Mare’s Gotta Do

*blinkblink* *awake*

…before dawn.

Vinyl Scratch wriggled, restless. She glared into the dark. You never knew when it would sneak up on you: after all those gigs, she’d have thought herself immune to pre-show jitters, but there she was: wakeful before dawn, and having to make that awful decision: get up far too early, or try and force a little more sleep?

Of course, it wasn’t just the gig. It was still performance in a sense, but it wasn’t only DJing on the agenda. Scratch had a feeling of trepidation that beatmongering alone couldn’t produce, and a kind of excitement that used to belong to the gigs themselves.

It was a funny thing. As you got good, really good, in some ways your art got less scary. You could try and bring back the danger and novelty of your first gigs through various means, allowing for dodgy equipment or trying bold transitions and audience-challenging stunts… but the audience learned too. It learned with you, and it learned about you, and even though she hadn’t played Neighpon for ages, word spread fast. She wasn’t going to need to explain much. The beats of Fillydelpia’s wildest clubs spoke loudly to Neighpon villages and required little translation.

It was what Vinyl planned for after the gig that had her excited and nervous.

The odd thing was, she didn’t feel any less competent at balling a fan into the ground. In normal circumstances, Scratch could pounce a pony with huge confidence from not only her celebrity status, but also the years of strenuous exercise she undertook with a curious dumbbell-shaped device. She could work a stallionhood like few ponies alive… 

But it wasn’t going to be a fan, was it? This guy wasn’t merely a key promoter, not simply an important contact. The whole reason seducing him had occurred to Scratch was that he had just the same seductive reputation as she had.

And that meant he might not be impressed… and he had to be, he just had to be. There would be no use screwing him if she was just another eager conquest. She had to impress. Vinyl ran over possible angles in her head. Was he going to want her to be brassy and bold and wanton? That was easy for a mare who made her bones in Fillydelphia. On the other hand, his reputation suggested a very different attitude from the notorious Fillydelphia private clubs. And the Kirin wouldn’t like him nearly as much if he was that kind of hardcore. Would she need to play it all fillyish and vulnerable? How the pony hell would she pull that one off while still exploiting her spectacular muscle control? Chalk it up to enthusiasm?

…munching on breakfast. The grasses of Neighpon were delicious, and Vinyl found herself snacking on some while still pondering her dilemma. She tossed her mane and ordered herself to settle down, for all the world as if she were Octavia giving Scratchie a well-deserved scolding. Since when was the prospect of she, DJ Pon-3, screwing some lucky pony, a dilemma? She was getting far too worried. Just because he was a powerful and well-connected booking agent and patron of the arts, and by all accounts also a patron of the artists, at least those artists that were hot mares, and if ‘patron’ meant balling artists’ brains out until they were drooling cretins who would do anything he asked…

No, that wasn’t fair. That was certainly the impression she got, but Vinyl knew the Kirin wouldn’t ever tolerate him using his gifts for evil. Also, she thought, she’d better stop thinking of him as some lurking challenge, and start thinking of him as a pony: Michian would presumably want it that way.

Even that name told a story: Michian’nai-sha was his full, honorable name, but he was Michian to all who crossed his path. Perhaps that was also a sort of adaptation. All knew that Michian’nai-sha was a very powerful unicorn, and the Kirin were strict with very powerful unicorns, and so Michian famously devoted himself to the most extreme humility. It was a sort of humility, thought Scratch sourly, that only the exceptional could afford: Michian wandered the land, finding gifted artists and promoting them, staying in any old hovel or barn without thought to his own welfare. Or at least, he would do so if he wasn’t continually dragged off to very comfortable bedrooms, there to make love with a series of thrilled and worshipful mares.

It was said that he liked unicorn mares, and Scratch hoped it was true, for her sake. You couldn’t prove it by his actions, for he didn’t favor any sort of pony species above any other, least of all in his promotion. The rumor was that he had a special weakness for unicorn mares. The rumor also said that he took pains to not give them extra help, knowing his own weaknesses, and Scratch hoped like pony hell that part was false. The last thing she needed was an uphill battle.

She would have to deliver a blinding, epic gig on top of a spectacular roll in the hay, to overcome his resistance. Damn it, couldn’t he just trade business favors for sexual favors like any normal pony, or at least any pony in Manehattan? Ponyville was a little more innocent. Fillydelphia was more perverse, and you had to be sure the pony wasn’t getting an extra kick out of betraying you, or playing some sort of mind game. Canterlot was supposed to be even more perverse, but you had to keep it tightly under wraps or the Princesses would scold you and stop inviting you to events.

Stop it, stop it, thought Vinyl Scratch. It’ll be wonderful. You’ll go flirt with Michian, it’ll be fun. He was said to have an extraordinary presence, almost like a Kirin himself. No wonder he tried to sleep in barns, then. Kirin didn’t enjoy powerful unicorns gathering followers, even if those followers were a sort of panting obsessed harem with no political ambitions beyond getting another taste of Michian’s famous cock. Vinyl suspected she had an advantage there: nothing a Neighponnese unicorn stallion could produce, was likely to be that amazing compared to some of the wilder parts of Fillydelphia. Neighponnese weren’t typically big ponies. Fillydelphia was a melting pot with horses from all over the place.

…finishing breakfast, Vinyl looked around for Octavia, then closed her eyes and swiveled her ears. Sure enough, the faint strains of cello wafted across the morning grass, and Scratch followed her ears.

She found Octavia in a field, and she frowned as she drew closer. Tavi was running over the same few bars of music, again and again. ‘Running over’ proved to be very appropriate words: Tavi was running over the music as if in a runaway pony-cart. The notes were blocky, overly tense, and she kept stopping and starting, and locks of her mane stuck out unkempt and unnoticed.

“Didja have breakfast?” asked Vinyl.

Octavia frowned. “In a minute. Shh.”

“No, seriously, you know it’s only going to make it worse if you don’t…”

“Vinyl! Please. I will in a minute.”

“And I respect that,” said Vinyl, “it’s just that I know you and I’ve seen these moods before and…”

“Vinyl!” snapped Octavia, and directed a formidable glare and pout at her dearest friend.

Scratch hesitated, and then quietly backed away. She did indeed know Octavia, and she’d been dreading one of these artistic fits, and didn’t it just have to turn up just when the gig was really important? Carefully, she controlled her features, avoided any look of anger or disapproval. It wouldn’t help. Tavi would just have to play it out, and Scratch hoped she didn’t over-practice until she was past it when gig time came around. These lapses were all part of life for the hoity-toity classical soloist, or indeed the composer and performer. Vinyl didn’t envy her that part. Her own fate was more easily borne. It wasn’t that DJing was all that much easier, but it was a lot more social, and less precarious. Not for DJ Pon-3, the tension of creating an exquisite melody and performing it flawlessly. Instead, she made her living through reading the crowd, remembering a massive repertoire of variously pounding records and textures and tempos and keys and drum patterns, and her own performances lived in the transitions from one dance-floor stomper to the next: to surprise and delight a fickle crowd without ever letting their pulse waver unless SHE wanted them to amp up or cool down. In a very real sense, they were her instrument as much as the decks were.

…sidling up to Big Macintosh as he peaceably cropped grass for his breakfast, and thinking to herself how pleased she was that their roadie also had good sense and stuck with grass on the day of an important gig. Ponies ate all sorts of fancy things, but grass was the stable diet.

“Hm?” said Big Macintosh, raising his head. “What’s so funny, Miss Vinyl Scratch?”

“Nothing,” said Vinyl. “Hey, I just wanted to say, can you make sure that Tavi eats something for breakfast? Don’t interrupt her right now, but when she gives up?”

“She’s gone give up?” blinked Big Macintosh in perplexity. “In the middle of a tour an’ all?”

“No, not like that,” said Scratch. She sighed. “She’s practicing, and she’s kinda stuck. I think she’ll see reason and do as I asked, which is try and have some breakfast. You know that’s part of her problem: she got caught up in her performance and can’t let go of it, and I know she didn’t eat anything since she got up. It’s fine when things go well, but when it goes wrong she gets upset.”

“Awww…” rumbled Big Macintosh, looking dismayed.

“Just find her something nice, okay?” said Vinyl, and trotted off to check out the venue site. It was supposed to be a pretty decent spot for a gig.

Vinyl nodded in satisfaction at what she found. The place was massive! There was a sort of bandstand that would shelter her and part of the crowd from rain, if there was any rain. That was unusual for Neighpon, but this was Chou-sho province, and apparently they wanted to persuade everypony that they really were very close to the capital city, very important in their own right. It was sort of cute because it was far from the truth, but hoofmarks in the dirt showed that ponies already danced there. So many ponies that the hoofmarks stretched way out past the bandstand.

…seeing Octavia in the distance, returning to their cart in a huff. Good, thought Vinyl, that’s on the right track. She returned to studying the venue.

What if Michian took a fancy to some other pony in the audience, before she could get to him? Vinyl frowned, worried. No, you couldn’t worry about things like that, she thought as she watched Big Macintosh trotting along holding a tray in his teeth. She would just have to  do her best. Anyway, Michian liked artists, so in theory he’d have his eye on her. And doubly so, Michian was said to like unicorn mares, giving her twice of a chance. And where was he, anyway? Vinyl wasn’t sure whether she wanted to see him this far ahead of the gig. On the one hoof, that was time to get to know him, but on the other hoof she’d not taken a dip in the pond, and she had a thing she did with her mane and tail that made them a little more shaggy and scruffy, and she liked to polish her rose-colored trademark shades and she could tell they weren’t polished, they still had dust from the road on them that she was going to have to 

…screaming in the distance. Octavia screaming. Over by the cart!

…suddenly there as if no time had elapsed, panting with exertion, only to see Tavi flipping out in hysterics and Big Macintosh looking like he was about to cry and—her decks. He’d brought Octavia breakfast, and juice to drink, and he’d tripped or stumbled or something and had spilled the tray on top of her decks where they were packed.

“OMIGAWWD no wait Tavi stop Tavi don’t jump around like that! Don’t kick, that’s right, big hugs, deep breaths…”

“Ah’m sorry! Ah’m sorry!”

Vinyl turned, in haste, to speak to the culprit. “You settle down too! Stay! I’ll get to you, just sit quietly!”

“Yes’m!” squeaked Big Macintosh, blushing even more brightly red, and he sat and waited.

“Octavia, listen to me!” demanded Vinyl, her ears back. “I want you to notice something… yes, no jumping, that’s right, take a deep breath not all that panting, good girl, good Tavi… back with me?”

Octavia stared, stricken, distraught… but increasingly, capable of reason and common sense. “Oh, Scratchie!”

“Yes! This is Scratchie right here, I want you to do something, can you do something for me?”

“Oh, but I couldn’t do anything! It was awful, the juice was like ‘sploosh’ and everything was ruined forever…” wailed Octavia, beginning to trot in place again.

“No! Focus! Octavia, look again, do you see? Do you see what’s there?” insisted Vinyl. “Look, look, silly pony!”

Octavia’s lip quivered. “It’s your decks. And juice spilled all over them and I couldn’t stop it.”

“No no,” said Vinyl, “look. CLOTHS.”

She stared manically into Octavia’s eyes from over her unpolished dusty trademark shades, willing the flighty artist to understand, twitching her head toward the decks and the luxurious cloths she always draped them in.

Octavia gasped. “You mean…”

Vinyl Scratch nodded. “I do! Look, see, it’s okay, it’s what the cloths are for!” She lit her horn, grabbed the cloths without grimacing or wincing, perkily mopped up stray orange juice while casually flinging the tray and breakfast over the side of the cart. Big Macintosh wouldn’t mind, and she had to get ‘em out of the sight of Octavia. “See, see? All better!” chirped Scratch.

Octavia’s lip was still quivery. Indeed, all of Octavia was quivery, because she was trembling all over and the spectacle would have dropped Stout Heart at twenty paces… well, dropped part of him, anyhow. Vinyl hung onto her smile for all she was worth, and continued. “Now, Tavi, darling, sweetie, I’m going to need you to apologize…”

“I’m ever so sorry I wasn’t able to stop it!” sobbed Octavia. “And it doesn’t make any sense, I know those are like little quilts to keep the decks cozy, they can’t be just rags for spills…”

“…to Big Macintosh!” concluded Vinyl fiercely, and Octavia’s jaw dropped. So did Big Macintosh’s.

“What?” said both in chorus, mercifully forgetting Octavia’s last point.

Vinyl fixed them with a stern glare. “That’s right! Say you’re sorry for freaking out so much. He was only doing what I asked him to do… that’s right! …because I saw you weren’t having breakfast.” She hugged the stunned Big Macintosh, and continued. “And you still haven’t! So here’s your punishment that isn’t really a punishment, okay? BOTH of you, go off to the field I was hanging out in, you saw where I was, and you both have to have grass for breakfast! It’s really nice over there, might still be some dew on it. I sympathise with you wanting to treat Octavia with something nice, Big Macintosh, but on the morning of a big gig we’re better off having nice ordinary grass instead of rich and fancy stuff, and it’s really good in that field, trust me.”

“Um,” said Big Macintosh, as Octavia’s gaze pleaded for forgiveness.

Vinyl Scratch stamped a hoof on the bottom of the cart, making both jump.

“Now!” she ordered, and then there was nothing but clambering and the tail ends of galloping ponies, as Big Macintosh and Octavia did as she asked.

Vinyl gave them three seconds to be sure they wouldn’t turn back, and then she turned instantly to the decks, her own lip quivering dreadfully in woe.

…frantically galloping around town searching for replacement cloths, her heart leaping up into her throat with its panicked pounding. Oh, there had to, there just HAD to be somepony who could set her up! It wasn’t that her decks would betray her, and certainly they were not broken, but after that line of bullshit she fed Mac and Tavi, she so totally had to make it up to them. Tavi was right, in no sense did she cover her decks with wash-cloths or tarpaulins. Their covers were luxurious little coverlets, and well deserved, and if she couldn’t find somepony who made cloth that would do her faithful decks justice…

Vinyl whinnied, rearing. Him! Michian. He hadn’t seen her, was down the street, but this was the worst time to run into the guy. She’d have to seem confident, and her shades still weren’t polished, and she sweated, and before another moment had passed Vinyl had ducked down a side street to avoid encountering the notorious promoter early, and she trotted, looking from side to side…


A window revealed bolts of cloth that took her breath away, fine brocaded silks to make Rarity weep with envy. Well, thought Vinyl, more like ‘make Rarity disappear into her Boutique and not come out until she’d woven something even better’, but the point stood: she’d found what she needed.

“Hello!” she called, trotting into the little hole-in-the-wall store. The proprietor, a rumpled old unicorn mare in granny glasses, dropped a sequin in startlement.

“Hello, miss! Can I help you?”

“Oh,” said Vinyl, “I hope so. I don’t mean to be any trouble, but do you make the fabric shown in the window?”

Behind the granny glasses, eyes widened. She gasped. “Your accent is so strange—and you’re upset! How can I help you?”

Vinyl grinned uncertainly from behind her dusty, unpolished DJ Pon-3 shades. “I’m hoping you can sell me just a couple squares of that fabr… oh, horseapples, I left my money in the cart, can you wait here? I’ll only be a moment, make that a couple minutes but if I run really fast…”

“Stop!” squeaked the proprietor.

Vinyl blinked. “Stop?”

The old mare smiled at her. “Look at you. So strange, and you’ve been running like a madmare, and you seek only a little sample of my fabrics…”

“If it’s the same width as the other bolts of cloth in the window,” said Vinyl, “I’ll want to trim it slightly, and of course it’s not really squares exactly. They like the edges to hang down neatly and tuck under just a tiny bit. Um. I just mean, I know the exact dimensions!”

“You’re one of the musicians,” said the proprietor. “And it’s some sort of an emergency. Never fear. I will get you your almost-squares, right away. In fact, I’ll hem them for you. Are you the one with the huge fiddle?”

“No,” said Scratch, blushing. “They’re for my decks.”

“Ah,” said the proprietor, her eyes crinkling up as she smiled. “I see. This town should like you, then. Now which would it have been… I’d say… that one!”

Scratch’s eyes widened. “Yes! How did you know? I never told you which fabric it was!”

The old eyes crinkled still more warmly. “Oh, you thumping-beat ponies think you’re the only ones who can read how ponies are affected by your art?”

Vinyl gawked for a moment, then vowed, “I’ll be back in just a few minutes with the money for you!”

“Hold your tongue,” snapped the old mare, “and your horses. Sit down. First of all, you need to show me the dimensions for your almost-squares, and sit tight while I hem them. Secondly, you’re not paying so much as a cherry blossom petal. Michi-poo would be terribly disappointed in me if I failed you. He’ll be deeply moved and happy that I was there when you needed me. It’s just the sort of thing he likes.” She winked. “If it helps, I can probably get a lovely evening out of him once he finds out what I have done. Never you fear, I’ll be compensated. Handsomely, you might say.”

“Mi…” began Vinyl, astonished. “Michian? Is that what you mean? You think Michian is going to reward you with, with sex?”

The old unicorn mare winked again at her, the crinkled old eyes twinkling merrily.

“I am a star too, darling,” she said, smugly.

…running back to the cart, for the hemming had taken a terribly long time. Vinyl welcomed it, for she knew she’d be honoring her decks with a special gift, but on the other hoof she’d left them cooling their platters for hours and couldn’t remember whether she’d explained herself before she left. They had presumably seen her distress, and they would always understand, but she’d been terribly anxious as the old mare patiently made two pieces of cloth into works of art, expressed in fabric and finish.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered to the quiet, motionless, serene decks. “I have something for ya.” Her horn lit, and her gifts were displayed.

It seemed like they smiled, somehow, with the same easy gratitude she’d seen in the old unicorn mare.

She could hear Octavia directing Big Macintosh, off in the distance: Mac was setting up the stage, and Octavia was helping. Vinyl could hear in the tones of their voices that they were taking pains to make it extra nice, trying hard to please her. A few bars of cello music wafted across the hillside. It sounded amazing. Octavia’s sense of acoustics was on full display, a real education in refinement of sound. Vinyl heard her, still dissatisfied, directing Big Macintosh to move the speakers again. His ‘eyup!’ came across quite clearly, and he sounded eager to move heavy speakers all day long if that’s what it took to give Octavia and Vinyl sonic perfection.

Scratch curled up around her decks, trembling slightly, telling herself that everything was going to go fine from now on.

“Excuse me?”

“Eeee!” squeaked Vinyl, popping up. It was HIM! Michian’nai-sha stood outside the cart, hooves on the wheel, peering in at her with his ears back in alarm.

He blushed. “Forgive me. I didn’t mean to interrupt anything. I only saw you running across town, and it seemed you were worried…”

“All better now!” squeaked Vinyl, unable to look away from his handsome lilac eyes. Michian’nai-sha was a pale blue pony, with a deep purple mane that was unkempt in that very specific way you got when you paid hairdressers massive sums to get unkempt in style, and those eyes, so pale but so deep at the same time…

“Oh, good!” said Michian. “Is there anything further I can help with?”

Scratch blushed, and then she hopped out of the cart. “Nope! But there’s a nice lady in town you might want to check in on!”

He blinked. “There is?”

“She set me up with this!” chirped Vinyl, and her horn lit and she saw his eyes flash to it. But all she was doing was lifting one of the cloths she’d got. “Nice, huh? I can show you where it was.”

“Of course I know,” said Michian, bowing his head solemnly. “Such a gift. Exquisite.”

“Maybe you can thank her later!” quipped Vinyl. “But maybe not tonight, know what I mean?” She flirted with her tail.

Michian’s eyes were wide. “I wonder if I do…”

Vinyl suddenly realized that she had no real proof that Michian meant to screw the old lady mare, and she’d first assumed she could tell him to do it, and then turned around and told him to delay it. “I um, I, I…”

He bowed his head. “Never mind. Just know, my dear DJ Pon-3, I stand ready to assist. I look forward to enjoying your performance, and I can’t wait to see what you can do!”

Vinyl stared, while dozens of extremely raunchy DJ Pon-3 remarks tried to come to her lips. Not one of them seemed to fit this strange, gentle stallion, whose eyes held the peace of a Kirin, whose confidence was unrippled by any sort of rude flirtation. She was speechless for seconds, drowning in his eyes.

“Gotta go set up!” she squeaked, and began to gallop off. Then, she screeched to a halt, turned, trotted back, lifted both decks with her horn, put them down again, neatly removed and folded the new deck-drapes for she didn’t trust herself to do that while holding the decks up, lifted the decks again, and trotted away quickly.

Michian’nai-sha, bemused, watched her go. His tail flicked, then flicked again. Then an ear. Then, he too wandered off.

…around town, mingling with new fans and soon-to-be fans, her decks set up and ready, Octavia’s set approaching. Vinyl felt distracted and unsettled, and as another two ponies approached her, she realized again that she hadn’t polished her shades. She hit the ponies with a bright and glittering grin, anyway. She mingled, talking foolish bravado and complimenting the ponies she met, drawing them into the DJ Pon-3 Coolness Aura. It was an attitude she’d picked up in Fillydelphia: she had a knack of making ponies think they were privileged just to be hanging out with her. It was a radiance of stardom based on confidence and tailored by playfulness and flirtatiousness, colored by her brazen sexuality and thundercunt athleticism: hanging out with DJ Pon-3, you felt like anything could happen to anypony, and whatever it was, it was gonna be the sexiest, least inhibited thing ever.

Michian’nai-sha didn’t count. She furtively avoided him, for she’d not worked out the right approach, still. Or polished her shades. She kept meeting other ponies, hearing conversations, barging into them and being thrilled and amazed by the crazy news. Earth ponies chattered about sightings of a Weird Monster. It was apparently the most terrifying Monster in years, and there was much speculation about which town’s pegasi would destroy it. Unicorns gossiped about activity among the Kirin: apparently something was happening, they were gathering to hunt for something. What the Kirin proposed to hunt remained locked in obscurity, but the consensus among the unicorns was that the Kirin, in turn, were more anxious than they’d been for ages.

Some argued that Kirin would never be anxious. Older unicorns were polite about this, but Vinyl could tell they didn’t buy it. What was going on, that would worry the Kirin? Vinyl hoped it had nothing to do with her.

…heading to dinner, before she even knew it. Michian wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Had he gone off with that cloth-maker mare? Vinyl picked at her daikons and squash, distracted.

Big Macintosh approached. In his mouth was a bouquet of flowers. His eyes a wordless plea asking forgiveness, he presented Vinyl with the flowers.

Vinyl teared up, hugged him, accepted the flowers. They were delicious.

Wiping her eye, she noticed she still hadn’t cleaned her damn shades, but there was no time… Octavia was beginning to play, the rich plummy tones of her cello resonating outward from the bandstand as ponies began to gather, entranced. Vinyl trotted out to join them, putting on the armor of DJ Pon-3: that brassy self-confidence and inner focus. It made it easier, that she was transitioning into performance mode. Experiencing other ponies not as threats or challenges, but as vibrations: energy centers that she could read, a massed equine throb that produced a wave she could ride.

If she was good enough…

She’d be good enough, Vinyl Scratch told herself. Then, afterwards… she would see.

Octavia wowed ‘em. There was no fumbling. That mare could be counted on to deliver on the real gigs, thought Vinyl… or, rather, DJ Pon-3. A certain detachment stayed with her when she got into DJ-mind, and she tended to see her best friend’s artistic exploits mostly in terms of how they hit the audience. Octavia did as well, in her way, but Octavia didn’t count the house, and DJ Pon-3 knew exactly how many ponies were in the audience and had a pretty good sense of ticket prices. Of course, that was more a Fillydelphia and Canterlot thing. Ponyville was more innocent and she’d often performed for nothing in Ponyville, because it was just about community, and that made her feel at home. Probably because here, there was also that sense of community and you impressed not so much with a huge sack of bits, and more with your generosity and ability to share your gifts…

…which was going to happen in less than a minute, Octavia was very near the final bars of her last piece!

Vinyl Scratch frantically trotted through the crowd, unable to gallop because there were too many ponies in the way, and reached the edge of the stage, at the back. She gazed up at her decks.

She shut her eyes, took a deep breath, emptied her mind… and DJ Pon-3 stepped up onto the stage, just as Octavia finished with a triumphant final chord.

…walking up to her faithfully awaiting decks, DJ Pon-3 realized she still hadn’t polished her trademark shades. Behind them, for just an instant, a frightened look flashed across her eyes.

It wasn’t a long instant. She grinned cockily at the crowd. It was her crowd. All crowds were really her crowd. They just took different amounts of time to learn it.

Head lowered, platter pre-selected, Pon-3 went for an obscure but trustworthy throb to get things moving. Track came out of Mareheim. It was a weird track, and the pegasus who made it wasn’t entirely happy with how she used it: it was a 45 and she started it at lower than 33 RPM and never played the whole thing. It was the intro that she wanted, and a certain transition. She watched the crowd as they began to move to the submarine throb.

DJ Pon-3 was ready when the brassy musical stabs began to come in, and she began ramping up the speed, faster and faster, at just the time that the original musician had inexplicably chosen to wind DOWN the tempo. He’d explained it to her once, pouting: some theory about making the beat heavier and heavier. Really, what he was doing was bringing it closer to what a dance floor could handle—Mareheim had some really insane clubs, not representative of typical pony dance floors at all. Even then, he kept it Mareheim and in the original recording he’d dropped it down to a tempo that would still burn out a less pegasi-oriented dance floor in minutes.

She watched closely, as the crowd was galvanized by the sounds swooping upward in pitch, while the tempo mostly stayed the same… except that it, too, was ramping up as she pushed the beat, and… there! She transitioned to one of her signature tracks, out of Zebrica, a zebra mare who lived near the border and dared travel via unicorn-powered magic portals. She had brought in sonic elements from Canterlot and Mareheim and incorporated that into her sound, producing a sexy grinding throb that was still very stark and forbidding, lacking warmth and prettiness.

DJ Pon-3 promptly threw another record on to replace the intro Mareheim track, cued it and got it synced just right, and a Canterlot musician entirely unrelated to dance music provided the warmth and prettiness, plus an expected strange fascinating twist once the largely acoustic track modulated to a key that would enter roughly where the Zebrican track would hit a rhythmic break. There were some lingering melodic elements in the rhythm track, but they’d seem alien and weird against a foreign key. And then, yank the acoustic overlay out when the Zebrican track dropped its bass—done—and switch to…

She blinked, behind the shades. These ponies weren’t going according to plan. She had some of them, but a few in the rear were backing off, looking distressed. Worse, a few ponies in the front were just watching, not dancing. They looked impressed, but DJ Pon-3 was not a spectator sport as far as she was concerned. Nobody saw the worry in her eyes, and her grin and waving hoof didn’t flag for a moment, but her horn lit extra bright as she rifled through carefully organized stacks of records, and hastily grabbed one…

Hints of a madly whirling musical motif entered, as she brought in the new platter spinning extra fast, then deftly slowed it and dragged the signature track just a bit as it hit a big orchestral stab, causing a lurch. That was bad mojo, and the Zebrican producer would’ve been furious and Fillydelphia would have laughed at her, but it was also distraction to cover an important adjustment. She watched from behind the shades, her jaw tight, seeing if it had worked—and it had. The overtired ponies at the back sensed the cooling off of the beat, and they came back, bouncing on their hooves in relief, while half the gawkers lining the stage squealed at her stunt and began bouncing in glee.

The adjustment had changed the tempo one beat per minute. Nothing more… but she had ‘em.

…waving her hoof in the air, DJ Pon-3 ran through an audacious tracklist, being careful not to demand too much of the innocent Neighponnese audience. They knew about dancing, but they couldn’t handle a full-on Fillydelphia nightclub, and only pegasi could handle a pure Mareheim dancefloor. The curious thing was, if you cranked up the Mareheim beat until the pegasi were succumbing to attrition, feathers flying everywhere and dancers being dragged comatose off the floor, you started to get into a zone where the unicorns with their graceful flowing liquid moves began to get involved. That was what you might call an advanced move, knowing that zone was there.

The Neighponnese crowd was mostly earth ponies. They bounced, flicking their tails, rubbing up against each other lewdly. DJ Pon-3 looked for Michian’nai-sha, but couldn’t find him, and put it out of her mind. Couldn’t do two things at once. Well, she thought, remembering certain very wild gigs: could do two things at once, had done, definitely shouldn’t. Especially not at a gig where she hoped to impress an important promoter. Her sexual favors didn’t mean shit unless she could also light up the dance floor.

There were key changes, texture changes, she knew she could throw in. She did all of ‘em, flawlessly. Her mixer had a magic-controlled gizmo called an isolator: using it, she smoothed the beat out to nothing but a thumping, and threw in a series of pulsing moves that transformed the whole texture of the music into a building wave of increasing brightness, bursting out and then subsiding and bursting again, a little more sparkly each time as the audience cheered and shook their tails. Some of the unicorns began shooting sparks, interpreting what she was doing. She hastily completed that stunt and got ‘em dancing again, for she had other plans…

…working her set up to a climax, DJ Pon-3 dove into her crates for the hybrid Zebrican/Mareheim stuff again, along with a special track out of Saddle Arabia she reserved for special moments. She watched the audience like a hawk, and finally spotted Michian and made mental note of where he was at. He was dancing. Nothing equine could resist her beat at the height of her powers, and of course he was dancing, though he looked like he was trying to stay reserved.

DJ Pon-3’s grin quirked at the corner.

Reserve THIS.

As she allowed the final build to surge up, using the isolator and building it in waves, she prepared the secret record, and got it spinning terribly fast. If anypony had listened to that part normally, they’d have been horrified at how the treble had been all worn off by such treatment, but Pon-3 had just one way she used this track and she began sneaking in its sound as a bright, near-supersonic twittering against the throbbing bass of yet another signature track.

And she drove and drove and DROVE the dancefloor, knowing the way this track built and even ramped its tempo, and she launched the whole thing into a riot of surging and still expanding beats as the twittering contrast got louder and louder, fighting and merging with the beat, and as everything exploded in chaos she got the turntable platter spinning steady and kept the record slipping and whirling on the turning mat and readied the isolator and…


…hit the breakdown of the Zebrican track perfectly, in spite of the faint ramping of tempo it had, while whirling the second track down into its bloom of atmospheric loveliness. She had never failed to sync that transition, and the bloom section had never been subjected to insane high speeds, and its grooves were mostly unharmed: the only damage they suffered was suffered once more, stoically, as the diamond in the turntable needle glowed red-hot for a moment while it recovered.

All the unicorns in the audience climaxed, gouts of lovely horngasm spurting up into the air, while among them, the earth ponies and pegasi came just as enthusiastically.

DJ Pon-3 sternly repressed the naughty urge to quip, in Ponyville fashion, “Now that’s how we do it down on the farm!” Her grin showed her amusement, however.

Her grin flagged for a moment. No, not all the unicorns. Michian’nai-sha was visible. He was grimacing. The hell? He was gritting his teeth. Vinyl Scratch’s heart jumped in her chest. DJ Pon-3’s smile promptly returned to ‘maximum cocky little grin’, and she bowed playfully for her people as they screamed their approval.

…and then somehow she was already backstage, having taken her bows and applause, and was pushing out into the milling crowd of ponies, her heart pounding. They thronged her, and she scanned the fringes of the crowd, and praise Celestia! There he was, quite a ways back but not trying to leave. It seemed he entertained some ideas of greeting her anyway, whatever that grimace had meant.

DJ Pon-3 proceeded to get herself over to him, in purely DJ Pon-3 fashion.

“Hey, beautiful!” she cried, embracing and kissing entirely another pony who happened to be in between herself and Michian. “Wow, look at you!” she squealed delightedly at a pegasus who was rearing, showing off his pony hard-on. With a wicked grin, she slipped under him and squeezed out from between his hind legs, still on a path for her quarry. Feeling her petite celebrity body rubbing against his cock and her tail playfully tickling his balls, the pegasus whinnied and came all over a neighboring unicorn, who squealed in dismay and was then appeased as four mares pounced him and proceeded to lick him off… in every sense.

Just another DJ Pon-3 gig, among the excitable ponies. Bass really did something to the pony libido when you dropped it just right. Probably had to do with keeping pony heart rates at a state of high excitement for so long.

And there he was, his eyes wide, checking her out as she trotted saucily right up to him.

“Hiiii!” said DJ Pon-3, tilting her head playfully, ears perked up in full attention that was directed fully and entirely upon him.

“Hello,” he said, weakly. “Forgive me. I’m a little… overwhelmed!”

DJ Pon-3 cackled. “Yeah! I have that effect sometimes.”

“That effect?”

“Lots of effects,” said DJ Pon-3. “There’s one effect I sometimes get myself. Well, okay, always. Know what I mean?”

Michian took a deep breath. “From the looks of it, you’re eager to tell me.”

She stepped closer. “Yeah, I’m mega horny. Whatcha doin’?”

Michian’s eyes widened. “Oh my. Am I reading too much into that? Mistress of music, thumper of thumps?”

DJ Pon-3 cackled again, her trademark raunchy raucous laugh. “Whoa there! That’s YOUR department, cutie!” she said, and nuzzled his neck, and was reminded again that she still hadn’t polished her damn shades.

He gulped. “That’s very sweet of you…”


“I… I mean,” stammered DJ Pon-3, clinging to her persona, “thumper of RUMPS am I right? I talked to a… no, what I mean is, I like the look of you cutie, and I volunteer to be the thumped-upon rump, here or wherever ya like ‘cos a really hot gig always works me up…”

“Yay!” squeed a nearby earth pony mare. “Michian’s gonna fuck the DJ! Let’s watch!”

He shot a hurt look at her, and turned back to Pon-3. “Firstly, I accept. It is my honor, in fact, you are a true artist. But I had something a little different in mind.”

DJ Pon-3’s eyes were almost wider than her shades. “What’s that?”

“Come with me.”

She hadn’t even had time for a quip. The crowd erupted in a single cheer, and suddenly she and Michian’nai-sha were being carried by the crowd to the edge of the field and into the town.

“That’s enough!” called Michian. “Back to your fun, good ponies!”

Giggling, they plunked him and DJ Pon-3 down with a thud on the grass, and stampeded merrily back to the bandstand, where a pony orgy already awaited them.

DJ Pon-3 and Michian’nai-sha stared at each other…

Her shades had come off. They’d landed in a mud puddle. There was no hope of cleaning or polishing them in order to deliver a proper DJ Pon-3 look, and their absence was the last straw for DJ Pon-3’s precarious nerves, rattled by all the drama and close calls and unexpected events.

And so, Vinyl Scratch and Michian’nai-sha stared at each other, and Vinyl’s lip quivered.

Her eyes were huge. “Here?” she squeaked, without any of the bravado she’d been cultivating.

Michian smiled, and he leaned forward and kissed her nose. “I can do better.”

“Can ya?” she said, and tried to pull herself together. “Great! I can do better too, in fact I can do ya so amazingly you won’t even believe it, just let me…”

Her eyes crossed. He was booping her nose.

“Sh. Do you know what I saw today?”

“Don’t you mean tonight?” said Vinyl.

“No, I mean today,” said Michian. “Tonight I saw a great artist. Also,” he winked, “a very desirable mare, let’s get that straight. You seem very eager to bed me, and I’m delighted. But, my dear DJ Pon-3, today I saw a little unicorn have a very busy day. Isn’t that so?”


“I saw her help her cellist friend, who has some things to learn about living the artist’s life and managing her creative impulses…”

“She was great!” squeaked Vinyl, wide-eyed and alarmed. “Wasn’t she great? You have to admit when it came to the actual concert…”

“Shh,” soothed Michian. “You’re not wrong. And it’s okay for great talents to need a little personal management… though usually this is done by a road manager or road crew, and not by the headlining act! But I digress. I saw this little unicorn organize support for her friend, and I heard what happened…”

Vinyl’s lip quivered again.

“And I saw her running through town on some errand, presumably to replace things that were damaged in the accident with what apparently was breakfast?”

Vinyl nodded. “Yeah. Don’t hold it against Big Macintosh! He was doing his best.”

“Of course not.”

Vinyl gulped, and then gave the elegant Neighponnese unicorn a hard look. “And this has to do with me fuckin’ you until you’re even more delighted… how?”

He dropped his gaze humbly, and then peered up and there was a DJ Pon-3 like fire in his eyes.

“Oh no no, Miss Pon-3. You’ve had a hard day. It’s getting late. Please allow me the privilege of making love to you until YOU are delighted.”

A smile crept across Vinyl’s face. “Aww!”

“I mean it,” warned Michian. “Don’t worry about me. My delight is your delight. I’ll be fine. You’re worked up? Let me show YOU a good time.”

“Yay!” squeaked Vinyl, bouncing up to her hooves, reassured that her plans were going well at last.

“Uht!” said Michian, and his horn lit. “Not so fast! I think this is yours?”

He lifted her muddied, but intact, shades.

She batted her eyelashes at him.

“Those belong to DJ Pon-3,” she said. “That’s me as well, like a public me, for gigs. But you? Hey… call me Vinyl. And sure… yeah, that sounds really nice.”

“I intend it to be,” said Michian, gravely. “Come this way.”

She nuzzled against him as they walked, feeling extremely lucky. “Y’know, I am kinda good at that stuff. Do I get to put on my own show? You know, do ya right? You’re a sweetie, Michian’nai-sha, I’d like to do that.”

“If the spirit so moves you,” he said, “I shan’t complain. I’m trying to tell you that you don’t have to perform. Let me do my thing, if I may. I… it would be very special, for me. And, you know, I am no slouch myself.”

“Giant horsecock?” wondered Vinyl. “Hips of steel, mare-pounding power?”

Michian snorted. “Pah. Sort of. I will ask you not to demand calisthenics and rodeos.”

“You know about rodeos! We have those back where I live!” cried Scratch.

“I know many things. Come with me.”

“Ya don’t have to ask twice,” purred Vinyl, nuzzling him again.


…trotting, eager, flirting on the way until she was winking and he had a impressive erection bouncing around under him, they approached a well-kept house.

“Your house? Lover?” teased Vinyl. “Do I have to wait until we get in? For you to get in?”

“My third house,” said Michian, his head proud and high. “Which is in this town, and I’m glad of that right now. One’s in the capital city, and one got infested with pink demons… it was on a mountain pass, quite isolated.”

“Oh no! What happened?”

“All the carpets got ruined with pudding. Don’t ask,” said Michian. “Anyhow, please wait! I’d prefer to be inside. We’ll draw the curtains.”

“Ya like privacy?” asked Vinyl.

“For some very intimate moments, yes I do,” said Michian.

She broke into a cute little gallop and ran right into the house, laughing to feel him close behind, his breath on her tail. His horn lit, and curtains all around slid on curtain-rods, and the door shut firmly. She glanced, and the curtains seemed heavy… and she realized they were chain-mail.


“In a sense.”

Then, Vinyl Scratch gasped. Michian’nai-sha had seized her pert little buttock in his teeth, but it wasn’t exactly a bite. He flared his lip back in a snarl, savoring her scents, but rather than painfully nip her, the unicorn stallion had taken a big mouthful of Pon-3 rump and just sensuously wiggled it with his teeth. She glanced back in startlement, and saw only the huge smile on his face, and the confident, naughty look in his eyes.

“OH yeah,” panted Vinyl, and braced herself, shivering with desire.

“Allow me to melt your cares away,” he said decorously, releasing her quivery rump. This got him a squeal of lustiness, and his ears perked forward, his eyes glittering. With a well-coordinated heave, he mounted.

Before she could wink three times, he’d entered: a bold shove, and his flare had squeezed juicily into her pussy. He was big for Neighpon! Not so thick, but a lovely flare, bulky and expanding smoothly to its widest point. She felt the bulk of him begin to move, and it was excellent and measured and calm, not jabbing her but exploring comfortably as his forelegs tenderly gripped her body, his cheek nuzzling her neck. Without looking, she knew he’d closed his eyes: there was something in the posture when a stallion closed his eyes and just got snuggly that way…

Her eyes widened, and she let out a squeak. He’d resettled his hooves, shifted his grip, and pulled out. Before she could draw a breath, she felt that nice solid flare pressing firmly into her again, quick enough that she’d not cramp on it, giving her another taste of that moment but better, since she’d warmed up and got used to his size. It wasn’t a huge size, but she felt all of it as he worked his magic.

Vinyl’s mouth fell open in a goofy smile of delight. So nice! She decided to give him a treat as well, and the next time he pulled out, she tensed and tightened herself, giving him a spectacularly taut vagina to press into…

“No,” he whispered into her ear, sympathetically. “I’m sure you can do that. Let me please you. Relax.”

Ears quirked, Vinyl relented, and felt the stiff horsecock press lovingly into her again. Seriously, she thought? But he did have a point. She’d automatically gone for stallion-pleaser mode. This one wanted to be in control. That could be awful sexy, too. Vinyl nuzzled back against Michian’s affectionate, warm neck, kissed the side of his face. His eyes were closed again. Dear Celestia, this guy felt good to have on you.

Vinyl panted. He loved that trick of pulling out and then firmly entering you again, but that wasn’t all he had, not by a long shot. Michian could set up a fantastic surging, a sort of thrust that powerfully took her and plunged into her, but he seemed to have an amazing sense for what would feel comfortable and good. She squealed, and recalibrated that in a hurry: the guy, the fucking amazing guy had a sense for UNcomfortable and good, and he just loved to flirt with that line. Her heart was in her throat, but in the nicest way, because it was never quite alarming. It didn’t hurt, but he seemed to be able to read her body with unbelievable skill. And he was tireless, smooth as silk, and just when her eyes began to roll back in her head, he’d… sweetCELESTIA! playfully deal her another jolt, just to wake her up. He was just big enough to do it, or else he had a very good sense of how deep to plunge in her.

Vinyl began to hyperventilate and wriggle in his forelegs, winking like a maniac around his lovingly plunging horsecock. She squealed again. It was just too good! Her body shuddered, and then in spite of her willing efforts to relax for him… something she was ecstatic to do, rewarded by his deft horsecockmanship… she began to clench, and heard him grunt in surprise. She was a very special little pony in certain ways. She did exercises. Her pussy began to wail on his shaft in earnest, spasming as if he’d stuck his dick into some kind of industrial milking machine.

It didn’t faze him… but she could feel him get more determined. He tensed over her, and he just kept up his motions. He didn’t try to pull out, and didn’t jolt her again, but he kept moving, even as obscene juicy sounds filled the air and her pussy gushed lube as she came. She squealed again, and couldn’t stop coming. She was so slick around him that he could have taken to pounding her ruthlessly, her psyche begged for it and yet he stuck to his course.

Vinyl was nuzzling his neck and howling her pleasures to the ceiling, her body shaking as orgasms rocked her, when she felt him tense up. His teeth gritted, just like they had at the gig. She didn’t know how she knew, but she felt it, and then…


Horsecome gushed into her, even as Michian’s raging hard-on continued to eagerly plumb her cozy depths. She felt it, viscous spurts, and she screamed in pleasure and pressed her neck fervently against his, and she savored his loving grip around her body, and her pussy clung and clenched to him and it went on and on and on, herself able to keep it going, himself milking it for all he was worth and she felt the longing in him as he clung shivering to her and pumped gout after gout of semen into her womb, shuddering with obvious adoration and nudging that throbbing hard-on as if in sheer reverence, wrapping himself around her like she was the only pony in the world…


Vinyl Scratch, pleasured beyond endurance, squealed a cute little squeal and horngasmed, her horn spurting out a little sploosh of magic.


Michian’nai-sha erupted in horngasm. All that he had held back at the climax of the gig, all that was in him, burst forth and earthed itself in Vinyl Scratch. She couldn’t even squeal: the pleasure, the lovedness and emotional connection he’d been coaxing along, was suddenly her whole world. Cyan-blue magic gushed into her even as a final spasm of horsecome spurted into her womb, and she stared at nothing, transfixed, blinded with orgasm, her soul drenched in an aura of pure love.

The magic scintillated, brought with it a deep understanding of how Michian felt, and it was a breathtaking feeling. He’d needed this so badly. Vinyl, wrapped in his trembling embrace, vulnerable in her orgasmic state, couldn’t resist it in the least. Her heart went out to him in those moments, with his cock sunk so deeply and lovingly into her, his neck pressed against hers as if trying to twine around her, feeling his heart pounding against her back, and the magic still locked on to her horn and radiating through her whole body, bringing the aura of Michian’nai-sha tingling out to the tips of her hooves…

He sagged, and couldn’t maintain it, and the horngasm cut out. Vinyl was no longer illuminated: she panted, flooded with pleasure, and she felt him soften, dismount, the horsecock tugging out of her. She staggered, and though he was unsteady himself he caught her, and she felt his heart pounding against her, and she looked up, her eyes full of wonder…

He was weeping. He smiled. It was a quivery smile, but… sorry? Her eyes went very wide, trying to understand.

“Thank you,” he said. “Oh, thank you…”

That wasn’t right, it couldn’t be right, she thought. Thank her? HER? He was a miracle, a deity, what could he have to thank HER about? She licked her lips, still wobbling, but before she could speak, he was talking again.

“W—we can go and see the Kirin. If you need to. It would of course be the correct thing to do,” said Michian, as if by rote. “Perhaps not right this minute, but we are in Neighpon which is my home, and I would not be Michian were I not responsible for…”

“Oh!” said Vinyl. There was a sadness coming from him, and she knew damn well why, and hastened to reassure him. “Oh, honey! Don’t worry. It’s okay, we’re not breaking any rules. I have it taken care of. I, I, there’s actually a Ponyville thing with a herb you take, earth pony’s friend…”

He gave a little jolt, and the sadness worsened. “Yes, we must all be earth ponies’ friends…”

“I just mean, it’s okay! Oh my GAWWWD that was so wonderful, I’m so touched I can’t even, and I promise I didn’t get pregnant off that. I come from here, okay? A long time ago. I’m no dumb pony, I know the rules…”

He kept wincing. Vinyl died a thousand deaths to see that: every word seemed to make it worse. He had been in her, his horngasm had been in her, she understood him now… and what he wanted, most deep in his heart, wasn’t allowed. There would be no herd of unicorn foals for Michian’nai-sha. She looked around at his house… his third house.

It was very beautiful for a cage.

Or not quite a cage… she looked back at him, and his mouth had tightened. The sadness now had a touch of self-pity, even resentment, and Vinyl looked at him, at the beauty of him, and she saw that he would remain Michian’nai-sha… he’d accepted the bargain he’d made. He was no celebrity-pony in Fillydelphia, or in Mareheim, or in Ponyville. She was those things. He was in Neighpon… and she could see that he was going to remain in Neighpon, remain Michian’nai-sha, remain his own sad kind of beautiful.

She looked back at him, beginning to cry, wondering if he was going to say ‘You should go’.

She found herself strained in an impassioned, fervent hug, and they clung for a moment.

“Thank you,” he said, instead.

…walking unsteadily back to the cart, not sure quite how she’d got herself there. Eyes luminous with unspilled tears, body still floating on a haze of pleasure, his come tenderly coating her unwelcoming uterus. Everything had happened, nothing would happen. Vinyl heaved a trembly sigh.

“It’s her!” squeaked Octavia, and she and Big Macintosh peeked out, to see Vinyl make her wobbly way up to them and rejoin them.

Octavia and Vinyl gazed at each other.

“But your sunglasses, Scratchie?”

Vinyl gulped. Her horn lit. From a cozy place in her mane, the DJ Pon-3 shades lifted up, came into view. They were spotless.

She didn’t remember that. Michian must have done it. Of course he had.

“Did he like you?” said Octavia uncertainly. Her eyes widened. “Oh, Scratchie, your horn! Did he like you, was it good? Scratchie?”

Vinyl’s lip quivered woefully, and her eyes glistened.

“YES!” she wailed, and burst into tears, and was swept up in Octavia’s embrace… and Big Macintosh’s, and he helped them get into the cart where they could cuddle and later, sleep in comfort.

And on into the night, Octavia’s soothing voice could be heard, as she tirelessly cuddled a sobbing unicorn, who had no more stardom left for the day.

“…and listen, I think you made him as happy as he possibly could be. Do you understand, dear Scratchie? You both did the best that you could.”


“And I think it’s a shame he couldn’t follow through and go with you, if he’s so wonderful and nice…”

“His home is here,” said Vinyl forlornly. “I understand that.”

“Well then, it’s a shame and a disgrace they can’t let you accept his foal and carry it through the tour and back home to Ponyville, since it would mean so much to him apparently…”

“No, Tavi,” pleaded Vinyl Scratch. “It’s not our way. Please don’t argue. Neighpon does things differently. We have Kirin.”

“To meddle in your lives,” grumbled Octavia, her ears back. “In your most intimate lives.”

Vinyl wiped a tear. “I…”

“Yes, Scratchie, lovie?”

“Now I know what the renegades felt like,” said Scratch miserably. “The ones that tried to take over.”

Octavia regarded her, warily. “Is that good?”

Scratch sat for a moment, cuddled in soft earth pony forelegs. “No,” she said. “No, it isn’t. I trust the Kirin. I’m not that good. He’s not that good. What we’re doing now is the best way we can be with our lives. Breeding a race of unicorns and ruling Neighpon isn’t even what I want.”

“Why do you think that’s what he would want? This, um, Michian’nai-sha?”

Vinyl snuggled gently against Octavia. When she spoke, it was soft and foalish. “You can’t understand. We’re just clever ponies with magic horns, but he felt like so much more… and I felt like so much more, to him. I understand what happened to the renegades. I understand why they felt they should rule… but, Tavi, I’m not like that. And this Michian, this amazing compassionate powerful smart pony… he’s not like that either. He has humility. He’s a booking agent. That’s all. Not a King, or an Emperor. He’s just a pony, with a magic horn.”

Octavia, not inexperienced in being reduced to quivering adulation on the end of a stallion, quirked her ears. “Did he feel like a King?”

“He felt like a God,” said Vinyl softly.

“Hm. Well,” said Octavia, “did you please him? This Pony-God of total benevolence and wisdom?”

Vinyl wriggled against Octavia, her body warm.

“It was the same for him,” she said. “I could tell. I was his Goddess, just for a night. And then it was over. I won’t see him again.”

“Vinyl?” said Octavia gently. “I know you’re hurting. I’ll stay with you as long as you need… and I even kind of understand what you mean, and you’re right: from what you tell me, you probably won’t see him again. And from what you tell me, I don’t think you could have expected more. Remember? You were mostly worried you wouldn’t be able to impress this guy enough. Foaling was NOT on the menu, and three hours ago you’d have laughed at me for suggesting it… all you wanted to do, all you even hoped to do, was get this guy in the sack and put on enough of a show that he’d be favorably disposed to you… to us.”

Vinyl sniffled, and gave Octavia a cranky look. “Okay, go ahead. You know I deserve it, and you’re kind of right. Say it, I know you’re thinking it.”

“Well,” said Octavia, “it seems like everything went according to plan.” She petted Vinyl’s mane, apologetically.

Vinyl shut her eyes and snuggled against Octavia, her lower lip pouting.

“Stupid plan,” she said.

Octavia cuddled her closer, settling in for the night. Tomorrow was another gig.