A/N: This chapter has the regionals in it. Lots of singing on the Equestrian Girls' part, and in A Cappella, so for when the group says/sings something without the soloist, it will show up blue as compared to the rest of the singing, while it would show up purple if everyone on stage sings/says it. The soloing pony will remain in black. It is pretty important part (their singing), but if you want to skim over the lyrics it wouldn't be that bad... kind of...
Competition wasn't a new thing to Vinyl Scratch. The only new aspect was that she came to learn from her DJ classes was the proper attitude when somepony lost; she had faced many a poor loser at the orphanage and it was a nice change of pace. So the knowledge that the first actual competition for the Equestrian Girls was coming up wasn't as unnerving as Claire was making it seem like.
They had three weeks before the competition started, the date of which was November 22nd, just before Harvest's Feast holiday weekend. They never did much for the holiday at the orphanage and Vinyl wasn't looking forward to it; though there was Regionals to think of first which gave the white mare something else to think of first.
Their morning sessions were going better, especially given how hard they were all working. The only thing that concerned the white unicorn was that Pinkie Pie would giggle madly to herself at the end of the set and her solo; which she was performing just as Claire wanted, making Vinyl all the more suspicious. But since it was only a gut feeling and no one either noticed or minded, the unicorn didn't bring it up.
In an effort to help everypony relax, Pinkie Pie had taken to hosting parties every few days; giving everypony a chance to go and have some fun if they couldn't make it to one party. Each party was different, some were for certain ponies' birthdays combined together, some for special occasions, some for really random or silly reasons like 'nothing-is-happening -so-let's-party' parties.
Vinyl and Octavia managed get extra time to go to a party celebrating Blossomforth and another pony's birthday; but since they hadn't known ahead of time, the two roommates weren't able to get the pale-gray peagasus a gift, nor did they know what she would have wanted anyways. As they arrived, they saw a huge stock of presents already there; though after checking with a few ponies there, it seemed like Pinkie Pie had gotten all of them herself for the party.
Vinyl was getting more and more confused as to how the pink mare was able to do all of this and felt bad for anyone who became Pinkie Pie's special somepony; the white unicorn certainly wasn't going to give herself a headache trying to think about it. Within moments the two roommates found one of the ponies of honor that they were looking for and gave their greetings.
“Hey Blossomforth, enjoying the party so far?” Vinyl asked as she and Octavia sat next to the pale-gray peagasus who had a cup of punch in her hoof as she looked at the growing crowd of ponies.
Pinkie Pie had invited both ponies of honor's friends who brought guests as well and passing ponies saw festivities and decided to join in for no reason other than to party; this led to the party growing exponentially but Pinkie Pie was on top of it all and made sure everyone had fun.
“Yes, it was very nice of Pinkie Pie to throw this party for us and she somehow found all of our friends and invited them as well.” Blossomforth waved a hoof to the crowd as she looked at the two ponies next to her. Octavia nodded slowly as she too looked around.
“I see a lot of ponies from the Weather Major, are they friends of yours?” The gray mare asked curiously, trying to think of who had the connection to the Major and therefor to the peagasi with typically weather-related cutie marks.
“Yes, both Cloud Kicker and I are majoring in Weather. We want to be professional weather patrol ponies, getting this degree will help us get far in the field. Unless there's somepony with lots of natural talent for it, then we may end up just working underneath that pony.” Blossomforth said in her soft way.
Both Vinyl and Octavia tilted their heads in confusion at this statement of what they hoped for after college.
“Wait, why are you guys in A Cappella then? How'd you even know about it?” Vinyl asked bluntly, confused as to why anypony would purposely join (Music Majors didn't count, they already had a lot to do with music and it was more understandable if they joined).
“Actually, Cloud Kicker only joined because I was too nervous to do so on my own. I had seen A Cappella done before and practiced singing on my own; Cloud Kicker knew how much I was into singing and when I told her about how nervous I was about auditioning she came with me as moral support.” Blossomforth looked at the ground momentarily as her two friends nodded along.
“Imagine my surprise when Claire Belle came by and offered both of us a position on the team. If Cloud Kicker hadn't joined too I probably wouldn't have joined at all; even if it does cut into her 'other' activities.” Blossomforth looked towards her best friend who was in the midst of making out with orange-coated mare, even though it was the pale-gray pony's birthday party.
Both Octavia and Vinyl raised a brow at the display and wondered how long the two had been together, not that they knew a whole lot of their peers upon thinking about it.
“You don't mind that she's pushing public display limits at your birthday party?” Vinyl asked as she glanced back at Blossomforth who gave a small sigh and shook her head no.
“She had already gave me her gift and we usually celebrate or do things during the daytime, since she's usually busy with somepony else at night.”
“I see, how long as she been with her marefriend?” Octavia asked as she turned away from the display, Cloud Kicker didn't seem to be about to return to the world around them anytime soon.
“Hhmm? Oh, they met not even ten minutes ago.” Blossomforth answered as she continued to watch her friend's activity with a small frown.
Vinyl and Octavia shared a confused look before the white unicorn posed the question that now rested on their minds.
“Wait wait wait. They just met? At your party? Just now? And they're doing stuff like that?!? Rushing things isn't she?” Vinyl waved her hoof slightly, she may not be good with social relations but even she knew that that was pushing it.
“Yes, yes, yes and yes. This is a normal thing for Cloud Kicker, and it's not rushed, it's a one night stand. Sometimes if she likes something or someone she may 'go for seconds' but she doesn't make any lasting relationships with anypony... Anypony at all.” Blossomforth stated softly as she finally looked away from the pair who had started to edge away from the party.
Octavia was watching the pale-gray mare closely and as the peagasus finished explaining about Cloud Kicker's usual relationships the earth pony patted her shoulder with a sympathetic smile.
“I understand Blossomforth,” Octavia rubbed pale-gray shoulders as both the unicorn and peagasus looked at her, the former with confusion and the latter with slight shock tinged with fear of discovery.
Vinyl watched confusedly as Octavia and Blossomforth seem to speak telepathically with slight nods, tilting of heads and shrugs as well as with their eyes. The white mare couldn't figure out what was going on and what it all meant, aside from the fact that there was somepony else who was able to understand and speak with the light-gray earth pony aside from Lyra; a fact that was a thorn in Vinyl's side, one that she intended to resolve speedily.
“What's going on? I feel out of the loop and left behind. What do you understand Tavi?” Vinyl stood in front of the two ponies to be able to watch both at roughly the same time, trying to catch any sort of understanding from either one.
More silent communication happened between the earth pony and peagasus as Octavia asked if she could explain to the unicorn, to which Blossomforth 'said' that she didn't want anypony to know about how she really felt for the persian-blue peagasus. Octavia gave a small sigh and nod of acknowledgment of the request before facing Vinyl completely.
“I'm sorry Vinyl; it's something personal for Blossomforth who currently doesn't want anypony to know about it. You know I would try and answer any questions you may have, but it isn't about me this time and I have to respect Blossomforth's privacy.” Octavia tried to convince Vinyl that it wasn't about her and make sure there wasn't some odd misunderstanding once again.
Vinyl was a little saddened that she didn't understand and that Octavia wouldn't explain it, but understood the need for privacy; she was doing much the same about her own past as was Octavia now that she thought about it. This line of thought distracted the white mare and she felt her curiosity about what was going on die down a little as a stronger curiosity of what the gray mare may be hiding grew.
“Alright. Well, it was nice seeing you Blossomforth, but it's getting late and I'd rather not see anypony else doing that kind of thing so I'm heading back. Again, happy birthday, and I'll see you guys later.” Vinyl nodded to one of two ponies of honor before turning and leaving the area.
She had a feeling that if she left without saying goodbye to the hostess of the party she would be receiving a midnight visit so she found the pink pony and bid her a goodnight as well; somehow convincing Pinkie that she was indeed fine and just a little tired, insuring that there wouldn't be any 'cheer-up-the-sadie-wadie-dj' party later that night.
Octavia spent a moment longer to give one last sympathetic glance to the peagasus before bidding goodnight as well. She soon caught up to the white unicorn who glanced at the earth pony with a small smile before continuing on her way.
Once again after they returned to their room, the unicorn turned to the earth pony who, even though she was the same age, knew more about what was going on than the DJ.
“You really can't tell me what that was all about?” Vinyl raised a questioning brow as the gray earth pony shook her head no.
The white unicorn sighed as she sat on her bed facing her socially-wise friend. Octavia could tell that Vinyl was going to continue asking questions so she settled onto her own bed as well, wanting to get comfortable in case it took a while.
“Alright, well, how can you tell what's going on? You seem to be picking up these invisible 'hints' and know exactly what's not being said but meant.” Vinyl crossed her hooves, half-annoyed at how easy Octavia made it seem and half-hopeful that she'll be able to do the same after learning the secret.
Octavia pondered how to answer such a deep question as she tapped a hoof on her bed. She could tell it was important to the unicorn and wanted to answer properly.
“Well, I grew up in an environment that if you weren't paying attention closely you may miss important details or signs and end up in social trouble. Being in collage with so many others in various clubs helped re-enforce and enhance that knowledge and skill. You grew up learning how to spot signs of trouble while I learned how to see all the signs, that's all.” Octavia nodded to herself, pleased to have found a good way to explain it.
Vinyl, on the other hoof, now wore a pensive frown and tapped her bed in thought before nodded her understanding. Octavia gave Vinyl a warm smile which was hesitantly returned.
The two friends spent the rest of the day on their own work, with the light gray mare focused on a large project and the white mare multi-tasking by doing history homework and searching the internet for signs of society and the unspoken language of the body. Soon her new research took up most of her attention and by the time proper night fell, the white unicorn had done very little for her history work.
Octavia was settling down to sleep when she heard her roommate groan as she scuffed up her mane even more than usual; by this time the light-gray mare could tell that whatever her roommate had looked up online had distracted the white mare to the point of forgetting her homework. Octavia giggled softly as she turned to look at her roommate who had suddenly stiffened and half-turned to look back towards the earth pony at the sound of her laugh.
“Something the matter Vinyl dear?” Octavia teased as the white unicorn put most of her supplies away before heading into bed herself.
Vinyl was paying close attention as she slowly settled into bed, choosing her words carefully while trying to apply what she just learned about body language and subtle messages.
“Not really, just lost track of time. Everything good on your end?” Vinyl laid down watching as Octavia raised a brow at the slow response, it wasn't like her to answer in such a slow fashion.
“I'm fine. Are you ok? You didn't eat anything weird did you?” Octavia sat up straighter on her bed, concerned about her friend and her slower reaction.
Vinyl just tilted her head as she looked back, trying to see if she could spot any 'signs'.
“Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Couldn't be better; well, I could, but that's something else.” Vinyl gave a shrug as she realized she went a little too far in responding (how did that mare get her to speak so easily about that stuff?) and tried to make it seem like no big deal.
Octavia stiffened in worry and sat forward, trying to show how much she meant her next words.
“You know you can tell me anything right? What could make things better? Is there something I could do to help?” Octavia wore a pensive frown; Vinyl already did so much for the gray mare, she wanted to show her thanks anyway that she could.
Vinyl gave a small smirk, happy to hear that Octavia wanted to make things better and by offering actually making it so.
“No Tavi, I'm good, promise. Thanks though, I'll keep it in mind.” Vinyl kept a close watch as Octavia relaxed once more before settling down for the night.
“Ok, good night.”
The rest of the two weeks ended quickly (still rather filled with parties to help everypony relax), making Vinyl feel that if she didn't keep a close eye on things, it would be the end of the school year before she knew it. The morning sessions continued being stressful and soon everypony noticed how giggly and giddy Pinkie Pie was at the end of the set. Since no one knew the reason and Pinkie Pie wasn't saying anything, they couldn't press the matter; especially since Pinkie Pie wasn't actually doing anything wrong at the time, aside from being really happy.
It was during that time that Octavia had discovered where Vinyl worked; the white unicorn picked up extra shifts to take her mind off the old fashion music and donated samples of her work to the radio station. After explaining that it was both a record store AND a radio station, Vinyl soon found their shared room blasting with the station unless there was something musical that they had to work on.
It also didn't help things when Octavia would secretly request Vinyl's work and the music would come on as both of them were in their room; though the earth pony seemed to relish the unicorn's blush of surprise and delight at having been requested.
It was a good kind of distraction, allowing time to flow quickly to the day of the competition.
The Regionals were held in a nearby town so that a few of local colleges could send their teams to find out which two would represent their area. The two other colleges near E.U.C.C. were Desert Blossom Community College and University of Horseshoe Bay, and they all were to meet in Dodge Junction, a small western-like town that was central to all three colleges. It was a small town, but each of the schools only had three teams that were trying to reach the finals in Canterlot so it would work for their needs.
The day of the competition, which would take place in the afternoon, the Equestrian Girls made sure to get up early and met for inspection at their practice room. Claire Belle didn't want to ruin anything or strain any vocal chords so they weren't going to practice the set with singing, they only went through the motions once and made sure they knew where the competition would take place.
Since Claire wanted to show a united front, all of the girls were to wear their handkerchiefs around their neck with white blouse shirts to present unity among them.
Vinyl tensed during the preparations, she just knew Claire didn't like her glasses but there was no way in Tartarus that she was taking them off. Just as Claire was going to say something, Octavia stepped up to her and whispered into her ear. The gray mare tried to speak low enough that the white unicorn wouldn't hear everything, but didn't want the cream earth pony to not hear her so Octavia just prayed that Vinyl didn't mind and would remain silent.
Luckily, after hearing most of what was being said (mostly about how she was sensitive about her eyes and needed them to see and didn't have any other kinds) Vinyl took the telepathic message and just sat in place, head tilted away to make it seem like she wasn't paying attention to the two leaders talking.
After glancing between the light gray and white mares, Claire just turned away and checked everyone else before getting them all to line up to get breakfast on the way to the competition. It was going to take them three hours to travel by train to the competition location, so they had to get breakfast first and once they arrived they had some time to themselves before it started so that they could eat if they wanted to or not.
Unfortunately, this also meant that they would spend three hours on the same train as the Treblemakers and the Hidden Potentials. After a stand-off at the platform, each group merely claimed a train car for themselves in order to avoid the others.
Each of the Equestrian Girls dealt with the boredom in their own way, while all stayed in their compartment, unwilling to deal with the other teams right away. Each car had twelve benches in it, with the backs to each other and the seats themselves were one big beige cushion, making it very comfortable ride which was needed for long trips. The backs to the seats came up to a pony's neck in height, making it so that everyone could see the others and impossible for any private conversations.
Lyra stared out of the window, deep in thought as Beautiful Composition sat across from her and was lost in her own musical world as she transposed more music, most likely in an attempt to capture the tension in the air.
Cloud Kicker and Blossomforth sat next to one another, talking about weather subjects in order to prepare for an upcoming test they would be having just before the holiday break started.
Windy Day stared off into space thinking to herself as Arpeggio sat nearby, reading a book of western-town life and life in the desert.
Claire sat on her own, the farthest from everypony else as she took calming breaths and reassuring herself about the day's competition.
Pinkie Pie couldn't stay still and spent most of her time hopping around the car before checking out the rest of the train.
Vinyl and Octavia sat next to one another, Octavia was deep in thought while Vinyl used her new knowledge of body language and watched the others, trying to figure out what they were thinking and/or doing.
The unicorn hadn't quite got the hang of it but was getting better with time, she now had a hunch of what had happened with Blossomforth as she watched the two best friends interact but wasn't completely sure since she still wasn't used to displays of affection. She tried to watch Octavia, but soon found that it wasn't any different than usual and couldn't figure out anything new; though it may have been that there were others present, a lot of their exchanges happened when nopony else was around.
It took a while, but soon enough they arrived at Dodge Junction. Pinkie Pie was the first one off the train, something about she couldn't hold it much longer, followed shortly by the various teams as they all exited different doors looking at the land around them.
Dodge Junction looked much like an old western, with buildings made out of wooden planks and dirt roads. A good portion of the populous wore large hats or bonnets, and a lot of them seemed to have southern accents. There were enough buildings to call it a town, but only just barely. Surrounding the town was a large desert, barren of anything green with mountains visible all directions.
Pinkie Pie had found the outhouse in time and since Claire wanted to travel in a group they all waited nearby for the party mare to finish. Once they were set to go, they played 'follow the leader', something that made Vinyl rolled her eyes at how bossy Claire was being.
They found a bakery that specialized in cherries to grab something light to eat, a concept that Pinkie Pie went nuts over. Not even ten minutes later Cloud Kicker and Vinyl had to drag the pink baker away from where she was chatting with the cooks as she attempted to make some new cherry treat.
While Vinyl would admit that it looked good, mashed up cherries in a tortilla that was deep fried, she could tell how much it was annoying Claire since Pinkie Pie wouldn't stop talking the entire time she was doing that; the pink mare was so loud that nopony else could hear anything but her excessive chatter, especially as she considered what to call her new concoction.
Octavia noticed that all of this was stressing out their leader and suggested that they split up and meet at the competition location ten minutes before the start of the event. By this point Claire couldn't stand any more talking and quickly agreed, the only thing that was faster was how quickly everyone split up to look at the town around them.
Vinyl didn't enjoy the sand and grit that was everywhere since she wasn't used to it being from the big city, so instead she just went to the meeting place early and relaxed. The front room of the theater that was holding the contest was quite empty since nothing would take place until two hours later, meaning that the white unicorn had the place all to herself. It was a large room, with lots of chairs and cushions around for ponies who were waiting for anything with large double doors that led to the even larger room that had a stage on one end.
Octavia joined Vinyl shortly and sat only a few inches away from her, to which neither showed surprise or any acknowledgment that the other was there; as though it was the most natural thing to be sitting that closely even in the desert heat. Both mares remained silent as they stared ahead, deep in thought.
This silence didn't last long as the light gray mare turned to the white one with uncertainty written across her face.
“Vinyl?” Octavia softly called to the unicorn who turned to face her quickly at the tone of voice and how on edge the classical pony was. Vinyl may not be an expert at body language, but she knew something was up.
“Yeah? Everything alright?” A single white brow rose as Vinyl took in the uncertainty and nervousness of the mare next to her, concern growing steadily at what may have been wrong with the earth pony as Octavia fidgeted in place.
“Vinyl, I just wanted to know – I mean, would you, ah, do you -”
“Hey guys! What'cha doing inside?! It's a wonderful day out and it's really sunny and everypony is wearing these funny hats! Oooh, are you too warm? Is that why your faces are red?” Pinkie Pie jumped in circles around the two roommates as she peered at their blushing faces, she had found all the others in town and had finally found the last two friends. Octavia was staring at the ground before her as though she had to write a report about it while Vinyl made sure to keep the hyper pony in sight at all times just in case; Vinyl wasn't sure what Octavia had been about to ask but had a feeling it was important and blushed out of instinct since she had been staring rather hard at the gray mare as she was posing her question.
“Yes Pinkie Pie, it's nice out but I'm not used to sand and grit and stuff, I'm from the city. Grass is one thing, but to see a place like this so bare of any greenery sets me on edge, so I'm just waiting here instead.” Vinyl stated as she watched the party pony land in front of them and pull out a board game from nowhere.
“Ooh, ok. How about we play 'Sorry' instead then? That way you aren't outside and you'd still have something to do.” Pinkie Pie grinned at the idea, she didn't want anypony to not have fun in a new place and everypony else was having fun except for these two; well, that's what it seemed like anyways and Claire suggested that the pink mare find the two roommates to make sure they were having fun as well when the hyper mare had tracked down the cream-colored earth pony.
So the three friends spent the rest of the time playing board games, and as each of their teammates came to wait they were 'forced' to join in once the current game ended. By the time that everyone was gathered as per ordered, everypony was playing along and having a blast. Claire gave a quick smile before gathering everyone for final preparations once the last game ended.
The wait for their turn was stress filled, aside from slightly amusing moments such as when an A Cappella group performed their songs through puppets. The Equestrian Girls were the second to last to perform, with the Treblemakers being right behind them, adding one more thing to Claire's list of stressful items.
In an attempt to gain everyone's focus, Claire tried to do their signature circle.
“Hooves in. Remember, 'ahhh' on three. One, two, -” Claire led the way as half the group went along with it while the other half looked a little confused.
“Wait, is it -?” Cloud Kicker tried to ask while most of the others followed along.
“Aaahhh...” Their singing trailed off as only half the ponies sang along, Claire glared at Cloud Kicker since she seemed to be still confused about it all.
“Ahhh...” Lyra tried to follow along at the end, realizing that she had been lost in her confusion to have missed the signal but trailed off instead when she was the only one doing so.
Claire rubbed her forehead in frustration before shaking her head and leading the way onto the stage, it was their turn to perform.
They stood in position and Claire gave the signal to start their set. The girls all stood on their hind-legs with their fore-hooves on their hips, and given the signal, began to shift from leaning on one leg to the other.
As one the mares all lift their fore-hooves into the air as a greeting before bring it down to shimmy back and forth with both as they leaned forward a little as they continued to sing. Octavia stood front and center with a microphone and led the first solo.
“Ah aahh aaahh
Da da da
I gotta new life,
You would hardly recognize me,
I'm so glad.”
While Octavia continued to sing part of the solo of the first song they were to preform, the others went back to all fours as they flicked their tails making a 'snap' sound as they provided background. At each 'I' the mares who weren't soloing put a hoof to their chest as though stating the obvious.
How could a person like me care for you,
Why do I bother when you're not the one for me,
As the group stood near one another, Octavia handed the microphone to Claire who raises her other hoof to her chest as though the gray mare was talking about her. She then began to walk forward as the others spaced themselves out once more to have room for their next set of movements.
“Is enough enough?,
I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes,
and I am happy now living without you,
I've left you all alone.”
During Claire's solo the mares all made various motions as though making signs and then pointing them out, dropping to all fours only as they needed to shuffle to new standing positions while looking for and at these 'signs'.
“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign
I saw the sign
I saw the siiiIign
I saw the sign
I saw the sign
I saw the siiiIIiign
I saw the sign.”
Vinyl could tell that this must have been the part when Claire had lost it the previous time, her movements showing a subtle layer of tension; the white unicorn was glad that she took the time to research subtle body language making it easier to tell how the rest of the team was doing.
“Close your eyes,
Give me your hoof, darlin'.”
As they began to sing their middle song, Vinyl noticed how not only was the audience getting bored by it; the girls' were losing their passion as well. Octavia tried as hard as she could to bring emotion and passion to the song, but it was a slow song to begin with; there was only so much a pony could do to make it more entertaining without changing to a new song. The mares reached out towards the audience as though asking for their hoof before moving onto the next motion.
“Do you feel my heart beating?”
The mares made their hooves act as though it beat as well and began to underscore Octavia's solo with 'ooh's.
“Do you understand,
Do you feel the same,
Am I only dreamin', dreamin'
Or is this burning burning an eternal eternal flame, ”
Vinyl focused solely on Octavia as she tried to block out how the others were becoming more and more bored as they all sang, their motions without enthusiasm. The white unicorn made sure that nothing showed on her face; of her annoyance of the songs, or how the crowd was reacting, or even how there were still slip ups during their performance. The background singers all made motions that correlated with some of the lyrics as they sang along.
“Say my name,
Sun shines through the rain,
A whole life so lonely,
Then you come and ease the pain,
I don't want to lose this feeling,
Is this burning an eternal flaaammme...”
Everyone gathered to form a half circle that faced the back, as they began the next part of their set they stood on their hind-legs once more while raising their hooves into the air.
“Turn it around,
Turn it around,
Turn it turn it,”
As the mares remained facing the back, they flex their fetlocks quickly before following the line to face forward once more as they continued to sing.
“Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,
“Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,”
Vinyl noticed how Pinkie Pie seemed to bounced in place rapidly once she was given the microphone, and as they got to the point when she was to start her solo, she let loose.
“AAAHHHH YEEEAAHHH!” The pink mare jumped to the front as she pumped her hoof in the air, grabbing everypony's attention while the team felt the music come alive once more.
“Turn the beat around
Turn the beat around
Love to hear percussion
Love to hear percussion~
Turn it upside down
Turn it upside down
love to hear percussion
love to hear puurrrcussion.”
Pinkie Pie stuck to the set, but added to it; she added tone, emotion and lots of movement, her own flair of Pinkie Pie to their stale songs.
The hyper mare jumped back and forth, did cartwheels, back-stepped as she did the set but in her own way. Everyone else was genuinely smiling and enjoying themselves once more, except for Claire who tried to hide her annoyance at the change in performance. Motions that seemed robotic became naturally flowing once more as the mares got into the new beat and style of the song; hair flips, stomps and shimmies were filled with energy once more as they sang along with the pink mare.
“Turn the beat around
Turn the beat around, you gotta turn it around
love to hear percussion
Turn it upside down
Turn the beat around, you gotta turn it around.”
The girls made snapping movements, flicking their fetlocks as they walked around the pink mare in the center who was doing extra movements of all kinds, even a jig with her hands at one point.
“Love to hear it
Love to hear it
Can I hear it?
Love to hear it
I Love to hear ~ Percusssiiiooon! ”
As the Equestrian Girls encircled the pink mare (as was originally planned) Vinyl watched with amusement as Pinkie Pie seemed to bounce in place as they all waved towards her, heading towards their big finale.
“Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,
Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,
Turn it around
Turn it around
Turn it turn it,
Turn it around! ”
After all the hooves waved towards the pink mare at the end, Pinkie Pit jumped once more before shooting into the air and landing down on her back hooves in a slide to the front, the one major difference she had performed during the whole set.
The white mare's attention boarded as they ended their set, noticing how the audience seemed to have enjoyed the hyper mare's antics, clapping and stomping their hooves while a lot of them laughed as they cheered. The Equestrian Girls walked off the stage while giving waves to everyone, relieved that it was over and willing to wait for the final announcement.
Since the town was so small there wasn't anything they could do so they had to watch the last performance of the evening before the final judgment would come in. Vinyl was interested to notice the crowd loved how the Treblemakers did as well as how much more lively the group was as they sang, teetering on the edge of inappropriate and keeping all eyes on their set. She couldn't help feel annoyed at the better performance, knowing that the Equestrian Girls could do better if only they could change things up!
In an attempt to not focus on negatives, she watched Octavia instead, noticing how she was edgier than normal; though considering they were trying to find out if they made the cut would be stressful if one actually cared which was something the white unicorn was trying not to do, she was in this for Octavia, not to actually go far in the field of A Cappella.
Soon it was time, the judge opened his little envelop and announced the three placing teams. Third place was the A Ca-Puppets, second (and going to semi-finals) was the Equestrian Girls and the Treblemakers came out on top.
All of the mares cheered as they turned to leave, wanting to get home and celebrate but before they got far a voice called out for the light gray mare, causing most of the girls to pause.
“Lady Octavia! My lady, I had no idea that YOU would be here.” A dark-brown maned pony came up to the earth pony.
Octavia sighed as she turned to face the stallion who called out to her as Vinyl whipped around wondering who the hay was speaking and why they were calling her Tavi 'lady' (not that she wasn't a mare, but it sounded almost like a title).
“Hello Sir Pony Moore. Yes, I'm sure it came to a great shock to you since I've only been in the Equestrian Girls for a year and a half now...” Octavia barely contained her eye roll as she looked at the stallion who had two friends with him, though they were more of lackeys than friends to the stallion she knew.
Vinyl was growing more confused by the moment as the others looked on, also unsure as to what was happening. The only ones unsurprised were Claire Belle and Lyra who both seemed to know the pale-blue earth pony who wore his short mane styled back while his tail remained slightly spiky. The two others near him was not so confusing or unfamiliar, one being Lime Light and the other being a dark coated stallion that was often seen at some of Pinkie Pie's parties.
“My dear, I just don't understand why you would partake in such uncouth displays. Surely a Lady of your standing would be best suited in a more classical environment.” Sir Pony Moore sniffed as he looked about the group who was standing near the entrance to the competition room, causing a few passing ponies to pause and watch the scene unfolding before them.
“Look, Tavi may be a classical pony but that doesn't mean she can't rock! What's it got to do with you anyways Sir Snooty Pants?” Vinyl wasn't sure, but it felt like she was channeling Pinkie Pie's insult level as she slowly grew more annoyed with the situation at hoof while the actual pink pony was nearby also frowning at the mean things the snobbish pony was saying.
Sir Pony Moore's jaw dropped upon hearing 'Tavi' as Lime Light whispered into his ear about who was addressing the noble. Vinyl noted with annoyance that Lime Light claimed that she was 'an annoying unicorn that was extremely friendly with Octavia and seemed to think that being a DJ meant that she could get away with most things'; she was starting to wonder what the hay was Lime Light doing with the snooty noble because it seemed like black-coated unicorn was a touch too informative and willing to share with his 'friend'.
“So, you think that just because you two share a room that you can be as familiar as you want with a noble of Manehatten? Peasant, you are not worthy enough to even be in my presence let alone Lady Octavia's; begone with you! Please, allow us to speak in a much more private setting my Lady.” Sir Moore waved a dismissive hoof at the others while he looked towards Octavia to find the gray mare staring back in anger at how he was treating her teammates.
“My Lady? Dear?” Sir Pony Moore started to question the mare when she cut him off with a stomp.
“Sir Pony Moore, you will stop at once! These are my friends and I will not allow you to talk to them this way. I will not leave with you, though you should leave post haste.” Octavia knew that if she didn't stop him from continuing Vinyl was going to take matters into her own hooves soon; and since it was a stallion they were dealing with and not a fragile mare, she wouldn't be surprised if it came to blows.
“My dear, you and I both know that these ponies aren't worth your attention. Please, let us continue our talk-”
“Al-the-buck-right, this stops right here. Who the buck are you and what are you to Octavia to call her 'dear'?! She has never once mentioned you, so therefore YOU are the non-important pony!” Vinyl stepped forward as she lowered her head slightly in a threatening manner, trying to intimidate him.
This move only made his two 'buddies' step forward as well as they stood by like bodyguards while the other Equestrian Girls looked worried about how far this would go, they remembered all too well how far Vinyl was willing to fight and this time it was about Octavia, making it less likely that the gray earth pony could stop it before the fighting got too far.
“Hah! Who am I?! You really have no idea? How undereducated are you? I am Sir Pony Moore, a noble of Manehatten and fiancé to Lady Octavia Philharmonic, who is also a noble!” Sir Pony Moore glared at the unicorn before him, he couldn't believe that not only did she not know about him but that she had the gall to try and intimidate him!
Vinyl felt shocked to her core, Octavia had a fiancé? Why would she have one? Why did she not tell her?
“Pony Moore! I do not care for titles nor what my parents may have arranged, you and I are not engaged nor shall we ever be! Now, leave us alone and stop causing a scene!” Oct demanded of the noblecolt as their audience grew even larger at the sound of arguing.
“You shall realize soon enough that we are engaged and that it was meant to be as well as be glad of your station!” Sir Pony Moore took a few steps closer to Octavia as he tried to convince her that they were the perfect match.
“Come along my dear; let us talk about this in a civilized manner!” Pony Moore grabbed Octavia's hoof and began to jerk on it in order to force her to follow along.
The gray earth pony tried in vain to remove her limb from the stallion's grasp, but he was stronger and managed to keep a firm hold on it. Before they could take more than a step away, with Octavia digging her heels into the ground, Vinyl cut in sharply.
“That. Is. It! No more Ms. Nice Pony! You are going to leave her alone!” With this statement made, Vinyl charged at the trio of stallions, not caring to use magic since in her anger she wouldn't be able to focus too well anyways nor did she want to hurt her friend.
The sudden charge made Sir Pony Moore loosen his grip in surprise allowing Octavia to be pushed lightly away from the pale-blue stallion as Vinyl stood between the two.
At this point all Tartarus broke loose as Vinyl went straight for the stallions as Octavia tried to stop her. The white unicorn had distracted Lime Light by not using any magic to attack that he set up the wrong kind of defense at the very beginning, allowing Vinyl to take him out with a shift hoof to the muzzle. The other stallion had grabbed a hold of the white mare as Pony Moore shouted for her to be locked up, sending Octavia into a panic. They began to try and pin her down in order to teach the DJ a lesson when Octavia snapped out of her shock and into action.
“Pinkie Pie! Cloud Kicker! Somepony, anypony! HELP!” She yelled as she looked to her friends who all stared in shock at the rapidly escalating fight. As the gray mare called out, the others snapped to attention (Pinkie Pie giving a rather rigid salute) before wading in along with Octavia.
Cloud Kicker, Blossomforth, Windy Day and Pinkie Pie all went to break up the fight as the others tried to get the audience to leave as well as block some other stallions' attempt at joining in the fight. Windy Day and Blossomforth both went for the dark stallion's legs, trying to knock him over as Cloud Kicker and Pinkie Pie went to pull Vinyl out of the fight even though she was still trying to throw punches without discretion. Octavia tried to help hold the unicorn back but whenever she got near Vinyl would suddenly change directions and avoid hitting the light-gray mare while making it harder to keep a hold of her to stop the fighting.
It was as Claire Belle stood between the two fighting parties, glaring in a disapproving manner at the stallions that Octavia took matters into her own hooves and hugged Vinyl from behind, whispering the entire time that the white mare had to stop before she got into trouble. Vinyl knew right away who held her in a hug and the whispering only confirmed it farther; listening to it made her fighting spirit drain away slowly before just leaving her empty of all resistance.
Once they felt the fight leave the unicorn, Pinkie Pie and Cloud Kicker let her go as they made sure she was well away from the fighting; though Octavia held on all the more tighter until Vinyl half-hugged her back by grabbing the hooves around her waist and giving them a squeeze. Once the gray mare felt the return of the hug, she slowly let go, but stayed nearby just in case.
“Please, let's just go. No more fighting, please Vinyl?” The light gray mare pleaded with the white one who nodded reluctantly, unwilling to let the subject drop but she didn't want to upset her roommate more than she already did.
Together the Equestrian Girls turned and headed back onto the train. Once they reached the compartment they had arrived in they sat in silence as they waited for everypony else to be done so that they could all return back to their dorms.
While the mood had been festive when they first left the stage, it was now very dispirited as the tension built. Everypony knew that if Claire started to talk about what happened, the white DJ would surely explode once more and the train was neither sound-proof nor particularly large enough for her to escape; luckily even Claire could feel it in the air and decided to wait until after Octavia spoke with Vinyl in private before saying anything.
As soon as the train reached the large community college, everyone dispersed quickly after being told of the meeting that night (tactfully three hours later, enough time for Octavia to speak with Vinyl).
Vinyl paid no heed to those around her as she trudged back to her room, Octavia hovering nearby worriedly. No one attempted speech along the way and even after arriving into their room remained silent for a few minutes longer. Both had stopped in the middle of their room and just sat on the floor, the white mare facing the only window which was opposite the door while the gray mare looked at her roommate.
“Do you want to talk about it?” The earth pony edged slightly closer to the unicorn who stared at the floor in thought.
Gray ears flipped back in nervousness, silence from the usually very vocal pony was worrying. Vinyl noticed this and decided to stop trying to figure it out on her own and go for the direct approach.
“Who was that, Octavia...? For that matter, who are you?” Vinyl looked at the mare next to her, using her new found skills at body language to see any signs of trouble.
The gray mare sighed, while she did plan on telling her roommate the truth about her background, she hadn't thought it would be so soon. She had wanted to ask a different kind of question before revealing her history but knew that this wouldn't go away nor be solved unless addressed.
“He is as he had said, a noble from Manehatten and my parents' choice for me to marry. I have not now nor ever agreed to it however, and upon discovering that they had gone ahead with the plans for marriage without telling me I left their household on less than pleasant terms. I still care for them, they are my parents after all, but they want to stick to older traditions of nobles while I want to learn of the world before making any kind of decision on anything.” Octavia couldn't face the white mare as she felt her stiffen at the revelation.
Vinyl was indeed shocked though she couldn't decide what surprised her the most, that it was Octavia's fiancé that she was attempting to beat up or that the gray mare was a noble. To make sure they were both on the same page, the DJ felt the need to question the whole point of the discussion that Octavia didn't say outright.
“You're a noble from Manehatten?”
Octavia slumped forward even more as Vinyl went for the direct approach a second time.
“Yes... I didn't tell you, or anypony really, because I wanted you to know me for me, not who my family is or was. I was going to tell you, but much later after we knew each other for a much longer time.” Octavia sighed as she could feel Vinyl's eyes on her, though with the glasses on she couldn't tell what the verdict was.
Vinyl, on the other hoof, was thinking deeply as she looked at the mare next to her; understanding why the light gray spoke and sometimes acted the way she did, how she knew more aspects of being social and was into somber colors and tastes. It actually amazed the white unicorn that the noble was able to learn about more recent aspect of music, style and taste considering that her parents seemed to prefer 'traditional' styles.
As the DJ pony thought about how the others acted around the gray mare, her thoughts stumbled onto a certain mint-green unicorn with whom Octavia seemed to share a special understanding.
“Does anypony else know that you are a noble? Lyra is one as well, isn't she...? Did I ever get to know the real you?” Vinyl continued to watch the mare beside her as Octavia sank down lower at the questions.
“I can't comment on Lyra either way, since it is not my business to discuss. And the only ones who know I am a noble are ones that are either from the same city and similar class or classical music ponies: they tend to stay on top of who's who in the noble and celebrity world.
"Though Clarie Belle also knows, but that is because she was here for my first year as a student here at E.U.C.C.. Also, while I may have hidden where and what family I come from, it does not mean that I lied about who I am; I'm still the same mare would wants to be friends with her first roommate.” Octavia tried to read the unicorn but couldn't tell what she thought, most of the emotions hidden behind glasses.
Vinyl noticed how Octavia seemed to be getting edgier and edgier about the whole thing and crouched down next to her. The earth pony stiffened, unsure what the unicorn planned next though once Vinyl started to give Octavia a hug and nuzzle, the light gray mare leaned into her roommate and relaxed.
“I thought so. I had started to wonder if I knew the real you or not, but if you say so then I'll believe you. And don't worry about Lyra, it was just a side curiosity.” Vinyl reassured her roommate who relaxed further at the words though she made mental observations all the while.
(So Lyra is a noble... If she's on the 'outs' with her folks like Tavi, which explains how they seem to understand one another... I better keep an eye out for this 'Pony Moore', Tavi doesn't seem to want much to do with him at all so I'll make sure that she gets what she wants. Guess I know what the big secret was then... Though how she could stand to be friends with a nopony and orphan like me I won't ever know...)
The two roommates spent the remainder of the time hugging before Octavia had to remind Vinyl of the meeting that night. Though the white mare rolled her eyes in annoyance at what was most likely going to happen, she went along all the same; she did promise Octavia after all that she would try and get along with Claire.
The meeting was short but slightly bitter, while everyone was happy to have made it to the next round Claire chastised Pinkie for having changed the way the set was presented. Vinyl tried to defend the party mare who seemed rather upset at being told that she was annoying but once Claire put her hoof down she knew that she couldn't go any farther with the argument without upsetting Octavia at the same time.
Just as Vinyl was stepping down from the confrontation, Octavia stepped up and tried to defend Vinyl's style of music and how well she could make arrangements. Claire backed down a little in surprise at the defending of the white unicorn and stared as some of the others also agreed; this didn't last long however as when Vinyl went to show some of the things she's done on her laptop Claire put her hoof down once more.
“I have the pitch pipe and I say we do the set as planned. No more distractions; and no diversions.” Claire gave everyone a short glare, making sure everyone nodded along before nodding once herself.
“Good, we'll have our meetings postponed for the holidays. But we are to meet again Thursday morning, 7am sharp! Have a nice holiday everypony.” Claire turned to leave as the others remained in surprise at the five days off from practice they were given so that they could visit family on Harvest's Feast and the weekend following.
Vinyl went to bed that night with her mind full of thoughts about what she had learned that day, trying to not get worked up at Claire's out-right dismissal of her musics. The unicorn could feel it already, it was going to be a long weekend.