Cider Theater Blues

by A Random Guy

First published

Discord needs some last-minute help for a theatrical production, so he enlists Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash for assistance. What can he say? He's desperate.

Discord needs some last-minute help for a theatrical production, so he enlists Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash for assistance. What can he say? He's desperate.

Written for the EQD Writer's Training Grounds prompt for Brotherhooves Social.

Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash celebrate their victory at the social, and maybe have a bonding moment of their own.

Interpreted loosely, of course.

Cider ain't for kids.

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Scootaloo burst through the door of Rainbow Dash’s cloud house, yelling into the main foyer. “Woo! Sisterhooves Social victory party! We’re the best team around, bam na na na!” The filly slid on her knees down the cloud carpet, strumming a rift on her air guitar. “Weeoo, na na naaa!”

Rainbow Dash burst in behind her, soaring up near the ceiling. She flipped around, pulling out her air microphone to sing her power ballad. “Not gonna stop her, she’s the utter victor!”

“Ba na na Waaa na!”

“Gotta give her room, the finish line is going”—Rainbow held her breath, swinging down in the air and coming up next to Scootaloo. They both raised their heads and yelled the song in sync – “BOOM!”

They both smiled at each other, and then collapsed to the floor, bursting in laughter. Scootaloo caught her breath and got up from the floor first. “Why didn’t we do this last year? If we came in first place last Social, we would be two time winners now!

“If we came first place? No, we would’ve won last year.” It wouldn’t Rainbow Dashed rolled over the floor to rough up the filly’s hair. Scootaloo giggled as she squirmed away, but Rainbow Dash pulled her in for an even bigger nuggie. “But some of us don’t tell me these things until after they happen. Can’t win a race if you don’t know where the finish line is.”

Scootaloo pushed Rainbow’s hooves away and popped out of her hug. “What if you get in a race you don’t know about and win it? What if on one morning, you’re going out to get lunch, flying as fast as possible, then next thing you know you’re flying over a finish line and won Equestria’s Fastest Flier Competition?”

“Then that would be my second best lunch ever.” Rainbow Dash stood up and walked through the foyer. “Hey, a winning filly needs a winning drink. Are you thirsty? I’ve been saving something for a special occasion.”

The filly bounced up behind Rainbow Dash. “Ooh, what is it? Is it fruit juice? Gotta stay hydrated with fruit juice.”

“Nope, even better. It’s a special case of apple cider Applejack made for me at the start of cider season. I never have to wait in line again!”

“A whole barrel of apple cider? You mean it?” Scootaloo hopped up as she followed Rainbow to the kitchen. “Whenever cider season is here, my parents never let me go. I don’t know why.”

“Probably so they can hog all the cider for themselves. It’s really that good.” Rainbow walked into her kitchen and to the pantry, pulling out a large barrel from it. She grabbed two mugs from a cabinet and filled them up from the nozzle on the barrels bottom. Within seconds, they were both filled up with golden, foaming, rich apple cider. She passed one to Scootaloo, who eagerly grabbed it. “Enjoy it. I’ve been saving this for a special occasion, and today’s special enough. When was the last time we both won a race together?”

A wide grin spread across the filly’s face. “Thanks!” She watched Rainbow Dash take a swig from her mug, foam pooling around the pegasus’s upper lip. Scootaloo took a sip of her own. Her grin scrunched up as the first taste of the golden liquid landed on her tonge. “Uh, Rainbow, this tastes a little funny.”

Rainbow Dash pulled her mug away from her mouth, smacking her lips together. “Mhmm, tastes fine to me. In fact, I think this is the best batch Applejack has ever made. Maybe there’s something in your mug.”

Scootaloo took another sip, swishing the drink around before swallowing. “There’s something odd about it. Are you sure this is the best cider in the world?”

Out of thin air, a third voice chimed in on the conversation. “Oh, believe me, this is the cream of the crop. But you need an… acquired taste to truly appreciate it.”

Rainbow Dash’s ears perked up, and then flattened against her skull when she put a name to the voice. “Discord, where are you, and why are you in my house?”

The Chaos Spirit’s disembodied voice giggled everywhere, nowhere, and everything not in between. “In reverse order. As to why, I’m being a responsible adult. As to where, look down.”

The pegasus looked down, where her eye’s met up with two yellow orbs floating in her cider mug, both looking back at her with two red pinpricks. The foam curved in a grin, then opened up in synch with Discord’s voice. “You’ve found me.”

“Out of my cider!”

“Sheesh, no need to yell.” Discord coiled out of the mug, forming into his usual physical form. He towered over the pegasus, crossing his arms and looking down. “I’ve just come by to say hello to one of my dearest friends. Heck, I was going to even ask a favor from you, no strings attached. But now I see you started a party with your…”-- He glanced over at the filly, who stared back at him with wide eyes --“Um, what’s your relationship with Scootaloo?”

“It’s not important right now,” Rainbow Dash snarled, the foam on her lip curling with her mouth. “You said you wanted a favor. What is it?”

“Straight to the point, but I’ll get around to that. There are more important matters to attend to.” He slithered over to Scootaloo, arching above her in the air. “Scootaloo here thinks there’s something wrong with her drink, but I can’t fathom why. Applejack makes the best cider in town, unless...”

Discord lifted a claw in the air, dipping its point ever so slightly into the mug. He pulled it back out, along with a single drop of cider. His finger ran down his tongue, followed by the smacking of his lips. “Hmm, no, nothing wrong with the cider. It’s perfect, just like every batch that comes out of Sweet Apple Acres.”

Scootaloo looked at her mug, in which the foam was settling down. “But, why does it taste weird?” she asked, giving it a quick sniff.

“Probably because Discord messed with your tastebuds or something,” Rainbow Dash said, glaring at the Spirit of Disharmony.

Discord waved his paw at the pegasus. “Naw, I would never do such a thing. Both your taste buds are normal, and so is your cider. It’s normal, sweet, hypnotizing, inexplicable, undeniable, enchanting”— He slithered around to get within inches of the Rainbow Dash’s face –“alcoholic, apple cider.”

Rainbow Dash gulped at the last thing Discord said. “What?”

The spirit wiped the leftover foam off of Rainbow Dash’s lip, squishing it between his talons. “Cider foams when it has alcohol in it, my dear. Didn’t you know that?”

Scootaloo jumped away from her drink as if it turned into a rattlesnake, knocking it over it over and spilling it all over the cloud carpeted floor. “I’ve been drinking alcohol?!”

Discord gave a solemn nod. He snapped his fingers to summon a tiny purple elephant, which sucked up the spilt cider with its trunk. “It’s true, you’ve been drinking an alcoholic beverage. Rainbow Dash may not have known, but that doesn’t excuse her for her ignorance. Just think, if I, a responsible adult, hadn’t come to intervene, you would’ve consumed an entire mug of cider, maybe more, just so you can look cool in front of your idol.” His head hopped off from his body and flipped around to look at Rainbow Dash. “What would her parent say, her real parents, if you brought their precious little filly home, drunk out of her wits?”

“No!” Scootaloo squealed. “If they found out, they’d kill us both! Please, don’t tell my parents! They’re gonna freak, and I’ll never get to see Rainbow Dash again!”

Rainbow Dash let out a long sigh. “Don’t worry, he won’t. He’s going to blackmail me for a favor instead.”

Discord winked, putting an arm around Rainbow Dash’s shoulder. “You know me so well. Don’t worry, it’s nothing evil.” Rainbow Dash smacked his arm away, which flew off his body and splattered against the wall. The purple elephant rushed over to suck up the goop. “Here’s the deal, believe it or not, I have hobbies, normal hobbies. Shocking, but true. One of these hobbies is acting. I go out on stage and act for an audience.” A large, overdesigned ball gown appeared on Discord. He knelt down and held out a candy skull in his paw.

“I agree, that is hard to believe,” Rainbow deadpanned. “So what, do you want us to act with you?”

“In a sense. I’m performing an opener tonight, but my acting troupe is down for the count on a very important role. This is a last minute fiasco, and I needed to blackmail two ponies to fill these roles, pronto.”

Scootaloo perked up as she imagined being part of a play. “So, you won’t tell my parents about the cider thing, as long as we act in a play.”

A sly grin stretched across Discord’s face. “Oh, you won’t be acting…”

Swear-ese is a thing.

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They weren’t in Rainbow Dash’s house anymore. With a snap of his fingers, Discord changed their location to a theater stage. Different ponies rushed up and down the stage, some in costumes, some talking to those in costumes, and some hauling costumes around. The pegasi jumped at the sudden change, the older of which being the more vocal about the situation. “What did you do?! Where are we?”

“Trottingham Garden Theater,” Discord said, stretching out his arms. “My troupe has is performing the opening show of My Fair Pony here tonight, and we’re down for the count. I believe you two know Big Mac, correct?”

Scootaloo broke away from staring at her new surroundings. “Of course, he made a mess at the Sisterhooves Social today.”

Discord nodded. “And was he in a dress?”

“I wasn’t going to say that, but yeah, he was.” Scootaloo shuddered as the image of Big Mac walking around as a lady crossed her mind. “I never want to see that again.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, my dear”—Discord waved a claw at all the ponies working on the stage – “But when you work in theater, you tend to find ponies don’t dress their gender, both on stage and off. It’s a weird world, and I love it. Big Mac, in fact, is supposed to play the part of my character’s mother. His dress today is part of his role. Unfortunately, he needed to take care of some ‘family business’.”

“Wait, Big Mac does acting? In a dress?”

“He’s very good at it.”

Rainbow Dash stepped out of the way as a large stallion pushed a cardboard background across the stage. “So what’s this play about, anyways?”

A cane popped out of thin air, which Discrod took hold of and pressed against the tailored suit he now wore. “The play is called My Fair Pony. See, I’m playing the role of Voice Box, a gentlecolt who specializes in linguistics. One day, he meets a young mare named Flower Basket, a starry-eyed filly with ambitions and a terrible accent. Voice Box makes a bet with a friend that he can teach Flower Basket how to speak like a proper lady. But, as per how all these things go”—His cane slumped over and melted into a puddle, dripping between his fingers. The puddle then bubbled into a pile of tiny clown pegasi, pegaclowns if you will – “Shenanigans ensue.”

Scootaloo watched as the pegaclown pile rolled off the stage, juggling pies up in the air and splattering themselves as they came down. “And we’ll be replacing Big Mac, right?”

“Oh, heavens no. I wouldn’t trust your acting skills to save a play made by the Baby Cakes. Instead, you’ll be replacing the colt who’s replacing Big Mac. Now, be a good filly and cover your ears.” Out of nowhere, one of the pegaclowns hopped up to Scootaloo and shoved a wad of cotton down her ears. Discord cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled at a crowd of ponies. “Hey Butch, you little $@&#! Come over here, I got your replacements!”

A large stallion unicorn, possibly bigger than Big Mac, broke away from the crowd. Similar to Big Mac during the social, he wore a frilly dress, large wig, and high heels, all of which contrasted the five-o-clock shadow he had on his face. He walked up to Discord and glared at him with a sneer. “Discord, you piece of #!!@, where the &@#$ have you been?! Ponies are gonna take their %*!$ing seats in an hour!”

“Rainbow, Scootaloo, this is Butch,” Discord said, pointing a thumb at the cross-dressing stallion. “His native tongue is Swear-ese, so mind your manners.”

“What?” Scootaloo yelled, failing to pull the cotton from her ears with her hooves.

“What are these %^~@ here for?” Butch glared at the pegasi, sizing up their smaller body types. “Don’t tell me they’re my &~$% replacements.”

“Sorry Butch, they’re the best ponies I could blackmail on such short notice. You’re so good at what you do, I had to get two ponies to do your job a fraction as competent as you. But hey, they’re your problems now. Show starts soon. Tell them what to do. Ta-ta.” Discord waved at them, walking off to join the other members of the theater production.

Rainbow rubbed her shoulder, taking small steps away from Butch’s intense glare. “Um… I don’t know what we’re doing.”

“Of course you #^% don’t,” Butch barked, the giant wig bouncing on his head. “I’m gonna tell you what you’re doing so you don’t %&$ it up!”

“Alright, what do we do?”


“The #`~$ lights, that’s what you’re doing!”

They now found themselves in the rafters above the theater stage. Cables, ropes, and lights were strewn all over the place, creating a tripping hazard for any pony who didn’t pay attention. It perplexed Rainbow Dash how Butch was able walk up here in a dress and high heels. Instead of risking the tripping hazard, Rainbow Dash hovered above the catwalk. Behind her, Scootaloo busied herself by picking out the last of the cotton. “Why did you wait till we got up here to say that?”

“Shut the $~#& up. This is what you’ll be doing.” Butch pushed his dress out of the way to lean over the rail. He grabbed hold of the light and moved it around. “You point the light at the actors, but don’t shine it in their &$% eyes! Your filly friend can turn on the lights from the control console over there. It’s #%~@ simple to use, a filly can do it. There’s a script of what lights to turn on during the play. Follow that, and you won’t %@# up. Any questions?”

“Um, do we get paid?”

“$!@& no, this is a volunteer troupe! You do it for the love of the $#!~% job.”

“Okay… You know, I once was in a play.” Rainbow Dash soared up a couple feet and puffed her chest out. “I did the Canterlot Hearth’s Warming Eve Pageant not too long ago. I think I know what I’m doing.”

“My &#@ niece is doing the pageant in Manehatten this year, which is bigger, and more @#!~ challenging. Don’t try to impress me! Just do your &%$ job!” The wig leaned to the side as Butch snapped around and stormed off the catwalk. His voice shifted from a masculine, buff sailor, to a masculine lady of the top echelons of Equestria. “Pardon me, but I must depart to powder my nose. The theater does not treat one’s makeup kindly.”

After minutes of picking, Scootaloo finally removed the last bits of cotton in her ears. “Um, I didn’t catch any of that. What are we supposed to do?”

Rainbow Dash pointed to the control panel on the other side of the catwalk. “I think he wants you to turn on and off the lights.”

“Oh, okay.” Scootaloo watched her steps as she navigated the cluttered catwalk. She hopped over the console, where she met a row of switches, each marked with a number corresponding to a light on the stage. On the side of a console, there lay a pamphlet detailing which lights needed to be turned on and when. At first the script blurred together, but as Scootaloo read it, it made sense in her mind. “Oh, this is simple. How hard can this be?”

Rainbow Dash hovered next to a light, playing around with it and testing its full range of motion. “Yeah, this is going to be a cake walk. Pointing lights at a bunch of ponies, that’s not a challenge.”

“Not gonna stop her,” Scootaloo sang as she practiced with the switches, “She’s the utter victor!”

“Gotta give her room,” Rainbow Dash joined in, twisting a light around that Scootaloo flipped on, “the finish line is going”—


Shenanigans Ensue

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It wasn’t easy.

At the start, there was nothing to it. The curtains dropped on the stage a few minutes before ponies were let in. Scootaloo followed the instructions and set the lighting to be dim. Rainbow Dash aimed the lights to cover the general area. After that, they didn’t have anything to do, until the play started.

Scootaloo turned off all the lights, except for one spotlight, which Rainbow Dash centered on a single pony who welcomed the audience to the play. After that, the lighting script went crazy. So many lights had to turn on and off in short bursts. Scootaloo’s hooves went crazy trying to pick out the right lights every time there was a shift in a scene. Occasionally, she was too slow or she flipped the wrong switch, and by the time she corrected it she found heself two steps behind.

Rainbow Dash had a different problem, she was too fast. She zoomed back and forth alongside the cat walk, trailing the lights along the actors. Without paying attention, she would jerk a light into an actor’s eyes, blinding them and forcing them to jumble their lines. These actors were professionals though, and managed to ad lib their way through their fumblings, but they were not happy about it. Discord was the only one who could show his irritation without the audience noticing. Several times when Rainbow mis-aimed the light, Discord changed the color of her coat to purple or pink, grew her nose hairs, or chucked a small woodland creature at her.

During one of the slower moments, Rainbow Dash flew over to Scootaloo to whisper her frustrations. “How the heck are we supposed to do this all night? My wings are cramping up and it’s not even the end of the first act.”

Scootaloo rolled her head back, letting out a long sigh. “Tell me about it. I messed up the button pressing at least a hundred times. Oh, you got a rabbit biting your ear.”

“I know.” Rainbow Dash batted at the rabbit, one of Discord’s petty revenge tricks for messing up so much. The rabbit hung tight, swinging from her ear. She bent around and gave it a swift kick with her hind leg, sending it flying over the audience. “We’re not doing so hot, and Discord knows it. Why does he want us to do this in the first place?”

“Because, in all honesty, you two are last minute replacements.” The pegasi turned around to see Discord sitting on top of the rafters, lifting a salad bowl up like a tea cup and drinking its leafy greens. “But I guess the blame partially falls on me. After all, it was I who picked the sloppiest lighting crew on this side of Equestria.”

Scootaloo leaned over the railing to look down at the play, where another Discord sat and listened to two other characters talk about something. “Hey, you can make clones of yourself. Why don’t you do this if you think we’re terrible?”

Discord shook his head, sipping a crouton from his salad. “I’ve tried that once. It didn’t end well. You see, as powerful of a being I am, I can’t perform chaos magic and act at the same time. The part of me that’s acting breaks character and goes off on random tangents. It’s terrible form for a theatrical production. In fact, I’m only up here talking with you two because I have a break. Flower Basket and Pickle Barrel are discussing the fine points of upper class manners. I don’t have any lines for the minute.”

“And are you up here to tell us how to do our jobs better?”

“No, I never got into the lighting side of these things. That’s Butch’s forte. I came up to tell you both that you suck at this, and I deeply regret this decision.” He arched his head back to look down at the play. “Looks like my part is coming up. You two have a lot of work ahead of you. Get good, or else.”

Rainbow Dash scowled as the spirit disappeared. His counterpart down below got up and recited his lines. She scurried around the rafters to move the lights once more. “No one tells me I suck and gets away with it.”

Scootaloo poked at the switches once more, thinking about the spirit’s parting words. “Hey Rainbow, if we don’t do a good job on this, do you think Discord will tell my parents about the cider?”

“I hope not.” Rainbow Dash flew closer to the console, moving a row of lights over as she soared. “He’d need a lot of nerve to bring us this far, insult us, and then go blabbering to your parents. I won’t let that happen. Now, do you want to show him whose boss?”

Scootaloo flipped the lighting script to the next page, giving Rainbow Dash a big grin. “You know I am. Let’s make that finish line go boom!”


“Don’t turn those $%@ lights on at the same time! They’ll heat up and go &^@# boom!” Butch grabbed two switches with his magic and flipped them off. “What happened to lighting crews who knew what the %@# they were doing? This is %&3!”

Scootaloo jumped back as Butch squeezed past. “I didn’t ask to do this. Blame Discord!”

“That $#6@ mutant is getting what’s coming to him, for sure. Where is my lipstick?”

The scene would soon be transitioning, and the pegasi were going in overdrive to keep up with the thickening pace. Butch only complicated things by getting in the way. Rainbow Dash soared around him as he searched around for the missing costume piece. “Can’t you borrow Discord’s lipstick? Or ask a mare in your crew to lend you some?”

Butch shook his head as he scoured the catwalk. “Trust me, when you see what goes on behind stage, you learn to pack your own ^$#@ lipstick. For $%&3 sake, I don’t have time to stop by a dollar store. My scene is up next.”

“Well, we got our own problems to worry about right now. Do you really need lipstick?”

“No, but it helps me fall into character.” Butch stumbled past Scootaloo once more, grumbling in Swear-ese about his lost lipstick. “Also, do a %^4& better job!”

Down below, the actors finished up their lines for the scene. They closed out on a racing track, and were now ready to move on. Scootaloo took her queue, flipping all the lights off, bathing the stage in darkness. Down below, a stage crew pulled the rope to close the curtain. Rainbow Dash failed to notice the sandbag shooting up from underneath her.

“Finally, a break-ACK!” The sandbag’s rope caught her wing as it went up. She flailed around, but only wrapped the rope tighter during her panic. She flapped her other wing as hard as possible to keep her upright, knowing she’d lose a wing if her body dropped to the floor. “Ow, ow, ow, Scootaloo, help! My wing’s stuck!”

“One moment, need to turn the lights back on.” Scootaloo flipped the lights, as instructed by the script, and then scampered over as close to Rainbow Dash as the catwalk allowed her. She squeezed past the railing and reached out to grab her. “I’ll try to get you. Grab on!”

Rainbow Dash flapped her good wing forward, but the sandbag’s weight kept her in place. “It’s no good. I can’t move around. I’d break my wing if I tried anything.”

Below them, the stage crew finished up moving the next scene’s props. The actors stood in position, Discord by a door, Butch behind the door, and a couple other actors next to them. Nobody bothered to look up to see the tangled pegasus.

“It’s about to start, but I think I can get you free before that.” Scootaloo grabbed a rope hanging next to her, pulling it to make sure it held. She reached out as far as she could. Rainbow Dash reached out too, and together they caught each other’s hooves. “Cool! Now to pull you in.”

“Curtains rising!” A voice below yelled.

The sandbag descended, yanking Rainbow Dash along with it. “No no no, OW!”

With Scootaloo still holding on to her, the filly came down with her. She slipped off the catwalk and tumbled down to the stage. Her wings fluttered in reflex to keep her in the air, but they weren’t powerful enough for flight. Helpless, she crashed straight into something squishy on the stage.

“I say, Pickle Barrel, you may have a chance at winning this bet yet.” In her daze, Scootaloo heard Discord reciting his lines as if nothing happened. Did they ignore her fall?

“Nonsense, Flower Basket did wonderfully at the race.” The filly looked up. The curtains were drawn, but she couldn’t see the audience, or the other actors. A door blocked her vision of the world beyond. Where did she land? And why did the floor feel hairy?

“Ha, her little spectacle ousted her as a common gutter pony in front of the entire party.” She looked underneath her to find Butch under her butt, dressed in his full dress and unconscious. Oh no. She knocked out an actor, Butch of all ponies. Discord wasn’t going to be happy.

From the side of the stage, a knocking sound filled the theater. Discord let out a groan. “Great, I bet it’s one of those silver spoon ponies here to berate me on my guest. Coming!” Scootaloo froze as the door opened, revealing the Spirit of Chaos towering over her. “Mother…” As his lines died down, Discord glared down at the pegasus, the catwalk lights casting a dark shadow over his snarling face.

“What’s going on?” he viciously whispered. Scootaloo couldn’t help but point up to the rafters, where Rainbow Dash still hovered with her one good wing. “Oh, bother.”

“Who is it?” Pickle Barrel walked around to peak behind the door. While Pickle Barrel the character appeared to be a friendly, jolly fellow, the actor playing him clearly looked pissed, and slightly confused.

Adrenaline rushed through Scootaloo’s head. Unless she came up with something now, she knew her fate would be sealed. She ruined the play! Discord would tell her mother about the cider, and she’d never get to see Rainbow Dash ever again! Wait… mom.

Scootaloo pulled the wig off the unconscious Butch and strapped it on. It nearly engulfed her entire body, but she spread her wings out to keep it balanced. Satisfied, she stepped around the Chaos Spirit, closing the door behind her to hide Butch. Oh, please let this work. “Hello dear, aren’t you going to introduce mommy to your friend?”

Discord, Pickle Barrel, and the audience all stared at her. The situation’s gravitas hit her like a train falling on top of her, nearly forcing her to buckle over. Despite the pressure, she stayed strong, or at least hoped to Celestia that the adrenaline won’t run out soon. “You won’t believe the weather we’re having. The pegasi are all tangled up there.” She pointed at Rainbow Dash, drawing the attention of one of the stage crew. He followed her hoof and caught sight of pegasus, then rushed back to get help, hopefully.

“It’s good to see you, mother.” Discord kept his snarl on Scootaloo, likely him displeased with her, his character displeased with his mother, a mix of both.

“Ah, madam, I’m Colonel Pickle Barrel.” The actor came over to kiss Scootaloo’s hoof. “It’s a pleasure meeting such a beautiful lady.”

Discord wrapped a talon around Scootaloo and pushed her towards the door. “Well, that’s out of the way. What a shame. She has to be off, don’t you mother?”

“But I came by to see how your day has been. I heard you met a filly friend.” She bit her lip once she realized what she just said. No, she needed to get off stage. She was ruining the play. Why did she say that? She didn’t know any lines!

Pickle Barrel came over and nudged Discord in the side. “Don’t be rude. She’s your mother. How can you throw her out like that? Please, stay for a while. I insist.”

Scootaloo firmly believe Discord was capable of turning his death glare into an actual death glare. “No, no, it’s fine. I only came by to check on my son. But, I see you two are busy with something. I’ll be on my way.”

“No need to rush.” Pickle Barrel came over and pulled Scootaloo away from Discord. “You heard right, we do have a filly friend, and we would like you to meet her. Flower Basket! There’s someone at the door for you!”

“Coming!” Someone yelled off stage. Discord slithered in close and hissed in the actor’s ear. “What are you doing? She doesn’t know the script.”

Pickle Barrel brought his voice down to a whisper. “I don’t like it, but we need your mother.” The actor looked down at Scootaloo, pulling her in closer. “Just follow my lead. Say some fancy compliments to Flower and nothing else.” He perked up and smiled at the actress walking in form the side. “Flower Basket, meet Voice Box’s mom.”

Flower Basket curtsied from across the stage. “Hello, madam. Fine weather we’re having today?”

“Your mane is fancy,” Scootaloo blurted. Discord smacked his face and groaned. A light chuckle passed over the audience.

“And yours is, too,” Flower Basket said. “Your mane is quite elegant as well.”

“Thank you. I just groomed it.” Scootaloo smiled, not an acting smile, a genuine smile. This wasn’t so bad. Sure, an entire audience watched her every movement, she had no idea what the play was about, and the Spirit of Chaos would curse her family for generations if she screwed up. Not to worry, though, everything was just fine. She just had to follow the other actors and hold a fake conversation. What could go wrong?

“Scootaloo!” The filly’s ears flattened against her skull when she heard that voice. “Scootaloo, over here!” She dared take a peek at the audience, where a mare hopped up and down in her seat. Oh no, it was her mom.

“So, Miss Flower Basket,” Scootaloo said, trying to ignore her shouting mother, “What’s going on?”

“Sweeite, it’s me, mommy!” Now the audience wasn’t looking at Scootaloo, but the frantic mare amongst their numbers. “Oh, you’re doing such an incredible job! Keep up the great work.”

Pickle Barrel swore under her breath. “Bloody hell,” he whispered, breaking out of character, “What’s that mare think she’s doing? This is a play, not a carnival.”

Scootaloo shrugged. “I don’t know. I thought she was staying home tonight. Why is she here? Unless…”

“Sweetie, don’t forget, we’re having daisy salad for dinner tonight.” Off to the edges of the audience, ponies in suits pushed their way through to reach Scootaloo’s mom. Before they could snag her, she jumped over a row and landed between an elderly couple. “Why don’t you invite your friends, those Cute Mark Questers! We can have a party!”

“Discord,” Scootaloo said, glaring up at the spirit. “Why is my mom here?”

“I might have…” Discord paused as the filly’s mom tumbled over multiple rows of ponies, “gotten her drunk and teleported her here.”

“What?! Why?”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time, like an ironic sort of justice for the cider thing.” If looks could kill, Pickle Barrel’s, Flower Basket’s, and Scootaloo’s death glares would’ve shredded Discord to pieces. “Hi, Spirit of Chaos here. Not everything I do makes sense.”

“And I don’t suppose Rainbow Dash’s parents are here too.”

“Actually no, just your mom, and she seems to be having a blast.” Discord look up to see the frantic mare throw a clumsy punch at one of the suited stallions. “Speaking of Rainbow, how’s she doing?”

“Don’t pull that! No!” A loud scream came from above. “No no no-OW!” Rainbow Dash plummeted from the rafters, crashing into the doorway set, smashing it into pieces as she landed. She convulsed on top of the rubble, her wing stretched out at a painful angle. “OW OW! My wing, ow ow ow!”

“Found her,” Discord Deadpanned, pointing at the fallen pegasus.

Several of the stage crew rushed from the stage side and over to Rainbow Dash. One of them carried a large med kit in his mouth. Another walked up to the front of the stage, yelling above the noise. “Sorry folks. We need to shut down the show. If you can all leave in an orderly fashion, we can provide refunds for all in attendance. Also, please step aside for the paramedics when they come in.”

Shattered Wings and Drunken Blues

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A pony with a red cross for a cutie mark held Rainbow Dash’s wing up firmly in place. “Yep, this looks bad. You ripped the joint right out of the socket. Get a doctor to look at this ASAP. Frankly, I’m surprised your wing is even still attached.”

Rainbow Dash nodded. Her face scrunched up as another paramedic placed a splint under her wing. “I’ve had worse. These things happen to me all the time.”

“Well don’t let this happen again. The muscles may be ripped, but I can’t say for sure without a doctor taking a look at it. All I can say is you’ll be grounded for a long time.”

“Grounded?” Rainbow Dash’s mouth dropped. “I can’t be grounded! That’ll ruin my entire life!”

The paramedic solemnly shook his head as he pulled out a bandage roll. “I’m sorry, but you can’t use this wing for a while. You’ll hurt it even more if you try.”

If looks could kill, Rainbow Dash’s death glare would’ve nuked Discord ten times over. “This is all your fault, Discord!”

The Spirit of Chaos looked over from where he was at, waving a fan over Scootaloo’s mom while a paramedic treated her blood-alcohol level with a bottle of water. “Me? You’re the one dumb enough to get tangled up in the rafters. The railings are there for a reason.”

“And that wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t drag me into your dumb play! Ow!” Rainbow Dash flinched as the paramedic wrapped the splint against her body. “Hey, here’s an idea, use your magic to fix my wing.”

“I’d love to, honestly, but I can’t.” With a snap of his fingers, Discord summoned an hourglass filled with pickles dripping down. “My magic can fix your wing, but it’ll only last for so long. Once it fades, you’ll be back in the pitiful state you’re at now.”

“Discord.” The actor playing Pickle Barrel walked up to them. “We need to talk.”

“Bit busy here.” Discord nodded to the woozy mare, who he still fanned. “And I’ve told you before, I can’t do two things at once on stage. I’ll break character.”

“You don’t have to worry about that. About the incident tonight”—Pickle Barrel pointed at Rainbow Dash, and then at the drunken mare-“The rest of the troupe views your actions as destructive. You’ve been suspended.”

“What!” Discord shouted, chucking the fan over his shoulder. “What do you mean suspended? You can’t suspend me! I’m the only one here who can play the main character every night! I move the big set pieces around! Heck, I got a replacement lighting crew!”

“You got a couple of fillies who were way over their heads to play with expensive equipment. One of them broke her wing doing it. Do you think that’s responsible?”

“And who’s going to play Voice Box? Next to Flower Basket, he’s the main character.”

“We’ll find someone to do it. But between the filly’s and the drunken mare, everyone sees you as a liability right now.” Pickle Barrel glanced at Rainbow, who tried to stand up with some help from the paramedics. “Heck, some of them claim you were using your magic to harass the blue one up in the rafters. Something about changing her mane color and rabbits, from what I heard. For all we know, you broke her wing.”

“It was an accident! I didn’t know any of this would happen!”

“Doesn’t matter. We made our decision, and you’re suspended. We’ll tell you when that’s changed.” Pickle Barrel turned around, nodded at Rainbow Dash, then walked off without another word.

Discord twirled around and stumbled into one of the theater seats. “Suspended? I’ll show them suspended. I’ll suspend them in a solution, that’s what I’ll do.”

“Give it up, Discord,” Rainbow Dash said, rolling her eyes. “You broke my wing, got Scootaloo’s mom drunk, ruined your show, and now you have to take the heat for it.”

“Oh, and what about you?” Discord asked, pointing at the pegasus. “You still gave an alcoholic beverage to Scoots. That’s a felony in some cities.”

One of the paramedics poked his head up. “Uh, is that something we should be concerned about?”

Discord waved him off. “No, it’s not. It happened in Ponyville, not Trottingham. It’s not in your jurisdiction.”

Rainbow Dash cocked her brow. “So what, you’re going to drop the cider thing all together then?”

“Do I have a choice? Her mom is over there drunk out of her wits. Do you think she’ll listen to me at any point in the future?”

The mare in question sat up, burped in the paramedic’s face, and then collapsed back down. “Probably not. If anything, she’ll be mad about all this.”

“Exactly. Let’s tally up the score.” Discord pulled out a chalkboard out of thin are, drawing tally marks on it with his claw. “One point for me for getting suspended. One point for you for the broken wing. One point for Scootaloo for almost getting away with underage drinking. At least yours truly put an end to that. Looking at this, I’d say everything turned out even.”

“Except I’ll be flightless for who knows how long. Did you ever think I needed my flight to do my job?”

“Baby steps. I’ll pay for your food, or whatever you mortals need to survive.”

“You better.”

Off to the side, Scootaloo watched the two bicker over what happened. Her mouth opened wide to let out a yawn. “The finish line went boom,” she deadpanned. The song didn’t seem appropriate for the moment, but she hummed the tune for the heck of it. After all, even after the disaster that was this play, she did win the Sisterhooves Social race. That counted for something, right?