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Hope Rides Alone 2: I Will Not Risk Losing You.

Mandroid Nov 4th, 2013 401 Never
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  1. Hope Rides Alone: I Will Not Risk Losing You.
  2.  
  3. >"Ring Capacity: 0%"
  4. "I heard you the first dozen times..."
  5. >The night sky sits open overhead, but you couldn't even tell. No stars hung in that sky, it was pitch black and all encompassing, the planet could be alone for all it knew.
  6. >Solitary.
  7. >You squint your eyes and look ahead at the buildings coming up.
  8. "Is this it, Spike?"
  9. >The sack on your back, one you found in a mud hut in the woods, rustles.
  10. >"Yeah, that's it. The borders of Ponyville."
  11. >You turn your head back as you walk.
  12. "What can I find in Ponyville?"
  13. >Spike pokes his head out of the sack. "Everything, it was where pretty much everyone lived before Discord showed up."
  14. "And now? Where do they live now?"
  15. >Spike shuffles. "Not here..."
  16. >You nod and drop the subject.
  17. "Where am I headed?"
  18. >"The orchard is on the other side of town, we have to cross through to reach there."
  19. >You adjust the sack.
  20. "Alright. Climb back inside, my little friend. I'll get us there."
  21. >Spike grumbles. "Should be out helping you..."
  22. >You shake your head.
  23. "According to you, Discord knows what you look like, and if he were to get word that you were helping me, it'd be..."
  24. >"Bad." Spike says, completing your sentence.
  25. >You smile a bit to reassure the boy and nod your head.
  26. "Yes."
  27. >Spike grumbles again and descends back into the pouch on your back.
  28. >At the same time, you begin crossing into Ponyville.
  29.  
  30. >This town...didn't follow any sense of logic at all and that was just the buildings.
  31. >Some homes were turned upside down, another had its roof turned to cotton candy by the looks of it.
  32. >One house that was designed after a collection of sugary sweets was turned -into- those sweets, a murder of crows now roosting on top of the building as a pony who looks like he hasn't slept in days try to clear them off.
  33. >You decide to help.
  34. >You bend down and pick up a rock that flashes into a cookie with raisins in it in your hands and chuck it at the roof. One of the birds takes the projectile in the head and instantly flies off in a panic, its brethren following suit.
  35. >The pony turns around in apparent shock that someone would help him, you offer a wave and move on.
  36. >The rest of the town wasn't much better...
  37. >Ponies ran through the streets acting like cattle or were accosted by angry mail from the mailboxes.
  38. >You did what you could to help, but you felt that you were but a drop in the pool at times. It wasn't helped when you saw a group of young ponies running through town, apparently unaffected by this madness, use a spray bottle to tag a building.
  39. >After that you had seen more and more tags in the town, as if the very streets echoed the thoughts put up on them.
  40. >An entire town chanting "We are the dead."
  41.  >But still you press on.
  42. >You follow Spike's instructions to the letter, crossing through the town from one end to the other until you reach your destination.
  43. >Sour Apple Acres, although you're sure you can read "sweet" underneath the still wet red paint.
  44. "Onwards and upwards, Spike..."
  45. >You start into the orchard.
  46.  
  47. "We're here, Spike." you say to your backpack.
  48. >"Lemme out!" he shouts wriggling.
  49. >You remove the pack and let it near the ground, allowing Spike to crawl his way out and shake his head.
  50. >"Buh! It smells in there..."
  51. "Do you see your frie-"
  52. >"Bark bark!"
  53. >You and Spike jerk your heads to the side in time to see a rather large pony hopping and bounding down the tree-fields towards you.
  54. >He prances around happily a few times before he licks your face.
  55. >You reach a hand up and pet his mane.
  56. "Hello there my sizable friend..."
  57. >His tongue rolls out happy.
  58. >Spike doesn't share your enthusiasm. "Big Macintosh, what'd he -do- to you!?"
  59. "You know this guy, Spike?"
  60. >Spike is now fending off his own assault of licks. "Yeah, he's Big Macintosh! He's the brother of A-"
  61. >Spike's eyes go wide and he grabs Macintosh' face.
  62. >"Mac! Where's Applebloom? Is she alright?"
  63. >Spike gets a lick for an answer.
  64. >"Euch!" He runs past Macintosh wiping his face, you give chase after.
  65. "Hold on, Spike!"
  66. >Spike hops up the stairs and rattles the doorknob.
  67. >Go away! We aint buyin'!" shouts a voice form inside. Even your universal translator picked up that drawl.
  68. >Spike hops down. "Applejack!?"
  69. >That was the name of the pony Spike sent you here to meet!
  70. >You knock on the door.
  71. "Applejack? Can you please come outside?"
  72. >Muffled hoofsteps come from the other side of the door until it opens, a muted orange female pony on the other side.
  73. >You smile and wave.
  74. "Hello, I'm here with a friend of yours? We'd like to talk to you."
  75. >Her eyes drift to Spike. "Never met him in my life."
  76. >Spike looks hurt and confused while you look her over.
  77. >She was muted to the same degree as the rest of the town...curious.
  78. >You kneel down and sit, crossing your legs and meeting Applejack on eye level.
  79.  
  80. "Spike says he's known you for a long time, are you sure you've never met him?"
  81. >Her eyes shift between you both and she bits her lip. "Nope! Never seen y'all in my life."
  82. >You lock eyes with Spike for a minute but look back at her.
  83. "Do you know what happened here? To the town?"
  84. >"What're you talkin' about? Town's always been like this!"
  85. >Spike stares open jawed. "Applejack! What about Rainbow Dash and Rarity? What about your friends? What about the Princesses?"
  86. >"Now I aint never heard any of them names before and I certainly don't know 'bout any "Princesses" Discord's been in charge'a Equestria for ever and he's doin' a right fine job!"
  87. >Behind you, the entire west part of the field of apples turns into lollipops.
  88. >You look from that back to Applejack and cock an eyebrow.
  89. >"Right fine job."
  90. "Of course."
  91. >You look over your shoulder back at Macintosh.
  92. "Can you tell me about your family?"
  93. >"Oh we always been here, like this, all of us right as rain."
  94. "Your brother thinks he's a dog..."
  95. >Applejack chuckles. "Oh, that, Discord did that a while ago. I like it! Makes him a hoot."
  96. >You see her eye twitch a tiny bit.
  97. "...Are you sure?"
  98. >"Sure I'm sure! Why wouldn't I be sure?"
  99. "I don't know, why would you be?
  100. >"I'm sure, I aint lying."
  101. "You aren't?"
  102. >"Course not! If I was, the family'd be taken awa-" Applejack clamps her hooves over her mouth, having said too much.
  103.  
  104. >Your smile turns to a small frown.
  105. "Applejack..."
  106. >"I didn't say nothin'."
  107. "Do you need help?"
  108. >"No, there aint no problem."
  109. "You care about your family, is that why you're lying?"
  110. >"I never said that."
  111. "You're trying to protect them..."
  112. >"They don't need protecting from nothin'! Everything's fine!"
  113. >You see that twitch again.
  114. "Applejack..."
  115. >You reach your ring hand out and put it on Applejack's cheek, she locks eyes with you and for the first time you catch a hint of something beyond falsehoods from them.
  116. >Desperation.
  117. >And although you may be without your light, hope could still bloom.
  118. "You don't have to be afraid anymore, Applejack."
  119. >Her eyes dart between the ring and yours.
  120. "Being confined on this farm...it isn't living, you have no room to grow, to spread your roots and see new things, not if you're locked in a house or think you're a dog."
  121. >"But Discord-"
  122. "I know that the thought of your family being taken may scare you, but you have to be brave, for them and yourself."
  123. >You feel your own heart swell as the blue ring on your finger that rests on Applejack's cheek flickers and glows a faint blue.
  124. >Applejack closes her eyes, tears seeping out of the edge.
  125. "And that's the truth."
  126. >The flickering grows more solid, stronger.
  127. >"Hope detected."
  128.  
  129. >The glow intensifies and under the soothing blue light Applejack becomes less and less muted, her tears drying and lips no longer quivering.
  130. >The light dies down and recedes back into your ring and a bright colored Applejack now stands in front of you.
  131. >She opens her eyes in shock "What the!?"
  132. >Spike latches onto her as you remove your hand. "You did it! You did it! I don't know what you did but you did it! You made her back to normal!"
  133. >You hold your ring to your mouth.
  134. "Ring, status report please."
  135. >A monotone voice answers in your head. "Hope detected, absorbing ambient hope from surroundings."
  136. >You smile again.
  137. "Spike, our mission just got easier. Come on, we have work to do."
  138. >Spike lets go and heads over to the bag, you stand up and look at Applejack.
  139. "We need your help, Applejack. The people need to tell this story, to each other, around the camp fire, to their children as they sleep. They need to know to -never- give up. Can you help us do that?"
  140. >She blinks a few times but a steely determination takes hold. "I will. I can't thank ya enough."
  141. >You smile and head over to Spike who's climbing into the bag.
  142. "Thank -you- Applejack, your help is invaluable."
  143. >You pick up the bag and start down the way out.
  144. >"Wait!"
  145. >You turn back and face Applejack.
  146. >"What do I call you? When the ponies I tell ask."
  147. >You throw a warm smile again.
  148. "My name doesn't matter, call me anything."
  149. >You turn back and continue to walk off the farm, the world just a little bit brighter as you do.
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