“Big Mac! Time to wake up! Come on birthday boy, I made my special pancakes for ya! Hurry before your sisters eat them all!” Granny Smith yelled from the base of the stairs, spatula in hand, she swatted away a sneaky little hand, belonging to her youngest grandchild, Applebloom. “Just wait for your brother.”
“Aww,” The youngest apple sibling sighed, slumping in her chair, “But they smell so good!”
“Come on Mac!”
“Ah’m comin’ Granny,” Mac called from his room, hastily throwing on his closes. He was up much later than usual. Usually he’d be up doing chores well before dawn, but the family rule was on your birthday you got to sleep in, which left Applejack, the middle child of the family to do all the morning chores. Luckily it was Saturday, so she didn’t have to worry about getting to school today.
Honestly though Mac wished they would have left him to his usual schedule. He had a lot of to do today and he didn’t really like being thrown of track so early. His whole day was bound to be messed up, but he held away any real anger. His family was just trying to be nice. Seems they were getting clever too, Applejack unplugged his secondary alarm clock.
Walking down stairs he was greeted with a banner and loud, “Happy Birthday Big Mac” from Granny, Applebloom and Applejack looking tired and covered the filth that came with raising pigs and cows. Not that any of them really minded the smell anymore; they all have grown used to the smell of manure. Course Granny didn’t want any of the slop on her floor, so Applejack had to stand in the mud room till she had a chance to clean off. A plate of pancakes was waiting for her when she was done.
“So, got any big plans for today now that you’re eighteen Mac?” Granny inquired with a hint of mischief in her tone. She always encouraged Mac to engage with the fairer sex, ever since he turned sixteen, her reasoning while a bit outdated for the current times, were well intended. Ever since the passing of their parents Mac had become the man of the house, taking on much of the responsibility and work that came with it. Time normally spent socializing with people his age was sacrificed for paying the bills, leaving Mac with a girlfriend count of zero, which worried Granny to no end.
For Mac though it wasn’t as much of a big deal. He had other things to deal with, much bigger things then a girlfriend, things he’s been waiting this very day for. Today he can legally inherit the family farm.
The Apple Family Farm was about a thirty minute drive out of town, it was were many of the Apple family were born and raised, it was were Granny Smith and her husband, Appleale, settled down and it was also were Mac and his sisters had lived with their parents before they died.
After the death of their mother Applejane, the three of them lived with their father Nico Vega on the farm for about a year or more, before he too died. Leaving the three to live with their closest relative, their grandmother, Granny Smith, Mac had been only thirteen at the time.
Since then the family farm had been held by Cherry Jubilee, a family friend of their parents, who had been granted legal rights to hold the farm till one of them was off proper age to own the land. Through the years, Mac had worked on the farm for Miss Jubilee, who ran the cherry farm down road, together they made Cherry Apple cider and split the profits at seventy thirty. A small price to pay for the rights to use Cherry Jubilee’s processing facilities.
“Mac you paying attention?” Granny snapped at him, bringing him out of his thoughts.
“You weren’t, were you?” Granny said matter of fact.
Big Mac blushed, shaking his head, “Ennope, sorry granny, lot on mah mind.”
“I see,” Granny sighed, the boy was way too young to be acting so old, but it was probably too late to change him now. “I was asking if you had any plans today.”
“Ah’m heading out to the farm to work on the house. Some critters got in there since last time.” Mac looked to Applejack with a frown. “Ah think they’re Fluttershy’s.”
Applejack chuckled nervously, “H-how do you know that? Could be any little critter you know?”
“I know because they didn’t run when I cocked the gun to shoot em’ off the porch.”
“You didn’t shoot them did you?” Applejack nearly screamed only to realize her mistake as Mac smirked. “Oh shoot…”
“Nope,” He said still smiling, “but I will next time. I intend to move back into that house AJ and as nice and sweet as Fluttershy is, I don’t want her critters around the place.”
Sometime earlier this year Applejack had made up with all her old friends after they had been driven apart by Sunset Shimmer, who turned out to be from another world, go figure that. She left a hole in the school and was still helping with the reconstruction. Aj and her friends seemed to be making modest efforts to help the girl, but things were awkward between all them.
Thought not awkward enough for Applejack to let Fluttershy keep her animals at the farm since the animal shelter was currently overflowing. It’s not that Mac didn’t like animals; in fact he found some of them very useful, such as their dog Winona, who kept a lot of varmints away and the cats that wondered around the apple orchid that kept house mouse free. What he did not like was the crap ton of rabbits, mice, otters, ferrets, and every other rat family things Fluttershy dragged out there. He knows she’s an animal lover, but some lines need to be drawn. Also he was pretty sure most of those animals don’t qualify as normal pets. Enhance the reason they probably can’t get rid of any of them at the shelter. Probably didn’t help the animal shelter was run by an honest to God hippy.
“Thanks for the breakfast Granny,” He said rising out of his chair. He took his plate to the sink and cleaned it. “I’ll be at the farm for the entire weekend doing repairs and such; I’ll see you all Monday night.”
“But don’t cha want to have a party or something Mac?” Applebloom asked with big puppy dog eyes and a pout that would give any weak willed soul a heart attack from the cuteness. Lucky Mac was made of tougher stuff. Chuckling he ruffled her hair, knowing she was more excited about the prospects of a party then he would ever be.
“Think of it this way Applebloom, now you’re free to hang out with your friends for the weekend, instead of having to deal with mine.”
“But you don’t have any friends Mac.”
“That you know off,” He smirked patting her head before walking out the door. He chose to disregard the worried faces of Granny and Applejack. On top of no girlfriends, he had very few, if any friends to speak off. Not that he minded if a friend wasn’t willing to help you in a time of need, then they can’t be that close of friend. Something Mac found out the hard way when he asked for help fixing the farm some years ago. He thought he and his friends were tight, when he asked them for help, well he found out how tight that day when none of them showed up to help.
Outside Mac climbed into the family’s old red pickup and fired it up. The engine cranked over weakly, making him frown. The alternator must be going bad. Another thing he would have to take care of. Hopefully there was one lying around at the farm; he’d hate to have to buy a new one. Those things well not back braking expensive, weren’t dirt cheap either.
Pulling out of the drive Mac began the thirty minute out of town. The trip as usual was pretty uneventful with only a few traffic light stops to slow him down. Mac quickly left Granny’s small urban farm, which was slowly being surrounded by town on all sides, for the wide open orchard fields of the rural country. A few turns down some old dirt roads and there was nothing but apples all around him.
Pulling up into the drive way Mac stopped in front of the old house to admire its craftsmanship. He did this every time he came out here before he started his chores. Decided to start inside the house today, Mac made his way to the door, taking a brief note of the dark clouds gathering overhead. Possibly rain for later today, he’d have to be mindful of what he does outside, he didn’t want to start something that could get ruined when the weather turns sour.
As he stepped onto the porch he heard the rustle of critters beneath his feet. He bit back a growl as several bunnies and raccoons ran out from underneath. Fluttershy was in for a talking too Monday.
Reaching for the door handle Mac paused, hearing the sound of gravel crunching behind him. Turning around, he was just in time to see Miss Cherry Jubilee get out her jeep, wearing a flannel shirt and jeans today, rather than her usual southern belle dress.
“I thought I’d find you here, Mac,” She said in her sugary sweet southern tone. “I got something for ya.” She reached into her cleavage, retrieving a note from it. Mac was certain this was something she did because she liked to fluster him. He could feel his ear burning as he reached for the note.
“Thanks,” He said, hurriedly opening the letter. Inside was the deed for the farm, filled out and signed by her to transfer all rights to him. All he needed to do was to sign it and turn it into the bank and the farm would be his.
Cherry Jubilee chuckled, “I thought that would make you happy. How does it feel to be full time partners? I took the liberty of adjusting the profit shares for the cherry apple cider, fifty-fifty on all sales for now on. Only on cider sells just to clarify, unless you have any more cherry apple combo ideas in that big head of yours.”
“Could always make cherry apple pie,” Mac said off handedly, to engross by the fact his dreams were finally coming together.
“I suppose we could do that,” She chuckled, “Oh yeah, I got something else for you too.”
“Yep!” Cherry fumbled in her blouse, searching for the other item, “It’s somewhere around, ah ha! Right here!” She declared triumphantly holding up a second envelop, this one much older looking then the first. “Happy Birthday Mac! I know Nico and Jane would be proud to see the man you’ve grown up to be.”
She kissed him on the cheek, leaving a red lip stick mark; Mac was frozen in place, making Cherry chuckle again as she climbed back into her jeep. Once she was out of sight, Mac regained his composure and examined the note and opened it, only to pause again as he read who it was from, his father, Nico Vega.
If you’re reading this then Jubilee has fulfilled my last wishes and given this note to you on your eighteenth birthday, happy Birthday by the way. I could tell you this letter is a map to some buried treasure or something happy like that, but I’m afraid my message is a bit more sober.
There is something you need to know Macintosh, secrets I kept from you and your sisters, from Granny, and even from your mother. Secrets that I literary took to my grave.
If you wish to know them, then go far into the west orchard, to the place I told you never to go. There you’ll find a shack containing everything you need to know.
If you do not wish to know, then burn this note and burn the shack to the ground and walk away.
The choice is yours. Be warned, if you choose the former, the world as you know it will change and you can never go back.
I know you will do what needs to be done Macintosh.
Signed, your father
Mac wasn’t sure what to think of his father’s note. He wanted to play it off as joke by Cherry Jubilee, she was known for pulling a prank or two when the mood hit her, but this wasn’t her usual M.O. That and she would never do a joke involving the deceased. She thought it too cruel to be funny. The final nail in the coffin of this being a joke was the fact this was defiantly his father’s handwriting.
He didn’t go darting into the west orchard right away because one, it was dangerous out there, and two he had work to do here. Whatever secrets dad had hidden out there could wait a few more hours.
Or so he thought.
Not long into his work, Mac’s thought’s betrayed him as they kept coming back to the words on the note. They played in his mind like a movie reeling playing the same scene over and over again, till finally he had enough! He fetched a flash light and his bowie knife and marched into the orchard to put his mind at ease.
He walked for hours through the trees. The sky darkened overhead threatening rain at any moment. He picked up his pace, too far away from the yard to get back to shelter. His only hope of staying dry lay up ahead. Not a moment latter it began to pour.
Mac let out a frustrated howl as he cut his way through some thorn brushes; stumbling into a muddy clearing. He shivered as the rain soaked his clothes, chilling him to the bone. He wondered if things could get any worse than this. Once again, he cursed as the sounds of distant howls reached his ears.
He knew the sound; he knew the sound very well. From a long time ago back when he was young and his dad was alive. He searched the tree line again, coming to a spot on particular spot, the spot with the glowing yellow eyes.
Wolves. He was surrounded by wolves again! This time dad wasn’t around to protect him.
“Well, COME ON!” He barked banishing his knife. “What are you waiting for?”
A low series of glows rumbled from the trees, and the yellow eyes disappeared. Slowly Mac inched his way westward, towards the direction of the shack. Once he was sure he had his barring right, he ran as fast as he could.
Howls erupted behind him, he heard the patter of paws on the ground behind him, but he dare not look back. He couldn’t look back. He swerved left around a tree, the wolf behind him crashed into it, but more importantly he found the path he’d been searching for. It was a little over grown, but still visible, it was no doubt the path dad had made on his trips out here. Up ahead was the shack.
Speeding up Mac pushed his body harder, gaining ground on the wolves. They seemed to be falling behind, their howls falling into silence. He came to a stop at the door. Foolishly he looked behind him, a dozen glowing yellow eyes watched him from the darkness of the trees, but they didn’t come closer. In fact if he heard right, they were whining in fear.
Keeping his eyes on them, he opened the door and went inside.
Mac slammed the door shut behind him, finding a lock he quickly slammed that shut too, finally letting out a sign of relief he slumped against the door. Out of habit, he brushed his hand along the wall, accidently flicking on a light switch. Much to his surprise the lights turned on, revealing the interior of the ‘shack’ though he’d call it more a mini house.
The shack was at least as big, if not a little bigger then Granny’s two car garage. With a work bench on side with every tool you could ever need on the far west wall, on the north wall was a line of cabinets and cupboards that eventually became a countertop with a stove. On the east wall was a desk with mountains of paper and an old tape recorder. What really held Mac’s attention though was the motorcycle half torn apart in the middle of it all.
He kneeled down brushing the dust off the fuel tank. He remembered it. A 1999 Harley Davidson fat boy, black, dad bought it on auction one day for cheap. He said they could fix it up together, so that one day they could ride together when he was old enough.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he remembered the days Dad and him work on the bike, well it was more of him handing over whatever tool dad wanted, but still it was fun. It was one of the few times he had dad all to himself.
The question was now, why was it all the way out here?
Looking over to the cabinets, Mac walked over and opened the first one and found his dad’s old duster coat, his cowboy hat, an old pair of boots and a complete set of combat style clothing… the latter gave him pause. Why would dad have that? He hadn’t been in the military. At least as far as Mac knew he wasn’t, if he was he never brought it up. Thinking about it now Dad did have a lot of scars, a lot of scars, he looked like Frankenstein when he wasn’t wearing most of his clothes. All the stiches, burn marks, mom didn’t fall for dad for his looks is what he would always say.
Moving to the next cabinet, Mac braced himself for anything and oh boy that was a lot of guns! Now Mac and his sisters were not strangers to guns. Heck they were practically raised with guns in their hands. Every Apple worth their salt could shoot a bull’s eye from at least five hundred yards or more easily and every Apple owned some kind of firearm. That really didn’t prepare Mac for the three shotguns, five rifles, and six pistols and the ten thousand rounds of ammo stacked beside them.
“Ok Dad, you have my attention.”
Taking a quick peek through the mini kitchen Mac found some jerky that amazing was still good, before plopping down on the chair by the desk. He looked through some of the papers; most of them were newspaper clippings, all in involving missing persons. For a moment Mac worried if his dad had something to do with them, till he spotted the map on the wall that looked the ones on crimes shows, asking questions about the victims’ whereabouts. The map was so full of stuff he couldn’t even see where the pins were indicating.
Decided to put a pin on… whatever dad was had been doing; he turned his attention to the tape recorder and the box of taps beside it. Brushing off a tape, he discovered they were labeled chronologically. Picking up the first tape he inserted it into the machine.
“Hello? This thing on? Ok good, it is. Field Scout Nico Vega, Rinin number 088, of Princess Luna’s Night Patrol reporting in. I find myself in a strange world, with an anatomy completely foreign to me. I wound up in this strange world perusing the fugitive Doctor Madhoof through some kind of portal in the chaos of the raid on Rainbow Factory. As of this report, Doctor Madhoof is presumed dead after falling into a rushing river, I am seeking shelter with some locals who found me on the ground. Their names are Granny Smith and Applejane. I hope to find a way home soon, but for now, I am working as a farmhand for room and board.”
There was some nosing in the background and what sounded like pencil scratching on paper.
“Ending note, this world seems to be lacking magic or at least a scares source of it, it also seems the inhabitants are unware it even exists. I will hold my tongue in speaking of such things, less I be branded insane. Ending report.”
(End of tape 1)
Mac blinked, uncertain of what he just heard. He removes the tape from the player and looks at it again. The date read spring 1995, the same year his parents met and two years before he was born. Wanting to know more he inserted the next tape dated the same year.
“Submitting my second report, six weeks have passed since my arrival in this world and I have fully recovered from my injuries and have been working tirelessly on the apple farm. I now have a lot of respect for Commander Applejack’s former craft. Her tales of her apple farming day were not exaggerated, it is very hard work.
So far I have yet to discover any way home, but I have stumbled across some familiar ponies or people as they call them here. Just the other day Applejane introduced me to her friends and classmates, Celestia and Luna.
I must admit it was a struggle not to salute them or call them by their royal titles. Personality wise they are very similar to the Celestia and Luna in my world. Though they lack the aura of grandeur the princesses have. I guess that is to be expected. My Luna and Celestia control the sun and the moon; these two are mere normal human beings.
Nothing further to report.”
(End of Tape 2)
If Sunset Shimmer hadn’t become a she demon and blew up the front of the school, Mac would have thought his dad was insane from just these two tapes. Still the idea that his dad was from the same world as Sunset Shimmer and that Twilight girl was a bit hard to wrap his head around. Did this mean him and his sister were some kind of pony human hybrids?
He shook his head, pushing those thoughts a side for now and popped in the next tape.
(Tape #3, January 1996)
“A new year has begun for this world and everyone is in a very festive mood after the passing of this worlds Hearth warming eve. Applejane herself as been really festive, she held up this weird plant over my head and kissed me. She later said it was called mistletoe and that it was tradition for two people underneath to kiss. Though she seems to have forgotten you’re supposed to hang them in a doorway not… Oh she was… I’m going to stop it here I think.”
(End of Tape 3)
Mac chuckled; from the tone of dad’s voice he was clearly embarrassed. Spotting a picture of his parents he picked it up for a closer look. As fate would have it was a picture of dad and mom under the mistletoe, next to it was a picture of the two with Principle Celestia and Vice Principle Luna, all of them much younger of course. From the look of things they were in their last year of high school.
This got Mac to wondering, did dad ever go to school here? Also how did he do business with the banks if he was from another world? Actually thinking about it now, how did dad get his drivers licenses if he technically doesn’t exist? Better yet how did Sunset transfer into the school with no legal documents? A question he’s have to ask her next time he saw her.
“Might as well listen to all them,” Mac reasoned popping in the next tape, it was more of the same, dad reporting he couldn’t find a way home and that he was spending more time with mom. Honestly it was just nice to hear his dad’s voice again.
Feeling thirsty he let the tapes keep playing as he went to search the kitchen for something to drink. Lucky for him there was a stash of water bottles. He popped the cap of one and began to drink when…
“Today Applejane and I mated…”
He spat the water out and quickly shut off the tape. Deciding he didn’t want know what dad had to say about human mating. Instead he popped in the next tape, hoping it was anything weird. The date on the tape was later in the fall of that year.
“I found a way home. The statue in front of the school leads back home, but…” Nico’s tone was hard to read, but from the sounds of it he might be choking up. “I’m five hundred years to late according to Princess Celestia. Things… things changed so much, everypony, my friends, my comrades, my brethren, even my Princess of the Night. They’re all gone!”
There was a sound of something breaking in the background.
“Sometime after I disappeared, Luna went insane; she’s sealed in the moon now. Celestia offered to make me the captain of the royal guard for my service and experience, but I turned it down. There’s nothing left for me in Equestria. I decided to return to this world, when I got back to the farm… Applejane was crying…
I told her I was going home, saying I had enough money for the trip as the reason for my sudden departure, before I left for Equestria. She smiled and said good bye before I could say anything she ran off and then I left. I later found out from Luna that Applejane is… carrying my foal or baby, whatever the word is. I’m going to be a father!
Nico’s tone changed from depressed to happy.
I’ll admit I’m nervous. I never knew my parents in Equestria, so I’m not sure how I’m going to raise a kid. I’ll have to work the apple farm, there is nothing else I can do, since I lack the legal documents to get a job anywhere else, but that doesn’t matter. I lost one family already. I’m not letting this one slip through my fingers. I’ll do want must be done. That is what Princess Luna taught me and I’m going to do just that.
(End of tape #15)
Mac sat in silence as he digested all the new things he’s learned about his father and all the things he would probably never know. (Unless I go into the portal at the school and ask princess Celestia directly I guess, sounds like she’s still alive from how Sunset Shimmer talks about her with Applejack and their friends.)
He’d think about that later. Right now he was faced with a situation. There was only one more tape left and it was dated just a few days before dad’s death. He had a feeling this one contained the world changing information, not that his world hasn’t changed already, but this one felt different from the other tapes. It felt ominous. Reluctantly he popped in the tape.
(Tape #16 Nico’s final message)
“Macintosh,” Mac nearly jumped at sound of his name, surprised that his dad was speaking to him directly. “I’ll assume you’re listening, because you know what it means to do what must be done and son there are a lot of things that need to be done and you’re the only one who can do them.
To start off I’ll assume you listened to the other tapes, you know I’m a pony from another world, well dragon pony to be technical, but that’s beside the point. The point is I’m not the only one who came through. A few years ago, I dealt with some Sirens from my world, chased them out of town and all that. They’ll probably be coming back once they know I’m dead and buried, so keep an eye out for three girls that like to sing, their leader has orange puffy hair.
Another one is Sunset Shimmer, she’s kind of special case, but I helped her get documented at the court house and set her up in the shack at the edge of the south orchard as close to town as possible. I registered as an adopted member of the Apple family, Granny Smith knows about her to, not the pony from another world part; she just thinks Sunset’s a girl in need of help, which she is. I don’t have enough time to try and get that chip off her shoulder, but maybe she’ll come around someday. Till then look after her.
I wish this is where I tell you that’s it, but it’s not. Our worlds aren’t in sync Mac and the portal at the school isn’t the only way to get here. Creatures have been popping up every now and then, most of the time it’s just some timber wolves from the Everfree forest, but sometimes it’s something more dangerous. I took care of them, but I know there will always be more.
I guess, it’s time to get of the matter, so listen well Macintosh; Applejack your sister is in danger. I knew the moment your mother named her she would probably never live a normal life, no Applejack in the history of Equestria ever has. I’m going to assume it’s the same in this world too.
As much as I hate admit it, it’s my fault. Because of me, magic was brought into this world, not a lot, but then I had you kids, you three are literary the most magical beings in this world and it’s spreading. I could sense it in Applejack’s friends that their own magic was growing stronger inside of them do them being around her. All its going to take is some sucker punch from destiny and they’ll be tossed into a world a magic and danger.
What I need you to do Mac, to protect your sister, I need you to kill, to hunt down anything that comes gunning for her. She’ll probably be able to deal with most of them, but there are enemies that can’t be converted to good, who are evil right down to their hearts and souls. This kind of enemy Applejack and her friends will be unprepared for, so I need you son to do what must be done and put a bullet in them.
Everything you need is here in the shack, if you think a creature is better off a live use the blue shotgun shells to knock them out, red is for killing.
That’s all I have Mac. Do want you need to do. Keep them safe Mac.
(End of Tape #16)
Mac pushed the tape recorder aside, his mind abuzz. He took long deep breaths to calm his nerves, to stop and calmly look at the situation and make the logical choice.
His dad wanted him to become some sort of… monster hunter, an occupation that no doubt would be thankless and payless, of course he had the farm to look after now, which when you got right down to him left him pretty flexible. He was his own boss, so he didn’t have to worry about getting fired or any of that drama, though he would be tied up during the harvest seasons. Which going by Murphy’s Law would probably be the time monsters would show up.
He could just farm and forget about it all, the monsters and magic, but Applejack…
Outside wolves howled, they seemed too lose their fear of the shack and were finally making their approach. Looking at the shotgun in the cabinet Mac knew what he had to do.
Picking up the gun he loaded it for kill and walked outside. He stood his ground as the wolves came into view, revealing their wooden bodies. One pounced into the air flying towards him; he lifted the gun, aimed, and then fired, sending splinters everywhere.
Mac ejected the spent shell, “Well, whose next?”
Three girls ran down a dark alley way, in their hands they carried the shattered remains of their power. They were the sirens and they much to their own surprise have been defeated by a band of teenage girls so many years their juniors it was almost like being defeated by infants!
“What are we going to Adagio?” The blued hair member of the group asked, scared out of her mind.
“I don’t know!” Adagio, their orange haired leader replied angrily, frustrated beyond all belief that they had been defeated at their own game.
“Come on, think of something!” The last member, Aria, demanded.
“Will you shut up and let me think!”
They all came to a sudden stop at the end of the alley way that led to the out skirts of town. They knew this place.
“Hey isn’t this were, you know?”
“Doesn’t matter Sonata, he’s dead, we don’t have worry about him. What?” Adagio snapped slapping away Aria’s poking hand. “What is…it…? Oh no…”
Standing at the end of the alley where they just came was a tall silhouette. The wind blew dramatically raising the figure’s long coat as he walked towards them. The shine of metal gleaming in the moon light told them he was armed.
“It’s can’t be, you’re dead! You’re dead!” Adagio screamed as the figure raised the weapon.
Three shells hit the ground as did the three sirens.
The figure walked into the moon light, revealing his face to the three as they groaned in pain.
“You, you’re not Nico Vega.” Adagio gasped, clutching her guts.
“No, I’m his son. Now you have one of two choices. Come with me or next time it won’t be bean bags that hit you.
Adagio gulped as Mac loaded red shells into the shotgun and pointed it at her. His expression betrayed nothing; he was really going to kill them!
“Well, I’m waiting,” He said cocking the gun.
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