• Published 26th Apr 2016
  • 980 Views, 11 Comments

Roulette Night - Sharkrags



There's slots, cards, and dice galore, but the hottest action in town's going down at one little roulette table and everyone wants a piece of the action. Notable players include a cellist, a human, and a DJ, all betting far more than chips.

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Start of a Winning Streak

“I mean, erm, oh shit, girl it's you. Wow. What are you doing heeere?” Octavia tightened her grip on your shoulder. “What a surprise,” she muttered.

“The casino asked me to play mixes at their nightclub for the weekend.”

“Oh, so you're a musician too?” You winced, patting Octavia's hoof, trying to signal her to loosen up before your arm went numb.

“EDM, trip-hop, grindcore, noisecore, glowstickcore, all kinds of stuff.” Vinyl shifted her look to Octavia, or so you presumed. It's hard to tell with those glasses. “Surprised you didn't see me on the events calender.”

“I've got a copy of the events calender right here,” Bon-Bon said. “Look what's scheduled next, twenty on nine.”

“Two on odds,” Cadance mumbled. “Oh, it's gonna get odd.”

Applejack nodded. “If that's what your gut says, then I'll take five on odds.”

Vinyl pushed her glasses up her snout and smiled, showing the top row of shiny teeth. “Three on first dozen.”

Octavia rocked your shoulder, “Say, let's go grab a...um...I heard the coffee is good at the...over there.”

“No, no no,” Vinyl said, eyebrows high on her forehead. “Don't drag him away yet, he won the last round. He may be on the start of a winning streak.”

“I'd rather him not risk any streaking.” Octavia said. “He's easily encouraged.”

“That's true, but not in the way she implies.”

“Just want to have a little word with you...” she said, muzzle adjacent to your ear.

“The only words I want to hear is him making a bet,” Bon-bon said. She slumped back in her chair. “What is this, the roulette table or tea time?”

“Tea sounds very nice right now,” Octavia said through barely moving teeth.

“Oh for the love of-”

“Hi Bonnie,” a green unicorn pupped up next to Bon-Bon's chair.

“Crap.”

“No the craps tables is thatta way,” she pointed. “This is the roulette table.”

“I know,” Bon-Bon said, then uttered a smattering of sub-vocal grief. “Lyra, is there something specific you want?”

“Just checking on you. Are you winning?” She nosed around Bon-Bon's chips.

“I was winning. I might keep winning if people'd just let me play.” Her hooves templed over her snout.

“Oh that's good. Because I'm losing.”

Bon-Bon lowered her hooves just enough to show a distressed pair of eyes. “How much are you losing?”

“All of it,” she smiled.

“What do you mean, all of it?”

“All of it.”

Bon-Bon dug back into her hooves. “I hate this place.”

“Sorry to say, but you better get used to it, cus you got a lot of winning to do. Speaking of, are you gonna bet or what?”

The table shook as Bon-Bon slammed her hooves down.

“I am betting,” she groaned. “I already put my cash on the line, it's everyone else who wants to have a damned pow-wow between every spin! Of course the bumpkin,” she pointed to Applejack, “the disc jockey,” to Vinyl, “and the Candyland Queen,” directly to Cadance, whose mane steadily frayed at its tip, “would want to spend all year sitting here!” The tip of her noise twitched like a lab rat.

“You do know the video roulette ain't even three yards from where we're sitting,” Applejack said.

Bon-Bon leaned on the table, “I never, ever win at video roulette. Not the slots, not the craps, not even rock-paper-scissors. It's only at this field of green felt and misery that I don't get wiped out.” Her voice rose so high that no one at the table noticed the low drone of the thaumic rods.

The dealer cleared his throat. “Ma'am, I must insist that you calm down-”

“I'm perfectly calm,” she snapped, her eyes glowing a fierce shade of solid blue.

“No, Bonnie, you should chill a lil bit,” Lyra said, biting her lip.

“I would be chill, but we're here instead of at home. 'Oh Bonnie, let's go to the casino, it'll be fun!” Her eye twitched. “'No, the restaurants aren't overpriced! Of course I'll spend the day at the pool with you! The room does come with a microwave, I double-checked!'” She flung her hooves into the air. “The room doesn't even have a minifridge! I've got two boxes of frozen breakfast bagels going to waste right now!”

Other hotel guests fell silent and stared at the ruckus. More thaumic rods rumbled as the mare raged. Fred Flintstone laughed in the distance.

“Bonnie, I think you really should-”

Bon-Bon jumped on her chair. “What, Lyra? What should I do?” Green static crackled up and down her body. “Pack my bags and go to the bird museum like I wanted to in the first place?”

“Yeah, I don't think that's gonna happen today.” Lyra pointed at Bon-Bon's thorax. “You're...uh...you, is showing.”

“Huh?” Bon-Bon looked down at her now-exposed Changeling body. “Oh.”

A squad of guards hustled to the table where the unauthorized magical outburst occurred. “Ma'am,” said the largest of them with the steadiness of a ocean liner, “we need you to step out of the gaming area.”

Bon-Bon's veiny wings twitched at the rate of a camera shutter. “Fine. Fine. I'll go. Whatever.” She hovered to the floor. “I have a permit for a twenty-four seven glamor, by the way. And since that glamour failed, everyone in this building can kiss my chitin.”

She stomped away, wings buzzing in an agitation that wouldn't go away with even two days at the pool. Lyra trailed behind.

You noted to Octavia that she failed to make fun of you.

“Your hair looks stupid!” Bon-Bon called back.

One of the casino guards approached the table, apologetic, but firm. “I'm sorry for this, but we will need to clear this part of the floor and make sure that none of the games have been indirectly altered. All of your bets will be returned, and please, ask the waitress for any kind of refreshment.” He nodded to Cadance. “Your highness, I'm sorry for the unpleasantness. If there's anything more we can do for you, please-”

“No, no, it's not your fault.” She rubbed a wingtip against her temple. “Things just got, hoo, little overloaded there.”

“Looking a bit flushed, Cadance. Wanna go get some ice water and sit down?”

“Yes, Applejack. That sounds good.”

The Princess and the mare walked off. Guards cleared the patch of casino floor as red velvet curtains unrolled from the ceiling. A dispatch of unicorns entered the closed area, carrying duffel bags and stern faces.

“Now. Now, we need to leave. Immediately.” Octavia did her best to hustle you away in the hubbub, but Vinyl slid in front of her.

Her oval lenses glittered in the light of oversized slot machines. “That was a hell of a thing.”

The cellist stammered, “Certainly. Wow. Casinos, these places get crazy.”

“And to think, it's not even seven yet. Check out the night show, all sorts of bumpin', thumpin', and humpin'.”

“I'll have to decline, I'm afraid. You know I like to get a full night's sleep before a show,” Octavia patted your back hard with her hoof.

“C'mon Tavi, I remember spending more than a few nights with you going out and getting loud.”

“Vinyl.”

“Fine, you know yourself better than me or him. I'm gonna go take those slots for a spin until they're done cleaning those tables. Meet you back on one once they've finished?”

“I'm not the best at-”

“It's easy, c'mon, and it was just getting good! I insist, hell girl I haven't seen you in ages,” She walked off. “It'll be way better than catching a drag at bar,” Vinyl called before disappearing.

Octavia stared in silence, mouth pursed.

“She seems nice,” you said.

Octavia dug through her purse and pulled out a crumpled pack of Newports and a metal lighter covered in scratches.

“Of course. Of course I need to run into her.” She bit down on a cigarette and held a trembling flame to its tip. “If you need me, I'm going back to the bar, if I'm lucky I'll die there.”

“Octavia, are you oka-”

“Nope. Nope. Not at all.”

She left.

You stood on the dark green carpet and whispered, “What the hell is going on today?”

Someone poked your back and said, “Excuse me, if I can talk to you for a moment.”

Cadance stood behind you, looking nervous and holding a tall cosmo in her wing.

“Oh, sure? Your highness. Ladyship, majesty.” You cleared your throat. “Royal protocol, what have you.”

“Cadance is fine. But I've got something to tell you. You and the cellist are involved.” She did not ask a question. If you denied any sort involvement, she would laugh long and hard.

“Yes?”

“Okay. First off, I have a little talent that lets me gauge the 'involvement' between people. I can tell when it's bad, when it's good, and when it's complicated.”

“Sounds exhausting.”

The ice in Cadance's cosmo clinked. “You cannot imagine. Anyhow. Fair word of warning to you. The one with the glasses, Vinyl. She and the cellist-”

“Octavia.”

“Octavia, they were also involved.”

You raised an eyebrow, looked to the bar, then looked to the forest of slot machines, then back to the bar. A row of penny slots rang in unison. “Nooo....”

She nodded, grim and serious. “I'm catching a lot of negative energy from the DJ. Octavia too. Nasty, nasty feedback. Complicated feedback. Loud enough to pop your ears.”

“I take it that's not a good sign?” you asked. Cadance indicated that was a poor sign. “Then that means whatever used to go on between them went sour.”

“Like a barrel of old milk and lemon juice. Let me repeat -be careful. There's enough friction there to set your hair on fire. And that's not taking into account what they can still do to each other.”

You bit your lip and nodded. “That bad, huh?” You took a moment to process these interpersonal revelations. “My weekend just go better. Almost thought we could stumble through a few days without any major incidents.”

She held a wing tip up. “Don't judge either one of them harshly. Passion is both the lure and price in many matters of the heart. When it goes bad, it hurts, and we don't always deal with the pain in the best way.” Her voice dropped and she stepped close. “Be there for her. She's happy when you are. It's so cute.” She smiled.

“Um.”

“Now if you'll excuse me. AJ's going to think I got lost at the bar.”

“Hey, uh, mind if I ask a question?”

“Go ahead.”

“Why aren't you hanging out at the, y'know.” You swung a thumb in the direction of the poker table where the makers and shakers of Equestria dealt heavy hands with stone-faced stares.

Her smile broke into a nervous laugh. “Oh please, that lot's crazy enough on their own. They start with petty cash but before the night's out someone'll bet a soul or two. The breakfast table conversation is going to be the coldest thing.”

“Jeeze.”

“Yeah,” the princess sipped her drink and walked off, leaving you alone with your thoughts and a big bag of other Personal Issues to sort through.

Alright. So Octavia used to do collaborations (musical and otherwise) with the DJ. That explained Vinyl's prickly interest in you during the short time sharing the roulette table. First thing's first, make sure Octavia doesn't disappear in a cloud of nicotine and whiskey. The last thing she needed was to play her set wearing sunglasses and scarfing ibuprofen down like m&m's.

Octavia sat at the bar, staring at a cold glass filled with emotional baggage. You sat next to her and took a moment to consider how to approach the situation. A certain measure of tact felt needed. “So that was the chick you used to be in lesbians with?”

She nodded.

“Had a thing for colored hair, huh?”

“Made it hard not to notice her,” she replied.

In the time you've known Octavia, she's dropped off-handed comments and hints of past paramours. From what you could surmise, she didn't have any more or any less than most people, and she didn't hide that she didn't mind looking at either side of the fence.

She stared straight ahead, thinking of a messy yesteryear. Her pink bowtie sat crooked on her white collar. Octavia took a slow pull from a cigarette.

You spoke softly. “Wanna go back to the room? Take a break for a few hours before going into town for dinner?”

“I...um.” She blinked, looking between you and the casino floor. “I dunno. Maybe.” She shook the ash loose from her cigarette into a tray. “Let me finish this and we'll go up.”

“Sure thing.”

Vinyl hopped onto a seat next to Octavia. “Hey, hey.”

Octavia straightened up and almost fell off her barstool. “Oh, there you are. That didn't take long?”

“Not at all, looks like they scrubbed the Changeling juice off the tables. We can go play a few rounds, it'll be fun. Don't leave me dangling now.” Vinyl patted Octavia's back like a drum and skipped off.

Octavia slumped and groaned. “She's incessant.”

“Peppy, yeah. Wanna bail?”

Octavia pulled a last drag from her cigarette. She leaned her head back, eyes closed, and released a slow, shuddering stream of smoke through her nostrils. “No. We'll humor her for a few rounds so we don't look weird and she doesn't think I'm turning tail and running.”

“That line of thought kinda got us started on this.”

“Then I'll keep this trainwreck going.” She put the cigarette out on the ashtray.

She stared at the scattered embers sitting in the tray's emerald glass. “There's two of us and one of her.”

“Looks like one too many as far you're concerned.

“Definitely. I'm just saying, between the two of us, we can probably spoil her day.”

You turned your head, eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”

“She looking to get a rise out me. Make me squirm like a foal at her first recital. Instead, how about we act like obnoxious love birds who eat happiness and lay heart-shaped eggs? Turn that obnoxious dial up until she icks out.”

Her tone rang a little alarm inside your head. Concerns of what 'they could still do to each other' formed and almost gave rise to voice. Before you could say something, Octavia's eyes shined with nothing but bad intentions. She leaned into you and bit the cloth of your shirtsleeve, pulling at a bit of skin underneath. “Make her jealous because I've got a shiny new toy to play with.”

“Is that all I am to you?”

“I didn't want you to find out this way.” She frowned. “Good news, I may at least keep you around 'til the end of the weekend.”

“Damn you're cruel,” you laughed. “You sure though? Act like lovey-dovey jerks to put a rain on your ex? Really telling me that's how you want to play?”

She finished her drink and sighed. “Sure, why not. We're in a casino after all. Let's go be assholes.”

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