• Published 4th May 2012
  • 1,064 Views, 5 Comments

Grey - Zorotokon



College and Magic. What could possibly go wrong? Everything. That is what.

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 1,064

2 - So goes Equestria

Grey Chp.2 - The 59th Street Bridge Song

How had they ended up here? Manni and Grey were opposite each other in an unimaginably loud bar filled with incredibly drunk ponies. The two college colts were only notably drunk by comparison, making them the far-flung exception in the whir and herdy-gerdy of activity that surrounded their table. A half-finished cider sat in front of the unicorn, his partner nursing a strange multi-hued drink that had cost him an entire bag of bits, and had required the bartender to explore his store room for many of the huge list of ingredients that had gone into its creation. Even if he could remember what Manni had called it, Grey couldn’t have pronounced it to save his life.

Not now, especially, considering he was on his fifth cider. His head swerved both side to side and around as he tried to take in the sights and sounds of the dancing fillies and stallions. The shouted conversations at the bar proper, the couples, the pageantry, all running to the tempo of the thunderous blare of music coming from some unseen phonograph that insisted on scratching every fifth beat surrounded him like a delicious wave of pony interaction. Grey’s gaze returned to his companion who had been engaged in similar process. “Having fun yet?”

The earth pony sitting opposite him on, the bench that served as support for ponies for one of the many tables dotted around the bar’s perimeter, didn't seem to hear him.

Grey raised his voice to be heard over the din. “Manni!”

Manni continued to stare off into the middle distance, tapping one hoof on the table in time to the beat of the music.

“MANNI!”

The addressee finally noticed the addresser and turned to him. Manni’s mouth opened and closed, presumably forming words, but all Grey heard was the clomp of hooves and the continued flair of the scratching phonograph as it deafened all other noises with its almighty sound. Grey gestured for Manni to get closer, the two leaning over the table trying in vain to hear the other.

“CAN YOU HEAR ME?” Grey was shouting as loud as he could to make himself intelligible over the cacophony.

Manni shouted back, Grey could almost convince himself that it was either WHAT? or possibly a YES. He wasn’t sure either way so he leaned farther in, his snout nearly in Manni’s ear.

“I SAID,” He began, Manni reeling back from the yell as the music suddenly cut off. A moan of disappointment escaped from the crowd as the bartender began swearing and disappeared into a back room, presumably to fix the phonograph. Manni was pawing at his offended ear as Grey smiled sheepishly.

“That's better, looks like the barkeep is going to fix the music maker.” He could talk normally now that the music had died and the assembled ponies were making their ways to booths or tables for conversation.

“I hope he has as much trouble fixing it as he did making my il’darrañge.” Grey recognized the final syllables as the drink that Manni had ordered, although in what language it had originated, or how a pony could roll their r’s like that without seriously injuring themselves was still a mystery. Grey’s mind wandered as he tried to think of a conversation topic. Their talk had died a swift and fiery death after Manni had been carded for the fifth time, twice by the same pony.

Grey could only assume that the smaller earth pony had dealt with this all his life, and couldn’t really relate. He was on the tall and toned side of stallions; a life time spent running with/towards/away from Alchy’s latest experiment/friend/pony she had angered, had resulted in a more athletic build than what one normally finds in academics. Manni on the other hoof was small, the top of his head barely reached Grey’s chin. He was proportioned like an adult, just his entire scale was reduced to that of a teen.

“Oye, horny, my eyes are up here.” With a jerk Grey realized that he had just been caught looking intensely at his companion. “See something you like, or am I in front of a pretty mare?”

Thinking quickly, Grey gave one final glance over Manni and spotted his salvation. “Nah, I was just looking at your cutie mark. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Well, that was the truth at least. Manni’s cutie mark was three interlocking yellow gears that stood out against his brown fur. “Care to elaborate on how you got that little number?”

Manni poked his “little number” with an absent minded hoof, pretending to spin it. “There’s a story to that, but I can’t be arsed to remember it right now. I know what I can tell you, though. Look at these cogs.” Ah, cogs. Grey nodded sagely as he attempted to pay attention and follow Manni’s choppy, drunken speech patterns.

“The thing about these cogs is that individually they all have a job to do. They can spin free. If you put two together they can reposition force in whatever way you need.” Manni took a quick gulp from his drink and pulled a face before continuing. “But if you put three together they stick, you can’t do anything with them.”

Grey interjected suddenly, “so your special talent is being useless?” Manni found this hilarious and proceeded to laugh himself off his seat until he had fallen onto the ground below the table. Grey peered under the table to check on the condition of his companion, “it wasn’t that funny.”

Manni recovered instantly and was back into his seat before the echoes from his fit had died down. “You’re right, that was a terrible joke; you missed the point entirely. Even though the cogs cannot work together individually when assembled as such, they instead form one much larger piece that can do the work together that none of the three could do alone.”

Grey wasn’t that drunk yet, but perhaps this was the sort of talk that you needed to be more drunk to understand.

“I’ve even given them a nickname, I call them collectively ‘The Wheel of Progress.’” Okay, now maybe Grey WAS too drunk. He had never heard of a pony naming their cutie mark before. It made a sort of sense to his alcohol-dulled mind. The same sort of sense that would one day see him waking up to a griffin chick on one hoof and a minotaur maiden on the other. In the meantime, he was preoccupied with his own mark.

It was very simple compared to Manni’s. Three white dots connected by a navy blue line formed a straight procession down his flank. Manni interrupted his thoughts, although the question was along the same lines: “What’s your special talent then?”
“It’s a constellation. That’s what I’m here for, astronomy.” Grey started to gesture grandly with his hooves now that he was talking about his life’s passion and work, barely missing his cider by centimeters with each swipe. “I just love the sky, have since I was a little colt. I always used to stay up late and just watch the stars and far away planets move. It always enraptured me to just look up at the sky, and know that out there are an uncountable number of points of light. Each may be orbiting around its own planet, with its own life and its own Alicorn. Each dot in the sky could hold uncountable wonders to discover!"

Manni pondered the thought while tapping his snout. "Doesn't Princess Celestia control the stars?" Grey rolled his eyes, time to go over this point, again, to another misguided pony.

"Princess Celestia doesn't control all the stars, she controls one star. She changes the night sky by controlling the rotation and positioning of the earth. There isn't any known force powerful enough to actually create and destroy stars so far away." Grey had intended it to come out as a simple explanation, but this was probably the fiftieth time he had explained away this common misconception; thus, it had come out significantly more forceful than he had originally intended.

"Okay, sorry I asked.” Manni spoke softly, but just an edge of mischief wormed its way forward, “Not all ponies have studied astronomy to death and back." Manni talked around his tongue that had escaped his mouth as if by accident. Grey was almost positive that he was being taunted. "Speaking of Celestia, did you make it to this year's Summer Sun Celebration? It was the nine hundred and sixtieth, big number. Half way through the century." Cupping his glass like a microphone he thrust it into Grey’s face. “So, tell the Hoofington Post, young stallion, what’s it like to live in the future?”

Grey tipped the proffered drink into his mouth, finishing it before speaking. It was a strangely tasteless brew; like drinking air, but a hint of sweetness danced around the edges barely alluding the tongue. “Well, Mr. Dest, I’m glad you brought that up. It’s the new year! Everything is full of bright shining new possibilities! It’s the time of our lives now, and it is what we make it. Speaking of making, we should either find some mares, or were going home alone tonight?” Grey finished his cider with one large gulp as Manni looked around the bar.

“I’m not going to lie, my friend. I think that we are the only two single colts in here, but I haven’t seen a single mare give either of us the eye since we arrived.” Manni rested his head against the table, nudging his now empty glass around, leaving a trail of condensation that might have been intended to spell out a word if a polite cough hadn’t interrupted the delicate process of scooting a cup around.

“Sorry to interrupt, but my friends and I thought you two looked a little lonely and were wondering if you wanted to join us for a nightcap.” Grey and Manni looked up at the mare that had addressed the two of them, in unison they leaned over to see a gaggle of college age mares sitting around a similar table in various states of inebriation and flirtation. A unicorn couple met their gazes and waved their hooves, signaling them to come over. Grey heard cat calls and whistling. One of the drunker mares in the back let out a loud “Woop!” and pounded the table.

Manni and Grey cocked their heads at each other. The inviting mare, now swaying awkwardly from nervousness, this being her first time propositioning two males at once, was aware of the unspoken dialogue between the two, orchestrated entirely through eyebrow twitches, eye rolls, and looks. In unison the two got off their benches and approached the other table, the now overjoyed mare between them.

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‘Bright. BRIGHT. I don’t like bright.’

Grey threw a hoof over his eyes, shielding himself from the offending light. ‘Why do mornings always have to be bright? Why can’t sunrises last four or so odd hours so we can adjust into the day?’ Grey tried to open his eyes and face the day.

He failed. ‘I mean, in the east, they don’t start their days until the afternoon. How is Canterlot less civilized than that podunk of a nation?’ With a grunt he ran his other hoof thru his mane while stretching. Parts of it were matted together and the whole thing was in tangles, he probably looked like a mess.

With a herculean effort, he sat up enough to flail ineffectively at the shades. Some bastard of a pony had decided to build the shades outside of his immediate reach, so they remained unflailed. After his first plan failed he remembered he was a unicorn, and simply magicked them shut, his aura matching his coat and name. He let himself flop back down into a sleeping position, on his way however, his left hoof extended hitting something firm. It wasn’t exactly hard, but not as giving as a pillow should be.

Grey’s eyes finally sprung open as memories from last night decided to make themselves all known at once, the result being a jumbled confusion where Grey’s mind should have been. He and Manni had hit it off with those mares, and then they had... Which meant that they must have also taken a chariot to their place. But then where did Manni get that fish? Had they called a stripper or was that just a joke? Why did his mouth taste like flour? When had he gone to bed last night? And why, for the love of Celestia herself, was he wearing socks?

All of these questions and more assaulted him, he decided to begin his investigation with the most easily answered one:
Who had he woken up next to?

Looking over, he saw the face of a mare that he remembered vaguely from last night. She had been one of the more drunken ones and had pinched his bottom multiple times while complementing his cutie mark. Starchaser was her name if he remembered correctly. He levered himself higher on his forehooves and looked at the next occupant. Another mare from the bar.

Unicorn of course. Most of Canterlot was unicorns. Finding a pegasi or earth pony here must have been liking finding a rare and exotic species. That might have been why they were giving Manni so much attention. Or maybe it was because they had seen him drop an entire bag of bits on a single drink that had lasted him through Grey’s own five Ciders. It didn’t really matter to Grey’s fuzzed over mind. Next to Starchaser was Lime, her cutie mark was a tree if his memory served him, another unicorn mare that he couldn’t remember, then Manni, then another mare, all in one now linen-less bed.

The bed in question had been built with at least two ponies in mind, but the six currently occupying it were cramped in. Grey had enough room to himself, but that was only because the mares had drawn to Manni like water droplets to a depression. The only reason he could tell it was Manni in the mess of mares was that he was the only non-pastel pelt of the lot, his brown standing out sharply against the bright blues and soft greens surrounding.

Grey, now mostly awake, fell off the bed, his hang-over choosing to make itself known mid-tumble. He landed hard, barely retaining his balance, and inspected a clock that lay stricken on its side nearby. The victim of an overturned nightstand from last night, no doubt.

The clock read nine A.M.

‘Not bad,’ thought Grey. That would give him and Manni time to wash up a little and get back to the dorms before they were missed. Classes didn’t even start until next week, it was just orientation faff that nopony really cared about.

‘Besides,’ Grey reasoned, ‘I’ve already gotten classes and everything important set up, so I can’t really be faulted for missing out on the first few hours of tedium.’ Satisfied, he let out a yawn and went to wake up his companion. Even if they were fine on time, it just didn’t do to overstay their welcome at such a house.

With a nudge and a whisper from the end of the bed, Manni joined the already wake pony in the realm of the non-dreamer. They made as little noise as possible collecting their things and removing Grey’s socks, it didn’t actually matter though when Manni tripped on the carpeting by the stairs and fell the full flight with a series of resounding crashes. Grey stuck his head in to check on the mares, still fast asleep. He supposed it was probably rude to just leave like this, them having just met and all. He contemplated waking them, but thought better of it. Instead, he conjured up a bit of parchment and a quill with which he hastily jotted out an explanation and left it out in the open, hopefully to be noticed later.

Following Manni, Grey took the stairs significantly more carefully, pulling his companion onto his hooves when he reached the bottom. They found the exit and made their way onto the streets of Canterlot. They were in the boarding district where most of the off-campus housing and starving artist communities resided. The streets were starting to fill in with the bustle of ponies rushing to work or opening their shops, but it was a ghost town compared to what Canterlot’s main thoroughfares would look like at this time.

A yawn and a grumble brought Grey’s attention back to Manni. He had had quite a night apparently, bags under his eyelids and a large bruise on his neck could only whisper about what he had done. Catching his eye, Grey indicated with a friendly prod the state of Manni’s now matted and upturned coat. “You look like I feel.”

“If you feel anything like me, then I must look terrible.” Manni ran his hooves around his face in a circle, trying to rub back in feeling. “Speaking of feeling terrible, I’m absolutely starved. Be a chap and find us someplace to eat.” The earth pony continued to rub his eyes and face with a hoof as he followed the unicorn. The unicorn, however, was following his nose, as his nose was following the scent of fresh pastries and coffee. And one can never go wrong with fresh pastries and coffee early in the late morning.

After a brunch of sugary baked goods and coffee strong enough to strip paint, the two felt significantly refreshed. Grey had even gotten the number of the baker who had recognized him from one of his not quite remembered exploits on the town the previous night. Bellies full and faces happy, the two set out for College.

Their entertaining journey of their first night and morning was only now marred by the disapproving looks they received from nearly everypony they met on the streets. Besides the rare college age mare or stallion that gave them a wink or a smile of recognition, nearly all the passers turned their heads or frowned. Grey learned over to Manni and whispered as a stallion in a posh suit glared at the both of them. “Tough crowd, huh? I guess Canterlot isn’t as progressive as it claims to be.”

Manni nodded back, pretending not to hear the name an older passing mare had just called him under her breath. “It’s actually pretty good compared to some of the places I have been. The attention can be nice, but I’ve heard ‘Get back in the field.’ jokes more often than I’ve heard jokes about my name.” Manni was clearly annoyed at this, and Grey waited for him to go on as he chose his words carefully. “You would think that academia wouldn’t have this problem anymore, but I can tell you from first hoof experiences that we are still not entirely welcome here.”

Grey hadn’t ever gotten it that bad, but he’d always had Alchy, and she was the kind of fire-spitter that you did not want to anger. Maybe he had been a bit sheltered, even. The Equestrian world was a matriarchy all the way up and all the way down, having an excitable unicorn under his belt who’s special talent was mixing, manufacturing, and using chemicals, especially the dangerous kind, had probably given him a leg up in the world. It was only forty or some odd years ago that stallions had even got the vote. His father had been a field laborer, and his mother had been very traditional, the sudden memories coming back to him in the way wandering minds so often do. She was so disappointed when his cutie mark had been for something brainy instead of brawny. She had never told this to his face of course, but he knew. From the pursed lips, to the quiet conversations at parties, he had figured it out on his own just fine. Years later of course, he was too young back then, but he knew now.

He didn’t like it, he didn’t like it one bit. He only stopped his ramble down memory lane when he heard his name. Shaking his head to remove more of last night’s accumulated cobwebs, he noticed Manni batting one of his ears around. “Grey. Grey! Equestria to Grey, come in Grey!”

“What?”

Manni was staring him directly in the face now, challenging him to remember. “You have no idea what I just said, do you?”

“Not a clue.” Replied Grey happily. “Now stop being a sour pony, they’re just todgy, old farts with too much posh in their step for their own good. Now come on! We have a college to take over!”

Grey took off at a gallop, the earth pony trailing behind, both laughing their way through the crowds and streets of Canterlot, neighsayers and prudes be damned!

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“WHERE THE BUCK HAVE YOU TWO BEEN ALL NIGHT?!” Alchy’s shouting could have knocked over a house. In fact, Grey was pretty sure the buildings behind him were slowly bending backwards against the onslaught. “You look like you slept in a gutter! And you smell like,” Alchy trailed off, disapprovingly snorted at the air as she tried to identify the unique and pungent aroma that her friends had acquired. “Well, you certainly smell, at least. And you missed opening ceremonies! I’ve been worried about you all night! I should have never let you out of my sight. Oh, I’m such a bad friend, what if you had been killed, or worse! I should have stopped you when I had the chance. My mother was right about you all along, Grey! If I had two bits for each and every time you’ve driven me to insanity I would be the richest mare in all of Equestria, richer than Celestia even! Which reminds me, you missed her speech. AND ANOTHER THING...” Alchy continued to ramble as she flipped sporadically between insulting Grey’s decisions in life and her own, the two now chagrined colts tried to fix themselves up to be at least semi presentable. It wasn’t working. Grey started to interject into Alchy’s stream of guilty consciousness, but Manni cut him off.

“Uh, Alchy, that’s really nice that you were so worried about us and all, but if what you’re saying is true, then the two of us really need a shower. So if you could- wait, did you just say Celestia?” Manni had shown an impressive ability to follow Alchy’s current not common in most colts, and especially not shared by Grey. Or maybe he had just picked up that one word at random, either way the male unicorn had zoned out already and was only awoken by Manni’s self interruption.

“Yes, I said Celestia!” Alchy’s ire had not diminished, but had merely reduced in volume.

“The Princess always gives a speech at the opening of the school year. You managed to miss that too? ARGH.” Alchy slammed her face into the wall outside the college grounds where she had found the two. The three had been walking along the wall since Alchy had found them trying to find an entrance about twenty minutes, and five hundred angry tirades, ago. Grey and Manni winced in unison at the sound the collision had made. They were sure that Alchy had just broken her nose, but when she pulled back, not only was her face fine, there was a perfectly shaped face impression on the wall.

Manni tapped the wall experimentally. Solid marble blocks, all the way up. Grey inserted himself into the conversation, trying to stymie the flow of curses that were now rushing out at them from Alchy, insulting everything from their fashion sense to their mothers. “Look Alchy, we appreciate you filling us in on this, we really do, but we need to get back to our dorms now if we want to attend anything else that’s happening today.”

Alchy suddenly grew quiet and increased her pace along the wall, motioning for them to follow. “Uh, Alchy, was it something I said?” Grey followed his friend, Manni lagging behind. Alchy shook her head. “Are you okay?” Alchy nodded. “Are you going to tell me why you got all quiet?”

“See for yourself.”

The group had arrived at one of the many entrances onto the university grounds. Alchy was pointing a single sullen hoof through it.

“What is it? Is it bad?” Manni jumped up and down nervously from the rear, trying to peer around his taller companions who had blocked the door entirely.

“If Alchy doesn’t want to talk about it, it’s bad, all right.” Grey strode as confidently into the grounds as he could while still being utterly terrified of what awaited him inside. He remembered the path to the dorms. Right at Earth Sciences, Left at the gymnasium, through the quad, under the Cloud Dome, and there it was.

There it should be.

There it wasn’t.

Grey’s ears lay flat to his head as he gazed at the assembled collection of pegasi and unicorns bringing water from various sources in buckets and magic to douse the final still crackling and churning embers of what used to be the dorms. The grand old building that had once housed a royal library and untold knowledge, now lay as a heap of slowly cooling charred wood and ash. Manni had caught up to him, his eyes like sauce pans in disbelief. Alchy gently poked the back of Grey’s head to get his attention.

“It’s not that bad, they said that the university will pay for off-campus housing and loss of valuables. Cheer up! It’s not like anything of value was lost! Right?”

Grey rotated his entire body towards her in a single smooth motion, as if his entire body had been placed on a mechanical dais. “Alchy, I want you to answer the next question I ask you completely truthfully. Did you burn down the dorms?”

“What? I did no such thing!”

“Alchy, you burned down the dorms, didn’t you?”

“I did not burn down the dorms!”

“What?”

“Manni, Alchy burnt down the dorms.”

“WHAT?”

“I DID NOT BURN DOWN THE DORMS!”

“YOU BURNT DOWN THE DORMS, ALCHY!”

“WHAT?!”
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Continued next week in Chapter 3, coming to a source near you, soon!


Summary: Throughout all of history there seems to be at least one poorly lit bar in every town. And throughout all of history, protagonists seem to find their way there. Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the atmosphere, but somehow, it happens without fail. And so, we go...

Tags: [OC] [Slice of Life]

Author: Gigathrash

Editors:

Story and Cohesiveness: Donut Steele, Funny Bunny, The King of All Lizards

Grammar, Wording, Other: The King of All Lizards, DJ Wintergreen, A Peppered Wheaties Loaf

If you want to contact the author for any reason, the most efficient way is to simply email him at victorharms@gmail.com. He doesn’t actually check his deviant art messages, but he does check his fimfiction account, occasionally.

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FimFiction: http://www.fimfiction.net/story/24378/1

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Just uploaded a dramatic reading of this story onto YouTube! Just wanted to let you know.
http://youtu.be/277sRW3ISUQ

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