• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf

What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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The Mane Attraction

I had to admit that I wasn't expecting any kind of musical showcase in Ponyville, so I was surprised when Pinkie Pie had brought it up one day. Looking to Applejack for her great, maybe even out of the ordinary, strength, she managed to convince her in helping setting up the foundation for where the showcase was going to take place. Applejack was a bit reluctant at first, giving the excuse that she'd never did anything of the sort, but looking at the results, things turned out just great.

I should have expected it, but I suppose I had been too busy to realize or notice. For the upcoming lineup set for this charity event, there was one pony on the roster that had been staying here in Ponyville for quite some time. It was this same pony I had been talking to near the stage that was all ready to go.

"I should've known you'd be signing up for the Helping Hooves Music Festival. After all, you're a pretty big…rock star?" I exchanged what would probably be counted as small talk with Starlight.

"Pop punk, to be specific." She corrected.

"You know you're not going to get paid for this though, right?" I clarified, unsure if she was one for charity work.

Looking at me as if I had just stolen the mic from her, she reacted almost angrily. "I know that! What do you think I am? Some greedy snob?"

"Well…" I started before she aimed daggers at me with her eyes. "Kidding. Kidding." I cleared, possibly preventing her from blowing a fuse. "I just thought you were taking a break from your band or whatever."

"Yeah. I was. But if I stay on vacation any longer, I might just be out of a job." She stated pretty bluntly. "Besides, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to get back on track. For one, I'd be performing in Ponyville for like the first time. And two, I've been spending most of my time here sleeping or being bored at home. Even if it is just charity work, I'm willing to do almost anything for free as long as I'm doing something."

"I guess." I responded, not fully understanding her intentions but respecting them enough to not question deeply about them. "So, does this mean that you're going to go back on tour after this?"

She merely shrugged. "Sure. Why not? I've been kind of having a lost puppy following me around begging for more food anyway."

"…huh?" I couldn't understand exactly what she meant by that, but before I could get an answer, everypony started making a big ruckus all of a sudden.

Starlight and I turned to see this huge diamond-shaped object being carried over by several other ponies towards the stage. Once they set the massive diamond down onto the ground, it opened up dramatically and hissed almost like a can of soda. Fog proceeded to crawl out and escape from the interior, and once it was clear enough, a pony rose up from their relaxed position as if they had been waiting the whole time for their theatrical introduction.

She slowly stepped down from her seemingly cramped quarters and revealed herself to the public. However, even standing in the sunlight was not enough to get a clear and calm view of this mare. Figuratively, everything about her appearance was super busy. The colors of her mane, the accessories she wore, and especially that veil which, for some strange reason, hung over her head made it difficult to take in her arrival easily.

"Oh Celestia, not her…" I heard Starlight mutter almost beneath her breath.

Before I decided to question her about this certain pony, I chose to listen in on the commotion bound to happen after that kind of entrance.

With a flip of her extremely long mane, a high-pitched squeal screamed out from the audience that took in the sight of her with awe. "Countess Coloratura!" It had been Pinkie Pie, whom had pretty much been in charge of the entire event. She later proceeded to faint from either positive shock or glee.

"Clear the way! Stand back! Keep your hooves and tail to yourselves!" Some well-dressed stallion began leading this Countess Coloratura, along with the others that had carried her, through the crowd. Just by his snotty first impression, my first guess was that he was from Canterlot.

"So, you know her?" I finally turned towards Starlight.

"Who doesn't know her?" Starlight groaned in disgust. "Ugh. She's so spoiled and rotten, it drives me insane anytime she's around."

"Oh, kind of reminds me of someone I know." I stated half-jokingly while mischievously looking her way.

"Hey…!" She growled, but she didn't react as aggressively as she could have. "Look, I know I've done some pretty rotten stuff in my lifetime, and I apologize a million times over for that, but trust me, this chick is way worse!"

"What? How so?" I had to be honest when I couldn't really imagine any pony being any worse than Starlight used to be.

"How can I put it?" Starlight searched through her collected thoughts. "She's just…well…so demanding! Oh, and don't even think she's doing this 'charity work' because she's a 'good pony'. It's all about publicity and her image. I mean, look at her!" Starlight pointed out, having me witness a scene where she had been placing some kind of stamp on the cheeks of ponies lined up before her.

"Hoofsies! Hoofsies! Hoofsies!" She repeated. The way she sounded while saying those words was…odd. It almost sounded like she wasn't very bright…and that she had been speaking with children instead of fully grown ponies.

"I guess I get what you're saying…" I turned my attention back to Starlight. "But isn't that kind of every celebrity, or, in this case, pop star? Sapphire Shores kind of makes showy first impressions too."

"Sapphire Shores is different." Starlight defended. "She's really a nice pony when you get to know her. She just…handles things like business and performances seriously. If she's got to do something for the good of her career, she does it."

"When you say it like that, it doesn't exactly make her sound any better…"

Starlight now groaned from frustration. "Just trust me, alright? This 'Countess Coloratura' is only here because something's in it for her."

"Countess Coloratura?! She's here?!" We heard an unexpected voice chime in excitedly. Spirit had materialized out of nowhere as she desperately looked for the star of the current conversation. "She is! She really is!"

"What?" I questioned at her fanatic behavior. "How in the hay do you even know who she is?"

"I gotta go get in line for hoofsies! Later!" She immediately ran off in the direction of the already quite long line.

Starlight shook her head. "I feel bad for your friend there."

"Why? Because she likes someone you don't?"

"That, and to prove my point, she's going to come back without her beloved 'hoofsies'."

"What makes you say that?"

Starlight merely presented the sight before me as an answer. Despite the long line that still stood for Countess Coloratura, it had suddenly been intervened by one of the members of her team. What I assumed was her manager began leading her away from the lined ponies, leaving them heavily disappointed. Just as Starlight had predicted, Spirit had returned with a disgruntled expression on her face.

"Sorry, kid. That's what always happens." Starlight explained the reason behind her negative assumption.

"Not always…" Spirit muttered out rather coldly.

"Throughout my career, when I've got to hang around her, that's exactly what always happens. She only does a select few and leaves without saying anything. I still can't get why other ponies are so in love with her. It doesn't make any sense."

Before Spirit could possibly rebuke Starlight's claim, I resurfaced my original question. "So…how exactly are you such a big fan of hers, Spirit? I don't remember there ever being a time where you brought up her name once for as long as we've known each other. I didn't even know about her until now. I have no idea how you possibly could have."

"I…recently got into her." She mumbled her answer a bit through her slightly pursed lips.

"Yeah…I'm just gonna stop asking…" I decided, seeing as I'd never understand her.

Starlight wasn't one to go easy on others, so she continued to be pretty frank over her thoughts on the Countess in town. "Listen, you can like her music or whatever, but if you want to keep yourself from being disappointed in the future, don't expect her to be some kind of 'perfect countess' like she thinks she is. She doesn't care about you or anyone else but herself. Any little act of kindness that she does is solely for publicity." She aimed this mostly towards Spirit.

Starlight definitely sounded as if she's had enough experience with this specific pop star to know what she was talking about, and Starlight didn't seem like the one to be jealous over petty feuds in the music industry. I didn't think she'd want to spread bad rumors around, so Coloratura's reputation would be ruined. Still, I couldn't quite believe or absolutely confirm that she was a bad pony. I still hadn't even talked to her myself. As much as I felt myself lightly falling into Starlight's views over this Coloratura pony, I decided I would hold off on my opinion.

For the second time, we had been caught off guard by another a surprise from Countess Coloratura. This time, with a loud thumping bass, she had begun a rehearsal of her performance. In a funny and maybe even ironic way, we had been missing everything Coloratura had been doing in the background because we were too busy talking about her in the first place.

The visual and lighting effects in her performance were extremely impressive, but at the same time, they seemed a little…over-the-top. Then again, I wasn't really used to seeing performances like that. The closest would be the effects Rarity used when displaying her newest creations, but even then, I didn't believe they were as bright and bold as presented in Countess Coloratura's rehearsal. Of course, the ponies that had accompanied her and carried her over here were apparently her backup dancers. In addition, her vocals had been somewhat modified with magic as well.

Overall, I wasn't sure if it was just a glimpse of what to expect from her, or if that was actually the entire song, but her performance was fairly short. It consisted of mainly two words. "Razzle Dazzle". I wouldn't be surprised if that was the name of song. Nevertheless, the song wasn't necessarily bad, but as Fluttershy would say, it wasn't exactly my "cup of tea".

Every other pony most likely thought otherwise as they applauded loudly. Despite what she was told by Starlight, Spirit was among those who cheered with gusto. Spirit could be naïve sometimes, but it seemed she genuinely adored Countess Coloratura. If I knew Spirit, she wouldn't easily be a fan of someone who was a complete jerk. It's as if she knew Coloratura wasn't all bad deep down. At least, she thought she wasn't all bad when it came to things behind the scenes.

On the other hoof, Starlight continued to shake her head at the applauding crowd with a lightly sucked in frown. "Her entire performance can be a couple of seconds and they'll still just eat it up."

As I heard her say this, I couldn't help but feel the need to ask the question.

"You sure you're just not jealous, Star?" I asked, returning a somewhat playful mood, so it wouldn't all be too serious.

However, she only returned an unamused glare. "You're funny. And for the record, no, I'm not jealous. I'm just irritated to see ponies liking this kind of trash."

"Well…ponies like different things." I offered a different kind of perspective. "To say that it's trash is a little…harsh."

"Hmph." She merely turned her head away, possibly too upset to continue the conversation if Coloratura was going to be the subject of it.

"Alex!" Spirit ran over to me with gleaming eyes. "Countess Coloratura's going to meet with the school ponies! Can we go?! Please?!"

"But you're not a school pony." I mentioned.

"I'm one at heart! Come on! I really want to see her!"

Starlight scoffed in disgust and appeared as if she was going to leave. "You two go ahead and do that. I'm going to check up with my bandmates to see if they're on schedule."

Spirit remained practically begging at my hooves. I didn't see why she needed me to go with her as if I was her parent or something, but, either way, I decided I would take her. I wanted to see and hear this Countess Coloratura for myself. If she really is all bad like Starlight makes it, I would think I'd be able to see it.

"Alex!" Another pony approached me before we began making our way towards where the Countess was supposed to be at. It was Rarity, and she was looking pretty jubilant. "What did you think of the performance? It was pretty exquisite; don't you think so?"

"Yeah, it was awesome!" Spirit hurriedly answered in my place. "But we wanna go see her while we still have a chance!"

We? You mean you.

"You too?" Rarity questioned. "Applejack just left a little while ago to catch up with her."

"Applejack?" I wondered. "Why? Is she a fan too?"

"Not exactly…" Rarity rolled her eyes back in thought. "She mentioned this not too long ago before Countess Coloratura arrived, didn't you hear?"

I had been with Starlight for a good while before she showed up, so I must have missed whatever it was that Applejack mentioned. "I don't think so… What did she say?"

"Applejack and the Countess were old filly friends! Isn't that so strange?"

"What?!" Spirit belted out loud. "How?!"

"They both attended a camp called Camp Friendship. Apparently, by what Applejack had said, she was much different before than she is now. When Applejack first laid eyes on Coloratura today, she herself said she couldn't believe how much she had changed."

"Aww!" Spirit moaned. "What a lucky mare!"

"Applejack seems to find it nothing to obsess about." Rarity stated. "Of course, many other ponies would disagree, heh heh!" She laughed.

Applejack and Countless Coloratura were friends back then? That really is interesting. And Applejack doesn't lie, nor would she have a reason to in this case even if she did. Being raised a farmgirl, I doubt she'd really associate herself with a pony like the one we saw on stage just a moment ago. That would mean that Coloratura really did change…but why?

Spirit had already been tugging at my coat, her impatience getting the best of her good character.

"Well, a certain someone really wants to go see Countess Coloratura." I said. "I'll see you around, Rarity."

"Certainly!" Rarity waved goodbye. "Maybe you two might just get hoofsies too!"


A large group of the schoolponies had already gathered around Countess Coloratura by the time we got there. In fact, it may have just been all of them. Besides the kids, we saw Applejack observing the scene from the bottom of the small stage they had all stood on. I suppose it was for the photo shoot that was apparently going on at the same time.

"Oh…" Spirit lightly moaned. "It's so full…"

"Don't you want to meet her?" I asked.

"I do…but I think I'll just wait over here like Applejack is…"

She slightly tiptoed herself near where Applejack stood without taking her eyes off Coloratura once.

"So, I heard you and Countess Coloratura actually know each other?" I approached Applejack, considering I'd get to more about the deal between the farm girl and the pop star.

"I hope you've also heard that she's not the same pony I remember." She mentioned a bit depressively.

"Yeah…something like that."

She turned her head back at the sight of the excited schoolponies hanging around Coloratura. "Well, to be honest, seeing her speak with these little ones, it does take me back when the two of us were little."

"Ponyville schoolponies!" She announced. "As part of the Helping Hooves Music Festival, I'm holding a contest where some of you will get a chance to sing with me onstage at the concert tomorrow! Sound fun?" The wave of foals responded in cheer. "Alright! Now who wants more hoofsies?" A second wave of their excitement drained out any other kind of noise from on top of the stage.

"See?" Applejack pointed out. "Now that's more like the Rara I remember."

"Considering I've never known her until right now, I can't say that I can relate with you…" I almost wanted to bring up about how I had heard bad things about "Rara", but I was afraid Applejack would throw some kind of fit. Last thing I would need is her fighting with Starlight about who's really right about Coloratura.

"Singing on stage with her?" Spirit repeated the news she had announced earlier. "Oh…that would be so awesome."

"I think that's definitely just for the schoolponies…" I mentioned.

Spirit shook her head. "Eh, I'd be too shy to be up on stage in front of everyone anyway, so it's no big deal."

"But... I got everything you requested!" We suddenly heard Pinkie's voice from a distance.

The three of us turned around to see Pinkie with the well-dressed stallion that accompanied Countess Coloratura.

"That was for Countess Coloratura! This is for me! And what I want is premium oats!" He demanded bitterly.

"Oh! Well, we have lots of tasty oats right here in Ponyville!" Pinkie attempted to compromise with a plate of Ponyville's home grown oats.

"I would not feed those to a chicken!" He rudely slapped the plate away, causing it to fall over and make a mess in Pinkie's hair. "I want top-of-the-line Appleloosan oats! Next, it appears that we are surrounded by apple trees. Bring me five hundred pre-peeled, pre-cored apples, and I want those things in twenty-four hours!"

With a loud gasp, Pinkie responded in a wide-eyed manner. "But that's impossible!"

"Do you want me to pull Countess Coloratura from your little podunk charity show?! Because I will!" He threatened before carelessly walking off.

"Why that no good—!" Applejack almost belted out before we approached Pinkie Pie, whom was trying to remove the remaining bits of oats from her mane and tail.

"Applejack!" Pinkie Pie had spotted Applejack walking towards her and began to repeat the entirety of what we had just witnessed. "Svengallop just made all of these new demands and he said—"

"I heard, Pinkie. But don't you fret. I'll talk to Rara and fix things right up."

As Applejack turned back to return to the pony pop star, Spirit and I helped Pinkie Pie get rid of all the oats that she had missed.

"Ooh… Why does he have to be so demanding?!" Pinkie appeared to almost be at the point of crying. "I really want Countess Coloratura to play at our charity event!"

"Because he's a jerk!" Spirit almost instantaneously fired out. "If you ask me, he shouldn't be anywhere near Coloratura!"

"He's her manager, isn't she?" I brought up. "You don't think she's stuck with him because she needs him for what she does, do you?"

"That's just it!" Spirit turned to face me. "She doesn't need him. Look at Starlight. You don't see any manager pony bossing her around!"

"Well…I don't really have an inside look of her band to begin with…" I mentioned. "Besides, didn't Starlight say that Countess Coloratura wasn't exactly the nicest pony around?"

"I did have to gather a whole bunch of stuff because she had asked for it…" Pinkie added.

Spirit furiously shook her head. "That isn't her! It's all that dumb manager's fault! He's the one who's making all the demands! Not her!"

"And how exactly do you know that for sure?" I asked.

"Mmm…!" Spirit appeared hesitant and shook her head once more. "I just do, alright?! Besides, I can see what ponies feel. It's hard to understand, but just trust me!" She turned her head to look back at where the schoolponies and Countess Coloratura had been. "Applejack's right, you know? Think about it. If Countess Coloratura really wanted to, she could have canceled meeting with the schoolponies, but she didn't. I know it may not look like it at first, but she really is a good pony! I promise!"

Spirit was definitely passionate on defending Coloratura, and she definitely wasn't the type of pony to defend others whom she didn't know enough about anyway. I know Starlight had said that any little nice thing Coloratura does is for her own image, but I couldn't ignore Spirit's passion on proving Coloratura's innocence.

"Alright then…" I submitted. "What do you want to do then?"

"Let's talk with Starlight." Spirit suggested. "I know she doesn't like Coloratura, but maybe we can get some advice after we tell her about her manager."

"You guys do whatever you need to do, but I really have to get working on those oats and apples!" Using her fidgeting legs, she ran off before we could possibly convince her not to fall onto the manager's demands.

"Whatever the case is, I'm with you, Spirit." I clarified. "I'm not going to stand to see Pinkie going out of her way to follow some snotty pony's orders."

"Then, let's get moving!" She pointed ahead, leading me back towards the main stage.

We found Starlight roaming around the back of the stage. She took notice of a vanity mirror and began looking at her reflection. She lightly messed with her mane and stretched pieces of her coat for some reason.

"Hey, Starlight." I called out, seeming to cause her to lightly jump before she noticed.

"Huh! Don't do that!" She scolded.

"What else am I supposed to do?" I shot back, feeling a little annoyed with her apparently short temper.

She shook her head. "Whatever. What do you want?"

"You don't have a manager, do you?" Spirit asked.

"Uhhh…not exactly..." She seemed to look like she was wondering why we'd ask such a thing. "Why?"

"Look, I know you don't exactly like Coloratura." Spirit began speaking. It appeared she was going to take the lead on this as well. "But you know all those bad things you said about her? It's her manager. She's not the one who's making such hard demands. It's her manager, Jerkgallop."


"Ehh… I don't know." Starlight turned back towards the mirror to continue looking into details of her reflection. "Don't get me wrong. Her manager's a pain too. But with the way she acts when she's not around everypony, she doesn't exactly look innocent herself too, you know?"

"That's because her manager makes her do all that stuff!" Spirit answered. "If you had a manager like him, he'd be practically making you do anything he thought was the best thing to do."

"If I had a manager like that…" Starlight sounded as if she was going to correct Spirit. "He wouldn't be my manager in the first place. I wouldn't let any kind of pony boss me around like that."

"But what if he threatened you? Said that your band wouldn't last without him. I know that's hard to think about since you've managed to make it far enough without one to begin with, but think of it this way. Imagine it's one of your bandmates. Someone that really makes the band what it is. Would it be so easy to let him go?"

It was hard to tell what went on in Starlight's mind after hearing that. She looked as if she thought about it for a moment, but her face eventually scrunched up from frustration. "Haaah." She sighed loudly and finally turned back towards us. "What do you two want me to do?"

"Right now, I guess we're just looking for advice on how to handle the situation…" I said.

"Or, maybe you could somehow help us and get Coloratura to ditch that annoying old manager!" Spirit suggested otherwise. "I'm sure that's what Applejack wants too!"

"You want me to get her to ditch her manager?" Starlight repeated almost flatly. "We may be singers, but we're not exactly close enough, or even friends for that matter, to take each other's advice." Starlight began walking towards the stage, having us follow her from behind.

"Applejack's known her from when they were fillies, remember?" I reminded Spirit. "If anypony could convince Coloratura to do that, it'd be her."

"Yeah, well, maybe if she hears from another singer, it'll help convince her in case Applejack's not enough."

Standing at the back portion of the stage, she faced us with a heavy sigh. "Do you really think that you can get one of the most popular and successful pop stars to fire her own manager?"

"We have to try!" Spirit practically pleaded. "I know this is really sudden to bring on you, and I'm sorry, but I think this is the best opportunity we've got."

Starlight squeezed the area above her nose and between her eyes in frustration.

"Svengallop?" We heard a mare call out.

Starlight, Spirit, and I turned to notice Countess Coloratura had returned to the stage, looking for her manager. I couldn't tell what Starlight was thinking, but she eventually gave in to Spirit's begging.

"Fine." She said and proceeded to approach Coloratura.

From there we silently watched the exchange between the two while Spirit was anxiously rocking back and forth as she most likely hoped for the best.

"Hey, uh… Countess Coloratura." Starlight greeted Coloratura as she had been in the middle of turning her head back and forth in search for her manager.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Coloratura noticed Starlight for a brief moment. "I don't have any hoofsies to give out at the moment."

I could tell Starlight was now starting to grow irritated, especially due to Coloratura's thoughtless response. "Uh, no. I'm not looking for any…hoofsies. In fact, I'm not exactly a fan." Coloratura stopped her fidgeting search and faced her attentiveness at Starlight for some reason. "My name's Starlight. We've seen each other on the road every now and then."

"Starlight?" Coloratura appeared to grow slightly intriguied. "From that one band? That Starlight? What happened to you? What's with the new look?" She eventually paid direct attention to the top of Starlight's face. "Since when did you have a horn?"

Starlight had to be losing her patience by the second…

"A long time." Starlight quickly answered. "That's not the point though. I've been hearing a lot of complaints about your manager, Svengallop? Apparently, he's been threatening to pull you out of the show if he doesn't get what he wants."

"Ugggh!" Coloratura unexpectedly groaned out loud. "This again?!"

"…excuse me?" Starlight questioned with a puzzled face.

"Look!" Coloratura suddenly glared in return. "Svengallop isn't threatening anyone about pulling me out of the show! Now, quit spreading these lies and leave me be!"

Coloratura was about to walk off until Starlight heatedly stopped her. "Hey! No one's lying, princess. Your manager's ticking everyone off with his stupid threats and demands! You gonna let somepony like that bully your fans and have the final say in everything you do?"

"Of course, you'd say something like that!" Coloratura shot back. "I'm your rival, aren't I? And any other pony can easily see that you're jealous and envious like the others!"

"Jealous?! Honey, a garbage bag has more talent than what you'd call that—!"

Starlight's words had immediately been muffled when we realized that she was going too far off. We had rushed in and restrained her, attempting to have her back off as we covered her mouth with our hooves.

"There you are, Countess Coloratura!" Her manager, Svengallop, had ironically shown up to divert Countess Coloratura's attention away from Starlight. "Come on now. It's time you return to your trailer, so you can prepare for tomorrow's show. You don't have time to be meddling with other ponies."

"Gladly." Coloratura sent one last glare at Starlight before she simply submitted to Svengallop's recommendation.

Starlight attempted to wiggle out of our grip as if she was willing to go another round. It wasn't until we voluntarily let go where she turned and heaved towards us. "You see what I'm talking about?! If she wants to be a moron and let her manager walk all over her, then I could care less!" She went on to aggressively bump through us in order walk past us. "I'm done trying to help!"

"What was that all about?!" Spirit worriedly asked me. "Why did Coloratura get so upset?!"

"Didn't Applejack say she was going to talk to her after we found out about Svengallop?" I reminded.

"Wait…" Spirit paused for a moment in thought. "Then that means…Applejack couldn't…" Spirit's incomplete sentence soon drifted off into silence.

Despite being Coloratura's childhood friend, it didn't seem Applejack could do much to get her to see the truth about her manager. I had to admit that it wasn't surprising. After all, from what it seems, when you've depended on someone for so long, it's hard to believe that they were only in it for themselves.

I also had to be honest when it came down to being concerned about Countess Coloratura. I didn't have the same passion as Spirit or Applejack did, seeing as I didn't know her until now. Realizing how Spirit appeared completely distraught about the situation made me feel a little guilty because I wasn't.

"Don't worry, Spirit." I tried as hard as I could to cheer her up. "Applejack's not the type to quit. She's definitely not going to go out without a fight."

Spirit slowly nodded her head. "I can't either. Maybe we should find Applejack. Maybe we can come up with something we can do to help Coloratura…"

After some time spent searching, we managed to find Applejack with Pinkie Pie at Sweet Apple Acres. Apparently, they had been tending to Svengallop's demands and literally peeling and removing the core of every single apple they had stocked up on.

"Applejack…" Spirit approached Applejack as she pedaled her hooves on a pretty nifty apple peeler.

"Howdy, Spirit." Applejack returned rather dejectedly.

"Things didn't go so well with Countess Coloratura, did they?"

"Hmph." Applejack removed the peeled apple and threw it over to the pile that were soon to be coreless. "I'd be lying if I said they did."

"We tried seeing if Starlight could help convince her about her manager, but things didn't end up so great either…" Spirit's head fell forward slightly.

"I hope you're not thinkin' it's your fault, Sugarcube."

Spirit shook her head. "I want to help you too, Applejack. I may have not been friends with her like you were, but I care just as much! That's why I want us to work together to come up with some kind of plan that'll do the trick!"

Applejack continued to repeat the labor of peeling apples, throwing them into a different pile, and continuing the cycle. "I mean no disrespect when I say this, but that pony's veil is so thick, she can't see when somepony is clearly using her! If we want any chance, she's gonna have to see how horrible Svengallop is with her own eyes."

"Then, that's what we need to do!" Spirit pounded her hoof onto the ground in determination. "We can show her how mean Jerkgallop is when he starts bossing around Pinkie!"

"That's gonna be pretty difficult to do." Applejack admitted. "I think Svengallop keeps tabs on Rara. He is her manager after all. If he's been able to keep his grubby kind of behavior hidden from Rara the whole time he's worked with her, I don't think it'll be as easy as it seems."

"We need evidence then!" Spirit suggested.

"I hope you ain't talkin' about photos. I know for sure that Rara will just make up some kind of an excuse for how a photo looks." Applejack sighed heavily as she looked as if she was mindlessly peeling apples. "It ain't like we can just magically record the whole conversation when he goes and threatens Pinkie Pie about taking Rara out of the Helping Hooves Festival and projecting it on a giant screen for Rara to see for herself."

As Applejack mentioned this as if she was complaining out from her thoughts, something about her somewhat descriptive rant seemed familiar to me. "Actually, Applejack… I don't believe that's exactly true…"

"What are you getting' at?" She turned to me, sharing a look of confusion with Spirit.

"Have you forgotten that we have an awesome Alicorn princess that practically knows all about the kind of magic to have ever existed? If I remember correctly, I think Twilight once showed me a lecture she had recorded with her magic. Don't ask me how. She just did."

"You gotta be kiddin' me!" Applejack finally ceased her production of peeled apples and confronted me from undeniable interest. "She can really do that?!"

"Yeah." I nodded and began to remember another similar instance where she presented that kind of magic to all of us. "Now that I think about it… Remember when you had that vampire fruit bat problem with your farm? Twilight had projected a screen for us when she was giving us a rundown of her spell. If I had to make a wild guess, I'm willing to bet it has to deal with the light that magic produces in the first place. You know, just like the ink a photograph uses, except the ink is the different colors the light of magic can produce."

"I don't care about the details!" Applejack responded bluntly. "If we can get Twilight to record Svengallop being a jerk to Pinkie Pie, then Rara will have to believe us!"

"Then that's what we gotta do!" Spirit emphasized enthusiastically.

"How should we do this?" Applejack asked for any kind of ideas or ways to proceed with our newly founded plan.

I thought for a moment. "We might need to wait until tomorrow to actually put the plan into work. Last time we saw Countess Coloratura, she looked like she was going to blow a fuse. I think she's resting in her trailer for the performance tomorrow."

Applejack faced the ground to briefly collect her thoughts. "Svengallop wanted these apples done in less than twenty-four hours. That's tomorrow. Maybe it's not so bad after all? Maybe that's just what we need to get our proof! When Svengallop talks to Pinkie Pie about the apples, we can get him then!"

"And then we can show it to Coloratura!" Spirit chimed in.

"We gotta talk to Twilight!" Applejack began preparing herself to gallop back towards the stage where we had last seen her.

"But Applejack!" Pinkie, whom had been working on removing the cores from the apples the entire time, cried out worriedly. "The apples!"

"Sorry, Pinkie, but there is no way I'm lettin' that lousy Svengallop use my friend like that!"

Pinkie could only groan in response as they fell backward onto the pre-cored and pre-peeled apples in a loss of hope.

"Don't worry, Pinkie!" Spirit encouraged her with a cheerful smile. "We're going to show Countess Coloratura what a jerk her manager is, and then you won't have to dedicate your time to giving him what he wants anymore!"

"Does that mean I'll be able to go back to baking…?" Pinkie almost weakly asked Spirit.

"You know it!"

"Can't wait…" Pinkie remained inside the pile of apples, possibly taking a nap.

"Let's get going!" Spirit approached me, clearly ready for action.

The rest of the day was just preparation for what was to come the next day. Applejack, Spirit, and I had met with Twilight to explain everything. As expected, Twilight had no issue in helping us with this ordeal. In fact, she gave us some input on how to exactly pull the plan off. It wasn't until the day after where we would meet with the climatic and exposure of truth.

Despite how Countess Coloratura looked the day before, Applejack was able to convince her in gaining a chance to prove her claim. This was when the plan took motion. It was inevitable that Svengallop would take Pinkie away from the public to reveal his true colors, but this time, there was no way he was going to be able to deny raw proof of his misdoings.

It wasn't until he returned to the stage, where Countess Coloratura was at, when he was confronted with hard evidence of his mistreatment of others. This was projected out for not only Coloratura and Svengallop to witness, but every other pony in the area was able to see what kind of pony Svengallop was for themselves.

"So that's how you've been managing things?" Coloratura faced her soon-to-be ex manager in both shock and anger.

"Yeah, so? What's the problem?" He attempted to brush it off as if it was nothing new.

"The problem is, is you've been using my name to intimidate ponies to get what you want!"

"But I work incredibly hard for you! I deserve everything I get!"

"But not because you scare ponies into thinking I won't perform for their charities otherwise! I would never do that to my fans! Which is why you should have known that I would never cancel the schoolponies' contest!"

"Hmph. All this charity and schoolpony contest nonsense is just remnants of that boring little Rara I met back in Manehattan!"

"You clearly don't understand the real me!" In the middle of their heated discussion, Coloratura grabbed her veil and threw it backwards.

"Ha, that's a joke! I made you somepony! What can you even do without me? Good luck, Countess Coloratura! Good luck." As if emphasizing with disgust, he gave one last snarky statement before leaving the stage. It was too bad. Technically, he didn't really do anything wrong besides being a jerk with his title. If he caused some kind of harm, we could've done something more about it.

"Oh, Rara, I'm so sorry. Are you gonna be okay for the concert tonight?" Applejack approached her wounded friend.

"Of course. After all, the show must go on!" Coloratura seemed to force on a brave face as she stated this. However, she couldn't hold on to it for more than a few seconds.

I noticed Spirit climb up on the stage to speak with her.

"Coloratura?" Spirit greeted timidly as she approached her. "Listen… I know we just met at all…but I just wanna say that I'm a really inspired fan of yours. You see…the truth is…" She paused for a moment and then, for some strange reason, sent a brief glance at me. Afterwards, she gestured Coloratura to lean in, so she could whisper something in her ear.

It was a while before Coloratura reacted with widened eyes. "You have…?" She pulled back from calm shock. Spirit merely nodded with a smile. This caused Coloratura to relax just enough to return a smile as well. "That's so sweet… Thank you…"

"That's why I know you'll be just as fantastic, if not more, without your manager!"

"Ooh…" Coloratura returned to a state of worry. "I don't even know who I can find to do my hair or my makeup…"

"Don't you fret, Rara." Applejack crossed her forelegs as she returned a fairly smug grin. "I know one pony who would just love to help ya with that."

Coloratura's performance was tonight, but it seemed like the entire time she was supposed to be getting ready, she was too busy fidgeting around about how her performance would turn out. In short, I believed she may have been having a nervous breakdown.

"Oh, my gosh, Rarity, Svengallop's right! This is gonna be a disaster! I'm gonna be terrible!" Coloratura had paced back and forth repeatedly as Rarity tried to focus on finishing her outfit. Rarity's reflection in the vanity mirror was clear enough to portray her frustration on having to chase Coloratura with the accessory she still had to place on to complete her performing attire.

"Can you give us a minute, Rarity?" Applejack must have noticed the commotion, so she decided to bring the issue at hoof upon her to take care of herself.

"Certainly." Rarity agreed as she brought along the accessory she had spent the last several minutes trying to play pin the clothing on the pacing Coloratura with.

I decided to give the two some space as well which was when I surprisingly came across Starlight.

"Starlight? What are you doing here?" I asked.

"Did you forget that I'm also going to be performing in the festival?" She answered quite coldly.

"That's not what I meant." I responded, beginning to alter my tone so I could rival hers. "I didn't expect to see you back here behind the stage."

"I'm here to see Coloratura."

I had stood silent for a moment as my mind was struck by a sudden state of confusion. "H-huh?! You're not going to start another fight, are you?!"

"Of course not, idiot!" She barked in a lightly aggressive manner.

"Then, what are you—?"

"Just move." She lightly shoved me and proceeded to make her way where Applejack and Coloratura were. Thankfully, it seemed they had just stopped talking by the time they noticed Starlight standing nearby. "Hey, Coloratura."

"Oh, uh, hey, Starlight…" Coloratura reacted a bit embarrassingly, most likely due to what happened with their last heated conversation. "Um…about yesterday…"

"Don't worry about it." Starlight settled outright. "If I was still upset about it, I wouldn't be here looking to help you."

"H-help me?"

Starlight simply nodded and took a moment to give Coloratura a look over. "You gonna get on stage dressed like that?"

"Well, I don't know…"

"Starlight, I hope you ain't got any bad intentions being here, do ya?" Applejack raised her eyebrow, looking rather suspicious of what Starlight had been doing.

"Chill out." Starlight merely answered with. "It's like I said. I'm trying to help. After all, Coloratura isn't the only one who's had to go through a massive wardrobe change." She turned to Coloratura to take a closer look at her face. "I'm not saying the outfit's bad or anything…but you sure this is how you want to go dressed out there?

"What do you mean…?" Coloratura asked for clarification as she lifted up her hoof in hesitation.

"Well, if you ask me, this kind of outfit looks like something Countess Coloratura would wear, but is it what the real Coloratura would wear? I saw when you laid it on good to your old manager. You want to show the real you to everypony out there, don't you?"

"Y'know…" Applejack tapped her hoof on her chin. "I think Starlight's actually onto something here, Rara. You're not Countess Coloratura anymore. You're Rara. And the Rara I know wouldn't obsess over the little things on her dress."

Coloratura took a moment of silence before she closed her eyes and smiled warmly. "You're right… And I think I know just the kind of 'look' to go for…" She faced towards both Applejack and Starlight. "Would you two mind helping me change?"

Deeply surprised yet satisfied, I decided to let them do their own thing while I checked on other matters. I was going to go check out the stage and crowd in the audience until I was struck by yet another surprise.

"Octavia?!" I spotted her rehearsing a bit backstage behind the curtain.

"Hm?" She ceased her playing and turned to notice me. "Oh, Alex. Hello."

"Uh… Are you…with the Helping Hooves Festival too?"

"Yes, I am." She looked slightly annoyed saying that, turning her head back to her cello while almost glaring at me in the corner of her eyes. "If you'd come and visit me every now and then, you'd know that…"

"S…sorry?" I suddenly felt that I should be extra careful with what I say to her. "Um…so are you doing a performance too?"

"Well, it's more of a group performance." She explained. "We're going to provide an instrumental score to Coloratura's routine."

"Oh, really?" I reacted with surprise. I guess it wasn't all that surprising since Coloratura had practically lost everything but herself with her manager gone. "Well, I've got something to definitely look forward to then." I complimented, especially to possibly quell any kind of anger in Octavia about me not visiting her as much.

"Hmph." She responded with a somewhat soft smirk. "Flattery will get you nowhere."

"No, seriously!" I objected. "I am totally willing to look forward to the performance, especially with you playing a part in it."

Unexpectedly, she proceeded to point her cello bow straight at me for a silent moment before she flipped the front of my mane with it. "We'll see." She stated vaguely as she pulled back her bow and continued practicing.

Before I decided to join the audience for the show, I went on ahead to check how Coloratura and the others were doing. I knew Coloratura was changing into a different look for her performance, but as soon as I saw this new look, I was surprised to see how…different she was. To sum it up, her appearance was no longer cluttered by expensive brands and designer clothing, but her wardrobe was rather simple yet still attractive.

"What do you think?!" Spirit, having apparently been here for some time, quickly approached me by my side and directed my full attention towards the new Coloratura. "Doesn't she look so amazing! It's perfect!"

"Y-yeah, it is." I replied as I confronted Coloratura about her look. "I don't mean any offense by this…but is this your natural look?"

Coloratura chuckled gently at my question. "Yes, it is. This is the real me. I've been hiding that part of my side behind so much makeup and clothes, it's actually really refreshing to just…be me again."

I nodded in total agreement. "When you first arrived in Ponyville, it was hard to get a reading off you. But now that you look like this, I can see what Applejack meant every time she talked about you."

"Hm. Let's just see what every other pony thinks about the new me." She mentioned a tad worriedly as her eyes wandered in the direction of the stage.

"They'll love it." Starlight, whom had been looking over her own appearance in the vanity mirror, stated quite confidently. "If they're your real fans, they won't care how you look."

"Like me!" Spirit felt the need to address.

Coloratura chuckled lightly once more until a sudden wave of realization seemed to hit her. "Oh! That reminds me. Starlight?"

"Yeah?" She turned away from the mirror to face Coloratura.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you for a favor…"

"What is it?"

"First off, do you know how to play piano?"

Starlight squinted her eyes for a moment as if she was pondering about what Coloratura had in mind. "Yeah…?"

"Well, I wanted to know if you might be willing to join me up on stage for my performance." Coloratura suggested. "There's this song I want to sing, and it'd be a big help if you could play it for me while I'm on the stage."

"You have the sheet music?"

"Of course."

Coloratura pulled out sheets of paper with scribbles and notes on them. To me, it was like some kind of foreign language that only ponies like Starlight or Octavia could translate or understand.

After Starlight studied the notes for a good moment, she grinned lightly. "Looks easy enough."

"So, is that a yes?" Coloratura lurched her head forward for Starlight's answer.

"Yeah, why not?" Starlight answered with a rather modest shrug.

"That's great!" Coloratura cheerfully clapped her hooves together. "We can show everyone out there our new 'us' together. This will surely be a night to remember for not only our careers, but our whole lives."

"Guess someone's got a new bestie." I sent over Starlight's way teasingly.

"Don't you got a show to watch?" Starlight shot back, subtly attempting me to shoo away and scurry off.

"Come on, Alex!" Spirit went ahead and nudged me out. "I want to see if we can still get some good spots!"

The other girls had spots already saved up to the very front. Of course, this tallied up with Spirit's already jumping nerves. She couldn't even stay still as we waited for the show to begin. She only continued to hop up and down anxiously.

"Hey, calm down, would you?" I finally said as I felt her continuously bump me.

"I can't! This is going to be so amazing!" At this moment, a spotlight lit up the center of the stage, and Twilight appeared from within the closed curtains. "Aaah!" Spirit screamed, grabbed ahold of me, and almost shook me violently. "It's starting!"

"Good evening, everypony!" Twilight greeted through the immense applause of the crowd. "Welcome to opening night of the Helping Hooves Music Festival! Now it is my great honor to introduce you to our headlining act – Countess Coloratura!"

From there, she stepped to the side, and the curtains opened up. Beyond, there was a grand piano, and Coloratura stood by it as she faced the audience. "Good evening, everypony. Tonight is a very special night for all of us here. By attending this event, you are helping others that are in need. And tonight, you will get to witness two ponies turning over a new leaf. I now welcome you one of those ponies. Starlight." Coloratura stepped to the side to reveal Starlight, whom had been sitting in front of the piano. She simply returned a small wave and a smile. "She's a new friend out of countless others I made here in Ponyville, and she will be helping me a great bunch with this piece I wrote. This song may be familiar, but yet, it's totally different. Kind of like me, Rara."

After their introduction, ponies in the crowd were puzzled as they murmured amongst themselves about the change they witnessed on the stage. It wasn't until Starlight was signaled to start where ponies quieted down, due to the notes of the piano.

"I'm here to show you who I am" Rara began, facing over her crowd as Starlight took care of the piano work.

"Throw off the veil, it's finally time

There's more to me than glitz and glam, oh-whoa

And now I feel my stars align"

At this point, unicorns began to create a dimmed light on the top of the horns. However, once the masses contributed to the effort, it created a much brighter yet subtle light than it was on its own.

"For I had believed what I was sold

I did all the things that I was told

But all that has changed, and now I'm bold

'Cause I know"

Something rose in the background behind the blue screen where Starlight and Rara stood in front of. As Rara strongly began her next verse, the area behind the blue screen lit up, revealing a group of ponies that were creating the instrumental score behind Rara's song. These ponies were all silhouettes, but I was easily able to distinguish one that belonged to none other than Octavia.

"That I am just a pony

I make mistakes from time to time

But now I know the real me

And put my heart out on the line

And let the magic in my heart stay true


And let the magic in my heart stay true


Just like the magic inside of you"

As I listened in to these lyrics, I had just realized that they not only matched with Rara's character but Starlight's as well. From what I could see of Starlight, even she looked as if she was enjoying it. She produced a smile of warmth that was completely rare from her usual sarcastic or snappy expressions. During this point of the song, I entirely believed that all of this was meant to happen. It was all too perfect to just be a coincidence.

"And now I see those colors

Right before my eyes

I hear my voice so clearly

And I know that it is right

They thought I was weak, but I am strong

They sold me the world, but they were wrong

And now that I'm back, I still belong

'Cause I know"

At both an utter amazement and surprise, Rara's cutie mark began to sparkle and shine as if it contained its own kind of magic. Everypony stomped their hooves and cheered in support of Rara, and tears soon welled up in her eyes as she continued to passionately sing her heart out with overwhelming emotions.

"That I am just a pony

I make mistakes from time to time

But now I know the real me

And put my heart out on the line

And let the magic in my heart stay true


And let the magic in my heart stay true


Just like the magic inside of you

Just like the magic inside of you..."

As soon as she opened her eyes, she was immediately welcomed with a huge wave of ovation. Taking a glance over at Spirit, she had been bawling, but she still managed to wave her forelegs in excitement for the performance her apparent role model had just given.

"Thank you, everypony!" Rara's voice amplified over everyone else's. "When I arrived at the Helping Hooves Music Festival, I had forgotten who I really was!" She turned her head towards our direction, but it was obviously Applejack who she had been looking straight at. With all the attention that had been drawn on her, she seemed to have no choice but to look downwards in embarrassment. "But then an old friend reminded me what real friendship is about, and she told me that if I was true to myself, I couldn't go wrong! So, I have a very special surprise for her. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, come on up!"

The three fillies immediately raced up to join the stage with her. It was there where they had begun singing an entirely new yet heartwarming song.

"Equestria, the land I love

A land of harmony

Our flag does wave from high above

For ponykind to see"

They had dropped down the flag that represented all of Equestria.

"Equestria, a land of friends

Where ponykind do roam"

Coloratura reached out and brought Applejack onto the stage with her. As they continued, I took one last glance at where Starlight had been. I swore, from the swift few seconds I had her on sight, she had been wiping something from her eyes. However, she quickly stepped to the side and disappeared from the stage.

"They say true friendship never ends

Equestria, my home"

Everypony not only in the audience but on stage shared a special moment together. I couldn't tell if it was just the overwhelming feelings of love and warmth that were passed all around, but I especially felt good about the upcoming future.

As I felt pleased about Applejack having the opportunity to reunite with an apparently long lost filly friend, only one thought was present in my mind.

Starting from now, there's going to be an extremely significant change to come that's most likely going to alter our lives for the better.

A revelation.

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