• Published 2nd Apr 2019
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Knight of Equestria III: Pizzicato and Changelings - scifipony



Vinyl Scratch lands a gig for DJ Flopsy Mopsy: the public party for the royal Canterlot Wedding—in a stadium-sized venue! Handling this taxes her fledgling abilities, but, when she thinks she owns all the hooves, all Tartarus beaks loose.

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Poke the Pig

Author's Note:

Of all Flopsy Mopsy's chapters, this one truly has a soundtrack. If you aren't familiar with the non-ponified songs, I do recommend listening to the starred tracks at minimum to get the best feel for what's happening to her. You'll find each song linked in the text of the story, too.

*Chopsticks (traditional) → Chopsticks by Liberace
Slow Prance for Strings → Adagio for Strings by Tiësto (Note the crowd in the video!)
Until the Heavens Tumble Down → Till the Sky Falls Down , covered by Dash Berlin
Dance 4 Life → Dance 4 Life by Tiësto, featuring Maxi Jazz (starts at 0:59)
*Caramel Hay → Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce

This time the wedding went off without a hitch.

I played a thunderous fanfare when Rainbow Dash ignited a rainbow halo in the sky to announce the nuptials. Brilliant! Who knew that a pegasus could perform such magic? Though I more often flew through my music, I liked to race and swoop and glide as much as anypony. I was going to try that trick one day!

To the northeast of the stage, unicorn engineers had built three temporary bridges over the Canterlot Cascade. Somepony had been paying attention.

Closer at hoof, I heard rolling thunder: Everypony in front of the stage danced. Two or three thousand sets of hooves, at least, while substantially more mobbed the feedbag vendors and the watering tents. It was shaping up to be a ripping rave later. I played classic disco, swing, and even a polka to time-out the older set who'd retire early. I worked through 15-minute sets in my head I'd use to rev the crowd to scream over the next hours. I'd start with deep house, transitioning over three or four tracks.

Helping Hoof had found a patch cord for my iSing and I readied it in case the loving couple put in an appearance at the after party. I doubted they would. Octavia had related that the real princess was as tightly wound as she was perfectly pink, and a serious pony, even if nowhere as snooty as her imposter had been. From what I understood, she really needed her honeymoon, the sooner the better if you know what I mean.

I got lost in the groove, until a wave of gasps made me look up. The sun had even set and I'd failed to notice. The magical FX team lit a squadron of a dozen pegasus stallions in top hats and tailed-coats flying from uptown Canterlot. (While Aurora Australis had decided not to attend, she'd honored her contract and sent in her team, including one special white unicorn I fancied.) A golden aura illuminated the ponies and the black grand piano strung between them. Perched atop a red velvet carpet sat a green-gray earth mare, also wearing a top hat and tails, waving. The sequins that frosted her waistcoat scintillated like ice on a pine tree blown in the wind. Her black horseshoes shone like a spotlight. She had been making a name for herself on the night club and fairground circuit as a ballad singer and piano player with a flare for the theatrical.

I faded the music into a drum roll track from my FX library as the pegasi settled the piano between pre-set mic stands, then shot off like fireworks trailing their red ribbon ropes.

I grabbed the mic and cried, "Put your hooves together for tonight's second special performer, Coloratura!"

Coloratura jumped from the piano into an exaggerated bow, doffing her shiny black hat to reveal locks of green and black, frosted with sparkling glitter. Daring Darling made like a puce shadow as he adjusted the mics around her. Sitting herself on the bench with a flourish that puffed her coat tails and flounced her long streaked tail behind her, she shot her white sleeves through her jacket cuffs then hit one note loudly on the piano, sustaining it.

My cue to switch through all her mics in my earphones. Just like during the sound check at 4:00. I nodded.

She adjusted her mic and faced the audience and said, "And now, give it up to the mare of the hour, our very own heroine on the stage, Miss Flopsy Mopsy, also known as D. J. F. M!"

My heart stopped at the word heroine.

Had I saved her life? Was that why Octavia had a ready choice for my request? Part of the sly look she gave me?

The crowd roared as I suddenly sweated. It was all I could do not to knock my mop-like fringe over my eyes. I could drive ponies aside to confront a crystal of pure evil I didn't understand by reflex, challenge a changeling hoard in an instant, saunter up to a draconequus standing in the middle of Ponyville as he twisted ponies into monsters (something he thought of as fun), stop a stampede without a thought by standing in its path, and stare Princess Nightmare Moon in the eye. All that? This I froze on?

Da-da-da-da-daa!

I realized I'd heard those six notes twice at that point with the last set becoming strident. I glanced right and caught Coloratura's narrowed sea-green eyes spearing me. She did the hoof-to-ear gesture we'd agreed to and gestured toward Octavia who spun her bow on the tip of a hoof like a drum major's baton, her violet eyes also on me.

Derp.

I grinned, my face heating up as I dived for the soundboard. I faded out all backgrounds, lifted needles, ramped up the gain to the performers's mics.

A cone of golden light sparked over the pianist and the white and black keys.

Coloratura played a tentative five notes and hit a strident sixth. She tilted her head querulously. She tilted her hat the opposite direction and chose a different part of the keyboard. Again, a horribly sharp sixth note. She jumped and looked at Octavia who just shrugged in her own cone of rosy light. Coloratura wriggled her flank on the bench, swishing her tail and shooting her cuffs again. Rainbow flashes from her sequins flashed across the stage like a disco ball. She lifted her forehooves and held them dramatically as if ready to mash the ivory.

She lightly touched a sharp.

She faced the audience, her eyes held wide, her mouth an O of surprise.

A wave of laughter washed from the ponies at the base of the stage across the promenade as everypony, even those at the furthest feedbag table, realized her burlesque show callback. Twice she hit the errant key. She jumped as if struck by lightning and peered at her piano suspiciously. Laughter rang out. Octavia plucked all six notes, all in tune, then six notes more. Coloratura sighed and squinted, then chuckled. The mic picked up her voice as she sang three sets of six notes. She made them sound like tinkling bells.

She took out a royal red kerchief. She dusted the keys.

Everypony knew by then she was about to play a very special rendition of Chopsticks. The roar of the crowd was deafening.

Coloratura flounced down again. On one hoof she played:

F-F-F-F-F-F G-G-G-G-G-G D-D-D-D-E-D.

With both hooves:

C-*-C-B/D-AE...

Then she broke out into arpeggios and flourishes, turning the sound into a symphonic waltz. Red and gold sprites on breezies' wings began line dancing above the stage. Octavia broke in with a bowed accompaniment, then using a plucked string pizzicato technique over the medley line. Together, they transitioned back and forth in a buzzing fugue, then changed to a cartoon cop soundtrack as the sprites chased one another comically through streets composed of fluffy clouds. I mixed in sound FX horns and bike bells and constable whistles. I added reverb and separation, making the music sound pompous or instead prance as the mares created their tour d'force, ending with a symphonic finale.

I transitioned into an old fan favorite, Slow Prance for Strings, tempting Octavia to play and mixing her in. Coloratura even sang over it in a metal band voice... and so it went. I had a collection of unmixed tracks, what DJs used to work their mix-magic, and fully produced songs. I mixed and matched, fading in and out the performers as they signaled their interest. I had let Octavia go through my record collection and star the music she thought would work, and it did. In many cases, instruments were interchangeable, and the audience reacted with a pause of recognition, then cheers. Soon the most of the elder ponies had retreated to the watering holes and feedbags; thousands more of the younger set thundered before my stage.

It was while I was mixing various instrumental tracks from Until the Heavens Tumble Down, with Octavia's thrumb-thrumb-thrumb single-string playing with the melody, that Coloratura gestured me over. I set a loop. I did some exaggerated head banging as I trotted over. She stood and spoke into her mic.

"This song has lyrics."

She reared and gestured to the audience, who roared, rearing like her and waving.

She added, "And somepony with a lovely voice named Flopsy Mopsy is going to sing it for you!"

I coughed. This was the reason during sound check that Coloratura had wheedled me into singing along as Octavia nosed through my music collection.

Coloratura trotted to my boards, grabbed the earphones, and quickly switched out of the current loop. She slightly muted the drum track, and, leaning on the table, beat a hoof over her head, looking at me. The piano solo she just played looped in and she counted down with her hoof.

I opened my mouth, leaned into the mic, and hit it with my nose. I barely caught the drunkenly swaying mic stand with my wings as it tilted over.

She caught my missed cue, prompting me, "I will wait..."

The phrase repeated. Her hoof whirled, counting down again.

Though my heart beat furiously, I caught my next cue.

"I will wait for you
until the heavens tumble down..."

I lost my composure. Tears streamed down my cheeks. The changelings had attacked and the heavens had tumbled down. But I didn't choke. I caught the song properly on the third stanza and Coloratura and I started trading places. Soon, seated again, she drove the beat with her piano playing and we jammed on that, mixing, trading vocal parts, singing, for the better part of ten minutes. I looked down on my table and found the ballad singer had stacked a few records into a new playlist. I knew all the lyrics by heart.

Okay. My voice didn't suck.

Quite the opposite, I was loath to admit. And I had Discord to thank for discovering that, and discovering I liked to sing. I loathed him anyway. Performing before an audience left me shaky, but delighted. I transitioned into Dance 4 Life. At its base, it had simple lyrics (the same as the title), but it was also spoken words, almost beat poetry, and it was a favorite of mine. After a warm up, I was high stepping and laying down the words with the proper chill. Coloratura demonstrated how many thousands of ways a pony could put emotion into the same three words by emphasizing syllables, drawling them, crying them. I traded off into the spoken word part and we played along, transitioning into another record and another. Suddenly, I didn't realize when I'd been feature soloing for the better part of an hour on a dozen records.

When I realized it, I went mute and stared at the crowd. In response, the audience chanted with the music, "Songbird! Songbird! Songbird!"

My face burned, beet red, surely bright enough to light the stage. Brilliant moniker, though.

I was a singing pegasus, after all.

I didn't realize when Coloratura had sidled up to me. I didn't startle, though I did jump aside to stare at her. Her streaked mane bobbed half a beat behind her head. Her hoof flashed right across her neck.

I turned the mic off.

She whispered into my ear, "See that large pony in the back, in the watering hole, the one named Lower Canterlot with the illuminated crystal bar, next to the rainbow glitter twins with ruby horn lights? Don't draw attention to her."

I said, "The tall unicorn in the black hooded cloak with the red lining?"

"Not a unicorn."

I swallowed hard. What was she doing here? It was almost 11:00 p.m.; surely the other parties still raged on. "Are you sure?"

"I've had royalty show up at my gigs before."

"Incognito?" I said, burgeoning slyness growing in my voice as I got an idea.

I motioned D-D over and whispered into his ear. He returned in a jiffy with a bunch of vinyl. I dropped the main record on the fifth turntable and gave Coloratura a listen. Octavia trotted over. They both looked at one another, gave a nervous grin, then returned to their instruments.

I wiped the sweat from my forehead, bobbed my head, and set to work.

I cycled through a few songs to change the tempo as I watched the lone mare sipping a glowing iced blue drink held in her magic as she bobbed slightly, dancing with the minimum of hoof movements. I faded-in a distinctive intro.

Into the mic, I said (as the distinctive intro of the song Caramel Hay by Caramel Hay was not lyrical):

"Cater-lot is the home of style and cool.
Understand this if nothing else
If there is any city
Any city
Of style and cool in Equestria you need to visit
To find your thiiing
Or to make your special talent sing
That city is..."

Bam! I shouted:

"Canter-lot!"

I dove in loudly, singing:

"Nah-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neigh!
Nah-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neigh!"

Octavia strummed into the chorus and Coloratura played the one note melody that imitated and mirrored the xylophone in a cover I preferred. The audience picked up the beat and their hooves thundered louder than the drums on the track.

I held out the mic to the audience.

They sang the chorus back at me. I looped the chorus back, avoiding having to sing the second chorus since it contained the name that normally went with the song. We did the call and response chorus thrice, building it louder each time as my incognito guest put aside her drink, maybe sensing something amiss.

On the next round, I muted everything to silence. Of course, everypony played the catchy song in their head, their hooves hammering the wood dance floor perfectly in-rhythm. And...

"Nah-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neigh!
Nah-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neigh!"

But, instead of "Caramel Hay", I belted out:

"Princess Celestia!"

The audience responded in a scream that must have rattled every window within five blocks:

"Nah-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neigh!
Nah-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neigh!"
Princess Celestia!

I added the second chorus.

"You rock, Celi, Celi, Celi Celi Celi!
Do rock, flighty Filly, Filly Filly Filly!"

It made for the perfect trot. The sound of the hooves eliminated the need for the recorded music at all. Between Coloratura and Octavia's instruments, the dancers, and our voices, our live performance took over.

After five reps, I continued with the first chorus.

We kept at it, on and on for almost ten minutes, mixing tracks and performances, whipping everypony into a genuine lather. The air temperature, no lie, rose ten degrees. From the crashing thunder alone, I knew the dance floor was trashed. I leaned into the mic, grabbing it with a wing, facing right and left to look across the audience as I awaited the cue everypony anticipated.

I spoke the closing stanza:

"Everypony loves Caramel Hay.
That flavor...?
That flavor's is shagging spectacular, what..?
Princess Celestia!
Nah-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neigh!
Nah-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neighy-neigh-neigh!"

After two call-response choruses, I brought on the end sequence... and faded out.

I found myself trembling. From the way the mare in the cloak stood unmoving, frozen statue-like, I knew I'd transgressed. But I didn't care. I didn't care! I was mad. I was confused. I'd done so much... I stood huffing like I'd run a sprint. And...

And she'd had the unmitigated gall to test me with an instrument of bloody evil! The Tartarus...!

Over the mic, saccharine sweet, I said, "Canterlot, thank you everypony so very much for that, and all hail my special guest for inspiring it! And now yours truly needs a break. Back in fifteen, everypony. I'm D. J. F. Mmmmm!"

I stalked off the stage into the back area, down a dusky metal stair, into the darkness. In a black canvas-walled side room wanly lit with a firefly lantern, beside cheese sandwiches and hay fries under a heat lamp, I spotted a punch bowl with ice and red liquid.

I ignored the dainty crystal glasses and stuck my muzzle in with a splash to drink as much as I could.