• 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 3

Vinyl was out of breath by the time she had galloped across the city to reach Neon Lights apartment block. The thought of him practically robbing her in her sleep gave her a second wind. With aching sides and hooves she climbed up the stairs to his floor. To her surprise the door was open a crack. Perhaps he had forgotten to lock it and that would make the next step of the plan easier for her. With one last burst of energy she kicked open the door and jumped inside, hoping to find her target and getting a good punch in before he had time to react.

The stallion inside gave her a surprised look, the same look that Vinyl gave him in return. It was not Neon Lights. Judging by the overall he was wearing and the can of paint he held in his front hooves, he was maybe the manager of this place or a painter. He rolled her eyes once he gave her a quick look once over and resumed his task of opening the can of paint.

“He isn’t here anymore. No, I don’t know where he went. He left a few hours ago. And yes, I really should put up a sign outside with that information. Would certainly save me having to explain myself every couple of minutes.”

Vinyl just stood in the doorway catching her breath, slowly digesting what he had just told her in a flat tone.

“When did he leave?” she huffed out between deep breaths.

“Didn’t you listen to what I said? He left a couple of hours ago, seemed to be in a rush as well. Ever since then I had all kinds of mares and some rather unsavory looking characters come in here looking for him.” He explained and finally popped off the lid of the can. “Lost count after the sixth pony coming here.”

Vinyl watched him empty the can of paint into a larger tub and pick up a large paint roller. So her prey had eluded her. All her running had been for nothing. She considered running to the train station, but it seemed fruitless to even try. Her revenge would have to wait for another time. There was still the issue of money to address.

After catching her breath she slowly trudged down the stairs again. On the way a rather angry looking mare passed her and a few moments later she heard the door slam open again and the stallion inside lamenting another surprise visitor. Neon Lights had obviously not made a lot of friends here in Canterlot.

Once outside Vinyl decided that her next stop would have to be the bank. She would have stopped by there sooner or later anyway and mercifully it was only a few blocks away.


Vinyl waited patiently in the queue of ponies waiting to speak to the employee behind the counter of Canterlot’s main bank. Waiting in line wasn’t her favorite pastime, coupled with the fact that she was thirsty and getting hungry did not do wonders for her mood.

After what seemed to her as an eternity it was finally her turn. She gave the unicorn mare behind the desk a friendly smile which was returned in that plastic fashion reserved for all customers.

“Hello, I would like to withdraw the money from my account and close it.”

“Of course. I will need your name, bank account number and some kind of identification.” The employee’s tone was friendly. Most likely she had said the same sentence dozens of times today alone, yet still managed to make it sound pleasant.

Vinyl gave her the information she had requested and waited again as the mare excused herself to fetch the details of the account.

It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, especially after students graduated. Most of them closed their accounts when they decided to move to another city. Vinyl had planned to do the same, but until now did not have the motivation to do so.

The unicorn came back after five minutes and inspected the folder she had brought with her. She gave Vinyl a form to sign stating within that she had received the money in her account and it was now closed. Vinyl resisted drawing a smiley face next to her signature for once. Official stuff like this usually did not accept any kind of attempt at humor.

The mare pressed a few buttons behind the counter and Vinyl heard gears turning inside the wooden frame. A moment later and the unicorn levitated the money from the account on to the top of the counter for Vinyl to collect. Vinyl just stared at the bits in front of her for a moment.

“Three bits?” she asked with disbelief. That had to be some kind of mistake.

“Yes. That is all that was in your account, minus of course our fee for closing the account.”

Vinyl would have loved to argue with the mare about the outrageous fees that the bank charged for basically anything. Then again of all ponies the mare behind the counter was the last one to have any say in that matter. She was just working here. Without another word Vinyl grabbed the three bits and headed out of the bank.

“Seven hundred and fifty three bits. Just great.” Without any other options left, Vinyl decided to head back home to think.


“Sorry Piggsy, this will hurt me more than it will hurt you.”

Vinyl smashed open her porcelain piggy bank on the floor. It was an ugly thing she had bought for one bit when she had arrived in Canterlot. She had put it to good use however, putting the tips she had earned in her student job inside.

Too bad she couldn’t get that job back, working in a small hut in Canterlot’s Park selling hayfries was easy and the location was nice. It was just one of many small jobs reserved for students around the city. Now she wasn’t one anymore and was expected to get a real steady job. That was something she had not even begun looking for and for the moment did not waste another thought on.

Carefully she rummaged through the shards with her magic, levitating one bit after the other out from the debris. In the end she had saved forty seven bits. That brought her overall balance to eight hundred bit, just two hundred short of paying the cello’s repair bill.

She flopped on to her couch and corrected herself. One thousand bits were needed to pay the bill and she would need a couple of hundred more to help her get by while looking for a job.

Vinyl looked around in her small home for anything of value that was hers. The mattress would not bring her vast amounts of money and the couch wasn’t even hers and part of the apartment. Her eyes drifted over to her deck.

“Oh crap.”

There wasn’t really any other option. If she would go through with her plan to make amends with Octavia Philharmonica and be able to afford food and shelter, she would have to sell her deck. That left only one problem, where to sell it?

She had learned the hard way that no store in Canterlot was interested in that type of musical equipment. It had taken a lot of time and effort to persuade somepony to order the spare parts she had needed to repair it after it had broken. The parts had to be imported all the way from Las Pegasus and had cost a small fortune.

Students might have been interested in buying it, but she knew firsthoof that students did not have vast amounts of money, at least not the students studying alternative music. All the rich ponies studied classical or the vocal arts. That left her with the option of finding a pawn shop somewhere that would buy and sell anything.

It only took a few moments for her to take out the recording of the latest track she had been working on and to stow away the two records on the turntables. She kept the headphones as well and began packing the equipment together as best she could. Luckily the deck had wheels as it was meant to be transported easily from one place to another. She wheeled it out her door into the hallway and locked the door. When she turned around she nearly jumped back into her room in shock.

Somehow the manager had come up the stairs without her hearing him. Now he gave her an angry look and blocked the way out.

“Where’s my money, Scratch?” he growled his request. “Not planning to leave without paying the two month’s rent you owe me, are you?”

Vinyl wasn’t in the mood for any lengthy discussions. It was getting late and she would have to find a pawn shop that hopefully didn’t close early. The encounter with the manager couldn’t have been avoided much longer anyway. At least she still had enough bits for the moment to pay him what she owed.

“I was just on my way down to meet you.” She lied and opened her door again to fetch her saddlebags. Making sure he couldn’t see just how much bits she had, she counted off the fifty bits she owed him and levitated it towards him.

“Much obliged.” He took the bits in his own magical grasp and counted them just to make sure she hadn’t forgotten any. “Can’t give you anymore slack, Scratch. Seeing as you aren’t a student anymore you need to pay on time from now on. Got it?”

“Yeah, don’t worry.” Vinyl wasn’t too sure about not worrying, but it was best he didn’t notice anything.

“Have fun with….whatever you do.” He said and trotted up the stairs to the next floor, no doubt trying to collect the rent from some other resident that had not yet paid.

That left Vinyl with just two problems left on her list. Well actually it was three as she somehow needed to get her deck downstairs. The only way to do so was levitation.

Every unicorn could perform a basic levitation spell strong enough to lift a book at least. Some unicorns had phenomenal levitation powers and could lift up huge boulders twice their size or large steel beams for construction. Very rarely a unicorn could even lift much more than that with apparent ease.

Heavy lifting was not one of Vinyl’s strong points. She could easily levitate dozens of small objects at the same time and manipulate them individually, but heavy objects tired her out very fast. Having no other options available she grabbed the deck in her magical grasp and very carefully levitated it down the first flight of stairs.

She had to pause for a couple of minutes, before even attempting the next flight of stairs. After an agonizing half hour she had finally cleared the dreaded stairs and wheeled the deck out on the street. Luck was with her for once as an empty carriage just rounded the corner of her street towards her. With a sharp whistle she signaled the stallion pulling the carriage to pick her up.

After another draining levitation spell she sat down in the carriage and let out a long breath of relief.

“Where d’ya wanna go?” the stallion asked, his accent clearly identifying him from out of town.

“Do you know any pawn shops that are open?” she asked hopefully.

“Sure do. 24/7” Without waiting for a reply he began his way towards their destination.


The ride was reasonably short, which meant that the drain on her money would not be too big. What puzzled Vinyl however was that the shop was closed.

“Hey, didn’t you say this shop was open 24/7?” she asked annoyed.

“Well it is, just not at this hour.” He replied calmly.

Vinyl groaned and just had to facehoof. Of course she just had to find the probably dumbest carriage driver in all of Equestria.

“Do you maybe know of a pawn shop that is open right now. I mean really open open.”

“Nah.” Vinyl contemplated if strangling the stallion could be counted as self-defense. “But I know the owner of this place. Hang on.”

The driver searched the ground for something to throw. He took a piece of gravel into his hoof and threw it up against the first floor window of the house. It took three more pieces of gravel until a seemingly angry stallion’s head appeared in the window.

“Oi! Wot do ya think you’re doing?” he yelled down.

“Got a customer here for ya!” the driver yelled back up.

“Ah, right. I’ll be down in a few minutes.” The upstairs stallion said and disappeared from view.

Vinyl unloaded her deck from the carriage and paid her fare. She watched as the carriage moved along the street and turned her attention to the pawn shop. It did not fill her with confidence.

In the parking space in front of the shop was a lone empty carriage painted in a sickly yellow. Curiously enough it was a model that only had three wheels. The storefront was painted in the exact same yellow. Dozens of signs advertised the very best things on sale for reasonably cheap prices. One size fits all coats made from camelhair, slightly defective briefcases and even an offer to have your house or rooms painted in an energy saving special paint were advertised.

What gave Vinyl serious doubts about the shop was the name of the place. Or to be precise the several foot high neon bright sign above the door with the initials of “Trotters Independent Traders”.

She was about to give up and head back home, when numerous locks on the front door clicked open one by one. After a considerable amount of time the front door opened and a short, slightly pudgy earthpony stallion appeared.

“’ello luv. How can I help ya?” he asked with a friendly smile, his accent indicating he came from somewhere around Trottingham.

“I have this deluxe deck for sale.” Vinyl did not go into any details yet.

“Lovely Jubbley, why don’t we get inside? It’s a bit nippy out here innit?” he held the door open for Vinyl.

“Lovely what?” She wasn’t very familiar with the phrases and slang used in Trottingham. The expression he had used was most certainly a new one in her book.

“Nevermind that. Come on inside.” He motioned her with a hoof to go inside. Vinyl shrugged and pushed her deck through the open door.

The inside of the pawn shop fared no better than the outside. If there was some kind of order in which the items were arranged around the place she couldn’t see it. An assortment of all kinds of items took up every single available space and Vinyl wondered who in Canterlot would possibly be interested in a deep sea diving suit when she spotted it resting against a wall.

“So you would like to sell your….thingie. Uhm…you didn’t per chance find it just lying on the back of a carriage I hope?”

“Huh? No, no. It’s mine and I want to sell it before I leave town.” It was best in Vinyl’s opinion to give him a good story instead of telling him the truth that she just needed money for something else.

“Ah right. So…wot’s this thing do?” he asked friendly and carefully inspected the deck.

Vinyl began listing off its features and possibilities. It soon became obvious that the stallion didn’t understand any of the things she was telling him.

“Why didn’t you try one of them music places?” he asked after she had lied about the deck’s ability to make coffee.

“Well none of them are refined enough to truly appreciate the quality of this piece of equipment.” Vinyl lied and hoped the stallion would fall for her flattery of his business. Seeing the glint in his eyes she knew that she had him on the hook.

“That sounds about right. Tell you what, I’ll give you one hundred bits for it.” He said and ran a hoof over the deck’s frame.

“One thousand.” Vinyl’s response caused him to retract his hoof from the frame and clutch it in front of his chest.

“Cor blimey! Why don’t you take my entire leg while you’re at it?” he said with obviously mock outrage. “Ok, two hundred.”

“Nine fifty.”

They continued their haggling for a few minutes. Vinyl remained calm throughout, even when the stallion decided to give her a sob story about his mother on her deathbed telling him never to pay too much for any kind of musical equipment. It didn’t take a genius to see through the blatant lie.

Vinyl left the pawn shop with a heavy heart for having to sell her deck, but at the same time she was now seven hundred bits richer. That gave her enough to pay for the cello’s repair and left her with plenty of bits to get her through a couple of months while looking for a job.

Inside the stallion ran a hoof over the deck again. In his mind he suddenly saw the opportunity of expanding his business into the musical genre. He turned towards an open door leading to the back of the building.

Inside a lanky very bored looking stallion was listening to something an older stallion with a huge white bushy beard was telling him.

“Rodney? Stop listening to your uncle’s naval stories and give me a hoof here.”

A moment later the lanky stallion came lurching into the front area casting a doubtful glance at the deck.

“Del? What’s that?” he asked and stepped up closer for a better look.

“This, dear brother, is our ticket to fame and glory. As soon as you figure out how to use it and make music that is.”

The lanky stallion rolled his eyes at another doomed from the start harebrained ideas his brother had come up with.

“Don’t ya see?” The short stallion ignored his brother’s theatrics. “This time next year, we’ll be millionaires.”


Vinyl trotted the way back to her home. The warm summer night was pleasant and the air had a refreshing breeze to it. She wasn’t too worried about other ponies, even though she was carrying a small fortune around with her. Canterlot had a very low crime rate, the biggest offence usually being a case of theft every now and again. Muggings or acts of violence were very rare, even in the more dubious areas of the city.

Undisturbed she arrived at her home and soon after crashed on her couch. The entire day had been stressful and energy consuming. The act of moving a few feet further towards her bed was already too much for her and she fell into a deep sleep.

A loud growl woke her up the next morning. Startled she flicked her ears about trying to locate the source of the noise. She soon became aware of the pit in her stomach after it growled again. Her last meal had been a few slices of toast yesterday.

With a loud yawn she got up from the couch and trudged over to the small kitchen area. It seemed as if her diet would once again consist of toast, as the rest of her supplies were non-existent. A large number of slices later she felt better and decided to shower first before she would head out to Stallivari’s.

The streets were packed with ponies and Vinyl shuffled along with them slowly making her way towards her destination. Some ponies gave her curious looks, but none dared talk to her and quickly looked away when she returned the look. Vinyl was used to it and it didn’t bother her anymore. At least the bright sunny weather justified her wearing sunglasses and she even spotted a few others wearing sunglasses of their own.

When she was only a few shops away from Stallivari’s she recognized a familiar shape. Octavia Philharmonica had just left the music shop, no doubt having enquired about her cello. She looked a lot less refined and noble since the last time Vinyl had seen her. The black mane was a mess, her tail the same. Even her bowtie was crooked and slightly undone.

Vinyl tried budging past the ponies in front of her, perhaps she could talk to the mare and apologize face to face. She watched as the cellist nervously paced about on the sidewalk, seemingly unsure of what to do next. A nearby taxi carriage stopped beside her asking her if she needed a lift somewhere. To Vinyl’s dismay she did indeed enter the carriage, taking away the chance of talking to her.

Vinyl watched as the carriage drove past her and tried calling out to the passenger inside. Octavia didn’t hear her and stared blankly ahead. What caused Vinyl to wince with guilt were the eyes of the mare. Even with her sunglasses on and at the distance between them, Vinyl could easily see that Octavia’s eyes had deep rings under them and were red from crying most likely.

Vinyl watched the carriage move away. Her ears folded down with the knowledge that she had caused another pony such misery. Determined to fix this mess she had created she trotted on to Stallivari’s.

The stallion behind the counter arched an eyebrow in surprise as the white unicorn entered the shop. It was the same stallion from the day before and it was obvious that he had not reckoned with seeing her again.

“I’m back.” Vinyl stated the obvious.

“Indeed.” He patiently waited for Vinyl to open her saddlebags and levitate the bag of bits over to him.

“There you go. One thousand bits for the thing we discussed yesterday.”

As was to be expected the stallion began counting the bits again. Vinyl didn’t say anything and again glanced at the overpriced instruments around the room. After taking his time with counting the bits he finally slid them into a box of his own and shoved the now empty bag towards Vinyl.

“I shall get your receipt, my lady. One moment please.” His attitude had changed after he counted the bits. Now Vinyl was a paying customer and therefore should be treated with the best of manners. Vinyl rolled her eyes at the fakeness of it all, thankfully her sunglasses didn’t let him see it.

“Is it possible that I could leave a note for Octavia?” Vinyl asked as a thought came into her mind.

“Of course! I shall make sure she receives it personally.” He slid Vinyl a small notepad and quill.

Vinyl hesitated at what to write. Should she go to lengths and explain what had happened or just a quick note indicating she had paid for the damages she had caused? In the end she decided to keep it simple in case one of the staff decided to read it.

Sorry about what happened.

Vinyl Scratch

She slid the notepad, quill and written note over to him. As to be expected he stole a quick glance at what she had written.

“When she picks up her cello, I shall pass on your note.” The stallion said and put the note into the folder marked with the cellist’s name. “May I be of any further assistance?”

“No today, thanks.” Vinyl decided it was best to keep up the friendly demeanor, even though the stallion creeped her out a bit with his fake smile.

She left the shop and breathed a sigh of relief. Her conscience was relieved considerably after doing what she thought was the right thing. Now all that was left for her to do was to find a place that would be looking for an aspiring young DJ and make it big in the music scene.

Watch out Equestria, here comes Vinyl Scratch!