Appleloosa: a town way out in the middle of the desert. Built within a year, the pioneer ponies worked long and hard to plant a large crop of apple trees. Unfortunately, some time ago a nearby herd of buffalo were upset with the ponies for planting their apple trees upon their Stampeding Trail. This led to many problems that seemed impossible to solve.
The Buffalo were soon driven to stampeding over the town of Appleloosa, and the citizens had no choice but to fight back by throwing apple pies at them. But before the town suffered any major damage, the chief of the buffalo got a taste of their pies, and after reaching an agreement with the sheriff of Appleloosa, a solution was found.
The apple trees that were planted on the path of the Stampeding Grounds were removed while the rest remained around it. The ponies shared their delicious apple pies with the buffalo and since then, they have both remained good neighbors.
But now as the storm clouds spread across the skies and the day refuses to come, the ponies of Appleloosa grow worried; Their crops can not grow properly without sunlight.
Most stayed inside, for the wind is too strong and makes it unbearable for any to play or work outside. They are able to harvest some of the apples for the rest of the town, but without proper care, all the hard work they put into building this town and planting the trees may end sooner than they think.
Outside at the edge of town stands two ponies staring out into the distance, watching the storm as it rages on.
"So, whatcha thinkin' sheriff?" asks the yellow colt who is wearing a brown vest and hat.
"Don't know what ta' think, Braeburn." The sheriff of Appleloosa, Silverstar, shrugs, "It don't look good from here, I can tell ya that."
Braeburn, one of Applejack's cousins, sighs, "I'm startin' ta' worry."
"Bout' what exactly?"
Braeburn holds onto his hat as the wind picks up, "Bout' everythin: Our town, our apple trees…heck, even my relatives all ova' Equestria."
"I feel fer ya'," The sheriff turns and starts making his way back into town, "I say we should head on down to da Salt Block and discuss dis further. It be gettin' too windy out here."
"Right behind ya'." Braeburn agrees as he follows Silverstar.
As the two colts gallop towards the saloon, Braeburn's ears perk up when he hears something other than himself and the Sheriff galloping, "Ya' hear dat, sheriff?"
The yellow coated colt looks around and then sees something approaching. "Look ova' there!" Braeburn points his hoof out in the direction he is referring to.
The sheriff takes a look and can see two ponies heading in their direction, "Well I'll be. Looks like we got ourselves some visitors."
"Those arnt' just any visitors…" Braeburn corrects Silverstar once he recognizes who they are, "…one of dem is ma' cousin, Applejack!" He gallops over to her as fast as he can, anxious to find out what brings her all the way out here like this.
Once Braeburn and Silverstar reach the two mares, they can see how exhausted they are...as well as covered in a little dirt, due to the strong wind that carries it.
"Well hooooowdy cousin! I'm really surprised to see ya' out here. Did ya'll run all the way here from Ponyville?"
Applejack triea to answer, but finds it hard to; The long journey with no water and little sleep has reduced both her and Fluttershy's energy greatly.
"Cousin…?" Braeburn askes again.
"Maybe we should get dem both in da' saloon first. Let dem' have sumin' ta' drink, den we can hear what they have ta' say." Silverstar suggests.
Braeburn quickly agrees once he notices how tired they are. He helps Silverstar carry them both into the Salt Block Saloon, and out of the open where the Darkness and the wind are unfriendly.
Fluttershy and Applejack sit down at one of the tables and are given some fresh water to help with their dry throats. The two mares are very thankful, and drink it all down fast.
"So Applejack, any chance ya'll can tell us what the hay is goin' on? I mean the night has been goin' on all...well...fer longer dan it's suppose to," Braebrun questions as he sits next to her.
"That's right. Without da sun, none of our seeds will grow, and we may all run out of food eventually," the sheriff adds.
Applejack helps herself to another mug of water while the two colts continue asking various questions. After having enough water and of their chattering, the annoyed orange pony bangs the mug on the table, which immediately silences them.
"I think the harvest, and all yer other problems, are da least of yer worries," She informs in a serious tone.
Not only are both Braeburn and Silverstar shocked by her words, but everypony in the saloon as well.
"So, what is it that we have ta' worry about, Applejack," The concern Braeburn asks.
Applejack sighs and explains, "I think it be best ta' round up all the ponies fer a meetin'. Dis is sumthin' they all need ta' hear."
Braeburn knows something is definitely wrong with that outside storm and night that seems endless. He also knows his cousin is not one for lying, and gets out of his chair quickly.
"Alright. If ya'll got sumthin' important to tell, I'll round up everypony I can. Sheriff, I'm gonna need yer help."
Sheriff Silverstar nods and gets up too, then both he and Braeburn leave the Salt Block to gather up everypony in Appleloosa.
Once they are gone, Fluttershy turns to her friend and asks, "Applejack?"
"Well…do you…think they will…believe us ?" she asks nervously.
Applejack nods firmly, "They're gonna have ta. The future of Equestria is at stake."
Fluttershy agrees and returns to drinking the water out of her mug, while hoping the meeting will go as well as Applejack says.
After everypony of Appleloosa gathers in the Salt Block, Applejack spends the next hour or two explaining what happened in Canterlot and everything that followed afterwards up until their arrival here.
The citizens listen well, and once Applejack finishes, everypony in the saloon are at a loss for words; This is something they find hard to believe, but after all that is happening around their town, they do not dismiss her explanation.
Braeburn sits sadly on the floor, "Golly…I-I can't believe it…" he hangs his head to which his hat falls plain off his head, "…so everypony north of here is now a minion of this…Tirek?"
Applejack nodds her head slowly and sadly. Braeburn feels more pain and sadness enter his heart; Everypony feelslt the same way, for many of them have their families up north. They dare not to think of what has befallen them nor what they are like now; Hearing Applejack's tale is already too much to bare.
"So…what are we goin' ta' do about it?" One of the ponies asks.
"Yeah. Should we pack up n' hit the trail?" another asks.
"Run away?! Where would we all go?"
"I don't know…"
The whole saloon rises in an uproar as everypony throw random questions around, arguing on what actions to take. The main subject becomes whether to flee or not. The volume of their voices rise, becoming too loud for a few certain ponies to withstand.
"QUUUIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETT!!!!" screams a voice from out of nowhere. Silence quickly falls upon everypony in the Salt Block.
Applejack looks next to her and noticeds that it was Fluttershy who yelled; The usually quiet and timid, little pegasus can not stand the ruckus and for the first time in a long time, hollers so loud the whole town could have heard it.
"Wow Fluttershy…thanks fer that…" Applejack thanks her friend.
"You're…welcome…",The pink-mane Pegasus squees and hides behind the table, nervous with all the other ponies looking at her, "S-s-sorry…for…yelling…"
"Its alright sugarcube, I'll take it from here," Applejack turns her attention back to the crowd of pioneer ponies and gets up on the table so they can all see her, "There is only one thing we can do: We need to travel north and take back our home from Tirek before he takes over all of Equestria, and the rest of the world!"
The ponies don't know what to think on Applejack's plan; They all have mixed thoughts on the matter.
Braeburn becomes the first to respond to Applejack's supposed solution, "I don't know about that, cousin. A' mean…there are around fifty of us here, and against hundreds of ponies that now serve that monster Tirek, I say runnin' is startin' ta' make more sense."
The other ponies start to agree with Braeburn; Their chances are better off escaping while they have the chance. Though leaving the town they worked so hard to build feels wrong, but it is better than staying and suffering the same fate at the rest of Equestria.
"We can't just leave!" Applejack angrily blurts out, "There is a chance we can win dis here fight!"
"Miss Applejack…" Silverstar interruptss, "…as much as I would like to free everypony from that Tirek fella', unless you have a better plan den us just marchin' to his stronghold with what we have here, we aint budgen'."
"He's right, Applejack. We wouldn't fair well against hundreds with only fifty or so," Braeburn adds, though it pains him for agreeing with the sheriff; He desperately wants to go fight Tirek and save his relatives.
"A' never said we'd be goin' alone. Fluttershy and I came here to ask the buffalo fer help as well," Applejack informs with a snort, "Also, our friends are out looking fer da' zebras and da' dragons, and gettin' their support too.
The whole saloon starts muttering to each other on that subject, which does not help convince them at all.
"Beg pardon cousin, but although askin' the buffalo fer help sounds fine en' all, are ya' sure askin' the zebras and dragons is a good idea?"
"And what may a' ask is wrong with that, Braeburn?" Applejack huffs at her doubting cousin.
"Well, we have never been on good terms with either of dem, from what I've seen and heard. Ya' really think they would help, even with all dis goin' on?"
Applejack snorts again at Braeburn and replies, "That's fer us to find out, once my friends get here…soon I hope." She turns from her cousin to the other ponies, "They are out lookin' fer them as we speak…and I know they will succeed. Until then, I'm going to look fer the buffalo…with or without any of ya'lls help!"
Fluttershy gets up from hiding and stands by her friend, "Me too!"
"Come on everypony. We can do dis, I know we can." Applejack jumps down off the table, "So, who's comin' with me and Fluttershy?"
The crowd says nothing; Fear has already spread and prevented them from wanting to help.
Applejack sighs and starts heading towards the exit with Fluttershy, "Fine! If ya'll won't help, then we'll be on our-"
"Wait Applejack!" Braeburn interrupts, as he comes by her side, "We never said we won't help…we just needed to have a plan, and if ya'll think that askin' others fer help is the best way…then by golly, I say we give it a chance." Braeburn turns back to the crowd, "What da' ya'll say?"
The other ponies still show some fear, but start to believe this plan may work.
"Well, if you and yer friends can deliver what ya' say ya' can, then perhaps there is hope," Silverstar agrees and supports.
Applejack understands and reassures everypony within Appleloosa that other help will come, but until then they will need to bring the buffalo here.
Once the meeting comes to an end, everypony leaves the Salt Block and heads on to their homes to rest; Even though the night remains, their clock is still working and it is late by the hour. Braeburn, Applejack and Fluttershy stay however.
"Well, ya'll can sleep in the rooms upstairs. There open fer ya'." Braeburn informs his cousin and her friend.
"Thanks cousin, that's mighty kind of ya'," Applejack thanks.
"Oh yes…thank you very much." Fluttershy politely does the same.
As the two mares start to head towards the stairs, Braeburn stops his cousin for a moment.
"What is it, Braeburn?" she asks.
"Well…I just wanted to say I'm sorry…fer not supportin' ya' from the start. I have always had yer back, Applejack…its just-"
Applejack cuts him off by giving him a hug and a smile, "Its alright, sugarcube. I know how everypony feels about all dis. But a' promise it will be alright."
Braeburn hugs her back and returns the smile, "I hope so too. See ya' in the mornin'…or in this case a couple of hours. We need ta' be ready fer our trip to the Buffalo territory."
Applejack says goodnight to her favorite cousin and makes her way up the stairs to get some sleep in the spare rooms. Tomorrow, she and those that are be brave enough to tag along, will travel out into the desert and ask the Buffalo for assistance against the Darkness and its Master…Tirek.