<This chapter is written from Red Tear's perspective.>
I made my way towards the Ravine Cafe, Vagabond's workplace and the Outcasts' unofficial meeting place, where I'd been told to go. As I pushed open the glass door, trying not to attract attention, I was given a hero's welcome by the other Outcasts. My eyes widened as I was wrapped up in a huge bro-hug by Union Jack. I protested loudly before he let go. "Oh, you're one of those ponies that doesn't like being touched? I respect that."
"No," I started, "That's part of it, but it's mostly that I don't know you that well." I peeled his forelegs from around my neck and headed towards the table I always sat at. Usually alone. Vagabond stepped out from behind the counter and moved a large number of tables to make a larger dining-hall style table, which the others immediately sat down at.
I reluctantly took a seat at my table, which was awkwardly joined with a good seven or so of the other ones. I rolled my eyes and groaned as Union Jack tapped on the hardwood with a mug to quiet everypony down.
"Aight," he began informally, "First order of business. We need to officially welcome Red Tear into our fold. Vagabond, eight Ravine Dark Brew. And one Welcoming Party Special."
All of us turned to the front door as the chime rang, alerting us to the presence of a tenth patron. "Hello?" a mare with a brown coat and blue mane asked timidly. "I was told this was where Union Jack and his friends hung out."
"Present." he piped up, before turning to Vagabond. "Make that two WPSs." The mare drew up a chair next to Union Jack. "Everypony," he began, "This is Pitch-Perfect, my new marefriend." He wrapped a foreleg around her and gave her a quick hug.
"So soon?" Vagabond asked from inside the kitchen. "You, like, JUST got over Black Bell a week and a half ago."
"Hold the door a sec. Who's Black Bell?" I asked, plucking absentmindedly at my Telecaster.
"She's Union Jack's ex. Their breakup wasn't a pretty sight." Turntable explained. "He was in a funk for a couple of days after that." My muscles stiffened. "Wasn't it some guy named, like, Subtle Rampage or something like that?"
"WHAT!?" I shouted indignantly, standing on my hind legs and planting my hooves on the table. "First, he turns on me and starts treating me like shit! Then, he goes and steals my first real friend's marefriend!? He's gone too bucking far!"
"Chill out." Union Jack said. "I'm over her now. She's just a memory now that I have Pitch."
I plopped my ass back in my chair, still grumbling. Vagabond came out from behind the counter, levitating a massive tray of coffee. She doled out the small mugs each to an Outcast, and set in front of me and Pitch-Perfect were large metal double mugs. "What the hell is this?"
"Welcoming Party Special. It's sort of an initiation rite. Strongest brew of coffee in existence, exclusive to us." Clockwork explained. "It's a challenge. Anypony who manages to drink the whole damn thing the first try gains massive respect among us. There are only two who've done it. Vagabond and Charger."
I raised an eyebrow. "Challenge accepted. Pass the sugar."
"No." Turntable replied, "That's part of the challenge. You have to drink it black." My eyes widened as I heard the last part of the sentence. I gritted my teeth and took hold of the metal handle.
"You ready?" Union Jack asked. I nod, along with Pitch. "Then drink!" he shouted, and I brought the mug up to my lips and chugged. The coffee roared down my throat, acidic, bitter, and scalding. It tasted like what I imagined fire felt like. After a few seconds, I slammed down the mug.
"Whoa." I mumbled. "That's some good coffee." I looked over to the rest of the Outcasts, who were standing and stomping their hooves. I smirked.
"Your turn, Pitch." Union Jack said. She followed the same motions I did, but she downed the coffee faster. Or so it seemed. She set the mug down and coughed.
"Couldn't finish it. Too strong." she sputtered as Jack patted her on the back.
"Easy there. I don't want you getting hurt." he replied, pulling her close. She coughed again.
"I'm fine Jack. Just drank too much at once." She chuckled and gave Union Jack a kiss on the cheek.
Vagabond stepped up to the table.
"Welcome to the Outcasts. Both of you." she announced. "You're the new blood."
I grinned. I was home.