end up like the poor souls in Griffonstone and while it's no Canterlot, we do alright over there.", she added.
 
After getting his approval, the handy-griffon grabbed her tools and followed the hunky-horse into  the barn. There were a few things that bothered her. There were nasty little trails of shmutz on the lower portions of the wooden walls. From what she remembered from her father, these were tunnels termites created to move food back to their colony! Near this were wood with empty openings in the side. Even worse were droppings! Nasty nasty droppings! Zelda knocked on the wood, and she could hear it...Hollow..
 
She turned to Big Mac, "This is not good...", she shook her head, "I wouldn't be much help here....When the old tool storage shed was infested, we just tore the sucker down and cleaned the area with Nematodes...Do you know anyone who can fix this?", as she spoke, the bird stepped on an old wooden vent, which was also infested...This quickly started to crack...
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He was never the sorts to tidy up the barn in a way that made it too obnoxious. Sure Applejack has her ways ah organizing. She was right good and putting everything in its place and finding a place for everything! But come to his more haphazard ways of sorting it seemed he plum missed the signs that could have smacked him in the face had they hung any lower. His ears folded back as he followed the bird’s sharp beak. Sawdust bad been scattered about with their activities and it was no wonder the darn thing fought to stay up! It wasn't his strength that tore it doesn't regularly, but a shoddy foundation.

 

While glad he wasn't some sort of barbarian outside of O and O, he was sort of distressed he wasn't as tough as he felt… But there wasn't much time to worry about it.

 

“Nope!” He assured himself, despite his self deprecating, he had to keep a stiff upper lip. “Ah can!” He turned to Zelda and took a step forward.

 

He stood looking at her with a proud puff of his chest, standing on the bending grate. So far it managed to hold them both with little issue. The stallion was pretty crafty! But loving on a farm you quickly learn that botany isn't the only tradecraft you will have to handle if you're expecting a healthy orchard! Mac motioned his head as he turned heel, wanting Zelda to follow hoof! But it wasn't until Mac raised his forehoof did the vent snap beneath the combined weight as the darkness of the cellar swallowed them both.

 

Most farmhouses had cellars. It wasn't all that queer, unless you can't the cases of apple cider as among the marks. Shelves were stocked with preserves left and used in lean times during the winter months. Cobwebs in those harder to reach places and the mother of all termite mounds in the center of the cellar. Okay so they haven't been down here in a few months…

 

That mound was bigger than him.as e moved close to inspect it. “Uh, what in tarnation?” Of course the moment Mac tried questioning fate did it strike back.

 

A swarm of the wee insects closed in on Mac's hooved, nibbling away. If Zelda wasn't careful her talons would be next!

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The fall was too short for the griffon to need to use her wings, and like all cats, she was able to land on her feet.
 
This was one of those times she was glad she wore clothes on the job as she had managed to get slapped in the backside by more than a few pieces of bad, termite infested wood as they fell. Her thick work-gear protected her from nearly all splinters.
 
After letting her eyes get adjusted to the darkness, the big bird let out a gasp. "You've got to be kidding!" The apples had all this wood and they never bothered to have an exterminator check out everything yearly?
 
"Stay away!", she was able to beat back the small swarm of flying pests with the wind produced by her wings, before they could get too close to the big stallion's hooves. Why would they attack him? Were they wooden? Is that even a thing? Was Big Mac a pirate?
 
Zelda glanced around to see if there was anyway they could get out of this mess. "We need to get the heck out of here!", she snapped at a small grouping of the nasty critters with her beak. Mostly to scare them away as they would probably give her one heck of a case of heartburn if she ate them.
 
"And then find somepony who could help us...."
 
An gaggle of unicorns who could zap 'em with their magic!?
 
Did they have proper exterminators in Ponyville?
 
Would this be a big enough problem to call the Twilight Guard? There were a couple of guys on her squad that were masters of fire, but would that be such a good idea with all this dry wood!?
 
 
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Sure it was a bit messy and a few termites did seem to be ruining things but Mac wasn't the sort to be chased out his own cellar. He was an Apple and by hayseed he weren't some coward who'd run off come a crisis! The stallion furrowed his brows, assured that he had what it took to handle this mess. Looking around he would spot a few old bottles, cleaned and like to be used for jam come the next apple picking season. Well that was an idea, if any! All they had to do was capture their leader, right? The hefty red stallion leaped into action! He was pretty heroic on his own, what without the Elements of Harmony or any sort a magic! he was great the way he was and sometimes being friends with chaos gods, dragons and princesses of magic it was plum hard to remember that he was tough too! 

 

"Dig!" The Apple commanded as he pointed a hoof to the floor while lifting up his empty jar. "It ain't no changeling, but reckon it'd work the same!" Remove a queen from power and your little colony had no reason to stay. the queen was down there somewhere among the sawdust and old, dilapidated barrels of wood! 

 

He would lend a hood and start abouts smashing any old and splintered bit of wood, barrel or crate, that laid about in disuse! His muscular legs were fit for such a task as they spent a lifetime apple bucking. His muscles were trained and, despite his natural Earth pony power, the big fellow stood on top of most with his sheer skill at wielding it. He could topple a barn, but he was gentle enough to bake a pie, and that controlled showed underneath that red fur!

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This was horrible! The blacksmith had been to some nasty places before! She had to use a public restroom in Rockwington during the festival season! She once spent two WHOLE days in a horrible little hotel in Griffonstone. It USED to be call the Hotel Hello, until the 'o' fell off. This name fit the terrible little rat-trap even more so. Everything was so dirty, and the staff spent most of the time holding their claws out for tips than actually doing their job! Here's a tip! Burn the place down! Now she was in an cellar infested with nasty little insects that normally just gobble up wood, but for some reason, they looked like they might believe Big Mac and she were made of tree. How odd.
 
She really wanted to get the heck out of the hole they found themselves in, but the large stallion refused to budge! It was his home and he was not going to let them scare him away! And now he wanted her to dig? She had her gloves on. These had openings at the ends so her claws could stick, but she at least had some covering and protection over the softer parts of her hands. She could dig, even if she did not want to touch all the nasty, soggy dirt and rotted wood! It was just like the hotel in Griffonstone. How in the world do you leave a shower dirtier than when you entered it! It's just madness!
 
"Right.", she growled as she started to dig with her hands. "The queen should be bigger..", she could not help but grin a little as she pictured a large termite wearing a little gold crown. Maybe even holding a little scepter with her nasty, wormy-body. Ugh! Still, these silly thoughts kept her mind from the realization that she was getting her claws dirty with nasty bug dirt! Along with keeping her from staring at the impressive pony as he smashed stuff!

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