Hot Plot

by TheBandBrony

Chapter 1: Y'all Forgot Mah Hat

Applejack had never seen an airplane before—not up close, at least. The hulking metal frames of the giant, mechanical birds seemed so much larger than she had always imagined they were. The farmer had only ever seen them flying thousands of feet over her farm, but even from there they still looked so tiny. It still confounded Big Mac, smart as he was, that ponies could fit in something he could block from his vision with a hoof.

Looking up at the giants only made the rough burlap bag on her back wobble precariously, but each time she felt it start to slip she managed to lean far enough to one side to keep it from falling. Gotta get this to Dash in one piece, she reminded herself. That’s why Ah came here in the first place.

As she wandered through the rows of inert machines, she couldn’t help but marvel at such technology. Wheels that retracted with the push of a button, engines that could propel thousands of pounds of steel hundreds of miles an hour using nothing but the power of pure magic, a hull that could withstand the pressure of high-altitude flight without so much as bending—it put her old wagon at home on the farm to shame.

But then again, her old wagon didn’t cost four hundred thousand bits either.

What caught her eye, though, wasn’t the gleaming steel of the fuselages reflecting off the sun. Nor was it the guns, bristling from every odd angle of the planes like stingers from a bee, or the massive wingspan of each monstrous machine, or the distinct, pungent aroma of oil and grease that made her nose wrinkle up as if she had just smelled a skunk.

No, what caught her eye were the pictures painstakingly painted onto the side of each one. Every last airplane in the lot, a good forty or fifty at the very least, had a unique design on the front of the plane—the nose, she reminded herself. She had taken it upon herself to learn the name of every last part of an airplane, more for her own good than anything else. Applebloom’s letters from Wherever-the-hay-she-was-stationed-istan always had so much technical jargon in it that the only pony who could rightly understand what she was saying was the local recruiter.

Applejack sighed as a vision of Applebloom in uniform swam through her head. The day that filly had finally found her cutie mark, she had marched down to the local recruiting station and tried to sign on to the engineer corps. The folks down there had quite a good laugh until they realized she was serious.

Then they only laughed harder, poor filly.

The whole Apple family all knew she was going to sign up the moment she became of-age, but they were still darn furious when she did it—after all, she was needed on the farm more than ever, now that the Celestia Administration was taking a rather large chunk of their crops to help with the war effort. It was for a good cause and all, but it still hurt Applejack dearly to see all those hard-earned apples waltz out the door with nothing but semi-useless war bonds to show for it. The darn scraps of paper didn’t even make good kindling.

Her mind drifted back to the portraits on the planes. Most of them were rather suggestively dressed mares in rather suggestive poses, but the farmer wasn’t going to deny that they were all well-painted just because they were demeaning. In fact, some of them were downright comical. The “Sweetie Belle” theme seemed particularly popular, especially, as several birds in the line seemed to sport a similar visage of the alabaster unicorn. Applejack knew more than anypony how Rarity’s innocent little sister had turned into somewhat of a sex symbol with soldier-types once her singing career had taken off, but it still gave her a queasy feeling in her gut knowing that stallions—a lot of stallions—thought about her in a less than foal-friendly way.

She ran through the names in her head. Sweetie’s Belle still made her stomach do cartwheels as she saw the very detailed picture of the white pony straddling a bomb. Equestria Untamed offered an up-close look at the part of a mare nopony should ever see. Shoot the Other Ones! brought a small smile to her face, even though Granny Smith would surely box her ears for finding entertainment in such dark humor. At least it wasn’t so sexual, like all the others seemed to be.

And the very last one in the row, Hot Plot, featured an incredibly demeaning, if not shamefully attractive, portrait of an orange earth pony lying on her side, mane splayed out like it had just been blown by a crisp breeze. This one actually had Applejack chuckling—the belittling artwork reminded her of herself in some strange way. The model sported the same long, sandy-blond mane, the same sparkling green eyes, the same toned physique rippling under a sea of orange fur—

Wait a minute... that was her.

Wait wait wait... Ah’m painted onto the side of an airplane? Who in tarnation would—

And then it hit her, like a million tons of bricks compressed into a needle’s point. The only pony she knew who would stoop so low as to turn her proud figure into an alluringly smutty sex-symbol (not to mention the only pony she knew who was even in the Celestial Royal Air Force).

“Dash...” the farmer growled. “Ah’m gonna kick you into next week.” With a spring in her step and a flaming ball of rage incinerating her insides, the orange Apple trotted briskly to the plane in question, never once tearing her eyes off of the painting on its nose.

That is way too detailed, she thought as she rounded the nose of the plane. Sure enough, a prismatic shock of mane fell from an opening in the bottom of the bird’s belly and caught her eye, giving her all the proof her she needed to go ahead and prosecute. The body it was attached to was only partially visible, the top half being wedged into an opening between two steel plates. There that no good two-timin’ mare is. Time to scare the color offa her hair. “Oh, Rainbow Dash?”

The rainbow mane shivered. “Yeah, what’s up—” It took a split second for that signature southern voice to register with the sky-blue mare inside the airplane. And when it did, boy did she jump. Unfortunately for her, her upper body was still stuck inside the innards of the plane, and when she tried to straighten up the only thing she accomplished was whipping her head into a pipe with a crisp ‘donk’.

Even Applejack couldn’t help but flinch as the body of Rainbow Dash reverberated with the hit and went limp, tumbling out of the port and onto the grass in a heap. The farmer gave the pegasus a moment to clutch her head and writhe in agony before marching over and standing over her, putting on the most deadly glare she could muster up.

“Owie owie owie—” Dash’s laments stopped as she noticed a shadow descend over her. Cracking her eyes open despite the pain, she got one look at the farmer over her and snapped them shut again. “Oh... hey, AJ. Didn’t know you were visiting here.”


“So, how have things been at the farm? I’m pretty sure the mess hall has some of your farm’s apples in stock. All the ponies on base can’t get enough of them.”

More silence.

“It’s been tough, not being able to see you girls whenever I want to. But I guess that just comes with being in the Air Force.”

Painfully weighted silence.

“Did you know that Ditzy Doo’s here too? She was the mailmare back in Ponyville, I think you two met a few times before. She’s around here somewhere.”

Deadly silence.

“So... I take it you saw the painting.”

“...Y’all forgot mah hat.” Applejack’s tone was just as dead as Dash was about to be.

“Oh, yeah! Heh—so you did see that.” Rainbow’s painful shifting quickly turned into awkward twitches. She was in deep duty (even then, she couldn’t resist thinking of the small pun that the ponies in uniform just couldn’t seem to get enough of) and she knew it.

“Ah couldn’t miss it, given how massive it is.”

Dash sighed and flipped over, putting her legs under her and getting to her hooves shakily, still clutching at her head. “Okay, okay. So maybe I might have had a hand in this.” Noting how her confession only made the snarl on the farmer’s face more defined, she held her hooves up over her face to protect herself from any incoming blows. “It wasn’t my fault! The stallion who did the paintings told me to pick the coolest thing I knew!”

Oh, that was a low blow. How could Applejack rightly hit Dash now that she had gone and said that? Annoyed rage careened headfirst into honored gratitude, causing a monumental pile-up inside the farmer’s head that halted her cognitive thinking skills indefinitely. “Wait, you think Ah’m the coolest pony you know?”

“Well, yeah! You’re not as cool as me, but hey! Who is?” She tossed out a quick “Kidding, geez!” as Applejack shot her another deadly glare.

“Dangit... Ah’m not gonna hurt ya Dash. But I’m still mighty mad at y’all fer paintin’ me like this. It’s downright disrespectful!”

“It’s pretty well-done, though.”

“Yeah, it is—hey!” Disregarding her earlier promise, Applejack moved in and thwacked Dash lightly on the arm. “Don’t go changin’ the subject on me!”

“Would you two keep it down?” A scratchy, feminine voice rang out from somewhere above the two. “I’m trying to take a nap!”

Dash cupped her hooves and craned her neck up towards the plane. “Sorry, Ditz!” she shouted before turning back to Applejack. “I guess I found Ditzy.” She tried flashing an innocent smile, but the farmpony wasn’t buying any of it.

“Dash... Ah...” Instead of continuing, she let out an exasperated snort. “Dangit. Ah just hope this plane blows up before anypony else has a chance to see this.” The pained expression on Rainbow Dash’s face grew tenfold, and the wrinkles on her furrowed brow deepened into canyons as her eyes shrunk to needlepoints in her sockets. All this negative body language certainly wasn’t lost on the farmer. “Dash... what did you do?”

“Nothing, really! Just... if you happen to see an article in the paper about ‘Equestria’s fastest flier and her new warbird’...”

“The newspaper? Fer goodness sake’s—how many papers?”

“Oh, just a few.”

How many papers, Dash?”

“A couple hundred... thousand.”

Applejack’s jaw dropped like it was never attached to her skull at all. “Great. just great.” The earth pony began to trot around, stomping her hooves like she was a child throwing a tantrum. “Now this—” she gestured angrily at her sensually-posed doppelganger, “is gonna be in every paper from here to Canterlot! just great!” She stopped her mini-tirade just long enough to give Dash a look that could tear a new black hole into the fabric of space. “Ya know what? Ah’m just gonna go before ah end up on one of Playcolt’s spreads!”

Without pausing the earth pony dumped the bag off her back onto the ground and about-faced. “You forgot yer’ bag back at Twilight’s house. Yer’ welcome,” she spat before stomping off without so much as looking back, leaving a darkened veil of realization and guilt in her wake.

All the shouting was a bit too much for Dash to comprehend. She looked at the bag for a moment, then at Applejack. Finally, all the cogs clicked into place with an audible dinging noise. “Wait, AJ!” Forcing her suddenly sluggish wings into motion, she sprung forward and landed with a thump in front of the still-fuming earth pony. “Applejack, listen to me. I’m sorry about this whole thing. A bunch of newsponies from Celestia knows how many newspapers showed up here wanting an interview, and then they wanted photos to go along with the article, and the CO told me to stand in front of the plane and look cool, and we both know how cool I can look if I try, and I kinda forgot about the art.”

“Yeah, y’all were too busy posin’ fer the cameras to notice.” Applejack brushed by Dash, forcing the pegasus to turn and trail after the enraged farmer in her wake.

“Look, AJ, I get it—you hate me. But at least hear me out.” Applejack hesitated with one step, slowing down just enough to let Dash know that she still cared, even if she was still madder than a manticore with a thorn in its paw. “Please, don’t get so mad at me. Would you just stop stalking away for one second please?”

Applejack mercifully stopped and stared at the ground, a heavy frown weighing down the corners of her lips. Finally, she spat out, “Just... talk, before Ah kick you or somethin’.”

Dash took a brief second to breathe a sigh of relief. “Okay, so yes, I did have you painted in a pretty... sexual position, but it was either that or you tearing a griffon in half. Nose art is either sex or gore, there isn’t much in-between.” As sound an argument as this was, Applejack did not look convinced in the slightest.

“Or ya could have picked one of those pin-up mares to be a sex item. You didn’t have to pick me.”

At this, Dash hung her head. “Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t. But I didn’t want a stupid pin-up on my plane. Only the coolest of ponies belong on Rainbow Dash’s airplane!” Even before the lines left her mouth and she struck a dramatic pose, she knew that she would get a smile out of the farmer. Sure enough, the earth pony’s mouth curled upwards ever so slightly as she rolled her eyes at her friend’s theatrics.

“And,” the pegasus continued, “I kinda, um... you know...” For some reason, the last part of her apology was a lot harder to spit out then the rest of it. “I wanted somepony who would... remindmeofhome."

“What was that?”

“I said, I wanted somepony who would remindmeofhome.”

“Quit mumbling.”

“I wanted somepony to remind me of home!” Dash blared a little too loudly. “All the girls send me letters and pictures and all that... but you--AJ, you’re my best friend! When I’m up there in the sky kickin’ griffin flank, I’m not gonna want some mushy love interest distracting me from my job. I want my rough and tumble friend to be there with me, bucking just as many griffin faces as me! If you’re up there with me, then I know that I’ll do better.” Dash’d voice suddenly dropped to a hoarse half-whisper. “And If I do better up there, I’ll have a better chance of getting home in one piece.”

“Oh... uh--gosh.” In all the time Applejack had known Rainbow Dash, the pegasus had never made a statement so genuine that it actually left a pony like her speechless. So she had good reason to be surprised that, when she tried to formulate a response, all that came out was a weak whistle. “Dash, that was...” She couldn’t for the life of her force out any more words, so she just closed her mouth and let a soft silence complete her sentence instead.

The pegasus smirked grimly. “Yeah, I know right? War is turning me into an old mare.”

“No, not that. That actually... made sense. Made a whole lick a’ sense, actually.” Great, now she’s got me all guilty fer yellin’ at her. Frustrating guilt that made her want to stick her head in the nearest hole in the ground and scream joined the guilt/anger/compassion pile-up in her head. “Great, now Ah feel bad fer tellin’ you off.”

“Pff, don’t worry about it!” Ever the friend (and more than a bit thankful to have resolved the glaring nose-art situation), Dash hopped over to Applejack and tossed her legs around her in a huge hug. “I’m just glad you didn’t hurt me for plastering you on the side of an airplane. Anypony else would have killed me if I had painted them onto the side a’ one of these things.”

A low growl rose in Applejack’s throat, but she managed to repress it—just barely. “Hey, RD? Ah just got one more question, if you don’t mind.”

“Shoot, I’m all ears.”

“Why’s the painting so darn sensual? Ah mean, couldn’t you have at least kept it PG?”

“Oh yeah, Ditzy wanted it like that. Before I forget, she also wanted to know if she could write to you while we’re away on deployment—she’s just too much of a chicken to ask you herself.” Applejack’s eyes went as wide as dinner plates as she stared incredulously back at Dash. “I’ll take your silence as a yes, then.”

The pegasus gave a nonchalant shrug, and she bent over to grab the bag in her teeth before turning to hover back to her plane, her wings cutting lazy, rhythmic trails through the air. The farmer reared up and tried to call out, but the pegasus was already gliding back into the fuselage of the Hot Plot and out of earshot.

Applejack gave another annoyed whinny. “That’s it, no more apple pie care packages for that pegasus.” The punishment seemed fitting for such a grave offense on the farmer’s dignity, and with a curt nod to herself she turned and started in the opposite direction, back towards the exit to the base, through the rows of shining, almost surreal warplanes with their gleaming hulls and their bristling guns and their oily aromas and their demeaning nose art.

Yet as she moved to leave, a harsh, nagging feeling tugged at her head, willing it to turn around. Wearily, she complied, her eyes naturally moving towards the last plane in the row—the one still sporting her sensual visage on its front, the bright orange paint boldly contrasting with the dull-grey aluminum. Squinting, she made out a slate-grey pegasus lounging on the top of the great machine, legs and wings splayed out and catching the sun as it fell. That must be that mailmare Dash was yabberin’ about. Ah wonder if she really wanted to write to me... me of all ponies. It almost looked like her fur blended in with the similarly-colored sheets of metal on the outside of the plane, making her look more like a chameleon than a pony.

Dash was still visible, too, her hind legs and tail protruding from the belly of the beast, swaying ever so faintly to a beat in her head. The tuft of rainbow-colored fur shook ever so gently in the faint breeze that drifted in between the metal monsters.

The sight of such a dear friend, so peacefully tranquil despite the looming shroud of war made whatever stubborn pride that was left inside Applejack’s head to shatter like a jade vase being thrown against a brick wall. The farmpony gave a tired smile.

“Well... maybe just one package wouldn’t hurt.”

Author's Notes:

To Max. Get home soon, buddy.

Preferably in one piece.

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