Embers Fall

by CrimsonWave

6 - Variances in Production

Obscurus Noctis stood within a dark crevice of the Clausula warehouse, amongst a large collection of electronics. There were mysterious-looking pianos that dated back to the 1980’s, crammed with switches, buttons, and wires whose functionality would be beyond the knowledge of the unskilled who just wanted to play “Discord”. There was also a new desktop computer that dated back to about 2 weeks ago, fully-loaded with her preferred music production programs.

Welcome to Obscurus’s personal studio, where the musical magic happens. It’s mainly for her, but she lets her colleagues borrow it from time to time. Obscurus always preferred the richer sounds of analog synthesizers over software equivalents, but felt that a digital audio workstation would help her piece things together after dealing with the “hard part”.

Speaking of musical magic, there was a reason why Obscurus suspected that a large number of producers were unicorns: could anypony else operate such finely-tuned instruments with their hooves and/or wings alone? Maybe. She carefully trotted over to the computer to appraise her latest WIP on the stereo system. “Hmm, actually … I’ll probably tweak the sound of this lead synth a bit more in post-production”, she muttered to herself, turning a few knobs with her standard-issue unicorn powers.

Right now, Obscurus was working on a remix of Eight Track’s new song, turning the relatively benign house track into a darker and more foreboding psytrance anthem. It’s been a common stylistic choice for her recently: over the past few months, her music had become just as malevolent as her own persona. Although her loyal fans may think it’s just an act, only a select few knew that this wasn’t just a costume she put on before getting up on the stage.

Although Obscurus invested heavily in her late-model production equipment, she had invested relatively little in sound dampening. “Hey, Obscurus, that remix sounds hot! I could hear it all the way from my dorm!” said Wave Rider, who had just flew up outside the door.

“Thank you, Wave.” Obscurus remarked, before noticing Wave Rider had a rather interesting outfit on. It looked like some type of dark-green flight suit, covered in flickering green LED lights. “Also … what’s that you’re wearing?” she asked.

“I saw the crazy glowing stuff you’ve been wearing on-stage lately, and thought I’d play along.” Wave Rider answered. “Though Train Spot helped me with the finer stuff; it’s really hard to wire up all these diodes with wings and hooves alone.”

“Trust me, it’s not the only thing you’d have trouble with.” Obscurus noted, moving a few more switches around.

“I was testing it out at the festival; it’s a lot more comfortable than it looks.” he continued. “I also made this cool mask thing with integrated fans; trust me, having an air conditioned muzzle was an ingenious idea, given how hot it gets down there in Neighvada for some reason.”

“Foresight is a useful thing.” Obscurus noted.

“The cyberpunk community there was pretty tight-knit too, almost like a family. Everypony was wanting to take pictures with me!” Wave Rider announced.

“Oh, were you indulging in those things everypony else calls a ‘selfie’?” Obscurus asked, with a slightly concerned tone.

“In other words, yes.” Wave Rider declared, whipping out a phone from one of his suit’s conveniently hidden pockets.

He flipped through photos of himself with multiple mares and stallions, each wearing a more ridiculous-looking outfit than the last. “This stallion right here was actually pretty friendly.” Wave Rider noted, bringing up a selfie of himself with a yellow, mohawked Earth stallion wearing black and gray leather padding. “That’s the Chaotic Kisol; we shared some fashion pointers with each other, danced a bit, and so on. It’s cute that we even got matching ma-”

“Wave Rider, you FRATERNIZED with the enemy?!” Obscurus roared.

“Wait, enemy?” Wave Rider asked, feeling a bit puzzled.

“That’s the Sun Beamer horse I was talking about a few days ago. Chaotic Kisol is just his admittedly catchy codename. He’s been trying to expose our plot under the guise of a conspiracy theory.” Obscurus explained. “That was the exact outfit he was wearing on the last night of the SSC, and when I had that little ‘clash’.”

“But how should I have known? You never told us about him until a few nights ago. Even then, you never actually mentioned what he looked like.” Wave Rider objected.

“Actually … oh, wait. Yeah, I don’t think I did, actually. My mistake.” Obscurus calmed down. “I don’t think he knows that you’re connected to us and this plot, so there’s a degree of trust between you two” she continued. “If Sun Beamer continues to be a threat in the future, this may be useful. But it depends on how much power he has.”

“Did anybody actually come with him, or was he just alone, but hanging out with the people he recognizes from social networks?” Obscurus asked.

“I think he was actually working for the festival.” Wave Rider observed. “He told me that he was on his way to the Moonbase to run the lights and smoke machines.”

“Well, in that case, maybe the fact that we crossed paths was a complete coincidence.” Obscurus admitted. "Maybe I shouldn't have gone all-out on him in our very first confrontation."

“I guess he only figured out a single aspect of the overall scheme. He doesn’t seem to know about our war.” she continued. “In fact, given what you’ve shown me, he has more in common with you than my actual targets.”

“And that is?” Wave Rider awaited the impending compliment.

“You’re both adorkable stallions with cool outfits that have a lot more effort into them than those of the average festival attendee nowadays.” Wave Rider blushed a bit. “It’s ridiculous in a good way. It looks like something you’d wear to one of those anime conventions you’ve been trying to get gigs at.”

“Or, perhaps, a certain Gathering of Embers.” Wave Rider deflected. “Speaking of that, me, Train Spot, and Eight Track are actually designing our costumes for it right now.”

“Oh really? I thought you were supposed to be working on the remixes for the Flashpot EP?” Obscurus reminded.

“Actually, we’re done. They just need mastering.” Wave Rider replied.

“Anyway, you were talking about costumes. What does this entail? Are you going to make me dress up in something that’s ridiculous in a bad way?” Obscurus concerned.

“According to this article I found, that’s actually frowned upon. Can’t be too thick; it’s gonna be just as hot there as it was in Las Pegasus. Can’t have loose parts that can fall off; that’s a general rule of the Gathering in general, though.” Wave Rider explained. “Then of course, you gotta be prepared for sandstorms. Don’t wanna get sand up your mouth or in your eyes - you know that feel. A lot of attendees just get by with goggles and a bandana or so, but that’s boring.”

“So what do you want us to be, then?” Obscurus asked.

“Desert punks. But Eight Track wanted to be an aviator instead.” Wave Rider elaborated.

Suddenly, Obscurus had a truckful of ideas. “Let’s just go with that. The punks, I mean.”

“Oh, and your finished remix better be awesome; don’t forget about our little bet.”