• Published 3rd Jul 2013
  • 966 Views, 48 Comments

Flight of the Parasprite - Planetarian



A seemingly harmless insect threatened to leave Ponyville in a famine! Can the Ponyville musicians find a way to save their town once again?

  • ...
0
 48
 966

Play that Country Tuba, Cowmare

Bluenote cannot turn down an enthusiastic crowd.

With scornful eyes from Medley promptly ignored, the blue mare sat on her haunches with the Tuba in her forelegs ready to do some music.

"Well then! How about this wacky little number from Applelosa?"

The rowdy crowd joined Bluenote as the audience broke into songs with her.

Chorus:

Play that country tuba, cowmare.
Play that country tuba, cowmare.
Play that country tuba, play that country tuba.
Play that country tuba, cowmare.

Tuba:

Well musicians' stories have made the rounds
about traveling bands in red-neck towns
but for tuba players this has got to be a first.

This one starts like they all do
I'd been traveling hard for a day or two
and I stopped into this joint to quench my thirst.

Up walked this big mountain colt
said, "What'cha got there? A garbage can?"
and I said, "Excuse me, that's my tuba, if you please."

He said "Great play a country song
so me and my buddies can sing along"
and I told him I only play with symphonies.

He slammed his fist and spit out his beer
and his body language made it very clear
this wasn't going to be just another B-flat day.

That's when he cocked his thirty-odd-six
and boy, I let out with some country licks

I'd never thought I'd hear my tuba play.

Chorus:

Play that country tuba, cowmare.
Play that country tuba, cowmare.
Play that country tuba, play that country tuba.
play that country tuba, cowmare.

Tuba:

Well after a while I ran outta air
and I figured I'd better get out of there
so I grabbed my horn and headed for the door.

Just about then I felt a lasso
wrapped around me and my tuba too
and they yanked me back and 'ey hollered "More gal' more!"

Chorus:

Play that country tuba, cowmare.
Play that country tuba, cowmare.
Play that country tuba, play that country tuba.
Play that country tuba, cowmare.

Bluenote was chatting up a storm after a bout of Play that Country Tuba, Cowmare. (She had it pitched up a semitone to make things easier for her though.) Nopony had any idea about how was it that Applejack would have found herself a Banjo when she's nowhere near her farm, but few cared of such trivialities.

Such laziness on her part. She could've handled the accidentals... but she had to take the easy way out. Why is this so predictable of her?

Having gone through the B-flat day in the key of C was not lost to Octavia, who was shaking her head throughout the entire spectacle.

"You know, if we can find ourselves some bandmates, we can pull off all that Jazz, New Orleans style." Bluenote noted to the townsfolk all around her.

"You'd get a real kick out of Caravan. The fat horn here is actually welcomed in city of Mardi Gras!"

"You've been there!?" Carrot Top, one of the ponies that live in the town shouted.

"Not going there? That's the home of Dixieland!"

Octavia was unenthused, and she chose to voice her grievance. "... and there she goes again with her antics. Shouldn't we be going after Pinkie Pie instead?"

How Lyra had managed to appear without a trace was a mystery upon itself. The Dona Quixote of Ponyville disagreed at any rate.

"Nay, my fair maiden, for she's left the garden;
such a glorious task to bask upon!"

The owner of the music store uttered to Octavia. "She's been spending way too much time out in the Everfree for her own good..."

"Hark! Such snide remarks doth mine spirit harm none."

Medley's mouth was as sharp as ever. "There goes Lyra's noggins." She said bitterly.

Lyra could clearly see that something was bothering the gray mare, but Octavia was not letting her thought out. This was not the time to pry into Octavia, so the mint-green bard had decided to let this fester for the time being.

Fluttershy was noticing how that the Parasprites were growing in number, but the volume level was too loud for her to speak to anypony about this. Something was amiss with these creatures, but there was no way to really think about the problem with all this banter around her.

Medley found that she was missing a Trombone as well. (The Banjo was back in her shop, safe and sound.) This was not acceptable since these instruments were all likely to be used by visiting musicians in the musical festival. The mare was not happy at all, and seeing the other ponies had only fueled her rage.

"Oh.... I've had it with you lot!"

Medley slammed the door to her store shut, had the door locked, then she quickly went skyward. She felt that the only chance that she can find Pinkie was to look for her at a vantage point, and time is of the essence.

"That was a good one, Miss Bluenote!"

"You're the best!"

"We love ya!"

"Damn fine, miss, damn fine."

The blue mare was serenaded with praises, which made her fail to notice the departure of Medley, or of the concerned Elements that stood nearby. It wasn't until the crowd had dispersed (with much reluctance at that) that Bluenote was able to direct her attention to her fellow Elements.

"Bluenote, why were you in Medley's workshop?" Octavia asked with a poker face.

"Well... my Tuba got dropped in the mud when little fillies were fooling around with me the other day..."

"You WHAT?" Octavia was incensed. This day is very taxing on the mare's psyche.

Bluenote knew then what Octavia was about to do. "Oh, not again..."

"How... I... this..." Octavia was so furious that she could not form her words into a coherent sentence.

Bluenote's Tuba was no mere instrument (which in itself was worth close to two thousand bits.) Octavia cannot even fathom how was it that Bluenote would be so careless with a relic and a weapon that she would have it soaked in mud.

The gray mare recalled how much care she took when she was given the rare permission of the use of Platinum Purus for the construction of her personal Cello. The weight of tradition, artistry, beauty, ingenuity and history that were associated with the legendary Cello had struck the Cellist profoundly.

I remember playing the Platinum that one time... she helped to give life to my Cello. I was scared out of my wits when I had her in my hooves, and she was the one that guided me through it all. It was... an incredible honor to have been taught by the Platinum.

My Cello is likely to follow the Platinum Purus. She has a soul of her own, she suffers no fool, and she has ascended to become an irreplaceable artifact. How can Bluenote treat her Tuba the way she has been, when it is worthy of being a national treasure?

"How can you hurt her so..."

Bluenote was taken aback by the trailing words of Octavia.

"I... ur... "

The Cellist gave the Tubaist a look of utter disappointment, which stung more than scorns and insults ever could.
Fluttershy had to interrupt this unpleasant conversation.

"Ur... I wanted to tell you something..."

"Please go ahead." Octavia was sullen when she turned to Fluttershy.

"I... saw the Parasprites splitting. They are growing in number by the moment. Does that have something to do with Pinkie Pie's behavior?"

Octavia forced herself to think of the morning and not of Bluenote's abuse of her priceless Tuba.

"Maybe she does know of these insects. I fail to see how they might pose a problem though."


Parasprite.
That word. That thing. That swarm.
Pinkie's on it, isn't she? It'll be ok if she's on it.


Bluenote said nothing of it.

"Surely fair Pinkie was inspired by such delights as these! Behold their fluffiness!"

Lyra was blissfully unaware of what these smiling avatars of doom were able to do. Bluenote was in no mood to spoil Lyra's fun though.

"I'm sorry. I don't want to lie about it..."

Octavia felt that Medley would have taught Bluenote her sorely needed lesson on proper respect of her instrument companion, and had decided to let go of her anger.

"You need to remember that your Tuba had helped in saving Equestria. Medley should've said the rest to you already. I didn't mean to repeat this..."

The Tubaist was receptive.

"That really was my bad. I..."

Fluttershy took Bluenote in an embrace.

"It's ok, Bluenote. We're not perfect. We all make mistakes. Friends don't let friends do dumb things if we can help it though."

The blue mare nodded into Fluttershy's pink mane, as Octavia came near to nuzzle her.

Lyra was beaming in a wide smile by then. "Behold! The triumph of friendship!" She cried. "Such deeds are worthy of friendship reports to The Princess!"

There were now sixty-odd Parasprites, when there had been only one when Fluttershy had started her day.

Rainbow Dash was not a happy pony for the moment.

The Pegasus was wobbling back and forth over the platform where Rarity was scrutinizing her apparel. The silvery-white wig stood as tall as the pony, and it was upsetting Rainbow Dash's balance.

Rarity had to order Rainbow Dash to stay put while she pinned the skirt. "Stand still, Rainbow Dash!"

The fastest Pegasus in Ponyville had other ideas. "I can't. I need to fly!"

Rarity seized the Pegasus by pinning down her tail to the elevated platform over her Inspiration Room.

Rainbow Dash was irritated, but she stopped herself from leaving the premise. "This is waaay too boring for me."

Rarity would have none of it. "Do you want to look nice for the festival or not?"

Rainbow dash had to yield to that argument. She sat on her haunches as Rarity continued her work.

Sweetie Belle climbed upstairs and the first thing that she did when she stumbled across the frustrated Rainbow Dash was to break into a fit of laughter.

"See? This outfit is totally ridiculous! She's going to laugh all the way back to the Cloudsdale with how stupid I look in it!" Rainbow Dash claimed, while immersed in indigence.

"Hehehe. How'd you do it Rarity! It's like Rainbow Dash is all dressed up like a cake! She looks adorable like that! Awww... pfft."

"Sweetie Belle! It's awfully delightful to have somepony recognize what my muse had been, especially when it is none other my little sister!" The alabaster mare spoke.

"Wait! You're telling me that you thought about dressing me up as a cake!?" Rainbow Dash could not let this pass.

"Why Rainbow Dash, don't be so glum! You do look so very dashing in it!"

"Hiya Dashie, Rarity, Sweetie Belle!"

Pinkie Pie had appeared.

"Pinkie! You gotta help me!"

Rainbow Dash pleaded to the madmare.

"And I shall, Dashie! All I need is a tin whistle! It can't be all tinny though! Has to sound nice! Heh! Tinny Tin Whistle! Wish I've thought of that one!"

Before Pinkie Pie can say much more, a few of the bugs had made their way to the boutique.

The premiere party mare was upset. "Oh no! They're already here."

Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Sweetie however felt otherwise. They dropped their activities and redirected their attention to the coloring flying balls of fluff and wings that were looking at them with their gleaming compound eyes.

"They are adorable!"

The exclamation was nearly universal, with the pink abstaining.

"Such charming little creatures! What a delight indeed!" Rarity was highly amused.

"Come with me back to my home, little guy! It'd be all kinds of awesome!"

"What about you, Pinkie?"

"Urgh! What's with you all and the Parasprites?!"

Pinkie actually shuddered and had the tone of total contempt for these colorful insects.

"Parasprites you say. I take that's their name. Interesting."

"If you would all just help me... seriously! Haven't you learned anything when we went through this the last time? I mean c'mon! I can understand it if Octavia and Vinnie's got no clue, but not you girls!"

Pinkie was not heard. The three ponies in the room were too absorbed with the Parasprites to pay Pinkie Pie any heed.

The pink pony left by herself in a panic. The infestation was spreading, and these ponies had no idea what was to happen if these critters were left unchecked.

Medley had been loitering over the Ponyville airspace for several hours, but there was no sign of Pinkie Pie.
She was undaunted, but the day was gone, making it impossible for her to continue aerial surveillance from her lack of visibility.

The Pegasus landed over the amphitheatre with great reluctance.

I have to get my stuff back! Princess Cadance and her troupe will be here tomorrow!

Medley found Vinyl Scratch in the company of colorful insects. The Deejay was still running system checks on the lighting and audio assemblies on the open-air stage.

"Vinyl! Are you here all by yourself?"

The audio engineer had her shades elevated from her eyes telekinetically.

"Yeah, looks that way. I haven't left here at all. Just wanted to get this thing perfect, you know."

Medley knew of that drive personally. The Ursa Minor incident had given her an understanding as to the level of dedication and professionalism that Vinyl Scratch had towards her craft, and she came to respect Vinyl as a fellow artisan.

"Always pushing your gears to the brim, huh Vinyl..."

The Element of Magic smirked a bit, as she looked confidently at the setup before her. "Nah, these babies have headroom. I always over-provision and under-rate my stuff."

The instrument maker was about to leave, when Vinyl asked her to stay for a question.

"Hey Medley, got something that's up your alley to ask."

"What is it?"

"You think that it's possible to make an acoustical body out of a whole building?"

Medley paused for a second.

"But what do you vibrate with? How can you get a roof light enough that you can have it vibrate when you don't have support masonry? You're not looking for a cave here. You have to push air against something to make noise!"

The instrument builder was translating reinforced back plate and sound post into an architectural context.

"This roof has to carry the vibration evenly down its length at that if you want to build it like a violin! It's out of our league to do that." The artisan closed her argument.

Vinyl was looking somewhat deep in thought. "Open air and stuff isn't efficient. We are losing a lot of acoustical energy. I've been thinking that maybe Unicorns can pour mana into making a force field or something that would like say the body of a guitar."

Medley had to sort her thought out.

" Although I can see why you'd think force field... but how many Unicorns could make a shield like that? The shield has to have an exact pattern, with air vents to make it vibrate just right!"

The Pegasus was the one that's thinking down to earth.

"Alright alright. Let me just... look. This open air stage here is a totally different from the point of your loudspeaker housings. You'd probably get better results if we can dampen and absorb the noise from the audience and to reflect the trebles and sopranos to the bleachers than to enclose the thing and turn it into a resonator."

Vinyl felt that she had to explain further.

"I saw the idea of the horn loudspeaker. If I can make the right kind of horn, I can get better efficiency. It's kind of a funnel in reverse."

Medley knew that horn loudspeakers were the same as flares in their basic operation. The mouthpiece was the compression driver of the setup.

"So you want to blast the audience over the flare of the horn? You'd get a wall of sound, which is anything but subtle."

"So you're saying that I should think about dampening the ambient from the bleachers and work on trebles?"

Medley nodded. "Yea. You don't have the time to come up with much else, and I wouldn't want to kill the directional headings of the various harmonics that you'd get with different instruments on stage."

Vinyl kicked the dirt as a smile flashed before her face.

"Sweet, thanks Medley. Rugs all over the bleachers it is. Treble gain is already done."

The Pegasus looked at the bleachers. "It would've been better if we have permanent seats with foam padding or have them made of limestone..."

Vinyl's eyes brightened, but her expression drew a more somber tone.

"Stuff like that cost bits. This isn't Canterlot or Hoovington. Just think Med, of what we could've done if we had the bits to make an awesome auditorium..."

"Oh, stop that right now. It makes me sad." Vinyl's statement was painful to Medley, as she was no different from the Deejay; she was imagining the design of a music hall in her head.

If only I had the power to make that happen...

Medley had to banish that thought somehow.

"Look. I gotta get going. Pinkie Pie ran off with my wares, and I may have orders of rentals coming up tomorrow if I play my cards right. I need to hunt her down right now."

Vinyl Scratch nodded.

"I heard something about that. You should go check in with Fluttershy. She was at your place and stuff. Actually, I'll go with you. Rares might have an idea or two about soundproofing rugs, so yeah."

"Sure."

The two mares left the amphitheatre together, as they tried to squeeze more work out of the Twilight hours of the day.

"Hi Rares."

"Ahh, Vinyl! Miss Medley! You poor dears. I can tell that you have been working nonstop."

Medley was still not above venting her grief. "Pinkie Pie. Been trying to hunt her down. Took my stuff."

Rarity gasped. "That's appalling! I caught her sight briefly today at my boutique actually. She was in such a hurry. I wonder what for."

"And aren't you the most adorable thing, o little one..."

Rarity had a Parasprite companion. One out of a dozen or two at her shop for that matter.

Medley and Vinyl Scratch had to ask Rarity about the insect, since they were introduced to the flying bug. "Just what are those things!"

"Oh darling, they're wonderful, delightful creatures known as Parasprites! One of these adorable balls of fluff flew into my shop when Pinkie Pie appeared unannounced. She knew something of these creatures, but she hadn't the time to elaborate on them!"

"Hmm...."

Vinyl was studying the Parasprite while Medley was starting to let her mental cogs go to work.

Pinkie knows something about these Parasprites.

Pinkie took my instruments in a hurry.

Pinkie's looking for more instruments.

Tin Whistle, Accordion, Natural Tuba, Harmonica, Trombone, Drums...

One-pony band?

"Hey Med, how about we use these critters for sound insulation?" Vinyl had interrupted Medley.

"Huh, what?"

Vinyl clearly had been thinking about that sound absorption problem. "These Parasprites' bodies look pretty decent for soaking up unwanted movement and chatters and whatnot. Whacha think?"

Medley scowled right there and then. "But... these are... bugs. Would they even behave and stay put? They might just fly away or go to the stage and disrupt the performers..."

Rarity seemed unconcerned. "Oh dear, I've noticed that they are very friendly and love to be around ponies. They would most likely clutter about where ponies would be found!"

The dressmaker paused to gather her thoughts. "By the way, Vinyl, you've mentioned that you wanted to have the Parasprites act as a sound dampening material, am I correct?"

Vinyl nodded her head strongly, her mane was banging in the air. "Yep. Figure it'd be a better way to keep the crowd nice and quiet."

Rarity looked at her workshop.

"I haven't enough stock of woven fabric to blanket the seating area I afraid, short notice and all. I can think of hay as a possible candidate material to ensure coverage, but they are ghastly and all too rustic!"

Medley looked at Rarity, feeling frustrated that she was nowhere near getting at Pinkie Pie, and that she's now being dragged to this little acoustical problem.

"Then get a move-on to Applejack's. I can't think of any other pony with bales of hay laying around her home. C'mon... we haven't got all day." The green Pegasus urged.

"Oh! I must go with you then." Rarity pressed. "I cannot allow visual apparels be slaughtered in the name of functionalities. I shall derive some suitable packaging so that nopony's the wiser about having to sit next to bales upon bales of dried straw! There need be no compromise!"

"Sweetie Belle, I am going to Sweet Apple Acres for a while, please take care of the Boutique!"

Rarity called out to the top floor of the shop, and a soprano voice traveled down to the reception area.
"Ok! I will wait for you, Rarity!"

The fashionista fixed her mane slightly, as she eloquently closed the door behind her. There was no way to voice an objection to Rarity.

"Then let us depart, good fillies of mine."

The three trekked to the direction of Applejack's farmstead.

Applejack and Medley were towing two wagons full of hay back to the Boutique.

"Ah like the idea. Stuff makes for good eatin', no nothin' goes to waste. It'd be a nice way for me to do somethin' nice for the town n' all."

Vinyl was pushing the two wagons telekinetically while Rarity led them forward.

"Thanks AJ. Sorry that it's kinda last moment!"

Applejack would have none of it. "Don't ya fret none, Vinyl. Ya did good to this lil' town of ours. We might' preciate the hard works. None of us here forgot 'bout you Elements risking your necks to save Equestria ya know."

Rarity shared this appreciation. "Few honors can compare to being in the company of the saviors of Equestria, and to think that they are of humble souls! You are all so modest, being your own ponies and earning your own livelihood, which is a measure of dignity that I find most noble."

Applejack scoffed. "Never liked'em Canterlot types that done none to earn all that glitter on'em. Glad to see you lot, Including that Miss Octavia, gettin' and stayin' down to earth. We Apples respect honest types most."

Medley rolled her eyes right there and then. "Octavia's done a bit of growing up. She was in her own Ivory Tower, like that bookworm genius mage."

"Her name's Twilight." Vinyl quipped.

"Yeah, her." Medley went on. "I gotta admit, I want to make more bits. Not cause I want to laugh my way to the bank, but bits do give you a bit of muscle when you need it."

Applejack and Rarity both laughed dryly. "Don't we all."

The group stopped at the Boutique, as Rarity quickly went into her shop.

"I intend to turn these into hay beds and pillows and what not. These shall be most unobtrusive and relatively comfortable. I am not one to sleep on hay of course."

Applejack snorted. "Rarity sleepin' on hay. Pigs have better chance of flyin' than that."

"Sweetie Belle! Do you want to help your big sister with making pillow, bedsheets and so forth!?"

The four mares were at the amphitheatre, where they were busily laying out the hay pillows, mattresses and cushions against the bleachers.

"I must say! These are far more presentable than before." Rarity was satisfied of the results.

Applejack was sitting on her haunches over one of the cushions. "Well Rarity, you've done it. Never would've thought that'em hay can be made dis fancy. Mind if I grab a few for ma family?"

Rarity was beaming. "Why Applejack, such interim solutions are only meant for this emergency! I will properly embroider sheets and use cotton for the pillows that you use on a daily basis."

"But these are... " Applejack was cut off by Rarity.

"Applejack. To the Boutique after this. You are not to leave until I have fashioned proper pillows for you and your kin, do you understand?"

Medley watched Applejack and Rarity bantering back and forth dispassionately. "And here they go again..."

It was then that Fluttershy had appeared, looking quite concerned about something.

"Ur... Vinyl Scratch, Medley, is now a good time for me to talk to you all?"

Vinyl's shades hid her eyes, but her attention's on Fluttershy. "Shoot."

Fluttershy bit her lips. "The Parasprites are growing in number! They..."

Vinyl was visibly excited by the news.

"How many? Enough to fill the bleachers with ponies sitting with them?"

Fluttershy had to stop herself for a moment, as she took a glance at the amphitheatre. "Yes, but..."

Vinyl was very delighted. "Get them here tomorrow. This could work. Your cottage doesn't have the space for them I guess, right?"

Fluttershy shyly nodded.

"Then it's settled. Medley, sorry 'bout being no help in hunting down Pinkie Pie."

Medley was dejected, but she hung on.

"Pinkie's my problem. Acoustics on the other hoof's a matter for all of us. Besides, if Pinkie's got a problem with Parasprites... where else would she be but right in the middle of them all?"

Medley had a smirk on her face. "I smell shenanigan. I gotta know what she's really doing... she's bound to show up. Let's round up the Parasprites and put'em in this amphitheatre tomorrow."

"I don't know if that's really a good idea..." Fluttershy was very unsure of this idea.

"It's be the swarm of the century, but c'mon. It's manageable. I saw these critters, they don't bite." Vinyl was quite optimistic.

Fluttershy nodded at Vinyl's comment. The Parasprites did Fluttershy and the animals no physical harm whatsoever. The mess at the cottage was... not really out of malice. There was no need to talk about it as that's a personal problem.

"Well then! I am going to crash." Vinyl decided to leave things at this point. "Rares, AJ, can't thank you enough. You can leave the wagons here. We'll get'em back to you and stuff."

"Sounds good to me. Guess I gotta go with Rarity here for now... ya'll take care, alright?"

The ponies bid each other farewell under the stars, as they went their separate way home.

"So they really are dividing."

Octavia had the Parasprites quarantined in a jar. There were now sixteen of them.

"They have bottomless stomachs for some reason! There's more to them than I've thought before. Maybe Zecora might have some information about these."

The Cellist was no trained scientist, but she was a cautious individual. In order to account for the Parasprites dividing yet again, the gray mare had the glass jar moved to a crate enclosure.

"They do not react significantly to the trebles, but I am noticing that lower frequencies have an effect on them for some reason."

The mare thought aloud.

"Now isn't the time to think of this. I will go to Zecora in the morning. Something about these Parasprites deserve further study. The rehearsal in the morning will take place without any trouble. Off to bed I go."

The First Chair at Ponyville had decided to rest. She needed the rest so that she can help the Concertmaster from Canterlot with their pieces (acoustics in the amphitheatre needs some familiarization.)

Octavia was sound asleep in no time.

The massive glass jar vibrated frequently. Its structural integrity did not fail, but the Parasprites were restless in the hay bedding of the crate for some reason.

Author's Note:

Pieces featured:
Tuba: Play that Country Tuba, Cowboy, The Vandals.
Tuba: Caravan adoption for Tuba.

So the train wreck continued to run its course.

It's kind of funny how that the C!6 are a matured bunch comparing to L!six and M!six. You don't feel that any of them are larger than life (not even C!Lyra, being the most hamming of them all.)