• Published 15th Nov 2013
  • 5,143 Views, 321 Comments

Stages - Bunnybooze79

It was supposed to be Octavia’s first big moment in her beginning career. To her dismay a unicorn named Vinyl Scratch stole her spotlight and left an impression on the cellist she would so soon not forget.

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Chapter 1

Thundering applause rang throughout the medium sized conservatory.

The recipient of the praise stood alone on the stage and bowed as thanks. A remarkable feat considering that the earth pony mare was currently standing on her hind legs while holding a large cello with one foreleg wrapped around its neck.

She allowed herself a small smile as she observed the ponies below stamping their hooves on the ground in appreciation of her performance. Maintaining a delicate balance with her instrument she moved off stage to the right. Once out of sight she gripped the bow in her mouth and let herself down on three hooves. With practiced movements she used her free foreleg to carefully position the heavy cello across her back. One push of her back later, she had managed to position herself under her instrument and trotted further backstage where her personal belongings and cello case were waiting for her.

It was a quick affair to put her beloved cello back into its case and the elegant bow beside it. Her task for the evening complete, she allowed herself to relax and let a long sigh escape her lips. Now it was time to join the ranks of spectators back in the main hall. As she passed the restrooms she stepped inside to freshen up.

After splashing her face with some water from the washbasin she blindly fumbled around for the nearby paper towels jutting out from the box mounted on the wall to her left. A few quick dabs at her face soaked the paper towels thoroughly, but enabled her to open her eyes and look at her reflection in the mirror.

The grey coated earth pony looked back at her with beautiful light purple eyes. Her naturally long eyelashes highlighted her eyes making them seem brighter than they actually were. The long black mane was silky smooth, just like her tail. On her flanks a cutie mark in the shape of a pink treble clef could be seen. A small pink bowtie and white collar around her neck were the only pieces of clothing she wore.

Everything about the mare screamed elegance and sophistication that was associated with Canterlot. Not surprisingly she was born there and had just graduated from Canterlot’s university majoring in classical music. That had been two weeks ago.

The graduation itself had been a rather standard affair and over quickly. She did not care about the inevitable party or saying goodbye to any of her classmates. Truth be told she hadn’t made many friends during her time in university. In fact she could count them off on one hoof. Not that she wasn’t friendly to other ponies, she just did not have the time nor necessity for friends at this time in her life.

Her goal was simple, to be the first chair cellist in the Royal Canterlot Orchestra. Once she had reached that goal, she would relax and expand her social circle. Until then it was all about perfecting her craft.

The mare smirked at the memory of her first days in university. How they had stared at her when she had said she would be playing the cello. Earthponies in the musical genre would usually be pianists or would play the drums. A large number were also found in the vocal arts, Sapphire Shores being a large role model in that field. The natural stamina of earthponies played its part in that field as well.

And then she had come along, Octavia Philharmonica, a Canterlot-born earthpony. She had played her cello in front of her peers for the first time and remembered how they simply gawked at her in shock. Her ability with the cello was unmatched, even unicorns failed to keep up with her. That an earthpony was able to play something so delicate with apparent ease had made small circles and had been only very rarely seen in the past.

Now she would make bigger circles, of that she was certain. This little event would only be the first step towards her goal.

It was customary for the university to arrange this little contest for each of the three graduating classes. Freshly graduated students of the classical, vocal and alternative musical styles were given the opportunity to show off their abilities in front of a large crowd, mainly consisting of other students and a few faculty members.

There was a prize to be won, but Octavia had no interest in the money. Coming from a wealthy background she had no need for it. The real prize would be the small boost in reputation and fame and the prospect of gaining the attention of the Royal Canterlot Orchestra.

With one last quick look into the mirror she straightened her bowtie and headed out the door. Her ears picked up a thumping bass originating from the stage she had just vacated. As she opened the door to the hall itself she felt the thumping bass trying to force her back out of the door.

She nearly complied with its wishes. Octavia scrunched up her nose at the sudden change in volume. Without glancing at the stage she homed in to where some snacks were served and perused the selection.

Once her ears had adjusted to the loud music she had to admit that the musician on stage knew what they were doing. Irritatingly she even had to stop her right hind leg from stamping along with the beat. While nibbling on a flower carved out of a carrot she turned to the stage to see who was performing.

A white unicorn stood behind a pair of turntables, her head bobbing along with the beat she thumped across the room. The blue mane and tail, both with a streak of lighter electric blue, had an erratic cut and gave her a wild appearance. Octavia let out a small amused snort at the tinted sunglasses the unicorn was wearing. She guessed it was supposed to make her look cool or edgy for wearing them indoors. The cellist was no expert in those matters, which she was willing to admit if asked, but to her the unicorn looked more like an exotic bug from a distance.

Judging by the dancing ponies in front of the stage the unicorn knew her business. She made them dance back and forth for nearly half an hour, even though her timeslot was supposed to be no more than ten minutes. Due to her audience demanding encore after encore she remained onstage and gave them what they wanted.

Octavia watched her leave the stage and out of curiosity tried to spot the mare’s cutie mark. A reversed eighth note adorned her flank if she saw correctly. The cellist contemplated for a moment why it was reversed. Did it have something to do with her style of music maybe? Perhaps it was a fake cutie mark or a magically altered one to make her stand out even more. From what she had seen so far she wouldn’t be surprised if that indeed was the case.

Stageponies carried the unicorn’s turntables backstage and returned moments later wheeling out a large piano. The pianist soon entered the stage and prepared to play his piece. After the performance before that had ponies jumping and stamping all about, his performance was pretty much doomed from the start. Octavia knew however that the pianist, a stallion named Frederick Horseshoepin, would not be overly affected by the unenthusiastic crowd. He had graduated together with Octavia and had been a loner and only interested in playing his music, much like herself.


Nearly two hours later the last of the performers had played their piece and joined the crowd in front of the stage.

It was time to determine who would be tonight’s winner. Now they would be able to vote for one of the musicians, while the judges sitting in the balcony area would cast their own votes.

Octavia was confident of winning, after all none of the others even came close to her perfection and skill with the instrument of their choice. She had seen or at least heard most of them and was thinking if anything had stood out in her mind. She frowned as the white unicorn’s performance came to her mind. It had stood out in a way, but she wasn’t going to give her a vote. Modern music styles were fleeting, unlike the classical music that would stay forever.

While waiting in line behind a fidgeting deep blue unicorn mare, whom she recognized as a flutist that had given a solid performance earlier, she glanced over the other lines to either of her sides. Ponies patiently waited to step inside a small booth with paper slips on which they could tick off a name and vote for a performer of their choosing.

The judges only had one third of the overall votes, the rest was made up by the performers and audience. Octavia was sure to have impressed the judges and by the reaction of the others during her performance, there was no doubt in her mind to emerge as the winner this evening.

A loud laugh from behind her and somewhere to her right shook her out of her quiet contemplation if the pianist from before would be a threat to her first place. Octavia glanced behind her and almost immediately spotted the origin of the laugh. It was the unicorn with the sunglasses.

The white unicorn with the wild mane was standing beside a grayish unicorn stallion, who also was wearing sunglasses. The stallion said something to her and again she laughed out loud, apparently not caring what anypony might think of her behavior. Octavia noted that she was slightly swaying and sometimes leaned against the stallion for support. It was obvious that she must have been drinking anything but the fruit punch.

Both of the unicorns seemed to notice her looking at them as they turned their heads to her. He said something to the mare and she laughed again uproariously. With a huff and a deliberate show of her distaste of their behavior by turning up her nose at them, Octavia turned away and stared straight ahead. It just made those two laugh even louder.

The cellist kept her cool, it was not worth her energy and time to try and teach those unrefined ponies anything about manners. It was painfully obvious that neither of them were from Canterlot and Octavia found solace in the fact that they would both hopefully leave her city soon never to be seen by her again.

It took nearly twenty minutes until it was her turn to vote for a performer of her choice. All the time waiting in line had not been the most pleasant of experiences, thanks to those two unicorns that kept laughing all the time. She had tried to blend them out and think about the performances she had enjoyed that evening.

After pulling the curtain of the small booth closed behind her, she took one of the voting slips from a box on the table. A small hole-punch stood beside the box, something she was glad for. Octavia cringed at the thought of having to share a pencil with countless other ponies she did not know. Unicorns could at least use their magic to write with a pen, pencil or quill. Pegasi and earthponies had to use their mouths.

While waiting in line she had decided to give her vote to the flutist she had been standing behind all the time. Her rendition of an upbeat classical piece had been enjoyable and remained in Octavia’s head, she would have to see if she could find a version of the piece written for cellos.

Sliding the slip of paper under the hole-punch and making sure that the correct name was aligned properly, she pushed down on the lever. Taking the paper in her mouth she trotted out the other side of the booth and slipped the paper into a collection box under the watchful eyes of one of the judges.

Now all there was to do was to wait.


Octavia stood to the side of the stage carefully watching the judges count the last few of the votes. She was slowly beginning to feel the anticipation and had to refrain from nervously shifting from hoof to hoof all the time. She jumped a little as one of the judges suddenly spoke up, magically magnifying her voice.

“The counting of the votes is now complete. In ten minutes we shall announce the winners.”

Two judges remained on stage, while the other three left to fetch the prizes. Octavia took a few deep breaths to remain calm. She was positively giddy with the prospect of taking her first step towards her ultimate goal tonight and nothing was going to ruin it for her. She fought back a smile on her face, a refined musician and future first chair cellist would not be caught grinning like a foal in a candy shop.

Slowly the space in front of the stage filled up with ponies. Once all seemed to be ready, a judge trotted to the front of the stage. Octavia recognized him as her former professor of classical music, an eggshell white unicorn stallion with a light blue mane.

Royal Canterlot Orchestra here I come!

The judge cleared his throat and addressed the waiting crowd.

“Fillies and Gentlecolts, we now will reveal the five best performers based on your votes.” He said using the same spell the other judge had used to boost his voice.

Octavia craned her neck around to spot her possible rival. She saw Frederick Horseshoepin standing a few ponies away seemingly just as excited as she was. The Royal Canterlot Orchestra was very picky when it came to acquiring new talents. Previous years had shown that they only chose one new musician to join their ranks and it had been rumored that their current pianist would possibly be retiring soon. Thus Octavia found the smile on the pianists face worrisome.

She saw the flutist she had voted for step on stage. Octavia had been so wrapped up in her thoughts that she had missed how her name had been called out for fifth place. The cellist clapped her front hooves together in appreciation of the mare’s performance. It was obvious that the flutist had not reckoned with her even being amongst the top five, evident by tears of joy in her eyes as she received her prize.

Octavia watched her step down from the stage to meet up with a few other mares. They hugged each other and congratulated the winner. The cellist turned her attention back to the stage as to not miss the next announcements.

“This year’s fourth place goes to….” The unicorn judge on stage opened an envelope and levitated a small card out of it. “Neon Lights!”

Octavia immediately recognized the stallion stepping up on stage. It was the same sunglasses wearing pony that had been laughing in line earlier. He wasn’t laughing now however, in fact he seemed to be rather angry. Wordlessly he grabbed the prize money and stomped back off stage.

Talk about a sore winner.

Octavia watched as he stomped out of her sight. She had not heard his performance earlier, but if he was amongst the top five he must have been good. His behavior would not go unnoticed of that Octavia was sure. The judge did not let herself get distracted as she announced the next winner.

“This year’s third place goes to….” Another envelope, another card. “Frederick Horseshoepin!”

That was a surprise to Octavia and most certainly to the stallion just announced. He stepped on stage and smiled as he received his award. He bowed to the judges and to the audience before stepping off stage. Once he was on the ground again his smile diminished and was replaced with a frown. Not breaking his stride he made a beeline for the table serving alcoholic beverages.

That left two winners to be announced. Octavia had thought the talented pianist would have been a close second to her. She shrugged and awaited the announcement of the second place.

“This year’s second place goes to….” Octavia scanned the crowd, playing her own little game of guessing the winner. Perhaps she had not given enough credit to that mare with the tuba, it had been a poor choice of music in her opinion, but perhaps the judges saw it differently. “Octavia Philharmonica!”

Octavia froze as ponies around her clapped their hooves together in her honor. With rigid movements she slowly walked over to the stairs leading up to the stage.

Second place?

She forced a plastic smile as she walked up to the judge smiling at her.

Second place!

Octavia was dimly aware of the judge congratulating her and presenting her with her award, a scroll and a bag of bits.

Who? Who is first? Who outperformed me?

With stiff legs she made her way back to the stairs with the scroll and the bag of bits in her mouth. Her mind was continuously revolving around the question on who had beaten her. Who had taken away her shot at the Royal Canterlot Orchestra.

She had just reached the spot she had been standing at before when the judge opened the final envelope. Octavia was more than just intrigued at who had come in first place.

“This year’s first place….” The judge paused for a moment to heighten the tension. “Vinyl Scratch!”

“AAAAWWW YEAAAHH!” a loud voice boomed from somewhere in the middle of the crowd.

Octavia watched in disbelief as the unicorn with the purple sunglasses made her way through the crowd and onto the stage.


The cellist just stared at the unicorn mare as she swayed towards the judge with a drunken gait. The smile on the judge’s face also seemed somewhat forced as the winner finally stopped in front of her. Her magic failed her as she tried to grab her winnings with it. In the end she resorted to grab it with her mouth and staggered back towards the stairs.

Octavia was aware that the judge on stage thanked them for their participation, but her attention was fully on the unicorn that nearly tripped over her own hooves as she carefully descended the stairs.

How could such an unrefined being have beaten me? She didn’t even play a classical instrument!

She watched as the inebriated mare stumbled through the applauding crowd of ponies out of Octavia’s sight. The cellist’s eyes kept staring in disbelief at the spot she had last seen her. Out of the corner of her eye she saw one of the judges coming down the stairs, it happened to be her former professor. She tore her look away from the spot and made a beeline towards her professor.

“Excuse me?” she politely asked when she was close enough for him to hear her.

“Octavia! Congratulations on your win.” He smiled at his former student as he turned towards her.

“Th…thank you? That’s what I actually wanted to talk to you about.” Before she could even begin to voice her thoughts he cut her off.

“I know what you are going to say.” He gave her a sympathetic look and held a hoof out to halt her beginning protest. “You have to understand that the majority of the votes come from the former and current students in attendance. If it had been up to only us judges, you can be sure to have won first place.”

“But how could she win? It was just a repetitive melody without any true refinement.” Octavia could not wrap her head around the idea that a style of music that was so simple in her eyes had outperformed her.

“Tastes are different, Octavia. It would appear that the younger crowd favors her type of musical performance.”

“Yes, but I was supposed to win! I was supposed to use this contest as a step towards the Royal Orchestra!” Octavia hated it with a passion when her plans were interfered with, especially when it involved something so important to her. “Don’t tell me she will be going to perform for them next!”

“I doubt that will be the case.” The professor chuckled at the thought. “Listen, Octavia, I know that you have your goal set in your mind and you wish to attain it as soon as possible. Sometimes things can interfere, do not let yourself be discouraged by a small setback. You will come out stronger in the end, of that I am sure.” He gave her an encouraging pat on her shoulder and excused himself to join the other judges coming down from the stage.

Octavia remained where she was, thinking about what he had said. She may not have won first place, but she was the best classical musician of the night. It was impossible that the Royal Canterlot Orchestra would pick that mare to join them. Most likely they would rather turn towards the pony that fit them the best. Octavia allowed herself to smile again. She didn’t have to worry about her goal, the unicorn with the purple sunglasses would prove no threat to her.

With her mind back on track and a better feeling about the entire contest, she made her way back towards where she had left her cello and personal belongings, with a minor detour to grab a snack on the way out.


Octavia heard voices coming from her destination as she trotted along the corridors backstage. It seemed to her as if she wasn’t the only pony wanting to leave early. The party scheduled for now wasn’t her taste and she wanted to get out before it became too crowded backstage.

As she rounded the corner she stopped dead in her tracks upon seeing who was here with her. Vinyl Scratch and Neon Lights were quietly laughing and looking at the instruments lined up along the wall. To Octavia’s horror they were currently investigating her very own cello.

“Hey! That’s personal property!” Octavia stomped forwards while glaring daggers at the ponies in front of her. Instead of backing off the unicorn mare simply grabbed her cello case with her magic and laid it down on the floor with a thud. Octavia winced at the sound. “Are you deaf? Get away from my stuff!”

“Relax, hotflanks. We are just having a look at the stuff you ponies use.” The stallion replied and grinned when he saw Octavia’s facial expression.

“What did you call me?” she turned to the stallion who just kept grinning not in the least bit intimidated.

“Just calling it as I see it.” He replied and lifted his shades up with a hoof to wink at Octavia. For a moment she was speechless.

Meanwhile his drunken compatriot began running a hoof over the cello’s strings, the sound making her giggle inanely. The sound was enough to make Octavia snap out of her silence.

“Hey! Get your uncivilized hooves off there!” Now she was positively furious. It was one thing to call her inappropriate names, a totally other thing to touch her prized cello without her approval.

Sensing that Octavia was now approaching dangerous levels of annoyance, Neon Lights nudged Vinyl in the side to draw her attention. Unfortunately the nudging did not only get that, but also caused Vinyl to suddenly feel rather unwell.

Octavia’s eyes widened as she saw the signs. First the unicorn’s face turned a subtle shade of green, next she puffed out her cheeks as the volatile concoction of various alcoholic substances in her stomach yearned for freedom.


Octavia’s pupils shrunk to pinpricks as she watched the drunken mare threw up her stomach’s contents over the cellist’s instrument. For a moment none of the ponies spoke of even moved, apart from Octavia’s left eye twitching while the color drained from her face.

“Carrots…..why are there always carrots?” Vinyl mumbled drunkenly as she glanced down to the mess she had made. Neon Lights started laughing.

“You….how…could…you…”Octavia didn’t know what to do and just stammered out the words slowly trickling through her mind. A part of her wanted to rip those two deplorable heinous ponies to shreds, another part of her just wanted to weep openly at the defilement of her beloved musical instrument.

“Oops. Seems like Vinyl here is a bit of a lightweight.” Neon Lights pulled the mare away from the mess she had made and slowly backed away from the earthpony in front of him. “Come on Vinyl, let’s get you something new to drink to take the taste away.”

“Huh?” Vinyl’s response was slow and she was obviously not capable of any intelligent coherent speech anymore.

“Let’s leave the snobby hotflanks to play on her cello. Heh, I bet it will sound really sick.” He laughed at his own joke as he more or less dragged Vinyl along with him.

Octavia found the use of her voice again as the first tear ran down her cheek.

“YOU VILE, DISGUSTING, WRETCHED PILES OF FILTH! I HOPE I NEVER SEE YOU AGAIN IN ALL MY LIFE!” she screeched after them as loud as she could and watched them stumble around the corner out of her sight.

She wiped away the tears that kept filling her eyes as she approached her cello lying on the ground in its case. The stench made her feel like throwing up as well, but she flipped the lid closed with one hoof. She had not dared look at the damage done out of fear of losing the last shreds of her sanity.

This had not been the night where she would rise to fame, in fact it had been the worst night of her life.