"One night only" was plastered all over the Fillydephia Theater. Mares and colts from around the city of brony love came in tonight to see the up and coming classical star Octavia's first concert out of Canterlot. She was only here for one night, and it will be the best night ever in the history of Fillydelphia's music scene.
Except that's not actually the case. The reason why Octavia was only booked for one night wasn't because she was only available for one night. Oh, no. She hasn't been getting very many gigs after the disaster that was the Grand Galloping Gala. She was here for one night because that's exactly how much room the theater had to fill between the end of the long-running musical Chicargo (which was about a mail pony who was accused of dropping a load of cargo on Princess Celestia's favorite student [and rumored marefriend] and banished and then imprisoned) and the beginning of Brannie Get Your Pie, a new opera about a cowpony out west or something like that. Regardless, they needed space to fill and couldn't afford Sapphire Shores so they hired a second rate classical musician from Canterlot and played it up in advertising. The usually down-to-earth ponies grabbed their top hats and monocles and fancy Carousel Boutique (latest fashion in Canterlot!) dresses and headed down to the fancy opera house for a night of culture and refinement.
Octavia, in the meantime, is hyperventilating backstage. I can do it I can do it I can do it I can do it, she repeated to herself. She was trying to do her usual warmup exercises. She straightened her spine in anticipation of standing in an unnatural position for an evening---the cello was a wonderful instrument but some egghead has to figure out how to fix it so that a pony can play it on all fours, or at leas threes. She took seventy-seven deep breaths. She rosined her bow (made with her sister's tail hairs, a graduation gift she'll forever cherish) and she checked her strings one last time. I can do it, she thought one last time. After all, she was the best student of Yoyo Ma---whose name means Friend Horse in an ancient language, by the way---the greatest cellist Canterlot has seen. She has studied years for this moment, her first concert out side of Canterlot. She has one night. She will not screw this up. It will be perfect.
"Look at this, Pinkie," Twilight said from her table at Sugarcube Corner, holding up the arts section of the latest Celestiaday Equestia Daily. "Didn't we see her at the Gala?"
"Ooo, you're right, Twilight! She played the Pony Pokey with me!"
"Oh right, silly me. You weren't there. You were busy dancing the Pony Pokey instead!"
"I don't get it."
"Never mind. So, is this about a… party?"
"Not exactly. It's… let me see… 'a refined night of culture and classical music'."
"I think it's simply charming," Rarity chimed in, "it's too bad we did not learn of it until now; it's surely to have sold out by now. We'll never get six tickets in time for it. Oh, whatever shall we do?"
"Beg pardon, Rarity, but we ain't exactly short of banjos here."
"That's right, Applejack, we could have our own concert! Ooo! Ooo! I think I have a book on that! Spike!"
"Yeehaw! Some down home country music is what we need 'round these parts!"
"Oh, if we simply must. But at least let me put a feather in your cowpony hat so we maintain some minimum resemblance of a fancy gathering."
"Deal. Hey Pinkie, you comin'? Pinkie?"
For the first time since recorded Equestria history, Pinkie Pie wasn't paying attention to party planning. Instead, she fixed her eyes on the headline in Twilight's abandoned Equestria Daily. "ONE Night Only," it said. "SOLO PERFORMANCE" "SINGLE Most Spectacular Performer" "...the ONLY musician to leave the Grand Galloping Gala unharmed…" Oh no, thought Pinkie, she must be so lonely, especially after we ruined her party. "She must feel do sad."
"Oh, Applejack, I was just feeling bad about how we ruined the Gala. Octavia must be really sad. I mean, it was a boooring party but she's one of those fancy ponies who like that stuff and now she's all alone in Fillydelphia and the newspaper said she's never been there and she has no friends and---"
"You could always throw her a party, right?" Nopony actually knew that Fluttershy was around until now.
"Oh that worked out soooooooo well last time," Rarity said with her eyes rolled in maximal rolled position.
"Maybe you can send her a gift? Friends love gifts. I give my little animal friends gifts all the time. Isn't that right, Angel? Oh, sorry, you have that look again. I'll be quiet."
"A gift! Fluttershy that is the best idea ever! I'll wrap it up and just ask Rainbow Dash to deliver it and she'll be there in a jiffy! Yay!"
"Gee, Pinkie Pie, I'd love to do that for you if sooooomepony didn't spike my breakfast cupcake this morning with poison joke."
"Oops, silly me. Sorry Rainbow. You look good as a chicken though."
"Isn't Rainbowdash the best chicken ever?"
"Scootaloo, shut up and carry me over to Zacora's already."
"Yes Rainbow, I mean, ma'am! Ma'am Rainbow! Dash, sir!"
(Scootaloo and Rainbowdash (as a chicken) exit stage left.)
"Now what am I going to do?"
As if some celestial force heard Pinkie's plea, the shockwave from Scootaloo's scooter crashing through the door flipped Twilight's now-forgotten newspaper to the classified section.
"Derpy Mail," read Pinkie, "the only guaranteed same-day delivery (including the Everfree Forest) service available in Equestria; low rates; will accept muffins as payment. This! This is the answer to all my problems! Bye gals!"
Applejack and Rarity stood in Sugarcube corner, dumbfounded as Pinkie disappeared upstairs. Derpy Mail, they thought. It sounded familiar… where have I heard…
As only the bestest of BFFs can manage, Applejack and Rarity did a simultaneous spit take of their cupcakes into each other's faces.
"Oops, forgot my muffins!" Pinkie reappeared, upside-down, through the ceiling. "Ooo! You got cupcakes in your eyes! Have you been Pinkie Pie swearing?"
As the curtains opened that night, Octavia was ready. Her trusty cello stood upright as she did, defiant against what may come her way. Tonight, she thought, will be perfect. Nopony can stop me. Not even Nightmare Moon herself will ruin my performance.
Octavia's heart was pounding. She was playing the seventy-third measure of Beathooven's Third Concerto for Cellos, which as far as she was concerned wasn't really arranged for ponies. Maybe a hydra with a bow in each mouth would be able to play this perfectly, but not a pony with one measly hoof awkwardly grabbing on to a bow. Some of her classmates cheated by applying some kind of adhesive material they mail ordered from some shady company, but not her. She grabbed that bow with all her might back at the Friendly Horse Cello Academy as she did now in her first solo performance. She may not be a hydra, or even a unicorn pony with all the magic and telekinesis, but that's all right. She was born to be a cellist; she could feel the cello pressing up against her flank, against the symbol of her own special talent that even mighty Celestia's magic could not erase. Octavia will play the best that she can.
The ponies in the audience, however, weren't sure that they even had heartbeats anymore. The working horses who dressed up in monocles and top hats had never heard anything like this before. They expected fancy; they did not expect the true power of classical music. Was this really what they listened to in Canterlot all the time? Seeing these ponies weeping and inspired, the reporter from the Equestrian Enquirer was already coming up with his latest headline: "Mare Incites Class Revolution from Proletariats".
And then, the lights all went off.
Octavia's heart skipped a beat, but not her bow. She was a professional ,after all. Unicorn magic is fickle and stage lighting sometimes fails, especially in an earth pony town like Fillydelphia. And so she played on and the audience kept listening. They all thought it was part of the show! In fact, so was the light blue pegasus pony that fell out of the catwalk above stage, landing herself squarely in front of Octavia and crushing her music stand! What a spectacular show! It must be a literal representation of how this wonderful music could make the sky itself fall upon our humble town!
"You've got DerpyMail!"
Derpy Hooves, still partially embedding in the wooden stage from her fall, with the iron music stand bent behind her back and lying upside down in a pile of splinters, held out a neatly wrapped package with her hoof. She was also a professional and a silly little crash like this is not going to stop her from being the best mail pony that she can be. Although, in this case, the best mail pony seem to have thrusted the package towards the cello instead of the cellist.
The manager of the theater, a light brown colt, stroked his beard with increasing intensity backstage. The lights went off but that's okay because you don't really need lights to listen to music anyway. He made a mental note to send them back in and get a refund. The broken stage is covered by insurance and he's sure that it can be fixed before tomorrow's debut of Brannie Get Your Pie anyway. Probably. He may have to call in some favors but that's okay.
And then, the catwalk above stage and all the lighting instruments hanging on it fell on Derpy Hooves. In an amazing show of dexterity she managed to get the package out of its way and into Octavia's flank.
Octavia didn't mind playing in darkness. Sure, she couldn't see her music, but she scoffed at the idea of professional musicians who actually needed their sheet music during a performance. She got everything memorized anyway and that music stand is really just a dog and pony show for the audience.
Did a pony just say "crash" right in front of her?
"You've got DerpyMail!"
In the darkness, somepony smacked a hoof into her cello. It made a loud "bump" noise. Octavia was not amused, but she just kept playing. Bump! Bump! Bump! She's glad that the audience couldn't see her because she could at the least get that nervous energy out of a look of disappointment. Perhaps the lights went out for this reason; unicorn magic does work in mysterious ways! The pony who presumably said "crash" and crashed on the stage continued to shove its hoof against Octavia's cello, trying to get her attention. Too bad cellos are really stationary instruments; at least pianos and harps had wheel on them. She was stuck until somepony drags this crazy noisy pony away from her because she is definitely not going to move this instrument away from the crazy pony.
"Mail mail mail! Mail mail mail! Miss Octavia! Mail mail mail! Can you sign for it?"
Twenty-six more measures. Twenty-five. Just ignore her.
"Mail mail mail! DerpyMail! Mail mail mail! DerpyMail!"
Twenty-two more measures. Crescendo. Pull that bow, Octavia.
"Ow! Ow! Ow!"
Was that a face? No! That face can't be in the way!
"Pokey! Thing! Ow!"
No! She has to pull the bow all the way across the strings for the final note and that face is in her way!
"Ow! Mail! Ow!"
Okay, there's a whole bunch of eighth notes coming up. Just pull as hard as you can so you can knock that crazy mailpony out of the way.
"OW! OW! OW! MAIL! MAIL! MAIL!"
Ow! Did she just bite---crap, my bow!
"Nomnomnomnom (tastes like hair muffins?)"
Oh that mailpony why I ought---
"Ow! My mane!"
Yes! Keep pulling!
"What! Are! You! Doing!"
She's got a nice mane. It makes a good sound.
"Ow! Sign! Mail!"
Never thought a mane still attached to a pony would make a good bow.
Okay, three more notes.
Annnnd, that was done.
Octavia has never heard such thunderous applause before. In Canterlot those fancy upper class ponies at most go "clop, clop, clop" gently after a concert. Here, she's afraid that these workhorses and their strong hoofs would bring the theater down on them.
Oh wait, the theater is actually coming down.
"I demand to see my lawyer," said a disgruntled Octavia. She was tired by now, but there was no way she would sleep in this dirty pile of hay in the Fillydelphia police office holding cells.
"Sorry ma'am," a policecolt replied, "we sent a message out to your lawyer in Canterlot but she probably won't arrive until the morning."
"Have you at least set my bail yet? I'd prefer to sleep in a hotel room tonight."
"Yes ma'am. That's two thousand bits."
"Two thousand?! I barely made half that from the concert," Octavia nearly screamed, "why the hay is it so high?"
"Well," the officer pulled out a clipboard and started counting, "let's see… You were charged with one count of major property damage, five hundred counts of endangering a pony due to a falling building, and one count of physically abusing a mentally challenged pony."
"Excuse me?," the door to the holding cell area flew open as a light blue, blonde-maned pegasus with a mailbag saddle entered, cross-eyed and angry. "Mentally challenged?"
"Sorry, I---" the policecolt was surprised and flustered, "I didn't---"
"Is it because of the eyes, Mr. Policecolt? Huh?" Derpy Hooves said as she shoved her snout up to the officer's face.
"No--- I mean, yes, ma'am, I'm sorry---"
"Apology accepted!" Suddenly, Derpy's eyes became normal and actually almost invisible from her smile. "Hee, sorry, I was just messing with you. Can I talk to Miss Octavia please?"
"Um, sure," said the policecolt, now breathing again and happy that he can be relieved of his presence here, "just, um, take your time. I'll give you some privacy."
This was the first time that Octavia got to take a look at the crazy mailpony that interrupted her performance. The pegasus' face has been bruised in multiple places. Some of them looked like hoofs, some looked like bows, some looked like metal beams and wooden planks. Her coat is still dusty; her mane was in even worse shape. But it was really hard for Octavia to feel sorry for her considering that her career may have just been ruined by this insane pony in front of her.
"Hi, Miss Octavia," Derpy Hooves said with a huge grim, "you got DerpyMail!"
"Excuse me," Octavia had enough at this point, "whoever you are---"
"Derpy Hooves," interrupted the smiling mailpony.
"Derpy, whatever, I don't care. I just want to know what in Princess Celestia's name was so important that you had to interrupt my performance---that you couldn't simply wait fifteen minutes for---"
"Oh, here, this is from Ponyville," said Derpy as she pulled a battered box wrapped in ripped pink paper from her mailpony saddle, "and thanks for using Derpy Delivery, the only same-day delivery service to all locations in Equestria!"
"This is it? " Octavia took the box from Derpy, yanked it through the jail cell bars and opened it. A pile of rainbow-colored glop fell out and on to the floor. "What the hay is this mess? And who's it from? This card is torn to pieces and covered in… frosting?"
Derpy sniffed the pile on the floor a little, thought about it and, with a quizzical expression, said, "I'm not sure. But it sure isn't muffins!" Her face turned into a bright smile again. This time her eyes were crossed. "I may have mangled it a bit while making the delivery."
"That, miss Hooves, was the understatement of the year."
"I get so excited sometimes that I run into things and maybe sometimes break them," said a sheepish Derpy, "but that's because I really like my job and I want to do the best I can for all my pony friends!"
"I really like my job too, Derpy," Octavia was trying to give this disarmingly adorable pony the most disapproving look she could muster, "until you came and destroyed it."
"Sorry," said Derpy Hooves, "I know! I can buy you a muffin if you want!"
"No, miss Hooves, I don't think muffins would be enough to cover the complete destruction of the musical career that I spent years building." Now Octavia was borderline yelling. She restraint herself by clamping tightly on those jail bars that thankfully prevented her from account another count of pony assault to her crime spree. "Do you know how hard it is for a pony to master the cello? Do you know how long it took? Now thanks to you and that prancing pink pony nopony in Equestria will ever hire me to play again! Do you have any idea how few marketable skills professional musicians have besides playing music you… you… idiot pony!"
Derpy's eyes started tearing up a little. "But, Miss Octavia… There's nothing else I could do! I already spent all my money paying your bail! I can only afford one more muffin!"
"Great. You can even afford to buy me enough muffins for a meal. I guess I'll have to start panhandling and playing sad cello music for bits at pegasus carriage stops for---wait, you did what?"
The moon was especially beautiful tonight, especially reflected off the delicately minted badge of the Fillydelphia assistant police chief, the lawmare who unlocked Octavia's cage.
"… and so it turns out that the theater collapsed due to a poor construction job. The owner was too cheap to get everything up to code again after the last parasprite attack," the policemare explained as she led Octavia out and escorted her to her hotel, "so it was ultimately his responsibility and not yours. That's why your bail was reduced to only 200 bits. Sorry it took so long to clear up, though."
"So is that why miss Derpy Hooves wasn't arrested despite the fact that it was her crashing through the supports that caused it to collapse?"
"Well, no. She was exempt since she was making a delivery. Fillydelphia Mail Carrier's Union rules. We here take care of our public servants really well. You should see the boxes of free donuts we get at the station everyday."
"I'll keep that in mind," Octavia's mood soured again, "when I look for a new job."
The policemare suddenly stopped and turned to the cellist pony. "Miss Octavia, why would you look for a new job?"
"Considering how bad my performance was tonight, I don't think I'll ever get paid to play again."
"Why would you think that? Ma'am, why do you think I'm escorting you back to your hotel?"
"So I don't escape Fillydelphia in the middle of the night."
"Oh, no! If you did run our pegasus policeponies would just hunt you down, lasso you up and drag your silly flank back to jail!" Octavia could not tell if the police chief was being serious, given the fact that she was smiling gently and sweetly when she said that. "Why do you think we've been traveling on the side roads and avoiding well lit areas? I'm protecting you!"
"Protecting me? From what? More mailmares dropping out of the sky?" Octavia wasn't usually a sarcastic one, but this also wasn't a usual night.
"No, ma'am. From your fans!"
As if on cue for dramatic reasons, the two ponies emerge from an alleyway to the plaza where the Fillydelphia Four Star Stables was located. Dozens, no, maybe even scores of ponies were waiting outside of the hotel. Cameras started flashing in their general direction as pegasi carrying boom mics on sticks approached. "No photos! No interviews! Everypony calm down," the policemare hollared, "Miss Octavia's had a rough night so you can show her how the City of Brony Love welcomes celebrities in the morning."
"Thank you," whispered Octavia, "I don't think I can handle all that attention right now."
"Hey," the policemare winked, "if you want to thank me, just give me an autograph in the morning."
Octavia thanked the (assistant) police chief once again, sent her off with a hastily signed concert poster, hung a "do not disturb" sign outside the door and closed it tightly. She did all the locks and fixed all the deadbolts available to her, and only then did she relax. Too tired to make it to the bed, she collapsed right at the door and, leaning against it, surveyed the room.
The Fillydelphia Police Department managed to bring most of her belongings from the doomed theater to her hotel room. Her cello looks like it was covered in dust, but the structure seems to be fine and almost all the strings seemed to be still attached. It wasn't anything she couldn't fix with the money she made from the concert she just played and she could always make more by playing at another theater in Fillydelphia.
Octavia gave a little sigh. She still wasn't used to the idea of fans. Ponies like Sapphire Shores and Hoity Toity had fans. A classical musician shouldn't be signing autographs. Is this a sign that she's "made it", as the big shot pop music producers in Canterlot would say? Or has she sold out her classical music heritage? In one night Octavia went from knowing that she would never be able to play again to being mobbed by a horde of ponies asking for her autograph. The cello is capable of being played in a surprisingly wide range and in many different styles, but this cellist pony herself was not quite used to the range of emotions that she's been feeling today. This is the real world, she thought, it is certainly much more interesting than she could have expected from the somewhat cloistered upper crust society that she has been used to.
Only after a very, very long shower did Octavia remember the bow her sister gave her. With a towel wrapped around her mane and another around her tail, she trotted slowly around the bed towards where her cello case rested. The once gorgeous bow has definitely been marred. There are teeth marks on the wood and, more distressingly, the beautiful hairs from her sister's tail were gone. She started crying---though she comforted herself knowing that, since it needed rehairing soon anyway her sister would certainly be able to fix it up for her.
"I'm sorry," said the voice of a familiar pegasus from the ceiling, "I tried to fix it for you but I ended up eating the rest of the hair. It was tasty though."
Instinctively wiping her tears away Octavia turned to face the intruder. There she was: Derpy Hooves, standing upside down on the ceiling, eating a muffin.
"How… what… how did…" Octavia was speechless.
"Open window," Derpy pointed one of her wings towards a window. It seems that although the musical pony remembered the door she forgot that pegasi could just fly in through a window.
"No! Not how you got in! But how---" Octavia pointed one of her forehooves towards Derpy, "how are you doing that?"
"Oh, this? First you put it in your mouth," Derpy tossed the final bite of the muffin into her mouth, "then you om nom nom nom om nom…"
"I know how to eat a muffin," Octavia started shaking, and the carefully wrapped towel around her tail fell off, "but, how, how are you standing, up-side down? Up there?"
"Oh! I dunno. Some pegasus thing?" The mailmare shrugged upside down.
"Um, Miss Hooves, can you please orient yourself? On the floor? You are really disturbing me."
"Okie dokie!" With a small somersault that sent Derpy flying into a chair, she was on the floor again. This time, she was sideways from the collusion. "Ow."
"Would you like a bandage? A nurse, perhaps?" Octavia was inching towards the door. "I could get you a nurse." She needed to escape.
"No! It's okay! I heal fast!" She was right. Octavia noticed that all the injuries she's given Derpy were gone. Derpy attempted to do another midair maneuver to right herself, this time sending her into the bed where she bounced off onto a table. Miraculously she landed flank first. "Ta-da! I learned that at summer flight camp."
"Derpy, please! That's what everypony calls me!" Derpy smiled and raised a hoof.
"Well, Derpy, you… you do know what that means, right?" Octavia hoped that the blue pegasus would not notice that she was slowly backing away.
"Yup! I do!"
"And you don't mind?"
"Nope. It's a cute name."
"Okay, Derpy. Why don't you tell me why you came here?"
"Oh!" Derpy suddenly bolted upright, "I bought you a muffin!" She raised the hoof that used to hold the muffin she just ate. "Oh, I guess I got hungry waiting and I ate it. Sorry. I only had one muffin."
"That's right, you said you could only afford one muffin after paying my bail." Keep stalling, thought Octavia, just three more steps…
"Yeah. I was going to give it to you," Derpy frowned," but I ate it. I guess I was hungry. Wait."
"I'm waiting, Miss---Derpy."
"I'm still hungry."
Octavia, now with one back hoof on the door, realized three things. First of all, she could never undo all three locks and two deadbolts discretely. Second, she was also hungry. Third, she had a stupid idea.
"Derpy, why don't I buy you dinner? To thank you for posting my bail."
"Yes!" Derpy leapt from her table and Octavia ducked just in time for the pegasus pony to crash into the door. The locks held very well, but the hinges gave way instead.
"… and that's why I became a mail mare!"
That story made absolutely no sense, but Octavia listened to every word anyway as she ate her sunflower sandwich---hoagie, rather, as the waiter pointed out. Somehow, Derpy, despite being an unwitting source of destruction to everything around them (the waiter made sure that they only got plastic cups and plates after Derpy broke the first seven glasses he brought over) was a bright, honest, hardworking pony that was completely different from the ponies that Octavia was used to dealing with. They talked about their childhoods, their dreams, and Derpy Hooves sat in awe of the schools and dresses and galas that Octavia described, while Octavia almost couldn't believe some of the adventures that Derpy had flying at top speed through the Everfree Forest in order to make a delivery on time.
"I'm sorry for eating your sister's hair," Derpy said as she ate another muffin, "I didn't know."
"It's okay, Derpy," Octavia was genuinely relaxed around Derpy now, "it's not your fault since nopony knew what was going on with the lights out. Besides, my sister will certainly make me a new one."
"But how will you play your cello without a---"
"Madame, pardon the interruption," interjected the waiter.
"Okay," Derpy became very serious all of the sudden and, with a hoof on the waiter's head, "you're pardoned of your sins, Mister Waiter!"
"Ah-em. Yes," the waiter did his best to ignore the obviously crazy pony that was somehow the guest of a Very Important Pony, "would madame Octavia and madame… Derpy… like to sample a bottle of one of our finest wines?" The waiter held up a bottle to Octavia for inspection. "Whitetail Vineyard marelot, aged twelve years in enchanted applewood barrels."
"Thank you, sir, but I don't believe that we are in a position to pay for something this delicate," said Octavia with a slight wince.
"Madame, this bottle is compliment of the mare at the bar," the waiter motioned towards a white unicorn pony sitting on a bar stool in the corner. The unicorn, wearing sunglasses, raised a maretini glass at the pair and took a sip. "I believe Miss Scratch has a business proposition that she would like to discuss with the two of you."
"Ooo! Bubbly!" Derpy's drink was not alcoholic. The bartender was experienced enough to know that a pony like Derpy would probably turn the entire city into a crater if she was given even a sip of wine.
"Miss Vinyl Scratch? A pleasure," Octavia extended a hoof, "Octavia."
"I know," the unicorn said as she met the earth pony's grip, "everypony in Fillydelphia has heard of your name by now."
"Thank you, Miss Scratch," Octavia's brows furled a little as she sipped a glass of the best marelot she's had outside Princess Celestia's castle, "for the compliment, and the wine. Pardon me, but you look very familiar."
"Oh yeah, I usually go by P0N-3. Never heard of me? Oh, well, I've never really played in Canterlot before."
"And I've not played outside of Canterlot until tonight."
"That's why I haven't seen you ponies anywhere before! Excellent performance tonight, by the way."
"You were there?" Octavia was slightly surprised and in fact somewhat offended. "I could understand it if a common Fillydelphian workhorse thought that it was a great performance, but I expected another professional musician to know the difference between classical music and the… the trash that I played."
"What do you mean, trash?" Scratch was now offended herself. "It was masterful the way that you used your pegasus friend's mane as a bow! It added a much more organic sound to your cello. And her percussion added so much depth to that boring Beathooven piece that everypony plays to death!"
"Wait, how did you know? Nopony would see---"
"I didn't need to see, Miss Octavia, I heard everything!" The unicorn was now ecstatic, and she almost knocked her maretini glass off the bar. "It was the best interpretation of Beathooven that these pony ears have ever heard!"
"But it wasn't---"
"Yeah, it wasn't exactly classical classical," Scratch scoffed, "but what it was was awesome."
"But," Octavia was confused, but she composed herself and took a breath and another sip of her drink, "what exactly are you proposing, Miss Scratch?"
"Before I came here I looked up your background, asked around a little," the unicorn pony grinned, "hopefully I didn't offend you. I don't have the training you have in classical music, and you don't have the connections and the experience I have outside of a very small circle of boring stuck-up ponies. Here's the deal: we form a band, I get us gigs and teach you how to play music---I know, don't get upset, you know how to play the cello, yes, what I mean by 'play' is playing with your music, experimenting, mixing, you dig?---and you give me the solid know-how and skills you got so I can compose us some groovy jams. What the hay, I know a club in Hoofington where we can get a gig next week if we wanted to. Deal?"
Octavia hesitated. This was definitely not what she wanted to do when she was a little filly. But she did need a steady paycheck and, well, tonight has been kind of fun in a weird way. It would be nice to have that kind of fun again without the getting arrested part. Also, the having tons of wood falling on your head part.
"Even if I were to agree, I still need a bow to be made again. That's going to take more than a week."
"Why'd you need a new bow?"
Octavia was clearly annoyed. "To play my cello."
"But that's what your friend is for, right? And, besides, we need a drummer."
"Friend," Octavia whispered to herself as she turned towards Derpy Hooves. The pegasus was burping loudly at the bar after drinking her fifth soda, and was telling the tortured bartender yet another "war story" from the time she and her roommate had a fight over the contents of their fridge. For the first time tonight, Octavia gave a genuine smile. "Let me talk to my friend, P0N-3. We'll get back to you."
"Do I have to do this?" Octavia, with her mane in a somewhat distressed state, answered the door early one morning. She had today off---finally---after a whirlwind tour of Equestria with Derpy Hooves and Vinyl Scratch in their new sensational experimental group. "Weirdest Thing Ever," proclaimed Equestria Daily, "but everypony can't stop listening to it!"
"Yes ma'am," said the policemare sent to escort her from her Canterlot home, "it was a condition of dropping all pony cruelty charges against you that you must take and successfully pass the Pony Kindness Recertification Course. Of course, you could always go back to jail."
"Fine," Octavia grumbled, "let's get on with it."
"Um, hello, welcome to the Pony Kindness Recertification Course," said a little voice from the tinny speakers in the dark, basement room in the Canterlot police station. It was barely loud enough to hear over the whirling and clanking of the old, black and white film projector in the middle of the room. The cellist pony was not impressed with the acoustics of the brick-walled dungeon. At least nopony else was here to see her disappointed pout.
"My name is Fluttershy. Um. I'm here to---" and the light-colored pegasus ran off screen for a moment, "---oh my goodness I can't do this---"
"Ma'am," said a tinny version of the policemare voice Octavia heard and hour prior, "it was a condition for dropping all animal cruelty charges against you. Just read the script."
"O...okay," Fluttershy said, walking back into the frame, "um, I'm Fluttershy, the spirit of kindness. And I'm here to teach you about kindness. If that's okay with you. Um. I know sometimes you could get really frustrated. Especially when the cute little bunnies just don't love you or care about you or oh my goodness I am so frustrated right now I just want to scream---"
Suddenly, the screen flickered---a crude editing job, thought Octavia---and a pegasus with multi-colored mane and tail appeared. "Hi! I'm Rainbow Dash. You may remember me as one of the ponies who saved Equestria from Nightmare Moon. You're welcome. Anyway I'm here because ap-pa-rently I wasn't supposed to rent my filly fan out to my friends to pull lawnmowers or tied up on a stick to act as a scarecrow. Filly Services said it was filly abuse. Pssh. Let me tell you what abuse is. This script! Who wrote this? Where the action? Bam! Boom!" And she went on and on and Octavia started drifting off to sleep. Maybe prison wasn't so bad compared to this pathetic failure of an educational film.
Oh no, thought Octavia, must pretend to be awake for the stupid policemare.
"Derpy Delivery!" said the light blue mailmare as the basement door threw open, "I brought muffins and coffee for our movie night!"
"It's morning" was the only thing Octavia could say before a smiling Derpy Hooves shoved a muffin into her mouth and sat down in the empty chair next to her.
"That's why I got oatmeal muffins! So, what are we watching?"