It is said that earth pony mares long ago had a way of making their spurned love fall for them by mixing their food or drink with a special ingredient. The practice was forbidden by Celestia during her rule and ponydom eventually forgot about it from disuse. However, could there have been another reason for the ban?
EQUESTRIAN SHIPPING SHORT STORY 02: WHAT NOW WITH APPLES? PART 1/2
DAWN OF THE FIRST MONTH
The Apple family were gathered around a table in their kitchen. They nervously watched as Granny Smith crunched numbers on her calculator. A strip of paper escaped it and rolled across the length of the table between jars of zap apple jam. Applejack had Apple Bloom in a tight embrace, her eyes wide with fear and her little sister worriedly looking up at the table. Big Mac stood on the other side of Granny Smith; his calm exterior betrayed the furore raging inside him.
The only one unfazed was Granny Smith herself, fervently pressing buttons and yanking on levers. She occasionally looked up to peer at receipts and other notes concerning the state of the farm.
"Gosh darn tooting," Granny Smith exclaimed as she finished the last calculations. "Another month in the red."
"But... what's gonna happen now?" Apple Bloom asked with watering eyes.
"We'll just have to do our best, AB. There is nothing else we can do," Applejack said and looked away, a tear forming in the corner of her eye.
"But we always do our best. Why can't that be enough?" Apple Bloom asked desperately.
"Why don'tcha run out and play with yer friends?" Applejack asked quietly.
"Big Mac and Ah have things we need ta do."
Apple Bloom groaned in dismay. She went out into the sunlight and looked back at the farmhouse angrily. She wandered away from the house and through the orchards and eventually came to the edge of the Apple family's land. Nestled between trees and on the outskirts of Ponyville, Apple Bloom had her very own tree house. Inside waited Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. They looked up curiously as they saw their best friend in such a foul mood.
"Apple Bloom, what's wrong with you?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Yeah, you seem a little... upset," Scootaloo added, wrinkling her brow.
Apple Bloom sat down on the floor opposite them and looked down at her hoofs. "Stupid grownups, always treatin' me like a kid," she mumbled.
"What's the matter?" Scootaloo asked curiously.
"Applejack won't tell me, but Ah just know it. We're gonna lose the farm," Apple Bloom replied.
"You're going to lose the farm?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Yeah, we can't pay our bills and then we'll have ta sell the farm."
"I'm sure it isn't that bad!" Scootaloo said in encouragingly. Apple Bloom jolted up and pressed a hoof against Scootaloo's nose.
"Not that bad? Not that bad?! What're we gonna do without the farm!" Apple Bloom asked, her voice getting dangerously high.
"Don't worry," Sweetie Belle said with a firm smile and got up on her hooves. "We're the Cutie mark Crusaders, after all! We're bound to find a solution."
"Yeah!" Scootaloo said and got up as well. "I'm sure we can figure something out. Cutie mark Crusaders Pro – !"
"No we won't," Apple Bloom said and got up too, turning away from her friends. "We've been doing everything we could for months, but ponies are just not buying that many apples anymore."
"Well that's it then!" Sweetie Belle said triumphantly and slapped hooves together.
"What is?" Scootaloo replied and looked at her funnily.
"If we can find a way to make apples more delicious, then ponies will start to buy more apples," Sweetie Belle explained.
"How?" Apple Bloom asked dejected.
"How do you think?" Sweetie Belle asked teasingly.
"Hmm," Scootaloo replied and tapped her chin. "Of course! Zecora, right?"
"Exactly," Sweetie Belle replied.
"It can't get any worse," Apple Bloom said, her mood cheering only slightly.
"Now my dear fillies three, what may the reason for your visit be?" Zecora asked and opened her door to two very eager Cutie mark Crusaders and one not so much so.
"You have to help the Apple family," Scootaloo said before she could even get inside.
"Now what is this I hear about ponies I hold dear?" Zecora asked and shut the door after Apple Bloom as the last of them went inside.
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo sat down in the middle of the hut and babbled freely, their words and pleas tumbling out in a steady stream. Apple Bloom simply placed herself next to them and looked down.
"One at a time, little crusaders. What was that about alligators?"
Since neither Sweetie Belle nor Scootaloo could allow the other to talk, it was eventually Apple Bloom that had to interrupt them. She inhaled deeply to start her explanation.
"We can't afford ta keep the farm running, and if we can't afford ta keep the farm running, then we'll have ta sell the farm and then we'll be homeless, and if we're homeless, then Ah won't have a place ta sleep or anything ta eat and Ah just want everything ta go back ta how Applejack described it before our parents had ta go ta place called Heaven."
"My dearest Apple Bloom, I cannot prevent certain doom," Zecora said and looked heartbroken at her. Apple Bloom looked up at her with big watery eyes.
"The problem is that apples aren't selling well," Sweetie Belle said.
"Yeah, I bet you can mix up some killer potion to add a little kerpow!" Scootaloo said and visualised said kerpow with some wicked martial arts moves.
"You wouldn't suggest I use a dark art? That would not be very smart," Zecora warned direly, the lights in her hut shimmering.
"O-of course not," Scootaloo said and grinned sheepishly. "Just a little something that would help the apples to sell better is all!"
"Hmm. If you don't mind a little work, I might have just the perk," Zecora said and turned from the fillies to her work table.
On a shelf underneath it she kept various old books, dusty from neglect. Among them was what looked like a photograph of a younger Zecora and a handsome young zebra colt, but she flicked through the items too quickly to get a proper look. She pushed aside books and scrolls and other papers and pressed her head further and further inside till she finally emerged with a leather-bound, red tome in her mouth. Apple Bloom accepted it on top of her head.
"Now little fillies, don't be shy. I only got this from a... guy," she said with some melancholy in her voice. She had a dreamy look in her eyes for just a moment before resuming her rhymes. "Inside it you will find the answer to your bind. There are many ways to cook, but none as exciting as in this book."
"A recipe book!" Scootaloo said enthusiastically.
"Indeed it is and one quite old. Make new pies fearlessly and bold," Zecora said.
"Thanks Zecora!" Sweetie Belle said. Together, the three fillies hurried back outside towards town again.
Zecora watched them disappear into the distance with a smile. She chuckled slightly and went back inside. She took out the old photograph that she kept under the table and stroked it with her hoof, reminiscing. She was just about to put it back under the table when her eyes caught something curious.
"Now what is this? I see something is amiss," she told herself.
She reached under her table again and retrieved "A Thousand Tasty and Nutritious Recipes for the Zebra on the Go."
"If my book is here, then what book did disappear?" she remarked.
Applejack entered the barn and shook off her cart's load into a nearby basket. Carts heaping with apples were stacked up against each other, all the work of a few hours. She wiped her brow and took a deep breath before turning to head out again.
"Hmm?" she remarked and looked up.
Squeak, squeak, squeak.
"What in tarnation?" Applejack asked and looked around her for a source.
"Are you sure Zecora meant to give us this book?" Sweetie Belle's voice asked. "Rarity once caught me with one and she flipped completely off the deep end."
"Of course," Apple Bloom's voice said. "Nothing that feels this good can be wrong."
"I don't know, you guys. Isn't this forbidden or something?" Scootaloo's voice asked.
Applejack looked up at the hayloft above her with a worried expression. What were those three up to now?
"Relax, all right? Ah already told ya Ah'll do it if none of ya will," Apple Bloom said and the squeaks resumed.
"Apple Bloom! Ya shouldn't be fooling around up there," Applejack burst out with concern. A red-haired head poked out and then quickly disappeared again.
"D-don't worry, big sis! We're just playing up here."
"That's what Ah'm afraid of," Applejack mumbled and left. "A shame yer not big enough to help me out the bigger chores. Celestia knows we could use all the hoofs around the farm right now."
Once again, Applejack returned to her apple bucking on the Apple family land. For hours she toiled without break though tired and sweaty, panting and nearing collapse.
"Get yourself some rest," Big Mac said and came up to his sister.
"No thank ya. Ah can still work," Applejack replied, but her knees buckled under her. Big Mac gave her his usual quiet look, but it was enough for Applejack to sigh in resignation. "Fine. But only for a little bit." She slowly made her way back towards the farmhouse, nearly having to drag herself along the ground.
Big Mac took the cart that she had been filling and pulled it towards the barn. A very excited Apple Bloom greeted him along with her two friends.
"Hey Big Mac! Is it time ta go ta town?" she asked and bounced up and down.
"Eeeyup," Big Mac replied and went past them.
"We'd like ta help!" Apple Bloom said and rushed in after him.
"We've already prepared a basket for you," Sweetie Belle said and pushed one towards the entrance. All the apples inside shone like gems.
"We've carefully polished them all!" Scootaloo added and helped push.
"I appreciate the gesture," Big Mac said simply and took one of the apples in his hoof. He could literally see himself on its surface. He was just about to take a bite when Apple Bloom urgently waved her arms and cut him off.
"How will we get our apples sold if ya eat 'em all?" she asked.
Big Mac merely looked at her curiously and then put it back in the basket.
"Thank you for helping us," Big Mac said and looked down at the three crusaders, then at Apple Bloom. "I'm glad to see you in a better mood."
He lifted the heavy barrel up on his back and poured the content into the cart. He fastened the yoke around his belly and made his way towards town. The three fillies followed him with their eyes, Apple Bloom smiling impishly.
"Just as planned," she said and clapped her hooves together.
It was a few days later that Applejack had bucked the last of their trees, or more correctly the next morning. She had jumped out of bed bright and early, making her way out front. Apple Bloom was waiting for her by a cart, smiling from ear to ear.
"Yer ready ta get some apple treats sold?" Apple Bloom asked enthusiastically, referring to the overloaded cart.
"Ahm only bringing ya with me 'cuz Big Mac praises ya so highly," Applejack remarked and pulled on the reins. "And Ah am stoked ta see how well business really is. Ah dunno what ya've dun ta owah apples, but it's working. Big Mac's been returning several times all day yesterday and the day before that."
They went to their usual spot, the middle of a busy street, and set up their stall. They had barely opened up for business before a throng of ponies flocked around them. Applejack's eyes nearly rolled out of her head. All of their products were gone within the hour, even though they had brought double their usual amount.
Applejack had to turn down any more customers, creating a lot of tension in the progress. Those that had waited the longest were getting impatient and restless. She did her best to calm down the agitated mob but a scuffle was slowly breaking out. Only the arrival of Big Mac in the nick of time assuaged them.
The crowd mellowed out around midday and mostly consisted of ponies returning to place another exorbitant order. But Applejack was too focused on their income to worry. They were raking in the bits by the bushel and she simply forked over the delicacies as quickly as ponies could demand them. Not until a certain white-coated unicorn came by did a small knot of fear form in the pit of her stomach.
The once so petite Rarity jiggled with every step. A second chin was under rapid development and deposits of fat clung to her belly and cheeks. She took a moment to catch her breath which Applejack used to stare with jaw dropped and eyes nearly rolling out of her head..
"Why Applejack, I haven't seen you in town in ages! Whatever could have kept you?" Rarity asked unconcerned and wiped her brow.
Applejack swallowed a lump, prising her eyes away from Rarity's love handles. "F-farm work has kept me busy, but Ah promise Ah'll be visiting more often. What can Ah getcha?"
"Oh, just a dozen pies," Rarity said and placed a clinking pouch on the counter. She accepted the pies with a happy squeal and instantly dug into the first one with little regards to manners. She ate an additional two before she could get herself to pack them away and leave.
"Is it always like this?" Applejack asked curiously and stared transfixed at Rarity's added sway.
"Oh yeah, Rarity is our best costumer," Apple Bloom said. "Once ya eat a single piece, yer hooked."
"Well, she looked... happy. Not even caring that she was filling out," Applejack justified. She took a pie and held it up before her, examining it closely. "Ah'm just not sure Ah understand how it works."
"Watch this!" Apple Bloom said and jumped out into the street. At that moment, Fluttershy strolled past them carrying a big empty saddle but was too absorbed in a list to notice them. Apple Bloom whistled to get her attention and called her over. She looked up curious and came to the stall.
"Apple Bloom, what a surprise. I see Applejack allowed you to help her again."
"Sure. Ah promised Ah'd behave," Apple Bloom said and smiled wide. "Can we interest ya in some pie? Some apple fritters perhaps? Or wouldcha prefer a cobbler instead?"
"Oh, I really shouldn't. I'm buying dinner for all my woodland friends," Fluttershy said and smiled back.
"Then have a slice on the house." Apple Bloom took a warm piece of piece from the stall and put it down on the ground.
Fluttershy lowered her head to take a sniff. Her mouth instantly watered uncontrollably. She nibbled at it carefully at first, but quickly shoved her entire face into it. She slammed all of her bits down on the counter and flew away scant moments later, her saddle heaped with apple desserts.
"See?" Apple Bloom said with a smirk.
"Impressive," Applejack said awestruck and scratched her neck. "Just what exactly did ya do ta our apples?"
"Ah just gave them a bit of love," Apple Bloom said innocently.
DAWN OF THE SECOND MONTH
Twilight dropped her satchel on the floor of the library and collapsed right there. Spike instead leant up against the wall and wiped his brow.
"Maybe I went a little overboard with your brother's bachelor party? I got a scroll this morning asking if the goat was okay and if we plan to pay for that grandfather clock."
"No, it was a fun vacation," Twilight replied with a tired smile. "I'm just looking forward to read the books I picked up."
She levitated one of them out her bag and placed it before her. She was too tired to move and even to flip the pages. Spike shook his head and went into the kitchen.
"Wait, Earth Ponies and Magic?" she asked and raised an eyebrow. "I must really have been out of it to pick up a fairytale."
"We're not going back to Detrot City to return it," Spike replied, the fwoosh of a can opening following. "Just read one of the others you bought."
Twilight looked with dread into her bag. A shiver ran down her coat and she reluctantly returned her attention to the book before her. "Well... maybe it won't be that bad."
When Spike returned with a sandwich in one hand and a can of coke in the other, Twilight was deeply immersed and propped up on her hooves. He chuckled slightly and sat down by a window to enjoy his lunch.
"Not so bad, is it?"
"No, it's surprisingly well-written!" Twilight said eagerly without looking up. "Listen to this: many just rulers have been earth ponies or have come from earth pony families. Also professions such as masseuses and bakers have been left to earth ponies over time. Why? Because they have an inherent feel for the magic of life within all things."
"Good to hear," Spike said and rested his elbow on the window sill. It was early morning, but the sun was already high and bright. For a long while, Spike sat just enjoying the outsides and his meal when something suddenly made him spit his mouthful of coke all over the window pane.
"T-Twilight... Twilight, you need to see this!" Spike said hurriedly and pressed his face against the glass.
"What is it?" she asked worriedly and looked up from her book, but Spike need not answer. Rarity walked by and Twilight could only stare speechlessly. She went to the window and pushed Spike aside.
Rarity had gone past chubby and was downright plump. A second chin had been fully developed and was fast accompanied by a third. Her distended belly sloshed around and all of her fat bounced as she walked past. But she was not the only one. Almost everypony outside had suddenly ballooned, but it was Rarity who set the standard.
"We've only been gone a month... right?" Twilight asked.
Spike nodded. "You think this is some kind of new fashion thing?" Spike asked and scratched his head.
"I certainly hope not." Twilight bit her lip nervously for a moment, then rushed outside with Spike in her heels. Rarity was slowly lumbering forward, wiping her cherubic face with a rag. "Rarity, hold up!" Twilight hollered.
"Oh Twilight, you're back! Did you have fun with your brother and Cadance?" Rarity said with her mouth full of pie. She took no pause from her meal and greedily consumed pies whole, relying on a nearly endless supply from her saddle.
"Is everything all right, Rarity? What happened to you?" Twilight said with a raised eyebrow. Even Spike had trouble getting close to his otherwise favourite pony.
Rarity looked down at herself, creasing her neck into several folds of fat. "Why, whatever do you mean, darling?" she said and dunked her entire head into another pie, noisily consuming everything until the tray was licked spotless. Twilight observed her for a moment, pondering.
"Hmm. Maybe you'd like to share those pies? They look delicious."
Rarity looked up, cringing. "I'm sorry, Twilight, I couldn't possibly part with any of them. I'm simply wasting away at the thought."
"Could I at least have a slice?" Twilight asked with increasing concern and annoyance. Rarity fidgeted but eventually place one of her pies on the ground.
"Oh all right, dearie, but just a single one. I won't get any fuller if I give away all my food."
Twilight rolled with her eyes while Spike cut a piece out of the pie with his claw. He had barely handed it over to Twilight before Rarity took the pie away from Spike and practically inhaled it. Twilight and Spike could only stare in disbelief as Rarity waddled away, her rump now the size of a small pony. The two gave their hard-earned slice a long stare before silently agreeing never to eat it.
Twilight took it back inside with her to her downstairs laboratory while Spike hung his tongue out and clutched his abdomen, looking a little green around the gills.
She cut off small samples and dropped them down into sizzling test tubes. She investigated the crumbs and the filling down to the molecular structure. She even stared at it hard to see if she could spot anything that might set it apart from other food. For hours she slaved down in her basement until her hair stood out to all sides.
"Anything?" Spike asked and peered up over the counter.
"It's puzzling, to say the least," Twilight said, her eyelids drooping. "Of appearance, this apple pie is without a doubt the least appetising food item I have ever seen. I mean, it only has few traces of actual apple in it. The rest is just dough and cheap condiments to make it look appealing. No one in their right mind would take more than a single piece, yet Rarity is eating her own weight in these things... daily."
Twilight sighed deeply and hung her head.
"Well there's got to be something magical in it then," Spike said and poked an alembic. It sent out heavy smoke that enveloped the basement in a foul-smelling blanket. "Oops."
Twilight's horn glowed and the smoke dissipated again. She tried to tell Spike something, but only coughs escaped her lips. Her eyes then fell on a small vial combined with the alembic. A condensed, translucent liquid remained at the bottom, even as everything else had burned away. She gave a triumphant smile and headed for the stairs.
"Spike, clean up. I have to show Zecora this!"
"Zecora?" he asked uncomprehending and watched her leave.
"Do you know of any other potion masters in the vicinity?"
Twilight rushed out of town, trying hard not to stare at the meaty residents. She slowed down as she entered the Everfree Forest and trod carefully. "Why can't Zecora just live in town? It's not like she's shunned anymore," Twilight said frustrated, looking from side to side at the creepy trees and general gloom.
Zecora's outlandish hut was thankfully not too deep within the forest. Twilight arrived before anything fatal could happen to her. She knocked on the door to the hut and tripped around impatiently with the corked vial dancing in the air around her. Zecora took her time and Twilight was about ready to leave when the door creaked open.
The inside of Zecora's hut was stacked ceiling to floor with apple pies and numerous other apple treats, leaving only limited room for the zebra to manoeuvre. Zecora was now twice the size of what she normally was. Massive rolls of fats waved over her body and she looked high pregnant. Her whole face was smeared with pie and she had serious trouble dragging herself the short way to the door.
"Twilight... with a... something," she panted. She wheezed from the exertion and looked dully into Twilight's eyes.
Twilight recoiled in horror and turned around instantly.
It was a beautiful day in Ponyville and Apple Bloom stood behind her booth with a devious smile for all the ponies that came by. She serviced them innocently as Big Mac heaved larger and larger carts to and from their farm. He had just unloaded another big helping when Twilight went up the stall. She raised a hoof, but was too out of breath to talk.
"Heya Twalight! Care fer a slice of pie?" Apple Bloom asked and put one of her pies on the counter.
"No thanks, and I don't think you should be selling them either," Twilight said concernedly, wheezing.
"Oh?" Apple Bloom asked, feigning ignorance.
"You're the only ones in town selling them, so this... this fat epidemic can only come from you. Listen, there's something very wrong with your pies, I don't know what, but you have to stop making them immediately."
Apple Bloom shook her head and looked up at the unicorn coldly. "Twalight, the new business is important fer us. Our debts have nearly been paid, and then there's repairs ta the farm and a new hip fer granny."
"I'm sorry," Twilight said understandingly, but looked at Apple Bloom with pleading eyes. "You must understand, however, that these pies and I guess all your desserts are extremely dangerous! I don't know what you have done to your apples, but you're obviously dabbling with magic that you have no control over."
"Ah understand," Apple Bloom said with a sigh and went around the stall.
Twilight gave Apple Bloom an encouraging smile until she looked up at her. Twilight barely had time to register that something was wrong before Apple Bloom whistled and two overweight fillies plumped down on Twilight. Both Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle had sampled the treats and were as much under the curse as everypony else. After a whole month of snacking they now weighed as much, if not more, than a grown pony.
Twilight could not move. Her attention on removing the burden on her back, Apple Bloom easily forced a fritter into Twilight's mouth. Even as she spat most of it out, some invariably entered her throat and into her system. Twilight's pupils dilated and her coat prickled up into bristles. Apple Bloom waved a pie under Twilight's nose. She managed to resist it for a full second before gluttony overcame her. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo shuffled off of her, and Twilight bought nearly fifty bits worth of treats.
Apple Bloom clopped her hooves and smirked. "Today, Twilight. Tomorrow, Equestria."
DAWN OF THE THIRD MONTH
"What's going on?" Pinkie asked in surprise and jumped back and forth. Both of the Cakes were busy removing their inventory by shoving all of the displayed confections into large trash bags. There was narrowly a crumb left on the shelves of Sugarcube Corner.
"Cleaning up," Mrs Cake said between pants. She had been on the heavy site from the start, but was pending immobility by now. Her belly dangled dangerously close to the floor and all of her extremities were covered in thick rolls of fat. Pinkie was slim as ever, though, her eyes watering. "Pinkie, we're not closing. We'll just be helping the Apple family with their increased demands."
"And you will still be working here, of course," Mr Cake assured her.
Pinkie sat down on the floor with a confused expression. "So... we'll only be selling apple treats from now on?"
"I know it seems strange," Mrs Cake said and dragged a filled bag across the floor, "but this is a big opportunity for us. We get a discount on their food and we get a share of their profits."
Pinkie nodded her head fervently. "All right!" she said enthusiastically. "I haven't tried baking with apples much, but it can't be that different."
As if on cue, the bell above the door jingled and Applejack entered.
"Howdy Pinkie, heya Mr and Mrs Cake," she said. Outside, Apple Bloom watchfully guarded their loads of apples and apple accessories.
"I don't know what you do with your apples, but they're simply divine. My husband and I just can't get enough of them," Mrs Cake said and beamed.
"Oh shucks, just a bit of love is all," Applejack replied.
"We're very proud of you for choosing us to help you out," Mr Cake said and bowed slightly. "Just go around the back and we'll have those apples made into pies and candied apples and such in a jiffy."
"Are they really that good?" Pinkie asked and peered over Applejack.
"Haventcha tried one yet, sugar cube?"
"No, I've been staying true to my own goodies. But uhmmm, they smell good."
"Well why dontcha have one? We brought some of our wares for ya ta sample ta give you an idea of what we want."
Big Mac entered with a small cartful of assorted apple treats and unloaded them on the bakery floor. Pinkie carefully took a pie into her hoofs and bit down.
"Mmm! Juicy," she replied with her cheeks full and her eyes shut in pleasure.
"Dig in. We brought enough fer everypony," Applejack said.
The three ponies didn't wait for her to finish that sentence before attacking the cart like savage beasts. Pinkie in particular could not get enough. She extended her long elastic tongue and ate ten pies in one go.
Big Mac took the empty cart and went back to the farm while the Apple sisters went around to the back entrance.
"Sure was nice of the Cakes ta offer us help with the baking and selling," Applejack said and looked up at the early sun above them.
"Yes, nice of them," Apple Bloom said in deflection. "We've been making a lot of money lately, it's only natural that we would want ta expand."
"And with all the workers we've hired, we've had a lot free time. Ah can't believe how popular our apples have become," Applejack replied proudly.
"Yes, but Ah still feel we could do better."
Applejack came to a halt behind the store and shrugged off the yoke from her shoulders. The Cakes had somehow already devoured their assigned treats and stood waiting for them. They eagerly accepted the apples and waved goodbye, to which Applejack waved back and smiled.
"Apples alone can only get us so far," Apple Bloom said. "If we could get the other farmers in on our secrets, we could get rich from making them pay tributes to us."
"Tributes? Ah'm not sure Ah like that tone," Applejack said worried, but Apple Bloom simply shook her head.
"We can't stop here. Trust me; there is big money ta be made on this." They wandered into the market district and sized the area up. "Only pick the ponies who still has customers, and don't tell them too much," Apple Bloom instructed.
Everypony in town were more or less living off of what the Apple family could provide them. Only a hoofful of uninfected came here anymore aside from the vendors themselves.
The two sisters nodded in agreement and separated to cover as much ground as possible. Apple Bloom already had her sights set and walked determined towards a carrot stall. The owner didn't have a complete second chin yet and her big gut only had a few rolls of fat. Furthermore, she had a small stock of apples pies behind her and delightfully looked up.
"Why Apple Bloom! Are you here for carrots?" Golden Harvest asked hopefully.
"No, but Ah have a much better deal fer ya," Apple Bloom said.
"We will letcha into our business for the nominal fee of, oh... a hundred bits. Ya will pay us half of whatcha earn AND ya will get a significant discount."
Golden Harvest stared nonplussed for a moment, but eventually nodded. "Yes, of course," she said and instantly procured a small felt pouch.
Apple Bloom greedily accepted it. "Ya will receive a small vial every month. Put it on yer carrots and they will be irresistible. If ya break the deal however and share the potion with anyone, there will be no more pies for ya."
Golden Harvest nodded and sweated nervously.
"Good. Ya should see result already by the first batch and remember ta apply carefully," Apple Bloom said and walked off to find another merchant.
DAWN OF THE FOURTH MONTH
Rainbow Dash zoomed across the skies of Equestria, practising her aerial movements at top speed. She zigzagged between tufts of clouds and looped up and down until Ponyville became visible beneath her. Instead of descending, she climbed higher and higher. The houses were nothing more than small dots before she reversed and dove straight down. She picked up enormous speed and her gums flapped from the wind, but still she pushed on. She turned just before imminent collision and whooshed along the ground like a tornado. She slowed down further and further, approaching Fluttershy's cottage calmly.
She could barely contain her excitement and chuckled slightly as she went up to the cottage door. She knocked once and the door slowly creaked open. Angel appeared in the crack with a stern look on his face.
"Hey there little buddy... is Fluttershy home?"
Angel nodded and opened the door completely. Rainbow Dash stepped inside, the atmosphere stifling her grin. Something about the hut made her coat prickle.
"Fluttershy, look, I'm not mad at you or anything," Dash said and followed Angel up the stairs. "I've known you almost my whole life. You were just intimidated by the prospect of a large crowd, right?" There was no reply as they came up on the first floor landing. Dash laughed nervously. "But you know, I got accepted into the Wonderbolts training programme. I would have loved to have you guys up there cheering for me."
Angel held the door and Dash entered. What she saw inside rooted her to the spot and dropped her jaw. Fluttershy was lying inside on the broken remains of her bed, propped up with pillows in a sitting position. She was long past overweight by now and had become clinically obese. Small animals darted up and down her enormous front, bringing food to her mouth and cleaning out between her flabs.
Fluttershy breathed heavily but had her eyes closed. She was too absorbed in eating to take notice of anything. Rainbow Dash was too aghast to say anything and opted to look around the room instead. Pie trays and paper bags obscured the floor in a thick layer. Dash picked one up and read the label.
"'Sweet Apple Acres New And Improved Apple Pies – You Will Not Be Able To Put Down Our Apples Again, Guarantee'."
"Dash? That you?" Fluttershy said, too weak to open her eyes or even talk properly.
"Fluttershy, have you been eating nothing but pies since I've been gone?" Dash said worriedly and tossed the pie tray over her shoulder.
"No! Apple fondue... apple torte… apple..."
A honey badger crawled up her many layers of fat to deposit a pie by her waiting maw. All of the animals looked tired and starved but continued to work tirelessly.
"Want some?" Fluttershy asked, food spitting everywhere.
"No thanks," Rainbow Dash said and backed away. "Listen, I'd better go see how our other friends are doing."
Fluttershy tried to say something and wriggled her limbs uselessly. They had not been used for such a long time that all muscles had atrophied. Instead she sank deeper into pillows and accepted more pie.
Trying to keep herself from ralphing, Rainbow Dash hastily escaped the room and flew up into the air. Her brow creased with worry as the bad feeling kept eating at her. Below her she found not a single pony not in same state of immobility. Dash shook her head. "No, Rarity of all ponies would never fall for this weird craze."
She landed in front of the Carousel Boutique, finding it hard to simply know. She swallowed a lump in her throat and raised a hoof, but the door creaked open at behest.
Like Fluttershy's, the floor was covered in wrappings of all kings. Rarity herself sat in a room at the back of the boutique, perched on a reinforced divan. She was sleeping with all of her fat oozing over the sides. Her neck had completely disappeared and her arms and legs had widened to the width of small tree trunks. Her belly, her face and her couch were all lathered with jam. She burped and sent a cascade of ripples through her flab.
"Not you too! What... what's going on here? " Rainbow Dash cried with tears of frustration. She hastily retreated outside and spread her wings. "Surely Twilight..."
But no. took up half of the library's lower floor lying on her back. She was absorbed in gorging herself that she flat out ignored Rainbow Dash, even as the latter began talking with Spike.
"Spike, what's wrong with everyone?" Dash asked angrily
"I wish I knew," he said and washed Twilight with a rag on a long stick. She didn't seem to notice and simply levitated more pies to her waiting gullet. She was not a pony anymore, just a mass of flesh unable to even grunt.
"It's got something to do with Applejack's pies, has it?" Rainbow Dash asked and noted the many empty pie trays.
"Yeah," Spike said and wiped his brow. "Twilight was studying them, but she still ate one for some reason. I've been doing nothing since then but clean her and bring her more pies-"
"Applejack." Dash stamped one of the trays flat, but she could still see the unmistakable livery and slogan of Sweet Apple Acres. She shed a tear in anger and stormed out.
"If you're looking for her, try Sugarcube Corner," Spike called after her.
The door to Sugarcube Corner had been widened considerably since Dash was last here. She marvelled at the dozens and dozens of treats on shelves and in glass cases. It was mostly apples, but there were some variations with nearly everything that could be grown and/or eaten. The whole shop was empty at a first glance, but loud munching came from a room beyond the counter. Dash ringed a bell and the noisy eating stopped. A motor sound replaced it and Pinkie Pie emerged on a large engine-equipped trolley.
She was a little smaller than Fluttershy, but long since too heavy to walk on her own. All sense of personal hygiene had been abandoned and she was covered from top to toe in cream, crumbs and cake. Her long tongue extended to lick some of it off her.
"Rainbow Dash! Back from Cloudsdale already?" Pinkie asked with a considerable loss to her usual enthusiasm. It was difficult for her to hold the conversation as she continually wheezed and panted.
"Where is Applejack? She has some explaining to do."
Pinkie nodded almost undetectable and waved towards a large sign over head. "First slice is free."
Rainbow Dash chose to ignore it and the pie it pointed to. The many aromatic smells lingered enticingly and Dash's stomach growled. Sweating, she paced around the floor. She bit into her hoof and closed her eyes, but the temptations where everywhere. Dash tried to stand absolutely rigid, but shook nervously.
"Howdy Rainbow Dash!" Apple Bloom said cheerfully and emerged behind the counter. "Uh, whatcha doing?"
"Nothing," Dash replied and relaxed with a sigh. "Where's Applejack? I want to talk with her."
"Mah sis is out back preparing the apples, but she'll be here soon. Ya want some pie?" Apple Bloom asked and smiled innocently.
"No," Dash replied with a frown. "Since you still look normal, perhaps you can tell me why everypony is overweight and why I keep finding your pie cases everywhere?"
Apple Bloom shook her head and went around the corner. "Ponyville just loves our new recipes, nothin' more. It's not our fault if they can't stop eating, is it?" The innocent tone was slowly turning into one of malice.
"W-well, perhaps no, but why are you still selling these pies knowing what they do to ponies?" Dash felt her cheeks flush and her voice becoming sterner.
"Ah don't think ya understand," Apple Bloom said with a steadily chilling voice. "We're making a lot of money on this. We've finally been able ta pay back our debts and get Granny a new hip and the farm is looking better than ever. Ah don't regret for a moment the things we've had ta do to get this far. Do ya have any ideas what it's like ta never know if we're gonna survive the winter? How it's like ta face losing the farm?"
"And have you even considered the consequences of your actions? The whole town is at a standstill because everypony are too fat and lazy to move!" Rainbow Dash retorted.
"So what are ya gonna do about it? We have done nothing wrong," Apple Bloom said and smirked.
"I'll tell the mayor and put a stop to you," Rainbow Dash replied confidently.
"Try it. Mayor Mare has been in our pockets for months."
"Then I'll go get Celestia and make her turn everything to normal."
Apple Bloom sighed. "Dash, Dash, Dash, this could all have been so easy. Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle!"
Two round fillies emerged out of nowhere and plumped down on Rainbow Dash, knocking the wind out of her. Both of them had feasted well on their relationship with Apple Bloom and had become nothing more than adorable little butter balls with legs and tails. Dash squirmed desperately to free herself, but she could barely breathe.
"Cutie Mark Strangleholds!" the two of them exclaimed.
"Oh. Hey, Rainbow Dash," Scootaloo said with genuine surprise and looked beneath her.
"Oh not you too, Scoots? Can't any of you see what you've been doing to yourselves?" Rainbow Dash asked desperately. She was getting worried as Apple Bloom had inexplicably gone.
"I got my cutie mark in eating!" Scootaloo replied ecstatically.
"My cutie mark in eating is much better than yours," Sweetie Bell replied.
"Yeah," Scootaloo replied in a defeated tone.
"What?" Dash asked. Both fillies still had a blank flank, bigger now than ever.
"Apple Bloom gave us some of the pies and then she told us that we had gotten our cutie marks!" Scootaloo replied. "It was so obvious. There's nothing better than just eating all day."
"So Apple Bloom is behind this?" Dash asked taken aback, her squirming slowly ceasing.
"That's right!" an ominous voice said and Apple Bloom appeared again. "Anypony who eats mah fruit will fall completely under mah spell. Ah think Ah'd better show ya."
Apple Bloom pushed a large tray of extra fattening treats just outside Dash's reach. The apple pies were swimming in chocolate, butter and lard. A green colour swept over Dash's face and she began to gag at the sight and stench of it. Apple Bloom dug in a large spoon and extended it towards Dash who clenched her mouth tightly shut. Apple Bloom nodded and Sweetie Bell wriggled her tail against Dash's hooves.
Dash snorted and her eyes watered, struggling not to laugh. Her resistance was futile however. It took her only moments to start laughing loudly. Apple Bloom instantly forced the spoon inside the opened maw. Dash tried to spit it out, but it clayed against the roof of her mouth and trickled down her throat. Her pupils shrunk to the size of pinheads and drool oozing out of her mouth. Dash was in a momentary ecstasy coma before a loud rumble from her belly awakened her again. The two fillies on top of her rolled off and Rainbow Dash was free.
She was no longer in control of herself and didn't even care how disgusting the pies were, she just wanted more. Apple Bloom grinned down at the once so formidable Rainbow Dash and spat on one of the pies.
"Eat it," Apple Bloom demanded.
Dash didn't need to be told twice and devoured the pie with no further ado. Apple Bloom laughed menacingly and grabbed Rainbow Dash by her hair, pulling her up so that she could look into her eyes.
"Ah own ya now, Rainbow Dash, d'ya understand? Ya will do as Ah say and ya can have all the food ya want." Rainbow Dash nodded eagerly and Apple Bloom smashed her face into the large pile of food.
After ten minutes, Dash sat back on the floor with a pained expression on her face and rubbing her bloated stomach. She was smeared with cream and chocolate from head to toe and groaned quietly in pleasure.
"Clean yerself up, ya disgusting pig." Apple Bloom said and turned her back on Dash. "Mah sister will be here soon and Ah wantcha ta treat her real nice. She's too shy ta admit it herself, but it's obvious that she has crush on ya. Date her and distract her from mah affairs and ya can have the all pies ya can eat."
Rainbow Dash nodded slowly and tried to get up on her hooves, but found that she was too stuffed to move. This riled Apple Bloom enough to lash out at her, kicking her everywhere until Dash panting and with great effort finally managed to get up. Apple Bloom pointed her towards a side room and Dash toddled away.
She emerged a little while later with damp mane and new pockets of flesh formed on her cheeks, stomach and limbs. Applejack rushed towards her and grabbed her face, moulding it around like playdough.
"Rainbow Dash, what in tarnation happened ta ya?" Applejack exclaimed in shock. Dash cast a sideways glance to Apple Bloom for guidance. The filly simply rolled her hoof and mouthed the words "Get on with it." Dash planted a kiss on Applejack's nuzzle, making her release Dash and taking a step back.
"I came back because I couldn't stand to be away from you a moment longer," Dash replied.
"That's mighty sweet of ya, sugar cube, but what about the Wonderbolts?"
"To Hell with the Wonderbolts!" Dash replied and locked her lips around Applejack's in a passionate kiss. Scootaloo gagged while Sweetie Belled d'awwed.
"Come on, Sweetie Belle, I'll bet you that I can eat more pies than you," Scootaloo said and hoof pumped.
"You're on!" Sweetie Belle replied.
When Rainbow Dash finally released Applejack from their intense kiss, they were both left panting.
"What… what was that about?" Applejack asked.
"I love you," Rainbow Dash replied and the two nuzzled.