Past Secrets

by HunterForce

Ironic Auditions

Past Secrets


The pink bowtie flapped frantically from  the thundering of hooves and the rush of wind as heads turned in concern or outrage. The grey mare charged past families with eager fillies and groups of haughty nobles ignoring their calls to slow down. As the sun begun to set,  Octavia ran along the well groomed path that lead to the grand stage of the royal gardens. Posters, featuring a half shaded close up of the cellist wearing a mysterious half-smile while embracing her beloved cello, hung from ornate lamp posts lining the intricately cobbled path flashed by. Tonight at sunset was the concert every musician dreamed of. Octavia was to play a masterpiece of the recently returned composer and musical genius many referred to as the musical wonder of the modern age, as the farewell piece at this years summer sun celebration. It would undoubtedly be the defining moment of her career. The sun slipped behind the trees bathing the world in a ruby hue and deepening shadows as Octavia passed under the glinting brass arch at the end of the long path... leading away from the gardens.


5 months earlier

Octavia stood in front of a worn antique mirror, once again fidgeting with her already perfect bowtie. It was of course folded, creased, and tied in precisely the proper way defying her attempts to occupy her mind. She had performed with orchestras in some of the most prestigious symphony halls in front of hundreds of nobles without breaking a sweat and yet today she carried a nervousness she had not experienced since her first recitals. She would be auditioning for a solo at the premiere event of the Vibrato Concert Hall, the crown jewel of the classical music world,. That alone would make any professional nervous. Being the first concert held there in over five years only increased the pressure. She would be up against the very best classical musicians of Equestria as they fought for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Pacing around the house she tried to find something productive to do before deciding that perhaps a cup of tea would calm her hyper-aware nerves. As one cup turned into several she realized waiting around would only make matters worse. Reluctantly deciding on a course of action Octavia uncharacteristically placed her cup in the sink to be washed later and began getting ready for the short journey to the studio which had been chosen to help plan the event. Once she had readied herself a second time, the first being short lived due to an irksome cup which once again stood gleaming with its brethren, she donned her favorite charcoal grey coat and maneuvered the heavy cello onto the center of her back and headed for the door thinking it would be better to be early than late. Taking one last glance back at her small house with that uncanny feeling that she had forgotten something, she set off into the cool morning air of early winter.

After finally managing to hail am early morning carriage, she had the sleepy looking driver take her to the arts district. Absentmindedly staring at the passing shops and the occasional early morning passerby, she let her mind wander to the upcoming audition.

Just one audition and I could be playing at the Vibrato. I could finally meet her parents! Perhaps learn more about her. Where could she be after all these years? She was so young when she disappeared...

Her mind raced throughout entire journey to the recording studio. The building in question was tucked away amongst the gleaming displays of modern architecture the entertainment and art industries were so fond of. Had she not been looking for it, it easily could have slipped her notice, not that it was lesser than the surrounding buildings. In a way it was more beautiful. It was of a wonderful yet restrained design unlike its neighbors who vied for attention.

After a final moment of apprehension at the polished glass doors she steeled herself and made her way into the small lobby. Seeing she was indeed in the correct, though strangely empty building, she quietly made her way across the marbled floor to a cozy waiting area. Shrugging off her heavy burden she gratefully took a seat. With just under an hour until her allotted audition time she resigned herself to a stressful albeit, boring wait.

Momentarily glancing at the out of date magazines wearily offered by the coffee table and a quick grumble she went to retrieve some music from her case. As she did the corner of a very familiar, and very old, magazine caught her eye. Quickly digging the battered tabloid from beneath the pile Octavias eyes widened at the irony. There, on the cover, was a smiling filly. Beautiful magenta eyes stared back at Octavia contrasting the brilliant white of her coat and radiant gold of her curled mane with the headline
Musical Mastermind Missing was printed in large bold letters across the top.

Sighing at the irony she flipped to the main article.

The search for the musical prodigy Vianna Staccato continues into its second week as fans continue to speculate on her disappearance. Unfortunately the authorities and the Staccato family have been surprisingly reluctant to share any information. With no reward posted for her safe return many are wondering what has been going on behind the lavish closed doors. Dozens of  theories have arisen from concerned admirers of the young filly ranging from the absurd to disturbing.

At the sound of a soft click Octavia looked up from the familiar story as muffled voices began to float down the hall.

"I still don't see why you need me here."

"You know why Vinyl. You can work this mixing board contraption and you know more about these classical types than I do. This next one is supposed to be quite talented."

Octavia looked around before noticing the slightly opened door part way down the hall.

Her ears twitched, unsuccessfully making out the mumbled response.

"Then you shouldn't have lost that ridiculous wager. I need to know what to look for... Besides I thought it might be nice, considering the venue, for you to-"

"NO. Don't you start that shit again Fancy. I'm here because I owe you and because you're my friend, but if you keep that up you know I'll leave."

"Very well Vinyl. I was only trying to help." the voice said with a sigh.

"I'm here to help you, not the other way around. Speaking of that, I may be helping but I don't work for free."

"Yes yes the coffee is in the lounge."

Upon hearing the door swing open she realized she had been eavesdropping and quickly hid behind her sheet music hoping she had’nt been caught. Peeking from behind her papers she saw a white unicorn mare with a neon blue mane and over-sized tinted glasses walk across the hallway only to pause halfway through the doorway before slowly backing out. With a sudden burst of heat in her cheeks and ears she quickly ducked behind her music as she felt the eyes behind the shades studying her for a moment before a voice yelled.


"I’ve been trying to cut back and you should too."

"...That doesn't make a bit of sense."

"Unless you would like to go without this morning, I suggest you deal with it. Half and half is better than decaf."

Octavia heard the door swing open a second time. Upon risking another quick peek she realized it was none other than Fancy Pants, the fashion tycoon, who only recently stepped into the musical world in a very big way.

"Decaf?" The mare asked confused. Octavia could almost hear the gears turning in the mare’s mind as she tried to understand. After a short pause the mare burst out,  "WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY COFFEE?!"

Noticing Octavia waiting in the lobby Fancy Pants turned his attention towards her, ignoring the mare’s question.

"Ah! So sorry, I didn’t realize you were waiting out here. You must be Octavia," Fancy Pants said noticing the large cello case.

"I am. It is entirely my fault for waiting. I arrived much earlier than intended. Sorry for the inconvenience, I understand if you are busy."

"How could you taint my wonderful coffee?!"

"Not at all! We can begin anytime you’re ready."

"I can't! I need actual coffee!"

Noticing her music he added, "But there’s no rush. If you need to go over a few things then take your time."

"No no. I was just going over it again to pass the ... er… should we be worried about her?" Octavia asked concerned as the white mare slowly slumped to the ground with her legs splayed comically.

"Hm? Oh her. No don't worry about it. Come along and lets get you set up," Fancy said as he turned and levitated her cello down the hallway.

"I'm not moving until you fix it Fancy!" Vinyl said muffled by the floor. Octavia carefully stepped around the prone mare, not entirely sure how to act in such a strange situation.

Just before Octavia stepped through the offered door she glanced back towards the lobby and true to her word, the strange mare was laying face down on the floor.

Upon entering the dimly lit control room, Octavia took a moment to study the vast array of electrical equipment as Fancy glanced down the hallway and said, "I’ll give you the main booth after we finish if you cooperate, Vinyl.", with barely contained amusement.
Octavia turned in time to see a white streak skid into the door frame before bouncing off and rocketing to the chair behind the controls.

"What are you all standing around for?" Vinyl said as she slipped the headphones around her neck.

"Do ignore her. She’s the strangest pony you’ll probably ever meet but she is the best at what she does."

"And that would be..."

"Making music." He said matter of factly, at which she gave him an unconvinced look as Vinyl  smirked mischievously over his shoulder.

Missing the unintended pun completely, Octavia turned to unpack her cello in the connected recording booth.

"And what will you be playing for us this morning?" Fancy asked through the speakers as Octavia finished setting up.

"The Smallest Things by Vianna Staccato"

Through the sound proof glass Octavia saw a grinning Fancy say something to Vinyl before he received a sharp smack to the back of the head.

"A Staccato fan are we?" Fancy asked through the microphone, grinning despite a small wince.

"Oh yes. She was and still is my biggest inspiration," she said enthusiastically.

At this it was Octavias turn to wince as Vinyl’s forehead sharply impacted the desk. Fancy, on the otherhoof turned to hide what appeared to be filly like giggles.

"Is there a problem?" Octavia asked, eyes furrowed half in annoyance and half confusion.

"Not at all. I'm terribly sorry. It's an inside joke between Vinyl and I," he said, still chuckling.

"May I begin then?" She asked not sure if she should be offended.

"Yes by all means. Start whenever you are ready," he said, prodding Vinyl sharply in the side of the head to make her pay attention.

Taking a breath to calm herself she began with one long quivering note.


As Octavia drew out the final note she looked up in time to see Vinyl and Fancy glance at one another before Vinyls voice cut the silence.

"You played it perfectly."

"Thank you."

"Erm... That wasn't a compliment."

"Excuse me?"

"Look, if you had a symphony backing you then playing each note precisely is exactly what you'd want but we're looking for a soloist. Loosen up. Play it with some emotion. That's how this song was meant to be played anyhow. Try again."

Octavia had hardly gotten into the song again before Vinyl interrupted her.

"That's still not it. Hold up."
Octavia was growing more and more nervous as Vinyl and Fancy held a silent conversation. After what felt like hours Vinyl’s voice crackled over the speakers.

"Alright Octy, how well do you know this song?"

"By heart."

"Good," she said as her magical aura appeared around Octavias sheet music and proceeded to shred it.

"Hey! You can't just do that!"

Frowning in annoyance, Vinyl said, "can and did. If you're serious about this gig then you'll listen up."

Glancing at Fancy for help, the only response she received was a shrug and a look that said, "I would do as the crazy mare says!"

"What would you like me to do?" She sighed in resignation.

"Think of your garden."

"I'm sorry?"

"Your garden! Your zen garden. A happy place. The zone. Whatever you want to call it. Everypony has one, real, or imaginary. Go on. Close your eyes and think!"

Octavia closed her eyes for a moment before quickly opening them again to see if this was some strange joke. Seeing Vinyl’s glare she quickly closed the again and began to think.

She imagined the one place where she always felt at peace; The small park behind her house. She remembered the times in late summer when the moon had just risen and crickets and fireflies, unseen in the day, emerged en masse to transform the heavily wooded park into a living painting. Since the park had been built for the nearby nobles, it was very rarely, if at all, used. It felt like her own little world. A sanctuary from the madness.

Seeing Octavia relax, Vinyl nodded adding, "Now fix the song."

Having nearly forgot there were other ponies around, Octavia nearly lost her precarious balance.

"What?!"she said rather angrily from embarrassment.

Vinyls sigh was cut short as she let go of the microphone and Octavia could only watch as vinyl and Fancy Pants shared a silent conversation.

"Look, Olivia, the music; did you write it?"

"Octavia, and no." She answered somewhat confused.

"Exactly! It was written by some halfwit composer who wrote from her own emotions. When playing a piece like this its only fair to yourself, the composer, and the music that you add your own story to it."

"Miss Staccato is not a halfwit!"

"Seriously?? Out of all of that, that's what you picked up?" Vinyl put a hoof over the mic to muffle what came next but Octavia still hear her muffled remarks. "I don't think she's what were looking for Fancy. I've seen musicians like her before. Trained to be emotionless and too stubborn to change."

Hearing this Octavias heart began to fall. Memories of a ruined ball room, screaming party-goers, and a pink earth pony flashed in her mind.

"Are you certain? She comes highly-" Fancy uncertainly began.

"Please!" Octavia desperately interrupted before taking a deep breath to steady herself. "Please allow me to try one more time."

Fancy Pants studied her for a moment before giving her a nod to continue.

Taking a moment, she thought about what Vinyl had said.

Perhaps she's right... No! She can't even realize the brilliance of miss Staccato. She probably can't even play a proper instrument! But I can't let her stand in the way of my dream. Celestia help me through this...

It had been a long time since she had played what came next. It was a song she had never planned on playing again. What crept from the mouth of the cello was a haunting melody. While the song itself carried a cheerful personality the notes themselves delivered nothing but stark sadness and a forced lie that promised everything would be okay.


As the song wound to a close the spell holding Vinyl and Fancy in timelessness drifted away leaving them deciding who should ask the obvious question.

"Uh... Tavi? You alright?" Vinyl’s voice sounded over the microphone.

"Yes, I'm perfectly alright. Well, thank you for the consideration," she said, not caring what happened now so far as she was far
away as soon as possible. She quickly busied herself with the packing of her instrument all the while utterly failing to hide her tears.

"I hope to hear from you soon regarding your decision. You have contact information?" Octavia asked as she stuffed the shredded remains of her sheet music into the case.

Still somewhat stunned by the unexpected turn of events Fancy replied, "yes of course. It's all right here."

"Well thank you again but I really must be going." Octavia said as she quickly shouldered the heavy instrument and made her way quickly out the door, determined to leave as quickly as possible.

As she made her way out of the recording booth Fancy turned to Vinyl. "We really shouldn't have let her leave in such a state," he commented grimly.

With a faraway look in her eyes Vinyl solemnly replied, "no, she could probably use some time alone."


Meanwhile a teal lyrist was reviewing her audition piece in the lobby when a gray mare with a disheveled pink bowtie burst from a hallway door and very nearly sprinted for the exit.

She suddenly became extremely nervous when she saw the tears streaming down the poor mares face.

"Miss Lyra Heartstrings?" A somber voice called from the same door the crying mare had left wide open.

Gulping, Lyra braced herself for the worst.