Golden Apples

It was a beautiful fall day in Ponyland. Applejack and Bow Tie were picking apples, so Cupcake could make her world famous apple pie. Paradise was flying around them with Franky on her back. She was telling the twelve-year-old stories again. The one about the time the little ponies faced off with Enchantra, which was the ponies' biggest adventure of them all. Franky never got tired of hearing about it, even though he was there!

"So all the unicorns put their horns together," she said. "And a star appeared on Ember's side. She flew into the air, and faced Enchantra and Tirac. In a flash of bright rainbow lights, a force much stronger than that of the Rainbow of Light flew from Ember's star, and blew Tirac and Enchantra to kingdom come!"

"Awesome!" Franky shouted.

"How many times have you heard that story?" Applejack asked.

"A million," Franky said. "But I never get tired of hearing it!"

Applejack shook her head. She began picking apples off aimlessly. Paradise landed on the ground, and Franky picked a bright red one out of the basket. He polished it on his sleeve, and took a bite out of it. Bow Tie began counting up each apple that landed in the basket. Most of them were bright, vivid red, Applejack's favorite kind.

"Fifty-six," she counted. "Fifty-seven, fifty-eight . . . . whoa, Applejack wait!"

"What?" Applejack asked.

"What's a gold apple doing on a red apple tree?"

"Hey, it really is gold!" Franky shouted. "No kidding, AJ! It looks like it's solid gold!"

"Whoever heard of a solid gold apple?" Applejack asked, climbing down the ladder to take a look. "I'm not stupid enough to believe that!"

Applejack got down, and looked at the apple. It looked like an ordinary golden delicious apple to her, except that the peel was indeed solid gold.

"Well, I believe it," she said, licking her lips hungrily. "Are they edible, like golden delicious apples? I wonder what it tastes like?"

The orange freckle faced pony was about to take a bite out of it when Paradise zoomed in between her and the apple as fast as she could. She actually knocked Applejack backwards into a basket of apples.

"Applesauce, anyone?" she asked, with a giggle. Franky covered his mouth with his hand to keep from laughing.

"Applejack, don't eat it!" Paradise shouted. "None of you! Don't take one single bite of that apple!"

"Why not?" Franky asked. "It's just an apple, isn't it?"

"Golden apples aren't just apples," Paradise said. "They are highly poisonous to humans and ponies!"

"What do you mean poisonous?" Applejack asked.

"Sounds like she's been reading Snow White again," Franky said.

"I'm serious!" Paradise shouted. "Golden apples are very rare, but a few will pop up every now and again on any kind of apple tree. If anyone takes a bite, just one bite out of one, they'll become very, very sick."

"Is there a cure?" Bow Tie asked.

"That's one thing I'm not sure of," Paradise said with a sigh. "Just keep that apple away from the Estate!"

With that, Applejack climbed out of the basket, and kicked the golden apple away. Then they brought the rest of the apples (the ones that Applejack hadn't squashed) back to the Estate.

As they were walking back to the Estate, Fizzy came running up the bend with Anne on her back. They were being followed by Julie riding Medley from the air.

"Are you having fun, Julie?" Medley asked.

"Yes!" Julie said with a smile. "I love flying with you, Medley!" 

As Fizzy was running, she tripped over the golden apple Applejack had kicked. She ended up flat on her stomach, and Anne was catapulted off her back. She ended up flat on her face in the dirt.

"Oh Anne!" Fizzy shouted. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean for that to happen!"

"No sweat, Fizz," Anne said, standing up. She began brushing himself off. "No broken bones. I'm okay. How 'bout you? That was some nasty spill there!"

"Are you two all right?" Medley asked, as she landed.

"I just tripped over something," Fizzy said, going back to look for what she fell over. "Oh there it is now!"

"Wow, it's pretty!" Julie shouted as Anne picked up the apple.

"Yeah, phenomenal," Anne said. "Come on, let's get back to the Estate."

The group went back to the Estate and walked into the kitchen just then. Megan and Molly were peeling the apples. Phyllis and Franky were slicing them. Cupcake and Gingerbread were putting the apples into the pie pans.

"Fall is the perfect weather for apple pie," Cupcake said.

"Especially your apple pie Cupcake," Molly said.

"So did you guys have fun on your ride?" Megan asked.

"We sure did," Fizzy said. "Except I tripped over a weird looking apple."

"Yeah I have it right here," Anne said, holding it out.

"Oh wow!" Gingerbread shouted. "I've never seen an apple like that before!"

"What?" Franky asked as he looked over. But before he could see it, Anne put the apple into her pocket and walked off. Fizzy, Julie, and Medley went with her. The four of them were going to play some Bubble Catch. It was a perfect day for games, that was for sure.

After about three rounds, Applejack came around. She sniffed the air, and she could smell apples. She walked over to Anne, and nudged her pocket.

"Got an apple in there, Anne?" she asked, as she bopped Anne's pocket with her nose. "You gonan finish it?"

"I haven't even started on it yet!" Anne shouted. "Applejack, would you stop that?"

"But I'm hungry!" Applejack shouted.

"Oh Applejack, you're always hungry!" Medley shouted. Applejack ignored her and continued nudging Anne's pocket.

"All right, already," Anne said, taking the apple out. "You can have the apple if it'll get you to stop hitting me!"

Anne polished the apple on her sleeve, and held it in front of Applejack. Applejack licked her lips greedily and took a bite out of it. The minute she swallowed, she got a sick look on her face, like she had taken a drink of sour milk. She immediately tried to spit it out.

"Eeeeeyeeeccchhh!" she shouted. "Oooh, that tastes terrible!"

"Maybe it isn't ripe yet," Anne said with a shrug, throwing the apple on the ground. "On with the game!"

Fizzy blew a bubble and sent it to Anne, who sent it to Medley, who sent it to Julie, who sent it to Applejack. But Applejack didn't catch it. She was about to, when she suddenly screamed.

"Oooohhhh!" she moaned. "Oh my stomach!"

"Applejack, are you okay?" Fizzy asked.

"I don't know," Applejack said. She tried to stand up, and doubled over, screaming. "Ohhh! Oh, man!"

"You were right, Anne," Fizzy said. "That apple must not have been ripe."

"We'd better get Applejack back to the Estate," Medley said. "Anne, you go get Galaxy. I have a feeling we're going to need her. And make sure you bring that apple!"

Within minutes, Fizzy, Medley, and Julie got Applejack to the Estate.  She looked deathly ill.

"What happened?"  Cupcake asked with worry in her voice.

"Applejack ate a golden apple,"  Fizzy replied.  "And it made her sick."

"Quick,"  Cupcake said, taking charge of the situation,  "Get her to a bed.  Julie you fill a bucket of cold water, and dunk some washcloths in it.  Fizzy, you find a thermometer.  I'll meet you in the bedroom."

"Right,"  Medley, Fizzy, and Julie replied in unison, then they set off to do the tasks Cupcake ordered them to do.  She, in the meantime, went to gather some of the other ponies, Megan, Molly, and Franky into the Estate.

Anne returned with Galaxy to the Estate, where she met Megan.

"How is she?"  she asked her.

"Not so good,"  she replied,  "at least that's what Cupcake told me.  She kind of took charge of the situation in there."   Anne nodded.

"Okay, Galaxy,"  she said as she held up the apple that Applejack took a bite of.  "What do your sensors say about this apple?"

"Hmm,"  Galaxy said as she looked at it,  "I think I remember hearing about this apple before."

"What about the apple?"  Anne asked.

"Well, I'm not sure, but I heard that whoever took a bite out of that apple would become deathly ill."

"I was afraid of that,"  Anne sighed. 

"Is there a cure?"  Megan asked.

"Yes, but I'm not entirely sure what it is.  Paradise would know better than I do, maybe we should go find her."

"Now why didn't I think of going to her first?"

"I don't know,"  Galaxy replied.  And with that, Anne and Galaxy went to find Paradise with Megan following them.

Back in the bedroom, Cupcake saw that Applejack was running a fever. 

"Cupcake,"  she moaned,  "I think I'm gonna . . ."  

"You're gonna what?" Cupcake asked.

"I'm gonna kiss you!" Applejack shouted, and she leaned up and gave Cupcake a big smack on the lips.

"Ew!" Cupcake shouted, completely taken aback.

Applejack then got a goofy look upon her face and let out a strange sounding laugh.

"Ah heeeeeeeee!" she shouted, sounding a lot like Pete Puma from that one Bugs Bunny cartoon.

"I hope she's not contagious," Franky commented.

"How's she doing?"  Julie asked as she came into the room. Cupcake shook her head.

"Not so good, honey,"  she replied.  "I hope Anne comes back with a cure.  I don't know how long this illness is going to progress."

"She ate the apple?"  Paradise asked when Anne and Megan had finally found Paradise, who had been playing air tag with Masquerade and Wind Whistler.

"Yeah,"  Anne replied,  "and we need to find a cure pretty darn quick."

"Well, the only cure I know of is a special plum.  A plum that will cure the effects of the apple.  Or, actually, the juice of the plum is what's needed to cure the effects of the golden apple."

"Great,"  Anne said in relief,  "that's perfect.  So where do we find this plum?"

"Um . . . I don't remember."


"I only know of the plum, I have no clue how to find it."

"Why I oughta . . ."  Anne then reached out to strangle Paradise, but Megan held her back before she could get a chance.

"Easy, Anne,"  she said,  "I think I know who can tell us where that plum is."

"Who?"  Paradise asked.

"The Moochick."  She then hopped on Wind Whistler, who quickly flew her to the Mushromp.

"Oh, swell,"  Anne said in a sarcastic way,  "the Moochick.  Just the guy I've been wanting to see."

"Hop on, Anne,"  Masquerade said,  "I'll give you a lift."

"Thanks, Mask,"  Anne said as she hopped on the Twinkle Eyed Pegasus.  She then flew after Megan and Wind Whistler, while Paradise followed them.

Once they were at the Mushromp, they found the Moochick looking for something.

"Oh, my, my, my,"  he muttered as he threw assorted junk away.  "Now let's see, where can that book be?"

"Mr. Moochick?"  Megan asked as she, Anne, and the three Pegasi walked in.

"Who is it?"  the Moochick asked as he turned around,  "Oh, Megan.  Let me guess, you need my help again, right?"

"Good guess,"  Anne sighed.  "Listen, we don't have time to beat around the bush.  Where is the plum that'll cure the effects of the golden apple."

"Who ate it?" the Moochick asked in alarm.

"No surprise here, Mr. Moochick," Anne said. "That apple greedy Applejack ate it."

"Applejack," the Moochick said.  "I see.  Well, this is very serious, yes indeed."

"So, where's the plum?"  Masquerade asked.

"The plum.  Oh yes, the Plums of Wellness.  Those can only be found in the Valley of the Rainbows.  However, you must leave quickly.  If you don't get one of them back by sunset, the poor pony may be done for."

"You mean, she could die?"  Masquerade asked in shock.

"Yes."  The Moochick then handed Anne a rolled up map.  "This map shall guide you.  I must warn you that there may be many obstacles along the way.  But there's no time to waste.  You must leave quickly in order to make it back before sunset."

"Yes, right away,"  Megan said as she hopped on Wind Whistler again, and Anne hopped on Masquerade.  "Thank you, Mr. Moochick."

"Do you two think you can get us there relatively quickly?"  Anne asked both Pegasi.

"Of course,"  Wind Whistler said.  "Hold on."  And with that she and Masquerade flew at a relatively fast pace toward Rainbow Valley. 

"I hope they make it back soon,"  Paradise said.

"Yes,"  the Moochick replied.  He then hopped on the white Pegasus.  "In the meantime, take me back to the Estate.  There may be something I can do to help Applejack."   Paradise nodded, and headed back to the Estate.

"How's her fever?"  Gingerbread asked as Julie removed a thermometer from Applejack's mouth, and held it for Cupcake to read.

"Not so good,"  Cupcake replied,  "it's one hundred and one, and climbing."

"We brought some more compresses,"  Molly said as she and Franky walked into the room.

"Cupcake,"  Applejack started.

"What is it, Applejack?" Cupcake asked.

"How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"


"She sells seashells by the sea shore. I am a mother pheasant plucker!"

"What's she talking about?" Fizzy asked, giving Applejack a strange look.

"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers!" Applejack shouted, popping the P's (resulting in a very messy tongue twister). "If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked!"

"Applejack, I know you're sick and all," Franky said, wiping Applejack's spit out of his eye. "But please, say it, don't spray it!"

A few moments later, Paradise flew into the window, with the Moochick on her back.

"I thought you went with Megan and Anne," Julie said as she wrung out a washcloth.

"I was going to," Paradise replied. "But I thought I'd be more help here. I brought the Moochick. He wants to have a look at this for himself."

"Kind of like how he did with Mimic and her horseshoes, right?" Cupcake asked.

"Yes indeed," the Moochick said. "I might be able to cook up something, yes. At least until Megan and Anne return."

"I told you not to eat that apple, Applejack," Paradise said.

"Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat," Applejack babbled.

"This doesn't look good," Paradise said. "What can I do to help?"

"Try and keep Applejack's fever down,"  Ribbon said. "And keep her awake."

"Why, Mr. Moochick?" Fizzy asked.

"Yes, there is a very good reason for that," the Moochick said. "It could make matters worse if she falls asleep."

"Sleeeeeeep," Applejack said. "Beddy bye. Nighty night. Go sleepy time now."

"I'm sorry, Applejack, but you can't go to sleep," Paradise said.

"Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy, sleepy," Applejack babbled.

Paradise sighed. This was obviously going to be harder than it looked.

In the meantime, Anne, Megan, Wind Whistler, and Masquerade were flying over the jeweled desert, looking for where to go.

"I don't know how we're gonna do this," Anne said. "We've only got until sunset to find that darn piece of fruit."

"I'll admit it might be difficult, but it won't be impossible," Wind Whistler said. "We have plenty of time before the sun sets. We should be able to locate the plum and get back within a wink of an eye."

"At least you're sort of speaking English," Masquerade said. "I wonder what the Moochick meant by obstacles?"

"We'll just have to keep our eyes open, I guess," Megan said with a shrug. "Do you see anything on the map, Anne?"

"Yeah," Anne nodded. "There's the river on the map down there. According to the map, we follow the river down stream for a bit."

"Well, then let's go!" Masquerade shouted.

The foursome started to follow the river, until a large spout flew out of it, and soaked the two Pegasus ponies.

"What's going on?!" Masquerade shouted, as she and Wind Whistler struggled to maintain altitude.

"I believe we're going down!" Wind Whistler shouted. "Pegasus ponies can't fly when their wings are wet!"

Everyone screamed as the two Pegasi fell from the sky and landed in the river. It began sweeping them downstream.

"Well, at least we didn't crash on the ground," Anne said with a shrug.

"No," Masquerade said. "But I wouldn't count your chickens before they hatch, Anne."

"What do you mean?"

"Take a look."

The others looked where Masquerade was indicating, and saw a waterfall right ahead of them. And they were heading straight for it.

"Oh no, a waterfall!" Megan shouted.

"Swim for it!" Anne yelled, as she, Megan, and the other ponies tried to outswim the current.

The river's current, unfortunately, was too strong for them. They were swept over the waterfall, and they would have been plastered to the jagged rocks at the bottom of it, if it weren't for what the group heard.

"Shoop-ee-doo, shoop-shoop-ee-doo! Shoop-ee-doo, shoop-shoop-ee-doo!"

The group landed onto half of a giant clamshell, and were brought back up the waterfall, and to the shoreline, courtesy of the Sea Ponies. Masquerade and Wind Whistler shook themselves dry, while Megan squeezed water out of her ponytail, and Anne wrung out her baseball cap.

"Thanks, Sea Ponies," she said, waving at the Sea Ponies.

"No problem," Seawinkle said.

"See you later!" Sea Light shouted.

The Sea Ponies dove into the water and swam off. Anne, Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler continued to walk along, with Anne in the lead, since she was holding the map.

"At least we're goin' the right way," Anne said.

"Now we know what the Moochick meant by obstacles," Megan said.

"Too bad we don't know what that plum looks like," Masquerade said.

"Too bad Paradise isn't with us," Wind Whistler said. "I'm positive she would distinguish what the produce's appearance is."

"Huh?" Anne asked.

"She said Paradise would know what that stupid plum looks like," Masquerade said.

"Is that what she said?" Anne asked. Everyone else groaned.

Fifteen minutes later, the group was away from the river. Anne kept her eyes glued to the map, as opposed to watching where she was going.

"According to this," she said. "There's a hazard coming up soon. And we want to avoid it at all costs. It's a pit of . . . . ."

"QUICKSAND!" Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler shouted, suddenly.

"How'd you guys know?" Anne asked, turning to look at her friends.

"Because you just stepped in it!" Megan shouted.

"I did?" Anne asked. She looked down, and realized that indeed, she had stepped into the quicksand pit, and was sinking rapidly. The quicksand was up to her waist in just a few minutes!

"I've seen quicksand work, but this is a little fast, isn't it?" Masquerade asked.

"Indeed," Wind Whistler replied. "That's no ordinary quicksand."

"Guys, I need serious help here!" Anne shouted. "I'm sinking!"

"Hang on, Anne!" Megan shouted. She was about to go in, but Wind Whistler flew in front of her to block her off.

"No, Megan!" she shouted. "You'll get stuck too, if you go in! We'd better use the Rainbow of Light!"

"Good thinking, Wind Whistler," Megan said. She opened the heart shaped locket, and the Rainbow of Light soared out of it. "Okay, Rainbow. Do your stuff!"

The Rainbow of Light flew towards the quicksand pit. Anne reached up and grabbed it, but it slipped out of her fingers, and she completely went under the quicksand. Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler gasped.

"Anne!" Masquerade shouted, fearfully.

The Rainbow didn't waste a second. It dove into the quicksand pit immediately. The others just stood there, anxiously waiting for it. Finally, the Rainbow flew out of the quicksand pit, wrapped around Anne's waist, like a belt. The Rainbow gently deposited Anne on the ground, flew in circles to clean off, and went back into the locket.

"Good work, Rainbow," Megan said.

"Anne, are you all right?" Wind Whistler asked.

Anne coughed, and spat sand out of her mouth, practically gasping for breath. She shook her head out, stood up, and began brushing sand off her. Masquerade and Wind Whistler used their tails to help her.

"I'm fine," Anne answered Wind Whistler's question. "I've got sand in places I didn't even know I had, but I'm fine. Come on, let's keep going. We don't have time to waste!"

"I think we should fly the rest of the way to the Valley of Rainbows," Megan said, climbing on Wind Whistler's back. "That way, we can avoid any more quicksand pits."

"Good idea," Wind Whistler said.

Anne agreed, and climbed on Masquerade. The two Pegasi flew off. After flying for what seemed like forever, the group made it to a mountain region. Anne opened the map and looked at it.

"Well, we're nearly there," she said with a smile. "On the other side of the tallest mountain is the Valley of Rainbows, and there, we'll find the special plum trees! According to the map, they'll be plums as far as the eye can see!"

"Well, what are we remaining here for?" Wind Whistler asked. "Onward!"

Wind Whistler and Masquerade began flying. They were about halfway up when they started to tire out.

"The air is getting awfully thin," Wind Whistler said.

"I don't think I can fly anymore," Masquerade said, breathlessly. "I'm pooped!"

"Don't stop now, guys!" Megan encouraged. "We're almost there!"

"I might be able to fly the rest of the way," Masquerade said. "But not with any passengers."

"No sweat," Anne said. "I can climb this easy!"

"How about you, Wind Whistler?" Megan asked.

"Don't be concerned about me, Megan," Wind Whistler said. "I can still carry you up."

It was settled. Wind Whistler would still carry Megan, Anne would climb the rest of the way, and Masquerade would fly up solo. They were thankful Anne could climb as fast as they could fly. They just continued thinking about the task at hand. On the other side of that tall, steep mountain would be the Valley of Rainbows, covered with plum trees.

"I'll bet it's a beautiful valley," Masquerade said, as she and the others reached the top. "Lush and green and full of . . . . ."

"What in the wide world of sports is this?!" Anne yelled, once she reached the top.

The others looked on, and gasped. The Valley of Rainbows looked like a vast desert. The ground was brown and cracking. The trees were bare. No leaves on them at all. Hardly any of them had fruit on them. The remaining plums on the trees had shriveled up to prunes.

"Oh no!" Megan shouted.

"This is terrible!" Wind Whistler shouted. "This can't be the Valley of Rainbows! It just can't be!"

Anne jumped on Masquerade, and she and Wind Whistler flew down to the ground. She double checked the map, sighed, and nodded.

"This is definitely the Valley of Rainbows," she said.

"But the plums!" Megan shouted. "What do we do now?"

"Well," Masquerade said. "There are some prunes on the trees. And prunes are just dried up plums. Maybe we can take one of those, squeeze the juice out of it, and. . . ."

"I'm afraid that won't work," Wind Whistler sighed. "It has to be the juice of the plum. And not a dried up one. I'm afraid we're at a dead end, Anne."

Anne clenched her fists in anger. Out of sheer frustration, she kicked the trunk of the tree. Then she sat down and sighed. This whole thing was beginning to give her a headache.

"There must be another place to look for these plums," Megan said. "Come on. Let's keep looking."

Anne sighed, and climbed onto Masquerade's back. They followed Megan and Wind Whistler down a path. Anne hoped they would find some more plums, and fast. They didn't have much time before the sun set.

Meanwhile at Paradise Estate, the others had their hands full. Poor Applejack was about ready to fall asleep. She hadn't improved any since the others left. Buttons, Ribbon, and Gusty had come in, wanting to help. All Applejack wanted to do was sleep.

"How about a story?" Paradise asked. "I know a great one!"

"What's it about?" Molly asked.

"Well, it's about a big giant that goes boom! Boom! Boom!"

With each "boom," Paradise stomped her foot as hard as she could, making a terrible noise. Applejack let out a scream.

"It's giants!" she screamed. "Giant pink bunny rabbits are coming to take over the world!"

"Okay, bad idea," Paradise said.

"I have one," Buttons said. "Let's play Pony Bubble Pop."

"What's Pony Bubble Pop?" Fizzy asked.

"You blow the bubbles, and Applejack reaches up and pops them," Buttons said. "Sound like fun, Applejack?"

"Pink bunny rabbits!" Applejack babbled. "Pinky winky bunny wunny wabbits!"

"Okay," Buttons said. "I'll take that as a yes."

Buttons and Fizzy lit up their horns. Small bubbles came out. Buttons concentrated, and lifted Applejack's hand, and moved it so she was popping the bubbles.

"See isn't this fun?" Buttons asked. "Now you do it yourself, Applejack!"

Buttons deactivated her horn. But Applejack lacked the strength to keep her hoof up in midair, and it plopped down. Paradise shook her head.

"She's too weak for games, Buttons," she said. Then she sighed. "Gusty, blow some wind in her face. That might keep her awake."

"It's a good way to keep her fever down, too," Ribbon replied.

"It's worth a shot," Gusty said. She lit up her horn and blew a gently breeze in Applejack's face. Applejack let out a moan.

"Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep! Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep!" she sang, like an organ at a baseball game. "Da-da-da-da-da-daaaahhhh! SLEEP!"

"You can't sleep," Gusty said. "You've got to try and stay awake, Applejack! It's for your own good! You just can't sleep!"

"Mama!" Baby Gusty shouted from the doorway. Everyone turned around and looked at her.

"Yes, baby?" Gusty asked. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"

"You mean to Applejack!" Baby Gusty shouted, tears filling her eyes.

"Mean? I'm not being . . . ."

"Are too! You no let Applejack sleep! Applejac sick! Need sleep! You no let her!"

And with that, Baby Gusty ran from the room in tears. The others were a little shocked.

"I don't think I was being mean," Gusty said.

"You weren't," Paradise said. "You were just being firm with Applejack. Baby Gusty doesn't understand that if she goes to sleep, she could be in serious trouble."

"Goodnight sweetheart, well it's time to sleep," Applejack sang. "Dear Mr. Sandman! Send me some sleep! Make it the sleepiest sleep ever sleeped!"

"Sleeped?" Franky asked, giving Applejack a confused look.

"How long until we can let her fall asleep, Mr. Moochick?" Ribbon asked.

"Soon," the Moochick said. "We need to keep her awake a little longer. Then she can fall asleep."

"Why can't she go to sleep now, Mr. Moochick?" Fizzy asked. She glanced over at Applejack, who looked absolutely miserable.

"If she falls asleep too soon, the poison from the apple will spread faster," The Moochick explained. "We need to keep her awake for at least another hour, to make sure the poison has settled. Then she can sleep."

"Little Bunny Foo-Foo hoppin' through the forest, scooping up the field mice and BOPPIN' 'EM ON THE HEAD!" Applejack sang out, and actually bopped the Moochick in the head with her hoof.

"Just another hour, Applejack," Cupcake said, soothingly. "Just another hour. Then you'll be able to sleep."

"Bah balah balah balah balah," Applejack babbled.

Back in the nursery, Baby Gusty was laying on her bed, crying. The other baby ponies just looked at her.

"What wrong, Baby Gusty?" Baby Shady asked.

"My mama being mean!" Baby Gusty wailed.

"She be mean to Fizzy?" Baby Lofty asked.

"No," Baby Gusty said.

"She be mean to my mama?" Baby Shady asked.

"No," Baby Gusty said, tearfully. "She be mean to Applejack! Applejack real sick. Mama no let her sleep. She need sleep."

"Applejack still sick?" Baby Cuddles asked.

"She no better yet?" Baby Shady asked.

"She get better if Mama let her sleep," Baby Gusty sniffled. "But Mama no let her! She no want Applejack to get better!"

"That's not true, Baby Gusty,"  Paradise said as she entered the nursery.  "We can't let Applejack sleep, because she'll get worse if she does."

"But Megan say sleep make people get better,"   Baby Half Note said.

"In some cases yes, but in this case, we just can't do that.  And Baby Gusty, your Mama wasn't being mean.  She was being firm.  There's a big difference between the two.  But don't worry.  Anne, Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler are still out there, trying to make things better."

"Will Applejack get better soon?"  Ember asked.   Paradise gazed out the window to look at the sun.  It wasn't quite sunset yet, but she had no idea how much time was left either.

"I surely hope so, Ember.  I really hope so."

Back at the estate,  Ribbon was dunking another washcloth in the cold water with her hooves. 

"How's her temperature, Cupcake?"  Franky asked.

"Not good,"  Cupcake replied as she shook the thermometer out,  "now it's up to a hundred and four."

"Ribbon, better dunk another washcloth,"  Buttons said.

"Right away," Ribbon replied.

"How much longer is this gonna take?" Franky asked. "I can't take the anticipation much longer!"

"Soon,"  Ribbon said,  "I hope."

"That's about all we can do at this point,"  Gusty sighed.  Fizzy then noticed that Applejack was trying to go to sleep again.

"Sleeeeeeep,"  she muttered.

"No you don't,"  she and Buttons said in unison. 

"Sorry,"  Fizzy said as she blew some bubbles in Applejack's face,  "but you can't go to sleep.  It's for your own good, you know."

"Right,"  Buttons added.  "When Megan and Anne come back with the plum, then you can sleep."

"If they come back with that plum,"  Franky pessimistically said.

"Now, now,"  Cupcake admonished the twelve-year-old,  "that kind of thinking isn't going to help anybody.  We just need to be patient.  Anne and Megan will be here.  We just can't give up hope."

"GLO WORM!" Applejack shrieked. "Needs a new battery. GLO WORM! Needs a new battery. GLO WORM! Needs a new battery. GLO WORM NEEDS SOME MORE JUICE!"

"Sometimes it's hard not to give up hope,"  Fizzy sighed sadly.

Meanwhile, back in the Valley of Rainbows,  Anne, Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler were searching for more plum trees.

"Guys,"  Anne started,  "could ya land for a moment."

"What for?"  Masquerade asked curiously.

"I wanna check the Moochick's map again to make sure we're heading in the right direction."

"Certainly,"  Wind Whistler said as both pegasi landed beside a large tree.  Anne and Megan then hopped off the ponies as Anne unfolded the map.  She gave it an odd look.

"Mm, the Moochick must be writing in sand script now.  Can't make heads or tails of this thing."

"Uh, Anne,"  Megan started,  "I think it's upside down."

"Huh?"  It was then she realized what the blonde girl had said.  "Oh."  She then put the map in the right direction.

As the humans were looking over the map, neither they, nor the ponies realized that from atop the tree was a giant python, and it was eyeing both pegasi hungrily.  In fact Wind Whistler didn't have time to blink before the snake snuck up on her and wrapped her in it's coils, her mouth included.  She did scream, but it came out muffled.

"Wind Whistler!"  Masquerade shouted, which drew the attention of Anne and Megan.  When Anne saw the python lift the light blue pony up the tree, she froze.

"SNAKES!"  she shouted as Masquerade flew herself up in an attempt to save her friend.  "Why does it have to be snakes!  I hate snakes!" 

Wind Whistler, in the meantime was finding it difficult to breathe.  Especially since the snake was choking her to death.

"Hang on, Wind Whistler!"  Masquerade said as she flew around the python's head in an attempt to make him so dizzy he would drop Wind Whistler pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, that tactic didn't work.  Some how another part of the snake also got her wrapped as well.  Masquerade was about to shout "Help!", until her circulation got cut off as well.  Wind Whistler was also turning blue from lack of oxygen.

"All right you refuge from a Tarzan movie!"  Anne hollered as she climbed up the tree, until she reached the branch below the snake,  "either you let them go, or I'm gonna do soemthing you're not gonna like."

The snake didn't appear to be listening.  He thought that the twelve-year-old would make a nice appetizer, and stretched down his very long coils in attempt to wrap her up in them like her two pony friends.  However, Anne was too quick to be caught up in the snake's body.  As soon as those coils approached her, she took a branch and whacked the snake with it as hard as she possibly could.  The snake let out a scream, thusly freeing Wind Whistler and Masquerade from being squeezed to death, and eaten.  The snake then whimpered, and slithered off.  Both Ponies were taking gasping lungfulls of air in an attempt to start breathing again.

"Thank you, Anne,"  Wind Whistler gratefully said as soon as she found her voice,  "without you to aid us we surely would have suffocated."

"No sweat,"  Anne said as she hopped on Masquerade, who gave her a safe lift back to the ground.   Once the two ponies had landed, Megan ran up to them.

"Are you okay?"  she asked all three of them.

"We're fine, babe,"  Anne replied.  "That snake won't be bothering us anymore."

"But let's keep our eyes open just in case,"  Masquerade added.  "After all, I don't want to end up as Snake Chow again."

The others nodded as Megan got on Wind Whistler, before both ponies took flight to find a tree with ripe plums on it.  They had to move quickly, for time was slowly running out on them.

Wind Whistler and Masquerade had decided to stick to flying as far overhead as they could. That way they could avoid pythons, quicksand pits, and anything else that could have been lurking around. Anne was still glancing at the map.

"According to this thing, we should be getting pretty close to a plum tree," she said.

As the two Pegasus ponies flew on, it began to get colder. They had just come to a mountain that was covered with snow.

"Whoa baby," Masquerade said, looking up.

"I'm getting a stiff neck," Megan said, as she bent backwards a little to try to get a good look at the top of the mountain.

"Can you guys fly up there?" Anne asked. Wind Whistler took a good look at the mountain and made a face.

"In theory maybe," she said. "In practicality, heh heh . . . no way, Jose!"

"Yeah, Anne, it's too high up!" Masquerade shouted.

"We'll have to find some other way around it," Megan said.

"No!" Anne yelled. "Something's telling me what we're looking for is at the top of this mountain! And I'm gonna go up and get it, even if I have to climb this sucker!"

"Are you crazy?!" Masquerade shouted.

"You'll never make it!" Wind Whistler shouted. "It's dangerous, it's suicide, it's windy, it's snowing, it's icy, it's freezing cold, it's . . . . ."

"Almost sunset!" Anne shouted. And she began climbing. "If we don't get back before then, Applejack's a goner, and I don't want to see that happen. You stay here. I'll climb the mountain, get the plum, and throw it down to you. Once you have it, get to the Estate as fast as you can! We don't have time to fool around!"

Wind Whistler said nothing. Sometimes, Anne's stubbornness and bossiness could come in handy. Megan and the two ponies just watched nervously as Anne began climbing up the mountain, which was easier said than done. The mountain was extremely high, and on the steep side. It was also icy, and practically smooth as glass. But the snow around it provided good traction.

Finally, Anne made it to the top of the mountain. There was a small tree, bearing tiny purple plums, and she immediately plucked one.

"I've got it!" she yelled. "I'VE GOT IT!"

"She's got it," Masquerade said. "Come on, Anne! I'll fly up as high as I can and you jump on my back!"

Masquerade flapped her wings as hard as she could. She flew about halfway up the mountain. There was no way she could go any higher than that. The wind already made it nearly impossible to fly. Anne jumped, but she missed Masquerade by half an inch. She ended up grabbing onto Masquerade's tail, and was dangling.

"Eeep!" Masquerade grimaced

"Sorry, Mask," Anne said. "I'll try to get on your back. Megan, you and Wind Whistler take the plum!"

Anne tossed Megan the plum, and then climbed onto Masquerade's back. Then the two pegasus ponies flapped their wings, and started to fly back to the Estate faster than they had ever flown before.

"I'm predicting we only have an hour left," Wind Whistler said. "We must hurry!"

When the quartet returned, they had fifteen minutes to spare.

"You guys came not a second too soon!" Magic Star shouted.

"Please tell me you have the plum," Paradise said.

"Right here," Megan said.

"Hallelujah!" Bow Tie shouted, gratefully.

Megan nodded, and darted for the kitchen. She threw the plum into the blender, and liquefied it. Then she poured it into a glass.

"Let's move!" Anne shouted. "We don't have too much time!"

"Did I miss anything?!" a voice shouted, breathlessly. Everyone turned around and saw Anne standing there. She was dripping wet.

The others happened to agree with her there. They ran into the room. The others were practically on pins and needles. Once Gusty saw them, she practically collapsed from exhaustion.

"Whew!" she shouted. "About time you guys got back! I was nearly out of wind!"

"Do you have the plum?" The Moochick asked.

"Signed, sealed, and delivered," Anne said. "And juiced."

Megan took the glass and put it to Applejack's mouth.

"Okay, Applejack," she said. "This should help."

Applejack sort of groaned. Megan poured the plum juice down her throat. Applejack sort of gagged, and it almost came back upstream, but it managed to stay where it was.

"Yuck!" she shouted. "Eeehhh, that tasted worse than the apple did!"

"Can she go to sleep now?" Fizzy asked.

"Yes indeed," the Moochick said.

Applejack breathed of relief, and fell asleep almost immediately after hse closed her eyes.

"Did it work?" Gusty asked. "It doesn't seem like it worked."

"We must give it time," the Moochick said. "We'll know by tomorrow."

When night fell, everyone thought that they would never get to sleep in anticipation for Applejack to wake up.  When morning came, Bow Tie was the first one up.   She also saw that Applejack was sound asleep.

"Applejack,"  she said as she nudged her best friend. "Applejack?"   But the orange pony did not stir.  Needless to say Bow Tie was downtrodden.  "Oh no."

"What's wrong?"  Megan asked after she woke up as well. Anne was right behind her.  The look on Bow Tie's face told the two girls all they needed to know.  Megan bowed her head in sadness as Bow Tie buried her face in the bed.

"We were too late,"  she moaned.

"No,"  Wind Whistler said sadly.  "I believe we did everything possible."

"Maybe the Moochick was wrong for once,"  Masquerade added.

"No!"  Ember cried.  "Applejack can't be dead."  She then ran for the bed.  "Applejack, wake up!  Please wake up!"

"Oh, Ember,"  Twilight said sorrowfully, close to tears herself.

"You can't leave us,"  Ember continued as tears from her eyes fell on Applejack's face.  "Please wake up."

"She's gone, Ember,"  Buttons said as she ushered the baby pony away from the lifeless pony.  "There's nothing any of us can do now."

"NO!"  Ember cried.  "Go to the Moochick!  Please! There's got to be another way to wake her up."

"I wish there were,"  Bow Tie sighed sadly.  "But . . ."  before the blue freckle-faced pony could finish a familiar voice interrupted her.

"Say, would you mind keeping it down?  I'm trying to get some sleep."   Bow Tie, Megan, Anne, and the other ponies quickly turned their heads around and gasped.  By some miraculous incident, Applejack had woken up.

"Applejack, you're awake!"  Bow Tie exclaimed.

"But how?"  Wind Whistler asked, confused.  "According to the Moochick the only way to waken her was with the juice of the plum."

"Not necessarily,"  Paradise replied.  "I remember something else.  If the plum juice should fail, then the tears of a baby pony could also cure her.  I guess in all the rush I forgot to mention that part."

"Oh Paradise!" Gusty shouted, somewhat exasperated.

"Ember!"  Anne shouted in joy as she hugged the baby pony,  "you're a life saver!"

"Thanks, Ember,"  Applekack said as Ember walked over to the bed so she could give her a nuzzle.  "You saved my life."

"I'm just glad you're better," Ember said.

"Well, she won't be completely well until she gets her rest,"  Cupcake said,  "come on every body.  Out of the room."

"Better do as she says,"  Anne said.  And with that everyone walked out of the room, knowing that Applejack was on the road to recovery.


The End