It wasn’t easy.
At the start, there was nothing to it. The curtains dropped on the stage a few minutes before ponies were let in. Scootaloo followed the instructions and set the lighting to be dim. Rainbow Dash aimed the lights to cover the general area. After that, they didn’t have anything to do, until the play started.
Scootaloo turned off all the lights, except for one spotlight, which Rainbow Dash centered on a single pony who welcomed the audience to the play. After that, the lighting script went crazy. So many lights had to turn on and off in short bursts. Scootaloo’s hooves went crazy trying to pick out the right lights every time there was a shift in a scene. Occasionally, she was too slow or she flipped the wrong switch, and by the time she corrected it she found heself two steps behind.
Rainbow Dash had a different problem, she was too fast. She zoomed back and forth alongside the cat walk, trailing the lights along the actors. Without paying attention, she would jerk a light into an actor’s eyes, blinding them and forcing them to jumble their lines. These actors were professionals though, and managed to ad lib their way through their fumblings, but they were not happy about it. Discord was the only one who could show his irritation without the audience noticing. Several times when Rainbow mis-aimed the light, Discord changed the color of her coat to purple or pink, grew her nose hairs, or chucked a small woodland creature at her.
During one of the slower moments, Rainbow Dash flew over to Scootaloo to whisper her frustrations. “How the heck are we supposed to do this all night? My wings are cramping up and it’s not even the end of the first act.”
Scootaloo rolled her head back, letting out a long sigh. “Tell me about it. I messed up the button pressing at least a hundred times. Oh, you got a rabbit biting your ear.”
“I know.” Rainbow Dash batted at the rabbit, one of Discord’s petty revenge tricks for messing up so much. The rabbit hung tight, swinging from her ear. She bent around and gave it a swift kick with her hind leg, sending it flying over the audience. “We’re not doing so hot, and Discord knows it. Why does he want us to do this in the first place?”
“Because, in all honesty, you two are last minute replacements.” The pegasi turned around to see Discord sitting on top of the rafters, lifting a salad bowl up like a tea cup and drinking its leafy greens. “But I guess the blame partially falls on me. After all, it was I who picked the sloppiest lighting crew on this side of Equestria.”
Scootaloo leaned over the railing to look down at the play, where another Discord sat and listened to two other characters talk about something. “Hey, you can make clones of yourself. Why don’t you do this if you think we’re terrible?”
Discord shook his head, sipping a crouton from his salad. “I’ve tried that once. It didn’t end well. You see, as powerful of a being I am, I can’t perform chaos magic and act at the same time. The part of me that’s acting breaks character and goes off on random tangents. It’s terrible form for a theatrical production. In fact, I’m only up here talking with you two because I have a break. Flower Basket and Pickle Barrel are discussing the fine points of upper class manners. I don’t have any lines for the minute.”
“And are you up here to tell us how to do our jobs better?”
“No, I never got into the lighting side of these things. That’s Butch’s forte. I came up to tell you both that you suck at this, and I deeply regret this decision.” He arched his head back to look down at the play. “Looks like my part is coming up. You two have a lot of work ahead of you. Get good, or else.”
Rainbow Dash scowled as the spirit disappeared. His counterpart down below got up and recited his lines. She scurried around the rafters to move the lights once more. “No one tells me I suck and gets away with it.”
Scootaloo poked at the switches once more, thinking about the spirit’s parting words. “Hey Rainbow, if we don’t do a good job on this, do you think Discord will tell my parents about the cider?”
“I hope not.” Rainbow Dash flew closer to the console, moving a row of lights over as she soared. “He’d need a lot of nerve to bring us this far, insult us, and then go blabbering to your parents. I won’t let that happen. Now, do you want to show him whose boss?”
Scootaloo flipped the lighting script to the next page, giving Rainbow Dash a big grin. “You know I am. Let’s make that finish line go boom!”
“Don’t turn those $%@ lights on at the same time! They’ll heat up and go &^@# boom!” Butch grabbed two switches with his magic and flipped them off. “What happened to lighting crews who knew what the %@# they were doing? This is %&3!”
Scootaloo jumped back as Butch squeezed past. “I didn’t ask to do this. Blame Discord!”
“That $#6@ mutant is getting what’s coming to him, for sure. Where is my lipstick?”
The scene would soon be transitioning, and the pegasi were going in overdrive to keep up with the thickening pace. Butch only complicated things by getting in the way. Rainbow Dash soared around him as he searched around for the missing costume piece. “Can’t you borrow Discord’s lipstick? Or ask a mare in your crew to lend you some?”
Butch shook his head as he scoured the catwalk. “Trust me, when you see what goes on behind stage, you learn to pack your own ^$#@ lipstick. For $%&3 sake, I don’t have time to stop by a dollar store. My scene is up next.”
“Well, we got our own problems to worry about right now. Do you really need lipstick?”
“No, but it helps me fall into character.” Butch stumbled past Scootaloo once more, grumbling in Swear-ese about his lost lipstick. “Also, do a %^4& better job!”
Down below, the actors finished up their lines for the scene. They closed out on a racing track, and were now ready to move on. Scootaloo took her queue, flipping all the lights off, bathing the stage in darkness. Down below, a stage crew pulled the rope to close the curtain. Rainbow Dash failed to notice the sandbag shooting up from underneath her.
“Finally, a break-ACK!” The sandbag’s rope caught her wing as it went up. She flailed around, but only wrapped the rope tighter during her panic. She flapped her other wing as hard as possible to keep her upright, knowing she’d lose a wing if her body dropped to the floor. “Ow, ow, ow, Scootaloo, help! My wing’s stuck!”
“One moment, need to turn the lights back on.” Scootaloo flipped the lights, as instructed by the script, and then scampered over as close to Rainbow Dash as the catwalk allowed her. She squeezed past the railing and reached out to grab her. “I’ll try to get you. Grab on!”
Rainbow Dash flapped her good wing forward, but the sandbag’s weight kept her in place. “It’s no good. I can’t move around. I’d break my wing if I tried anything.”
Below them, the stage crew finished up moving the next scene’s props. The actors stood in position, Discord by a door, Butch behind the door, and a couple other actors next to them. Nobody bothered to look up to see the tangled pegasus.
“It’s about to start, but I think I can get you free before that.” Scootaloo grabbed a rope hanging next to her, pulling it to make sure it held. She reached out as far as she could. Rainbow Dash reached out too, and together they caught each other’s hooves. “Cool! Now to pull you in.”
“Curtains rising!” A voice below yelled.
The sandbag descended, yanking Rainbow Dash along with it. “No no no, OW!”
With Scootaloo still holding on to her, the filly came down with her. She slipped off the catwalk and tumbled down to the stage. Her wings fluttered in reflex to keep her in the air, but they weren’t powerful enough for flight. Helpless, she crashed straight into something squishy on the stage.
“I say, Pickle Barrel, you may have a chance at winning this bet yet.” In her daze, Scootaloo heard Discord reciting his lines as if nothing happened. Did they ignore her fall?
“Nonsense, Flower Basket did wonderfully at the race.” The filly looked up. The curtains were drawn, but she couldn’t see the audience, or the other actors. A door blocked her vision of the world beyond. Where did she land? And why did the floor feel hairy?
“Ha, her little spectacle ousted her as a common gutter pony in front of the entire party.” She looked underneath her to find Butch under her butt, dressed in his full dress and unconscious. Oh no. She knocked out an actor, Butch of all ponies. Discord wasn’t going to be happy.
From the side of the stage, a knocking sound filled the theater. Discord let out a groan. “Great, I bet it’s one of those silver spoon ponies here to berate me on my guest. Coming!” Scootaloo froze as the door opened, revealing the Spirit of Chaos towering over her. “Mother…” As his lines died down, Discord glared down at the pegasus, the catwalk lights casting a dark shadow over his snarling face.
“What’s going on?” he viciously whispered. Scootaloo couldn’t help but point up to the rafters, where Rainbow Dash still hovered with her one good wing. “Oh, bother.”
“Who is it?” Pickle Barrel walked around to peak behind the door. While Pickle Barrel the character appeared to be a friendly, jolly fellow, the actor playing him clearly looked pissed, and slightly confused.
Adrenaline rushed through Scootaloo’s head. Unless she came up with something now, she knew her fate would be sealed. She ruined the play! Discord would tell her mother about the cider, and she’d never get to see Rainbow Dash ever again! Wait… mom.
Scootaloo pulled the wig off the unconscious Butch and strapped it on. It nearly engulfed her entire body, but she spread her wings out to keep it balanced. Satisfied, she stepped around the Chaos Spirit, closing the door behind her to hide Butch. Oh, please let this work. “Hello dear, aren’t you going to introduce mommy to your friend?”
Discord, Pickle Barrel, and the audience all stared at her. The situation’s gravitas hit her like a train falling on top of her, nearly forcing her to buckle over. Despite the pressure, she stayed strong, or at least hoped to Celestia that the adrenaline won’t run out soon. “You won’t believe the weather we’re having. The pegasi are all tangled up there.” She pointed at Rainbow Dash, drawing the attention of one of the stage crew. He followed her hoof and caught sight of pegasus, then rushed back to get help, hopefully.
“It’s good to see you, mother.” Discord kept his snarl on Scootaloo, likely him displeased with her, his character displeased with his mother, a mix of both.
“Ah, madam, I’m Colonel Pickle Barrel.” The actor came over to kiss Scootaloo’s hoof. “It’s a pleasure meeting such a beautiful lady.”
Discord wrapped a talon around Scootaloo and pushed her towards the door. “Well, that’s out of the way. What a shame. She has to be off, don’t you mother?”
“But I came by to see how your day has been. I heard you met a filly friend.” She bit her lip once she realized what she just said. No, she needed to get off stage. She was ruining the play. Why did she say that? She didn’t know any lines!
Pickle Barrel came over and nudged Discord in the side. “Don’t be rude. She’s your mother. How can you throw her out like that? Please, stay for a while. I insist.”
Scootaloo firmly believe Discord was capable of turning his death glare into an actual death glare. “No, no, it’s fine. I only came by to check on my son. But, I see you two are busy with something. I’ll be on my way.”
“No need to rush.” Pickle Barrel came over and pulled Scootaloo away from Discord. “You heard right, we do have a filly friend, and we would like you to meet her. Flower Basket! There’s someone at the door for you!”
“Coming!” Someone yelled off stage. Discord slithered in close and hissed in the actor’s ear. “What are you doing? She doesn’t know the script.”
Pickle Barrel brought his voice down to a whisper. “I don’t like it, but we need your mother.” The actor looked down at Scootaloo, pulling her in closer. “Just follow my lead. Say some fancy compliments to Flower and nothing else.” He perked up and smiled at the actress walking in form the side. “Flower Basket, meet Voice Box’s mom.”
Flower Basket curtsied from across the stage. “Hello, madam. Fine weather we’re having today?”
“Your mane is fancy,” Scootaloo blurted. Discord smacked his face and groaned. A light chuckle passed over the audience.
“And yours is, too,” Flower Basket said. “Your mane is quite elegant as well.”
“Thank you. I just groomed it.” Scootaloo smiled, not an acting smile, a genuine smile. This wasn’t so bad. Sure, an entire audience watched her every movement, she had no idea what the play was about, and the Spirit of Chaos would curse her family for generations if she screwed up. Not to worry, though, everything was just fine. She just had to follow the other actors and hold a fake conversation. What could go wrong?
“Scootaloo!” The filly’s ears flattened against her skull when she heard that voice. “Scootaloo, over here!” She dared take a peek at the audience, where a mare hopped up and down in her seat. Oh no, it was her mom.
“So, Miss Flower Basket,” Scootaloo said, trying to ignore her shouting mother, “What’s going on?”
“Sweeite, it’s me, mommy!” Now the audience wasn’t looking at Scootaloo, but the frantic mare amongst their numbers. “Oh, you’re doing such an incredible job! Keep up the great work.”
Pickle Barrel swore under her breath. “Bloody hell,” he whispered, breaking out of character, “What’s that mare think she’s doing? This is a play, not a carnival.”
Scootaloo shrugged. “I don’t know. I thought she was staying home tonight. Why is she here? Unless…”
“Sweetie, don’t forget, we’re having daisy salad for dinner tonight.” Off to the edges of the audience, ponies in suits pushed their way through to reach Scootaloo’s mom. Before they could snag her, she jumped over a row and landed between an elderly couple. “Why don’t you invite your friends, those Cute Mark Questers! We can have a party!”
“Discord,” Scootaloo said, glaring up at the spirit. “Why is my mom here?”
“I might have…” Discord paused as the filly’s mom tumbled over multiple rows of ponies, “gotten her drunk and teleported her here.”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time, like an ironic sort of justice for the cider thing.” If looks could kill, Pickle Barrel’s, Flower Basket’s, and Scootaloo’s death glares would’ve shredded Discord to pieces. “Hi, Spirit of Chaos here. Not everything I do makes sense.”
“And I don’t suppose Rainbow Dash’s parents are here too.”
“Actually no, just your mom, and she seems to be having a blast.” Discord look up to see the frantic mare throw a clumsy punch at one of the suited stallions. “Speaking of Rainbow, how’s she doing?”
“Don’t pull that! No!” A loud scream came from above. “No no no-OW!” Rainbow Dash plummeted from the rafters, crashing into the doorway set, smashing it into pieces as she landed. She convulsed on top of the rubble, her wing stretched out at a painful angle. “OW OW! My wing, ow ow ow!”
“Found her,” Discord Deadpanned, pointing at the fallen pegasus.
Several of the stage crew rushed from the stage side and over to Rainbow Dash. One of them carried a large med kit in his mouth. Another walked up to the front of the stage, yelling above the noise. “Sorry folks. We need to shut down the show. If you can all leave in an orderly fashion, we can provide refunds for all in attendance. Also, please step aside for the paramedics when they come in.”