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[TER] Scopin' out Appleoosa 2 : Of Businessmares and Apple trees


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Maximilian Rockefilly Jr stood in place, waiting for his expected company to join him. Their meeting place had been determined beforehoof. It was the spot where most ponies were treated to their first view of the orchards, on a small cliff that over looked the entire scene. It was impressive, to say the least, and the rising sun in the background highlighted the horizon and only served to increase the majesty of the moment. The unicorn idly scrapped his hoof on the ground, trying to pass the moments as he waited for somepony to show up.

Their meeting yesterday went well, but not without its share of scares and potential mishaps. Fortunately, Maximilian and Braeburn had been able to sort out their small differences, and now the only task left was to thoroughly impress their guest, a very important pony. Miss Snowfall certainly showed herself to be open to new ideas, seeing how she'd handled herself last night, but he was still unsure as to what her final opinion of the frontier town would end up being.

Max looked up, surveying the scene, and sighed deeply. This would either go very well, or it would crash and burn. His entire fortune rested on this, if Miss Snowfall or Miss Silverbeak pulled out, or if the project tanked, Max would have to do some very difficult things in order to keep himself from living on the streets. He was intent of making sure that didn't happen, it couldn't happen.

The sound of hooves approaching snapped him from his thoughts, and the experienced business stallion quickly put on his best smile and turned to face whoever it was.

"Glad you could make it..."

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Snowfall wore an even expression as she approached the meeting spot. She tried her best to hide her anxiety, but there was a lot of it. She hadn't liked how the previous night had ended. It was ugly, and her behavior, making a scene and sulking off to be alone, it was that of a foal. Perhaps those who doubted her were right in doing so. She doubted herself a lot of the time after all. She wasn't sure if she had soured whatever initial impression she had made on those ponies. She hoped not. When she got like this, she was always more conscious of judgmental stares.

She wasn't about to fall apart though. She'd try even harder to stand strong and make the best of everything. Perhaps she'd even enjoy herself. This was a little different after all. They were touring the town, not directly discussing business. She couldn't be her private self, but within the public sphere there was still a difference in how she handled herself socially and in business. Snowfall had room to be more fun and open, act a little casual. Perhaps that would make all the difference.

As she approached the spot, she could Rockerfilly standing there. Her heart felt somewhat heavy as she recalled how this pony had confronted Braeburn when she wasn't able to. She wondered what they might have discussed. She still wasn't sure what this pony thought of her. How far had he gone to protect her? What had he said? She hated relying on others to fight her fights. It was unprofessional and a sign of weakness. In a way she supposed she had forced it on him though; after all, his interests depended on her staying firm on her commitment to the railroad.

She sighed and then finished her approach. Rockerfilly turned at the sound of her hoofsteps. She smiled slightly at him. "Good morning, Rockerfilly," she said with a small nod.

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Soaring above Maximillian and Snowfall, out for her early morning flight was a brown Pegasus mare. She flew a few loop de loops and other fancy aerial stunts before coming to a landing in front of the two business ponies.

"Good Morning, Mr, Rockefilly! Good Morning Miss Snowfall!" Louise LaMare neighed. "I hope you both had a pleasant night's sleep!"

"HAY MISS LAMARE! WAIT UP!" a galloping Sheriff Silverstar shouted from a distance as he raced to where the two business ponies were standing. "Mornin' y'all! Hope I ain't late. Didn't mean to keep ya waitin'."

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Madam Bistro trotted briskly in the bright Appleoosan morning, even if her stomach rumbled hungrily. She had not had much to eat that morning, being so nervous.

Aside from having had a brief.. well, whirlwind, tour of the orchards before, and wanting a more leisurely view of them, she also wanted to be there to assist Miss Snowfall if it came to it.

She had a substantial portion of her capital going into expanding into a hotel, and among other worries for the success of that..

Bistro wasnt sure how well the Stalliongrad mare would take the heat of the Appleoosan day, as well as being there for in case she became upset again. The mocha mare especially wanted to be sure Braeburn was on his best behavior for the tour to prevent that.

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Braeburn was feeling better this morning - things had gotten a little tense last night, but it seemed he had patched it up with Maximillian. He was still worried about Snowfall, though. Braeburn wanted to show off his best side today. He'd considered being all stoic and serious, the "Stalliongrad way," but that really wasn't like him in the slightest, and if he ended up seeming forced, that might seem a mockery of Snowfall's ways, and insult her again. Instead, Braeburn decided he was going to be himself, but he could at least tone the flirting down some.

"Howdy all, and welcome to the best orchard in all of AAAAAPPLELOOSA!!" Braeburn did his traditional rearing up while giving his trademark greeting. "Ah'm plumb tuckered t'see y'all made it! Ah know y'all will have a grand time tourin' our fine town of AAAAAPPLELOOSA! What better place to start then our town's primary pride and joy, the orchards!" Coming up closer, he removed his Stetson and held it with his forehoof to his chest, "And it's a right pleasure to see y'all again". For Braeburn, this was formality, and he hoped it made a little bit of a positive impression.

He wasn't done yet, "And Ah hope y'all are hungry, as Ah brought some vittles t'start off the day right!" Opening his saddlebag, be carefully pulled out a wrapped cloth and placed it on a nearby flat stone, opening it to reveal a variety of apple fritters. "Mah cousin Apple Pie made them, and some of them are drizzled in the finest honey, thanks to our local apiarist, Honeysuckle! Please enjoy! Feel free t'ask me any questions while we eat, and then the tour can begin!"

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The stallion in tailored khaki bowed his head for the mare from Stalliongrad. Maximilian knew exactly how she felt, being a young heir to a fortune and company with all of those expectations, heck, for all intents and purposes, they were exactly the same. So it didn't take much looking to find out how she was feeling. The Rockefilly could almost see himself in the white mare before him. He could practically taste the insecurity and apprehension radiating from her.

Not even a year ago, Max would have pounced on that. Sharp words carefully crafted to chip away at her confidence, sentence by sentence he would destroy her until she was a sniveling pile of doubt. His years of cut throat business in Manehattan and a complete disregard for the common good would be his best assets. Of course, it would all be done with the greatest of caution, and nopony would be the wiser. When she was broken, the ponies of Appleoosa would lift her up and make her feel better than ever. Then she'd feel indebted to the town on such a personal level that she'd have no choice but to work with it. Yes, that is what he would have done, only a few months ago.

But he was different now, there was no way he could bring himself to exploit somepony like that, especially not somepony who he could sympathize so well with. It was only a few years ago that he too had to deal with older ponies, good friends of his father, all staring at him and poised to tear him to shreds. Of course, Max asserted his dominance and was able to wrest control of his fortune away from the vultures who happened to call themselves family friends. Miss Snowfall knew how that was, there was no denying that, and even though she presented an opportunity almost too good to pass up, he did. Somewhat out of respect, somewhat out of kindness, mostly because he'd never be able to look at himself again if he so much as tried to hurt somepony like that.

Those darker thoughts swam around his head for a few moments before being chased away by the arrival of more ponies. Max smiled warmly and slipped next to Miss Snowfall, speaking in a low but comforting voice in the sparse moments they had together. "I merely enlightened the stallion as to the difference in attitudes that we all share... I know you would have preferred to speak for yourself, but I didn't wish to stress you, not when you are our guest."

He stomped his hoof loudly and called out to the new arrivals. "Ah, Mrs LaMare, Madame Bistro, Pleasure to see you all here, I hope it isn't too early... And sheriff Silverstar, I hope you don't mind being dragged out here from your duties, I know how seriously you take your work."

Braeburn came as well, and of course he opened up a can of conversation and had no intention of closing it again. His words were far more controlled than before, and the removal of his Stetson was a welcome sight. Hopefully the businessmare would start to feel a little better about the town he called home. If this show of determination and struggle from the Appleoosans didn't impress her, Max honestly wasn't sure what would. The sight of a literal oasis in the middle of the desert was enough to convince him to stay, hopefully it could produce the same reaction in her.

"Thank you for the treats, Braeburn. As for the questions, I will of course defer to our guest in those regards."

Max stepped away from Miss Snowfall, letting her have the independence she probably desired, instead, he took his place next to Madame Bistro, intent on following Braeburn's advice to 'make his intentions known',

"The honey isn't the only sweet thing in town..." he chuckled under his breath as he stood next to the mocha mare.

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Rockerfilly stepped toward her and delivered some words before Snowfall could say any more. "I merely enlightened the stallion as to the difference in attitudes that we all share... I know you would have preferred to speak for yourself, but I didn't wish to stress you, not when you are our guest."

Snow was taken aback. Was this pony a mind reader, or was it just that obvious on her face? She shook her head. She couldn't be that easy to read. It was dangerous for a mare of her influence to be so transparent. Either way, Rockerfilly sure didn't miss a beat. He was a shrewd stallion. Dangerously shrewd. This was becoming more and more clear as Snow knew him longer. By appearance, he seemed to be a few years younger than Snowfall, and yet he might be even more adept at business. Since working with him, Snow had yet to see him get anything but his way after all. He was certainly cunning. And while Snow couldn't know for sure if his kindness was genuine, it was at the least appreciated.

"You really didn't have to go out of your way, Rockerfilly" the pegasus said in an effort to keep face, even if in fact perhaps Rockerfilly did have to do as he did given the situation. "But I appreciate your efforts."

It was about then that the others started to arrive. LaMare was first on the scene, followed closely by the sheriff. They offered their greetings and Snow replied with warm smiles. Madam Bistro could soon be seen making her approach as well.

Snow nodded and then spoke, "Good morning, everypony. It's a pleasure to see you all again. I thank you for joining us today."

A little after the others, Braeburn arrived. Snow held her breath as she waited to see how he'd carry himself after the previous night's ugliness. She didn't have to wait long; he immediately began to speak.

"Howdy all, and welcome to the best orchard in all of AAAAAPPLELOOSA!! Ah'm plumb tuckered t'see y'all made it! Ah know y'all will have a grand time tourin' our fine town of AAAAAPPLELOOSA! What better place to start then our town's primary pride and joy, the orchards! And it's a right pleasure to see y'all again".

Snowfall found herself smiling. She had worried this pony would make a deal of it, or try and change himself unnecessarily. No, he was charging ahead the same as ever. It was a relief to see.

"You as well, Mr. Braeburn," Snowfall said, nodding to the farmer. "I look forward to seeing more of your orchards."

"And Ah hope y'all are hungry, as Ah brought some vittles t'start off the day right! Mah cousin Apple Pie made them, and some of them are drizzled in the finest honey, thanks to our local apiarist, Honeysuckle! Please enjoy! Feel free t'ask me any questions while we eat, and then the tour can begin!"

Snowfall nodded and took a fritter. She hadn't eaten much that morning, choosing to just have some coffee instead. She was actually pretty hungry now. She bit into the fritter and gave a pleased smile. She took a few more bites before looking back up.

"This is quite nice," she said, nodding. "My best compliments to your cousin, Mr. Braeburn."

"As for questions, I suppose I'll keep to the basics for now. How many acres is the orchard and what is the average yield each season?" she started, a little more occupied with the tasty apple fritter still in hooves than the questions coming out of her mouth. "Also, what markets do you currently sell to?"

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Louise LaMare and Sheriff Silverstar happily joined in helping themselves to the fritters Braeburn had brought.

"These here are THE finest apple fritters in all o' Equestria! Absoltivily!" the mustached lawpony neighed between bites.

"This is only a sample of the wonderful cruisine found in our fair city," added the brown Pegasus mare.

"Jist be careful not ta eat'm too fast and git indigestion," the Sheriff giggled. "If'n ya do git sick, we'll have to take ya to see ol' Doc Holly Day in his downtown office. He's one of the best doctors around, came all the way from Canterlot to settle here and practice medicine with us."

"I didn't know Doc was from Canterlot." Louise said.

"Yep! He may have a city pedigree, but he's a country colt at heart," Sheriff Silverstar said as he turned towards the visitors. "Braeburn here gives great tours of town, once we're done eatin', he'll be leading the way."

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(OOC: D'OH! Forgot it would be my turn after Mojo! >_< )

Madam Bistro felt relived that Braeburn was making an effort to tone things down for Miss Snowfall.

Her relief was enough that she felt her stomach rumble at the sight of the apple fritters.

The mocha mare took one as well and smiled in thanks "Please thank your cousin for me, Braeburn.These smell divine!"

She stifled a giggle at Sherrif Silverstar's admonition to eat them slowly and nodded politely. These were not treats to wolf down but to savor with each bite.

Her ears perked with the surprise that Doc Holly Day was from Canterlot. "Oh my! I would never have guessed!"

As Bistro was processing that information, Maximillian moved near to her. Apparently, Braeburn's constant hints to Max from last evening had its effect as she heard him whisper to her.

She raised her fan and fluttered it to hide the slight smile and blush. Hopefully she could keep the flirting to a dull roar today as she still felt responsible somehow for the bad feelings last night.. At least Max was off to a good start on keeping it low key.

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Today day seemed to have started off better than expected for Braeburn - everyone was quite a bit more cheerful than when they'd left off yesterday. Much of that was the glorious sunny morning, or the magnificent beauty of the apple orchard, but he'd like to think his first impression today had also made an impact. He would have to tell both Apple Pie and Honeysuckle later that their treats had gone over so well with Appleloosa’s important guests; he was sure they would appreciate that. Especially little Apple Pie, who could really use the confidence boost. Everything was going great, and the goldenrod earth pony couldn’t help but notice that Max was standing particularly close to the lovely Caramel Bistro.

"Well, Miss Snowfall, Ah'm greatly looking forward to showing y'all the best apple orchards in AAAAAPPLELOOSA and all the west, if'n ah do say so mahself!" Braeburn turned towards his orchard, proud of the trees standing under the morning sun. He grinned at her questions. "well, all the exact numbers for each month’s yield and all are in a ledger ah prepared already for y'all, back at mah house. Ah don't remember th' numbers exactly, but Ah kin tell y'all that the biggest yields are during the grand autumn harvest, three times any other time, but ah'd reckon th' normal harvest is over a hundred bushels.” He was full of smiles discussing this - ponies rarely saw him as the business type. “Around a third of mah apples are sent to mah cousins at Tiny Apple Valley over by Fillydelphia, where they make all sorts of treats an' organize most of th' apple family sales. A third stays here for us here in AAAAAPPLELOOSA, and the last third is split up between Fillydelphia, Manehattan, and a number of other cities ah've visted. Ah look forward to expanding and selling to more places, with the new railroad - of course, we have to make sure any new orchards are alright with the local Buffalo tribe.” Braeburn had to admit to himself that he hadn't given much thought to the expansion, but he'd given some, and he wanted to give some encouragement towards his Pegasus guest.

Breaburn nodded to the sheriff about Doc Holly Day, although the Apple stallion had never actually met him. They could probably visit the Doc's office - surely miss Snowfall would want to see the town, but first things first. "Should we take a walk among the apple trees? They're right beautiful in the morning dew!”

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Maximilian sighed happily, the prospects for the day ahead shone brightly, and he couldn't help but feel a bit optimistic about what lay in store. Miss Snowfall seemed at least a tad more composed, Braeburn continued being his old self, Miss Lamare and Sheriff Silverstar were upbeat and informative as usual, and Madame Bistro was simply there in the first place. Now, it seemed, Max simply had to stick around and nudge the conversation in the right directions while making sure business got done.

"Mister Braeburn, I think that would be a lovely idea. While we're on our way there... Sheriff, do you think you could shed some light on the history of our fair town? I don't think there's a better authority here than you..."

The Rockefilly moved with the rest of the group, staying next to Madame Bistro as they trotted. He looked over his shoulder at the Apple family farmpony. He spoke in a low voice, quiet enough to be heard but nopony but his intended target.

"Imagine, Braeburn, this orchard at double the size. If we can get Miss Snowfall's support, the sky is the limit for Apploosa. No pressure, but this is it."

The wealthy stallion quickly went back to the mocha mare's side, his mind heavy with thoughts. Would the carrying capacity of the town increase enough to accommodate the new population? How much construction would be needed? Would the ponies of Appleoosa quickly look to Airships after a few years, or would they stick with rail? There were far too many questions for him to answer by himself, so he simply shrugged them off for now, deciding instead to concern himself with the matters at hoof. He still had a mare to impress, and he needed her to see exactly what he was after, Miss Snowfall was important as well.

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Snowfall smiled. Everypony seemed in good spirits. it was a relief to her. She had been worried over whether she had spoiled her warm reception in this town. These ponies were all kind. She continued to grin as they exchanged words with one another about some of the other locals. She then nodded along as Braeburn told her about the orchard.

"I see. It sounds rather impressive. It must be a lot of work come harvest time," she said nodding enthusiastically. "I'd be delighted to take a closer look at the trees."

She stepped ahead, ready for her tour of the orchard. She nodded again when Rockerfilly suggested having the sheriff tell more of the town's history. "I second that idea. I can't say I know much of anything about this town's history. I'd love to hear it," she said.

The Stalliongrad mare stepped ahead and smirked, feeling surprisingly relaxed. Things like this were much easier on her than actual business. Even the uncomfortable heat wasn't bothering her yet. She felt good, and more than ready to see what Appleloosa had in store.

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Sheriff Silverstar smiled at Mr. Rockefilly's suggestion. He so to share the story of Appleoosa with other ponies!

"A group of us settler ponies traveled out here to this very site nearly two years ago. All of us dreamed of livin' the simple life of our Pioneer pony ancestors. I know that many who came on this trek, such as myself, were inspired by the writings of a certain Pioneer pony era novelist."

Hearing this caused Louise LaMare to visibly blush.

"Anyway, took us about a year to build the town and as were getting ready to have our first harvest from our apple orchard, the buffalo claimed that our trees were on THEIR land and demanded that we remove them! We couldn't do that, so when the Chief threatened to stampede Appleoosa, we settler ponies prepared to fight!"

"You didn't mention how Twilight Sparkle and her friends tried to stop the battle and how Pinkie Pie sang.."

Instantly, the mustached lawpony raised his hoof to stop Louise from speaking further.

"Miss LaMare, we do NOT mention that crazy pink filly's name in this town. Her singin's what CAUSED that durn fight in the first place!"

"Oh, that's right, sorry Sheriff..."

"But it all worked out in the end. The Chief suggested a compromise that we could all agree with. Tell'm about it, Braeburn!"

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Madam Bistro was quite happy and excited with how calm everything was going so far.

Miss Snowfall was holding up to the slowly rising heat of the morning fairly well so it would seem. Maximillian was subtly flirting to the point of hovering around her and Braeburn was being a mystery about it. He was not visibly reacting to the sight, so either he was restraining himself for Snowfall's sake or..

She stopped her mental fretting with an effort. She knew better than to let business and her personal life mix! Was there something about this town that let her guard down to romantic feelings? She had gone from no choices to suddenly too many.

She focused herself on the tour Braeburn was giving, and suddenly had an idea to contribute. "Oh Braeburn, I saw pictures from Japony that might help in orchard expansion, fields marching up the sides of slopes like stair steps. Would the buffalo object to using some of these mesas surrounding us in that manner? Is there anything living in or on those slopes that might object?"

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((OOC Note: Totally forgot it was my turn; good thing I looked again just in case. :AJ: ))

Braeburn lead the way towards the first large group of trees, glad that everything seemed to be going well. Miss Snowfall was even smiling, despite what Max had said about 'emotionless business!' He grinned happily. This was a wonderful sign! Even if he was suddenly the center of attention, being hit with more requests and questions than he could easily answer.

He grimaced at the mention of the cute but really excitable pink earth pony, and her terrible song and dance. Change subject, quickly! He took Silverstar's lead, “Well, Miss Lamare, our resident lawpony is leaving out the most dramatic moment! Comes right out of one of yer novels!” Braebrun made exaggerated hoof gestures to add a little dramatic flair, “Thar he was, standing in front of the saloon, singlehoofedly tossing pie after pie, when who should show up but the biggest, strongest buffalo y'all ever did see, their mighty chief! He reached back for another pie, but he'd just thrown his last! Well, any normal pony would have tried to bolt, even though there was no escape, but the sheriff bravely stood his ground, his hat off, ready to be stampeded for AAAAPPLELOOSA! Th' ground shook under his hooves, when suddenly, out of nowhere, in came a pie with a perfect toss that got th' lead buffalo right in th' face, stoppin' th' stampede cold! A pause came across the field of battle as the chief fell ... a piece of that apple pie drizzled down to fall on the chief's tongue ... and the conflict ended right then and there, when the chief realized why we were so proud of our apples and our apple pies! So AAAAAPPLELOOSA was saved by our delicious pies! To this very day, nopony knows who threw the one pie that stopped a whole herd, saving our stoic sheriff as he stood proud!”

Braeburn stopped in front of the wide dirt path that ran right through the center of his orchard, broad enough for four ponies to trot side by side and still have space left over. “Since then, we all came to an agreement. The buffalo would get to run along their traditional stampeding trails, and they get an apple pie as they go past! We get to use the rest of this here land to grow our crops. Now be careful crossing and look both ways!” It was perfectly safe - even if there had been any buffalo herds around this time of year, they wouldn't just run down a pony in the path ... but he loved to be a bit dramatic. “That's one thing we need t'make sure of, Mr. Rockafilly, is that any new orchards, or layin' down any new rails, needs t' be done with respect to our buffalo friends."

Braeburn led the group on past the path. “Here, Miss Snowfall and my fellow ponies, are the very first trees ever planted in AAAAPPLELOOSA and all the west! These particular fine fellas are the Macintoshes! They get soft soon after pickin’, making them perfect for cooking into sauce and of course, our world famous apple pies!” Breaburn walked up to one of the trees and gave it a swift kick with one of his hind legs, causing a few apples to fall into a bucket sitting below, “please, try some, they’re quite crisp when freshly picked!”

He scrambled through his memory ... did that answer all the questions? Oh, right! Growing apples on the mesas! He smiled to Caramel - it was a bit of a silly idea, in his mind, but he'd never have laughed at Caramel. “An interesting idea, Miss Caramel, but there's no soil to speak of up on the mesas to grow the trees in.” Braeburn smiled, and pushed the bucket of apples between Caramel and Max, hoping they'd get a convenient hoof-brush while they both reached for an apple.

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Maximilian listened closely, even if he knew all of this stuff already. He'd read up on the history of the town before showing up for the first time, but he didn't mind hearing it all again. No matter how many times he heard the townsponies talk about Appleoosa, the Rockefilly found himself more and more impressed with their story. Braeburn addressed him briefly and the rich Unicorn nodded in agreement.

"Of course, any attempts at expansion will only take place with the explicit blessing of the Buffalo themselves. I would never wish to jeopardize our relationship when we can merely talk it out."

He nodded and went silent again, allowing Braeburn to continue on. Max made sure to note Miss Snowfall's attitude, and while she still seemed to be a bit reserved, he could tell that she was slowly growing more comfortable as time went on. Who knew what effect the sight of the orchards would have, if any, but Max could only hope and pray that the mare from Stalliongrad felt something about what she saw.

The business stallion knew that poking and prying Snowfall wouldn't really get him anywhere, and in fact, the opposite approach was the best. By constantly pointing things out and trying to inspire her, he would surely push her away, or even cause her to think less of the town! Maximilian nodded his head quietly and committed himself to merely watching and waiting. If something needed to be said, he'd say it, other than that, he would allow the other ponies to show her around.

Fortunately, there was something that would keep the Rockefilly occupied. As they walked, four in a row, Max made sure to be right next to Madame Bistro. He trotted alongside her, and nodded kindly as she raised her question to Braeburn. "While the Plateaus may not be suitable now, I'm sure we could find a way to engineer something up there. The location is impeccable, being so high up, I could see a luxury resort being built on top of one, with a beautiful view of the town, and the desert as well."

Being a business stallion, Max seriously gave the idea some thought, becoming lost in numbers and hypothesis for a few moments before snapping back to reality. The farm pony had just urged them to try some apples, and while he may have been planning for some sort of awkward, or even romantic, mishaps, he would not be given that luxury. Max bowed his head and motioned with a hoof.

"Ladies first, Madame Bistro, If the apple is as sweet as you, I'm sure it will be quite the treat."

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Snowfall listened with interest as the sheriff, Louise and then Braeburn all told the story of the town. That the disagreements with the buffalo had all come down to an overblown pie fight seemed a little silly to her, but at the same time, that kind of thing was fun. She had to wonder if there were any other similarly ludicrous stories hidden in the early history of her Stalliongrad. She giggled at the thought of it.

"That's quite the story," she said, nodding to them. "Though if the pie used that day was even in the same caliber as the delectable treat I sample last night, I can understand why they may be so swayed by it!"

The Stalliongrad mare nodded and continued to follow along as Braeburn showed off his trees. They looked like fine trees, and when Braeburn knocked some apples from them, Snowfall was quite eager to scoop one up. She took a bright and immediately grinned.

"Oh, my. Your apples are exquisite," she said with excitement.

She listened as the group discussed using the mesas. She gave a skeptical look to Rockerfilly's comments. "I'm not sure. Is a luxury resort right for this town, with Las Pegasus only a short distance away? It would be hard for it to compete with that, not to mention it might take away from its existing charms..." She laughed. "Speaking of which, I'm quite eager to see more."

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Sheriff Silverstar and Louise LaMare listened intensely to the conversation. The mustached lawpony appreciated Braeburn's elaboration on the Buffalo incident but did winch a little at the mention of the orchard's expansion. At the moment, there was peace between the settlers and the buffalo, and the Sheriff sure wanted that peace to continue.

"Ain't sure whether them buffalo would agree to let us plant more trees here. After all, what would we have to bargain with? Our original truce agreement was fer us to give'm apple pies to keep the trees we got now. What else could we give'm?"

"I'm sure we could find something more to bargain with, Sheriff," the brown Pegasus mare interjected. "But I am curious, sir. This apple orchard supplies the town population with apples. How much would it change the town if we doubled production and began exporting our apples to other areas?"

"Good question, Miss LaMare. Even though Las Pegasus may be nearby, very few ponies stop off here on their way to git thar. Bein' a PEGASUS city, most of the ponies goin' thar are Pegasi that, at best, fly over Appleoosa as they go. The train does make frequent trips back East, but much of the East is Sweet Apple Acres country. Many of the ponies here are related to the Apple Family and I'm sure none of'm want to hurt their apple business. Right Braeburn?"

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Madam Bistro smiled as Braeburn considered the question for a minute. He didnt dismiss it entirely but was concerned about there being no soil on the mesa tops. "I am afraid what the ponies in Japony do sounds sillier than that, but that does give me an idea relating to the growth of Appleoosa.

The pictures appear to show they carved out shelf-like spaces in their steep slopes and used the material to build retaining walls. Since Appleoosa has no river, the orchards do a fine job in getting rid of the... compost the town generates since its the only flat growing land around and needs the fertilizer. If we get trainloads of workers, We'll be up to our ears in.. compost unless we get creative. If we test a mesa south of town, it wont change the striking view of towering red rock the town gets, but everypony to the south of town will see beautiful green trees, -provided the idea works, that is."

Bistro suddenly noticed as Braeburn pushed the apple bucket between her and Maximillian at romantic distance? Oh my, this was a confusing town, stallions first sparring with flirting over her, then giving the other stallion a shot? She smiled and blushed behind her fan as Max let her take the first pick with sweet praise "Thank you kindly Maximillian."

She plucked out a ruby red apple and began eating it delecately. "Oh my! Are these from the famous tree that had been kidnapped and returned by the buffalo? This is very sweet indeed!"

Bistro turned to Max after everypony had their say on the resort idea "I am afraid they are right. Appleoosa is too young yet for a luxury resort that can compete. I would wait a couple years at least and see which way the wind blows. There might be a market for a working ranch for ponies to come and be a western pony for a weekend, but those most likely to do that are already moving in... Unless the nobles and super rich have these fantasies in the back of their mind.."

She shrugs "Something to ponder over..."

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Braeburn was sure he didn’t care for the idea of some fancy pants resort up on one of the local mesas. Aside from being an eyesore, ruining the natural lay of the land, he was sure it would also marginalize the frontier families who came out here to be away from all the regulated and stratified society of the more settled areas of Equestria. “Ah quite agree, Miss Snowfall - ah don't reckon such a fancy place would be best for the folks round these parts. Miss Bistro's idea for a Weekend Ranch sounds a mite promisin', though."

He pondered over the thought of a terraced mesa, for a few moments longer, picturing it in his mind - the work needed to put in the terraces ... most of the mesas had cliff edges too steep for terraces in the first place, the way it would change the view ... “well, yer idea of a terraced mesa sounds fairly interestin’, thoguh ah'm not sure what all th' buffalo would think, or how many bits it would cost, but Ah reckon it'd be worth lookin’ at.”

Braeburn looked over at Miss Bistro and Maximillian standing together over the bushel of apples, “Y'all compliment each other well with ideas, like two peas in a pod!” Braeburn worried that was a bit obvious, and hurried on to answer Caramel's question. “Ah'm right tickled y'all love those Macintoshes, Miss Caramel, but this here tree isn’t the one. That would be the prize tree of the entire orchard, Bloomberg, an' we’ll meet him soon enough.” Braebrun’s eyes lit up with an idea, “Ah know, as there are so many types of apples, why don't we pair off a moment an' go round th' orchard pickin' our favorites, then meet up on that hilltop over there!" He pointed his hoof at a tall hill overlooking the whole orchard, where Bloomberg stood out above the rest of the trees. "Miss Bistro, you kin escort Max theah. Ah know th' Sheriff an' Miss LaMare will want t'go off on their own, an' ah'll escort Miss Snowfall heah."

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Max put a hoof to his chin and thought for a moment, they were all right, a luxury resort would never compete with Las Pegasus. Instead, a different idea took its place and Max shrugged as he put it out there. "With the advantage in altitude, why not build an observatory up there? Since we're not in the mountains around canterlot, we wouldn't have to worry about scope or scale, and we could probably build the largest one in the world on top of one of those mesas! Just a thought, of course, there are greater matters to take care of first."

He paused as Braeburn spoke, blushing slightly at his first comment but quickly composing himself for his next words. The farm pony was giving him an amazing chance to woo Madame Bistro, and he would certainly need to be properly thanked for it.

"Splendid Idea, Mister Braeburn. We'll all meet up in due time." With that, Maximilian turned and offered the crux of his outstretched leg to Madame Bistro. He smiled warmly and bowed his head. "I do hope I'm not too much of a bore, Madame."

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Snowfall continued to listen closely to the conversation, nodding along.

She glanced toward Miss Lamare and nodded. "Well, Las Pegasus was founded by us Pegasi when we decided to move west, but today you'd find it's pretty open to all kinds. Only half of the city rests in the clouds, and unicorns are working around the clock to provide cloud walking spells so even those areas are not off limits to non-pegasi." The mare gave a small laugh. "I think the reason you don't get many Las Pegasus-bound ponies stopping by Appleloosa is instead because the train that head up there leaves from Dodge Junction."

Looking next toward Madame Bistro, she nodded. "You really might be onto something. I know several amongst the elite who would delight at that sort of chance for a temporary escape from their daily work."

Escapism was important for Snowfall herself. Her job was stressful, and the idea of going away to do something else could be endlessly exciting. Of course, Snow had a fairly low tolerance for the Appleloosan heat, so she doubted it was the ideal choice for her personally; she had Pathfinder and her insane adventures to rely on if she needed to escape from the business world anyway. All the same, she was positive that there were many in her social circle who very well might be interested in such a thing.

Looking toward Rockerfilly, as he proposed his own idea, she nodded and spoke, "It is a good location for such a facility. At the very least something could be built that would rival the best Aquelian observatories. Perhaps such a thing could bring scientific groups to Appleloosa."

Finally, she turned to Braeburn, his suggestion that they split up and she go with him striking her somewhat oddly. Did he have something to say to her alone? She didn't want to endure anything uncomfortable. Then again, this tour was for her sake and he was the one leading the way. Maybe it made sense for him to lead the way for her. Thinking of it like that, she nodded.

"Very well, Mr. Braeburn, lead the way," she said, smiling politely the apple farmer.

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Sheriff Silverstar and Louise LaMare were stunned to hear the suggestion that the group 'split up' for a while.

"So y'all's gonna jist stroll around the grounds on yur own?" the clueless lawpony asked. Louise knew what was really going on. She figured out that this was an excuse to 'pair off' and take romantic walks together.

"You heard'm, Sheriff, let's take a walk together," the brown Pegasus mare said as she led the mustached stallion away from the others. Louise also liked this idea because she wanted an excuse to spend more 'romantic' time with the stallion of her dreams.

"Well, ok, but I still don't git it.." Sheriff Silverstar said as he walked off with Louise.

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Madam Bistro nodded at Braeburn's answer as Braeburn looked at the steep sides of the nearby mesas and looked troubled.

It did not look like it would be pursued after the initial esitmates come in on the cost of doing it. She would not push it, but at least it would get them thinking about how to expand Appleoosa's cash cow if the growing space was as limited as it sounded. Somepony would think of something eventually. As long as it involved the looming waste problem she would be happy as it would solve two problems at once.

She turned to Maximilian with a smile at a new proposal from him. "A fine choice... That is the very mesa those twin pegasi from the Royal Canterlot Observatory chose to observe the Sparklestar Comet from, along with a number of townsponies and some of the buffalo. The trail to the top is sturdy, so I am told."

The mocha mare's amber eyes widened in surprise as Braeburn suggested splitting up to inspect the orchards, and pairing her with Maximillian. The suggestion was quickly and eagerly taken up by Louise, making it plain the pairings was intended as romantic for two of the pairs anyway.

Bistro smiled and gracefully put her hoof in Maximillain's offered leg. "Oh I could hardly call you a bore, my fine sir. Ponies who build a place in Equestrian history could never be a bore."

The mare spared a glance at Braeburn, hoping he would not overdo his speaking with Miss Snowfall in his tour.

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((OOC Note - Sorry it took a while, very busy past week and all. I don't intend to keep folks seperate for long at all because it dawned on me poor Mojo be by himself for that O.o))

Braeburn decided to politely smile and not comment further on Max's continued suggestions on wanting to put various buildings up high upon the local mesas; he really didn't get some ponies. Like these city types and their need to build everywhere, but perhaps the white unicorn was just speculating and nothing would come of it. Braeburn really didn't want to argue over something that might never be, he had other ideas at the moment.

Braeburn picked up a wooden bucket by its rope with his teeth and then proceeded to flip it up in the air over his head, allowing it to land safely and squarely on his back. It was an old Apple family trick, and not fancy by Apple standards, but it always seemed to impress other ponies and added to the farmer mystique. "Please let me know if'n there are any apples on the way that tickle yer fancy, Miss Snowfall."

Braeburn started to trot ahead. He wanted some alone time with the sky blue pegasus - not for romantic reasons, even if she was attractive, but to make amends for the night before. Not because he'd been wrong in any way about the town, but more that he hadn't treated Miss Snowfall proper-like. First he needed to break the ice some. "That was interesting what y'all said about Las Pegaus, Miss Snowfall; Ah'd never actually been there myself, but Ah did hear how it's a resort all ponies kin enjoy. These here are some red delicious ... nice an' crisp, they are, but they get soft real fast and are great for pies. We don't get many visitors from there, but ya'll kin take a road from Appleoosa up into the mountains to the city. Takes a while, not as good as a train or wings." Brabeurn gave a warm smile and a wink along with that last part of his comment.

"Oh, and these up this way, they're some nice Granny Smith apples. A bit of a taste to them, but great fer cookin' tangy apple dumplings." Figuring he had broken the ice a little, it was as good as a time to say what he'd intended all along. "Truth be told, Miss Snowfall, ah muchly need t'tell y'all, ah'm real sorry fer upsettin' y'all th' other day. That was rightly unkind of me, no matter what ah intended."

He looked up at a new set of trees. "Ah, and these are Honeycrisp! Honeycrisps are real nice for makin' tarts with, sweetest apple tarts y'all ever did taste!" he said enthusiastically, hurrying past the apology he was sure would make her a bit uncomfortable. "Y'all should take a few tarts home t'yer gentlecolt. Ah didn't realize y'all already had somepony! Why don't y'all tell me about him?" Braeburn knew that, mare or stallion, everypony loved t'talk about their special somepony! There was no way *that* question could go wrong!

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