• Published 18th Sep 2013
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My Little Investigations: The Silent Dirge - Metool Bard

Some maniac is aiming to silence every musician in Equestria. I, for one, will not stand for it.

  • ...

Confrontation: Neon Lights

April 9, 11:28 AM
Lincolt Center
Performance Studio A

Thankfully, it didn't take us long to find an unoccupied studio. I tried my best to ignore the strange looks other ponies were giving me as I carried Vinyl on my shoulder and followed Neon Lights inside. So much for being subtle and not arousing suspicion. Then again, I didn't really expect this to be a walk in the park.

Using his magic, Neon closed the door behind us to make sure we had our privacy and pulled up a few chairs. I sat Vinyl down in a chair next to me as Neon situated himself across from us.

"Let's get right to the point, shall we?" I said, turning to Neon. "You were in charge of checking the equipment for last night's set, and you told Vinyl that there were no problems. Have I gotten anything wrong here?"

"Nope," said Neon simply. "You're pretty much spot-on. Which is why I'm not sure why Vinyl's taking this out on me."

"It's because you're better than this, Neon," Vinyl growled, flicking her ear a bit to clean it out. "You take good care of your instruments just like every other musician out there. What happened last night shouldn't have happened because you should've caught it before we went on."

"Vinyl, I make mistakes all the time," said Neon defensively.

"No, I believe that," said Vinyl with a snort. "You're making a big one right now by holding out on us."

Neon lowered his shades. "Who said I'm holding out on you, Vinyl? I've got nothing to hide."

"My flank you don't!" Vinyl barked back.

"Vinyl, no," I scolded, placing a firm hoof on her shoulder. "We're not going to get anywhere by yelling at him. We should hear his side of the story before we accuse him of anything."

Vinyl took a deep breath and nodded. "R-right. Sorry, Octy," she said. "It's always better if the Good Cop goes first, right?"

I don't know whether that was self-deprecation or a shot at me (honestly, it could easily be both), but either way, it warranted a dirty look from me. Just because I'm falling all over myself trying to keep this investigation a secret doesn't give her the right to be so blatant about it.

"Just let me do the talking for the time being," I said, turning back to Neon. "Now then, if what you're saying is true, then you should have no trouble telling us about what happened last night before the set."

"No prob," said Neon, lifting his shades and resting them atop his forehead. "I'll tell you exactly how it all went down."

Testimony: Before the Set

"While Vinyl got our music in order, I did a check of all the equipment to make sure everything was ready to go," said Neon. "The roadies wanted to help, but I told 'em that I had a handle on things. So I ran a few tests, and everything seemed to be a-okay. Trust me, when that feedback kicked in during the show, I was just as shocked as everypony else."

Considering that it took the roadies quite a long time to find that transmitter, Neon's story was certainly believable. That is, up until a certain point. It sounded like he was omitting a vital piece of information. I had to dig deeper.

"Why didn't you let the roadies help you?" I asked. "Performing tests and things like that is their job, isn't it?"

"Well, yeah," said Neon with a shrug. "But I didn't want them to waste their time when I already had everything under control."

"Are you sure you had everything under control?" I said, folding my forelegs.

"Hey now, that's a loaded question," said Neon sharply.

"Not if you answer truthfully," I countered.

Neon snorted. "Who knew you were capable of playing hardball?" he said. "Listen, nothing went wrong when I tested the equipment. What happened last night should not have happened."

"Except that it did," I said.

"Yeah," said Neon. "And I'm just as confused as you."

When he said that, I remembered what Pan and Sapphire Shores told me. And right then and there, I figured that Neon was lying. I adjusted my bow-tie.

"So, you have no clue as to what happened last night," I said.

"Bingo, Octavia," said Neon with a nod. "Meaning none of this was my fault."

"Well, forgive me for saying so, Neon Lights. But I believe that to be a load of bollocks."

Neon's eyes widened. "Wh-what do you mean? I wouldn't lie to Vinyl like that."

"Oh really now," I said, raising an eyebrow. "Because when I went backstage to check on Vinyl after the accident, you were nowhere to be found. In fact, if this caught you off-guard just like the rest of us, why aren't you injured?"

Beads of sweat trickled down Neon's face. "U-um... Lucky break, I guess."

"Lucky break."

"I, had to go to the bathroom."

"In the middle of a set?"

"Hey, it was the first thing that came to mind! Cut me some— Aw, crap!"

With that outburst, Neon completely gave himself away. He did have something to hide after all.

"Y'know, Neon. This all could've been avoided if you were just straight with us from the beginning," said Vinyl firmly. "This isn't cool, man. Not only was our epic set cut short, but I almost died up there and you bailed on me. I thought we were friends!"

"We are!" Neon exclaimed. "Vinyl, simmer down!"

"I'll start simmering down when you start spilling the beans," Vinyl retorted.

Believe it or not, she actually said that mixed metaphor with a straight face. No real surprise there, seeing as she was absolutely livid. And truth be told, I think she has every right to be angry at Neon for trying to pull the wool over our eyes like that.

"Listen, I can explain everything!" said Neon. "This wasn't my fault, I swear!"

"Your credibility leaves something to be desired at the moment, Neon Lights," I said sternly.

"I-I know! I know," said Neon, trying to calm down. "B-but I was telling the truth when I said that I didn't find anything wrong with the equipment."

"Then why did you leave the stage before the accident occurred?" I asked.

Neon rubbed the bridge of his nose with his hoof and breathed a deep sigh before answering. "Okay, I wasn't gonna say anything, but it looks like I have no choice. Vinyl, I think you're in danger."

"Yeah, not sure where you got that idea," said Vinyl, rolling her eyes.

"No, you don't get it," said Neon, shaking his head. "I mean you cheated death last night. That accident was no accident."

I know I shouldn't really be surprised by this, seeing as it's already my working theory. But the fact that Neon was privy to this was still quite alarming.

"And you decided not to tell me this why?" Vinyl snarled.

"'Cause I didn't think it was important at the time," said Neon, looking rather dejected. "Here, let me lay it down for ya."

Testimony: The Truth Behind the "Accident"

"It started with a bogus letter I got at my hotel room," said Neon. "It said that someone would kill me if I played music ever again. I wrote it off as a prank, but just to make sure, I took it upon myself to check the equipment out. I swear to you, I didn't find a thing. It wasn't until during the set that I found something wrong. With no time to fix it and no chance of dragging Vinyl offstage, I got the heck out of Dodge."

I didn't like where this was going one bit. If Neon was telling the truth, then my original theory was correct. Part of me didn't want that to be the case. Nevertheless, I gathered my nerves and decided to question Neon further.

"What did you notice that was wrong during the set?" I inquired.

"Yeah, I didn't notice anything until that feedback threw me for a loop," said Vinyl.

"Believe me, I almost missed it myself," said Neon. "It happened during the second song. I heard a set of beeps that weren't supposed to be there."

"I, honestly couldn't tell," I said. "How'd you know that?"

"Because I wrote that second song," said Neon. "I know how it's supposed to sound, and those beeps didn't belong there."

That was a good answer. Of course a composer would be familiar with their own work. But there was still something else that was bugging me.

"Why didn't you try and save Vinyl?" I asked.

Neon smirked. "You're kidding, right? If I tried to drag Vinyl offstage without explanation, she would've fought me tooth and nail in front of everypony. That would've been embarrassing."

Vinyl gave a half-smirk of her own. "Well, you got me there, Neon. That is probably how I would've reacted," she said. "But why did you still keep this a secret after everything was said and done, man?"

"Didn't think you'd believe me," said Neon sheepishly. "That and I figured you'd be too mad at me to listen."

"Well, you're half right," said Vinyl.

Neon blinked in confusion. "Half right?"

"I believe you," said Vinyl. "Turns out some schmuck sent me a death threat, too. I didn't notice it 'cause I threw it out. Same thing happened to Octy."

"V-Vinyl, he doesn't need to know that!" I protested. "We're supposed to be keeping this a secret!"

"Why would you want to keep this secret?" asked Neon. "Shouldn't we tell Slick or the police? We're clearly not the only ponies being threatened here."

While Neon's suggestion sounded rational, I didn't think it was a good idea. If I went to the police, this maniac would know that I was privy to his plan! I'd practically be daring him to kill me! I didn't want that to happen to me nor anyone else.

"W-we don't want to start a panic," I said, trying to compose myself (and failing miserably). "B-besides, who would believe us?"

"Octy, chill," said Vinyl. "We're not gonna keep this secret if you keep freaking out over everything."

"I-I'm trying~!" I cried. "I-it's not that easy, you know."

"I know. That's why I'm here," said Vinyl, turning back to Neon. "Still, I think I'm with Tavi on this one. Slick's not gonna close the festival just because some motherbucker doesn't like music. Plus, I don't think the fuzz would take this seriously. I mean, we didn't."

"True," said Neon, knitting his brow. "So, what? We just keep this to ourselves?"

"Well, Octy and I are gonna keep investigating this," said Vinyl. "You just tell us if you see anything and keep stuff on the down-low."

"Um, alright," said Neon with a shrug. He then reached out his hoof. "Does this mean we're cool?"

Vinyl smirked and gave Neon a hoof bump. "Yeah, we're cool," she said. "But be more open with me next time, 'kay? You're one of my best friends, and friends don't hold out on each other."

"Gotcha," said Neon with a smile. "Oh, by the way? I've been talking to ponies about that first song you composed for Octavia. Turns out it's a big hit."

Vinyl snickered. "Told ya it would be," she said.

Well, it was nice to see that Vinyl and Neon were on good terms once again. But, with Neon's story coinciding with my own, I couldn't help but feel uneasy. This wasn't just a bizarre theory my worried mind cooked up in the middle of the night anymore. It was a very real possibility. I shivered.

"Hey, you okay, Tavi?" asked Vinyl. "Wait, that's probably a dumb question."

I was about to answer when a loud, all-too-familiar voice was heard from outside.


"Sounds like somepony's looking for you," said Neon, flicking his ear.

"Yes, I gathered that," I said. "Excuse me."

I opened the door to the studio, and sure enough, there was my ensemble.

"Hey, there you are!" cheered Beauty Brass. "We've been looking all over for you!"

"Oh. Sorry," I said. "I, had some things to sort out."

"Well, if they're all sorted, we can begin practicing," said Frederick. "By the by, is Ms. Scratch alright?"

"Why not ask me yourself?" said Vinyl. "And just FYI, I'm fine. How'd you guys like the set?"

"Well, there wasn't much of it to like," said Frederick. "But what I heard was, decent, I suppose."

"Don't try to downplay it, Fredrick," said Beauty Brass. "I thought it was lovely, Vinyl. Especially that first song. Really powerful stuff."

"I aim to please," said Vinyl. "What about you, Harpo?"

Parish simply shrugged, but I could also see a slight smirk on his face. I think he liked it, but was too shy to admit it.

"I'll take that as a four-star rating," said Vinyl. "Well, I suppose I'd better get out of your manes. I'm gonna go see Slick about something."

"Mind if I join ya?" said Neon. "I'd like to get some clarinet samples for my next set."

Vinyl raised an eyebrow. "Clarinet and wubs? That's a weird combination."

"This coming from the mare who thought a string quartet would work with wubs."

"Hey, it did, didn't it?"

"Yeah, so why not a clarinet?"

The two of them left, gabbing all the while. I, suppose they have the right idea. I'm not going to enjoy this festival if I keep stressing myself over this mystery.

"So, shall we get started?" asked Frederick.

I blushed. "There's actually a bit of a problem with that," I said sheepishly. "I, left my cello at the hotel. Sorry."

"Don't worry, Slick told us," said Beauty Brass. "He already sent somepony to fetch you a spare."

"Octavia Melody?"

As if on cue, a rather bulky-looking stallion walked in, carrying a cello on his back. I sighed.

"You guys asked him to do this, didn't you?" I said. "You really didn't have to, you know. I could've..."

"I'm going to stop you right there, because the whole thing is rather academic at this point," said Frederick. "It wouldn't be a true performance without you by our side, Octavia. And we know you'd do the same for us."

Okay, I'm not going to dispute that. He's right, after all. My ensemble is more than just a group of fellow musicians. They're my friends. And I wouldn't want anything to happen to them.

"Right. Thank you," I said, taking up the cello as Frederick made his way to a keyboard in the corner. I smiled to myself. I may be scared by all this, but one thing I'm not going to do is stop playing music just because someone is threatening me not to. If I do that, then he wins. And I won't let that happen. Not sure how I'm going to go about making sure it doesn't happen, but the drive is there. That's the important thing right now.

"Alright then, everypony," I said, raising my bow. "Let's take it from the top..."

Author's Note:

((OOC: For those who are interested, I envision this to be Octavia's Objection theme. :raritystarry: ))