Spike and Twilight arrive at Sweet Apple Acres to discover the latest disaster to hit Ponyville.
Twilight bolted from the library, her horn pulling the door closed behind her.
As she ran straight toward Applejack’s farm, her thoughts were racing. What went wrong? Was it another attack? A landslide? Did somepony die… again?
Spike was clinging to her neck for dear life, as worry overtook the young unicorn.
Eventually, the two arrived near Sweet Apple Acres, and Twilight slowed to a crawl.
On both sides of the path, where there were once dozens of Apple Trees, now stood nothing but tall black pillars.
The fence that once ran along either side of the long dirt road was now nowhere to be seen, and the ground was covered in ashes.
Twilight was speechless. There were no words to say. No words she could say. As far as she could see, there wasn’t a single survivor, the entire orchard was incinerated. Her best friend’s business and livelihood was destroyed, overnight.
Why was she here? What could she do?
Spike jumped off Twilight’s back and started running further down the path. Leaving the unicorn to deal with her shock.
He could see in the distance, a single survivor, the farmhouse that dominated the centre of the property. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him.
Sitting on the front porch, was an orange mare with a long, messy mane, and a dead eyed look.
“Applejack?” Spike said cautiously as he approached the front stairs.
As he stood there, looking for some sign of life in the earth pony, he could hear a flutter of wings behind him.
Quickly turning around, he spotted a yellow pegasus mare approach him.
“How is she?” Fluttershy asked in a hushed voice.
“I don’t know, I just got here,” he replied.
The pegasus took a deep breath and walked straight up the stairs, to her best friend. “Applejack?” she said, hesitantly. “Are you alright?”
The farmpony reacted quickly. “Am I alright!?” She screamed. “Am I Alright!?”
Fluttershy cowered into a tiny ball.
“I just lost my farm! My livelihood! What do you think!? Do you think I’m alright!?”
Spike quickly ran up to Fluttershy and hugged her. “Applejack,” he said, looking at the orange mare. “It’ll be alright, we’ll fix this.”
The earth pony was incensed. “No it won’t Spike. You can’t fix this, nopony can. It’ll take at least five years to regrow all those trees, and by then, we’ll be done. There’s no way for us to survive this.”
Fluttershy loosened herself from Spike’s grip as he continued, “Maybe there’s a spell we can-”
“No,” Spike’s guardian trotted up behind them. “No there isn’t. There’s not a single spell that can affect plants… at least not the way we’d need them to.”
Applejack’s face fell. Another stake driven.
Silence descended on the front porch, as they let the reality sink in.
“I’m sure the insurance will cover the damages, Applejack,” Twilight continued. “It’s not the end of the world.”
She didn’t respond.
“You do have insurance right?”
Applejack snapped. “Of course I do! But there’s no amount of money that can bring back the farm, Twilight!”
No one spoke for several seconds.
“No matter what I do,” she continued. “No apple will bloom here ever again.”
Spike looked up. “Where’s Apple Bloom?”
Applejack looked up at the dragon before her. “I… I don’t… oh my, did I even see her today? I… I can’t remember.” She stood up and screamed, “APPLE BLOOM!!!”
“Calm down Applejack,” Twilight said as she approached the panicked pony. “Spike, go find Apple Bloom.”
The young dragon quickly saluted. “Yes ma’am!”
As he took off, the yellow pegasus flew after him.
“I’m sure she’s alright, Applejack,” Twilight said, embracing her friend.
Tears started streaming down the earth pony’s face. “I hope so, Twi… I hope…” She broke down in her friend’s hooves.
Fluttershy and Spike walked through the ruined orchard. The slowly rising sun painted the sky an eerie shade of orange, intensified by the black pillars surrounding them, and the yellow grass beneath them. Walking through Sweet Apple Acres this day, felt like walking through the pits of Tartarus. Death and destruction surrounded them.
Fluttershy tried to take her mind off it the only way she knew how.
“So… um… how are you doing, Spike?” She asked the young dragon.
Spike looked down, unsure of what to say. “I’m doing fine… I guess.”
The yellow mare nodded sagely. “How’s Rarity?”
He paused for a second. Fluttershy always had an odd way of breaching this subject. But she was always very sensitive and discrete to his situation. She was also the one who helped him understand what was really happening. She was there when he woke from his coma. His memories were fuzzy for a few days there. Fluttershy helped him, she was the only pony constantly there… in this world.
“Things are… odd.”
Fluttershy caught up to the young dragon and asked him a question she already knew the answer to. “Would you like to talk about it?”
Spike took a moment before continuing. “I told you about Cerebral Comet right?”
“Well, turns out he knew Twilight when they were both foals.”
“Is that what he said?”
“Yeah, there was a photo of them with a pegasus named Phosphorus,” Spike explained. “Apparently they were all friends in elementary school, and around the time she first witnessed Celestia raising the sun, she just stopped talking to them. I found the photo here and showed Twilight, and she pretty much confirmed everything Comet said.”
Fluttershy knew the possible ramifications of that. “She probably told you before and you carried it into your dream.”
“Yeah… maybe. I also told him about… this.”
“Yeah, this,” Spike explained, frantically gesturing around him.
“Oh, I see… and what did he say?”
“He said you’re the dream.”
Fluttershy chuckled as if she expected this, while slowing down to a stop. “Spike.” The young dragon turned to look at her. “This is real. All of this is real. Rarity…” she paused to collect her emotions, before taking a deep breath. “Rarity’s dead,” she said, voice shaky. “Twilight’s alive, and the sooner you accept that the easier your life will be. You do know that don’t you?”
Spike was about to open his mouth to answer, before turning around, and silently walking away.
His pegasus friend followed.
Apple Bloom’s eyes were wide, and moist. The shock and sorrow of what she saw before her was too much for words.
“Apple Bloom,” came a voice behind her. “Apple Bloom!”
The young earth pony did not move, nor did she acknowledge any voice, anywhere, until an orange hoof landed on her shoulder. She spun her head to see the new arrival.
“Are you okay Apple Bloom?” Scootaloo asked.
She turned back and said, “It’s gone Scoots, it’s all gone, all that hard work… gone.”
Before them stood a very large and charred husk of a tree, within which sat the blackened, charred, almost completely collapsed remnants of the Cutie Mark Crusader’s clubhouse.
Scootaloo walked up to what little remained. But the moment she stepped on the burnt ramp, the entire thing immediately collapsed into blackened charcoal.
“Apple Bloom!” Another voice behind them. The orange filly turned to see a yellow mare following a young dragon.
Apple Bloom didn’t turn around.
“Apple Bloom,” Spike continued. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” she responded, in a deadpan voice. Not moving, and barely acknowledging their presence.
“Oh, my,” Fluttershy said, looking over the remains of the treehouse. She quickly flew over to the wreckage. “It’s all gone.” Turning to look at the grieving earth pony, she quickly flew over and grabbed her tightly. “I’m so sorry Apple Bloom.”
“Why!?” the yellow filly replied, pushing the mare away. “Did you do this!?”
“What? No.” The pegasus was shocked at this outburst.
“Is this your fault!?
“Then why are you sorry!? Huh Fluttershy!? Why are you sorry!?” Just then, Apple Bloom broke down. Her legs collapsing under her own weight as she buried her head under her hooves, and all anyone else heard was frantic sobbing.
“Is she alright?” Spike heard a voice whisper in his ear. He turned his head and for a second there, thought he saw somepony else, but he quickly realized, her manestyle was different, and her coat was a bit lighter. It was amazing how much Sweetie Belle looked like her sister.
“I hope so,” the young dragon responded.
She trotted over to her best friend and leaned down to talk to her, quietly. “Apple Bloom, it’s okay, we’ll help you get through this.”
The young filly reached up and grabbed her unicorn friend, continuing to cry. “What are we gonna do!?” she screamed between sobs.
Sweetie Belle stayed silent.
“We’re gonna need a new meeting place,” said the orange pegasus.
“Well,” the young unicorn said, pensively. “There’s always Carousel.”
Apple Bloom’s tears let up as she looked at her friend. “What?”
“Carousel Boutique! It could be our new headquarters!” She declared with a smile.
“That’s a great idea Sweetie Belle!” Scootaloo declared, hopping over to her friends.
“Wait, wait, wait!” Spike interjected. “I thought we were going to continue Rarity’s business. Sell and make dresses.”
“There’s plenty of room in the back Spike, it’s a big store.”
He brought a claw to his chin, and failed to come up with a rebuttal.
“So,” Apple Bloom spoke up, looking at the white unicorn with bloodshot eyes. “We can meet there instead?”
“APPLE BLOOM!” A voice came from above.
A young grey pegasus colt descended from the sky, landing directly in front of the former treehouse, he was followed closely by an older rainbow-maned mare.
“Rumble!” Apple Bloom screamed, releasing Sweetie Belle and running straight towards the colt.
They embraced as Rainbow Dash suddenly released an awkward smile. “Spike!” she said, trotting over to the young dragon. “Everything alright?”
“Yeah, we’re all fine,” he said. “We’re… um…”
Rainbow followed everyone’s gaze to the two foals behind her, who were passionately making out.
“Uh…” Rainbow said, getting Rumble’s attention, who broke the kiss.
“Uh… wow, that was fast,” the grey colt said with a smile. “Not that I’m complaining.”
“Hmmm… yeah, Apple Bloom, we should have a talk later.”
“Don’t you ruin this!”
“I just lost the farm!” Apple Bloom screamed. “I can kiss my boyfriend all I want.”
Sweetie Belle leaned towards Spike and whispered, “they’ve been dating for less than a week and he’s already her boyfriend!?”
The dragon merely shrugged his shoulders.
“Well, you didn’t lose the entire farm!”
Everyone in attendance looked at him.
“What do you mean, Rumble?” Fluttershy asked.
“Well, the west field’s perfectly fine,” he explained. “Yeah, my brother told be all about it.” Apple Bloom released him from her grip as he began explaining to everyone. “He was managing a small sprinkle over the park when his team saw the attack, so they rushed over, scared the thing off with a few dozen or so lightning bolts, and put out the fire with their rain clouds, they weren’t able to save the entire farm, but still, west field’s good.”
Everyone stared at him.
Rumble scratched his head. “You know he tells it better.”
“Wait, attack!?” Spike interjected, a sudden realization hitting him. “Hold on! How did all this happen? I mean I know a simple fire wouldn’t have spread this fast, so… what attacked?”
Rainbow quickly spoke up before anyone else could. “Uh… well… Spike… you see… it was… um… it… it was a dragon.”
Both Sweetie Belle and Spike’s eyes went wide. “What?” they asked in unison.
“Again!?” asked the young unicorn.
Rainbow simply nodded.
“Rainbow.” Spike asked, “What did it look like?”
She suddenly got a lot more nervous. “Spike… it… it’s not important–it–”
“RAINBOW!” Whatever patience Spike had, was gone now. “What… did… he… look… like?”
Rainbow stood up straight and spoke in the most matter-of-fact voice she could. “He was green,” she said.
Spike was silent.
“We don’t know if it was the same one… but… it might have been.”
“Oh, my…” Sweetie said, as she allowed this new information to sink in.
“Spike it–” Rainbow started saying before the young dragon turned around and started walking away. “Spike, where are you going!? SPIKE!”
He spun around and said, with eyes as cold as steel, “I’m gonna track down that dragon, and I’m going to kill him! Even if it’s the last thing I do, he’s gonna pay! For everything!”
“I’m coming with you!” Sweetie said, running after the young dragon.
“Me too!” said Apple Bloom, following suit.
“Wait for me!” cried Rumble.
The three remaining pegasi stood there, watching the four walk off. “We should probably go with them,” Scootaloo said.
“Yeah,” Rainbow replied. “Fluttershy? You–”
She looked at her yellow friend, and saw tears going down her face. Fluttershy turned to her best friend and said, with a slight tremor in her voice, “We should go with them.”