26w, 3dAussie Bronies
It was five street corners, two near collisions and basket of spilled melons before I stopped running. I halted on the side of the road and stood thinking about happened a few hectic minutes ago. I hoped that Lucky Catch would forget about me; because the last thing I needed in my life was another jilted mare out for revenge.
It was a few more minutes before Miss Rarity caught up to me while huffing and puffing like an angry dragon. Unicorns seldom need to gallop anywhere or even perform enough hoof work to keep themselves in shape, the hazards of a horn I supposed. Like most earth ponies I try to keep myself in shape, at least so I’m able to outrun my problems.
“Time Turner!” Rarity called out as she ran up to me, “what were you thinking taking advantage of a mare like that?” Before I could respond she positioned herself in front of me and slapped me across the face.
“Well Time Turner? What in Celestia’s name did you think you were doing back there?” I opened my eyes again and looked into the anger in her eyes. The slap had hurt for a moment, but Rarity looked like she was prepared to do a lot more to me.
“It wasn’t my idea,” I said, “I didn’t ask her to be my marefriend.”
Rarity huffed in outrage. “Then what were you doing kissing her? You certainly were a willing party in that.”
“I was hiding from Vinyl Scratch, that’s why.” I sighed and sat down on the road. I tapped a hoof in invitation for Rarity to join me but she took one look at the ground and decided remain standing.
“Vinyl doesn’t like me, and I didn’t want to interrupt your conversation. I would have waited behind the door but then Miss Desperate and Dateless decided that she wanted a special somepony. Once she forced me out into the lobby and the only place to hide was behind her, that was when she kissed me.”
I continued in a more apologetic tone, “I’m sorry it came to that, her name was Lucky Catch if you must know.” After my apology the righteous rage faded from Rarity eyes, though I doubted that she’d forgiven me. Eventually she restarted the conversation on a different topic.
“Then what is so special about Vinyl Scratch?” Rarity asked.
“Me and Vinyl have a bit of a history, we used to be friends once but we had a bad… falling out. Ever since then she’s gone out of her way to avoid me.” I rubbed my forehead with a fetlock. “Miss Rarity, I need to know why Vinyl was at the animal shelter. Her sudden appearance is too much of a coincidence for her not to be involved somehow.”
“She was simply returning a cat that followed her home last night. How could you possibly think she would be involved in my darling Opalescence’s disappearance?”
“Miss Rarity, a lot of cats have gone missing lately but in almost every case the cat in question has been returned. Opal is only unusual in that she hasn’t been found yet.” I brought myself onto my hooves again. “I can’t be sure if Vinyl is involved with all these disappearances but I intend to find out,” I said with a thump on the ground. “Did she say where she has been performing?” I gave Rarity a “tell me” looks.
“I believe it was some uncouth nightclub called, *ugh*, Fillyfools,” she rolled her eyes as she spoke the name.
I groaned and sat down again. Fillyfools – as the name suggests – caters exclusively to the mares of the mare-mare persuasion. As I’ve mentioned before there’s the four to one mare-stallion ratio to consider, and so it's not uncommon for a mare to take up playing for the all filly team. Personally I have nothing against it, it’s cute, but the nobility and the higher classes seem to have an allergic reaction to it (1).
My problem with Fillyfools is that everyone inside is a mare and so a stallion will stand out like an orange in a field of apples. Getting inside was going to need a cunning plan, but it would be awhile before I could get one together. I looked up at my client, I couldn’t take Miss Rarity with me and she looked like she needed a rest.
“Well, Miss Rarity. I’ll go find out what’s going on with Vinyl at that club. While I’m doing that you can head back to your hotel room and get some rest. Leading you on a race across Canterlot couldn’t have been pleasant for you.” Rarity opened her mouth to say something, probably to argue with me, but she reconsidered.
Rarity opened her mouth to say something, probably to argue with me, but she reconsidered. “Indeed, Mr Turner. I shall retire and come see you at your office tomorrow.” She gave me a smile. “Have a productive evening.” She turned and left, presumably to head to her hotel to get some rest.
“Well that was easy,” I mumbled to myself.
I set off toward the nightlife district while working on my plan to get inside Fillyfools. I delved through my saddlebags while I walked to check my inventory for ideas and found an inspiring article in the issue of the paper I had in my bag.
The article detailed the illegal alcohol trade which had been growing across Equestria in the last few years. In Canterlot the illegal alcohol supply was controlled by a local organized crime syndicate called the Marefia, which held a jealous monopoly on the racket. At the time alcohol was still prohibited by royal edict in response to the widespread poor behaviour that resulted when inebriated ponies lost control of their inhibitions, along with other bodily functions. The cleaning costs were horrible.
The ban is poorly enforced and most nightclubs will still sell disguised cups of the stuff. Alcoholic cider is generally the most widespread and sold as regular cider. A popular club like Fillyfools will sell gallons of cider, especially with Vinyl on stage.
Thus my plan started to take form. I would take a delivery of “cider” to the back entrance of the club and talk my way in to “deliver the keg”. I created a simple disguise by pulling my fedora down over my face and combined it with a terrible Manehatten accent. I’ll admit that it doesn’t sound like much but with a disguise less is more.
Night was approaching as I passed through the Bridle Street Markets and most of the stalls were closing down. I approached one tired looking apple seller who sold me an empty cider barrel for five bits to complete my disguise. I hid my saddlebags inside the keg and set off for the bordering nightlife district while formulating the rest of my cunning plan.
The Fillyfools night club was in a bland building that would have gone unnoticed if it were not for the line of mares waiting to get into the club and the large unicorn mare acting as a bouncer. The black vest she wore suggested she was also a member of the Marefia providing protection to the club. I figured that the crime syndicate had a lot of influence over the venue and controlled the alcohol supply inside.
The sun was low in the sky when seven pm was struck on the palace clock. The loud chime signalled the princess’s magic as the sun accelerated in its orbit to slip over the horizon. A few minutes later the moon rose from the east and settled into its orbit for the rest of the night as Celestia herself retired to her own bedroom (2).
The sudden shift from day to night signalled a change in the atmosphere as music started in the clubs of the nightlife district. Vinyl Scratch, performing under her stage name DJ-P0n3, started her set list inside. Perfect timing, I wanted to get into her preparation room backstage while she was performing so I could search it in peace. After her performance I’d try confronting her with whatever evidence I could find.
Walking with false strain under the “full” keg on my back, I turned down an alleyway leading to the back of the club. As I rounded the corner I found a service entrance guarded by a pair of mares wearing Marefia vests.
There’s a technique I’ve learned that I call the “Hoofington Herding Trick”. The trick relies on the pony herd mentality, in which ponies will tend to follow a leader. It’s quite simple: just act like you’re in charge – or working for somepony who is – and so long as your target believes that you’re actually more important than them, they’ll go along with whatever you say. This is usually as simple as just talking loudly, quickly and even shouting. A little method acting also helps.
The two guards, a pair of pegasi mares, glared at me as I approached. I pretended to be straining under the “weight” of the cider keg and spoke with a feigned urgency while maintaining a confident undertone. It’s not as hard to do as it sounds.
“Extra cider delivery, the boss says you’ll need it.” I didn’t pause to ask permission and walked straight at the door. As I approached the pair extended their wings to block my path with a passable impression of a Royal Guard. I rolled my eyes with a theatrical sigh. To make the trick work you need to take refuge in audacity; over dramatic acting is key and half the fun.
“Can I go in?” I asked as I rocked the keg on my shoulders. “This thing is heavy you know.”
The one my left spoke first with a deep guard voice, “There’s not supposed to be another delivery.”
“That’s DJ-P0n3 on stage isn’t it?” I asked rhetorically. “You’re going to sell out, guaranteed, so your boss told my boss to send around an extra keg and here it is! If your boss didn’t tell you it was coming, it’s not my problem.” I gave them both an impatient look, they were wasting my time and I had better things to do.
“So are you going to keep me out here all night? Or can I get this Tartarus damned thing off my back?”—I had established my authority as being higher than theirs and if their own boss wasn’t keeping them in the loop I didn’t have to care about their petty opinions.
“What’s in the keg then?” the guard on my right asked.
“Apple juice,” I returned.
“It’s apple juice?” Lefty asked, clearly not getting the point.
I gave an “is she that clueless?” look to the guard on the right.
“The best kind of apple juice, the fun stuff, party juice,” I directed at Lefty.
“Didn’t you know cider is made from apples?” Righty asked Lefty.
“Or pears,” I chimed in.
Lefty looked frustrated now. Righty lowered her wing, but before I could ask Lefty to do the same she refused.
“We’re not allowed to let stallions inside the club,” she declared like Celestia herself had decreed it.
“Stop being sexist,” I groaned. “Look this keg is very heavy and I’m having trouble with it. Me, an earth pony stallion. Last time I checked you pegasi were big on agility and speed, not strength. Neither of you two would be able to pick this up and it would probably break those hollow bones of yours if you tried.”
Caught in a glare from Righty, Lefty eventually grumbled and lowered her wing. I gave a nod of appreciation to Righty and went inside.
The service entrance brought me into a short hallway with several doorways leading off from it. I ditched the keg into the first storage room I found and returned my saddlebags to my back. The second room on the left was marked with a star and a name tag reading “DJ-P0n3”. I quickly ducked inside while I was still unseen by anypony else.
Vinyl’s prep room was a mess. Actually, I’m understating it: This room looked like Celestia had dropped the moon here and rolled it around for a bit. It was a square room about five pony lengths in width with a door on the left leading to a storage closet.
On the right the room contained a bed that looked recently slept in with a set of music turntables at the hoof end for Vinyl to warm up on before she went on stage. Most of the remaining space in the room was filled with boxes of records and knickknacks. Where the floor wasn’t taken by boxes it was covered in used glow sticks and other rubbish.
Somehow I suspected that the sole reason Vinyl still had this room was that it would be more effort to evict her than to let her stay. Since that probably also got her more time on stage it was an unintentionally brilliant plan.
The thing that really caught my eye was a box of herbs that sat open on the turntables, marked with the name Nepeta. Vinyl never struck me as the new age type and usually the only green she ever saw was on her dinner plate, a box of herbs like this was unusual. A cursory examination showed that several of the flowers appeared to have been ground up with a mortar and pestle, though for what purpose I couldn’t imagine. I placed a few shoots of the herb into my saddle bags to check later and then started to investigate the rest of the room.
The boxes that were strewn around the room contained everything from spare enchanted parts for the turntables to a pouch containing replacements for Vinyl’s sunglasses. I admit I took a set of them, sunglasses are cool. Unfortunately my looting spree was interrupted by a musically inclined mare crashing through the door.
My head spun toward the door to look into the covered eyes of Vinyl Scratch. Surprise turned to anger on her face and before she could do something violent I said, “Reset.”
Time spun backwards by the full forty two seconds as I drew as much time as possible to hide. As time restarted I searched around for a hiding place and settled on the storage closet. I just had to hope Vinyl didn’t keep anything in there, although judging by the state of the room she probably didn’t.
I galloped across the room and shut myself inside the dark closet. The only contents inside were a set of costumes that didn’t suit Vinyl’s style, so I figured I’d be safe for a while. I sat down on the floor and set my eyes against a small vent at the base of the door to see what was happening outside.
There was giggling from the doorway as a pair of mares entered the room with a jug of cider telekinetically floating after them in a light blue glow. The first was Vinyl Scratch herself, her coat damp with perspiration and her horn responsible for the cider jug. The other mare I had never seen before; she had a grey coat, a messy black mane and a pink music thingy as a mark and looked like she was also fresh from the party.
Vinyl was back much sooner than I expected; she was supposed to be playing until early morning. I supposed that the blame lay on the other mare for that. I had been planning on confronting Vinyl myself to get some answers out of her but with the second mare hanging around that part of the plan was effectively bucked.
Vinyl shut the door behind them with a kick and threw a foreleg over her friend to pull her into a hug.
“Tavi, I knew ya had it in you to get down. You should have come out to one of my parties sooner.” Vinyl looked like she was still running on an adrenaline high from her performance and “Tavi” looked a little on edge.
“I will admit it was more jovial than I thought it would be, Scratchy,” the grey mare added a sly tone on the last word.
“Scratchy?” Vinyl exclaimed, pulling her leg back from around Tavi. “I thought I told you ta stop calln’ me that.”
“Only if you stop calling me Tavi,” she returned sweetly.
Vinyl ignored the scowl on Tavi’s face as she walked forward to the turntables and placed the cider jug on one of the decks. Tavi joined Vinyl on the other side of the room from me and blocked my view of whatever the pair was doing. I leaned over to try and get a better view out of the vent but got nothing.
“What is that herb you're putting in the cider?” Tavi asked.
“Nip, it makes the cider stronger and using this is cheaper than buying more of the stuff, since well, they keep raising the price all the time. You know what I mean, Octavia?” Vinyl explained.
The two of sat on the bed together with the cider jug between them. Vinyl brought over a pair of cups and filled each before presenting one to Octavia. The pair brought their cups together and then drank.
“This... is surprisingly delightful Vinyl.” Octavia took another sip. “This herb goes well with the cider.”
“If there’s one thing I know how to do Tavi, it’s how to party hard.” Vinyl followed this declaration by downing her entire cup of cider in a single shot.
“Slow down, Vinyl, this is probably the last batch the club will get this week.”
Vinyl finished her drink and threw her hooves up in the air while cheering, “Whoa yeah. I’ve been three kinds of awesome tonight, the dance floor was rocking, I have my favourite mare and...” Vinyl wrapped her hooves around Octavia. “I’ve got all night with her.”
“Your music was excellent tonight, Vinyl.”
“Yeah, but the night is still young and there’s more where that came from.”
After their next drinks they moved onto a discussion that seemed to be about music. I admit I understood nothing about it. Eventually an off hoof comment from Vinyl about how cute Octavia looked led to the grey mare kissing the DJ in a long drawn out motion that was a surprise to both of them.
As the cider in the jug disappeared the two soon moved into outright fooling around on the bed. I decided that was something I didn’t need to see, and pulled my crossword book out of my saddlebags to pass the time until they went to sleep (3).
It was three pages of puzzles solved under the light of a dull glow stick before the two mares finally fell silent. Soon all I could hear was a light snore from the two mares combined with music from the dance floor. I finished another two pages before I decided it was safe enough for me to sneak out of the room and leave.
I quietly opened the door and crept toward the exit, the room was dark and the lanterns had been turned off, leaving only the old glow sticks on the ground for light. The two mare-friends—the recent sound effects leaving me in no doubt about that—were sleeping together on the bed locked in a loving embrace. It was rather adorable, the two mares sleeping in each other’s arms with smiles on their faces. I wished I had a camera to capture that moment forever.
I regretted my inattention immediately. The distraction caused me to crush a glow stick with an alarmingly loud crunch. I froze, neither of the two mares seemed to notice and I continued with a lot more caution toward the exit.
I closed the door behind me, the light in the hallway dazzling my eyes as they slowly adjusted from the darkness of Vinyl’s closet. The sound from the dance floor continued as the party went further into the night under another DJ. The party wouldn’t stop until Celestia brought the sun back around for the dawn.
“Oh Peeping Colt”, a familiar voice came from behind me with a disturbing sing song quality. I turned my head to look behind me, a mare stood in front of the open door wearing a look of barely restrained sadistic fury. “I hope you enjoyed the show, because I’m about to make you pay for it.”
It was Octavia.
(1) The practice of “filly fooling” is largely accepted across Equestria by the average pony. However the nobility are still against it because they hold status through their hereditary and bloodlines. As filly fooling does not usually result in foals the nobility consider it a threat to their “husbandry” and is therefore considered to be beneath them.
(2) One of the more useful traits our sister shares with me is that neither of us requires sleep as understood by our subjects. Over the centuries however our sister has maintained an illusion that she still requires rest from her duties and retires to her chambers after moonrise. She uses this precious free time to read, meditate and relax from the pressures of court. We however like to sleep for a few precious hours once the dawn breaks, dreams are part of our domain so we take the opportunity to experience it for ourselves, even if it serves little purpose beyond entertainment.
(3)Despite Time Turner claiming to have ignored Octavia and Vinyl we find it unlikely a stallion would pass up a chance to watch a colt’s ultimate fantasy. We consider this a blatant fabrication as Time Turner probably observed the entire encounter.