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[Manehatten] Apples & Oranges (Closed: SteelEagle) *CONCLUDED*


Bellosh
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“Watch where you’re going, rube!” As always, the Upper Crust district of Manehatten and its inhabitants weren’t particularly inviting towards Babs Seed. A life-long (thus far) resident of the working-class East Side neighborhood, Babs felt a little out of place trotting past the expensive townhouses of Upper Crust and the fancily-dressed ponies who strolled by on the sidewalks. As the filly learned long ago though, the Manehatten elite didn’t mind her presence just as long as she didn’t accidentally get in their way. Babs had to admit however that if there was one good thing about the snobbish attitudes here, she wouldn’t have to maintain effort to avoid the sorts of annoying rabble-rousers that menaced East Side.

Normally Babs Seed had no reason to wander through Upper Crust, seeing that the family business had rarely taken her and Big Sis through this part of Manehatten. Yet on this day, Babs had a very special reason to drop by the den of the town’s upper class. The young earth pony had returned from the quaint town of Ponyville a couple days ago, having earned the companionship of cousin Apple Bloom and her Cutie Mark Crusader pals, after some initial… unpleasantness. When she bid farewell to her new Ponyville friends, Babs promised to establish a Cutie Mark Crusader branch right here in Manehatten, and the filly already had a good candidate for her first recruit.

Being a member of the humongous Apple family meant that Babs Seed had more cousins than she could ever possibly imagine, and that said cousins could be found in the most unexpected of places… even within the Orange family. That is to say, the pony in question was Valen Orange, the young son of orange tycoons Navel Orange and Cara Cara. Just like Babs, Valen was not only a blank flank himself, but he had spent time staying at Sweet Apple Acres. From what little Miss Seed had heard from his older Ponyville cousins, Valen didn’t have a particularly enjoyable time working at the apple orchard.

Babs actually wasn’t surprised learning of Valen’s farm-misfortunes; from what time she had spent with her Manehatten cousin, she understood the colt to be rather… challenged when it came to performing laborious tasks. For the most part in the past, Miss Seed had barely related to the extraordinarily-pampered Valen at all. It didn’t help that each time Babs visited her cousin, Aunt Cara inevitably attempted to teach the East Side filly how to live the “sophisticated life”, something that always bothered the heck out of Babs. Yet today, Babs Seed felt encouraged to give her well-off cousin a second chance to be more than mere distant relatives; if Apple Bloom and pals willingly gave Babs a second chance to be close friends, who was Babs to deny cousin Valen that same friendly courtesy?

No trouble befell Babs Seed (other than having to dodge one rather disgruntled stallion) as she easily found the posh townhouse containing the residence of the Orange family. Walking inside, the filly lingered outside an orange-marked door for a few moments to build up her determination. When she was ready, Babs confidently knocked on the Orange’s door and waited to see who’d answer.....

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Valen Orange was a colt accustomed to the fine life in the Upper Crust neighborhood with similarly attuned friends and family. It wasn't that he had a special affinity for it, mind you, but you had in life what was hoofed over to you or what you could scrounge from your surroundings when your parents had better things to attend to, such as the party that was being held for the benefit of business. It was pleasant enough. He had everything he needed with nary a demand to be had, from food and a superbly gifted dietitian who regulated it to a fine education and even a personal tutor or three. He wanted a toy? The question was never cost, purely availability. And even that could be bought with a certain flow of bits. A nice dress? His parents may object but it was his desire and with a certain degree of discretion he could send a stream of bits flowing to any designer who matched his tastes. Money didn't buy happiness, but it could buy tickets to a play and you couldn't try but be happy at one of those.

What money couldn't buy was a cutie mark, despite a few charletons who said otherwise. Those were bits he wouldn't see again, allowances squandered for naught. Not that it had mattered, really. He was a blank flank, but unlike other blank flanks, Valen had no great shame attached to his 'condition'. He'd get his some day and it would be glorious, just like he was. Until then he was content with boundless possibility and a life of excitement. Besides, the true test of maturity was the acceptance of responsibility and being deserving of it. And here on this night that had just happened! He had been left to his own devices in a locked house with the full authority of his parents. He could think of few better things to do than go through his wardrobe if the house was to be dead to the world.

He had just entered his room and began the eternal debate of which double pair of shoes to try on- and he had plenty that fit, from Roam to Dodge Junction- when he heard a knock at the door.

[colour=#0033cc]"Celestia's everflowing mane, who could this be?"[/colour] He asked with an air of annoyance, huffing as he trotted down the spiral staircase. He didn't mind visitors. He minded being torn away from the toys of a fashion-minded foal. Finally and with some urgency, the door flew open and he spotted a rather interesting filly.

He knew her. Sort of. Kind of. She was his cousin, Babs Seed, and lived on the east side. That was the short of his knowledge of her. The long was that from some sketchy correspondence with his cousin Apple Bloom, it appeared as though there had been some manner of kerfuffle at Sweet Apple Acres, but Apple Bloom hadn't said mch else, ending that it was under the authority of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. He could only guess that it involved a fire. Or a flood. He associated the Crusaders with danger, disaster, and great financial strain.

[colour=#0033cc]"Well, this is quite the surprise. I'm not supposed to let anypony inside, but I suppose they would allow for family. Come in!" [/colour]He offered, waving her inside as he left the door open, trotting further in.

[colour=#0033cc]"Do you want anything to drink? What brings you here? I don't think I've seen you in...well, maybe...no, okay, it's been quite a long time."[/colour]

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Babs Seed politely smiled at Valen Orange as he let her inside, fortunate that she wouldn’t have to deal with Aunt Cara right this moment. [colour=#daa520]“I dink I’ll just have some awange juice. Ah; I’d like it hoof-squeezed if yaw don’t mind.”[/colour] Orange juice was always a safe bet in the Orange family household, plus the mischievous Babs assumed it wouldn’t hurt to test Valen’s hosting skills. Surely making a glass of juice would be infinitely easier than any of the tasks his cousin had to do back at Sweet Apple Acres?

Speaking of Sweet Apple Acres; [colour=#daa520]“Anyway, I just wanted to drop by and let yaw know that I just got back from Pawnyville. I gawt to meet Apple Bloom and all her swell pals!”[/colour] Not yet sure how receptive Valen would be towards joining the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Babs chose to buy time with small talk.[colour=#daa520] “Heh… yeah, it’s been a while since we last met,”[/colour] the filly bemusedly remarked; [colour=#daa520]“So, yaw’ve been havin' fun lately, Valen?”[/colour]

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There was a whole world of accents for the audibly enthused to take in when one visited Manehattan, and in the Orange household today there were two on display. Valen knew his was a proper accent though not hoity toity or fancy, but he spoke properly and in his case proudly. Babs was from a working class family in a working class neighborhood and her accent was thick and aggressive. But quickly other differences could be noted, like her strange request that he hoofmake her some orange juice. Sweet Celestia why? They had ready to drink, high quality orange juice. Why would she wants some pulpy, mashed mess instead? His hooves weren't suited for it, either. In fact, in preparation for his planned activities, Valen had made an effort to give himself a gentle hooficure.

But he would have been a terrible host and if the Apples had shown him one thing above all others, it was that he had to be a good host, especially to family. Darn them and their country morals rubbing off on him in an uncomfortable manner. Valen sighed, but continued his trot towards the kitchen.

[colour=#0033cc]"That is not going to be a simple thing, Babs, but I suppose I can comply,"[/colour] He finished, opening up the magic-cold storage and retrieving several naval oranges. He then placed them on the counter and start rubbing them with only teh tiniest amount of force, rolling them in his hooves as he softened them up, remembering to grab two glasses beforehand.

[colour=#0033cc]"How was your trip?" [/colour]Valen asked, taken aback a slight bit by her events. It made more sense why she was now here to talk with him; both of them were city ponies sent out to the country and if she had a third of the experience he did, she was here both to impart some hard-earned wisdom and needed someone to join her in therapy. Valen grabbed a knife and chopped each orange in half.

[colour=#0033cc]"How are the Apples? Fine, I assume? They had quite the control over the situation when I was there. How are Apple Bloom's friends? The Crusaders, if I recall?"[/colour] he played a little too dumb. He knew two of them well; Apple Bloom was family and his relationship with Sweetie still confused him for a whole pyramid of reasons. Valen started to squeeze the oranges in between his hooves with the aid of a plain juicer.

[colour=#0033cc]"As for myself, I am fine. Tending to, you know, stuff and things. School. Dances. Airship crashes. Not as exciting as Ponyville, though," [/colour]Valen finished speaking as he finished juicing, pouring two glasses of orange juice and then trotting over to the sink. He needed to wash his hooves. The juicer too, but Celestia above he could feel the pulp on his hooves.

[colour=#0033cc]"Four years, if my memory serves me well,"[/colour] He finished and rubbed his hooves on a nearby towel. Another hooficure would be required, [colour=#0033cc]"four years since we last spoke! I guess your experience at Sweet Apple Acres must have been quite the doozy if it drove you here!"[/colour]

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And so the fun began, Babs Seed deviously thought. She didn’t intend to be mean-spirited making Valen Orange hoof-squeeze his own orange juice; it was just something she and her cousin could have a silly laugh over in case Valen experienced one of his infamous blunders. Apparently though, Lady Luck smiled upon Valen for once as he prepared the juice with relative ease.

[colour=#daa520]“My trip went uhhh... alright,”[/colour] Babs evasively answered, not desiring to elaborate on how she actually made life a living Tartarus for Apple Bloom and her friends for most of her visit. Miss Seed didn’t really want to give Valen a wrong impression of her, thinking it could dissuade him from joining the Manehatten Crusaders.

For the time being, Babs indulged Valen’s curiosity as best she could; [colour=#daa520]“Oh, evawythin’s fine with the Apples back in Pawnyville. Business is goin’ smoothly for them as usual. As for da’ Crusaders... yaw’ should’ve seen da float they built for da Summa Hawwvest Festival. It was a giant apple painted all in gold! Heh, it was easily da best one dere.”[/colour] Too bad Babs ended up thrashing it in the end; even though it was technically the Crusaders’ fault that crash happened, the filly still felt awful for being the one to provoke them into making that booby trapped-float in the first place.

Babs raised an ear as Valen mentioned that airship crash from a while back; everyone in her family knew that her cousin got caught up in the whole mess. However, Miss Seed couldn’t believe that Valen could act so nonchalantly about it; [colour=#daa520]“Whatcha’ mean by “not as excitin’”? Yaw’ could’ve gotten hurt in dat crash! It was good to hea’ dough dat you made it outta’ dere okay”[/colour].

It was still hard for Babs to believe that it had been so long since she last meant Valen. Picking up the orange juice glass with her hoof and taking a sip from it, the filly had to commend him for his juice-making skills; [colour=#daa520]“Yaw’ know, dis ain’t half-bad at all. Good job, Valen!”[/colour] The colt made a lucky half-guess that Babs had a doozy of a time in Ponyville, but she had a far better reason to be here today.

Imitating the slick persona her Big Sis took on whenever she’d interact with a potential customer, Babs Seed put forth a dashing grin as she set aside her drink and wrapped a foreleg around Valen. [colour=#daa520]“Actually, I came hea’ to offa’ you a proposition, if you get what I’m sayin’. You see, I had a lil’ chat with Apple Bloom before I left, and well... how would yaw’ like to be,”[/colour] Babs's face pressed close to Valen's as her grin grew massively; [colour=#daa520]“A Manhatten Cutie Mark Crusader?”[/colour]

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It was hard to suppress a smile as Babs talked about her Ponyville excursion. It seemed to have gone a lot better than his, which had been full of all manner of drama. On the farm he had to deal with violent chickens and the sort of work load that would drive anypony mad unless you had some strand of Apple DNA floating around that somewhat inured you to the stresses of the job. But even that couldn't help you when you were being eaten by a giant worm or chased by Diamond Dogs and generally falling around very dangerous things outside of town. A simple gem hunting expedition with Rarity, an amazing designer who had done wonders for the colt's comfort while in Ponyville, turned into a harrowing experience when they had been involved in an unlucky cave in. They had run into Diamond Dogs who had in turn been running from a giant worm. One digestion later, Valen swore to never visit a mountain again.

It also didn't surprise him in the least that the Crusaders had done so well with their float. They were a very creative and oddly talented group of fillies and when their minds started helping them instead of leading them on wild goose chases they were capable of anything, even making the best float in the town's parade. It didn't come as a surprise, though he had to wonder why Apple Bloom hadn't written to him about it. Oh well; mysteries were for solving and just like any decent mystery there was bound to be at least one twist to discover.

He smiled as she seemed somewhat taken aback by his nonchalant view on the airship crash. He looked at it this way; He'd get worried about being attacked by chickens because he could try to put a stop to that, but an airship crash was well outside his ability to control. No reason to worry about those things that were beyond you and your simple wishes; what happened would happen.

[colour=#0033cc]"I knew I'd be okay. Ce qui sera soyez,"[/colour] He finished his orange juice before realizing that maybe, just maybe, his working class cousin didn't speak Fancy, [colour=#0033cc]"what will be, will be. Thanks for your concern, though."[/colour]

He went to get up but was stopped by his cousin, who had sidled up to her him and pitched him an idea, an offer. He considered it- to be a Crusader had seemed like a lot of fun in Ponyville, but was it really? He easily could have been misled for his confusion over Sweetie Belle and his earnest desire to leave a good impression on Apple Bloom. Plus, there was another thing.

[colour=#0033cc]"Well, I do appreciate the offer,"[/colour] he said honestly, squirming away and heading to the sink to clean off his glass, [colour=#0033cc]"but I'm not so sure. I mean, I'm not that worried about getting my cutie mark!"[/colour] He said with a laugh, subconsciously aware now of the blank spot on his flank.

[colour=#0033cc]"But..."[/colour]

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Babs Seed expected that Valen Orange would show some hesitation in accepting her offer. In her cousin’s defense, she too had her initial doubts about the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Babs remembered how she thought at first that Apple Bloom and her friends seemed a bit hokey with their choice of activities, most especially their three-pony roll call and their brainstorming huddles. To be truthful Miss Seed still thought that many aspects of Ponyville Crusader life was odd, but she had to admire how the Cutie Mark Crusaders did wonders in bringing Abby, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo together.

The goldenrod filly thus hoped that Valen could see pass any of his misconceptions about being a Crusader. Aside from fulfilling her promise to Apple Bloom, Babs desired deep down to have a close group of confidantes whom she could freely share her quest for a Cutie Mark with. Hopefully, Valen also sought the same thing as the East Side filly did.

Before her cousin could finish stating his objections, a still-confident Babs interrupted; [colour=#daa520]“Yaw’ sure about ‘dat? Has anypony been givin’ yaw’ prawblems lately about you bein’ a blank-flank? Do you have anyone yaw’ know of who wants to help you find your cutie mark?”[/colour] Closing in on Valen as he cleaned his glass, Babs enthusiastically continued her pitch; [colour=#daa520]“I just think ‘dat if we work togethah’, maybe we’ll both find our special talents. So... what d’ya say, cousin?”[/colour]

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She was awfully insistent, but her line of thought didn't help her case any. It made sense, of course. Many colts and fillies their age who were blank flanks had to put up with a lot of trouble. He had a few detractors himself, but the percentage was probably far lower than what poor Babs had to deal with. That had less to do with individual morals or attitudes and had leagues more to do with opportunity. Where he went to school, even the least successfil child had a parent who owned a successful business. Everypony had access to the best teachers, tutors, and trainers bits could buy and Valen knew for a fact that could count for a lot. Getting your cutie mark was still an important step up in your life, but it lacked to some degree the fevered qualities granted by others. You would get it one day and when you did, you would have a foalhood of education at your hooves and a lifetime of riches ahead.

But that had a side effect. Because so much was provided and certain few entertained the possibility of risk. The number of blank flanks that attended his school were far higher than other schools. In fact, the first filly in his class to get a cutie mark had been teased because she had one first! A bit silly, but he chalked it up to jealousy. In any case, for an unfortunate few Blank Flanks, this continued on past primary school. He had yet to see an adult blank flank, but a few horror stories of the late bloomers were passed around community center lock-ins(the closest he had ever gotten to a proper camping trip before Ponyville) as readily as classics such as the headless horse, and with a great deal more anxiety thrown in. Valen wasn't in a hurry to get his cutie mark nor was he being teased, but he would rather not be a near-stallion blank flank.

The colt sighed.

[colour=#0033cc]"You're awfully persistent," [/colour]He finished his glasses, looking at her with a sideways glance as he trotted into the living room.

[colour=#0033cc]"I do not have any bullies who go after me about being a blank flank. Believe me, there are a hundred richer avenues they can take and have taken. I'm also in no hurry. However,"[/colour] he said, jumping and landing on a chair before stretching out,[colour=#0033cc] "I'll join, mostly to make sure this doesn't get too crazy," [/colour]He shot Babs a hard stare.

[colour=#0033cc]"This isn't Ponyville. It's Manehattan. A lot of things can go wrong, so what're you thinking of doing?"[/colour]

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Trailing Valen Orange into the spacious living room, Babs Seed subtly grimaced at her cousin’s mention of bullying. Babs thought the colt should consider himself lucky for not having to deal with any of the crud she had to go through these last few months. Crud not limited to trying to avoid bullies, but also applying for any sort of afterschool job that a foal could be employed in. It wasn’t until her trip to Ponyville and being accepted by cousin Apple Bloom that Babs finally felt she was a step closer to getting a cutie mark.

And now that Valen signaled his openness to the idea of becoming a Cutie Mark Crusader, Miss Seed welcomed the possibility that she won’t have to make her journey alone. Of course, the pampered colt still showed some reservations about what activities the club would be doing. As he aptly pointed out, Manehatten was not Ponyville; many of the escapades the Ponyville Crusaders got themselves into couldn’t be done in the big city for a wide variety of reasons. Plus, Babs herself had a somewhat different vision of how the group would conduct business.

Walking up in front of her cousin’s face, Babs Seed did her best to confidently address Valen’s concerns; [colour=#daa520]“Yaw’re right... we ain’t in Pawnyville anymore, Valen. I figure ‘dat for now, we simply gatha’ up otha' kids who’ve been teased ova’ ‘dere blank flanks and we recruit them into aw’ club. We stick togethah’ and do the fun things we normally do without causin' any trouble, but we also help each otha’ find aw’ cutie marks... if yaw’ know what I mean.”[/colour] Truthfully, Babs did not have much of a plan for the Manehatten Crusaders other than a vague concept of blank flanks hanging out and generally sticking out for one another. The filly hoped therefore that Valen wouldn’t press for further details beyond what little she conceptualized so far.....

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There were a great many fillies and colts in Manehattan, which shouldn't have been as shocking as it was for some. Maybe Manehattan ponies kept the little ones corralled effectively, or the small ones roved the city in small packs that went unnoticed by any save other small packs and the objects of their foalish desires. More likely though it had more to do with there being so much to do in Manehattan that you didn't have as much free time and space in your noggin, unlike the country where after about five minutes you had to blow something up just to stop the soul-searing boredom from wiping you into the ground. Manehattan; what a town! It kept the foals from running rampant, which to an extent was to blame for the sale of blank flanks one could find. You had to go outside your normal routine to discover it, and when you didn't have that routine to begin with and your life was a bit too exciting, you could be lost. Maybe this could be the real success of the Manehattan branch of the Cutie Mark Crusaders: Give them consistency and a symbol and allow that to be the springboard for their success.

Valen finished doing what he was doing, taking in his cousin's words. She was a good pitchmare in spirit if not in her message. He nodded along.

[colour=#0033cc]"Well, it sounds like a nice club, but we need to solve three little problems. First off, we need to really define this. There are lots of blank flanks in this city and many little cliques they belong to. Why do they want to join us when they could join any other group? That leads me to the second problem. How are we gonna handle this? Getting around a small town like Ponyville is one thing, but getting from one end of the city to the other could take hours. We won't be able to have many post-school 'Crusades' if we have members from across town- like me," [/colour]Valen gave a small laugh before his eyes flashed open, a wide smile spreading across his face, [colour=#0033cc]"and speaking of me, do we get to have capes like the Ponyville trio?"[/colour]

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And now Valen just had to bring Babs Seed’s pie-in-the-sky conceptualization back down to earth. Outwardly, the filly simply smiled and nodded as her cousin pressed her on various. Meanwhile, her brain scrambled to find answers to Valen’s inquiries about what would make the Manehatten Cutie Mark Crusaders stand out from any other club. Babs did not think that Valen would be too big on the Ponyville CMC’s routine of immediately trying the first hair-brained activity to come to mind only to immediately give up on it after not getting their cutie marks instantaneously. Unfortunately, Miss Seed had no alternate raison d'être for the Manehatten CMC’s existence other than what she already mentioned.

Valen Orange has also brought up a very good point about the inconvenience of travelling through the big city. Babs of all fillies knew just how much of an annoyance trotting the streets of Manehatten could be, even on a good day. For one thing, the only link between Upper Crust and East Side were a couple of heavily-clogged bridges across the Galloping River. That, and the fact that the two foals didn’t go to the same school meant a greatly-reduced ability to hang out with each other. How could the Manehatten Cutie Mark Crusaders last if they couldn’t even see each other?

To Babs Seed’s amazing luck however, Valen’s final issue was no longer a concern as of yesterday; [colour=#daa520]“Yaw’ kiddin’ me, Val? Apple Bloom sent me an entire crate of ‘dose capes; it just arrived yesterday at my place!”[/colour] The filly’s phony upside-down frown remained in place as she scratched her neck and lamely tried to answer her cousin’s other questions;[colour=#daa520] “As for ‘da other two questions, uhh... I don’t really have answers for yaw' right now... but I’ll think of somethin’. Just you watch, eh heh heh!”[/colour] Just let Valen watch indeed; Babs will show her cousin how she can come up with plans for the Cutie Mark Crusaders all by herself! At least, that's what she hoped.....

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Valen was a little impressed. If it had been him, he would have ran around with the cape on- he found the whole ensemble delightful, truth be told. The satin fabric was to die for and he thanked Celestia that Apple Bloom hadn't seen him sneak it on a few times. Form fitting and smooth to the touch, they were worth the price of admission themselves. Of course, the fact that she responded to that first and foremost told him that she had no answers to the more pressing issues without her needing to affirm that, which she did anyway a moment later. Manehattan was a huge city; a thousand problems for every single one that the Ponyville Crusaders had to deal with presented themselves. With no answers, the Manehattan branch was doomed almost before it began.

But just as often as there were problems, there were solutions to those problems. And while he loved his cousin, Valen didn't have the confidence in Babs that she could get it all done. And if she couldn't, then whatever momentary momentum made her so excited would be lost. She'd be sad, down, and in a city like that the sad and downtrodden were chewed up. If the Crusaders didn't mean much to Valen, and truth be told the whole idea didn't appeal to him much, he knew how much they meant to his cousin. If one thing had been drilled into his head at Sweet Apple Acres, it had been the idea of family sticking together. And once this reached a new pony, and then another, and kept on going on until it was a real branch, many more would depend on the ideals the Crusaders represented.

So, what would his decision be? Well, it had already been made for him.

[colour=#0033cc]"You won't be coming up with any solutions, cousin," [/colour]he said sharply, shaking his head and tussing his mane about.

[colour=#0033cc]"I'll be making them. I'll join, but I'm doing this more to help you and other blank flanks. I'll think up a transportation schedule, but you need to try and make sure that we don't have a lot of ponies in wildly different places. Look around your school. At worst, we can try to separate into several small sub-branches as part of the Manehattan Crusaders!"[/colour]

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Babs Seed was a bit taken aback when Valen Orange declared that he’d be making the solution, and not her. The filly was just about to crossly argue with her cousin when he specified he’d join the Cutie Mark Crusaders and help arrange group meetings. In all truthfulness, it rather hurt Babs’s pride needing her cousin’s help to set up her CMC branch. As she was the one entrusted by Apple Bloom to establish the Manehatten branch, Babs desperately wanted to write to her cuz detailing how she arranged everything and recruited all the foals she could.

Then again though, it was true that Miss Seed had never done anything of this sort before. It dawned on her that she’d have to suck it up and let others like Valen help her. It was either that, or disappoint Apple Bloom by letting the group flounder thanks to Babs’s ego. Ah well; maybe Valen knew a thing or two about managing stuff anyway, his parents being orange moguls and all. [colour=#daa520]“Sounds like yaw’ got a plan Val,”[/colour] affirmed a goldenrod filly, replacing an earlier scowl with a grin; [colour=#daa520]“You can find recruits at your school, I’ll find some at the new school my parents are enrollin’ me in, and maybe once or twice a month our groups can meet up with each otha’! Does ‘dat sound good with yaw, cuz?”[/colour]

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This was definitely a filly who wore her emotions on her sleeve with not a hint of discernment, but he couldn't blame her. He had an inkling that somepony may not have taken his sudden positioning well, especially somepony who was big on ideals and small on actual facts. But now that he was invested, she could be the emotional core while he provided the stability and planning to allow the emotional ones to not cause some rather extreme trouble. Hopefully together the Cutie Mark Crusaders would make a real impact on the fillies and colts in town and they wouldn't find out that they were in over their head and hurtling towards a cliff in a flaming cart of emotion and failure. It wouldn't be the first time, sans the cart being of emotions.

[colour=#0033cc]"Oh, I'm not sure I've got the plan now, but I'll come up with one. Well, several, not just one. Lots of problems to solve. I'll look for recruits from my school, though I wouldn't expect entirely too much. Most will be too busy getting designer hoofshoes,"[/colour] Speaking of, his plan for the day had been hammered but he had no intention of abandoning it, [colour=#0033cc]"or attending their parents' fancy parties, but I'm sure I can find somepony. Once or twice a month sounds good enough for the sort of ponies I can get, and for once in your school you already have more options, so that sounds like a fine idea," [/colour]He ruffled her mane, smiling.

[colour=#0033cc]"I think this is the start of something great."[/colour]

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It was not the most encouraging thing in the world to be reminded that Valen’s school was not exactly filled with foals clamoring for their cutie marks, but such minor discouragement wasn’t enough to distress Babs Seed. The filly was sure her cousin would find at least a couple of discontented students open to joining the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Of course, Babs believed she could find at least a couple recruits of her own when she started school again.

It surprised Babs Seed at first when cousin Valen went up to ruffle her mane; she always thought the orange colt as a more reserved pony when it came to expressing emotions. Nonetheless, Miss Seed returned the gesture by playfully encircling Valen’s cranium in a headlock and ruffling his mane even harder than he had with hers. Nopony ever got away with messing with Babs’s mane without retaliation! [colour=#daa520]“Yaw’re right, Val!” [/colour]squeed the grinning filly; [colour=#daa520]“We’re gonna’ have awesome times, we and our new friends!”[/colour]

Things were looking up for Babs Seed indeed.

*THE END*

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