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Luna walked through the streets of Canterlot, still hardly believing her eyes.  The city was awake, even at night, and although she had spent the last months studying it from afar, being in the thick of things was an entirely different experience.

As much as she admired the city, she was a little uneasy.  Her visit to Ponyville had gone well enough in the end, but only because she had deigned to visit on the one day ponies wanted to be scared by her.  The citizens of Equestria had yet to really accept their second Princess, even in her own home; the frightened looks and furtive whispers from the courtiers in the castle were bad enough, even with Celestia there to set them straight, and Luna knew it would only be worse in the city proper.  Ponies are always much more agitable when there are a lot of them all crammed into a small place, and cities didn't come much more cramped than Canterlot.  If you introduce a herd of stressed-out city ponies to somepony who- for all they know- is a malevolent monster that tried to steal their beloved leader and bring eternal night… well, who could blame you for being a little scared about what might happen?

Celestia had told her she was being silly, that there was nothing to be afraid of, but it still took Luna a long time to work up enough courage to visit Canterlot.  In the end, though, she knew she had to go sometime, if only to satiate her own curiosity.  The city had changed in the last thousand years, and watching the town buzz with activity even in the dark gave Luna hope that it would be more… hospitable, perhaps, or at least less crushingly apathetic.  If nothing else, she could tell that she was no longer the only pony here who appreciated the night.

So far, at least, her hopes seemed justified.  Even though the streets weren't as busy, Luna could tell that Canterlot was still alive.  It was in the lampposts that lined the street, the furtive ponies flitting through back allies, the chatter from the donut shops and the thumping bass from the clubs.  The city was different- darker, more mysterious, and just a bit suspicious, as if it were ready to bite if you didn't treat it right- but it was still there.  To be honest, she liked it better this way.

In fact, the more she saw of Canterlot, the better Luna felt about it.  Some of the ponies she passed stared or made a point of looking at anything else, but most were so wrapped up in their own business that they didn't even notice her.  By the time she reached her destination, she was feeling happy and self-assured.  Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

When Luna entered the small donut shop, the room slowly grew quiet as one by one the patrons all stopped talking and turned to stare at the princess.  Her newfound confidence immediately vanished and she froze in place.  "Oh, um… hello," she said nervously, taking care not to slip back into the royal dialect that had long ago fallen out of favor.

Sensing trouble, the shopkeeper looked towards the door, then came out from behind the counter and addressed his customers.  "Is there a problem, fellas?"

Every pony turned to look at him, but none were willing to say anything.  Finally, a particularly large pegasus colt stood up.  "Joe, c'mon, you can't-"

"You're not gonna tell me what I can and can't do in my own shop, Phil.  Now you mugs leave the poor lady alone or I'll throw you all out myself, got it?"

Phil sat down, grumbling to himself, and the pervasive murmur of conversation slowly returned to the store, albeit with a more hushed and fearful tone.  Luna smiled and nodded her thanks to the salespony, who winked in response.

The princess started walking forward, slowly scanning the room.  She was glad Pony Joe had stepped in on her behalf, but she knew he couldn't do anything about the dirty looks and whispered conversations pointed at her by the other patrons.  None of them would dare try anything, of course, but that didn't make their disdain any more tolerable.

Finally, Luna spotted the pony she was looking for sitting in the back of the room with a pair of headphones.  The white unicorn was bobbing her head in time with the music; it seemed that she hadn't noticed any disturbance.

Luna walked up to the distracted pony's booth and politely cleared her throat.  "Um, excuse me…?"

After several moments, the unicorn noticed that she had company and turned to greet her visitor.  When she saw Luna, her mouth dropped and she fumbled with her headset, trying to pull it off of her ears as quickly as possible.  "P-Princess Luna!  Hello!  S-sorry about, uh, I mean…"

"Wouldst thou happen to be Vinyl Scratch?"

"Uh, I, um, that is… yes?" said the white unicorn, gulping.  She desperately hoped that was the right answer.

Luna breathed a sigh of relief.  "Oh, good.  I was searching for thee."

"Oh, really?  H-how about that, huh?"  Scratch was growing more nervous by the second.

Luna nodded.  "Thou seest, I have not been… in town… for some time, and Spike informed me that thou knowest Canterlot better than anypony."  She let her royal demeanor drop a bit and looked at Scratch with a touch of humility.  "I was hoping thou couldst show me around, if thou wouldst not mind."

Scratch laughed a bit, finally regaining her composure.  "Yeah, that sounds like something he would say."

"So… will thou?  I mean, 'tis fine if-"

"Of course!  It'll be my pleasure."  Scratch grinned.  "Just stick with me, Princess.  Canterlot won't know what hit 'er."

"Oh, no, 'tis alright, really," said Luna, glancing around nervously.  "I do not desire anything… untoward, I merely-"

"Don't be ridiculous!" said Scratch.  "You're Princess Luna!  Your first night on the town can't be anything short of spectacular."

"Well, I suppose…" Luna said, still uncertain.

Scratch motioned towards the other seat.  "C'mon, sit down and we'll grab something to eat before we head out."  She turned towards the front of the shop.  "Hey, Pony Joe!  Some donuts over here, alright?"

Luna slid into the seat across from her new friend.  "I thank thee for thy kindness," she said.  "I suspect most ponies may still be, um…"  She glanced towards the other tables nervously.

"Ah, don't worry about them.  Joe's a decent guy, but some of the regulars here are just jerks."

"I do not know if I believe that.  Even at the castle-"

Scratch rolled her eyes.  "Oh, please.  Don't get me started about the kinda ponies you run into at the castle- present company excluded, of course," she added, grinning sheepishly.  "Trust me, you're much better off out here.  No half-decent pony's gonna hold anything against you."

Luna had to admit she'd never liked most of the ponies she met at the castle.  She always figured she was being unfair to them, but it certainly seemed like Scratch was on to something.  Maybe they really were just jerks.  That would explain why Celestia didn't seem too fond of them, at least.

The DJ leaned forward conspiratorially.  "Truth be told, I think you're just what this city needs, Princess.  Canterlot's been slipping ever since Spike left, but that changes tonight."  She grinned mischievously.  "We're gonna remind this town how to party."

The unicorn's enthusiasm was beginning to break down Luna's uncertainty.  "Thou mayhap hast a point," she said, holding a hoof to her chin.  "'Tis true I have already had more than enough quiet nights in my life. Perhaps now is the time to let go and have some… fun."

Scratch's grin widened.  "That's the spirit, Princ…  Actually, you know what?  Let's forget this 'princess' stuff.  I'm just gonna call you Luna."

"That shall be fine," Luna said, smiling.

"And here we are."  Scratch stopped outside of a large building with a neon sign reading DARK HORSE placed at an angle above the door.

Luna was still more than a little bit behind the times, but she could tell they were standing in front of a dance club.  The telltale flutter of strobe lights leaked out from underneath the entrance, and even though she couldn't quite hear the music, she could certainly feel it; the melodic thumping of the bass shook the ground even out on the street.

Scratch turned to Luna and grinned.  "You're gonna love this place.  It's the best club in the whole city- most nights, at least."  The DJ pricked her ears up, trying to pick out the music coming from inside, then frowned.  "Sounds like we might be outta luck, though."

The princess was about to ask what that meant, but before she got a chance Scratch turned to face the entrance, smiling once again.  "Well, we won't know for sure unless we try, right?  Let's just go for it," she said, opening the door and stepping through.  Luna followed, creeping forward timidly.

Even though she had some idea of what to expect, Luna wasn't quite prepared for what she found inside.  The atmosphere was overwhelming; between the flashing lights and the ear-splittingly loud music and the writhing mass of ponies on the dance floor, the princess was convinced that her head would explode from sheer overstimulation.

After she had a few moments to adjust, though, she decided that it wasn't so bad, really.  In fact, she quite liked it; the dark room and the strobe lights and the dance floor just felt right, somehow, like she could slip into the crowd and dance the night away, even though she was… well, herself.  She quite liked the music, too, once she got past the volume.  It was simple but infectious, and she couldn't resist tapping her hoof to the beat even as her whole body resonated with the boom of the subwoofers.

Scratch, on the other hand, seemed displeased.  She scowled and turned towards the front of the room, where a tan-colored earth pony colt in a flannel shirt stood behind a set of turntables, fiddling with the controls and occasionally giving his records a quick spin.  "Figures it'd be him," she muttered.

"What was that?" Luna called out.  She knew the unicorn had said something, but she had no idea what it was.

Scratch motioned toward the front of the room.  "C'mon, Luna.  I've gotta take care of this guy."

Luna still couldn't hear, so she just followed her friend up to the DJ's booth.

The colt stood at his station, still tweaking the controls on his equipment.  He didn't notice Scratch and Luna's approach.

Scratch stepped forward while Luna hung back nervously.  "For Celestia's sake, K.  All these years and you still don't have a blasted clue."

The DJ turned from his rig with a friendly smile.  "Well, well, well.  It seems the great DJ PON-3 has decided to grace our humble nightclub with her presence."  His face fell into a scowl and he dropped the sarcasm.  "What're you doing here, Scratch?  Don't you got a date with some suits?"

"C'mon, K, we both know the record deal doesn't change a thing.  The day I go corporate is the day you learn to DJ."

K grinned.  "Then I guess I was right.  You've been a sell-out all along."

Scratch rolled her eyes.  "Look, we can talk about your bizarre fantasy world some other time.  Right now me and my friend just want some decent music."

For the first time, K noticed the princess standing in the back.  He stared at her and his eyes widened.

Luna still couldn't make out anything either of them said- in fact, it completely baffled her that they could have a conversation at all- but when she saw the earth pony DJ looking at her, she shrunk back nervously.

K looked at Scratch again, eyes still wide open in shock.  "Is that- what the hay do you think you're doing, Scratch?"

The unicorn glared at him.  "Don't be like that, K.  I know she's a princess and all, but she doesn't know the town and she's nervous.  I'm just here to make sure she has a good time."

"'Nervous?'  What're you-" K closed his eyes for a moment, bringing himself back under control, then glared right back at the other DJ.  "Alright, I see how it is.  You think that just 'cause you're famous now, the ol' Spin Doctor K isn't good enough for you and your new royal friend, huh?"

"Don't be stupid.  You were never good enough."

K's scowl deepened and he shot a dirty look towards Luna, who looked surprised and raised her head indignantly.  The earth pony DJ looked back at Scratch with a wicked grin.  "Is that so, huh?"  He walked back to his turntables and turned down the volume, preparing to make an announcement.

Sensing trouble, Scratch tried to intervene.  "C'mon, K, this is between you and me."

K ignored the unicorn and pulled his mic towards himself.  "Fillies and gentlecolts," he said, pausing for a moment so the crowd could stop dancing and turn towards the front, "you might like to know that we've got some very special celebrity guests in the house tonight!"  He fiddled with a small control box and the lights began to move around haphazardly.  "I want you all to give a warm welcome to Canterlot's own… DJ PON-3!"  He gestured towards Scratch and directed the lights onto her.

The crowd applauded and Scratch waved towards them half-heartedly.  She couldn't wait for K to finish his little game; taking a swing at the DJ while he introduced you to the audience was never a good move.

Luna shrunk back again, suddenly feeling very frightened.  She considered making a mad dash for the entrance, but she doubted that her legs would comply.

K gave Scratch a sinister smile, then turned back to the crowd and let the lights loose once more.  "And now for our very special guest, come all the way from the castle… fillies and gentlecolts, give a huge round of applause for the Princess of the Moon herself, Luna!"

Luna froze in place as the lights congregated on her.  "Uh… hello!" she said as a frightened hush ran through the crowd, punctuated with the occasional tinkle of a broken glass.  "Oh, no, please, don't-"

Scratch grabbed the other DJ by the collar.  "K, you son of a-"

She was interrupted by a large, brown hoof on her shoulder.  "Put 'im down, Scratch," said its owner, a bulky pegasus wearing a distinctive black jacket that marked him as a member of the Dark Horse's security team.

"But, Sunny-" Scratch began to protest.

"No buts.  You know I don't put up with that in my club."

Dejected, Scratch dropped both her hoof and her quarry onto the ground.  It took every ounce of willpower she had not to knock the triumphant grin off of K's face.

Sunny gave the unicorn a stern look.  "Listen, I'm gonna have to ask you and your… friend… to leave."

"What?" Scratch said, becoming indignant.  "Sunny, c'mon.  Throw me out if you have to, but don't bring her into this.  It's not her fault."

The bouncer looked off to the side guiltily.  "Maybe not, but…  Look, it's my job to keep this place running, and like it or not, right now that means you have to go.  Both of you."

Scratch glared at him, but she knew there was no point in arguing.  She let herself be escorted out, motioning for Luna to come along.  The princess was more than happy to oblige.

K hopped back on the mic as they left.  "Well, that was certainly interesting, eh, folks?  It's too bad they had to leave so soon, but, well, such is the price of fame, right?  Here, lemme put some music back on for you all…"

"I don't wanna see either of you back in here tonight, got it?" Sunny said, standing in the entrance.

Luna raised herself up on her hind legs and flared her wings.  "Who art thou to-"

"Simmer down, Luna," Scratch said, tapping the princess's leg with a hoof.  "It's not worth the effort."

Luna backed off, still glaring at Sunny.

The bouncer looked at her and sighed.  "Look, I'm sorry about this, but I have to do what I have to do.  It's my job to keep this place running, and with K singling you two out like that…"  Sunny glared at Scratch.  "You shoulda known better.  If ya can't control yourself around the guy, then you just gotta stay away."

The unicorn didn't say anything.  She knew he was right.

"Alright, I hafta get back to work.  You two have a good night, okay?"

Scratch seemed to cheer up a bit.  "Well, we'll try, at least.  See ya later, Sunny."

Once the bouncer returned inside, Scratch threw a foreleg over the still-fuming Luna's shoulder.  "Hey there, big girl.  What's with the long face?"

The princess snorted.  "I cannot believe we allowed that pathetic excuse of a stallion-"

"What're you going on about?" said Scratch, grinning.  "We're doing just fine!  We got ya kicked out of your first club, and it didn't even take ten minutes!"

Luna looked at Scratch curiously.  "Is this supposed to happen?"

"Not unless you're doin' it right."

"Oh, well, then… good!"  Luna smiled and ducked out from under the DJ's leg.  "So what shall we do next?"

Scratch looked back towards the Dark Horse, then turned to the princess with a mischievous grin.  "Now comes the fun part."  She started walking down the street and motioned for Luna to follow.  "C'mon, there's some stuff we gotta take care of."

After making a brief stop at Scratch's apartment so the DJ could grab her trademark goggles and a tote bag that she claimed held her turntables (Luna had a hard time believing this, considering the size of K's setup, but she couldn't argue with words like "lightweight" and "collapsible"), the two made their way into one of Canterlot's more upscale neighborhoods.  The buildings here were all dark, and there were no signs of life from the residents; the ponies who lived here clearly had no business being up at night- at least, not any that they wanted others to know about.

Scratch stopped outside of a small condominium and knocked on the door, motioning for Luna to stand off to the side just a bit so that she couldn't be seen from inside the building.

Several moments passed and a grey-haired earth pony opened the door.  Her disheveled mane suggested that she had just been woken up, and the look on her face said she was neither pleased nor surprised to find Scratch on her doorstep.

The DJ didn't seem to notice or care about the other pony's disgruntlement.  "Hey, Octavia, go grab your bass.  We're headed down to the Dark Horse."

Somehow, the bassist managed to radiate even greater disdain without changing her blank-but-annoyed expression.  It was actually quite impressive.

"Ah, c'mon.  Don't give me that look.  We could really use your help."

Octavia raised one eyebrow, mixing mild curiosity into her expression without losing any of the irritation.  "We?"

"Yeah, sure.  Here, let me introduce you," Scratch said, grinning and waving her hoof at the princess with a "come here" motion.  "Come on out, Luna.  Don't worry, Octavia doesn't… well, she probably won't bite you, at least."

Luna stepped in front of the door and Octavia's eyes widened in shock.

"Luna, Octavia.  Octavia, Luna," Scratch said, gesturing from the princess to the earth pony and vice-versa.

"Greetings," Luna said with a hint of uncertainty.

"G-greetings, your h-highness," stuttered Octavia, desperately trying to comb her hair back.

Scratch frowned and made a disapproving noise.  "C'mon, none of that 'highness' stuff.  We're all friends here, right?"

"Oh, uh, yes.  Of course."

"Good to hear," Scratch said, smiling again.  "So will you help us?"

Octavia glanced from Scratch to Luna and then back again.  "Well, I guess I don't have much of a choice, do I?"

"What?  No, of course thou-"

"Nope!" said Scratch, cutting the princess off.

Octavia groaned.  "Oh, alright, then.  Just give me a minute."  She stepped inside and closed the door.

"So, how's the orchestra business going?  Anything new?" Scratch asked as the trio made their way back to the club.

Octavia rolled her eyes.  "Oh, of course.  Why, just last week we unearthed a long-lost Beethoofen piece and played it for an appreciative crowd of music lovers."  Luna had to admire the earth pony's resilience; her sarcastic demeanor had recovered rather quickly, and she seemed to be entirely unimpeded by the bass strapped to her back, even though it was larger than she was.

"So thou art a professional musician?" asked Luna, trying to place where she had seen the bassist before.

Octavia lifted her nose in the air and spoke in a haughty tone that seemed intentionally exaggerated.  "Why, yes.  I happen to be part of the finest orchestral quartet in all of Canterlot."

"In other words, she plays stuffy old music for stuffy old ponies," Scratch said with a giggle.

The bassist shrugged.  "Well, I'll give you the second half, at least."

"Ah, now I remember!" said Luna, recognition spreading across her face.  "Thou played at my sister's last Grand Galloping Gala, didst thou not?"

Octavia winced a bit and her mouth bent down into a grimace.  "Please, don't remind me.  That night was an absolute disaster."

"Yes, Twilight Sparkle and the others certainly livened things up," Luna said with a laugh.  "I almost wish I had attended."

"Yeah, I heard it got pretty nuts.  Too bad this old grump can't appreciate fun," Scratch said, nudging Octavia.

"I can appreciate fun just as well as anypony," Octavia said, her voice rising with indignance, "but believe me, there is a huge difference between fun and-" the bassist shuddered slightly- "the Pony Pokey."

"That is what putest thee over the edge?" asked Luna, sounding a little surprised.  "Not the stampeding animals or the collapsing ballroom?"

"The Gala was already a wash by then.  At that point I was just enjoying the schadenfreude."

"Thou art not a fan of the Gala's patrons?" asked Luna.  "I was under the impression they were the sort of pony to appreciate thy talent."

"Oh, please," the bassist scoffed.  "They don't care about music."  The look on Octavia's face was somewhere between disgust and contempt.  "They only hire us to make themselves look classy."

Luna thought about the aristocrats who often came to visit her older sister.  Few things were more obvious to an immortal god-princess than a pony who thought throwing money into being fancy made them better than everyone else, and that described… well, all of them, really.  "Yes, that seems accurate."

"See, this is why I wouldn't let the record company move me uptown," said Scratch.  "Like hay I'm putting up with those crooks on a regular basis."

Luna nodded.  "I do not know how I would manage if Celestia made me deal with them.  There is one colt, Mr. Faroe-"

"Ugh, that guy," Octavia said, scowling.  "What a cheap old scumbag."

Scratch grinned.  "I sense a story."

"Not really.  He just tried to skip out without paying us."

Luna sighed.  "Would that I were surprised."

"It really is incredible.  You'd think a pony who's got enough bits to fill a swimming pool wouldn't need to try and stiff us."

"So what didst thou do?"

Octavia grinned deviously.  "Nothing much.  I just asked if Mrs. Faroe knew who he spent the night dancing with."

Luna laughed.  "To be honest, I am shocked to find he hath a wife, let alone a mistress."

"Maybe he's got a heart of gold under the cold, miserly shell," Scratch said sarcastically.

The princess snorted.  "I doubt that highly.  He hath been coming to Celestia regularly for the last… oh, 'tis about four months now.  Every time he brings the same story about his 'unruly' employees demanding a raise, and I simply cannot comprehend why he thinks she shall stop saying he should give it to them."

"What a nasty old stallion," Octavia said with a shake of her head.  "Remind me to call his wife sometime."  She turned to Scratch.  "You know, you still haven't explained why you're dragging me out here."

"Alright, alright."  Scratch started to outline her plan.  "So here's the deal: we're gonna sneak back into the Dark Horse without Sunny noticing, and then we're gonna beat K at his own game."

Octavia interrupted her.  "Wait.  Is this all part of your petty rivalry?"

"C'mon, you know me better than that.  This is about honor!"

"So that's a yes."

Scratch sighed.  "Okay, fine, it is.  So what?"

"I never said I disapproved."

"Anyway," Scratch said, pulling the conversation back on track, "the club's actually got two spots for a DJ to set up, one in the front and one in the back."  She turned to look at her earth pony companion.  "Octavia, you and I are gonna come in through the side door.  It opens right onto the rear stage, so we won't have to worry about anyone noticing us.  Once my gear's hooked up, taking the club back from K and wiping the floor with him'll be a piece of cake."

"I still don't see why you need me for this."

"Maybe I just thought your good nature and cheery disposition would come in handy."

Luna snickered.

"Yes, okay, very funny," said Octavia.  "But seriously, why am I here?"

"Insurance," Scratch said, grinning.  "I can spin circles around K any day of the week, but it takes a little bit more than that to derail the DJ who's running the show.  A live bass is just the thing to put me over the edge."

"Scratch, that doesn't even begin to make sense."

The DJ waved her hoof dismissively.  "Don't worry.  I know what I'm doing."

"All is well, then," Luna said, unsure if she was disappointed or relieved that she didn't have a role.  "It would appear thou hast things covered."

Scratch turned to her with a mischievous smile.  "Don't be silly.  You get the fun job."

"Oh… I do?"

"See, Sunny's gonna be expecting us to pull something like this, and I guarantee you he's the only pony in the place who'll be paying any attention to the back of the room.  That's why we need you to keep him busy."

Octavia looked at Scratch incredulously.  "Wait, you're making her be the distraction?  Are you out of your-"

"Do not worry on my behalf," Luna interjected.  "'Tis a fine role."

Octavia turned to her, frowning.  "Look, Your Hi- I mean, Luna, you don't have to go along with Scratch's stupid plan.  I'm not gonna let her make you-"

"No, it truly is fine," said the princess.  She was a little scared to face the crowd again, but Scratch had given her a chance even when most ponies wouldn't, and Luna wasn't about to let her new friend down.  Besides, she wanted to be involved.  Ponyville had taught her that the best way to earn the love and respect of her subjects was to simply let herself be a part of their world and have fun with them, and if doing so also gave her a chance to show that bouncer a thing or two she wasn't about to complain.

"Actually," she said with a smile, "I would be honored to assist thee."

Luna slipped into the entrance and glanced around, looking for Sunny.  She spotted him off to the side of the room, keeping an eye on the guests, and waited a moment before heading towards the dance floor.  She had to make sure the bouncer had enough time to notice her, but not enough to stop her from slipping into the crowd.

Several moments later, Sunny saw Luna and took the bait.  He started heading towards her, but it was too late; she was already on the dance floor.  If she thought she could give him the slip, though, she had another thing coming- just because she was lost in the mix didn't mean he couldn't track her down.  He spotted her just a couple of feet away and started working his way through the crowd; there was no sense in taking flight and worrying the patrons.

Once Luna was on the floor, she made a point of being just noticeable enough for Sunny to pick her out.  The room was dark, and the strobe lights didn't do much for visibility; between the chaos of the dance floor, her natural talent for blending into the night, and her magic, it would have been trivial for her to disappear completely and never be found.  That wasn't her job, though.  She was here to keep Sunny busy, not to lose him entirely, so she had to make sure he felt just close enough to catching her that he would keep up the chase.

Still, Luna was enjoying herself.  There was something comforting about melting into the crowd, moving through the dancers along with the beat of the music and the energy of the club.  In here, she was just another body; as far as the club's patrons knew or cared, she was no different from anypony else.

But there was more to it than that.  There was also the thrill, the gleeful buzz of mischief.  Luna had never been as much of a prankster as her older sister, but it wasn't exactly an unfamiliar feeling, either.  There was a reason she had enjoyed the Nightmare Night celebrations so much.

After a couple of minutes, though, Luna began to worry.  She had no idea how long it would take Scratch and Octavia to prepare, but she knew it wouldn't be much longer before Sunny gave up chasing her; he was bound to have figured out that Scratch was up to something by now.

The princess glanced at Sunny, and the look on his face told her that he was just about fed up.  She couldn't risk having him run off, so she did the only thing she could think of to buy her friends some more time: she let herself get caught.

Sunny brought his hoof down on her shoulder and held it there firmly; he wasn't about to have her run off again.  "I thought I said I didn't want you back here tonight."

"With all due respect, meager as it may be, I am a Princess of Equestria.  I shall do as I please."  She resisted the urge to flare her wings and draw attention to herself.  Luckily, none of the nearby ponies seemed to notice or care that Sunny had flagged someone down; they were used to it by now.

The bouncer sighed.  "Look, I know I can't do much about you being here, and to be honest I don't really mind so long as you don't make any trouble.  But I also know that Scratch dragged you into this, and whatever she's cooking up is trouble, so let's make a deal.  Just tell me what she's up to and I won't bother you anymore, alright?"

"Thou art incorrect.  I came alone."  Luna glanced around nervously and made a point of looking in the opposite direction from where Scratch and Octavia were setting up.

Sunny followed her gaze for a moment.  "What're you…?" he began, but something clicked and he put two and two together.  "Ah, geeze.  She's tryin' to pull something in the back, isn't she?"

"Wh- I…  No!  I promise you, I truly am alone," Luna said, desperately trying to recover.

"Sorry, Princess, but that ain't gonna work.  Listen, you just stay here and I'll forget I ever saw ya, okay?  I gotta go stop your crazy friend before-"

From somewhere in the back, a haunting bass melody began to float out across the room.

"Aw, hayseeds," cursed Sunny.  "She's in on this, too?  Celestia almighty- erm, no offense."  The bouncer leaped into the air and took off towards the rear stage.

"Wait!" yelled Luna, almost forgetting not to use the Royal Canterlot Voice, which would have made everypony in the room notice her.  Sunny ignored her order and continued on, leaving Luna with no choice but to take to the air herself and stop him.

Nopony noticed either of them leave the ground; the dancers were all busy looking for the source of the sound as the club's music faded out.

K grabbed his mic, furious over the disturbance.  "Alright, who's the joker?"

In the back, a single light turned on and illuminated Octavia, standing alone and playing a slow, mournful tune on her bass.

The crowd was less than pleased, and a chorus of jeers began to ring out.

"Whaddya think you're doin'?"

"Get off the stage, lame-o!"

"This ain't Camargue Hall!"

"Philistines," Octavia muttered under her breath, taking care not to let it get picked up by her microphone.  One of these days she was going to have to invest in an electric upright bass.

The ceiling in the Dark Horse was tall, but there still wasn't much space to fly around in.  This proved to Luna's advantage; she was larger than the average filly her age (relatively speaking, of course), but that still meant she was slightly smaller than Sunny, and leaner to boot.  What she lacked in strength she made up for in agility, so even though the bouncer had a head start she was more than capable of cutting him off before he could interfere.  She hovered in front of him, preventing him from reaching the stage.

"C'mon, Princess!  Get outta the way!"

"Dost thou truly think thou canst order me around?" Luna asked as the audience's protests began to float up from below them.

"Well, no, but… Ah, geeze.  See what you guys have done?  I gotta stop this before things get any worse!"

"…I am certain 'tis nothing of concern," Luna said, frowning and looking at the crowd with an uncertain gaze.  "Miss Scratch has it under control."

"C'mon, don't fall for that," Sunny said with a scowl.  "The girl's not as clever as she thinks she is.  Please, just let me clean up this mess before she makes it any worse."

"No," Luna said, standing her air.  "I trust her, and I refuse to let thee interfere."

Sunny glared at her.  "Look, I've got a job to do, and nopony's going to stop me from doing it- not even you, Princess.  You understand me?"

"If that is thy wish, then so be it."

As the last note of Octavia's solo faded out, a heavy techno beat started up and quickly took over the club.  The bassist resumed playing, this time melding into the background and adding an extra instrumental melody to the mix.  The rest of the area lit up and revealed Scratch at her turntables, hooves in the air and head bobbing along to the music. The cheers from the crowd came almost as quickly as the look of rage on K's face.

Sunny called something out, but Luna couldn't hear it over the music.  "What art thou saying?" she shouted, cocking her head to the side.

Seeing an opportunity, Sunny darted forward, trying to slip past the princess and make his way to the stage.  It almost worked, but at the last minute Luna slammed into him, knocking him off course and dazing both of them.

As the cheers subsided, Scratch threw down her hooves and reined in her head.  Grinning, she grabbed her mic and addressed the audience.  "Hey there, Dark Horse!  My name is DJ PON-3 and I'll be your second host tonight, in number if not in intelligence, skill, or lack of bad fashion choices."  The crowd laughed at her jabs while K sat back and steamed, knowing that any rebuttal would make him look like a poor sport.  "Oh," Scratch said, continuing her speech, "and while we're doing introductions, why don't you guys give a big hoof to my good friend Octavia on the bass?"

Octavia kept playing but glared disdainfully at the ponies in the audience even as they applauded her.

"Anyway," Scratch continued, "me and the good ol' Spin Doctor K over there are gonna have ourselves a little duel…"

K snapped out of his rage and started desperately flipping through his library, trying to find a track that would match the other DJ's beat.

"…But it looks like he's not quite ready yet, so let's just go ahead and get the ball rolling."  Scratch kicked the volume up and did what she did best.

Sunny was the first to recover, and he made a beeline towards the stage before Luna had a chance to stop him.  The princess tried to chase him down, but it was clear that there was no way she could catch him in time.  She sighed and reluctantly began to cast a spell.  "Well, 'tis not terribly sporting," she muttered as her horn lit up, "but…"

The bouncer came to a cold stop as he was surrounded by a magical glow.  He struggled against Luna's telekinesis, but it was no use; he wasn't about to go anywhere.  "I really should have seen this coming," he thought as he gave up and started to look around the room.  It seemed that everything had returned to normal: the music was back, the crowd was happy, and if anything the dance floor was livelier than it had been all night.  "Alright, Scratch, you win," he muttered, shaking his head.

Sunny turned around, threw his hooves in the air, and shouted something to Luna, but the music drowned him out.  "What?" she called back, holding a hoof to her ear.

The bouncer shouted again, to no avail.

"I still can't hear you!"

Exasperated, Sunny put a hoof to his face, then motioned for her to come over.

Luna flew to him, keeping her guard up in case it was a trick.

Once the princess was close enough to hear him shout, Sunny tried again.  "I said, 'I give up!'"

"Oh!  Really?"

"Look around!" yelled the bouncer, motioning towards the crowd.  "There's no point shutting her down now.  It'll just get the customers worked up again."

"So… thou shalt leave us be, then?" asked Luna, still a little suspicious.

"Sure, so long as you don't cause any more trouble."  Sunny shrugged.  "No point creating a problem where there is none, right?"

Luna nodded.  "Indeed."

"Oh, and, I just wanna say… I'm really sorry about all this, Princess.  I know I was a little unfair before, but… well, I just gotta do what's best for the club, you know?"

"I understand," Luna said, smiling.  "I hold no grudge."

"Now would ya mind lettin' me go?  I see a coupla bozos tryin' to start a fight."

"Oh!  Right.  My apologies," said Luna, the glow fading from her horn as she released the spell.

Once he was free, Sunny saluted and flew off to deal with the capricious ponies.  Luna landed near the back and waved to Scratch, signaling that everything was taken care of.  The DJ was busy with her turntables, but she grinned and nodded in acknowledgement.

The princess looked around a bit, then slipped back onto the dance floor and lost herself in the mix.

Octavia would never admit it to anypony, but she was actually enjoying herself.  Nothing could be further from the music she usually played or the places she usually played it, but she didn't really mind that; to be honest, it was a nice change of pace.  She wouldn't want to do this all the time, of course, but it was kind of fun as a novelty.

Besides, watching K freak out was its own reward.  She didn't really know the guy, but Scratch had a pretty low opinion of him, and for all her flaws the girl was a good judge of character.  Of course, it probably would have been funny even if he wasn't a jerk; the look on his face as he rummaged through his tracks was priceless, and even the insufferable grin when he finally picked one out was bearable knowing that it would soon vanish.

Scratch, seeing that K was ready, signaled to Octavia and the bassist prepared herself to back off and let the other DJ take over.  At the end of the next measure, she stopped playing and the DJs made their first trade-off.

The difference was immediately apparent.  K's mix was catchy and easy to dance to, but placing it next to Scratch's made the flaws all too obvious.  His beats felt manufactured and lifeless; there was a mechanical similarity to them that made the music seem dull and uninspired despite its frantic pace.  Scratch's work was a little more complicated and demanding, but she played things looser and gave them room to breathe.  She knew how to match the feel of a track beyond what a beat detection algorithm could do, and it showed whenever she brought her hoof to the record and gave it a spin.

The crowd responded in kind, even though most of the ponies couldn't explain the difference between the two.  Whenever Scratch started to play, the floor became livelier as the dancers picked up speed and moved more freely without even noticing that anything had changed.  The DJs saw it, though, and it drove K mad.  He glared at his rival from across the club, and she smiled in return.  She had made her point, and they both knew it.

Even Luna, who knew little about dance music, could tell she liked her friend's set better.  Scratch's work was a little harder to get into, but once she got the feel of it down the princess enjoyed it much more.  K wasn't bad, but his mixes were missing something and it just wasn't as much fun when he took the lead.  Luna supposed that could have been favoritism at work, but she liked to think it wasn't.  She didn't really care either way, though; she just wanted to dance, and in the end it didn't particularly matter who had the floor.

"What gives, Sunny?  You can't just let some other DJ and her crazy friends sneak in and mess up my set, Princess or no Princess!  I've got half a mind to-"

The bouncer poked K in the chest.  "Whaddya think you're tryin' to pull?  Don't act like I don't know you were in on this."

The DJ looked at him incredulously.  "C'mon, don't be ridiculous.  I had nothing to do with-"

"Ya can't fool me, K.  Scratch walks in here, says you're gonna duel, and then you go ahead and take her on?  If you didn't have anything to do with it, you woulda shut her down and let me deal with it."

"B- but I…"

"Face it, kid.  You lost, and I'm not gonna clean up the mess for you."

K glared at Sunny, then turned and headed for the exit, seething with anger.

Scratch was waiting by the door with Luna and Octavia.  She smiled and waved to the other DJ as he passed.  "Hey, nice playin' with ya, K!  We should do it again sometime."

K showed her the back of his hoof as he left the club.

Once he was gone, Octavia snickered at him.  "What a loser."

"Ah, c'mon, at least give him some credit," said Scratch.  "Not everypony would've been able to keep up with me like that."

Luna thought for a moment.  "No, I believe Miss Octavia is correct.  He's a loser."

The DJ laughed.  "Yeah, okay, you're probably right."

The trio's levity disappeared as Sunny approached them with a stern look on his face.  "You three are awful lucky," he said.

Scratch grinned.  "Nah, I knew it'd work out."

Her smile faded under the bouncer's firm gaze.  "I'm serious, Scratch.  I can't keep bailing you out like this.  You can't just walk in and mess with somepony else's show, no matter how much you dislike the guy."

The DJ sighed.  "Yeah, yeah, I know."

"No.  No, you don't."  Sunny turned toward Octavia.  "I'd give you a lecture, too, but I'd rather not waste the effort.  At least Scratch'll pretend to listen."

"Fine by me, gov'nah," Octavia said, accentuating the last word with a fake British accent.

"And you," said the bouncer, turning towards Luna, "you just…"  He sighed.  "Look, just be careful what you get yourself into, okay, Princess?  Scratch's a good kid, but she's gonna get both of you in big trouble if you let her, royalty or not.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but there are plenty of ponies out there who ain't exactly gonna respect your authority, you know?  They're not all as understanding as I am."  With that, Sunny walked away, leaving the three of them to ponder his advice.

Scratch was silent for a couple of moments, lost in thought, while Luna and Octavia stood there awkwardly.  Finally, the unicorn's good mood returned and she threw her forelegs over the other ponies' shoulders, smiling.  "So, whaddya wanna do now?"

Octavia extracted herself from Scratch's grasp.  "You two can do whatever you like, but I'm going back to bed.  Some ponies actually sleep at night."

"'Tis a shame, is it not?" said Luna, also freeing herself from the DJ's leg.

"Uh, well, I mean…" Octavia began, stammering nervously.

The princess laughed.  "Don't worry, 'twas merely a joke.  Go ahead; I wouldn't ask that thou stayest up for my sake."

Octavia bowed her head respectfully.  "Thank you, Your… Luna, I mean."  The bassist slung her instrument onto her back and left the club.

"I feel somewhat guilty for dragging her into this," said Luna, once Octavia had gone.  "I do not think she enjoyed it much."

Scratch chuckled.  "Ah, don't worry about her.  She's just grumpy."

"Oh, really?  I had not noticed," said the princess, smiling.

"Trust me, she had fun, even though she'll never say so."

Luna turned to face the door and frowned a bit.  "Still, I wish there was something I could do for her…."

The Princess of the Moon crept back into the castle as the first signs of morning appeared on the horizon.  She started heading back to her chambers and ran into her older sister in one of the castle's many hallways.

Celestia smiled at the younger alicorn, her flowing mane slightly frazzled by bed-head.  "Had a good night out, little sister?"

Luna nodded.  "I did, in fact."

"See?  I told you it wouldn't be so bad."

The smaller princess rolled her eyes.  "Yes, thou wert right all along.  'Twas honestly pretty fun."

"Good to hear," said Celestia.  "I trust you didn't get into any trouble?"

"Yes, well…" Luna began, hesitating a bit.

Celestia laughed.  "It's okay, Luna.  I'm sure you can handle yourself."

"Uh… right.  Yes.  Of course."  The younger pony yawned.  "Anyway, I am off to bed.  Good morning." Luna started walking down the hallway, but then a thought occurred to her.  She stopped and turned around.  "Big sister?"

"Yes, Luna?"

"I was wondering…  Hast thou invited Twilight Sparkle and her friends to the Canterlot Garden Party?"

The white alicorn chuckled.  "As much as I'd like to, I don't think I can.  Best not to agitate the guests too often."

"Well, then," Luna said with a smile, "perhaps I could make a recommendation in regards to the entertainment."
Scratch and Luna show Canterlot the power of techno, now with 100% more canon.

I had the idea for this story after mulling about something to write for the "Happy Luna" competition on EqD, and for some reason it ended up catching my interest above the story I was already writing. Funny how that works out.

Also I only have a very vague idea of how dance music works, and I'm pretty sure it shows. If anybody actually knows about this stuff, please let me know what I got wrong so I can go back and fix it. It's going to drive me insane otherwise because I'm sure this doesn't make a goddamn lick of sense and I'd hate to leave it that way. Of course, any other thoughts or criticisms are more than welcome, too.

Wall of text incoming. If you value your sanity (and especially if you haven't read the story), jump ship now.

This is the first time I've actually used real, honest-to-goodness OCs. I try to avoid them when possible, but sometimes the story just calls for it and I think this is one of those times. Because of that, though, I spent a lot of time thinking about OCs in general and I've had this long rant about them planned out for some time so let me just sit back and talk for a bit.

Original characters aren't necessarily a bad thing. Like everything, they can be used well and they can be used poorly, and more often than not it's the latter, but they're not inherently bad. In fact, I think that when it comes to this show, having some kind of strict "no OCs" policy for yourself is probably more of a hindrance than a boon. The show itself isn't afraid to introduce new characters when it needs to, and I feel as though I shouldn't be, either. This story is a good example: I needed a character who could serve as a rival DJ and a character who could be a strict-but-understanding bouncer. They don't exist in the show, and there aren't really any background ponies that I could appropriate, so I just... made them up. Honestly, so long as I'm writing stories in Canterlot, that kind of thing is inevitable. The show does a good job of making Equestria feel like an actual, lived-in world; you really get the feeling that there are characters we're not focusing out there having adventures and doing interesting things (which is goddamn impressive considering it's My Little Pony of all fucking things). One of the signs of a well-developed setting is that you get the sense it's an actual place where things are actually happening even if they're not directly on-screen, and I think I would be doing a disservice to that if I shoehorned in existing characters just because I'm afraid to make my own.

That said, OCs have a certain amount of stigma (at least in the communities I frequent) just because they're done poorly so often. There's a reason one of the common stereotypes of fanfiction is "lazy self-insertion makes friends with the main characters and is generally the cool and awesome person I want to be in real life but never will." I feel like when it comes to creating a character, there are two basic approaches you can take: writing the character for the story, or writing the story for the character. The former is what I'm doing here; I had a role I needed to fill, so I filled it. The latter, of course, is also valid, and both can be done well or poorly, but I feel like writing a story based on a character is much easier to do poorly and often looks worse when you mess it up. After all, that's essentially what terrible self-insert fics are: "my character (who is me) saves the day." It's not about the characters or the setting that the original show was about, it's about you(r character (who is you)). You can tell an interesting story by focusing on an interesting character (hint for aspiring writers: you are not an interesting character), but if that's what you're trying to do, chances are you'd be better off writing an original story. There are exceptions, of course, but I think that's a good rule of thumb.

I guess it might help you understand where I'm coming from if I explain my personal goal in writing these stories, so I'll go ahead and do that. (I'm sorry about all the rambling here, if you're even bothering to read this; it's late and I'm pretty tired.)

To be honest, the setting of this show really caught my interest. It's a land filled with magical goddamn talking ponies, and yet somehow Faust and co. managed to make it feel alive. FiM is a show that you can watch and really get the sense that there's more to the world than you're being shown; there are stories you're not being told and that don't even necessarily involve the main characters of the one you are being told. You can look at the ponies in the background or see some of the one-off characters and wonder "hey, what's their deal?" and feel like there actually is a deal, like they're not just bit parts and they actually have their own stories, even if you're not seeing them on the show. Those are the stories I want to tell. If I'm doing my job right, you should be able to feel like this is really something that could have happened, not necessarily on the show or even parallel to the show, but at the very least in the same universe. That's why I don't like grimdark or shipping or what-have-you: the way I see it, at least, this just isn't a setting where that kind of thing happens. There's nothing wrong with stories that go outside the boundaries of what 'fits' on the show, at least in theory, but it's just not what I want to do.

So, in conclusion: OCs are A-OK so long as they fit the universe and actually do something for the story. If they're just 'me but awesome and also a pony' and their only role is to be super special and make Rainbow Dash fall in love with them, then that's just kinda lame.

Anyway, while I'm talking about characters, there was another little filibuster I wanted to write, so let's talk about the characters in this piece.

One of the problems I had with the last long story I wrote was the antagonist (Hoity Toity), and the problem I had with them was that the main character (Spike) was kind of a dick and, to be honest, despite being the "bad guy" Hoity didn't necessarily deserve the treatment he got. Essentially, I ran into "designated bad guy" syndrome: I decided that Hoity would be the villain and wrote the story with him just kind of automatically placed into the "okay you can be a jerk to this guy" category without necessarily justifying that in his characterization. That was something I wanted to avoid here, and I wrote K's character with it in mind, so oblige me for a bit here and let me talk to you about my thought process for a bit.

In a sense, Luna and Scratch kind of share the role of protagonist in this story. For the most part, Luna is the viewpoint character, and the story kind of follows her as she follows Scratch and tries to work out this crazy modern-day city called Canterlot. Scratch, on the other hand, is more-or-less the primary actor; she pulls the story forward and drives the action. As such, K needed to be kind of a foil to Scratch, and it's in the parallel between the two that we find why one is the hero and one is the villain.

K isn't the antagonist because he's a bad DJ. That'd be a pretty shitty moral and would kind of fall into some weird Randian space that I don't want anything to do with. (I'm not going to talk about my politics here, since it's irrelevant and can only lead to stupid places that I don't want to go, but if you pay close attention 'rich people suck' is kind of a recurring theme with me and that should probably give you a hint towards where I fall on the spectrum.) It's also not because he's arrogant or immature, since Scratch herself isn't exactly humble or level-headed either. Really, the difference between the two, and the reason why K is the antagonist, lies in their reaction towards Luna. They're both kind of shocked when they first meet her, but they're also both rather perceptive. They're able to look past their first impressions, and it's what they see in her afterwards that separates them. Scratch looks at Luna and realizes that a princess needs friends, too, but K's first reaction is to exploit her presence for personal gain. Scratch lends a helping hand to someone in need, but K kicks them in the shins and steals their lunch money. That's why she wins and he loses. If this story has a moral, that's it right there, and I think it's best expressed in the words of Kurt Vonnegut: "God damn it, you've got to be kind."

Actually, let's go ahead and talk about how Octavia, Pony Joe, and Sunny respond to Luna, because that's something else I was mulling over while I was writing this.

Sunny and Pony Joe kind of fall into the same category: they're big guys, authority figures, and they're wise, at least in terms of street smarts. They've been doing their jobs for a while and they know how to deal with people (ponies). They both look at Luna and see that she's not a big, scary monster but a frightened fish out of water, and they respond with compassion and sympathy. In Sunny's case, though, his job has to come first, and that makes him a reluctant adversary for our protagonists. Still, he's not a bad guy, and once it becomes clear that his job is better served by letting them go instead of trying to stop them, he relents.

Octavia is a little different, and to be honest I'm not quite sure what her deal is. I'm still kind of mulling on it. I think the thing to realize, though, is that even though she's sarcastic and can be kind of a jerk, she's a decent pony at heart. I don't think Scratch would hang out with her if she wasn't.

Alright, now for some miscellanea:

-The title is a reference to "Riot. Sleep. Repeat." ([link]) by British ska-punk band New Riot. I first heard them when they opened for Streetlight Manifesto and Reel Big Fish the other week, and they're pretty awesome if you're in the mood for some punk with a trumpet thrown in.

-This story takes place after "Side Stories are Never Successful" ([link]), but it's an independent story all on its own and is only really related by the fact that they're part of the same continuity. I tried to keep direct references to a minimum, and the only real important crossovers are just the idea of Spike, Scratch, and Octavia being friends, as well as Scratch having recently procured a record deal. I think both of those should be easy enough to swallow on their own, but I could also be totally wrong there so who knows. However, there is a little bit of an obscure sideways reference here; "Side Stories" begins with Scratch complaining about Serato Scratch and Spike saying that "beat detecting has no attitude," which ties into K's music and the fact that Scratch doesn't like it. Those particular lines are actually a musical reference, and I hadn't even thought of this story when I wrote them, but they did end up kind of informing K's character. Also, yeah, you can probably assume that Scratch is complaining about him there, at least indirectly.

-K's name is kind of a weird mish-mash of references. "Spin" refers to a record, obviously, and a "Spin Doctor" is someone (usually a pundit of some kind) who 'spins' facts to support one side of a debate when logically they should refute it. It doesn't really have much to do with K's character, but it's an appropriately unflattering term. The letter K is a reference to DJ Professor K from the Jet Set Radio games, who is awesome. (Jet Set Radio owns.)

-I don't know what Scratch was going to call K a son of, but just for the record, ponies don't say curse words as far as I'm concerned.

-I don't think I really had a reference in mind when I named the bouncer "Sunny." It just seemed like the right name for him. I dunno.

There's kind of a funny story with this, though. I was in a synchtube channel the other day where we were streaming random animated movies from the 80s, and we watched this weird-ass film called "Rock and Rule." It was one of the strangest goddamn things I've ever seen, and there was a brief scene where a bouncer named Sunny fought some guys outside of a club. I had already written most of this story at that point, and I know for a fact I've never seen that movie before, so I kind of went "wait, what the fuck?" when it happened (for neither the first nor the last time during that film).

- "Camargue Hall" is a horse pun based on Carnegie Hall. A Camargue is an ancient breed of horse from France; I used it there because I thought scrolling through the Wikipedia page on horses was a little bit classier than saying "Car-neigh-ie."

- The term "electric bass" generally refers to a bass guitar rather than the more traditional double bass that Octavia plays. The electronically amplified double bass is usually called an "electric upright bass," so I erred on the side of specificity and called it that even though it sounds a little clunkier.

- I spent a lot of time thinking about how best to describe Scratch and K's face-off at the end. Describing music in prose is always really hard, especially when the story requires that your characters be especially good at it (or even just better than someone else). You can always just say "yeah they're totally awesome and it sounds great," but that's a cheap cop-out and your readers will know it. To get around this, I decided that the best way to handle things was simply to describe the difference between Scratch and K's music with simple, objective descriptions and show how the crowd reacts to them, rather than making absolute statements or outright saying that one is better than the other.
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TheatricTheo Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good story!
fotland42 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012
I see that you wrote this in August last year, so I'm not going to hold it against you that you didn't remember to edit it when it was made official that Octavia plays the cello, not the double bass, but I do feel the need to point it out.

I would also like to respond to your second filibuster. You don't need to justify why your antagonists are antagonists. Antagonists don't need to be bad ponies (and bad ponies don't need to be antagonists); they just need to be in a conflict where we don't take their side, whatever our reasons might be. Scratch is a protagonist because she is introduced before K and does not immediately offend us by being mean to Luna. Then we meet K, and have to choose sides, and so of course we choose Scratch's side. It does so happen that K, unlike Scratch, is a jerk to strangers, not just rivals and friends, but that's not necessary. The professional rivalry is enough reason for them to act like they don't like each other, and Scratch has more than enough charisma to make sure that we like her by the time any dissenting voices are heard. Being rude to rivals, no matter their personalities, is not going to threaten her position as protagonist unless it is truly excessive, and so is not going to call K's position as antagonist into doubt.
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012  Student Writer
I'm sticking to my guns on the bass thing 'cause it's really just a minor detail and "bassist" just always felt like the right word for her. "Cellist" doesn't have the same feel. I know that's kind of a weird thing to be stubborn about but there it is! Besides, I figure that trading cards are on a lesser level of canon than stuff in the show itself so I'm okay with selectively ignoring them if it suits my needs. (Yes I am a hypocrite.)

As for the filibuster, I agree as a general principle; in most cases, I try to lean towards just letting characters be characters and leaving the audience to decide whether they agree with the protagonist on their own. However, I think the nature of this setting and this story tends toward a moralistic style of storytelling, and as an author that means I end up painting the characters in starker blacks and whites than I would usually like to. That's really where that whole thought comes from; because the narrative is coming from a perspective that implicitly says not just "here are our characters," but that also says "THIS character is good and THIS character is bad" I felt that I had a certain obligation to justify that, at least within my own personal moral framework. At the time I had been thinking a fair amount about the just world fallacy and how fiction has a tendency to perpetuate the belief that economic/social/artistic/whatever "success" is somehow a function of a person's inherent moral virtues, so when I noticed something arguably along those lines within my own work I ended up having a whole bunch of thoughts about it.
fotland42 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
The trading cards say she's a cellist? I was referring to when William Anderson said that the music scored for Octavia's ensemble to play in Sweet and Elite involved a cello and no double bass (since I went to the trouble of finding my source to confirm what I remembered, have a link: [link]). I bet I trust the trading cards less than you do, in fact.

I admit I've never given much thought to the socioeconomic effects of what stories we tell and how we tell them. What you said seems reasonable, so though I intend to find some time to deeply consider this issue, you can consider me to be at least tentatively agreeing with you.
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Student Writer
Ah, I was just assuming it was a trading card thing 'cause I hadn't been keeping track of those and I figured that if any explicit evidence one way or another turned up it was going to be there. In that case I'm still going to stick with the bass 'cause that's just the composer looking at it and going "yeah I guess that's a cello."

If we're shooting for complete accuracy here I'd probably agree that the thing she plays in the show is actually a cello, but while I value being show-accurate (especially with regards to tone and the in-universe plausibility of a story) I also think there's a little wiggle room for stylistic concerns. If you'll excuse me continuing to be a little weird and stubborn about this, the "bass" (both as an instrument and a musical concept) always just kind of seemed to fit with my interpretation of Octavia's character, which is why I've been sticking with that even though I've known for a while that cello is probably the "right" answer.
Twoforflinching Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2012
Very cool stuff, sorry it took me so long to read it. I'll hafta check out your other works too.
Schreiter Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012
Just wanted to say that I very much enjoyed your story. I also agree with your opinion on OC's.
MLPxGreed Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
that was really amazing
randomdude678 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2012
Awesome story, couldn't stop reading once I started.
statoose Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That was very enjoyable! I look forward to reading more of these tales of the Canterlot ponies' adventures :D
Nova225 Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2011
>Finally, a particularly large pegasus colt stood up. "Joe, c'mon, you can't-"
>Now you mugs leave the poor lady alone or I'll throw you all out myself, got it?"
-Huh, what ? Wait... unless she got into a costume in the last 10sec, she’s... well... the (second) PRINCESS of Equestria !
What ‘’sane’’ pony would even try to do anything against one of the Royal Princesses, unless that pony wants to go to jail for 50years(minimum), if not straight into the Sun ? (plus the fact that Alicorns are very powerful beings)

>Sunny gave the unicorn a stern look. "Listen, I'm gonna have to ask you and your… friend… over there to leave."
-... ... ... ... ...PRINCESS !
Is the part, of ALL those ponies’ brain, telling them what may happen to you if you ‘piss off’ Royalty... switched to ‘off’ ? No survival instinct, maybe ? They are all heavily drunk, to the point of loosing contact with ‘Reality’ ?

>"I don't wanna see either of you back in here tonight, got it?" said Sunny, standing in the entrance.
-*Headdesk... several times* ! If you value your life, run you dumb pony !

>"G-greetings, your h-highness," stuttered Octavia, desperately trying to comb her hair back.
-Well, I say ! It was darn time that at least ONE pony finally remembered that ‘Princess Luna, the Princess of the Night’ is a darn Princess.

>she was larger than the average filly her age (relatively speaking, of course), but that still meant she was slightly smaller than Sunny
-Huh... in the ‘Luna eclipsed’ episode, she appears to be *almost* double the height of a normal/standard (like Twilight) pony... kinda as *tall* as Big Mac, if you think about it.

>"Look, I've got a job to do, and nopony's going to stop me from doing it- not even you, Princess. You understand me?"
-This is getting slightly annoying now, honestly.
Being a ‘ROYAL. Alicorn. Goddess-princess.’ KINDA means that she can have him sent to the darkest dustiest most-forgotten jail, or blast him to the Sun if it pleases her to (not that she would, but the potential IS there).

>It almost worked, but at the last minute Luna slammed into him
-Magic ? No ? Loud music prevents the use of magic ?

>"Oh, and, I just wanna say… I'm really sorry about all this, Princess. I know I was a little unfair before
>"I understand," said Luna, smiling. "I hold no grudge."
-For this excuse, thou shall not be sent to the Sun. Consider thee lucky.

>"Fine by me, gov'nah," Octavia said,
-gov... what ? Never heard that word, whatever it may means, anywhere before in my life ? Also, I don’t quite think that Octavia is the kind of ‘fancy pony’ to use foreign words, ‘’just because fancy’’ ?

>there are plenty of ponies out there who ain't exactly gonna respect your authority, you know?
-Pretty sure, at least, the royal guards and military recognize her, yeah. Also... ‘Alicorn Big Magic’.

... *See ‘’wall of text’’*, *Read parts of it*, *Scratch my head and wonder about the necessity or need of SO MUCH justification ?* ...


Anyway... It was certainly an ‘ok’ story, and somewhat interesting...
...Well, it surely could have been easier to ‘enjoy’ if the ‘’general/average’’ ponies would had have a slightly more proper ‘reaction’, or rather a more appropriate/expected behaviour related to the fact that Luna is a ROYAL goddess-Princess (it was slightly irritating after a while. Just slightly.).

I mean, fine, many ponies *may* still not like her and stuff like that, but... Here’s a ‘quick’ example : You may not like and/or want to recognize the authority of a policeman, but if you start trying to ‘’poke at him’’, it’s not gonna stop him from punching you, put you handcuffs, and place you in jail for the night.
And, this is just with a policeman... do that with, say, the President of the USA and, chances are that the world may never hear about you ever again... if you’re lucky.

So, yeah... Good, except for that one little detail.
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2011  Student Writer
I totally get where you're coming from there, but believe it or not I actually have put a fair amount of thought into this.

The thing that's important to realize here is that Luna hasn't been around for a long, long time; if ponies remembered her at all, it was solely as a kind of mythical Bogeyman. Unlike Celestia, who's always been there and has always had a very direct, very tangible influence on her subjects that means they're all acutely aware of how much power she has, Luna just showed up out of nowhere and the ponies don't know what to make of her. They know literally nothing about her except whispered rumors from a friend of a friend of a friend and perhaps a barely-remembered old folk tale or two, and they're genuinely scared of her. They're also somewhat scared of Celestia, of course, but their fear of her is one built on love and respect; it's the fear of disappointing your parents combined with the fear of making yourself look like a jackass in front of your favorite celebrity. In contrast, their fear of Luna is largely built on the fear of the unknown. They're frightened of Celestia in a way that makes them be on their best behavior whenever she's around, but the fear they have for Luna is the kind that makes people irrational and unpredictable.

I understand what point you're trying to make with the policeman comparison, but there's a level of fear and mystery to Luna that you don't get with a plain ol' cop. Really, I'd say it's more like Luna is Batman and the normal ponies are random mooks; some are terrified of her, some are cocky fuckers who think they could take her, but either way they'd still get together and try to fight her if they thought it was necessary. Luna is a magical god-princess, of course, and so the ponies pose as little of an actual physical threat to her as a group of thugs does to Batman (well, actually it's probably way less), but you have to remember that Luna desperately wants her subjects to love and appreciate her more than anything else. She's scared not because she's afraid she'll get hurt but because she knows that if something went wrong and somebody else ended up getting hurt, she might never be able to get into their good graces.

As for Sunny, I think the thing to realize is that he takes his job very seriously; he's protective of his club, and he feels it's his duty to get rid of anybody who's causing a ruckus, no matter who they are. If Celestia herself walked in drunk off her gourd and started bowling ponies over or something, he'd ask her to leave, royalty be damned, even though he knows it'd probably be a really stupid thing to do. Plus, I feel pretty certain that Equestria has some form of legal system in place, so I imagine he feels that he's within his rights to ask Luna to leave and that, legally speaking, there isn't really anything she can do about it; she's a princess, of course, so she could just say 'fuck the law' and do whatever she likes anyway, but I think he's got enough respect for her to feel confident that she won't overstep the rules.

Also, Luna slamming into him instead of casting a spell is explained a little later on, but basically she thought that just using magic would be too easy. I mean, yeah, she could just press the "I Win" button instead of playing the game, but where's the fun in that? That's why she says it isn't "sporting" when she binds him.

When Sunny says that there are ponies who won't respect Luna's authority, he's referring to the kind of pony who is absolutely terrified of her and whose fear will lead them to do stupid things. Some ponies- like himself or Pony Joe- recognize that Luna is probably a perfectly reasonable, rational pony, just like her older sister, and others- like Scratch and Octavia- are open-minded enough to realize that, hey, she's a super scary night-princess, but she's pretty cool if you give her a chance. However, some ponies are neither of those things, and that's what Sunny is warning her about.

"Gov'nah" is a British-ism; it's a shortening of the word "governor" stereotypically used by people with a Cockney accent to refer to anyone in authority. Octavia isn't being fancy, she's being sarcastic.

And about the wall of text (the one in the description, not the one I just wrote): it's not really a justification of anything, and I don't really expect anybody to read it. In truth, it's just me reflecting on the story, thinking about the writing process, and taking a moment to explain some of the in-jokes/references I like to sprinkle throughout my stories. I do it because I think that kind of introspection helps me to grow as a writer, and I put it in the comments instead of a Word document on my computer or something just on the off-chance that somebody is interested in that sort of thing.
Nova225 Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2011
Well, I have to say, you do give some explanations and make some good points... but, I would like to raise 2 points (not For or Against anything, really. Just for ''display'' I guess).

The fact she Luna is 1 of the 2 only Alicorns in existence (so far... I've also heard this rumor of a soon-to-be presented 3rd Princess), who also happen to be the 2 Princesses of the country of Equestria. Really, the fact of 'being an Alicorn' kinda (or should) equal to a bright-red warning-light in any/most ponies' mind... Like : see Wings+Horn on a relatively tall pony ? = Danger! Royalty+Super powerful. Proceed with caution! (to various degrees I suppose, but still... I guess it could be linked to the 'Batman' thing, but Luna is like Batman if he was President of the USA ?)

2 (where I end up talking of 2-3 things at the same time))
In one of the early episode of Season 2 (Luna Eclipsed), it's made rather clear that ponies know that she's one of the Royal Princesses... and for them being afraid of her, a bit, well...
Ponyville is the *only* town in all of Equestria (as far we are told in the series, so far), in a 1000years, that has seen both Luna AND Nightmare Moon at the same place (and most ponies didn't know about the legend anyway) ; so, it might be logical for them to be still slightly afraid, because they know Luna once was Nightmare (and they have seen it), but for ponies in other towns ?
Unless all of Ponyville went all over Equestria to tell ponies that Luna=Nightmare Moon (and remember them of the legend), I don't see how all/most of Equestria could be partially afraid or hating her ? ...for all we know, most ponies probably just know that an 'Evil creature' appeared, temporarly stolen the Sun, and then was vanquished. And so, I would get it more, if it was most ponies that would be a bit ''apprehensive'' (because of the sudden appearance of a ''new'' Princess), and just a few here-and-there that would show some 'hostility', instead of the contrary.

...thinking, thinking and wondering a lot like that. I do that more often than I realize. ;)
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2011  Student Writer
It's not like Ponyville is an island in the middle of nowhere that never has contact with the rest of the world. Nobody except the main six and the princesses themselves really knows the full story behind Luna and Nightmare Moon, but the ponies in Ponyville all saw NMM appear and knew that she had kidnapped Celestia. There's no way word didn't get out to the rest of Equestria, especially considering that that there were probably ponies from out of town visiting specifically for the Summer Sun Celebration, and the fact that only a limited number of ponies actually saw what happened, all of whom were scared out of their wits, just makes the situation worse. You end up with conflicting stories and exaggerations from ponies who were too scared to remember properly that turn into rumors which spread across Equestria, diluting and becoming more and more divorced from reality through a sort of 'Chinese telephone' effect. Plus, even if they don't know for sure, I guarantee you that the ponies made the connection between NMM appearing and Luna returning almost immediately after. So, the end result is that nobody knows what the fuck to think; all they really know for sure is some bad shit went down with a horrible nightmare creature and that it's almost definitely connected to Luna. Luna knows what happened, of course, and the narration at the beginning reflects this, since it's essentially describing her inner monologue, but the ponies themselves don't really know anything about Luna beyond "she's scary and possibly evil."

Additionally, I think the fact that Canterlot is where the princesses live makes a big difference here, too. Because Ponyvillians live out in the country, they're only really ever going to see Celestia at specially planned events or in times of emergency like with the Smarty Pants thing. That inevitably is going to give them a very different impression of her from somebody who lives in Canterlot, where you can catch Celestia going about her daily business or taking a break in a donut shop if you're in the right place at the right time. It demystifies her which, by extension, makes alicorns in general seem just a little more approachable and tiny bit less intimidating.

There's a third element to this, too, but it's basically a bunch of fanon on my part with no basis in the show whatsoever, so bear with me for a minute here. Basically, I'm assuming that the Princesses aren't quite as all-powerful as you might assume; they could be if they wanted to, but my fanon here is that there are rules and procedures in place preventing them from, say, blasting somebody to the moon just for making them angry. The way I see it, Celestia isn't a tyrant, so disobeying the Princesses or angering them isn't a crime (unless that particular demand has been codified into law by a group of elected representatives); most ponies wouldn't have the balls to do it, and it's a pretty bad idea because Celestia is very well-respected and usually right so you're going to face broader social consequences for going against her, but you're technically allowed to do it. Luna, on the other hand, isn't really beloved by her subjects quite yet, so you can get away with things like kicking her out of your club without wide-scale backlash- in fact, some ponies might even applaud you for it. She COULD kick your ass or throw you in a dungeon, but legally speaking she doesn't have the right, and if she decided to imprison you just for pissing her off chances are good you'd be let out the next day (assuming you didn't actually break any laws). She's still a Princess, of course, and she's a damn scary one at that, so it takes a cool head and giant cajones to realize that she can't really do anything to stop you and go through with it, but it's not completely infeasible. Of course, this is also another area where Canterlot's proximity to the princesses comes into play, because its citizens are likely much more aware of the restrictions the princesses operate under than other ponies would be.

Oh, and one last thing, because it just occurred to me that I should have pointed this out sooner but I didn't really think about it until now: realistically, only the craziest motherfuckers around would dare attempt any kind of direct action against Luna. That wasn't meant to be a legitimate concern so much as an irrational fear that she has. For example, in the scene at Pony Joe's in the beginning, the patrons who want Luna gone don't actually have any kind of plan or violent intent; they're basically saying "oh god Joe make it go away" because they're scared and don't know what else to do.
Icecream6789 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2015
so many bucking words 0___0 i dont even know what its for XD
TheFoxBadger Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
Also, Someone better make the tracks for this, or the Fandom will be sorely missing out on something awesome.
TheFoxBadger Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
All my favorite ponies together in one story, doing awesome things and clubbing. It's like all the things I really call Fun just melted and turned into a paste that was then applied directly to my brain via words on my computer screen. 11/10
tha3li Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011
I really like the way you approached the music scenes. The technical description combined with the reactions of the characters and crowd gets the feeling across perfectly. I'm not qualified to say that you got the technical stuff right, but I don't see anything wrong. When using this technique you really do have to get the technical part perfect though; in fields where I do know a great deal the slightly-off technical descriptions can really interfere with my immersion. (I've also seen this done well for technical vocabularies that don't exist in the real world, such as alchemy/magic. Obviously in those cases you have some additional latitude, though it's generally best to base your vocabulary in an existing tradition.)
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011  Student Writer
Well, the thing about the music scenes is that I do know a little bit about music, but not really about electronic/dance/DJ music. The biggest thing I'm not sure about is really the culture of the genre; a lot of Scratch's approach towards music (particularly her disdain for the "manufactured" feel of K's work) is steeped in a sort of DIY punk sensibility, because that's what I do know, and while I think that the overall attitude and the way she applies it makes sense for a DJ I don't really know if that's true or not.
tha3li Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011
Ok, I can speak to that part. And the DIY punk sensibility is very appropriate for Scratch. It does mark her as a certain type of DJ, one that's consistent with her character. She's a performer and an artist, and like most people who give 100%, she looks down on those who slide by giving an easy 80%, especially when they call their laziness art. And beat detecting vs. doing it by ear is definitely something several of the better DJs I know gripe about.. that all felt spot on.
MyLittleAwesome Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2011
Cool story, I actually enjoyed it!
androidred0100 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Righteous story man. All your careful planing and forethought really shows through. I dig it.
marcopolonian Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2011  Student
"Luna had never been as much of a prankster as her older sister"

Amaster102 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2011  Student General Artist
*Looks at text* TL read first few lines *Slow claps leads to ovation* Good job on the story mate!
Extaticus Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
"The letter K is a reference to DJ Professor K from the Jet Set Radio games, who is awesome."

YES; not only did I assume this from his introduction, (and actually thought "no, it couldn't possibly be a reference to something so obscure") but I'm glad that I'm not the only one who remembers forgotten classics such as Jet Set Radio. I'm still waiting for an HD re-release...

In the fanfic that I'm currently writing, Vinyl Scratch appears outwardly androgynous, (Pinkie routinely mistakes her for a guy despite the two ending up sharing a room) and is intended to somewhat resemble Skrillex - but your characterisation of her is something that I probably can't beat. ;)
FabiotheTurtle Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2012
Hmm, that seems really interesting. Forgive me if I'm WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off the bandwagon here (I'm going through my fic list and catching up on reading) but give us a heads up when I could read that? Cheers.
11monkeys Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2011
He, I really enjoyed this. Thanks :)
BrassBuffalo Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
This made my day :D I love this story so much :heart:
endochrom Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2011
I remember reading "Side Stories are Never Successful" and whilst I enjoyed it, this one blew it away. This has to honestly be one of the better fan fictions I have read, especially out of those involving Vinyl Scratch. I feel the problem with people using popular fanon characters (or even canon characters) is that they tend to only play to a character's stereotype rather than their actual personalities. This story deftly avoids falling into such a trap, though the characters do still perform to expectations.

When it comes to OCs I am of a drastically different perspective to you though. I feel that (should an author be able to write well) they should use OCs or ill defined fanon characters as much (or if not more) than Canon characters. It can be far too easy to go astray and misrepresent canon characters. Maybe just something to think about when it comes to using OCs.

Thanks for writing the story, I really enjoyed it.
FeatherfurWolf Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good story is good.
gl1211 Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Student General Artist
not to shaby if i do say so my self... do you have anymore of the trio
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2011  Student Writer
:thumb243088601: features Spike with a little bit of Scratch and Octavia, and the story I'm working on now has more of that trio. After that, I'm planning to work on another story that'll end up having Luna, Scratch, and Octavia, but that one's going to end up being a little... different in terms of tone, I think.
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2011  Student Writer
Oh whoops that thing doesn't work the way I thought it did, here's a proper link: [link]
ManiakMonkey Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Nicely done, I smiled as soon as Octavia showed up, great job portraying all of them. I was kind of sad that I couldn't find a good Octavia Scratch fan music to listen to when reading this.
14-Spades Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I write sonethin' like this for the contest. Yours had a better plot, mine was duct taped together.
GoodStNero Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I get what you're saying about OCs. I think the dynamic nature of the world of FiM is a huge part of why the show is so successful. It's not a cardboard backdrop for the characters to stand in front of - there are characters named and unnamed running about doing their daily business, and the world has its share of problems, be they economic, political, or deadly monsters living just on the border. Some situations call for original characters, content, and theories, and so long as they're well done, it can result in a personal piece that doesn't come off as self-insert or "look how awesome my character is". I for one have no problem believing that there are plenty of characters tending to all sorts of jobs and elements of Equestrian society that we never see, and if someone wants to show their take on this, more power to them. The fact this even can be done well is as much a testament to the show's quality as the fact that it warrants as much discussion as it has.

As for the story itself, I say well done. I don't understand DJ-ing, so I can't offer much help on that front, but I love your portrayal of Octavia. She reminds me of a few classical musicians I've studied and worked with. They aren't in it to show how classy they are or how much money they have or make, it's music, no different fundamentally from punk or electronica or jazz or metal. Music is a way to make emotions manifest, and the best musicians love what they do as much as life itself. Despite her demeanor throughout this story, I just feel like I'm picking up that devotion from Octavia. Perhaps I'm reading that in, but I still think that you wrote her fantastically.

The OCs you introduced and used in this story, to put it as simply as possible, just work. Neither of them bear the stereotypical mono-dimensionality of the average original character. Sunny is as curt as his job requires, but he doesn't come off as an antagonist or as a cheap plot device. He really feels like a full character, someone who does this job every night and not just a convenient plot device. Spin Doctor K is the same way; he comes across not as a one-shot antagonist, but as a character who has existed in the world and will continue to. He doesn't feel like the requisite villain, evil for evil's sake and existing solely to counter his mortal enemy, but as a full-fledged individual who disagrees with and counters the story's protagonists.

In short, I can honestly say that I think you did a fantastic job with this piece. It's well written, well thought out, and most importantly, it's an enjoyable read. You have thoroughly earned the favourite and watch.
That being said, Pinkie Pie still knows them all. XD
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2011  Student Writer
Pinkie knows everybody in Ponyville, but this story takes place in Canterlot.
APonyFarce Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2011  Student Writer
Yeah, that's the dichotomy I've tried to write Octavia with. She's snarky and sarcastic and perpetually grumpy, but underneath that she's a decent pony. She's less than enthused with the clientele her kind of music attracts, but she's willing to put up with it because it means she can make a decent living doing the thing she loves.
GoodStNero Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
And all of that comes across in your writing. I say you wrote her very well. Again, excellent work.
RoyGBiv-MLP Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2011
Heh, this is a great story! Two hooves up!
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