by SoulHook

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Previously: Coal and Vinyl have been doing different things to prepare for the race to the stage. Vinyl planned from the start to ambush the death metal band with questionable tactics. However, now she thinks it's more logic to try win the stage by sleeping with everypony in the other team. Meanwhile, Coal and his friends finally reunites and celebrates by kidnapping a foal and singing to his great demise. As always, nothing makes sense... oh right, and now they are running towards the stage...

Part 8: None punctuation

Vinyl had the head start and now planned on keeping her first place for as long as possible. But even if her skills in running were quite unrivaled after her regular escapes from the guards every Friday and uneven Tuesdays, she would soon learn that you don't outrun another pony with an at least equally big motivation.

“I'm catching up on you!” Coal yelled just a few meters away from the white mare in front of him. Vinyl quickly glanced over her shoulder and gasped. She sure as hay hadn't planned on making this into a serious race.

“Get lost, you know that scene is mine!” she yelled back irritably.

Coal felt even more anger helping him get closer to the annoying mare. And when the distance was reduced to mere inches, he could practically smell the fear from his opponent.

“The day I lose to your kind is the day I stop calling myself a stallion!”.

“Then prepare to use a scalpel on your two inches!!” Vinyl countered swiftly and smacked her tail in Coal's face. The male tripped over and fell on his back, leaving Vinyl alone as she kept running. The victory was short-lived, however, when she three seconds later turned back her head and saw the sign warning about blocking signs.

Coal saw the painful collision and grimaced to sympathize the hurt. But it was then he realized his chance, thus got up on his hooves and ran past the downed mare rolling around while suffering a serious headache.

“Haha! Serves you right!” he taunted which served as several gallons of fuel for Vinyl's inner fire. She shook of the pain and chased after him. They ran past several streets, knocking over some of the ponies directly in their way but carefully rounding the young and elderly. Coal saw he still had several meters of distance between him and Vinyl, a relaxing fact for him. Vinyl was however not even panting yet, in difference from the vocalist.

“What's the matter, Silvermane? Getting tuckered out already?!” the unicorn mare shouted as she suddenly closed up on the huffing stallion. Coal grit his teeth, realizing this was going to be a hard nut to crack. He couldn't lose this. Everything was about this stupid scene. Golden Brochure would castrate and then kill him with the bloody testicles by beating him to death. That was a pretty awful image, Coal thought.

But no matter how much he scared himself, the facts were still facts that Vinyl already had passed by him again, snickering all the while just to return the taunt. She kept looking at him over her shoulder while running.

“Hey... hah... look... hah... forward!” he shouted.

“Riiiight! You think I'll fall for that trick?”.

“What trick.. hah... you're running...”.

“Shut up, I won't look forward! Only cool kids can run without loo-”.

In the next moment, Vinyl was run over by a bicycling pony shouting “Two bits!!!”.

Coal shook his head and kept running, ignoring the believes he was racing against a total mule. He kept looking forward and saw the goal: Ponyville's stage. It was a big scene with lots of plain ground just outside the borders of the little town. The stage already had a few ponies walking around it and doing their business with transporting and setting up arrangements, a very much welcoming sight for the vocalist. He spurted with his last energy and leaned forward to assure his victory.

“Mine, mine, mine, mine, MINE!” Coal heard from behind which caused him to glance back. Vinyl came with increasing speed on the bike she had stolen from the pony who ran over her. Coal gasped in shock and turned back to increase his own galloping dramatically.

The stage got closer and closer, unveiling more of the open space where the crowd would be. Question now was exactly which one of them would play before them. Vinyl was precisely next to Coal, pedaling (no pun intended I swear to god) like crazy while her enemy put all his might to the test. Their hating eyes met each other. Their gritting teeth exposed. The mean intentions broke out. Vinyl stood up on the pedals. Coal stretched his legs.

And it was in that mortifying second the steel gray stallion saw Vinyl getting a meter before him. His head was right next to her flank, and then he dropped an additional few inches. Now he was right next to her waving tail flying loosely in the air.

It was at that moment Vinyl almost hit the breaks when she heard a high-pitched scream...

Like shot from a cannon, Coal left Vinyl in a trail of dust behind him as he supercharged towards the scene. The unicorn mare widened her eyes in utter disbelief, slowly halting her progress on the bike until she practically had stopped rolling at all. But then she grimaced in pain when the loud crash occurred.

Coal ran straight into a loudspeaker...

- - - -
“So what's up with your friend Vinyl's hate towards Coal? It seemed to be personal...” Cord asked as he and the others walked in a group towards the stage. None of them wanted to interfere with their friends' plans and thus took it easy along the calm and empty road.

“Well, Vinyl has always been a little edgy about rock in the first place. I assume she dislikes Coal Silvermane just because you are the biggest band in your genre. And the fact you have a very alternative style too... some ponies thinks you are worshipers of Nightmare Moon” Rain Water stated which brought a nod from Lucky Catch and Mayor Mare.

The band sighed and grunted, shaking their heads in disapproval. This wasn't the first time they had heard prejudices and/or rumors. While some of them were about the band's alcohol abuse and were thus perfectly true, most of the other complaints were just about Coal's singing.

“It's just our style. Coal is a really great guy even if he sounds like a growling Ursa when performing” Cord replied which triggered the others to follow.

“It's his way of expressing messages” Wide Beat stated.

“And we all know what he means with his lyrics” Deep Bass said, causing the three others to agree through small mumbles and nods.

“Ponies like to point at us because we stick out, but Coal doesn't give a buck's worth about that. And that's one of the many reasons for why we like him” Stricken ended and high-hoofed the chuckling Deep Bass.

The mares looked at each other smilingly, understanding in a sweep that Vinyl's hatred had to be something silly. But really, they knew her too well to think this was just a game of hers. She had strong radiations of dislike whenever the name Coal Silvermane was mentioned. For a good long while, Vinyl's friends thought she and him had been an item before and broke up during unfair circumstances.

But nope. They hardly knew how each other looked like, and that kind of foalish fighting yesterday was far away from serious deals like old broken relationships. That thought brought out a question from the dark pink unicorn mare Lucky Catch.

“Does your friend Coal have a marefriend, by the way?”.

“Yes, I'd really like to know that too...” Mayor Mare added quickly with a flirty glance at the group of stallions. They all gulped in absolute fear, leaning away from the mature thing who apparently came on to them just a few minutes ago.

Stricken chuckled nervously. “Ehehe... no. And it'd be a great frigging surprise if he had, to be honest”.

That line formed question marks over the mares' heads, surprising the stallions when they saw the red symbols floating in the air. “Hah, yeah the day that happens... poor bastard” Cord put in the conversation which didn't make the females any wiser.

“I pity the foal...” Wide Beat referred, causing the other to either facehoof or chuckle...

- - - -
Several ponies gathered around the crashed speaker which just recently worked perfectly. Somepony was going to be forced to show the stage manager the bill for it.

“Hey... er, you alright?” a gray stage technician asked the unconscious vocalist currently resting on top of a mass of electric scrap in the black box. Another pony brought up a microphone stick and poked the lifeless male body, realizing quickly he wasn't even breathing. The technicians looked at each other.

“Aw, hellnaw. I ain't calling the ambulance”.

“Come on, man. You're the only one with a cell phone”.

“I don't care, I ain't using it”.

“Why no-”.

“Because how the buck do I push the buttons without fi-”.

“HEY!!” Vinyl interrupted as she approached without the bike, which she had ditched, and walked between the arguing ponies. She didn't care about them, but the stallion enjoying the life of having cables in his mouth. “You did NOT win just because you screamed and then ran like a little filly!”.

The ponies in the background backed off to leave some space for the white mare. She grabbed the steel gray stallion and turned him around, discovering that his wide-open mouth was indeed full of electronic scrap. She shook Coal violently for a second to get rid of it, then kept yelling at him in an uncontrollable pace.

“If you had speed-hax you should have used them a long time ago instead of trying to drag me out on some stupid race ending up with me running into a sign and then getting hit by a bicycle which is really weird 'cause I've never seen any of those things before and why the buck aren't you breathing by the way are you so weak you little silly-filly that you can't take the smashes of a loudspeaker oh my frigging Celestia you wrecked a loudspeaker if that was mine I'll beat the crap out of you and then shove a mic pole deep into yo-”.

“Ahem!” the female pony right behind Vinyl coughed with an unimpressed expression. Vinyl cut herself off and looked over her shoulder, still holding onto Coal's shoulders like a doll. “Vinyl Scratch!! What can I help you with?!” she shouted less gently and relaxed.

“I'm the stage manager”.

“Good for you!! Living like a boss!!” Vinyl exclaimed and turned back to shaking the crap out of Coal.

“Yes, yes, oceans of bitches and forests of bits, but that's not the important pa-” the mare had time to say until Vinyl finally registered the title she had used and suddenly dropped Coal dead to the floor.

“Wait, the stage manager? Are you the stage manager? The... the one I'm to meet?” she said in a manner of interest and a growing smile. The turquoise mare rolled her eyes and cleared her throat once more before combing her short cut pink mane. She had already heard the loud unicorn's name and thus knew exactly what kind of business she had with her.

“Yes... yes I am. But you're not the only one I'm supposed to see right now” the manager explained without losing her unchanged expression of annoyance.

Vinyl giggled nervously and kicked away the body behind her, doing her best to hide the fact she just yelled at the only pony who could help her arrange her show. It was all fine and well until she once again was stricken by an epiphany.

“Wait...” she said in shock. “Who's the other one? Isn't my name on the top row on the booking list?”.

The mare glanced away at the stallion she saw getting swooped away. He was still gone and laid completely still on the wooden stage floor. “That's Coal Silvermane, right?” she pointed out with a pointing hoof at him.

Vinyl chuckled and moved over to where the manager could see him.

“Meh, forget about him! He's just a look-alike of Coal, probably some hyper-lethal stalker. You should call security or perhaps a vet to put him down...”.

The turquoise mare raised an eyebrow.

“..... Okay, it's him” Vinyl conceded with embarrassed eyes.

The manager walked past Vinyl and aimed for a small house next to the stage made out of big crates. They were meant to serve as temporary loges for touring bands and offices for their managers. She explained simply for Vinyl to follow her and take Coal with her. Done and done, Vinyl grabbed the stallion's tail and dragged him on the ground all the way to the stacked giant crates.

All the way past dirt, stairs, small rocks and somehow even shattered glass on the ground.

Soon they came to one of the doors leading into the stacked homes. Coal received one last bump from the hard door frame and was then finally relieved from attention. The room was rectangular shaped just like the crate was from the outside and had surprisingly much light coming in from the iron barred windows. The manager pony walked past a bunch of cabinets labeled with all kinds of names, got behind a large desk in the short end of the room and sat down on the conveniently placed chair.

“So...” she began and brought out a cigaret from a small pack on the desk. She lit it and then flickered a document which she had gathered from one of the cabinet drawers earlier. “I presume you're the only one who's attending during your show, miss Vinyl Scratch?”.

“Yep! It's all true!” answered giddily with a proud pout from her chest.

“Heh... you sound like my ex when I asked if he was cheating on me...”.

“Er, wha-”.

“And Coal Silvermane is bringing his band?” she asked before blowing out a cloud of smoke.

Coal was still gone from the world of the livings, giving Vinyl her chance to ruin it further for the band she despised the most.

“Okay, he seem to be passed out and since I need an answer right now... I'll ask you, miss Vinyl. Is his band gathered and ready to sign up for the show?”.

The chance to win it all during fair circumstances. They were both here now and nothing could stop her to walk the last inch towards victory....

“Because I'll believe anything you say right now. If you just say no or anything resembling that, I'll...”

“Yes... they'll be here soon...” Vinyl said with a figurative nail piercing through her heart.

The manager raised an eyebrow as another puff defiled her personal air space. She then nodded and brought out a pen to sign her confirmation on the paper. Vinyl looked down at the steel gray vocalist. It wasn't fun winning this way. Or at least that was what she convinced herself.

Her rock-hard white foreleg rammed down into Coal's chest, pressing the male heart into a state of forced awakening. He gasped out loud and rolled over onto his side, coughing and choking on his own tongue. He looked up at Vinyl from the hard floor, unable to understand what was going on.

“Oh, look... it's alive” she chuckled.

“Good. Then you can do the double gig in time...” the manager mare said and pushed forward the paper on her desk.

Across the majestic space and ancient time, behind the lines of the milky way and inside the solar system, the third planet from the godlike sun, in a land named Equestria, in the small town of Ponyville, inside the rectangular office, right next to each other...

… the eyebrows of the manager pony lowered themselves.

“Whoa-hey-wha...?” Vinyl said in disbelief while Coal froze on the floor. A second later, he was up on all four with angry eyes stuck on the mare.

“What are you talking about? What double gig? The scene is in my contract and I need to sign it or else we'll get sued!” he protested, quickly shoved aside by Vinyl.

“Yeah, but the scene was booked in MY name BEFORE his stupid contract! And that makes it mine, right?”.

“No it doesn't!” Coal said against and rammed his forehead into her side. “Yes it does!” Vinyl countered and stomped his fore hoof.

“No it doesn't, yes it does, no it doesn't yes it...”.

Vinyl and Coal stared in confusion at the mare behind the desk who suddenly continued their arguing. She fell into silence and pushed forward the paper another inch with her hoof. “Ahem! I suppose there has been a misunderstanding here. Allow me to explain:”.

The manager mare inhaled another blow from her cigarette and leaned forward over the desk.

“The stage has been prepared for both of you. And since you're talking to each other like it's a competition, none of you apparently read the parts in italic”.

It was at that moment the two musicians realized none of them actually HAD read the contract. Vinyl's friend had done it all for her and Coal's manager had taken care of it for him.

“There is no 'competition' here, guys. You are both contracted to play a double gig, meaning you are both to play on the same day... but I don't know what the holder wants...”.

Coal slammed a fore hoof on the desk in rage, tightly followed by Vinyl who did the same.

“Who is the bucking contract holder?!” they shouted at the same time and for once ignored it.

The manager mare looked at the two ponies for a short second before glancing down on the paper covered in ink. She hinted at the sign in the corner. Vinyl and Coal both threw themselves over the paper, hastily reading through the entire thing until they ended up on the name written beautifully in blue ink.

They tilted their heads sideways in confusion when the name unveiled itself to them. Coal dropped his jaw an inch and Vinyl cocked an eyebrow one equal inch.

“Who the heck is Twilight Sparkle...?” Vinyl asked.

To be continued...

Author's Note:
My update pace is getting more and more stressed. I'm gonna make this note very short, because I won't have much more time writing now. I'll just remind you all this story won't end... I'm just having serious problems holding my personal deadline.

Brohoof on ya all!