by Rainedash

Chapter 1: First look.

Twilight stared at her basement wall; on it were runes in a perfect circle. Behind her stood Princess Celestia, watching and appraising her student's progress.

One by one the runes grew bright with a scarlet glow as Twilight fed her magic into them. Arcs of energy pulsed and crackled between them. The center became distorted as the color changed and features seemed to get stretched out and collapse.

“Do not try to force it to go faster. Let the runes dictate the speed,” said Celestia.

“Yes Princess.”

“Hey Twilight!” Spike shouted from upstairs.

Her concentration slipped only for a second, but a second was all it took for the magic to backfire. It sent a wave of magic back at Twilight knocking her to the floor. Lying on the floor, she coughed out a puff of smoke. “Spike!” Twilight shouted as she flailed her legs in frustration. “I almost had it. I almost opened the window. What?! What is it?”

Spike peeked around the corner of the now open door. “Sorry Twilight but your friends are here.”

Twilight looked over at Celestia, who nodded. “Alright Spike, tell them I'm down here.”

He saluted and zipped back upstairs.

“I'm sorry,” said Twilight.

“Whatever for?”

“I didn't do it. I could have and I should have, but I failed.”

Celestia encased Twilight in a golden glow, lifting her back onto her hooves. “Then you'll just have to try again.”

“But what if I mess up again? What if you somehow get hit with the feedback? I'll be expelled. I'll have to give up the element of magic. I'll...” Celestia's laugh cut off Twilight's rant. “I'm doing it again, aren't I?”

“Twilight, you really must learn to relax and keep your worry in check.”

The door opened once more, revealing the rest of the element bearers and Spike as they filed into the room. “Have you been-” Applejack stopped and hastily bowed, the others following her lead. “Princess Celestia! Spike didn't tell us you'd be here.”

“Oh yeah. I knew I forgot something,” said Spike, with a snap of his claws.

“So what the hay have you been doing down here all morning?” asked Rainbow Dash.

“Creating an inter-dimensional doorway. Well, not really a door; it's more like a window.” said Twilight matter-of-factly.

Rainbow Dash stared at Twilight, blinking a few times. “...what?”


“Eep,” squeaked Pinkie, as she quickly backed away from the runes and hid behind Rainbow Dash. “Sorry!”

Twilight sat and took a deep breath, hoping to relax her frayed nerves. “Those runes took me three hours to set up and I still have to make sure that they were in fact set up correctly before sealing them onto the wall.”

“Twilight, you may go back to charging them while I explain it,” said Celestia. Twilight gave her thanks and charged up the runes once again. “Do any of you girls know of the multiverse?”

“Multi-what now?” asked Applejack.

“Oh, oh, I do, I do,” exclaimed Pinkie. “Wait, no I don't.” Rainbow facehooved at Pinkie's behavior..

“Ahem. There are an infinite number of universes, each with its own timeline and set of scientific laws. Some of these can be radically different from ours, where even our laws of physics wouldn't work. Others may be exactly the same as ours with only the slightest of differences. For instance, there would be one universe where apes ruled the world.”

“Wow, that would be weird,” said Rainbow. “So, there's one where I'm already the captain of the Wonderbolts?” she asked while striking a dynamic pose.

“That is indeed one possibility,” replied Celestia.

“I think I'm getting something.” The inner circle took on color, mostly various shades of green and brown. There were also sounds coming through but they were far too distorted to understand. “Almost got it.” The picture grew clearer, the colors taking the shapes of trees, grass, and apples. “Got it!”

Celestia patted Twilight on the shoulder. “I knew you could do it.”

“Thank you Princess,” said Twilight.

“It's just Applejack's farm,” said Rainbow.

“Must you be so rude. I'm sure there's more to it than that.,” said Rarity. “Right deary?”

“Oh, just wait and watch. Applejack, where would Big Mac be right now on the farm?” asked Twilight.

“I would say putting some of the supplies back into the barn since his morning chores just ended,” she answered.

The area shown by the window moved or rather the window itself did, going across the orchard and stopping at the barn. The doors were open and sounds of a pony moving around could be heard from within. Twilight waited with bated breath, hoping that this really was in fact a different world and she wasn't just showing Applejack's farm, or something equally mundane.

A figure walked out of the barn: a red mare. She was quite a bit larger than the average mare and certainly more muscular. The mare had a long haystalk sticking out from her mouth, and on her flank was a green apple half.

“Please tell me that ain't who I think it is,” said Applejack.

“It is,” said Rarity.

A voice from beyond the sight of the window was heard saying, “So, what does that leave us?” It sounded vaguely similar to Braeburn's but with more bass to it. “The north west of the field, right?” A stallion came into view; orange coat, shaggy blonde hair, and wearing a stetson hat.

“Eyep. Ah think that's all that's left for the day AJ,” said the red mare.

“Alright. Why don't you take the rest off. Maybe pick up some things from the market. If you're lucky, a certain school teacher might be there.”

“You ain't ever gonna let me forget that, are ya?” asked the mare.

“Hey, you two seemed to get along quite well after the whole love poison business.”

Applejack stood, mouth agape at the scene. “Is that really Big Mac and me up there?”

“Not exactly,” answered Twilight. “To be more accurate, they're alternate versions of Big Macintosh and yourself. It's what you and your brother could have been had a few variables been changed.”

“Doesn't seem to be much of a difference for you darling,” said Rarity.

Applejack turned and glared at Rarity.

“Oh, silly me, did I say that out loud?” asked Rarity, feigning surprise.

Applejack grumbled a response.

“Come now, you know I am only teasing,” said Rarity.

“Did you actually say something like that to Big Mac?” Rainbow asked.

“...maybe,” answered Applejack. “Oh don't give me that look. I just thought it'd be good for the big lug to get out of the house more often an' getting a girlfriend would help.”

In the alternate world, AJ had finished talking to his sister and headed for the last part of the orchard that needed bucking. The ponies watching were looking around at the field, seeing if they could spot any other differences any oddities, except for Rarity. Her focus was purely on AJ.

“Rarity?” asked Applejack.

“Yes deary?”

“Are you staring at my rear end?”

“I beg your pardon?” She turned to see Applejack glaring at her again. “I most certainly am not staring at your rear end, as you put it.”

“Fine, are you staring at his rear end?” Applejack pointed to the window.

“And if I am?”

“Well quit it, it's weird.”

Rainbow leaned in, saying to the pair, “Psst, I think Rarity is hot for your male-self.”

“Rainbow Dash, ladies do not talk about who they're 'hot' for. Though, I will admit, as a male, Applejack does have a certain rugged charm to him.”

Unknown to him, a rainbow colored blur flew over AJ as he collected some fallen fruit. The pegasus landed on a nearby tree. Unlike the earth pony, the pegasus was fairly lean, with any muscle he had being compact. His rainbow mane was short and spiky.

The pegasus picked an apple from the top of the tree and placed it on the end of a branch. He stared at AJ, lining things up just right. When AJ lifted his head, the pegasus kicked the apple, sending it straight into AJ's trademark hat, knocking it off.

“And the crowd guys wild,” said the pegasus, raising his hoof in celebration. He fluttered down, onto the ground. “So, watcha up to AJ?”

“Well, I was trying to do my chores, until somepony decided to knock my hat off,” said AJ, before giving an annoyed snort. Blitz picked up the hat, dusted it off and put it back where it belonged. “Blitz, don't you got some weather duty or somethin' to be doing?”

“Pfft, I wish. Today's been boring.” AJ rolled his eyes and went back to picking collecting his apples. “Hey, need any help?” asked Blitz.

“That depends, think you can keep up?” ask Applejack, with a mischievous grin.

“Th-think I can keep? Really? I can clear ten trees for every one you do.”

AJ laughed. “Nothing but a bunch of hot air if you ain't gonna back it up.”

“You want a competition, you got one.”

Blitz and AJ set off, bucking trees and collecting fruit as fast as their hooves would let them.

“Do I really act like that?” asked Rainbow.

“Eyep,” answered Applejack.

“Nah, I don't see it. Anyways, bet you ten bits Blitz wins.”

“You're on.”

“Stallions or mares, you two never change,” said Rarity.

“I bet ten cupcakes that Blitz wins,” said Pinkie.

“Really darling? Ha.”

“What was that?” asked Rainbow. “You just want to root for AJ cause you like his plot.”

“How dare you.” Rarity turned to Fluttershy. “What about you deary? Sure you agree with me that AJ will win, right?”

“Um, well, he might,” came Fluttershy's small voice. Rainbow glared at her. “Or, um, just maybe, Blitz might win...”

“Well, which is it?” asked Rainbow.

“Um... Maybe it'll be a tie, then everyone can be happy.”

Twilight scratched her chin, assessing the two ponies involved. “AJ is stronger and has more experience, so I'll have to say that the odds favor him.”

“Agreed,” said Celestia. “AJ will win by a single apple.”

“Really?” asked Twilight.

“Call it a hunch.”

The competition continued; they bucked the trees, they gathered the fruit, then they repeated. Every time one gained an advantage, the other would catch up and pass them. They made their way across the orchard, tree by tree, neither showed any sign of slowing down.

AJ bucked a tree and as the apples fell, Blitz leaped onto his back, holding a basket out over AJ's. “Hey!”

“Can't hear you over me winning,” said Blitz through his clenched teeth. When his basket of ill-gotten fruit filled, Blitz jumped down and rushed to the next tree. Blitz sat the basket down under the branches and kicked the apple tree. “Oh come on.”

Like Blitz had done earlier, AJ lined up his shot, waited for just for the right moment, and kicked his basket over to Blitz's, knocking Blitz's basket away just as he got the apples to finally fall..

“There we- wait, what?” Blitz stared at the basket, as it slowly dawned on him what happened.

“Thanks for the assist, hayseed. Mighty sporting of you to help out the competition.” AJ brushed Blitz with his tail while grabbing his basket.

“That's cheating!”

“What's good for the goose is good for the gander.”

The stallions continued going, each trying to one up the other until they reached the last tree. Both placed a basket under it and bucked it, both getting about half the apples.

“Whew,” said AJ as he wiped the sweat from his brow. “Can always count on you giving me a good work out.”

Blitz had also push hard by the competition. He sat panting, looking over his collection of apples. “So, who-” His words were cut off by the soft thud of an apple landing right between the two. They stared, in total silence out it, occasionally looking back up at the other stallion but turning their attention back to the last apple. “One apple probably isn't going to decide who wins.”

“I reckon that you're probably right, hayseed... 3.”

“2,” said Blitz.

“1,” they said in unison. They leapt forward, grabbing at the apple. Blitz reached it a fraction of a moment before AJ, yanking it away as AJ landed on the ground, grabbing nothing but air. With the apple in his mouth, Blitz did a backwards trot to his basket and place it in, all the while looking rather proud of himself.

“Yeah, yeah, you got the last one, no need to show off.” AJ got back up and dusted himself off. “Let's count them up.”

It took them about ten minutes to count through all the apples. “One hundred,” said Blitz, when he finished looking over his pile. “Oh wait, one hundred one.” He had a grin of assured victory. There was simply no way his stack could be matched by AJ.

AJ let out a low whistle. “Mighty find job you did there partner. Over a hundred in this short span is impressive, ah'll give you that.”

Blitz, oblivious to calm and upbeat way AJ was saying it, waved off the complement. “Yeah, well, this is me we're talking about.”

“Sadly though, it just ain't as impressive as one hundred two apples, is it?”

The grin gave way to a scowl. “Wait, are you serious? You beat me by one freaking apple?”

“Eyep. Count 'em yourself if you don't believe me.”

“Wow, that's really impressive Princess,” said Twilight.

“And that is why Lulu never makes bets with me anymore,” said Celestia.

“Oh Solaris dang it,” said Blitz.

AJ sat down next to Blitz and rustled his rainbow mane. “Now don't get upset hayseed.”

He sighed, and visibly became less tense. “Nah, it's cool,” he said, his voice still lacking the same cockiness it carried before.

“You are starting to get better at being a good sport.”

“Thanks. I just don't want to become like Lightning Spark or Gary Griffin.”

AJ pulled him close. “Don't worry hayseed, ah'll be here to knock some sense into you if ya ever get that bad.” AJ leaned in, kissing him him. The pegasus squeaked but offered no resistance; quite the opposite actually, he leaned into the kiss.

“I don't think they'd like us seeing this,” said Twilight as she immediately closed the metaphysical window.

“Now that part sure as shoot ain't never happened in this world,” said Applejack quickly added as the spell ended.

Rainbow sat in stunned silence, wings down and with pupils constricted into small dots.

Rarity looked over Rainbow and Applejack, seemingly appraising them. “Hm...”

“Rarity, what are you doing?” asked Applejack.

“I can see it,” Rarity answered.

“You know, many stories do have friendly rivals discovering romantic feelings for each other,” pointed out Twilight.

“What? No. No no no. Dash and ah are not a couple nor do we have romantic feelings.”

“Oh, oh!” Pinkie was waving her hoof around, trying to draw Applejack's attention. “When you two get married, can I be the party planner?”

“We ain't getting married.”

Rarity gasped. “Applejack, I am disappointed in you. Wanting to date somepony and not ever marry them.” Rarity tsked a couple times. “I thought you of all ponies would value tradition more than that.”

“I'm just happy I can seal these runes and never have to draw them again. No more spending hours making sure they're just the right size and making sure they have the exact right shape,” said Twilight.

“Until the next time you try a spell that needs runes,” said Celestia. Twilight's right eye started twitching.

Unknown to the others, Fluttershy stood in the back of the group. A blush covered her face and her wings stood at full attention as images of the kiss swirled around in her mind.

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