In which Applejack the cowpony is reimagined as a humorously godlike figure in the style of legends, tall tales, and Chuck Norris facts. She could outmuscle the rest of Ponyville put together, or outdrink it, but will her prodigious talents be enough to get the princesses out of a bad deal with Tirek?
This story is an experiment in writing in an anecdotal style.
Something, the princesses decided, needed to be done about Tartarus. Just last week, while Fluttershy had been taking Cerberus for a walk, some kind of gigantic cosmic horror had escaped, and it had taken Twilight another season finale to cram it back into Tartarus. Celestia suggested that a colossal wall be constructed to better contain the vast underground prison. Unfortunately, Twilight calculated that such a wall would take decades to build, even with a sizable team. The princesses brainstormed for days, and by the time Applejack returned to the Ponyville area (from keeping an earthquake-weakened office building in Manehattan aloft while it was repaired; not too difficult for Applejack, since the building had only sixty stories), the princesses had made an arrangement she found both surprising and distasteful.
"Tirek's out of Tartarus?" she shouted at Twilight. "Are ya'll princesses nuts?"
"Yes, technically, he is out of Tartarus right now." said Twilight. "But we still have him chained. He's building the wall for us! He's just borrowing the magic of the entire faculty of Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns to do it."
"And just how did ya'll get him to agree to do this?" said Applejack.
"He asked a steep price," said Twilight, "but we were able to haggle him down to nothing. He wanted his freedom and Rarity's and Fluttershy's hooves in marriage. We said that was fine, so long as he could build the wall in a week. If he doesn't make it in time, we get the wall gratis! Or at least what he's finished of it."
Applejack rubbed her chin. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
Twilight scoffed. "My only regret is that we didn't give him a longer time limit. I'll be surprised if he gets half the wall done."
But Tirek, fifteen feet tall and crackling with barely contained power, was a mighty builder. He tossed boulders as if they were pillows and paused neither to sleep nor to eat. The ponies soon realized that Tirek was poised to finish the wall a full two days ahead of schedule. Promises, said Celestia, were not to be broken lightly, but Rarity and Fluttershy weren't eager to marry a giant evil centaur, so this was a problem.
"Howdy, Tirek." said Applejack one morning. Between Tirek's great height and the crashing noises as he tore chunks of rock out of a mountainside, she had to shout to be heard. "Mighty fine work you're doin' here."
"You're very kind." Tirek boomed.
"Up for a little game?" said Applejack. "I ain't had a worthy opponent for tug-o'-war since I took on the adult population of Fillydelphia last fall."
Tirek grunted. "I'm busy."
"How about you use your hind legs? You don't need 'em to build."
"I told you, I'm busy." said Tirek.
"Well, heh, yeah, even you couldn't do all that at once." said Applejack. "My mistake. Maybe some other time, when it won't be so difficult for you."
Tirek snorted and said "All right, you little braggart, I'll play your game."
In lieu of a rope, which wouldn't have lasted long, Applejack got a bundle of long steel cables. Tirek stepped on one end of the bundle with a giant rear hoof while Applejack bit down on the other, and they tugged away. AJ yanked with all her strength, and after an hour of silent struggle, she seemed to be actually winning. But then, as Tirek felt the cables inching their way out from under him, he used his other foot. Now Applejack had to strain just to keep her ground.
Hours passed, and so much sweat poured from Applejack's brow that she created a small saltwater pond, which can be found on the outskirts of Tartarus to this day. But Tirek did not tire, and his efforts at building the wall had not slowed for a moment. After nine hours, Applejack reluctantly let go, congratulating him on his victory.
After a refreshing forty minutes' sleep, and a relaxing day of farm work, Applejack returned to Tirek. She inspected the wall carefully. Tirek wasn't cheating; the wall was solidly built, as tall and broad as the princesses had requested, and even polished. Applejack said some pleasantries to Tirek and turned to leave. Just as she did so, she accidentally-on-purpose bumped into the wall. Placing her weight just so, she made the whole structure wobble. A large section crumbled to pieces. Applejack laughed sheepishly. "What a silly pony I am, bumping into fences like that."
"Stay well away from my wall." said Tirek, and indeed, from then on, he was careful not to let the farmer pony between him and the wall.
The destruction Applejack had wreaked had bought the ponies some time, but not enough. With less than two days to go till the deadline, Tirek looked like he would finish the wall in less than one day. Applejack recounted her tale of woe to Berry Punch over her eighth mug of cider.
"And he hasn't drunk anything the whole time?" said Berry.
"Not one drop." said Applejack.
"I bet he's thirsty." said Berry.
"You might be on to something." said Applejack. "If we could get him drunk… but how much would that take?" She stared off into space and tapped her tankard on the bar. "Carry the six… about three thousand barrels of the strongest stuff."
"Praise Celestia!" said Berry. "That's more than I've served in my whole career. That's more than's in the cellar of the Canterlot barracks."
"Well then," said Applejack, "looks like cider season's comin' early."
There was no question of producing the needed quantity of cider by the usual means. The Apple family would be lucky to produce that much in a whole season, let alone a few hours. Applejack needed something else. She let it be known through the family grapevine that she was looking for a certain pair of unicorns known for wearing straw boaters, and soon, thanks to a tip from her cousin's aunt's college roommate, she found Flim and Flam. By royal request on behalf of Her Highness Twilight Sparkle of Ponyville, Flim and Flam lent their wondrous cider-squeezing machine to the Apples. Everypony in Ponyville, young and old, was pressed into service harvesting every last apple from the Apple family orchards and running it through the machine to produce a swimming pool's worth of grade-A, top-notch, five-star, blow-your-horseshoes-off, one-of-a-kind cider.
"Howdy, Tirek." said Applejack. "Fancy a drink?"
"Don't mind if I do." said Tirek. Even he was sweating now. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy hovered in the air and held a hose aimed at his mouth as Applejack hooked up one barrel after another in rapid succession.
After a thousand barrels, Tirek began to get tipsy. After two thousand barrels, he was uncharacteristically cheerful and clumsy. By barrel two thousand and eight hundred, he was trying not to trip over himself as he belted out a stirring rendition of "Call Upon the Sea Ponies".
With a well-placed kick at a wagon, the last hundred barrels of cider went flying into the air, then landed in a neat tower balanced on Applejack's extended tail. "Hey, you big galoot!" she called. "You want these? Come and get 'em!"
Tirek dropped his work to give chase to Applejack and the precious power tower of cider barrels, but inebriated as he was, Applejack ran circles around him. Soon Tirek stumbled into the wall, smashing hours' worth of work. Panicking, he got back to building, but between all the lost time and his still weakened reflexes, the wall was only nine-tenths done when he ran out of time.
Tirek roared and strained at his chain as the six ponies assembled and used another magical friendship laser to return him to pony size. Applejack herself tossed him back into the now almost fully walled Tartarus.
"It's a shame, though." said Applejack to Big Mac a week later as they oversaw the finishing touches to the Great Wall of Tartarus. "We could've used a drinkin' partner like that. Before him, most I've seen anypony outside our family get down is two-and-a-half thousand barrels, tops."
I stole plot elements of this story from Norse mythology. Astute readers will notice that this story has the distinction of being one of the few adaptions into My Little Pony fanfiction that involves less horse sex than the original work.