A Change of Key (Slave Pony, America, WIP)

Nov 28th, 2017
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  1. >Day A Change of Key.
  2. “It’s a wonderful day outside.”
  3. >You spin, and your mane waves.
  4. ”Birds are singing, flowers are blooming.”
  5. >You hold out a hoof triumphantly and pull it in toward you.
  6. “On days like this…”
  7. >The piano starts playing.
  8. “And a one, and a two, and a, Oh I’m so happy to be a slave.”
  9. >You kick out your hooves to dance.
  10. “Because everything, is going my way!”
  11. “I know I won’t be sad,”
  12. >You peek behind a lightpost.
  13. “In fact we’ll all be glad,”
  14. >You spin around it.
  15. “Cuz my master back in towwwwnnnn.”
  16. >Ponies look at you like you are crazy.
  17. “We worked so hard together,”
  18. “Didn’t beat me with his leather,”
  19. “Though I messed up all the time,”
  20. “Our friendship was on the line.”
  21. “I’m so happy that he found meeee!”
  22. >The piano changes to a minor key for a more somber note.
  23. >Lights all around you dim, so only the street light shines on you.
  24. “Once I felt so lonely, I thought that I’d give up,”
  25. “Who would want a pony like me?”
  26. ”Without a talent- can’t even sing on key,”
  27. >The piano audibly chooses the wrong note.
  28. >You wince with the pause before the piano picks up again.
  29. “Just give me a chance, I’m just down on my luck,”
  30. >Up tempo chords, one, two, three.
  31. “Oh won’t you hear my plea?”
  32. >The piano does a middle E to D scale, and changes back to the major key.
  33. >All the lights turn on.
  34. “Oh I’m so happy to be a slave.”
  35. “Because everything, is going my way!”
  36. “I know I won’t be sad,”
  37. “In fact we’ll all be glad,”
  38. “Cuz my master back in towwwwnnnn.”
  39. >You leap in the air with joy.
  40. ”Hard before, had to make my own way,”
  41. “Just the Princesses, with all of their lies,”
  42. “With people I came to empathize,”
  43. “Together, it’s a brand new day,”
  44. “I’m so happy that he found meeee!”
  45. >The piano plays several chords, before slowing down slightly.
  46. 1/10
  47. “Princesses, they want to rule us.”
  48. “No matter how much they hurt us,”
  49. “Celestia banished her own sister!”
  50. >The piano strikes a sinister cord.
  51. “We have toooooo resist heeeeeeeer.”
  52. >You climb on a car.
  53. ”Oh I’m so happy, my master is back in town.”
  54. >A pony walks up to you as you jump off the vehicle.
  55. >The piano plays four bass chords softly and repeatedly.
  56. >”What’s this about being happy?”
  57. “I just realized that I was causing my own unhappiness by not accepting the superiority of humanity.”
  58. >”Really?”
  59. “Yes!”
  60. >”Can I do that too?”
  61. >You take her hooves in yours.
  62. ”Yes!”
  63. >”Oh we are so happy to be a slave!”
  64. >You look around, in shock that everypony has decided to join you.
  65. >They throw down their tools, and dance along.
  66. >”Because everything is going our way!”
  67. “I know I won’t be sad, in fact we’ll all be glad!”
  68. >“Cuz her master, is back in town.”
  69. >The mare next to you starts singing.
  70. >”Housekeeping sure seems tough,”
  71. >“I thought I had enough,”
  72. >“But now I can finally see,”
  73. >“How good he is to ponies,”
  74. >“I’m so happy that he found me.”
  75. “I’m so happy that he found me.”
  76. >She grabs your hooves.
  77. >”Now we’re both happy.”
  78. >The ponies jump around with smiles on their faces.
  79. “Cuz my master,”
  80. >”Cuz her master,”
  81. ”Cuz my master…”
  82. >The drum kicks in.
  83. >One, two.
  84. >All the ponies sing in unison.
  85. “Is back in toooowwwwwwnnnnn!”
  86. >More uptempo chords.
  87. >You rear up on your hind legs and lift up your hooves in triumph as if praising the sun.
  88. “Yeah!”
  89. >The Director starts clapping.
  90. >”Amazing.”
  91. >That was perfect!
  92. >You nailed it!
  93. >”No, no, no! You’ve ruined it.”
  94. >You look down to see the offending voice.
  95. >It’s Major File “Magnet” Nohtfound, flanked by two Army soldiers as he descends the stairs.
  96. >The Sergeant drives actors here each morning, and the Lieutenant is in charge of your care.
  97. 2/10
  98. >File wears an Air Force blue uniform, while the other men wear camouflage.
  99. >”What’s the meaning of this, Major? I was told I wouldn’t be disturbed.”
  100. >”It’s clear that you are making a mess of this. You there,” he points at you. “What’s your name?”
  101. ”Vinyl Scratch.”
  102. >”You’re flat!” He pulls in at the air with a hand. “Make me feel the music. Make me believe that you are happy.”
  103. >You throw the script at him.
  104. ”The lyrics are garbage!”
  105. >”You’re garbage. I wrote that number myself, without any fancy theatre degree,” he scowls.
  106. >”Magnet, you haven’t given us enough time,” the Director says.
  107. >”Two weeks should have been more than sufficient for rehearsals. Any fool could do this number.”
  108. “Then why don’t you try it?” You say with crossed hooves.
  109. >You’ve been singing this stupid song for two weeks.
  110. >Let somepony else look like an idiot.
  111. >Major File Nohtfound smirks.
  112. >He climbs on stage.
  113. >The ponies shrink away from him.
  114. >”From the top!” He clears his throat as he waits for the piano to start up. “And a one and a two, and a, Oh I’m so happy to be a slave.”
  115. >Magnet waves his hat and dances.
  116. >”Because everything is going my way.”
  117. >He sings the rest of the number and absolutely kills it.
  118. >At the lonely part he falls to his knees and sings as if wounded.
  119. >It’s unreal.
  120. >Ponies all around you clap their hooves.
  121. >You actually believed he was a slave, finally accepting his fate.
  122. >It was beautiful.
  123. >Can you ever be that happy?
  124. >”See? There it is. Any fool could do it.”
  125. >You scoff.
  126. “So you’re saying you’re a fool?” you ask in a tone that indicates you are telling him, not asking.
  127. >Ponies around you inhale sharply.
  128. >You hear something dropping.
  129. >It clanks loudly on the floor.
  130. >File turns slowly toward you.
  131. >During the song the Director climbed on stage, and now he tries to get between you.
  132. 3/10
  133. >”Major, I’m sure she meant nothing by it. They’ve just been at it nonstop for two weeks. They need a break.”
  134. >Major Nohtfound takes a step forward.
  135. >”Perhaps they would like a break in the mines? That would make them more appreciative of their station.”
  136. >A few ponies plead, "no."
  137. >“That won’t be necessary, Magnet. I’ll motivate them.”
  138. >File frowns.
  139. >”If there are more delays, then I will play Vinyl’s part.”
  140. >He’s going to replace you?
  141. “You? You’re a stallion! Nopony will believe it.”
  142. >”Won’t they? With a little makeup, a wig, and camera angles anything is possible.”
  143. >”Major.”
  144. >”I should be leading a Squadron of bombers instead of being here. You are destroying my career! How the hell am I going to be promoted if this is a flop?!”
  145. >The stage is completely silent as File huffs in anger.
  146. >”I’ve only flown twice these last three months so I could make this. I might lose my flight status. I will make sure this is finished, even if I have to wear drag.”
  147. >A few ponies try to hide.
  148. >”Major, please. You are scaring the ponies. They won’t be able to sing unless they are happy.”
  149. >”Happy? Didn’t you listen to the song? All they have to do is accept that we are superior to them, and they will be happy.”
  150. “I want whatever you’re smoking.”
  151. >One of the guards steps forward, and you take a step back to stay out of his reach.
  152. >File’s gaze returns to you.
  153. >”You are flat. You can’t hit the right notes.” File turns back to the Director. “Why didn’t you get Songbird Serenade?”
  154. >He visibly gulps, “With your budget-“
  155. >”With my budget?! The Air Force has funded you too much! You’re fired!”
  156. >”Major! You can’t do that!”
  157. >”I just did! Fuck off. And fuck the lead too. Whatever his name is.”
  158. >The Director lifts a fist to punch File.
  159. >The Sergeant restrains him.
  160. >”You’ll never get away with this. The Guild will put me back.”
  161. 4/10
  162. >”You think I give a shit about the Guild? They will get their cut. Now get out.”
  163. >The man slumps in the guard’s arms.
  164. >”Fine. Don’t come crying to me when you fail.”
  165. >The guard lets go and allows him to recompose himself.
  166. >The room is completely silent as he leaves.
  167. >Ponies wait for direction from Major Nohtfound.
  168. >File takes a deep breath to calm himself.
  169. >He wipes sweat from his brow before standing taller.
  170. >File looks into the distance, and his back is turned to you.
  171. >His fists squeeze twice.
  172. >”Ponies. I didn’t waste twelve years of my life to see my career end. This movie will be made, even if I have to send every last one of you to hell. Is that understood?”
  173. ”Yes, sir,” you all say in unison.
  174. >He picks up the script from the ground, before turning to you.
  175. >”Vinyl?”
  176. “What?”
  177. >”You are in a very precarious situation. I don’t think you deserve to be the pony lead. You can barely sing.”
  178. “I’m supposed to DJ. I don’t sing.”
  179. >”Be that as it may, I’m stuck with you until I can get Songbird, or Coloratura.” He snaps to the pianist. “Next song. The one where Misty Dreams is fearful of Un Named.”
  180. >”Yes, Major.”
  181. >The pianist stretches her hooves before playing.
  182. >”No, give me a moment.”
  183. >File paces back and forth and huffs loudly.
  184. >You take the opportunity to stretch as well.
  185. >A few ponies change the set and place drywall between you two.
  186. >If you fail him again, you will have to work in the mines.
  187. >Nopony deserves that.
  188. >Finally he clears his throat and nods at the pony at the piano.
  189. >She starts playing.
  190. >Your cue passes.
  191. >The pony pauses, and returns to the previous part.
  192. >Again you miss your cue.
  193. >File opens his eyes and looks at you.
  194. >He doesn’t make a face.
  195. >He just looks at you blankly.
  196. >You don’t think he will accept another mistake.
  197. >This is your last chance.
  198. >The pony plays the chord to signal you to start.
  199. ”What should I do now?”
  200. “Taken from my home, forced to bow.”
  201. 5/10
  202. >You walk toward the empty audience.
  203. “I know I’ll make it out somehow,”
  204. “Somehow!”
  205. >File has his hands on his face as he start singing.
  206. >”What can I do now?”
  207. >”Can’t she see this is for the best?”
  208. >”With me she will never be alone,”
  209. >”Always will have a chaperone,”
  210. >“I’ll make her see, somehow,”
  211. >”Somehow!”
  212. >You wave a hoof.
  213. ”I don’t know if I can do this.”
  214. ”Equestria was filled with bliss,
  215. ”He’s so tall and strong- I so small and weak,”
  216. ”Everything here seems so bleak.”
  217. “I’ll find a way out, somehow,”
  218. >You look longingly at where you imagine is a window.
  219. “Somehow!”
  220. >”Acting better I want to advise,”
  221. >”I can see the pain in her eyes,”
  222. >”Though she tries he hide it from me,”
  223. >”I just want to make her happy,”
  224. >”Happy.”
  225. >The music slows slightly.
  226. ”I’ll wait until he sleeps, then hurt him in the dark,”
  227. ”It would be so easy, I’ll go way past the park.”
  228. ”I’ll have until the sun does rise,”
  229. ”With the moon to guide, gone before anypony can realize,”
  230. ”Somehow,”
  231. >You take a deep breath.
  232. “Somehow.”
  233. >”How can I make her see,”
  234. >”Being here is the best for you and me?”
  235. >”Ruled by tyrants, the ponies will always be.”
  236. >”With us, maybe they can feel free.”
  237. >”One day.”
  238. >”One day.”
  239. >The music returns to the normal beat.
  240. ”So much he expects of me,”
  241. ”Sticks of fire, they shoot loudly,”
  242. “How can we fight against them?”
  243. “Even if I escape, I’ll be back here.”
  244. “Those weapons I have to fear,”
  245. ”Tables turn sometimes.”
  246. ”Sometimes.”
  247. >”I have tried to be so kind,”
  248. >”Maybe I can win her mind?”
  249. >”From us, Ponies aren’t so different,”
  250. >”Every turn, my kindness she declined,”
  251. >”One day,”
  252. >”One day.”
  253. ”I don’t think I can do it.”
  254. ”Far from home, he can be pleasant.”
  255. ”But I know it’s all a show,
  256. ”I have to run away. It’s time to go!”
  257. >The music drops to a low bass line.
  258. >You open File’s door, and find him in anguish with his head in his hands.
  259. 6/10
  260. ”Master, did you need anything else for tonight?”
  261. >”No, Misty Dreams. You can rest now.”
  262. >You bow for him.
  263. ”Thank you, Master.”
  264. >”Good night.”
  265. >You close the door and magic a chair to block it.
  266. >The music returns, but it’s slightly more upbeat.
  267. ”I don’t think I can do it.”
  268. ”Far from home, he can be pleasant.”
  269. ”But I know it’s all a show,
  270. ”I have to run away, It’s time to go!”
  271. ”To gooooo!”
  272. ”Don’t care how hard it is,”
  273. ”I’ll find a way, today,”
  274. ”Can’t wait any longer,
  275. ”I have to run away, It’s time to go!”
  276. “To gooooo!”
  277. >You take a deep breath.
  278. >Was it good enough?
  279. >”Awful.” File gets up, “I couldn’t hear the pain in your voice. I couldn’t feel your fear.”
  280. “File, these lyrics are awful. They make no sense!”
  281. >”What’s the problem? Misty Dreams is afraid of Captain Un Named, and chooses to run away, even though he is very kind to her.”
  282. >You scoff in exasperation.
  283. ”Why would she do that? She knows he is in the military and can get her back easily.”
  284. >”Exactly. That is the conflict. Can she find friendship in her heart to repay his humanity?”
  285. “Un is just being nice so he can have sex with her.”
  286. >”That’s not in the script.”
  287. “But it’s implied. Look at this,” you grab another script and read aloud. “He looks at her with thirst in his eyes?”
  288. >”He was bed ridden from his wounds, and needed a drink.”
  289. “Alright, what about this part?” You flip through more pages to another song, “We’ll make music so loud, we’ll wake the neighbors, make my father proud, claim our twenty acres.”
  290. >File puts a hand on his chin.
  291. >”That part, uh. Well he knows she likes to sing, so…”
  292. “File, this is garbage." You shake the script. "I wouldn’t wipe my butt with it.”
  293. >”I’m not going to rewrite it.”
  294. “I won’t sing it as it stands now. And neither will anypony else.”
  295. 7/10
  296. >Major Nohtfound squeezes his fist.
  297. >”You won’t sing it? You have no choice.”
  298. ”I won’t do it.”
  299. >File grimaces as he approaches you.
  300. >You try to back away from him, but bump into one your guards.
  301. >Major Nohtfound smacks you, and you fall to the ground.
  302. >He was so fast.
  303. >You rub your cheek with a hoof.
  304. >”Hey, that’s enough,” one of the ponies say.
  305. >”Be quiet! So Vinyl, are you going to try again, or will you go to the mines?”
  306. >On its own, your hoof quivers.
  307. >You’ve heard stories about the mines.
  308. >Ponies don’t make it out of there.
  309. “Alright, I’ll sing.”
  310. >”Good. From the top!”
  311. >The pianist waits for you to stand before starting the music.
  312. >File taps his foot to the beat.
  313. “What should I do now? Taken from my home, forced to bow.”
  314. >You sing the rest of the song with File.
  315. >You hate it.
  316. >Everything about this is trash.
  317. >”Better. Much better. I almost believed that you had pain in your heart.”
  318. “That’s because you hit me.”
  319. >”You don’t seem to take any other form of motivation.”
  320. >You shake your head.
  321. “We at least need another song. The plot has too many holes in it right now.”
  322. >Magnet sighs.
  323. >”What do we need?”
  324. “A song where Un Named begs his pony to come back.”
  325. >”Why? He is already too nice to her.”
  326. “That’s why this isn’t believable. At least let him rough her up a bit before having a change of heart. Right now he reads like a goody four hooves.”
  327. >Major Nohtfound taps his foot.
  328. >”You’ve never even had an owner. You’re on loan from the Army. What makes you such an expert?”
  329. >”Uh, maybe talking with everypony? You should try it out sometime,” you sing the last word to really give it to him, “sometime.”
  330. >File frowns before turning to the others.
  331. >”What do you ponies think?”
  332. >They mumble amongst themselves.
  333. >Finally one of them decides to speak up.
  334. 8/10
  335. >”It’s not believable. Misty runs away, and is treated worse by griffons, but unless Un confesses his feelings for her, she will just try running away again.”
  336. >Another pony steps forward.
  337. >”There needs to be a reason for Misty to accept Un.”
  338. >You nod.
  339. “See? And if we don’t believe it, how will the audience believe? You’re going to make a flop. Not even Songbird Serenade will be able to save it.”
  340. >File turns away from you.
  341. >”This is propaganda. It doesn't have to be perfect."
  342. "It has to at least make sense."
  343. >"Rewriting the script will take weeks.”
  344. “It has to be done. It’s the only way we’re going to do this movie.”
  345. >A few ponies agree with you quietly.
  346. >File paces in front of you.
  347. >You heard him earlier saying he didn’t want any delays.
  348. >But if you go with the script as is, it won’t be any good.
  349. >”Lieutenant?”
  350. >The young looking man gets up from his seat.
  351. >”Um, yes, sir?”
  352. >”Get that idiot director back in here. Looks like he will have his time after all.”
  353. >The Lieutenant shrinks away from the Major.
  354. >”Uh, what should I tell him?”
  355. >”Make something up. Just let him know to be back here in two weeks.”
  356. >The guard that you bumped into speaks up.
  357. >”Sir, if I may. Perhaps I can inform the director?”
  358. >”Fine, fine, Sergeant.”
  359. >The guard leaves.
  360. >You breathe a sigh of relief.
  361. >If you have to make this, it might as well be done right.
  362. >”And you, Vinyl, will rewrite this.”
  363. “What?”
  364. >”Alright ponies. You’re on break for two weeks, and then we start rehearsals again.”
  365. “I didn’t agree to rewrite it for you. That’s crazy.”
  366. >“Why? Don’t think you can handle it?”
  367. >You tap a hoof.
  368. “It can’t be done in two weeks. A major rewrite with new songs will take at least a month.”
  369. >”No. Not all the songs. I wrote ‘I’m So Happy’ myself. It must be in the movie.”
  370. “Wow, you wrote one whole song. Should I be impressed?”
  371. >File changes his stance to a more aggressive one.
  372. 9/10
  373. >”No. You should be impressed that I have the patience to continue letting you stand there.”
  374. ”I’ve written countless songs.”
  375. >“Then a few more won’t be a problem. Lieutenant, can you sign over Vinyl Scratch?”
  376. >"I don't think Colonel Ymous will mind."
  377. >"Good."
  378. >The ponies around you disperse.
  379. >File doesn’t turn around to check if you are following him.
  380. >You hesitate.
  381. >This could be your chance to run.
  382. >The door is open.
  383. >It would be so easy.
  384. >But what then?
  385. >What then?
  386. >You shake your head.
  387. >Escape will have to wait for another opportunity.
  388. “Hey, wait up!”
  389. 10/10
  390. >
  391. >
  392. >Day A Change of Key continued.
  393. >You trot behind the Major in a large parking lot.
  394. >He stops in front of what you assume is his car before turning to you.
  395. >”Are you going to behave?”
  396. >His hand absently plays with a collar.
  397. >You haven’t worn one of those in months.
  398. “Are you going to hit me again?”
  399. >”If you deserve it.”
  400. >One way or another he is going to get you in the vehicle.
  401. >If you play along you may be able to skip the collar.
  402. “Fine.”
  403. >The drive takes about an hour.
  404. >Traffic is no joke.
  405. >You can’t believe how many vehicles there are.
  406. >The Major pulls into a garage, and puts the car into park.
  407. >He lives in what looks like a normal town, except that all the buildings are huddled together.
  408. >”Alright, Vinyl. We’re here.”
  409. “This isn’t a military base.”
  410. >”No. It’s a few miles from here.”
  411. “Why don’t you live on it?”
  412. >”Only enlisted people live on base. What do I look like?” He asks indignantly.
  413. “How should I know? No pony explained any of this to me.”
  414. >File gets out of the car and starts walking toward his house.
  415. >It looks plain, though you can just barely see the ocean from the street.
  416. >”The men who have been keeping you wear green camouflage. They are in the Army. My uniform is light blue, therefore I am in the Air Force. Uh, also I wear a green flight suit. Anyway that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we make this work.”
  417. >He pulls out some keys and opens his door.
  418. >”Alright. This is your home for the next two weeks,” he walks to show you around. “Kitchen, living room, bathroom, my bedroom, the office, and this will be your room.”
  419. >The room is filled with bright pink filly stuff.
  420. >Your ears raise in alarm.
  421. >Sweet Celestia!
  422. >He wanted you all this time.
  423. >No wonder he was so eager to bring you here.
  424. >You can feel your heart racing.
  425. “Look, Mister. I don’t know what kind of mare you think I am, but I am not staying here.”
  426. 1/19
  427. >You try to move past him, but the hallway is narrow.
  428. >”Why not?”
  429. >File moves to block your escape.
  430. >He’s going to grab you!
  431. “You want to buck me, you dirty horse apple!”
  432. >You rear up and use your horn to attack him.
  433. >He moves and you barely miss him.
  434. >Your horn catches his uniform, and you can feel the fabric ripping.
  435. >He smacks you across your face which forces you to stumble back.
  436. >The wall keeps you from falling.
  437. >He grabs your throat before throttling you several times.
  438. >You jump and his grip loosens.
  439. >With your magic you grab his leg, and try to throw him.
  440. >His leg lifts up, but he resists you.
  441. >File grabs your horn, instantly dissipating your magic.
  442. >With his other hand, he hugs your neck to wrench it off.
  443. >As if by instinct, you rush forward causing him to slam against the wall.
  444. >His grip stays firm and he wrestles you to the ground.
  445. >You land on top of him, kicking and thrashing.
  446. >File wheezes as you hit his stomach, and legs.
  447. >With his hips, he pushes up, and you flip on to your back.
  448. >He keeps one hand on your horn, the other at your throat.
  449. >”Listen you whore. If I wanted you, I could have you anytime I wanted.”
  450. >You try to bite him.
  451. “Just try it! I’ll make sure it’s the last time you are ever with a mare.”
  452. >You feel a tear escaping.
  453. >He’s too strong.
  454. >”That might be how it works in Hollywood, but not here.”
  455. “I’m probably not the first. Is that why Songbird won’t work for you?”
  456. >He bares his teeth at you.
  457. >”The Army is making their own propaganda piece. They only let me have the scraps. The rejects.”
  458. >He squeezes his hand and you cough in an attempt to breathe.
  459. >You can feel your pulse as he holds you down.
  460. >”That’s right. You’re only here because you’re trash.”
  461. “You’re hurting me,” you cough out.
  462. >You try to kick, but he stays on top of you.
  463. >”Are you going to behave?”
  464. 2/19
  465. >Somehow you shimmy so your hooves are at his stomach.
  466. >You kick him twice before his grip loosens.
  467. >File throws an elbow and you barely dodge.
  468. >His arm impacts the ground and he cries out in pain.
  469. >With your magic you grab his throat.
  470. >His hands desperately try to remove your magic, but it’s no use.
  471. >”Wait,” he croaks out.
  472. “Take me back to Equestria!”
  473. >”I can’t do that,” he wheezes.
  474. “Well you better find a way right now, or you won’t live to regret it.”
  475. >File grabs something just behind the door and throws it at you.
  476. >For an instant it stuns you.
  477. >It’s enough to weaken your magic and he inhales sharply.
  478. >Twice you try to light your horn, but it doesn’t want to work.
  479. >File stands quickly and gets into a fighting stance.
  480. >You hesitate, hoping desperately to use your magic against him.
  481. >Sensing the initiative, File lunges forward with a flying knee.
  482. >It forces you against the wall, just in time to meet his right hook.
  483. >Your glasses fly off as the strike impacts.
  484. >Everything becomes fuzzy, and you stumble as you try to keep your balance.
  485. >You put your legs as far apart as possible to prevent falling.
  486. >All the while you try to keep your horn between you and him.
  487. >For some reason, File doesn’t continue attacking.
  488. “What’s the matter? Lost your nerve?”
  489. >”No.”
  490. ”Then fight me!”
  491. >You try to threaten him with your horn, but again you feel yourself wobbling.
  492. >”It’s over. Give up and I’ll forget this happened.”
  493. “You’re a liar. You’re going to buck me the moment I give up.”
  494. >”That’s not true.”
  495. ”Then why is there so much filly stuff in that room?”
  496. >File makes a pained expression.
  497. >”That is my daughter’s room.”
  498. “That’s all?”
  499. >”Yeah.”
  500. >Why would you stay in her room if she lived here?
  501. >It’s obviously a trick.
  502. “Then where is she?”
  503. >You raise your horn fully expecting File to attack you for catching him in a lie.
  504. 3/19
  505. >Instead, he stays in place.
  506. >”With my wife. Well, ex-wife. We're divorced.”
  507. >You both glare at each other as you try to catch your breath.
  508. ”Why?”
  509. >”People grow apart.”
  510. >The Major looks down at his uniform.
  511. >His tie only partially hides a long rip.
  512. >He undoes the fabric, and unbuttons his top.
  513. >You lower your horn to him in case he wants to take you.
  514. >“Let me explain your situation. Yeah, maybe you can kill me, and you might even be able to escape. But what then?”
  515. >He opens the rip further so the shirt can’t be mended.
  516. “I’m a powerful unicorn,” you lie. “I’ll find a way to go back to Equestria.”
  517. >He shakes his head.
  518. >”You can try, but I doubt you would make it far. Your best chance is to work with me.”
  519. “I don’t want to help you.”
  520. >”Do you honestly think I like this? The faster we get this over with, the faster you can go back to the Army.”
  521. ”So I can live in a cell?”
  522. >”Maybe, or maybe you won’t. Do a good job and I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.”
  523. >He waits for you to say something, but you just glare at him.
  524. >”Now, do we have a deal?”
  525. >He holds out his hand.
  526. >He might be right.
  527. >Even if you escape you probably won’t get far.
  528. >There are too many humans between you and home.
  529. >Just play along, and you will have your chance.
  530. “Fine,” you say without extending a hoof.
  531. >This seems to annoy File, but he ignores the slight.
  532. >”I’m going to change, and have a drink. Get settled in.”
  533. >You wait until File shuts his door before moving.
  534. >You take off your saddlebags and place them on the pink bed.
  535. >There are only a few objects you care about.
  536. >Your records, and your sunglasses.
  537. >Thankfully your sunglasses aren’t cracked.
  538. >They didn’t break when they were knocked off.
  539. >The records?
  540. >You pull them out before sighing with relief.
  541. ”They’re fine.”
  542. >You sit on the bed to try to collect your thoughts.
  543. >What will happen to you after this movie is made?
  544. 4/19
  545. >Is he going to give you back to the Army to be sold off?
  546. >Maybe you will be forced to make more and more propaganda until they tire of you.
  547. >What would your fans from back home think about you helping these men?
  548. >Would they understand that you had no choice?
  549. >These thoughts swirl in your mind without giving you a chance to think any one option through.
  550. >You hear somepony clearing their throat, and see File at the door.
  551. >He is now wearing plaid lounge pants with a plain shirt.
  552. >At his side are two open bottles.
  553. >One of which ends up next to you.
  554. >”Cider,” he says simply. “Have you eaten yet?”
  555. >You’re hungry, but not enough to eat human slop.
  556. >You take the bottle and sniff it cautiously.
  557. >Poison should have a smell, right?
  558. >”You would prefer something else?” File says with some annoyance.
  559. “It’s not that. I’m just not sure if I should drink it.”
  560. >”Why would I poison you?”
  561. >That’s a good question.
  562. >But he could have put a sleeping spell on it.
  563. >File takes your bottle and chugs a large helping.
  564. >The look he gives you when he hands it back makes you feel silly.
  565. >Against your better judgement, you take a sip.
  566. >The taste is amazing.
  567. >It’s been so long since you’ve had cider.
  568. >He watches before taking a long drink from his own bottle.
  569. “We have to wait until we get back to the base before they serve us.”
  570. >”You should have spoken up. What does the Army usually feed you?”
  571. >You tap your hooves together.
  572. “Boiled vegetables mostly. Whatever the soldiers didn’t eat.”
  573. >File thinks it over.
  574. >”Well, I have some frozen peas I can boil.”
  575. >You try to look weak and pathetic.
  576. “I’m tired of that. Can’t I have something else?”
  577. >File crosses his arms in annoyance.
  578. >”Don’t do that.”
  579. “Do what?”
  580. >”You’re trying to look helpless. It cheapens our relationship.”
  581. >To be fair you did fight him earlier.
  582. 5/19
  583. >If you hadn’t then maybe you could have pulled off the scared pony angle.
  584. >You sit up straighter.
  585. ”Then I’m tired of eating boiled food.”
  586. >”Better. Alright, I’ll order Chinese.”
  587. >He pulls out his phone and presses a few buttons before raising it to his ear.
  588. >”What do you want?”
  589. >You give him a blank look.
  590. “I don’t even know what a Chineighs is.”
  591. >”I’ll just get a bunch of different things.”
  592. >You get up to use the bathroom while he is busy.
  593. >During this opening you search for weapons, but you don’t find anything useful.
  594. >Your only choice is to get a collection of glass bottles to beat him with.
  595. >You hear music from the other room, and when you return you see that he is now in the office.
  596. >He plays ‘I’m So Happy’ with a slightly faster meter than the pony played.
  597. “I didn’t know you could play piano.”
  598. >”I blame my mom.”
  599. “Uh...”
  600. >You’re not sure how to respond to that.
  601. >Do all humans hate their parents?
  602. >Seems like that would make sense.
  603. >They are evil after all.
  604. >”She made me practice for hours. Besides, it is hard to compose if you don’t also play.”
  605. “Oh. I thought you just wrote the lyrics.”
  606. >He presses a wrong key and you wince.
  607. >After a second he finds the right note and continues.
  608. >”I guess I wasn’t clear before. I composed it. I wrote the lyrics to the other songs, but the studio had people actually make the music.”
  609. “Can you play anything else?”
  610. >”Sure.”
  611. >He switches to a song you heard on the drive over.
  612. >”This is really popular. Unfortunately I can’t sing that high, so I won’t hurt your ears by trying.”
  613. >Obviously he wants you to pull it out of him.
  614. >You find yourself bobbing to the tune.
  615. ”Oh come on. You can’t tease me like that.”
  616. >He smiles.
  617. >”You asked for it. ‘I want to be a superstar, with my guitar I’ll go far,’”
  618. >His voice audibly cracks when he strains to sing ‘I'll.’
  619. 6/19
  620. >It’s actually not that bad.
  621. “Stop it. You’re killing me!”
  622. >”Started out playing in bars, learned so much with each new scar.”
  623. >He tries again to go high when he says ‘each’ but his voice falls flat.
  624. >You cover your ears and mime writhing in agony.
  625. “I can’t take anymore.”
  626. >File stops playing suddenly.
  627. >His cheeks burn with embarrassment.
  628. >”What? Can you do better?”
  629. “Sure. Move over.”
  630. >You play a few bars to warm up before starting ‘Equestria, the Land I Love.’
  631. >File listens politely, though he keeps his arms crossed.
  632. >”Alright. Not bad. Can you play anything else?”
  633. “I play guitar as well, but really I need a Touchpad to make something special.”
  634. >”That’s right. You did mention that you DJ.”
  635. “That’s my special talent. Would you like to hear my music?”
  636. >”Why not?”
  637. >You get up and grab your records with your magic.
  638. >They float into his hands.
  639. >File examines them.
  640. >”Vinyl? I don’t have anything to play these with.”
  641. “I figured, but don’t worry. I have a few tricks.”
  642. >You magic the records back, and remove one from its sleeve.
  643. >It only takes a moment to spin it with your magic.
  644. >The sound starts off wobbly at first, but you are quickly able to correct it.
  645. “This was my number one hit.”
  646. >The music ebbs and flows as it plays with the hook.
  647. >Slowly it starts building up.
  648. “Oh yeah! This is the best part.”
  649. >The bass drops and the music turns to wubs and high pitched tones.
  650. >”Is this even music?”
  651. “Maybe your human ears can’t appreciate the thought and balancing that went into this track.”
  652. >You slow the record as the song closes.
  653. “That took a week to make, and I was drunk the whole time. It was crazy.”
  654. >”While that was… interesting. I’m not sure that kind of music will fit into the movie.”
  655. >The record easily goes back into its sleeve.
  656. “You can’t have every song be centered on a piano.”
  657. 7/19
  658. >There is a knock at the door.
  659. >Must be the delivery pony.
  660. >”Maybe you’re right. We’ll pick some more instruments up tomorrow.”
  661. >File lets you eat with him in the kitchen instead of on the floor.
  662. >The food is much better than that slop the Army feeds you.
  663. >You can tell the person actually cared about what they were making.
  664. >While the day started off rocky, it seems to be getting better.
  665. >File rinses the plates and puts them into a metal cabinet of some sort.
  666. >”I think we’ve done enough for tonight. You can relax in your room, or you can watch some of our musicals.”
  667. >It might be good to see what people have created.
  668. >That way you will know what humans like hearing.
  669. “I’ll watch the movies.”
  670. >”Great. I have a few choices. ‘Grease’ is a romance one, and ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ is a kind of comedy horror story. I have a few newer ones too.”
  671. >You shrug.
  672. >They are probably aren’t as good as Equestrian musicals.
  673. >But at least it is better than staying in your room all night.
  674. “‘The Little Shop’ sounds interesting,” you lie.
  675. >He pops in the disc and sits next to you.
  676. >You scoot over so he is as far away as possible.
  677. >He doesn’t seem to notice.
  678. >The first musical number starts.
  679. >It’s actually pretty good.
  680. >”See, they use a lot of piano.”
  681. “Yeah, but there really isn’t any lead. The bass and drums balance it out.”
  682. >Then you get to a song about a man who loves hurting people.
  683. ”This is kind of an electronic, bass heavy song.”
  684. >”Just wait.”
  685. >The piano starts up and your jaw drops.
  686. >He’s a dentist!
  687. >No wonder you hate going to them.
  688. >Does that mean that Minuette has a pain kink?
  689. >The song ends too quickly.
  690. “Can we play that again?”
  691. >”Sure”
  692. >File presses on the remote and starts it up again.
  693. >It could be the cider getting to you, but you can’t help yourself and you sing along.
  694. >This might be the most fun you’ve had in months.
  695. 8/19
  696. >He lets you watch one more movie before it’s time for bed.
  697. >Time just flew by.
  698. >”We’ll start work again around 9AM. The music store should be open by then.”
  699. >File goes to his room without checking to see if you go to yours.
  700. “Hey, aren’t you going to lock me up?”
  701. >”Why?”
  702. “Uh, I’m your slave.”
  703. >You lift a hoof for emphasis.
  704. >”No. You’re not my slave. You belong to the Army.”
  705. >You figured you belonged to him now.
  706. >”Besides, I need you to be happy so you’ll keep working.”
  707. “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll run away?”
  708. >File frowns.
  709. >”You promised you would behave. Should I be worried?”
  710. >He doesn’t stick around for your answer.
  711. >File closes his door, and you hear the lock move into place.
  712. >At least that was sensible.
  713. >He probably doesn’t want you to attack him while he sleeps.
  714. >You go back to his daughter’s room and jump on the bed.
  715. >How are you supposed to go to sleep after watching those movies?
  716. >
  717. >
  718. >The next day you get up when you hear File showering.
  719. >Breakfast is a nice change as he makes you waffles.
  720. >Before long you’re hopping into his car again.
  721. >”We should talk about the plot first,” File says as he buckles up.
  722. “That makes sense.”
  723. >File shifts in his seat as you pull out of the garage.
  724. >”So to recap, the current story goes like this. Celestia banishes Luna for wanting to be with people. She sings an evil song, explaining why ponies must fight humans, then Misty Dreams sings a song about enlisting. She goes to fight and is quickly overrun by humans. Un Named buys her and takes her as a slave. He is very nice to her, but she sings a song and runs away."
  725. >You look out the window and see a Pegasus in another car.
  726. >From his smile he appears happy.
  727. >You politely return his wave before the light changes from red to green.
  728. 9/19
  729. >"Then she is captured by griffons who treat her poorly. Just before they eat her she sings a song and escapes. She goes back home, but Un Named is away. When he returns he is injured. He talks about how evil Celestia is, and how ponies can only be free if they are slaves. Misty goes to the park and realizes that he is right, and that she is happy to be a slave. They get back together, and sing the final number as they realize they are perfect together.
  730. “Ok, so there are a couple of problems already. Celestia isn’t evil. She wants the best for her ponies.”
  731. >”The movie won’t work unless she is the spark of the conflict.”
  732. >You cross your hooves.
  733. “But it’s wrong.”
  734. >File waves a hand.
  735. >”It doesn’t have to be right. This is propaganda.”
  736. >Maybe you can convince him to make a different story?
  737. >One that isn’t so obviously about ponies accepting slavery.
  738. >Both of the musicals you saw had some sort of romance subplot.
  739. >People must like that.
  740. ”Alright. What if we change the entire story? Make it a movie about making a movie, and the lead and the director butt heads, before finally realizing they love each other, and then make the movie.”
  741. >File laughs.
  742. >You feel your cheeks burning.
  743. >”I’m not going to play a man who falls in love with a pony.”
  744. “You’re already doing that in your film.”
  745. >”I saw it more like the pony decided to love her human, but that’s in the context of a movie. Doing it your way would imply that it is real.”
  746. >You scoff.
  747. “Sweet Celestia, File. Are you listening to yourself? Ponies will still know it’s just an act.”
  748. >File takes a deep breath.
  749. >”This is supposed to be a sort of coming of age mixed with acceptance of human rule.”
  750. “All we would need is like two scenes showing the actors making the movie.”
  751. >”Sorry, Vinyl, but I won’t do it. Maybe if this was my second piece, but I won’t have my first one be about making a movie.”
  752. >Why are you even here if he won’t listen to your ideas?
  753. 10/19
  754. >File parks the car in front of a music store.
  755. >You watch as the door opens by itself when people approach.
  756. >There must be some switch that is flipped when people stand in front of it.
  757. >When you enter you see a large array of instruments on display.
  758. >You stand at the entrance, content to just look.
  759. >”See anything you like?”
  760. “The selection isn’t as good as back home, but yeah, I think this can work.”
  761. >”Good. Pick out a few things. I’m going to look at the keyboards.”
  762. >With his permission, you trot around the store.
  763. >Even things you used to not care about, like woodwinds, are suddenly extremely interesting.
  764. >You try not to let yourself get too distracted.
  765. >After a while you make your way to the mixing equipment.
  766. >A green pony helps you choose pieces that mimic the features available back home.
  767. >She seems like a bit of a hippy, but she is very helpful.
  768. >With a full cart, you find File sitting at a black grand piano.
  769. “I think I got everything.”
  770. >”Good. Listen to this,” he says before playing a few sinister chords. “This will go well with the Princess.”
  771. “I already told you, Celestia can’t be evil. Ponies won’t believe it.”
  772. >”What would they believe then?”
  773. “That she loves us.”
  774. >”Oh.”
  775. >People must not understand how much the Princesses care for their ponies.
  776. >You both take turns avoiding eye contact before you start up again.
  777. ”What if instead she just tragically misunderstands humans, and that is the reason we’re fighting?”
  778. >He puts a hand to his chin.
  779. >”Like, our ambassador causes a faux pas or something, and then Celestia takes that as a declaration of war?”
  780. >You tap your hooves.
  781. “Well, that seems a little brash for her, but sure. Something like that.”
  782. >”Alright.” File turns back to the piano.
  783. >He changes keys a few times before settling on F minor.
  784. “A minor key? This isn’t supposed to be a sad song.”
  785. >”You said it was supposed to be tragic.”
  786. 11/19
  787. >He plays a few more chords.
  788. “It’s supposed to be more of a misunderstanding.”
  789. >File moves back to F Major.
  790. >”What if, a soldier misunderstands a pony and they get into a fight. The soldier is taken before the Princess and attacks her so he can escape. That causes Celestia to think that all humans are bad.”
  791. “That… might work.”
  792. >He is finally listening to you.
  793. >”Okay. So Celestia has decided to declare war.”
  794. “No. Both sides declare war at the same time. Like a duet with Celestia and the President where they both misunderstand each other.”
  795. >”Then Misty Dreams enlists in the army to go and fight.”
  796. “That part I agree with, but have it at the same time as Celestia’s song. So the ponies take a cue from the Princess and get into a furor over the whole thing.”
  797. >File nods his head as he thinks it over.
  798. “Hey, let me try something.”
  799. >He gets up from the bench to allow you to play.
  800. “What about…”
  801. >You start playing chords.
  802. >It doesn’t sound right.
  803. >You switch to another major key and try again.
  804. “Maybe a little more…”
  805. >You speed up the song slightly.
  806. ”One for Celestia, One for Luna,”
  807. “Can’t forget about Twilight,”
  808. “Cadence sits down on her throne,”
  809. “We’ll send all men back home,”
  810. ”Com’n lets join the aaarrmmmy.”
  811. >You play the chords again.
  812. >”I like it, but what if you…”
  813. >File leans over and plays the low end of the keyboard.
  814. >You scoot over a bit so he can reach more easily.
  815. >He plays the same key, but his chord progression is different.
  816. >“We’ll join the army! We’ll join the army!”
  817. >“Equestria can’t protect herself,”
  818. >“From foreign beasts with claws so long,
  819. >“They’ll see that fighting's oh so wrong,”
  820. >”Com’n lets join the aaarrmmmy.”
  821. >He presses two final harmonic chords before stopping.
  822. >You realize that you have been smiling this whole time.
  823. 12/19
  824. >With a cool bassline and some drums you might actually have a song.
  825. “Not bad. The meter felt a little off, but the idea is there.”
  826. >”I cheated a little. I stole some lyrics from a song we didn’t pick.”
  827. “I guess you were able to blend them fairly well then.”
  828. >”I have an ear for it.”
  829. >You wonder if humans also have cutie marks.
  830. >
  831. >
  832. >It takes an hour before you get back home.
  833. >File stopped at another store so he could buy you a laptop.
  834. >Together you sat in front of the glowing screen as he set it up.
  835. >After that he gave you what you can only describe as a crash course in computers.
  836. >It was strange sitting next to him on the bench.
  837. >The entire time you kept your guard up, as if he might grab or touch you, but he never did.
  838. >Most of the other ponies belong to the Army, but the studio has a few ponies of their own.
  839. >They said their humans enjoyed touching them, especially during bath time.
  840. >Were those other ponies lying, or have you just been lucky so far?
  841. >Eventually File left you alone to play with the software.
  842. >Several hours must have passed because the sun decided to call it a night.
  843. “Hey, File. Check this out.”
  844. >You raise the volume so he can appreciate the subtle nuances of your piece.
  845. >”What is this, like, trance or something?”
  846. ”We call this hypnotic. I wanted to try something different. What do you think?”
  847. >”It’s impressive that you made this in only a few hours.”
  848. “Well it is my talent.”
  849. >He stands over you and looks at the screen.
  850. >”But can you play it for real?”
  851. “It’s not really meant to be played with normal instruments.”
  852. >File sits down at his keyboard and tries to imitate your music.
  853. “You’re on the wrong key. Try this one.”
  854. >You press A sharp for him.
  855. >He presses a few more off keys before giving up.
  856. >”I guess I’m not good enough.”
  857. “I wouldn’t say that. You would have to rearrange it for a single instrument.”
  858. 13/19
  859. >”Thanks for letting me keep some dignity,” he smiles.
  860. >There.
  861. >You’re finally gaining his trust.
  862. >All you need to do now is get him drunk and then you can escape.
  863. “You know what we should do? We should get hammered on cider and jam out.”
  864. >”It’s Thursday.”
  865. “So? We’re artists. We need to express ourselves.”
  866. >”We’re artists...” he repeats under his breath.
  867. “Something wrong?”
  868. >He taps his foot several times.
  869. >”I don’t know... I guess it is strange for me to think that we are the same.”
  870. “You’re the one who keeps saying that we have to make the movie together.”
  871. >”Yeah, but that’s us working on the same project. It’s different when you say we do the same thing.”
  872. >Now you understand.
  873. >He doesn’t think that ponies are equals.
  874. >You saying that you are both artists probably annoyed him.
  875. >He waves a hand.
  876. >”I mean, you’re obviously a professional. I just play as a hobby.”
  877. >You weren’t expecting that.
  878. “But the Air Force put you in charge of this.”
  879. >”Wrong time and place. I played a few showtunes at the holiday party, and here I am.”
  880. “Still, it means you’re a professional as well.”
  881. >”Maybe.”
  882. “You get one paid gig and you’re a pro. This counts as like, I don’t know, five different things. Songwriter, producer, actor, and a bunch of other things I’m sure.”
  883. >”When you say it like that, it does sound pretty good.”
  884. “Yeah, so let’s have some drinks.”
  885. >”You’re pretty insistent about drinking.”
  886. “It makes me more creative.”
  887. >The rest of the night is spent on figuring out the rest of the plot points.
  888. >File lets you drink, but only has one or two.
  889. >Before you know it you’re wasted.
  890. >After the third cider you decide to worry about escaping another night.
  891. >
  892. >
  893. >Magnet was annoyed when you woke up hungover.
  894. >He gave you some medicine before heading off to work.
  895. >Apparently he still has to check in every now and then.
  896. 14/19
  897. >This time he wore a green jumpsuit instead of his blue uniform.
  898. >Your headache is almost gone after he returns with lunch.
  899. >Major Nohtfound sits at his keyboard and warms up.
  900. >”Now where were we?” File thinks it over. “Misty has joined the army and goes to fight.”
  901. “What about training?”
  902. >”I don’t know. We’ll have a montage or something during the song.”
  903. “Yeah, and with every shot we’ll show a little improvement. Then make sure it fades out, so the audience knows lots of time has passed.”
  904. >File turns back to the piano.
  905. >“We’ll join the army! We’ll join the army!”
  906. >”We'll get strong fight off monkeys,”
  907. >”They may be big and oh so large,”
  908. >”But they won’t stand against our charge,”
  909. >”Com’n lets join the aaarrmmmy.”
  910. >He ends with two final chords again.
  911. >You feel yourself beaming.
  912. >Maybe this is possible after all.
  913. “Nice!”
  914. >”A montage will be easy enough,” he says while writing on his notepad.
  915. “Right. Then the first battle starts. Huge explosions everywhere, and all the ponies are panicking.”
  916. >”And their leader gives an inspiring speech, which builds up the ponies again.”
  917. “Yeah, and they see a line of soldiers. The ponies charge and catch the men unaware. Wonderbolts fly in with spears.”
  918. >”The men fire back, but their aim isn’t good enough.”
  919. “And then the ponies hear something really loud.”
  920. >”And the camera pans to reveal a division of tanks.”
  921. “Misty and the others run away, but Misty falls down, and is captured.”
  922. >”I can see that,” File says as he continues writing.
  923. “And then Misty is sold to slavers, and a mean looking guy buys her.”
  924. >”And then Un Named turns out to be good.”
  925. “No. He has to be mean at first.”
  926. >”How mean?”
  927. >You shrug.
  928. “Rough her up a bit. That sort of stuff.”
  929. >”He has to be in the Army. And we have to paint him in a good light.”
  930. “Why is that so important?”
  931. 15/19
  932. >”We don’t want ponies to be afraid so they can accept this.”
  933. “Oh… right…”
  934. >You tap your hooves.
  935. >You got so caught up in this that you forgot this was supposed to be propaganda.
  936. >How can you help him?
  937. >You would just be dooming ponies to slavery.
  938. >Though if they watch it, they are probably already slaves.
  939. >Would this make their lives more bearable?
  940. ”Does he have to be in the Army? That might be a sore point for ponies.”
  941. >File leans back.
  942. >”The Marine Corps is an option. Maybe he can be in the Navy, but I honestly don’t know much about either of them.”
  943. “And the Air Force?”
  944. >”What? Make him a self-insert?”
  945. “The Army movie you mentioned earlier. Who is the lead in that?”
  946. >Major Nohtfound scratches his head.
  947. >”I don’t know, but he plays a soldier.”
  948. “So if the Army’s story already has a soldier, why do you have to play a soldier?
  949. >”I never thought about it like that.”
  950. “Don’t you have guys who do things other than fly?”
  951. >”We have maintainers.”
  952. >You wave a hoof.
  953. “Fine. He’s a maintainer. Misty acts up, and Un Named has to punish her a few times.”
  954. >”Right. Then they both sing and Misty runs away.”
  955. >You shake your head.
  956. “Honestly I wasn’t feeling the duet. Misty does this on her own without him knowing.”
  957. >”The duet shows that Un Named cares about Misty, that way she can come back to him.”
  958. “I think it would make more sense if the duet is when she is captured by the griffons.”
  959. >”What if, she isn’t able to escape, and Un Named saves her?”
  960. “You mean he looks in the forest and somehow finds their camp?”
  961. >File shrugs.
  962. >”We can write whatever we want.”
  963. >You think it over.
  964. >It would explain why Misty suddenly cares about Un.
  965. “Alright. But he has to get hurt really badly so Misty has to take care of him.”
  966. >”Nice, then we have a reprise of the running away song, where she decides not to run away.”
  967. 16/19
  968. “Now we’re talking! It’s in a minor key, so ponies know the anguish in her heart. Should she run, should she stay? How can she abandon the man who saved her from being eaten?”
  969. >”I like it. Then Un Named has a song where he confesses to Misty that he cares about her.”
  970. ”But she still is conflicted by the whole thing. So she goes into the park and sees other ponies happy with people.”
  971. >”We’ll have another pony talk to her about how being with people isn’t so bad.”
  972. ”Then what?”
  973. >”Then we have her sing ‘I’m So Happy.’ Boom! It’s promoted to final song.”
  974. “So she just goes back and they don’t sing another song?”
  975. >”I never really cared for ‘We’re So Perfect Together.’”
  976. >
  977. >
  978. >The next few days are spent working on dialog and lyrics.
  979. >You’re sure to include some lyrics to warn ponies about humans.
  980. >”Humans can be neat, they won’t eat us for meat,”
  981. >You add in a pony who whispers to the camera, “usually.”
  982. >Magnet thought it was a funny addition, so he let it stay in.
  983. >At night he lets you watch more human movies, not just musicals.
  984. >Then one day he gets a call.
  985. >”Yes?”
  986. >File stands up and paces as he speaks into the device.
  987. >”Well the script needed a rewrite.”
  988. >He pauses as he listens.
  989. >”That’s good for you, sir, but I think the extra time will give it more impact.”
  990. >Another pause.
  991. >”It can’t be helped.” He looks at you. “What is yours about anyway?”
  992. >He nods a few times as he listens.
  993. >”I guess we’ll see which is more interesting to ponies.”
  994. >He starts looking at the draft script you have both written.
  995. >”Yes, sir. I look forward to it. Goodbye.”
  996. “Who was that?”
  997. >”Colonel Ymous. He’s the one in charge of making the Army movie.”
  998. “Did he want something?”
  999. >”No, he was just gloating that his movie is almost done.”
  1000. “Ah.”
  1001. >File sits next to you.
  1002. 17/19
  1003. >”It’s important to me that my movie comes out first, but I knew this was a possibility. At least we can have the first pony musical.”
  1004. >He touches your shoulder and you shy away from him.
  1005. >File frowns, but doesn’t chastise you.
  1006. “What’s going to happen to me after the movie is made?”
  1007. >Major Nohtfound takes a deep breath.
  1008. >”I imagine I’ll have to return you, and then I get to go back to flying.”
  1009. >You’re going to have to go back to that cell, with nothing to eat but boiled vegetables?
  1010. >At least here File lets you move around, and play music.
  1011. >The Army might decide to sell you to some sicko.
  1012. >You’ve heard about people who abuse their ponies.
  1013. >But you could also be sold to a kind family.
  1014. >That would be nice, right?
  1015. >”Is something bothering you?”
  1016. >You look up at him.
  1017. “I guess I’m wondering what the Army will do with me after this is all done.”
  1018. >He shrugs.
  1019. >”If it’s a hit, I’m sure they will give you better accommodations.”
  1020. >You scoff.
  1021. “A bigger cell?”
  1022. >”I’m not in charge of that. I can speak with Colonel Ymous and ask that you get some instruments or something.”
  1023. “Wow. Such a big concession. You’re such a nice person.”
  1024. >”Don’t be sassy with me.”
  1025. “Why not? You’re only being nice to me so you can make this film. The moment we’re done you’re going to throw me away.”
  1026. >"If you knock it out of the park, I'm sure some musician or producer will buy you for a good price."
  1027. "Or maybe I'll be chained to a radiator and I'll have to dance for food."
  1028. >"You're going to dance while chained up?"
  1029. "It's possible. What are you going to do about it?"
  1030. >”Vinyl, I don’t have any say in what happens to you.”
  1031. “You didn’t have any problem hitting me.”
  1032. >”That was different.”
  1033. “What? They told you to make the movie no matter what?” You imitate his voice, “Sorry. I was just following orders.”
  1034. >File clenches his teeth.
  1035. >”I’ve been very reasonable so far. If you keep this up-“
  1036. 18/19
  1037. >You stand up on his couch.
  1038. “What? You’re going to hit me again? Will that make you feel important?”
  1039. >You move so your horn is near his face.
  1040. >If he’s going to hit you, then you’ll make him remember this moment forever.
  1041. >File looks at you with anger in his eyes.
  1042. >Your horn charges to give him a blast if he tries anything.
  1043. >Slowly his face changes to a sad look.
  1044. >You bob your head to let him know you’re serious.
  1045. “Well?”
  1046. >File takes a deep breath before speaking.
  1047. >”I’m sorry for hitting you before. I shouldn’t have done that.”
  1048. “That’s it? ‘I’m sorry?’ Well I’m sorry that I don’t believe you.”
  1049. >You move your horn closer, and he presses against the arm of the sofa to get away from it.
  1050. >”What do you want me to say? That I overreacted?”
  1051. “I want it to be genuine.”
  1052. >File slumps and looks away from you.
  1053. >He sits there in silence for some time.
  1054. >All the while you keep your horn near him in case he tries anything.
  1055. >Finally, he speaks.
  1056. >”I’m sorry Vinyl. I got so worked up about my career that I didn’t care about how you or the other ponies felt.”
  1057. >You lift your horn away from him slightly.
  1058. >”I’ve been working on this for months, and I wanted to finish it as quickly as possible so I could go back to flying. I can see now that my impatience was wrong.”
  1059. ”Is that why your family left you?”
  1060. >File’s face scrunches up.
  1061. >This must be a sore point for him.
  1062. >You’ll have to file that away so you can use it against him later.
  1063. >”That’s too black and white. We just grew apart.”
  1064. “When ponies get married, it’s for life.”
  1065. >”It’s different here. But, who knows, maybe it was for the best. Who would want to grow up in a loveless home?”
  1066. >He offers you a weak smile.
  1067. >You feel your magic lowering.
  1068. >For some reason you want to give him a hug.
  1069. >Maybe you just want one yourself.
  1070. >You lean forward and put your forelegs around him.
  1071. >One of his hands touches a hoof.
  1072. “I accept your apology.”
  1073. 19/19
  1074. >Day A Change of Key.
  1075. "Don't die! You can't leave me here all alone! What the buck and I supposed to do without you?!"
  1076. >You shake him with your hooves, trying desperately to make him do something, anything.
  1077. >Finally he opens his eyes.
  1078. >"Misty Dreams, just forget about me. Live your life."
  1079. "Don't talk like that, Un Named. We're supposed to be together, forever."
  1080. >"What are you saying?"
  1081. >You pull him into a hug.
  1082. "I'm trying to say," you sob. "I'm trying to say that I love you!"
  1083. >His brow furrows as he looks at you.
  1084. >"But you're a pony. We could ne-"
  1085. "No! We're going to be happy. Live damn it!"
  1086. >"Vinyl…"
  1087. "Live you son of a monkey! Don't make me raise our foal alone!"
  1088. >"Whoa, whoa, whoa." File pushes you out of the hug. "How the hell is that even possible? Un Named and Misty never had sex."
  1089. >You groan.
  1090. >These humans can be so dense sometimes.
  1091. "It's implied."
  1092. >"No it's not. Un never touches her."
  1093. "I swear, Major, sometimes I think you don't read my edits." You grab your script from the couch and flip through the pages. "Here, on page 33."
  1094. >You wait for him to look through his own paper.
  1095. >"I don't see anything about fucking here."
  1096. "Listen to this. Un grabs Misty and looks into her eyes. 'You're going to say here, with me tonight.' She breaks out into tears before nodding in fear, then the camera pans toward the moon."
  1097. >"How in the hell does that imply that they fucked?!"
  1098. "The moon symbolizes things that turn bad, before they turn good. Kinda like rebirth or changing of the seasons. It's a pony thing. You wouldn't understand."
  1099. >File scoffs loudly.
  1100. >"The point of that line is that Misty is deathly afraid of Un, and the only way he can think of making her not afraid is to hold her until she realizes he isn't trying to hurt her."
  1101. >You roll your eyes.
  1102. "Yeah, by bucking her all night long."
  1103. >"They don't have sex! There is no romance in this story!"
  1104. >You stand up and take a swig from your cider.
  1105. 1/19
  1106. "Every one of those musicals you made me watch had at least a romantic subplot. Why is your movie so special that you won't include it?"
  1107. >"It's not that mine is special. I just can't imagine anyone approving that stuff in a propaganda film."
  1108. "So you're telling me that people don't buck their slaves."
  1109. >"I never said that."
  1110. "Then what's the problem? Art imitates life."
  1111. >File gets up from the floor where he was pretending to die and sits on the couch.
  1112. >"I'm pretty sure the quote goes, 'life imitates art.' Either way it's just seems really extreme for this film. That's like, I don't know, the first time a white kissed a black person on screen."
  1113. "Controversy is perfect. If it's just your run of the mill film then no pony will watch it."
  1114. >"Considering it would be the second pony movie ever made, I think they will be falling over themselves to see it."
  1115. >You scrunch your nose at this.
  1116. >It's going to take a lot of work to remove all the subtext you added to the script.
  1117. "File, ponies are suckers for romance. If Misty is carrying Un's foal, it will take the emotion of that moment to like eleven. Maybe even twelve!"
  1118. >"What would their baby even look like? Like a half human half pony thing?"
  1119. "I don't know. You don't have to show the foal, just have Un hold a bundle of blankets. Besides, your studio probably has plenty of people who make props."
  1120. >Major Nohtfound takes a long drink from his beer.
  1121. >"Think about it like this. If every movie has romance, where is the novelty? Having a movie without that would blow people's minds. Imagine in the last scene, we tease a kiss, with music and lighting and all that stuff, but then it never happens. People will go crazy."
  1122. "No, they'll just be pissed that we blue balled them."
  1123. >File swirls his drink a few times before responding.
  1124. >"Let me chew on it for a bit."
  1125. >Really he's just buying time, hoping you forget about this.
  1126. >But that doesn't resolve the problem.
  1127. 2/19
  1128. >You put a bunch of romantic hints all over the story, and it would be a waste to rip it all out now.
  1129. "You have the give ponies what they want. They go to the movies to be entertained and to forget about their troubles for an hour and a half. You can do your pretentious no romance stuff in a different movie, but if my name is going to be on this thing, it's going to hit all the major beats. And that includes romance."
  1130. >"It's not pretentious. It's more of an artistic interpretation of how humans and ponies relate."
  1131. >You groan loudly.
  1132. "Just listen to yourself." You imitate his voice, "'My name is File and I want to make a good musical, but it can't include anything that ponies actually want to see.'"
  1133. >"Alright, alright. I already said I would think about it."
  1134. >You drink the rest of your cider in a single gulp.
  1135. "I think we're hitting a rut here. We need to take a break so we can clear our minds and try again tomorrow."
  1136. >File puts aside the script to look at you.
  1137. >"You mean you want to get fucked up again."
  1138. "It helps my creativity."
  1139. >He shakes his head, but responds, "you know where the fridge is."
  1140. >Without waiting for any further permission you trot over to the kitchen and grab two drinks.
  1141. >He doesn't complain when you put another beer in front of him.
  1142. >"What's it like having magic?"
  1143. "What do you mean?"
  1144. >You effortlessly open both bottles with a flick of your horn.
  1145. >"I don't know. It must feel weird or something."
  1146. >Your brows furrow at him.
  1147. "I've always had magic, so it seems normal to me. Is it weird to walk on two legs?" You rear up on your hind legs to imitate how a human walks and you wobble around. "This has got to feel strange. How can you walk without four legs?"
  1148. >This makes him smile.
  1149. >"If you saw me try to walk on hands and feet, it would look dumb. Now a crawl, that's practical at least."
  1150. >Major Nohtfound gets down on the floor and moves on his elbows and knees.
  1151. 3/19
  1152. >"The high crawl lets you move quickly, but if you want to get under wire or into a good position, you use the low crawl."
  1153. >He lays on the ground and moves surprisingly fast across the room by twisting his hips and clawing with his elbows.
  1154. "It looks pretty silly."
  1155. >"Maybe, but it's good for sneaking up on ponies," he smirks. "Like you."
  1156. >What's with that look?
  1157. >He scurries toward you and you pretend to shriek.
  1158. >You hop onto the couch and throw pillows at him.
  1159. "Get away from me!"
  1160. >He puts his elbows on the edge of the couch and tries to climb up.
  1161. >"Come here little pony."
  1162. >Without missing a beat, you hop on the other couch since it has more pillows.
  1163. >With your magic you throw them at him, but one bounces off and topples over his beer.
  1164. "Buck!"
  1165. >You manage to lift it up before too much spills on the carpet.
  1166. >"What the hell, Vinyl."
  1167. "Sorry. I'll clean it up."
  1168. >File watches with arms crossed as you magic over a paper towel to dab the spill.
  1169. >Thankfully it was a light beer, so it probably won't stain too badly.
  1170. >He's clearly annoyed as he takes another drink from his bottle.
  1171. "There. Good as new."
  1172. >"I guess it's not the worse I've ever seen. Jenny used to tear the place up."
  1173. >That's his daughter.
  1174. "How is she?"
  1175. >File shrugs.
  1176. >"Fine. She told me she is having fun at school, and she is getting along with the other kids. She'll be visiting at the end of the month for the weekend."
  1177. >Then where are you supposed to sleep?
  1178. >Hopefully not back at the Army base.
  1179. >Though it would be kinda cool to see your friends.
  1180. >Speaking of which, you still haven't seen the Air Force base.
  1181. >Sensing the unasked question he says, "you're going to have to stay on the couch when that happens."
  1182. "In the living room? I won't get any privacy."
  1183. >"Privacy? I already see practically everything you do anyway."
  1184. "What the hay? Why would you say that? That's creepy as Tartarus."
  1185. >Does he watch you while you sleep?
  1186. >Or when you…?
  1187. >Gross!
  1188. >"It's not like I want to see you or anything. Uh..."
  1189. 4/19
  1190. "File, you're not helping right now."
  1191. >"Yeah," he smiles. "Well, we could fix up one of the closets and get you a nice basket."
  1192. "A basket?! I'm not your pet!" You get up to leave. "What do you think I am?"
  1193. >"Wait, wait. I was just playing," he laughs.
  1194. >You ignore him and continue trotting off.
  1195. >"Vinyl! Come back! No, please! Don't go!" He gets on his knees and pretends to shout, "Vinyl! What have I done?!"
  1196. "Oh whatever. You don't really care."
  1197. >He jumps up and sits back on the couch.
  1198. >"Sure I do. You're the star, remember?"
  1199. "It doesn't feel like it."
  1200. >"Relax. You can stay in the office if it bugs you that much."
  1201. "Cool."
  1202. >"And we can pick out a sweet basket for you too."
  1203. "File!"
  1204. >You want to be mad at him, but he is laughing like a little colt.
  1205. >So you just throw another pillow at him with your magic.
  1206. >"Say, since you're going to get fucked up anyway, what about we go out to a bar? I'm starting to feel cooped up in here."
  1207. >A bar?
  1208. >He hasn't let you leave the property since you got here.
  1209. >To be fair, you never asked to go out, but he should have known that you need space too.
  1210. >And then that nice idea pops back in your head.
  1211. >This might be your chance to get him real drunk so you can run away.
  1212. >You offer him a beaming smile that's more genuine than you'd like to admit.
  1213. "Yeah, a bar would be awesome."
  1214. >"Great. I'll text my friends and see if they want to meet up. Dave has a pony. I'll ask him to bring her out."
  1215. >A few hours later you hear a knock at the door.
  1216. "Hey, File, I think your friends are here."
  1217. >"Let them in," he calls from the bathroom.
  1218. >You grunt when you look at the door.
  1219. >It might be a foalnapper trying to grab you, but you also don't want to piss off File.
  1220. >You magic over a spare shoe in case they try to get frisky.
  1221. >A man with a case of beers and a sickly looking pony look back at you.
  1222. >He has that popular haircut.
  1223. >The one where the sides are shaved, but the top is really long and combed to one side.
  1224. 5/19
  1225. >His pony is pink and has a straw colored mane.
  1226. >Her eyes have dark bags, and she looks like she hasn't slept in a long time.
  1227. >You wonder if he bucks her every night.
  1228. >"You must be Vinyl. How's it going?"
  1229. "Good. You're Dave, right?"
  1230. >"Yeah, and this is Mandy."
  1231. >"Hey," she nods.
  1232. >Weird name for a Pegasus.
  1233. >She must have been renamed by humans.
  1234. >Stealthily, you drop the shoe and open the door wider so they can enter.
  1235. >"Hey, Magnet? You don't have any music playing? You're trying to play it low key?"
  1236. >"Just hook it up, Bud," File calls back.
  1237. >Mandy takes a beer and opens it up.
  1238. >They both hop onto the couch, but Dave plays with his phone.
  1239. >In a few seconds the TV comes to life and starts playing dance music.
  1240. >"We're gonna get trashed!" Mandy says before lifting her beer.
  1241. >Sweet Celestia!
  1242. >It takes her fifteen seconds to drink it all down, only slowing down to get a breath in.
  1243. >"Not before I make my moves," Dave says while shimmying on the couch. "Gotta stay focused."
  1244. >"Whaaat? Are we getting fucked up tonight?" File says as he enters the room.
  1245. >"Yeah!" Mandy says, grabbing another drink. "I wanna feel love in the air."
  1246. >File nods knowingly.
  1247. >"I was thinking we could go to Manhattan Beach. The pier th-"
  1248. >"Only old people go there. We're still young," Dave interrupts. "Let's go to Hermosa Beach."
  1249. >"Yeah, Manhattan sucks, and it's over priced," Mandy agrees.
  1250. >She opens up her second beer and starts chugging it.
  1251. >"It's not that bad. Shar-"
  1252. >"Magnet, com'n. Manhattan is lame. If you don't want to go to Hermosa, let's at least go to Santa Monica."
  1253. "Wait, so ponies are allowed into bars? Like actual people bars?"
  1254. >You thought File meant you would go into a pony place, not a human one.
  1255. >Dave looks at you like you asked the dumbest question in the world.
  1256. >"File, what have you been telling her?"
  1257. >He shrugs.
  1258. >"She never asked to go out."
  1259. >Mandy puts down her drink.
  1260. 6/19
  1261. >"Ponies need exercise. Or so I'm told…" She trails off for a second. "Dave and I go all the time."
  1262. "What the buck, File?! I've been locked away in here and now I know ponies can do whatever they want?!"
  1263. >"Well… you're technically not mine so… I figured it would be safer if I kept you… here?"
  1264. "That has got to be the lamest excuse I've ever heard!"
  1265. >"Yeah, what the buck, File?"
  1266. >Major Nohtfound shoots Mandy an angry look, but it quickly softens.
  1267. >"Alright. I'll make it up to you. I'll let you out from time to time."
  1268. "That's it?"
  1269. >"You're not mine, so I have to keep an eye on you. Every now and then is all I can promise."
  1270. >To be fair he does care a lot about his career.
  1271. >What would happen to him if you ran away and they don't catch you?
  1272. >Would they lock him up for losing you, or maybe strip away his rank?
  1273. >What if they beat him?
  1274. >That would be funny to watch.
  1275. >"I'll let you hang out with Mandy too."
  1276. >"No. We won't get along. She can't even slam her cider."
  1277. >That's a challenge if you've ever heard one.
  1278. >You won't have to worry about what you can and can't do much longer.
  1279. >As soon as File is trashed you're going to go back to Equestria.
  1280. >You grab a fresh cider with your magic.
  1281. "Watch this."
  1282. >The next hour is spent pregaming and listening to music.
  1283. >Dave says he's going to hit on girls, but File is skeptical.
  1284. >Apparently they went to school together at 'The Zoo,' whatever that is.
  1285. >They kept reminiscing about stuff from a long time ago, so Mandy made her way over to your couch.
  1286. >"So are you new here?"
  1287. "Yeah. I was captured a few months ago, but they kept me locked up until last month."
  1288. >"I was one of the first. I'm just glad I'm here instead of Russia."
  1289. >That's the boogiehorse country these people hate for some reason.
  1290. >Supposedly they are evil and treat their ponies like crap.
  1291. >You're not sure if that's true or if it's just propaganda.
  1292. "It can't be that bad, can it?"
  1293. >"I don't know. Personally I don't mind this too much."
  1294. 7/19
  1295. "But we're slaves…" you whisper.
  1296. >Mandy shrugs at this.
  1297. >"Just think of it as having a job that you can't ever leave."
  1298. "That's crazy."
  1299. >Dave laughs loudly and you both look at your humans.
  1300. >They are joking about something you don't understand, so you ignore them.
  1301. >"You're the one making a movie about how you can only be free if you're a slave."
  1302. >That line never made sense to you.
  1303. "That's because I have to. I don't get a choice in this."
  1304. >"It does sound better than temporarily dislocated and obligated servant though…"
  1305. "Just because they say we will be free after a few years doesn't make it true."
  1306. >"Maybe, maybe not. I guess we will find out when the times comes. We can get drunk until then," she winks. "Speaking of which, drink up!"
  1307. >After another half hour, it was time to get going.
  1308. >It took a few minutes to walk down to Hermosa pier.
  1309. >The long boardwalk to the town center was cool since it followed the beach.
  1310. >Apparently the walkway is called 'the strand' and all the houses there are super expensive.
  1311. >When you arrive you're surprised by the number of people and ponies milling around.
  1312. >You're pretty sure you saw a Dragon too, but she was gone in a flash.
  1313. >There is a long row of bars and restaurants all leading out to a giant pier.
  1314. >The first bar was pretty standard with TVs showing men playing hoofball.
  1315. >The next one was a kinda fancy looking place, but it wasn't very busy so Dave made you all leave.
  1316. >You arrived at a third, which had live music.
  1317. >They were a cover band who played songs from 'The Eighties.'
  1318. >The electric piano was a bit overused, but it was kind of cool.
  1319. >You wondered what 'The Eighties' would have sounded like if they were actually there.
  1320. >After a beer File points at his wrist and circles his index finger in the air so you all can leave.
  1321. >You aren't sure why he took you to this crappy bar, but he told you that it has an English subway theme.
  1322. >"What do you want?" File asks.
  1323. >"Bluecolt vodka."
  1324. >"Jager bomb."
  1325. 8/19
  1326. >"Jesus, you two love energy drinks."
  1327. >"We're here to party. I need a second wind if we're gonna be dancing all night," Mandy says.
  1328. >She looks even more tired than before, if that's even possible.
  1329. >But dancing?
  1330. >You look around.
  1331. >Everyone is either standing at the bar or sitting at booths.
  1332. >"There's a nightclub in the back," Dave explains. "You'll see it in a second."
  1333. >"It's more of a dance bar," Mandy says.
  1334. "What the hay is a dance bar?"
  1335. >Why can't people dance anywhere?
  1336. >"It's like a bar that has a dedicated dance floor."
  1337. >That you can work with.
  1338. "Awesome. I'll do one of those bombs too then."
  1339. >"Fuck it." File smiles. "A round of jager bombs."
  1340. >In an instant the glasses are in front of you.
  1341. >Why did they give you two cups?
  1342. >"Three, two, one…" Mandy counts down. "Go!"
  1343. >They all drop the shot glasses into the bluecolt and chug their drinks, so you do the same.
  1344. >The taste is strange, but somehow invigorating.
  1345. >"I'll get the next round." Dave orders beers and ciders for all of you before pointing. "Let's do this."
  1346. >He takes the lead and a bouncer waves you through to a narrow hallway.
  1347. "Aw yeah! We should have come here earlier."
  1348. >Now this is more your speed!
  1349. >The hallway opens up to a large room with people and ponies dancing.
  1350. >A long bar lines one wall, but there are lots of people huddled around it.
  1351. >That must be why they wanted to get a drink in the other room.
  1352. >The DJ isn't playing electronic music, but you're willing to overlook that.
  1353. >A few rough looking Griffons eye you as you pass, but they don't do anything so you ignore them.
  1354. >Dave and Mandy don't waste any time and start swaying to the music.
  1355. >"Hey, if you get thirsty you can use this." File hands you some of his paper money. "This should be enough for two drinks."
  1356. "Thanks."
  1357. >You fold it up and put it away.
  1358. >File joins the others and starts dancing.
  1359. >He looks kind of awkward compared to his friend, but you doubt anypony else cares.
  1360. >Nopony cares when jams are playing!
  1361. 9/19
  1362. >You throw caution to the wind and start swaying to the music.
  1363. >Half an hour passes before one of the stallions builds up enough courage to dance near you.
  1364. >"Hey!" He shouts, though you can barely hear him.
  1365. "Hey!"
  1366. >He's a little lanky for your liking, but buck it.
  1367. >You might even say that he's kinda cute in that bookworm kind of way.
  1368. >The stallion dances with you for a song before he loses his nerve and shouts, "I'm gonna get another drink!"
  1369. "Okay!"
  1370. >Too bad.
  1371. >If he would have tried something you may have let him.
  1372. >You smile to yourself.
  1373. >This is what you needed.
  1374. >You mosey your way over to the others.
  1375. >"When are you gonna make your moves?" File asks his friend.
  1376. >"I'm working up to it."
  1377. >"The girls don't care, Bud. Just grab one."
  1378. >"Just grab one?"
  1379. >"Sure!"
  1380. >File turns around and scans the area around you.
  1381. >He points a finger before grabbing a girl's hips from behind.
  1382. >She sways and lazily looks back at him.
  1383. >Within moments they are grinding up on each other.
  1384. >"Stop being so scared, Dave!" Mandy smiles.
  1385. >"I'm not scared. I'm just waiting for the right moment."
  1386. >You roll your eyes and grab his hand.
  1387. "Nopony cares. We're all just having fun."
  1388. >You dance with him for a song just in time to meet the eyes of the lanky stallion.
  1389. >He's dancing by himself this time, but another pony bumps into him.
  1390. >Soon enough they are moving together.
  1391. >A Griffon with an eyepatch makes his move on Mandy, and she plays along for a bit.
  1392. >Another hour passes and the music changes to more of an electronic type.
  1393. >Dave finally grew a pair and danced with a fat girl, but then Mandy grabbed him and started grinding.
  1394. >Weird, but whatever.
  1395. >Before long the last of your paper money is gone, but you're definitely feeling it.
  1396. >You're not sure how much time has passed when File talks to you.
  1397. >"Hey, Vinyl. You want another drink?"
  1398. >His eyes have that drunken glaze.
  1399. >This is it!
  1400. "Yeah! Let's do some shots!"
  1401. >"Vodka sounds good."
  1402. >He wobbles his way over to the bar and places the order.
  1403. 10/19
  1404. >Actually now that you're not dancing, you notice you're pretty bucked too.
  1405. >Com'n hooves, just a bit more.
  1406. >After a minute he hands you your glass.
  1407. >"What are we toasting to?"
  1408. "Our movie, and to our friendship," you lie.
  1409. >"To our movie, and to friendship," he smiles.
  1410. >The drink is done in a single gulp.
  1411. >Luna, it burns, but it's a good burn.
  1412. >File hits the counter twice to deal with it.
  1413. "Another!"
  1414. >"I don't know if I can handle another." He lazily checks his phone. "I think we should get going."
  1415. "One more won't hurt anypony."
  1416. >He smiles at this, though he shakes his head.
  1417. >"You must have an iron liver."
  1418. >You're at your limit, but you can't let him know that.
  1419. "Nah, all it takes is practice."
  1420. >"We should let the others know we're leaving."
  1421. >It would be cool to stick around and dance more, but this way you can get him trashed at the house.
  1422. >You both turn back to the crowd, but you don't see either Mandy or Dave.
  1423. "They probably left already."
  1424. >"Maybe… Oh well. They can grab a cab. Let's go."
  1425. >He leads you through the other bar to outside.
  1426. >The air is cool, and a welcome change from the stuffy room filled with body heat.
  1427. >He looks around, trying to get his bearings.
  1428. >After a moment he starts making his way back home.
  1429. >You just need to play along a little more, and once he goes to sleep you'll finally escape.
  1430. >It's the perfect plan!
  1431. >"That was pretty fun. We should go out more often."
  1432. "Well, it's not like I have any choice. Might as well have a good time."
  1433. >He laughs at this.
  1434. >"You always have a choice, Vinyl. We can all make choices. Now, consequences of those choices are something else."
  1435. >You press your lips together.
  1436. >What will happen if you're caught before you get to Equestria?
  1437. "It's not that simple for me."
  1438. >"I'm not much better off. If it were up to me, I'd still be flying, not making a musical."
  1439. "But you're free."
  1440. >This makes him smile.
  1441. >"It doesn't work like that. I would go to jail if I refused. I just need… we just need to get through this."
  1442. 11/19
  1443. >He staggers and grabs on to a fence to regain his balance.
  1444. >"I'm just glad your singing is getting better."
  1445. "It's not my special talent," you say defensively.
  1446. >"I know. Writing screenplays isn't mine either, but I'm starting to have some hope." He puts his hand on your withers and keeps walking. "This is going to be special. We're going to help a lot of ponies."
  1447. >Help ponies?
  1448. "How is this supposed to help ponies? It will just convince them that this is normal."
  1449. >"I doubt that, but hopefully it will entertain them, and maybe make this just a little easier for them to deal with."
  1450. >You don't know how to respond, so you just trot beside him.
  1451. >Well, you were trotting, but the sidewalk is starting to get hazy.
  1452. >"Now your dancing…"
  1453. "Don't even start on that."
  1454. >"All I'm saying is that it could use some work."
  1455. "I could do all the moves in my sleep."
  1456. >"I don't know."
  1457. "Just watch." You hop up on your hind legs and do your choreographed moves. "I'm so happy to be a slave!"
  1458. >He joins in and hops beside you.
  1459. >"Cuz everything is going my way!"
  1460. "I know I won't be sad!"
  1461. >"In fact we'll all be glad!"
  1462. Together you sing, "Cuz my master is back in town!"
  1463. >"Hey shut up! People are trying to sleep here!" Some person shouts.
  1464. "Sorry!"
  1465. >You both look at each other and laugh.
  1466. >A dog starts barking in one of the houses.
  1467. >"Stop laughing!"
  1468. "You're the one being loud!"
  1469. >"Maybe a little, but after all those drinks I don't think I care."
  1470. "You are pretty drunk."
  1471. >"I can sober up if I want to."
  1472. "I doubt it."
  1473. >"Hmmm… would a drunk person be able to do this?"
  1474. >He stops and furrows his brow in deep concentration.
  1475. >File then closes his eyes and he takes several deep breaths.
  1476. >After a moment they snap open.
  1477. >"Cya!"
  1478. >Without warning he takes off and starts running.
  1479. >His form is awful, but somehow he manages to stay upright.
  1480. "Wait up!"
  1481. >You rush behind him, but suddenly realize you're pretty jacked up as well.
  1482. 12/19
  1483. >Still, your four legs give you an advantage and you quickly catch up to him.
  1484. >The street looks familiar, and you make the turn toward his house.
  1485. >It takes him almost half a minute to catch up with you.
  1486. >He has to lean against the door to catch his breath.
  1487. >You're a little winded too, but that's because you haven't been allowed to exercise until now.
  1488. >Or as he would put it, you haven't asked for exercise yet.
  1489. >Even that short gallop was enough to make you feel free for just a moment.
  1490. >How amazing would it be to feel grass again?
  1491. >"Shit, that was a bad idea."
  1492. >File fumbles with his keys before finding the right one.
  1493. "No. It just proved that you still haven't had enough."
  1494. >He opens the door and you both enter.
  1495. >"I guess I can be persuaded into having one more, but you would have to be very convincing."
  1496. >He sits down on the couch and kicks off his shoes.
  1497. >You grab his last two ciders and magic them over to you.
  1498. "You're… more handsome when you drink?"
  1499. >He takes a bottle from your magical grasp.
  1500. >"No, I'm more handsome when *you* drink."
  1501. >You laugh at the absurdity of his answer.
  1502. >Of course cider goggles would make somepony more attractive.
  1503. "I just want us to have a good time," you lie. "We've been working too hard."
  1504. >He takes a quick swig of his cider and you do the same.
  1505. >His arm wraps around your shoulder and he pulls you in close.
  1506. >You don't resist, though you adjust slightly to get into a more comfortable position.
  1507. >"For some reason I don't quite believe that. What's the real reason you're so eager to drink?"
  1508. >You give him your most pleasant smile.
  1509. >He won't believe you anyway.
  1510. "I'm planning on getting you drunk so I can run away."
  1511. >His hand rubs your withers.
  1512. >"Ah, the old 'make your move after a celebration technique.'" He thinks it over. "It worked for George Washington."
  1513. >You were right.
  1514. >He doesn't have the faintest clue about your plan.
  1515. "Who?"
  1516. 13/19
  1517. >"Uh, our first President. He attacked the Hessians after a Christmas party. It would take too long to explain, but you don't need to do all this to run away. I don't exactly keep you locked up."
  1518. >That's true, but that doesn't mean you would get very far before he noticed you were missing.
  1519. "Yeah, but it would make it easier."
  1520. >File takes a deep breath before answering.
  1521. >"This has been tough on both of us, but I think we are almost done with the script. We could just send it as is to the Director and see what he thinks. See if it actually sounds good."
  1522. >You can't help but notice that he is trying to change the subject.
  1523. >A break would be nice, but you're not sure how many edits he's going to make.
  1524. >He and the screenwriter might buck it all up.
  1525. >File idly brushes your mane.
  1526. "Hey! I told you I'm not your pet. How would you like it if I pet your head?"
  1527. >You reach up and roughly tussle his mane, which makes him smile.
  1528. >"I wouldn't mind it."
  1529. "You're that starved for affection?" You scoff. "Sad."
  1530. >He shrugs.
  1531. >"I wouldn't mind because I consider you to be a friend."
  1532. "Yeah, right. Friends don't…"
  1533. >You think better of it and don't finish the sentence.
  1534. >"We've been working together for two weeks straight. Of course I'm going to eventually warm up to you."
  1535. >He is kind of an alright person once you get to know him.
  1536. >Though he still doesn't like listening to your suggestions.
  1537. >"Now, if I were a pet, I wouldn't like you being rough like that. You're supposed to treat pets gently. More like this."
  1538. >He very lightly touches your mane, and his hand drifts so it just barely moves against your cheek.
  1539. >You might even call it a caress if he was a stallion, but he's just trying to show you a human custom.
  1540. "So, it should be more like this?"
  1541. >Your hoof touches his mane, you move it so you can feel his ear.
  1542. >After a moment you slowly drag your soft frog down his neck.
  1543. >He takes another drink.
  1544. >"Yeah I think that's about right."
  1545. "Hmmm, so what do you with marefriends?"
  1546. 14/19
  1547. >This makes him laugh, and you feel yourself blushing.
  1548. "What's so funny? Ponies touch manes sometimes."
  1549. >"Now that I think about it, it's kind of similar. But, if you were a girl, I probably wouldn't be touching your shoulder. It would be more like this."
  1550. >His hand slowly moves down your back, and stops just above your hips.
  1551. >"Also, I would probably be turned to face you more."
  1552. >He shifts on the couch so he is nearly facing you.
  1553. >His hand drifts from your hip to just above your tail as he looks at you.
  1554. >For some reason, you feel your heart beating.
  1555. "Yeah? I can see how that would be more intimate. Ponies do something similar, though we prefer nuzzling. Kind of like this."
  1556. >You twist a little so you can nuzzle into his neck.
  1557. >To get a good angle you have to put one of your legs over his knee.
  1558. >His belly presses against yours, and you can feel his chest expand as he breathes.
  1559. >Your nose moves up and down so he can understand what it's like.
  1560. "And then ponies will huff and puff a little so the other pony gets the idea."
  1561. >You press into him more urgently, while taking deep breaths.
  1562. >You push the air out quickly, before sniffing again, getting a good whiff of his scent.
  1563. >It's actually not that bad for a human.
  1564. >You let out a single chuckle.
  1565. >What a dumb thing to think.
  1566. >Still, you feel yourself getting warmer.
  1567. >How long has it been since you actually felt wanted?
  1568. >"That tickles," he says, struggling not to laugh. "Ponies really like that?"
  1569. "Yeah. It's a pretty normal thing after a date."
  1570. >Why would you say that?
  1571. >He tries to imitate the puffs, but it's off beat, like a little colt trying to impress for the first time.
  1572. >"Am I doing it right?"
  1573. "It's not bad, so I won't hold it against you."
  1574. >"What if I want you to hold it against me?" He whispers.
  1575. >Though he can't see your face, you still give his weak joke a smile.
  1576. "And then a mare will press her cheek against his to see if he's interested," you whisper back.
  1577. 15/19
  1578. >You close your eyes and move your head up and down, rubbing him very gently.
  1579. >You feel a warmth spreading through your body.
  1580. >"It's kind of like a hug," he says, bringing his other hand to your barrel.
  1581. >A few of his fingers idly move around, like he is looking for something.
  1582. >Oh, Cadance, this feels good.
  1583. >You knew you should have brushed your coat more before going out.
  1584. >You put your front hooves over his shoulder to pull him in closer.
  1585. "Yeah. Kind of."
  1586. >He presses his face against your cheek, and you can feel his hot breath.
  1587. >Your ear moves involuntarily, and you know he is inhaling your scent.
  1588. >"You smell really good," he whispers.
  1589. >So do you, you want to say, but you decide against it.
  1590. "Thanks."
  1591. >You both continue nuzzling in silence for a while.
  1592. >His face is soft and warm, and you let yourself relax in his gentle care.
  1593. >Eventually he starts talking again.
  1594. >"Now if you were a girl, I would probably look into your eyes."
  1595. >A hand moves up to your neck, and you feel a chill going down your spine.
  1596. >You can't help yourself and shudder at his touch, but if he notices, he doesn't say.
  1597. >His face turns and pulls away slightly, and you press against him to keep contact.
  1598. >File moves and accidentally bumps your horn, but he quickly recovers.
  1599. >It reminds you of the first time a colt nuzzled you.
  1600. >He was so nervous.
  1601. >It's a nice memory.
  1602. >After a moment only your nose and forehead are still in contact.
  1603. >You can feel your heart racing, and you want to enjoy this moment.
  1604. >But you can't help but feel vulnerable with his hand on your neck, so you open your eyes for him.
  1605. >His half lidded eyes gaze back into yours.
  1606. >Why does this feel so intimate?
  1607. >He's a human!
  1608. "I didn't realize people liked eye contact this much."
  1609. >He smiles at this, but doesn't pull away.
  1610. >"And then if you were a girl… I might even..."
  1611. >You swallow hard.
  1612. >He isn't...
  1613. >Is he?
  1614. >His eyes dart between yours and your lips.
  1615. 16/19
  1616. >Your heart is thumping in your chest.
  1617. >Is he going to lose his nerve?
  1618. >Do you want him to?
  1619. >You're not sure.
  1620. >But the anticipation is too much.
  1621. >'Do it! Do it now!' You want to shout.
  1622. >Do it before you change your mind!
  1623. >You close your eyes, unable to take it anymore.
  1624. >In that moment he pulls away, and you feel your heart sinking.
  1625. >Why?
  1626. >Does he think you're just an animal?
  1627. >Are you not pretty?
  1628. >Despair turns to joy in an instant as he presses his lips against yours.
  1629. >It's light.
  1630. >Maybe not even a kiss, just a peck.
  1631. >But it's enough to make your heart soar.
  1632. >You open your eyes, and he looks at you, wondering if that was wrong.
  1633. >You don't leave him hanging.
  1634. >Without hesitating you pull him in closer and return his kiss.
  1635. >It's deep, and passionate.
  1636. >No longer a chaste and innocent peck between two beings.
  1637. >But something more raw, and urgent.
  1638. >One kiss rolls into the next as your lips move together.
  1639. >A hoof moves on it's own and hooks under his arm so he can't escape.
  1640. >In kind, one hand plays with your mane at the base of your neck.
  1641. >The other moves to your chest.
  1642. >It moves up and down, occasionally grabbing and pulling at your fluff.
  1643. >Oh, Cadance, it's been too long!
  1644. >You dirty whorse!
  1645. >Why does this feel so good!?
  1646. >He's a human!
  1647. >Still, at this point you don't even care.
  1648. >All that dancing must have gotten you all worked up.
  1649. >The shots probably didn't hurt either.
  1650. >His hand moves from your chest fluff to your soft belly.
  1651. >You turn more so one leg is completely over his, and he moves to allow you to nearly straddle him.
  1652. >You feel yourself starting to get wet.
  1653. >Hopefully he will get the idea and try his luck.
  1654. >You have needs too.
  1655. >Still, he hasn't tried to use his tongue, so you experimentally extend yours.
  1656. >After a moment he gets the idea and his tongue meets yours.
  1657. >They dance with each other, and you let a hoof move below his shirt.
  1658. 17/19
  1659. >He doesn't complain when you stroke his bare skin.
  1660. >Why do they insist on wearing so much clothes?
  1661. >His hand moves from your belly to your flank, and he rubs your cutie mark.
  1662. >You let out a little grunt, to let him know to keep going.
  1663. >If this kept going forever, you wouldn't complain.
  1664. >Minutes of pure bliss pass.
  1665. >Suddenly he breaks the embrace and you look up at him.
  1666. "What's wrong?" You ask between breaths. "Did I do something?"
  1667. >Is it over?
  1668. >He shakes his head.
  1669. >"I'm about to pass out," he says before taking several shallow breaths.
  1670. >File staggers up, and nearly topples over.
  1671. >Oh, Luna, you overdid it.
  1672. >He is bucked.
  1673. >You move to his side so he doesn't fall.
  1674. >His hand grabs your withers for support.
  1675. >File awkwardly makes his way to his room.
  1676. >He wobbles as he tries to take off his pants.
  1677. >It takes him two tries before he finally succedes.
  1678. >His eyes are glazed over and unfocused as he tries to look at you.
  1679. "Are you gonna puke?"
  1680. >His eyes blink out of sync a few times before he responds.
  1681. >"I don't know."
  1682. >He moves the covers aside, and climbs into his bed.
  1683. "Sleep on your side so you don't choke to death."
  1684. >"That's just a myth. No one pukes in their sleep."
  1685. >Have you ever heard of anypony dying that way?
  1686. >Now that you think of it, no, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
  1687. "You have to live," or I'll never forgive myself nearly say. You don't want to kill him. "so we can finish the movie."
  1688. >"Since when do you care? You told me you want to run away."
  1689. "We just made out for like fifteen minutes!"
  1690. >"Oh yeah," he laughs. "Get in then."
  1691. "What?"
  1692. >He grabs one of your forelegs, and gently urges you to join him.
  1693. >Escape will have to wait for another day.
  1694. >Reluctantly, you comply and climb over him into the empty space.
  1695. >This is your fault, after all.
  1696. >If you didn't insist on that last drink you would be in pound town by now.
  1697. >Plus now you're too bucked to run away.
  1698. 18/19
  1699. >What a waste.
  1700. >Shifting around a few times, you try to find a comfortable position.
  1701. >You aren't sure how humans sleep together.
  1702. "Should I face you?"
  1703. >You turn, but your legs don't quite mesh with his.
  1704. >"If you want…"
  1705. >You press your lips together.
  1706. >This isn't how tonight was supposed to turn out.
  1707. >You want to keep an eye on him, so you adjust your legs so they don't clash with him too much.
  1708. >He puts down his arm, and you place your head on it, carefully so as not to hit him with your horn.
  1709. >Well, at least this isn't so bad…
  1710. >"Good night," he says, before giving you a little kiss.
  1711. >With that done, he closes his eyes.
  1712. >Moonlight peeks through the window and you look up.
  1713. >Only a sliver of the moon shows, the rest is covered in darkness.
  1714. >But it's enough to light File's face.
  1715. >You watch him for a few seconds before cuddling closer.
  1716. "Sleep tight."
  1717. 19/19
  1719. >Day A Change of Key.
  1720. >You wake up to sunlight peeking through the curtains.
  1721. >Weird.
  1722. >Those were bright pink and covered with princesses yesterday.
  1723. >Also, the bed used to be a lot smaller, and for some reason it feels like it is pointing in the wrong direction.
  1724. >Did you die and go back to Equestria?
  1725. >Sleepily, you close your eyes to go back to sleep.
  1726. >But they instantly open and you inhale sharply as you remember what happened last night.
  1727. >It's all you can do to stop yourself from neighing and kicking out.
  1728. >This isn't Jenny's room, it's File's!
  1729. >Buck!
  1730. >You very, very, slowly turn your head.
  1731. >Yeah, he is still there, and his arms are still wrapped around you.
  1732. >You're not sure if that's a good thing or not.
  1733. >But you do know for sure that you have to pee, and if you get up, you're going to wake him.
  1734. >Laying there for several minutes staring at the ceiling, you hope that he will get up on his own.
  1735. >Unfortunately, he keeps you in his warm embrace.
  1736. >Maybe if you open the curtains slightly?
  1737. >Your horn lights up and the curtains move for you, and they let in more light, but he doesn't stir.
  1738. >You press your lips together and grunt in annoyance.
  1739. >Well, if you're going to be stuck here for a while, you might as well get comfortable.
  1740. >You turn into him and press your face against his cheek.
  1741. >He is warm and soft, so there's that at least.
  1742. >The movement was enough and he loosens his grip and rolls onto his back.
  1743. >File stretches out and yawns loudly.
  1744. >"Morning, Cassie," he whispers, his eyes still closed. "Did you sleep well?"
  1745. >That's his ex-wife.
  1746. "It's just me."
  1747. >He pulls away to look at you, but almost instantly covers his eyes with an arm.
  1748. >"Shit. Sorry, Vinyl. I… I didn't mean to say that."
  1749. You don't really care that he slipped up, so you say simply, "I have to pee."
  1750. >"Oh… Can you get me some water while you're up?"
  1751. "Sure."
  1752. 1/11
  1753. >You carefully climb over him to get out of bed.
  1754. >The side you were on has enough room for a human to shimmy through, but not enough for a pony.
  1755. >The visit to the restroom was quick, and you magic over a cup of water from the faucet.
  1756. >"Thanks."
  1757. >File sits up to drink it, while you stand there awkwardly.
  1758. >You're not sure if you should get back in or just go to your room.
  1759. >Finally you shrug and tap his leg.
  1760. >He looks at you before pulling them in, allowing you to get back on.
  1761. "I'm too lazy to go to my room," you lie. "And your bed is bigger."
  1762. >He grunts at your explanation, before checking his phone.
  1763. >"I shouldn't have had that last shot. I was keeping it together before that."
  1764. "Yeah, but you're more fun when you drink."
  1765. >"The problem is dealing with the aftermath. It feels like someone punched me."
  1766. "Oh, com'n. It can't be that bad."
  1767. >You have a bit of a headache, but it's fairly mild.
  1768. >"I'm not that young anymore…" Then he halfway sings, "I ain't as young as I once was."
  1769. >You roll your eyes.
  1770. "Don't start with the country music."
  1771. >"Too many years working on the farm," he says, no longer trying to sing.
  1772. "File, I'm not in the mood."
  1773. >"Hmmm… Someone is grumpy. Alright, I'll knock it off."
  1774. >You both lay there in silence for a while before you close your eyes and try to go back to sleep.
  1775. >"Should we talk about last night?"
  1776. >You sigh, louder than you intended.
  1777. "There's nothing to talk about. We made out, and that's it. Just pretend it never happened."
  1778. >"I meant what I said. I'll try to give you more freedom."
  1779. >Not this again.
  1780. >He's trying to smooth talk you into believing things will work out, but it won't work.
  1781. "I'm a slave. As soon as this movie is done, we're going to go different directions. Don't act like taking me out once in a while is going to change that."
  1782. >He doesn't own you.
  1783. >Nothing he does or says will change what you are.
  1784. >"Maybe not… but that doesn't mean I don't care…"
  1785. 2/11
  1786. >He offers you a weak smile, and you turn away from him.
  1787. "Thoughts and prayers won't do anything for me."
  1788. >You're about to get really pissed off.
  1789. >His hand drifts and touches your barrel, and you shy away from him.
  1790. >"Don't be so grumpy, Vinyl. It's a new day."
  1791. >Again he tries to reach for you.
  1792. "Let go of me."
  1793. >"But, Vinyl…"
  1794. "I said back off!"
  1795. >You kick out and impact something hard before shimmying to the far end of the bed.
  1796. >"Fuck!"
  1797. >You grab a large chunk of the blanket and magic it over you.
  1798. >That will show him.
  1799. >"Fine. Be that way."
  1800. >He shifts, and you imagine he is turned away from you.
  1801. >You lay there quietly for a while, wondering if he is going to hit you back, but it never comes.
  1802. >The silence is incredibly awkward for the first few minutes, but neither of you are willing to speak.
  1803. >Slowly, your heart slows and you drift off.
  1804. >When you wake up again, he isn't there.
  1805. >You find him sitting in the living room, watching television.
  1806. "Morning."
  1807. >He scowls when he sees you, but answers, "there's some breakfast in the fridge."
  1808. >It's easy to find the small bowl filled with cut fruit, and you magic it with you when you sit next to him.
  1809. >He eyes you cautiously for a moment, but his attention returns to the screen.
  1810. >Since he is now wearing shorts, you can see a hoof shaped bruise forming on his leg.
  1811. >Involuntarily, you wince when you look at it.
  1812. >You just wanted to give him a tap, not nearly rip his leg off.
  1813. "I'm sorry for kicking you earlier."
  1814. >"Don't worry about it. I've dealt with worse."
  1815. "But we shouldn't have to. Whatever this is… it isn't healthy."
  1816. >"You said it yourself. There is nothing to talk about. Let's just get through this and then we can go our separate ways."
  1817. >You breathe in deeply as you look at him.
  1818. >He is trying to make this bearable at least.
  1819. >You feel yourself tensing up.
  1820. >Why did this have to happen to you?
  1821. >You were happy back in Equestria.
  1822. 3/11
  1823. >On their own, your eyes begin to water as you remember your old life.
  1824. >A hoof slams into the cushion you're sitting on.
  1825. >No.
  1826. >There's no way you're going to let a human see you cry.
  1827. >"Is something bothering you?"
  1828. "No," you lie. "Everything is fine."
  1829. >He looks skeptical, and starts to say something before huffing in annoyance.
  1830. >You both watch the show he has on, though you don't really care about cowboys fighting off aliens.
  1831. >"Let's go out today."
  1832. "And do what?"
  1833. >"I don't know. It's Sunday, so we can go to the park, or see a play."
  1834. "I didn't know ponies were only allowed in parks on the weekend," you say sarcastically.
  1835. >"Well, what did you want to do then?"
  1836. "You should just lock me in my room like you always do."
  1837. >File pauses the show and turns to you.
  1838. >"When have I done that? I have never locked you away. The only door I have ever locked in this house is my own room."
  1839. "So you leave the bathroom unlocked? Gross."
  1840. >He scoffs.
  1841. >"That… You know what? I'm not in the mood to argue."
  1842. >He gets up menacingly and you scurry to the far side of the couch.
  1843. >File ignores you and stomps over to his office before slamming the door.
  1844. >Your ears move to try to hear what he is doing, but they come up with nothing.
  1845. >So you lay there looking out the window for half an hour before he returns.
  1846. >"It's done."
  1847. "What?"
  1848. >"The script. I sent it to the production company for them to review."
  1849. >Hundreds of emotions flow through you.
  1850. >The script was the only reason he kept you here.
  1851. "But it wasn't ready."
  1852. >"Perfect is the enemy of good enough. Besides we've looked at it too much. I asked them to get back to me on Thursday with any final edits."
  1853. >You sit upright, and scuff his couch with a hoof.
  1854. "What happens now? You're going to take me back to the base?"
  1855. >He sits on his recliner and slumps over, with his hands covering his face.
  1856. >"If you want… We don't get along very well anyway."
  1857. 4/11
  1858. "We're both…" You look for the right word. "Opinionated. But that doesn't mean we don't get along. We did have some good times. Like when we were rewriting your songs."
  1859. >"Yeah… we did… But I do not appreciate being kicked, especially after last night."
  1860. >You look down at his leg and frown.
  1861. "Sorry, this whole situation is… I don't like it. I didn't want to hit you that hard."
  1862. >"It's only ten years! The same as a pilot! Ten! I barely even get to fly anymore."
  1863. >That's what they keep saying, but you don't believe it.
  1864. >Humans will never let you go free.
  1865. >You don't want to think about that, so you change the subject.
  1866. >Talking about your slavery is just going to make you mad again.
  1867. "How does that even work… you use magic?"
  1868. >Magnet looks at you like he can't decide if you actually want an answer or not.
  1869. >"No. Imagine driving a really big car. One that is so big you need at least three people to operate it."
  1870. "It's that hard to steer?"
  1871. >"No. It's too expensive and has too many dials and buttons for one man to fly alone."
  1872. >They must all be spread out inside.
  1873. >If they can get the buttons closer together, then one person might be able to fly it, you reason.
  1874. "Just get a Touchpad."
  1875. >"A Touchpad…?" He stifles a laugh at your comment, but it's too much and he erupts into laughter.
  1876. "What?" You feel your cheeks burning. "That's an easy way to get lots of buttons in one place!"
  1877. >"No. I'm just imagining us making," he laughs again. "Dubstep while making a bombing run. Talk about dropping the bass. I wonder what the air controllers would think."
  1878. >It would be pretty silly to drive and make music at the same time.
  1879. >You give him a smile, though you don't quite understand why it's so funny.
  1880. >"Let's stop fighting. I'm going to get cleaned up, and then we're going out."
  1881. >He doesn't leave any room for argument since he quickly gets up to leave.
  1882. >Now that he mentioned it, you are starting to smell a little ripe.
  1883. 5/11
  1884. >You wait until he finishes his shower so there will be enough hot water.
  1885. >His water heater sucks, but as long as two ponies don't use it at the same time it's fine.
  1886. >"Ready?"
  1887. "I want to go to the beach. We can see the park another time."
  1888. >He frowns at this.
  1889. >"I'm not really dressed for that."
  1890. "So get dressed," you smile.
  1891. >A few minutes later he is back with shiny shorts, and a small backpack.
  1892. >You put you you saddle bag that you filled with towels and a few bottles of water.
  1893. >It only takes a few minutes to walk down to the strand.
  1894. >The boardwalk is packed with people and ponies running, biking, or jogging, so you have to wait for an opening before rushing across it.
  1895. >The sand feels so soft against your hooves.
  1896. >It's incredible.
  1897. >You aren't sure why, but there aren't a lot of humans playing in the water.
  1898. >Most just lounge on the sand, or are playing games.
  1899. >"Looks like there is room over there," File says while pointing at a pier in the distance.
  1900. >You're pretty sure that's Manhattan.
  1901. "What are we waiting for?"
  1902. >You lead your human across the sand dunes and between random people.
  1903. >Soon you find yourself in a relatively clear area, and lay down your towel.
  1904. >"I'm surprised it isn't more busy on a weekend."
  1905. "Maybe we just got lucky."
  1906. >He shrugs and puts down his towel next to yours before stripping off his shirt.
  1907. >To call him a sculpture of muscle would be wrong, but he clearly works out.
  1908. >If he changed his diet a bit they might pop out a bit more.
  1909. >You feel yourself blushing.
  1910. >Why are you even thinking about something silly like that?
  1911. >You shake your head when he starts spraying himself with something.
  1912. "What are you doing?"
  1913. >"Putting on sunscreen. I don't want to get burned." His brow furrows as he speaks to you. "Do you… do ponies use this?"
  1914. "Sometimes, but only if we are going to be outside for a long time."
  1915. >"Okay. Let me put some on your face just to be safe."
  1916. 6/11
  1917. >He sprays some into his hands before wiping your face and ears.
  1918. >You remove your sunglasses so he can have better access.
  1919. >It has a slight smell, but it isn't too annoying.
  1920. >And him touching you is a plus as well.
  1921. "Why aren't there many people swimming?"
  1922. >This makes him smile.
  1923. >"You're about to find out."
  1924. >Are there sharks or jellyfish in the water?
  1925. >He stops just short of the water and graciously waves his hand.
  1926. >"Ladies first."
  1927. >You put one hoof in the water before yanking it away.
  1928. "It's cold!"
  1929. >"That's why people don't swim here," he smiles. "But you should get used to it quickly."
  1930. >He sticks a single toe in the water before hopping away as well.
  1931. >"I always hate this part."
  1932. >He takes a deep breath before rushing in.
  1933. >File lets out a visceral growl as he claws through the water.
  1934. >Finally he dips himself in fully and disappears before letting himself float on the surface.
  1935. >You can't let him show you up, so you run in as well.
  1936. >The water is freezing, but you force yourself forward.
  1937. >The next few hours are spent swimming, and building sand castles.
  1938. >File's aren't as good as yours, but he doesn't have magic on his side.
  1939. >Eventually he gets tired and lounges on his towel.
  1940. "Thanks for convincing me to come out."
  1941. >"No problem… I'm glad we sent in the script. It feels so freeing not having to worry about it."
  1942. "Yeah."
  1943. >He looks at his phone for a second before putting it back in his pocket.
  1944. >"There's a good taco place off of the pier. We should check it out."
  1945. >You aren't very hungry, but you're not willing to go home yet.
  1946. >Home?
  1947. >No.
  1948. >Equestria is your home, not this place.
  1949. >It doesn't take long to get to the taco stand on the pier.
  1950. >Hermosa's pier is much wider and has more bars, while this one looks like it has more restaurants.
  1951. >Major Nohtfound orders tacos for both of you, and they are actually not that bad.
  1952. >"So this, temporarily dislocated and obligated servant stuff has got you down?"
  1953. 7/11
  1954. >You give him a deadpan expression.
  1955. "What do you think? Uh, don't answer that."
  1956. >You already know he's going to say that humans are superior to ponies, and that you should be happy it wasn't the Russians who got you.
  1957. >That's all propaganda, and you don't believe a word of it.
  1958. >"I was going to say that you should try to buy your contract."
  1959. "How? It's not like you're paying any of us."
  1960. >"You're all getting a year off for three, maybe four months of work. I'd say that's a pretty good deal."
  1961. "Only nine years left…"
  1962. >"If we finish it. It'll fly by quickly, trust me. Twelve years flew by…"
  1963. "And you stuck around?"
  1964. >File shrugs.
  1965. >"I like flying, and I'm not ready to be a glorified bus driver." He leans over the railing with his elbows. "I'm on the hook for two years, or three movies, whichever comes first."
  1966. "You have to do this two more times? That's horse apples! They are paying you more though, right?"
  1967. >Just making a single track is a lot of work.
  1968. >Putting together an entire film has to be an enormous project for anypony.
  1969. >Especially one not trained for it.
  1970. >This makes him laugh.
  1971. >"No I don't get anything extra, and yeah, it is BS… But we don't get to choose our assignments… not really… I'm supposed to listen to pitches for the other two in a few weeks. I'll pick out the best and we'll finance them."
  1972. >Strange that he wrote this story himself if he has a studio at his beck and call.
  1973. "What if I help you with all three movies? Can you wipe my slate clean?"
  1974. >Two years is a lot better than ten.
  1975. >He sighs as he looks into the distance.
  1976. >"I doubt it."
  1977. "I'm sure you can make it happen. You're an important guy. The whole thing would fall apart without you."
  1978. >He taps the railing twice.
  1979. >You feel like he is holding something back, but you're afraid to ask what.
  1980. >Did they already find someone to buy you?
  1981. >"I'll ask Colonel Ymous, but don't get your hopes up."
  1982. >You press your lips together.
  1983. >That's better than nothing at least.
  1984. 8/11
  1985. "So, I'm not getting paid, and you probably won't let me get another job. That doesn't exactly give me a lot of options."
  1986. >"The Army owns you, but as long as you do your job I don't think they will care what you do on your free time."
  1987. >It would be kind of cool to do gigs again.
  1988. "I could DJ at one of those bars."
  1989. >He considers what you said for a moment before shaking his head.
  1990. >"I don't think that will get you enough money to buy your contract. And you're only with me until this is over. No guarantees after that."
  1991. >You're sure the real reason he doesn't want you out is because he is afraid you will run away.
  1992. >And then where would he be?
  1993. >You're the star.
  1994. "I'll just explain to the owner that it will just be for a few nights. Like a special guest appearance. Vinyl Scratch, this week only."
  1995. >"Maybe, but you need a bigger audience if you're serious."
  1996. "And I'm guessing you aren't going to drive me to a big venue."
  1997. >"You seem to think I can snap my fingers and change the world." He turns to you. "We can try I guess, but I was thinking you could make music videos."
  1998. "I don't have a studio like you."
  1999. >"No. I mean make music, and then post it online for sale. You already have that record you made in Equestria. We'll just digitize it and post it online. The Army doesn't own your music."
  2000. >You put your hooves on the railing and look at the waves crashing and breaking apart.
  2001. >True, you have a record, and you can probably remake your old material as well.
  2002. >Plus you have equipment he bought so you could help score the film.
  2003. "It's just crazy enough to work. And I can make new stuff too. Like, human inspired songs."
  2004. >File's eyes light up.
  2005. >"Make country music!" He starts singing, "Just a tiny little pony, far from home and feeling so lonely."
  2006. "That's not going to happen."
  2007. >"Nothing but this whiskey to my name, no one but myself... to," he pauses dramatically, "blaaaameee."
  2008. "I'm not doing that! And it's no pony, not no one."
  2009. 9/11
  2010. >"But it would be fun. Experiment a little. You're an artist, I'm sure you could make it work."
  2011. >How can you be mad when he is smiling like a colt?
  2012. >Maybe you can make one just to humor him.
  2013. >It might be fun to write a song about a man crop dusting with a broken down plane.
  2014. >Also it's raining and he just got out of prison.
  2015. "What are we waiting for? Let's go!"
  2016. >It takes a while for you to get back to his house and to drive to the store.
  2017. >Luckily that green hippy pony is still there and she helps you pick out the perfect thing.
  2018. >An hour of waiting in traffic later, you are back home and File helps you set it up.
  2019. >After a few test runs, you think you figured it out, and set it to record your album.
  2020. >Satisfied, you go to the living room and find him playing with his phone on the couch.
  2021. >He doesn't notice you until you climb onto the seat next to him.
  2022. >You reach up and put your hooves over his shoulders to pull him into a hug.
  2023. >"What's this for?" He asks cautiously.
  2024. >Humans can be so dense sometimes… kind of like colts.
  2025. "Because I wanted to." You nuzzle into his neck. "I've been unfair with you, and I'm sorry."
  2026. >His arms wrap around your barrel.
  2027. >You can tell he wants to say something, but he doesn't.
  2028. >Whether that's to not spoil to moment, or what, you're not sure.
  2029. "Also the computer said I couldn't use it for an hour."
  2030. >He lets out a single chuckle at this.
  2031. >"We could watch more of that cowboy show."
  2032. >You loosen your grip on him so you can look into his eyes.
  2033. "That show sucks. The plot is awful and everything is solved with insults and guns."
  2034. >"It's supposed to suck. That's the whole point. It's avant-garde."
  2035. >You scoff.
  2036. "It's stupid. Why would aliens agree to a showdown at high noon if they can just zap everyone?"
  2037. >"Because they want to make the people work after they take over."
  2038. >You hug him quickly so he can't see you roll your eyes.
  2039. 10/11
  2040. "I was hoping to cuddle for a while, but if you're going to watch that dumb show I can go take a nap."
  2041. >You push away from him so he knows you're not joking.
  2042. >"I didn't realize that was on the table."
  2043. >You magic one of his hands to your cutie mark.
  2044. "Well it is." You press against his cheek and whisper, "And if we make out again, I won't complain."
  2045. 11/11
  2047. >Day A Change of Key
  2048. >You wake to an alarm blaring.
  2049. "Just five more minutes," you say as you cuddle closer to File. "Nopony will care if you're late."
  2050. >"I already pressed snooze twice."
  2051. "But that was only for like three minutes."
  2052. >He squeezes you tightly before nudging you away which causes you to grunt in annoyance.
  2053. >Without your personal space heater the bed feels too large.
  2054. >"Sorry, but I have to get going." He brushes your mane lightly. "Just go back to sleep."
  2055. >You try to sleep, but all the noise he makes getting ready keeps you up.
  2056. >So instead you stare at the ceiling and occasionally glance over at him.
  2057. >File chooses a green jumpsuit and gives you a kiss on the cheek before leaving.
  2058. >Eventually you get tired of laying down and waste an hour watching TV.
  2059. >When that gets old you check on the recording from yesterday.
  2060. >Unfortunately, the audio quality came out awful, and you try digitizing your record again.
  2061. >You do this one more time before you realize that it's just not going to work.
  2062. >The system isn't able to correctly transfer all the little sounds you included, and one track is nearly unrecognizable.
  2063. >No matter how many adjustments you make to the turntable, it still doesn't come out right.
  2064. "Buck."
  2065. >You shake your head as you decide you'll have to remake everything from scratch.
  2066. >From, Vinyl Scratch... heh...
  2067. >Lunch is a simple affair, little more than cut up fruit and hay.
  2068. >Finally after another hour of playing with the program, you're able to edit the sounds enough to start on your music.
  2069. >It's a lot more clumsy that the system you're used to, but you make it work.
  2070. >If this was going to be a long term situation, you would try to get a setup like back home.
  2071. >It can't be that expensive, can it?
  2072. >You bob to your music as you play with one hook.
  2073. >It's close to what you want… but maybe if you just…
  2074. >BUCK!
  2075. >You whinny loudly and jump up to run away.
  2076. >Something touched you!
  2077. >"Calm down! It's just me!"
  2078. 1/18
  2079. >It takes you a few seconds to catch your breath.
  2080. "What the hay, you scared me. I thought you were coming home later."
  2081. >He cocks his head to the side like he doesn't understand.
  2082. >"It's five…"
  2083. >You look at the little clock on your computer and it agrees with him.
  2084. >Time must have gotten away from you.
  2085. "Oh. I guess I was too busy concentrating on my music."
  2086. >"How did it turn out? Ready to release your album?"
  2087. "No. No matter how much I tried, I wasn't able to get any of them to sound right. Let me show you."
  2088. >You go back to the computer and play one that wasn't butchered too badly.
  2089. "Listen. The highs are too low, and most of the bass is missing."
  2090. >"And you tried messing with the settings?"
  2091. >"Of course I did, but it didn't made a big difference. It's not just that it's off an octave or two. It's dropping half the instruments. Listen to this one."
  2092. >You switch to the worst of all the songs.
  2093. >It barely even sounds like music… it's almost what you imagine ambient desert music would be like.
  2094. >"I see what you mean… Let me try."
  2095. >File sits down and tries playing with the settings.
  2096. >You watch as he moves some things around, and has the turntable record another song.
  2097. >Ten minutes later he presses play, and it comes out just as bad as before, if not worse.
  2098. "It was worth a shot," you say since he looks disappointed. "I'll just remake them by hoof."
  2099. >"Too bad. I was hoping the turntable would prevent that." He pushes it slightly, as if that would make it perform better. "Anyway, I'll get started on dinner."
  2100. "I'll help you."
  2101. >After he gets changed you both go to the kitchen.
  2102. >You chop up vegetables for a stir fry, while File makes rice and cooks chicken separately.
  2103. >Doing things together is actually kind fun.
  2104. >When you were captured months ago, you never thought you would enjoy spending time with a human.
  2105. >But he isn't that bad...
  2106. >You watch him as he sets the table.
  2107. >Did he ever actually catch ponies, or was he just joking with you?
  2108. 2/18
  2109. >It would be pretty difficult for a pilot to do that… unless maybe his plane had a net behind it for Pegasi.
  2110. >You smile at that silly thought.
  2111. >Before long, everything is ready and you both enjoy your meal and talk about his day.
  2112. >Apparently he had a lot of mail to read through, and some training that was overdue.
  2113. "I had a pretty full day as well. I think I'm about halfway done with one track."
  2114. >"That's pretty good. It took me two weeks to compose 'I'm So Happy.' You must be really good at that stuff."
  2115. "It's a lot easier to remake a song than compose something completely new. Even when I was really inspired, the fastest I ever made a song was three days."
  2116. >He nods knowingly.
  2117. >"That make sense. You're basically transcribing music, like reading from a sheet."
  2118. "I figure at this rate, and including days off, I can probably finish both albums in two months."
  2119. >"Cool. I look forward to listening to all of your tracks."
  2120. "You still haven't listened to my music?"
  2121. >He shrugs at this.
  2122. >"The only way I can hear it, is if you use your magic. And we haven't been on very good terms until recently…"
  2123. >Oh, right.
  2124. >You only played it for him that first night you were here.
  2125. >Has two weeks really flown by that quickly?
  2126. "We can fix that," you smile before hesitating. "I mean, if you have time."
  2127. >"I was just going to watch some TV. Maybe I should pick up a console. The lieutenants were busy chatting about that new one. I guess their captains don't give them enough work."
  2128. >You trot to the hallway and magic over your records.
  2129. "What is a console?"
  2130. >"It's like a computer, but made to play games," he says as he sits on the couch. "Imagine you are watching a movie, but you make the character move around."
  2131. "Sounds interesting."
  2132. >"I had one before, but with Jenny and Cassie I never really had time to play. I guess I don't really have that problem anymore."
  2133. >You climb on the couch and fold your legs under you to get comfortable.
  2134. 3/18
  2135. "We have lots of time while we are waiting for the review. Do you miss them?"
  2136. >"Sometimes. When I met her she was so fun. We used to do everything together. Neither of us knew how hard it would be married to an officer."
  2137. "What could be so hard about it? You seem like a decent person." The image of falling when he struck you flashes for an instant. "You didn't… hit her… did you?"
  2138. >"I already said I was sorry about that, Vinyl," he says with annoyance in his voice. "Let bygones be bygones."
  2139. "I don't care about that anymore. We were both overreacting…"
  2140. >After all you nearly stabbed him with your horn when he brought you home.
  2141. >An awkward pause descends on the room, and just as you are about to break the silence, he speaks.
  2142. >"Military members have to deploy to foreign countries for months at a time, sometimes for a year or more. Naturally, I was gone a lot. Then one time I came home… it all just felt phoned in. Like we didn't know who each other were anymore."
  2143. "I'm sorry to hear that. What was it like? Did you…?"
  2144. >"What?"
  2145. >You scrunch your nose.
  2146. >It's time you asked him.
  2147. "Did you kill anypony?"
  2148. >Anger flashes in File's face, but he tries to hide it.
  2149. >"It's not polite to ask that."
  2150. >So he did kill people.
  2151. >Deflecting the question is as good as a confession.
  2152. "Why not?"
  2153. >"It just isn't. Everyone deals with it differently. I know you don't understand, but if you ask the wrong person you could make them very angry. The things you see there… it's… nevermind."
  2154. >He halfway smiles at you before brushing your cheek.
  2155. >What kind of answer is that?
  2156. "So those soldiers in Equestria. How long do they have to stay there?"
  2157. >"Depends on the service. Army and Marines I imagine stay for a year or more."
  2158. >You huff in annoyance.
  2159. "Gives them more time to steal ponies."
  2160. >"Despite what you think, we are there for your protection. Tens of thousands of soldiers, far away from home so you can be safe."
  2161. 4/18
  2162. "Yeah, right. I know that's all propaganda, just like this movie."
  2163. >File sighs loudly.
  2164. >"Vinyl, let's not fight. We both know this conversation isn't going to go anywhere. You're going to say that it's wrong, and I'm going to say that you would have a very different opinion if you were still in Equestria. There is no way either us will convince the other, so let's drop it."
  2165. >You look up at your human.
  2166. >In a way, he is right.
  2167. >The whole point of this was to listen to your music, not to argue over politics.
  2168. >You can press him on this more later.
  2169. "Alright." You lift up one record with your magic and begin spinning it slowly. "This was my early stuff. You will notice it is a little flat compared to the other record, but it's all still good."
  2170. >You close your eyes to concentrate.
  2171. >Magic was never your forte, but learning how to play records without assistance was very useful to learn.
  2172. >You find yourself swaying to the second track.
  2173. >It has a kind of amateurish hook, but you doubt he will notice.
  2174. >Human ears aren't as sensitive as those of ponies.
  2175. >The track skips a beat as he touches your mane, but you're able to correct it.
  2176. "File, I'm trying to concentrate."
  2177. >"Sorry. I couldn't help myself. You just looked so cute moving to your song."
  2178. >You give him a smile.
  2179. "I guess it's okay as long as you don't touch my horn."
  2180. >"Why not?"
  2181. "It's very sensitive. It would cancel my magic, just like when we fought that one time."
  2182. >"Oh." He taps your side and you look up at him.
  2183. >His eyes insist that you get up, and you stop the music.
  2184. >He lays down on the couch and taps his chest, inviting you to join him.
  2185. >Carefully you climb over him and lay down.
  2186. >"Oof. You're heavy."
  2187. "No I'm not!
  2188. >His chest shakes as he lets out a laugh.
  2189. >You've never had a weight problem.
  2190. "I'll have you know I'm average for a pony."
  2191. >"I know." He smiles. "You're what? One hundred pounds? One hundred and ten?"
  2192. 5/18
  2193. >You give him your most piercing glare.
  2194. >It's super effective, and he brushes your barrel in a conciliatory manner.
  2195. "You're lucky that I don't know human weight measurements, so I don't know if that is too high."
  2196. >"Women usually weigh around one hundred thirty. You feel lighter than that."
  2197. >You should probably find out how much you weigh before you decide if you're offended or not.
  2198. "Let's get back to the music."
  2199. >You lay your head down and cozy up to his neck before starting up again.
  2200. >Halfway through the record you nearly doze off and the music cuts off.
  2201. >"Is something wrong?"
  2202. "Just got a little too comfortable," you say as you kiss his neck.
  2203. >"I can think of a few ways to keep you awake."
  2204. >Your ears raise at the idea of sexy cuddles.
  2205. "Yeah?"
  2206. >You squirm when his hand moves to your belly.
  2207. >If he knew that was a weird place for ponies to be touched, he probably wouldn't do it.
  2208. >At least he isn't digging his finger nails-
  2209. >He is!
  2210. "Ah," you whimper out as you squirm some more to escape a threat that isn't there.
  2211. >"You're really soft."
  2212. >His hand stops digging into your coat as he gently moves up and touches your fluff.
  2213. >Slowly you lower your record to the coffee table so you can rest.
  2214. >"Is that a good thing?"
  2215. >He furrows his brow as he looks at you.
  2216. >"Wait. What if we just recorded your music?"
  2217. >So he's just going to ignore your question?
  2218. "We already tried that, remember? It didn't work."
  2219. >"No. I mean with a microphone. You play it, and the computer records it that way. Though it will probably lose some audio quality. But that's fine, just call it the lo-fi version."
  2220. >You grunt in annoyance.
  2221. >Part of you wants him to keep petting you, and the other half wants to give it a shot.
  2222. >Cuddles will have to wait for later.
  2223. "Let's try it."
  2224. >A few minutes later, you have recorded a song with a headset, but like he said, it sounds tinny and distant.
  2225. >"That's alright. This is a crappy microphone. We can pick up a nice one tomorrow."
  2226. 6/18
  2227. "And I'll put up blankets and other stuff to dampen any echos."
  2228. >The next two days are the same.
  2229. >You record your music as best you can and then work on recreating your material.
  2230. >File comes home and you cook dinner together before cuddling in front of the TV.
  2231. >At night, you upload whatever you made that day online.
  2232. >Finally, Thursday arrives, and File comes home early.
  2233. "Hey, Magnet, look! I got fifteen views!" You shout as you show him the screen.
  2234. >"Awesome. Giant trees sprout from the smallest seeds." He cocks his head to the side as he thinks. "How many times did you check it?"
  2235. "Hmm, like ten or eleven times."
  2236. >File makes a pained expression, and you can tell he is trying not to laugh.
  2237. "What the hay? What's wrong with that?"
  2238. >"Those views are you, checking it!"
  2239. >Suddenly you feel really dumb.
  2240. >You got worked up over nothing.
  2241. "Horse apples."
  2242. >File sits next to you, and clicks through your videos.
  2243. >"This is the problem. You don't have any keywords. You need those so when people are searching they can find it."
  2244. "Hmmm… write Vinyl Scratch, DJ Pon-3, awesome, chill, and whatever else you need to put down."
  2245. >"Who is DJ Pony?" He asks as he types.
  2246. "That's me. It's my stage name. No, use a '3' instead of a 'y'. And put in a dash. No, before the- There, much better."
  2247. >"I'll let you take care of the other videos. In the meantime, guess what?"
  2248. "I don't know. You bought a new car."
  2249. >"No. Keep guessing."
  2250. >You roll your eyes.
  2251. >This could take forever.
  2252. "Uh, you are getting promoted to captain."
  2253. >"No, major is a higher rank than captain, though getting promoted would be good. We got the script back. I only took a quick glance before driving back here. Doesn't look like there are too many changes, but we should go through it first."
  2254. "Sure I can check it out."
  2255. >"The director says we can do a table read of the script next week if we want."
  2256. "Awesome."
  2257. 7/18
  2258. >"But we have to review it today so the lieutenant has enough time to print these out for the other ponies. That way they can read it over the weekend."
  2259. >This is pretty good news.
  2260. >You'll finally be able to see your friends from the Army base.
  2261. >But why didn't he know about your stage name?
  2262. >Weird how minds work like that… just flipping from one thought to the next.
  2263. >You're sure you must have mentioned it before.
  2264. "Come to think about it, File, we really don't know very much about each other. We spent most of our time working or doing our own thing."
  2265. >He presses his lips together.
  2266. >"I assumed you wanted to keep some distance since you rarely ask about my past. And especially since…" He looks for the right words. "We are only going to be together for a little bit."
  2267. >You look out the window and see a truck driving by.
  2268. >Whatever this is, it's just temporary.
  2269. >Soon you will be back at the base waiting to be sold.
  2270. >Getting attached to somepony would just make that more difficult.
  2271. "It's probably for the best."
  2272. >After he prints out your script, you both decide to read it later that night.
  2273. >The rest of the afternoon is spent cleaning up.
  2274. >After that you both go to a restaurant for chineighs food.
  2275. >It's a little saltier than the food File makes, which is great.
  2276. >Back home you play with your music on your computer for a few hours before finally reading the screenplay.
  2277. >Anon plays on his phone while you read beside him on his bed.
  2278. >It's good.
  2279. >Like, really good.
  2280. "Oh, Celestia!" You turn the page. "This is awesome!"
  2281. >"Hmm?"
  2282. "This dialogue. They only made a few changes, but its… I don't know… snappy, intense, raw."
  2283. >"Really? The studio mentioned they added a pony to the staff, but I didn't see anything amazing."
  2284. 8/18
  2285. "Ugh. You just don't get it, File. This writer put in all the things ponies love! Listen to this, 'I'll never leave you, Misty Dreams.' He looks into the distance at the sunrise. 'You're my Snoopi doo.' She leaps into his arms and cries out, 'and you're my Snookums.' Both of them start crying with joy. 'Let's be together, forever.' They kiss, and Misty whispers, 'forever and always.' Camera fades to black."
  2286. >You press the script to your chest.
  2287. "How can you ask for a better ending than that?"
  2288. >"Snoopi doo, and Snookums?"
  2289. "You don't get it!"
  2290. >"It sounds really sappy."
  2291. "It's supposed to be sappy. It's like a romance story now. Rugged Un Named takes little Mistry Dreams home, and then steals her heart."
  2292. >You sigh contentedly before putting the script on the nightstand.
  2293. >"You're reading too much into it."
  2294. "Who is the pony here? Me or you?"
  2295. >He takes a deep breath.
  2296. >"You are," he concedes."
  2297. "Then I think I'm a little more qualified than you to judge this."
  2298. >"Well, if you like it, it's finally good enough to film. I'll email the lieutenant to print scripts for the cast."
  2299. "Yeah, it's definitely ready. This is going to be a hit!" You wave a hoof. "Staring DJ Pon-3 in her breakout role as Misty Dreams!"
  2300. >File rolls on his side and pulls you in close.
  2301. >"I'm glad you like it, Snoopi doo."
  2302. >Your heart skips a beat at his words.
  2303. >When you recover, you put your hoof to his lips.
  2304. "Don't say that unless you mean it."
  2305. >"It's just a pet name."
  2306. "It's not something you can just throw around."
  2307. >File clears his throat.
  2308. >"Am I your Snookums?"
  2309. "What do you think?" You scoff.
  2310. >He seems to deflate slightly when he responds, "I'm guessing, no."
  2311. "I knew you were smart," you smile before kissing his cheek.
  2312. >Better nip that in the bud before he starts getting the wrong idea.
  2313. >His arms wrap around you and you climb on top of him.
  2314. 9/18
  2315. >File's hands move up and down your barrel, and down your haunches, all the way to your rear hooves.
  2316. >One involuntarily pulls away at the ticklish touch, but you force it back down for him.
  2317. >You'll never understand why he likes touching your hooves so much.
  2318. >It's not like they are anything special.
  2319. >You rest your forelegs over his shoulders so you can look into his eyes.
  2320. >His nose brushes yours, which makes you smile.
  2321. >Like you've been doing for the past week, you start making out.
  2322. >It's heated, and exciting.
  2323. >One hand moves to your belly, and again he uses his nails to rub through your coat.
  2324. >You shudder involuntarily at his touch.
  2325. >Your instincts scream at you to run away, that he will open your belly and eat you, but you know File wouldn't do that.
  2326. >Still, you can't help it and squirm on top of him, causing him to laugh slightly.
  2327. >"You like that?"
  2328. "Yeah," you whisper breathily between kisses.
  2329. >File pulls away to smirk for an instant, but you press yourself against him for a deep kiss.
  2330. >Your tongue meets his, and his free hands grabs your neck.
  2331. >Again, you want to scream and kick out, but you keep it contained.
  2332. >As long as he doesn't-
  2333. "Ahhh~"
  2334. >His hand digs into your neck and brushes it roughly.
  2335. >You imagine he wants to rip out your throat.
  2336. "File… you should kno-aaah~~" You shudder again and push on his chest to get some space. "That's very scary for a pony."
  2337. >"Really?" Both hands stop moving, and instead he simply holds you tightly.
  2338. "It's an instinctual thing."
  2339. >"Do you want me to stop?"
  2340. "No," you say as you try to catch your breath. "It's..." you swallow hard. "Exciting. Just… if I freak out, it's not you."
  2341. >"Okay," one hand moves to your neck, and the other lightly brushes your mane. "We'll use a safe word. If you want me to stop just say," he pulls you in closer and whispers, "Snoopi doo."
  2342. >!
  2343. >Of all the words to choose why did he pick that!?
  2344. 10/18
  2345. >As if you would ever say-
  2346. >He grabs a large chunk of your mane and pulls on it and you freeze up.
  2347. >You feel yourself getting so warm, and your chest heaves as you try to keep yourself calm.
  2348. >It's like he is a predator and is about to swallow you up.
  2349. >Buck!
  2350. >Are you getting wet over this?
  2351. >You don't have a submission kink!
  2352. >"You're mine now, little pony."
  2353. >Oh no!
  2354. >Somehow you regain some control and try to squirm away, even though you love it.
  2355. >File pulls on your mane more, and you comply, exposing your neck to him.
  2356. >Your ears are fully raised in alarm.
  2357. >"Don't resist, pony," he teases as the hand at your neck moves up, brushes past your cheek, and presses at the base of your horn.
  2358. >You gasp as you feel yourself being blocked off from your magic.
  2359. "I'll never submit to you, human," you say as loud as you can, but it's barely over a whisper.
  2360. >You're not even sure he heard it.
  2361. >You move your rear hooves to stand over him, but he keeps you from escaping.
  2362. >Involuntarily, your haunches twitch at his control over you.
  2363. >You feel yourself getting incredibly wet.
  2364. >It's so dangerous, and thrilling!
  2365. >With a heave you try to jump away, and one hoof lands on his stomach.
  2366. >He lets out an, "oof", and his grip loosens for an instant, and it's enough for you to fall on your side, but he doesn't let go.
  2367. >"Trying to escape? It's useless," he says with a predatory smile.
  2368. "My friends will come and get me. It's just a matter of time."
  2369. >He gives you a low laugh as he halfway climbs over you.
  2370. >"I doubt it. They will never find my lair. Make it easier on yourself, and give up."
  2371. >Oh, Cadence!
  2372. >Why haven't you done role playing before!?
  2373. "Nev~ahhh!"
  2374. >He presses on your horn harder, and the last bit of magic you have left is gone.
  2375. >"That's what I thought…"
  2376. >Once more he pulls on your mane, and you again show your neck.
  2377. >He lowers himself to your chest floof and gives it a little kiss before moving up.
  2378. 11/18
  2379. >Slowly he peppers your body with kisses before finally stopping at your neck.
  2380. >All the while you are immobilized by his hand on your mane.
  2381. >You're not… you concentrate for a second.
  2382. >Yes, you are definitely winking right now.
  2383. >It's so embarrassing!
  2384. >This isn't your kink!
  2385. >You don't have any fetishes!
  2386. >You want to shout, 'take me now!' but that would spoil the fun.
  2387. >File kisses your neck twice, before nibbling at it, pretending that he is biting you.
  2388. >One leg kicks out to stop him, and the other quickly joins in.
  2389. >Since he hasn't completely climbed on you, the kicks are futile, and fruitlessly strike out at the open air.
  2390. >"It's over, pony. Give up."
  2391. "No! Please!" You whisper as loudly as you can. "Please don't!"
  2392. >You feel your eyes watering, and you try to struggle away.
  2393. >A single jagged tooth runs down the length of your neck, and it's too much.
  2394. >You let your emotions flow and you cry out and quiver at the overstimulation.
  2395. >"Are you alright?"
  2396. "Of course not. You're going to eat me!"
  2397. >File hesitates, and moves up to look into your eyes.
  2398. >His hands loosen enough for you to shimmy away slightly.
  2399. >"No, seriously, are you alright? You're bright red."
  2400. "File, don't worry about me. I've never done this before. It's," you swallow, "crazy, but I think I actually like it."
  2401. >He waits a moment, as if he is trying to figure out if you're just saying that.
  2402. "Seriously."
  2403. >With what little magic you have, you force his hand back into gripping your mane.
  2404. >"I didn't take you for the submissive type."
  2405. "I'm not! I'm just playing along because this is what you like."
  2406. >"Really? I'm doing it because you looked cute when you were squirming."
  2407. >Oh, so he isn't into this…
  2408. >Or is he?
  2409. >It doesn't really matter, does it?
  2410. "Well, you better finish what you started then."
  2411. >You light up your horn and lift up his shirt.
  2412. >He has to let go of you so you can lift it over his head.
  2413. 12/18
  2414. >After you throw the shirt aside carelessly, you reach out with your forelegs and tug at him so he can kiss you again.
  2415. >It's no longer urgent, but gentler and romantic.
  2416. >One arm wraps around you, to support your head, while the other settles on your chest fluff.
  2417. >His fingers play with it idly as you make out.
  2418. >You really need to trim that at some point.
  2419. >But if it's too long, he doesn't seem to mind as he pulls at it a few times.
  2420. >Slowly his hand drifts down your barrel and stops at your belly button.
  2421. >Is it actually going to happen this time, or is he going to lose his nerve?
  2422. >You gasp slightly as he barely grazes your teats.
  2423. >It's just the lightest graze, but you're already so turned on that it makes you twitch in anticipation.
  2424. >He doesn't wait for permission before slowly, so very slowly making a circle around your supple mounds.
  2425. >He feels the edges of them where they raise from your body, but he still hasn't moved toward your sensitive tips.
  2426. >File seems to hesitate, and you decide to give him some encouragement.
  2427. "It's alright."
  2428. >Finally he makes his move, and two fingers grab a tip and pull at it in a teasing manner, before doing the same to the other.
  2429. >Each one seems to beg for his attention and he can't decide whether to squeeze or pull or caress.
  2430. >So he does each in turn, all the while his tongue dances with yours as you sloppily make out with him.
  2431. >After a minute of this you put your hooves around his head, and he doesn't resist as you pull him down.
  2432. >You blow into his ear once before lightly biting and teasing it.
  2433. >He lets out a low grunt as he rests his head in the crook of your neck so you can run your hooves through his mane and bite his ear.
  2434. >You only stop to gasp as his fingers descend further to your waiting lips.
  2435. >You can feel yourself winking more quickly when his hand pushes your haunches aside to give him better access.
  2436. 13/18
  2437. >A finger accidentally touches your button and you inhale sharply.
  2438. >"Whats this?" He asks with genuine curiosity.
  2439. "Hmm?"
  2440. >His finger presses against you firmly and you moan like a whorse.
  2441. >File pulls away from your embrace to get a better look.
  2442. >He tries to grab it when it shows itself again, which makes you moan loudly.
  2443. "Not so hard, File. It's sensitive."
  2444. >"Sorry, I've just never seen that before."
  2445. >Do human females not have...?
  2446. >How are stallions supposed to know when they are in season?
  2447. "Don't worry about that. It means I really like this."
  2448. >A single finger traces your waiting lips.
  2449. >"You're really wet."
  2450. "What do you expect after touching me like that?"
  2451. >His finger enters you slowly, and you clutch him tightly.
  2452. >It moves experimentally, from one knuckle to the next, trying to see how deep you are.
  2453. >It feels amazing, and you grind your hips into his hand, silently begging him to do more.
  2454. >He moves in and out several times, before adding a second digit.
  2455. >His fingers invade you in in sync with your winks, so it touches your button with every thrust.
  2456. >He keeps doing this for a while, driving you closer to the edge.
  2457. >You feel so warm pressing against his bare skin.
  2458. >File puts in a third finger and you have to pull away slightly.
  2459. >"You're really tight," he teases as he continues his assault on your burning marehood..
  2460. >You feel yourself getting close, and you whisper, "do it harder."
  2461. >He doesn't need more encouragement and jams his fingers into you in a fast rhythmic motion.
  2462. >Your legs move on their own to give him better access.
  2463. >His repositions himself and really gives it to you, and you move a hoof to caress your teats.
  2464. >The other hoof moves to his neck and forces him to kiss you instead of watching his hand.
  2465. >Over and over you buck into his hand, all the while making out sloopily.
  2466. >Your sex makes lewd slicking sounds at each of his movements, and you feel yourself tightening for him.
  2467. 14/18
  2468. "Right there…. Right bucking there."
  2469. >You close your eyes and extend your rear hooves as far as they will go.
  2470. >Somehow, despite clenching him, he pushes into you even harder, and you grunt in complete abandon.
  2471. >It's all too much!
  2472. >You try to hold out, for just a moment more. but it's no use.
  2473. "I'm cuming!"
  2474. >Finally, you let yourself go, and a feeling of absolute pleasure washes over you.
  2475. >Your hooves buck out as electricity travels up and down your spine.
  2476. >It's like you can feel everything.
  2477. >But all good things, must come to an end, and you lay back limply on his bed.
  2478. >He gives you a few moments to let you catch your breath.
  2479. >"Holy shit."
  2480. "What? Never seen a mare cum before?"
  2481. >You open your half lidded eyes to look at him, just as he moves his hand to his lips.
  2482. >Suddenly, a sense of embarrassment fills you.
  2483. >What if he doesn't like the way you taste?
  2484. >Not all stallions like your personal blend.
  2485. >He licks his fingers twice, seemingly judging you.
  2486. >"You taste really good."
  2487. >You let out a sigh of relief.
  2488. >You put a hoof up to his pants and feel his hard member through the fabric.
  2489. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
  2490. >He puts his hands to his pants and nearly rips them off.
  2491. >He's big.
  2492. >Like, way bigger than you were expecting.
  2493. >Cadance, is that thing even going to fit inside you?
  2494. >You pray to all the princesses that it does.
  2495. >He takes his throbbing member and lines himself up.
  2496. >Once more you close your eyes to really enjoy your first time with him.
  2497. >You know you're winking like crazy right now, but you don't care.
  2498. >If it bothered him he would have said something by now.
  2499. >He presses against your flaming hot and wet sex several times, looking for the entrance.
  2500. >After what seems like an eternity he finds it, and you gasp, expecting him to take you.
  2501. >But he doesn't.
  2502. >He just stays there completely still, and you try to buck your legs to force him inside you.
  2503. 15/18
  2504. >"Vinyl…"
  2505. "What?" You say, more harshly than you intended.
  2506. >You're supposed to be in pound town right now!
  2507. >"Can I?"
  2508. >You open your eyes and glare at him.
  2509. "Are you seriously asking for consent?" You scoff, "Like seriously?! You were just inside me!"
  2510. >"I want to make sure you're okay with this."
  2511. "I've been practically throwing myself at you this last week, hoping you would get the idea and get on with it."
  2512. >"Of course I noticed, but it's more complicated that than. I'm also making a big leap here."
  2513. "You stupid human, are you going to make me beg?! Conquer me like you conquered Equestriaaaah~~!"
  2514. >To say that you nearly died of embarrassment when you whinnied at him entering you would be an understatement.
  2515. >But there it is.
  2516. >You whinnied like a common whorse.
  2517. >Deal with it!
  2518. >Just like you thought, he's big, but somehow he forces his way into you.
  2519. >Again and again he enters you, and you feel like he is stretching you to your limit.
  2520. >Good thing he got you all warmed you up first.
  2521. >His hips slam into yours, and each time he pulls out it's like your insides are begging to keep him in.
  2522. >"Fuck, you're tight. It feels like you're milking me."
  2523. >His hand moves to where you mane meets your neck, but he doesn't yank it like before.
  2524. >It's almost like he is holding you.
  2525. >With your magic you caress his heavy orbs.
  2526. >You feel them roll around in your aura as you tug and fondle them.
  2527. >It's like they're really full.
  2528. >When was the last time he was with a ma- woman?
  2529. >You squeeze them, and you're rewarded with a moan as he pushes into you.
  2530. >You can't help but smirk at him trying to stay in control.
  2531. >Stallions always loved it when you used your magic.
  2532. >He drops the arm that was supporting his weight to his elbow, and he grabs onto your horn.
  2533. >Instantly your magic dissipates, though he doesn't block it all.
  2534. >"You're going to make me cum too fast like that, Vinyl."
  2535. "Sorry, I just wanted you to enjoy it."
  2536. 16/18
  2537. >His hips slam into you hard, and you let out a little yelp.
  2538. >It almost lets you forget that you're on your back, with your belly exposed to him like you're married.
  2539. >Proper ponies never do it for the first time on their back.
  2540. >That's only for special someponies.
  2541. >But he's a human, so of course he's not going to know that.
  2542. >You're willing to forgive that since you know people like doing it like this.
  2543. >He shimmies closer and lifts himself up so he can attack you from a new angle.
  2544. >Your rear legs move on their own and lock around him.
  2545. >Over and over his throbbing member enters your depths.
  2546. >Once more you feel yourself getting close, and you tighten your hold on him.
  2547. >"Vinyl, you have to let go or I'm not going to last much longer."
  2548. You pull him in, and whisper, "I don't care."
  2549. >His hand pulls your mane and he bites your neck.
  2550. >It's a critical strike and you freeze up.
  2551. >You're powerless as he thrusts into you.
  2552. >But it only lasts for a second before he lets you go.
  2553. >His breathing is becoming more hoarse now, and you can tell he is at his limit.
  2554. >File's thrusts turn more erratic, and faster.
  2555. >His whole body squeezes you into a tight hug, but still he continues slamming into you.
  2556. >"I'm gonna cum."
  2557. >This is it!
  2558. >You light your horn and grasp his orbs with your magic.
  2559. "Do it inside me."
  2560. >You grit your teeth as he rams into you with reckless abandon.
  2561. >The feeling of your magic and your tight body is too much for him.
  2562. >He hilts into you for a final time before letting out a guttural growl.
  2563. >You can feel his cock twitching inside you, filling your womb with his virile seed.
  2564. >You cum again at the same time, and your marehood tries to wring every last drop out of him.
  2565. >At the same time your horn lets out a splash of magic, and you're sure his sheets are soaked.
  2566. >File collapses on top of you, completely spent.
  2567. >He's heavy, but you don't mind.
  2568. >He conquered you, just like you told him to do.
  2569. 17/18
  2570. >You brush his back and mane with your hooves in a soothing motion.
  2571. >Without thinking, you kiss his cheek, silently letting him know he did a good job.
  2572. >It takes him almost a minute before he finally supports his own weight again.
  2573. >"Sorry. It's been a while."
  2574. "Don't be sorry. You did fine."
  2575. >He rolls off of you, but you don't let him escape, and you cuddle close, with your head on his chest.
  2576. >You can hear his heart beating quickly.
  2577. >"I usually last longer."
  2578. >What is it with stallions and wanting to buck forever?
  2579. >The end is the best part.
  2580. "I thought it was fine." You say as you make small circles with your hoof on his belly.
  2581. >"I wanted it to be perfect…"
  2582. >You move up so you can press your cheek against his.
  2583. >He grabs your hoof with a hand and squeezes it tightly.
  2584. >You decide to use his own words against him.
  2585. "Perfect is the enemy of good enough," you say solemnly. "And if I had to wait for perfect, we wouldn't have enjoyed this moment together."
  2586. >"Maybe you're right."
  2587. >You both lay in each other's embrace for several minutes, simply basking in the warmth, and shared breaths.
  2588. >You feel your eyes getting heavy, and your heart starts slowing down, but he wakes you with a kiss.
  2589. >"I think I can go again now."
  2590. >~!
  2591. 18/18
  2593. >Day A Change of Key.
  2594. >The next few days were pretty fun.
  2595. >Mostly you hung out with File and cuddled and… did other stuff…
  2596. >You wanted to go drinking with Mandy and Dave, but apparently they went camping for the weekend.
  2597. >But that gave you and File more time to mess around.
  2598. >Eventually Tuesday arrived, and it was time to do a table read of the script.
  2599. >You're pretty excited to see all the other ponies from the base, so you don't waste any time getting ready.
  2600. >Traffic is especially bad today, and it takes an hour and a half to get to the studio.
  2601. >When you get to the garage, the Army bus is already there, and the driver is enjoying a cigarette.
  2602. >The Sergeant throws away his smoke when he notices Major Nohtfound's car.
  2603. >"Good morning, Sir," he salutes as both of you exit the vehicle.
  2604. >"Morning." File lightly taps his forehead. "You aren't going to join us?"
  2605. >"Just wanted to get some… fresh air… It was a long drive."
  2606. >File eyes the still smoking butt on the concrete floor, but doesn't mention it.
  2607. "It's good to see you again, Sgt. Torres."
  2608. >"You too, Vinyl," he smiles. "The others are inside, though Lt. Smith wasn't feeling well so it's just me today."
  2609. >"Too much partying?" File asks. "On a Monday night?"
  2610. >Torres offers a noncommittal shrug.
  2611. >"You know how Lieutenants are… Shall we?" Torres starts leading you both toward the studio. "Colonel Ymous is curious about your progress. Honestly I was doubtful we would start up again so soon, but I'm glad we're finally getting on with it.."
  2612. >"You were right to doubt us. It wouldn't have been possible without Vinyl Scratch's help."
  2613. >One of his hands idly brush your mane.
  2614. "It was a combined effort," you say modestly. "Most of the important stuff was there. We just had to make some tweaks."
  2615. >Torres opens a side door revealing a half built set.
  2616. >Ponies are milling around a table filled with pastries and vegetables.
  2617. 1/11
  2618. >Most of them stop their conversations when they see you.
  2619. >One tries to hide a donut he was about to eat.
  2620. >Right…
  2621. >The last time they saw Major Nohtfound he was yelling and threatening to send them all to the mines if they wouldn't sing and dance for him.
  2622. >They don't know he is a good person.
  2623. >There are few humans, but they mostly ignore you.
  2624. >None of them are famous actors.
  2625. >File mentioned something about not having a large enough budget for big names.
  2626. >You notice three Griffons hiding in the shadows, apart from the others.
  2627. >You haven't seen them before.
  2628. >"They're all here?" File asks the Sergeant.
  2629. >"Every last one, though Dancing Keys is a little under the weather. Still she should be able to play piano well enough for practice."
  2630. >"Ah, Major. There you are." The Director approaches with a stack of papers in his hand. "Listen, some of these changes will require more time to build the sets. Where am I supposed to get three Russian tanks on short notice?"
  2631. >File folds his cap and tucks it into his shin pocket.
  2632. >"I don't know. Just take some of the Army ones and add Russian flags."
  2633. >Not this again!
  2634. >You thought you finally beat some sense into him!
  2635. "File," you say with annoyance. "No more cutting corners. The whole point of this was to make this movie the right way."
  2636. >The only reason you agreed to the rewrite was so the story would actually make sense.
  2637. >Cheaping out with bad props would negate the whole thing.
  2638. >"No one is going to notice! One tank looks the same as any other! No offense, Sergeant."
  2639. >"None taken. I'm not in Armor."
  2640. "What's next? We're going to use pretend airplanes instead of fighters for the battle scene? Maybe just get a bunch of Griffons to wear Army uniforms? Where does it end?"
  2641. >File makes an annoyed clicking sound, which pisses you off.
  2642. >"That would be crazy. It's easy to get a few F-15s for an afternoon."
  2643. 2/11
  2644. "That's not my point! If you try to take the easy route here, it's going to ruin the immersion. It might not make a difference to a pilot like you, but ponies can tell the difference between them."
  2645. >If any of them fought against those metal machines, they would remember that forever.
  2646. >File sighs loudly before waving his hand dismissively.
  2647. >"Fine, whatever. We'll find some new tanks."
  2648. >You cock your head to the side, not understanding.
  2649. >Usually you two argue for a while before he finally comes around to your ideas.
  2650. >But this was… surprisingly easy...
  2651. >"That's just one problem," the Director says as he flips through his papers. "There are a lot of minor changes that will require rework to our sets. Not only that, we will need a few more filming locations."
  2652. >"You're the Director. I'm sure you can figure it out."
  2653. >"Well, just let me run a few ideas by you first."
  2654. >The Director takes a seat on one of the bleachers lining the wall, and File and Torres join him.
  2655. >"This might take awhile, Vinyl. Why don't you talk with the others?"
  2656. "I want to be part of this discussion. This script is just as much mine as it is yours."
  2657. >You don't wait for permission and sit beside him on the bench.
  2658. >Back at his house, he would usually wrap an arm around you, but obviously he wants to keep things professional.
  2659. >It takes almost an hour to go over the details, but it's clear the Director read the screenplay several times, and has lots of ideas to make it better, which seems promising for the film.
  2660. "By the way… did a pony make those edits?"
  2661. >"Rough Draft was in charge of that. You'll meet him during the read through. Anyway, that's all I had." The Director stands up and collects his papers. "I'll be back in a few minutes, and then we can begin."
  2662. >Major Nohtfound and Sgt Torres almost immediately pull out their phones and start tapping away at them.
  2663. >Why are humans obsessed with those things?
  2664. >None of it is real.
  2665. 3/11
  2666. >But with them distracted, you decide to go talk to the other ponies since it has been a while.
  2667. >Most of the cast are practicing their lines, and Dancing Keys plays music between sneezes.
  2668. >Her timing seems a little off, but it's not bad for somepony who is sick.
  2669. >The moment you approach, all the ponies stop what they are doing to crowd around you.
  2670. >"Vinyl, how are you?"
  2671. >"What happened when he took you home?"
  2672. >"Did he hit you?"
  2673. >"Are you alright? We feared the worst!"
  2674. "Slow down. I can't answer everything if you just shout things out. The Major was good. We had a few problems, but we worked through it. Everything was just fine."
  2675. >"I missed you," Silent Breeze says from behind her long mane. "We didn't think we would see you again."
  2676. >You give her a hug.
  2677. >She is slightly taller than you, with a grey coat, and dark mane that partially covers her face.
  2678. >Breeze can be painfully shy at times, but she's a good pony.
  2679. >Good thing she only has a few lines, and only has to sing like fifteen bars.
  2680. >But how is she supposed to play Celestia?
  2681. >She looks nothing like the princess, nor does she have that gentle and comforting presence.
  2682. "I missed you too. What happened back at the base during the break?"
  2683. >"Nothing for the first week. Then they let us roam around and graze as long as we came back before curfew," she answers.
  2684. >That would line up when Colonel Ymous finished filming his movie.
  2685. >Was it him, or File who ordered the change?
  2686. >"Sergeant Torres started to bring us different food," Dancing Keys says.
  2687. "No more boiled vegetables?"
  2688. >This makes them laugh.
  2689. >Silent Breeze brushes her mane so she can see you better, but it quickly falls back into place.
  2690. >"No, we still get those, but they also give us hay burgers and salads. I'm just happy they let us out most of the day, instead of keeping us locked up like before."
  2691. >It's good to hear that things are improving for them.
  2692. 4/11
  2693. >"So, this is Vinyl Scratch? I was expecting a bigger pony. The way they described you, I thought you'd be able to put up a fight. Maybe have some bite."
  2694. >A beak clamps down twice for emphasis, and your ears raise at the gravelly and strained voice.
  2695. >You turn and see a Griffon with an eyepatch.
  2696. >The other two Griffons are behind him and look menacing.
  2697. >You stand taller to make yourself look more imposing, which seems to be enough of an invitation for Breeze to hide behind you.
  2698. "I can do more than bite. Just ask File."
  2699. >You nearly ripped out his throat and stabbed him the first night he took you home.
  2700. >The Griffon weighs you with his eyes.
  2701. >"We'll see…"
  2702. >With that, they retreat to their dark corner, and Silent Breeze speaks up.
  2703. >"That's Garrett. The Director says not to pay attention to him. He's a m-method actor."
  2704. >You take a deep breath.
  2705. >You forgot the film industry had prima donnas.
  2706. >The Director claps his hands.
  2707. >"Alright, places everyone. We're going to do the table read now. Try to be your characters. Really get into it."
  2708. >The read through goes well.
  2709. >Silent Breeze somehow manages to flub her lines, and her singing is just over a whisper.
  2710. >Honestly you can't imagine her as being a good pick for Celestia.
  2711. >Maybe it would be better if she helped behind the camera?
  2712. >There has to be another tall pony you could use for that role.
  2713. >Garrett slightly over acted his part, but his interpretation of the villain is spot on.
  2714. >It might be too good, like he has actually caught and eaten ponies before.
  2715. >"Let's be together, forever," File says, signaling the end of the reading.
  2716. >You take a deep breath for a dramatic pause.
  2717. "Forever, and always…"
  2718. >As you put down the script the other ponies start clapping and stomping their hooves.
  2719. >You can't help but smile.
  2720. >All the extra work and long nights going over and over the screenplay is actually going to pay off.
  2721. 5/11
  2722. >"Excellent chemistry between you too," the Director says. "Just tone it down in the beginning and it will be great."
  2723. >You feel your cheeks burning.
  2724. "We, uh… got to… know each other the last few weeks."
  2725. >"And it shows, but remember that Misty Dreams and Un Named don't get along until the end of the musical."
  2726. >The human actor who plays the President pipes up.
  2727. >"I found it strange that you were yelling at Un Named with half lidded eyes."
  2728. "No I wasn't! That's my sad and afraid face."
  2729. >The other ponies exchange awkward glances.
  2730. >"Who are you trying to convince," Garrett asks as he crosses his forelegs. "Us, or yourself?"
  2731. >Stupid Griffons!
  2732. >You're just about to say something witty but File puts a hand over your shoulder, and you nearly melt at his touch.
  2733. >"There will be plenty of time to work on it."
  2734. >"Not too much time though. We should begin filming next week. Alright, let's go through it again. This time with music."
  2735. >Rough Draft clears his throat which gets everypony's attention.
  2736. >"My interpretation of Misty is a little more fiery than what you just did. Can you let a little more anger bleed through the dialogue?"
  2737. >How in Tartarus are you supposed to be sad, afraid, and angry at the same time?!
  2738. >You're just a regular pony, not a real actor!
  2739. "I can try I guess…"
  2740. >Dancing Keys dutifully goes to her piano, and warms up with a few bars.
  2741. >Soon enough, the first number starts up.
  2742. >Now that you have practiced with File for so long, you notice a few of the ponies are a little flat.
  2743. >Sure, it's good for regular ponies singing, but if they had some proper coaching it would be perfect.
  2744. >After the second table read, you all get into costumes and practice again.
  2745. >The sets aren't built, so you have to pretend that you can see giant tanks, or doors, or whatever else isn't there, but overall it went well.
  2746. >At the end of the day, you are completely drained.
  2747. 6/11
  2748. >None of you have a trailer, so all the ponies have to relax on the bleachers, but the ambient noises from the other sets gives you a great idea for a new song.
  2749. >You bob along as you imagine the industrial beat.
  2750. >Silent Breeze takes the opportunity to speak with you.
  2751. >"Um, Vinyl? Can I talk with you?"
  2752. "Of course," you smile. "What's up?"
  2753. >"The other ponies are worried about you…"
  2754. "What do you mean?"
  2755. >"I-I don't judge," she says, somehow hiding even more behind her mane. "But the other ponies think…"
  2756. "Think what?"
  2757. >"Um… you know…"
  2758. >She scuffs the metal bench with her hoof.
  2759. "Silent Breeze, I can't read minds. Just spit it out already."
  2760. >"That…" She whimpers like you're hurting her. "You and the Major… are more than friends."
  2761. >You scoff loudly.
  2762. "Me and File?" You glance over at him. "Yeah, right. As if I would ever do anything with a human. He would have to force himself on me. What gave you that silly idea?"
  2763. >She lets out a long sigh.
  2764. >"That's a relief. You're the one who told me we couldn't trust humans. They say we only have to work for ten years, but we both know that's not true."
  2765. "Um…"
  2766. >File doesn't seem like a liar.
  2767. >He probably actually believes that ponies will be free after doing their service.
  2768. >No...
  2769. >Don't start getting your hopes up.
  2770. >That's what they want, so they can crush your spirit too!
  2771. >You have to be strong for Silent Breeze.
  2772. "Who knows, maybe we will be free one day. There is only one way to find out."
  2773. >Breeze's eyes narrow ever so slightly.
  2774. >If you didn't know her well, you probably wouldn't have noticed.
  2775. >"You're starting to sound like Dancing Keys." She leans in conspiratorially. "We think she and the Lieutenant have a thing."
  2776. >Ooo, now this is more your speed.
  2777. "Really?" you whisper back.
  2778. >"Yeah. She started getting sick on Saturday, and now he is sick too."
  2779. >You lean back.
  2780. >You were hoping for something more juicy than that.
  2781. "That doesn't prove anything."
  2782. 7/11
  2783. >"They always talk whenever he visits."
  2784. >Maybe there is something there, but it's really too little to go on.
  2785. "Did you ask her?"
  2786. >"No, I don't know her very well..."
  2787. >Next chance you get you should try to talk with her.
  2788. "I'm sure it's just a coincidence. Dancing Keys wouldn't do anything with him. Everypony knows humans are our enemy. All collaborators are traitors to Equestria."
  2789. >She shies away a bit.
  2790. >"Even us?"
  2791. >Buck.
  2792. "Uh, no. We have no choice. We have to play along if we want to survive. One day we'll get our chance to go back home. We just have to hold on until then."
  2793. >"Torres says we have it good here. That if the Russians-"
  2794. "That's just propaganda. They created a boogiepony to control us. Everything here is a lie."
  2795. >"I know that, but… I don't know… I kind of envy her a little."
  2796. "Dancing Keys?"
  2797. >"Yeah, she seems happy enough. Sometimes I wonder what is the point? We're stuck here. We have to live our lives."
  2798. "There's always a chance for us to go back home, as long as we keep up hope. The Princesses will find a way to kick people out of Equestria. I'll bet they're working day and night to rescue us."
  2799. >Breeze sighs and lays her head down on the bleacher.
  2800. >"Can I tell you a secret?"
  2801. >Alright!
  2802. >Finally something interesting.
  2803. >This is probably going to be a doozy.
  2804. "Sure," you whisper.
  2805. >"I… I think I'm going to be in season soon." She puts a hoof over her face as if that would help her hide.
  2806. >Oh...
  2807. "That happens to everypony. It isn't anything to be ashamed of."
  2808. >"I know… but…" She clears her throat and whispers. "I'm lonely."
  2809. >Ah.
  2810. >Now you see.
  2811. >Breeze is jealous that Keys might have a coltfriend.
  2812. "Just go talk with one of the stallions. I'm sure they would be nice if you opened up a little."
  2813. >"What if they don't like me?"
  2814. "You're telling me, a pretty mare like you is worried that the other stallions won't like you? That's crazy."
  2815. 8/11
  2816. >"I've never had a coltfriend before. I went out on a date once but," she scrunches her nose. "He got a little hoofsy."
  2817. >You put a hoof on her withers reassuringly.
  2818. "Don't let one bad date ruin things for you. Horse apples, I can't count how many times a stallion got drunk and tried to make moves on me." You furrow your brow as you think it over. "Wait, do you usually go in season early?"
  2819. >Breeze shakes her head before looking up at you.
  2820. >"No. I'm usually late. The others already went through their… special time."
  2821. >Huh.
  2822. >That's strange.
  2823. >You're usually middle of the herd when it comes to that.
  2824. >But you don't feel like you're in season.
  2825. >Yeah, you hook up with File every night, but it's not an instinctual drive kind of thing.
  2826. >It's just two po-, peo-, um, creatures having some fun, nothing more.
  2827. "I wouldn't worry about it, Breeze. I'm usually on time, but I don't feel any different. Maybe it isn't the same over here."
  2828. >You don't feel warm, or particularly affectionate.
  2829. >Nice.
  2830. >That means you can focus on what really matters, getting back home.
  2831. >Or it could be that all the stress of working on the musical messed things up and you're behind.
  2832. >At least you have File.
  2833. >He probably wouldn't judge you if all of a sudden you get all needy.
  2834. >You smile to yourself.
  2835. >If anything, he would enjoy it.
  2836. >Plus, you don't have to worry about getting pregnant.
  2837. >Win, win for everypony.
  2838. >She starts to say something, but is interrupted by Sgt Torres.
  2839. >"Silent Breeze, it's time for us to go. We have to leave now to beat traffic."
  2840. >"Okay." She turns back to you. "I'll see you tomorrow."
  2841. "Bye."
  2842. >The ride back to File's house isn't too bad.
  2843. >Dinner is uneventful, but your mind keeps drifting back to your discussion with Breeze.
  2844. >Are you betraying Equestria by being intimate with File?
  2845. >He's a killer, though he won't admit it.
  2846. >But, he told you he never went to Equestria.
  2847. >So he wouldn't have had anything to do with your current situation…
  2848. 9/11
  2849. >At the very least, you're definitely being selfish.
  2850. >The other ponies are still locked up at the base, while you can basically do whatever you want.
  2851. >Then again you are in the same situation as they are.
  2852. >Sure, you live in a decent house, but as soon as this movie is over, you two will go your separate ways.
  2853. >Maybe you should talk with File about it?
  2854. >You look over at him playing with his phone again.
  2855. >No.
  2856. >You already know where he stands on all of this.
  2857. >He just wants to finish his film.
  2858. >He pretty much told you he has no control over what happens to you afterward.
  2859. >Then the conversation will drift and you two will just argue over whether it was good that people came to Equestria or not.
  2860. >No matter how much you go over it, he will still think that humans are in Equestria to protect ponies.
  2861. >But he is a decent person.
  2862. >You can hate what you are, and what you've become without hating him.
  2863. >After all he is trying to help you pay off your contract.
  2864. >If you never get a good chance to escape, that might be your best option.
  2865. >But, so far your music hasn't been very popular, which means few views, which also means you won't be able to monetize it.
  2866. >And even if you do raise enough money, will they actually let you buy your contract?
  2867. >The idea seems so strange.
  2868. >Having to pay to own yourself.
  2869. >It would kind of defeat the whole purpose if ponies can just save up, pay the fee, and then trot away completely free.
  2870. >Also you lied to Silent Breeze.
  2871. >How can you say all ponies who work with humans are traitors, if you are sleeping with one?
  2872. >But you have to keep up appearances.
  2873. >You can't let them know you hook up with him.
  2874. >Besides, it's just a fling.
  2875. >You both know it isn't going anywhere.
  2876. >But that doesn't make it right.
  2877. >Friends don't lie to each other.
  2878. >You wonder what the other ponies would think about your situation.
  2879. >For months you were complaining about people, only for you to throw yourself at one.
  2880. 10/11
  2881. >They would lose all respect for you.
  2882. >And then where would you be?
  2883. >They don't know he is a decent person.
  2884. >"Are you alright, Vinyl? You seem distant today."
  2885. >Buck.
  2886. >For some reason you didn't think he would notice.
  2887. >You cuddle into his chest, and magic over the blanket.
  2888. "I'm fine," you lie. "Everything is fine."
  2889. >He puts his hand at the base of your mane.
  2890. >Uh oh.
  2891. >He's going to do that thing again to get you to spill the carrots.
  2892. >It's not your fetish!
  2893. >"You sure? You know we can talk about anything…"
  2894. >You're really not in the mood to talk about it.
  2895. >He wouldn't understand.
  2896. >You might even say it's his job to not understand.
  2897. >He's a soldier, and all he has to do is follow orders, and keep ponies in line.
  2898. >And here you are, just a little pony, trying to live your life.
  2899. >What a disaster.
  2900. >Maybe having some fun will get your mind off of all of this.
  2901. "Wouldn't you rather mess around?"
  2902. >You playfully bite his shoulder and make a little nicker so he gets the idea.
  2903. >It's a critical strike, and he immediately puts away his phone.
  2904. >Nice.
  2905. >Who needs to deal with problems when you can ignore them instead?
  2906. >That's for future Vinyl to worry about.
  2907. 11/11
  2909. >Day A Change of Key.
  2910. >The rest of the week is spent rehearsing the songs, while the director plays with the camera angles.
  2911. >The weekend was good.
  2912. >You hung out with Mandy and Dave, and went into the city to a proper nightclub.
  2913. >The warm up DJ was alright, but the headliner was great.
  2914. >He had some interesting hooks.
  2915. >You might have to play with his ideas next time you make music.
  2916. >Finally, it is Monday, and the first day of filming.
  2917. >This time they actually have trailers set up.
  2918. >It takes a while to transform you into Misty Dreams.
  2919. >They have to put makeup over your cutie mark, and style your mane.
  2920. >The human wanted it to look perfect, so she kept making adjustments.
  2921. >As you trot back into the studio, you see an army of people and ponies you have never seen before.
  2922. >They are kept in a tight group, at the opposite end from your friends.
  2923. >A woman with a clipboard stands in front of them, explaining what they need to do, such as never looking at the camera, and just being nondescript in general.
  2924. >They must be extras.
  2925. >As you approach the other actors, you stop in your tracks.
  2926. >The Princess is here, sitting on the bleachers!
  2927. "Celestia?"
  2928. >The Princess looks up from her papers, and sits up straighter, like you caught her in a moment of deep thought.
  2929. >A small, thin voice responds, "Hello… my, ummm… little pony..."
  2930. "Silent Breeze, you look great!" You say as you move around her to get a better look.
  2931. >She blushes and tries to hide her face with her mane.
  2932. >"Thanks."
  2933. "Are those extensions?" You reach out to touch her hair, but think better of it.
  2934. >"Yeah. It took forever to dye my mane, but look at this."
  2935. >She trots over to a box fan and her mane blows onto her face.
  2936. >Breeze shifts a few times before her mane seems to billow just like a real princess.
  2937. >She furrows her brow and scowls at you.
  2938. >"Humans will never conquer Equestria. The Elements of Harmony will protect us."
  2939. 1/7
  2940. "Sweet Celestia! From a few angles you actually look like the Princess."
  2941. >"I practiced my lines in front of my mirror all weekend."
  2942. "How does your horn stay in place?"
  2943. >"There's a clip." She brushes away her mane so you can see. "But I'm not supposed to touch it unless it becomes uncomfortable. You look good too."
  2944. "Really? You think I actually look like Misty Dreams?"
  2945. >"They did a good job with your makeup."
  2946. >"Morning, Princess. Did you bring me more treats?" A voice growls. "I'm always hungry."
  2947. >The Griffon looks tired, disheveled, desperate, and has just a hint of arrogance, like he used to be somepony important.
  2948. >He smells like alcohol, and from the bags under his eyes, he might be hungover.
  2949. "Very funny, Garrett."
  2950. >"Who's that?" He brushes his beak in a faux thinking motion. "I'm Glaive. And there's nothing I like more than eating ponies. Well," he smiles. "Besides killing them…"
  2951. >Silent Breeze eeps and tries to hide behind you.
  2952. >"What's wrong Princess? You aren't afraid of knives, are you?"
  2953. >Garrett takes out a wretched looking piece of broken glass, with cloth wrapped around it like a handle.
  2954. >Method actors...
  2955. "Garrett-"
  2956. >"Who?" He interrupts.
  2957. >You sigh loudly.
  2958. >He doesn't actually want you to call him by his character's name, does he?
  2959. "Glaive?"
  2960. >This makes him smile.
  2961. >"Yes?"
  2962. "Buck off."
  2963. >His smile somehow becomes wider, but he puts away his weapon.
  2964. >"We'll meet again, Misty."
  2965. >He flies off to wait with the other villains.
  2966. "What a weird Griffon," you say while shaking your head.
  2967. >You look over and see a nervous pony break away from the other extras.
  2968. >She approaches Garrett and the other Griffons tentatively, before offering some paper.
  2969. >He waves away the piece of paper and pulls out a photograph of himself.
  2970. >Garrett make some small talk while signing it.
  2971. >The pony jumps for joy and hugs the picture.
  2972. "What the hay? He has his own headshots?"
  2973. >The filly brings out one of those black boxes that humans are so obsessed with and they huddle together.
  2974. 2/7
  2975. >You can hear her squeeing when Garrett puts a foreleg over her shoulder for the picture.
  2976. >Obviously he pulls out his knife again to threaten the camera.
  2977. >"Glaive, um, I mean, Garrett, was a famous actor in Griffonstone."
  2978. "Yeah, but I never carried around headshots even when my music was taking off."
  2979. >"You're an actor now. Maybe you should get some?"
  2980. >What would you even be called?
  2981. >Singer-Actor is the obvious choice.
  2982. >Maybe, DJ-Actor?
  2983. >Actor-DJ?
  2984. "So who owns his contract?"
  2985. >"The studio, I think. Just like Rough Draft."
  2986. "Lucky that they got jobs that match their talents."
  2987. >"Singing is kind of like playing music, but with your voice."
  2988. "Kind of… File probably picked me because he saw my cutie mark and assumed I could sing and dance."
  2989. >"But you can."
  2990. "I can what?"
  2991. >She gives you a confused look.
  2992. >"You can sing and dance. That's why you're the lead, and why I only get to sing one song." She hesitates. "Not that I want to sing another song… very much."
  2993. >Silent Breeze is a poor liar, and fidgets like a filly while looking away.
  2994. "Dancing Keys and I were the only two musical ponies the Army had left. He wanted Songbird Serenade to be the lead. Speaking of which..."
  2995. >You look around, but don't see Dancing Keys or Lt. Smith.
  2996. >Maybe there is something going on there...
  2997. >What you do see is the Director and Major Nohtfound walking over with scripts.
  2998. >"Alright, everyone," the Director starts. "Today is the first day of filming. Rough Draft will pass out the sides for today, but before that I want everyone to look around and congratulate each other, because it was a long road getting here. "
  2999. >The actors clap their hands, ponies stomp their hooves.
  3000. >"Rehearsals can be boring, but this is the real thing. We're going to go through as many takes as we need to get the right shot, but I know you can handle it. Just remember to have fun and we're going to knock it out of the park."
  3001. >Rough Draft starts hoofing the sides to the actors.
  3002. 3/7
  3003. >They are little pocket scripts with only the pages that the Director intends to film.
  3004. >"We're going to film the throne room scene, half of Silent Breeze's song, the final song, and if there's time we'll film the ending, but I don't think we'll get that far. Are there any questions?"
  3005. >Garrett raises a claw.
  3006. >"What should the ponies who aren't in those scenes do?"
  3007. >"Right. You are welcome to watch, but it's not required. We have a few rooms set aside for any ponies who don't have a trailer."
  3008. >You furrow your brow at Garrett.
  3009. >That was kind of nice of him to ask.
  3010. >Obviously he already knew the answer, since he is a professional, but this is the first time filming for most of you.
  3011. >You wonder if they would have been too scared to ask.
  3012. >"No questions? Alright then, places people!"
  3013. >The set is decently accurate portrayal of Canterlot Castle.
  3014. >It's three distinct places, the throne room, a tower window, and her bedroom.
  3015. >The set buzzes with activity.
  3016. >Extras in Royal Guard uniforms are urged to their places, with the woman with the clipboard pointing at where she wants them.
  3017. >People play with lighting, and adjust the cameras.
  3018. >There are ponies dressed up like the other princesses, but they barely even look like who they are supposed to be.
  3019. >The colors are fine, but...
  3020. >Well, if they are only used for distant shots it shouldn't really matter.
  3021. >They don't have a speaking role anyway.
  3022. >You almost don't notice File sitting next to you on the bleachers since you're watching the scene so closely.
  3023. >"What do you think?"
  3024. "I don't know. It's nothing like rehearsals. It's almost surreal."
  3025. >"I didn't know what to expect either, but we have pros here so we can't get into too much trouble."
  3026. "You're lucky the Director came back after you fired him."
  3027. >He crosses his arms.
  3028. >"The studio would have provided another one, but… you're right. I was in a bad place when I said those things."
  3029. 4/7
  3030. "You were under a lot of pressure. Anypony would have had a hard time pulling all this together."
  3031. >"But an officer shouldn't act like that. We're trained to keep our cool during any situation."
  3032. "They train you to make movies?"
  3033. >He laughs at that.
  3034. >"No. I think this is a one off. The Air Force heard the Army was making a film and didn't want to be shown up."
  3035. "And you were supposed to finish before them."
  3036. >"That was the plan. It sounds silly now. Would it even have been possible to catch up to a film that had a three month head start?"
  3037. >A bell rings and a teenager holds up a "quiet please" sign.
  3038. "This is it."
  3039. >Luna and Celestia's manes billow in the wind caused by box fans just out of the camera's view.
  3040. >"And, action!"
  3041. >Two guards drag a soldier toward the princesses.
  3042. >His hands and neck are in chains, and he's wearing a torn and dirty American uniform.
  3043. >Silent Breeze rises to meet them, and both guards bow.
  3044. >The American looks up defiantly.
  3045. >After a second, one of the guards pulls on his chains so he likewise has to bow.
  3046. >"Princess, we found this man snooping around."
  3047. >The second guard continues.
  3048. >"He was outside of the declared containment zone, in violation of our treaty."
  3049. >"I am simple farmer," the man says with a heavy Russian accent. "I was trying to find place to make little garden."
  3050. >Celesia scowls at the man, and turns to the ambassador.
  3051. >"Where ya from, son?" The American ambassador says as he steps forward.
  3052. >The man smiles.
  3053. >"Am Yankee, from New York."
  3054. >The ambassador's jaw drops in disbelief.
  3055. >"Jesus H. Christ! This man ain't American. He's a Rooskie, clear as day. Can't even talk like us."
  3056. >Everypony looks at the Princess, and her eyes are wide, like a changeling caught in moonlight.
  3057. >There is a long uncomfortable pause, while they wait for her to speak.
  3058. >"Can't even talk like us," the ambassador says a little louder.
  3059. >"Uhhh…." Silent Breeze starts.
  3060. 5/8
  3061. >Rough Draft steps onto the set and says, "the line is, 'And how can you prove that, Ambassador?'"
  3062. >Breeze blushes and tries to make herself smaller.
  3063. >"Right… Um… and how... " her voice trails off.
  3064. >"Cut! Cut!" The Director shouts. "Let's take it from the top."
  3065. >Silent Breeze hangs her head in embarrassment while the others get into place to start over.
  3066. >"Your friend isn't very good at this." File whispers to you.
  3067. >A hoof moves on it's own to hit his arm.
  3068. "Don't say that. She's just nervous. Give her a chance."
  3069. >The scene plays out two more times.
  3070. >Each time, Breeze gets stuck at her line.
  3071. >Rough Draft tries to encourage her, but it doesn't seem to work, so he starts making cue cards for her to read.
  3072. >Breeze's ears are pinned back, and she looks like she is on the verge of tears.
  3073. >The extras take breaks to move around a bit between takes, but Breeze stays perched on her throne, unwilling to leave it.
  3074. >"Maybe we should ask the Director to start a different scene, and film this one later."
  3075. "That would crush her. Silent Breeze can hoof this. She just needs more encouragement."
  3076. >You get up and start trotting over.
  3077. >She notices you, and tries to shy away.
  3078. "What's wrong Silent Breeze?"
  3079. >"I- I don't know. I practiced all weekend, honest."
  3080. >You sit down next to her.
  3081. "I used to get nervous before my shows. All those ponies watching me. I used to think they were judging me."
  3082. >"I don't think that ever happened to you. You're famous."
  3083. "But I wasn't always famous. I started out playing at Cutecianeras, when I didn't even have my cutie mark. I was so nervous. But then I started playing, and after a few shows I got more confident, and earned my cutie mark."
  3084. >"That's different. I already have a cutie mark, so it's not like I can get better at this."
  3085. >You wince at that.
  3086. "You can always get better with practice."
  3087. >Both of you sit there in silence while the other actors get back into place.
  3088. "Can you say the lines, just to me?"
  3089. 6/8
  3090. >"I can try."
  3091. "Okay. Go ahead."
  3092. >She starts off very quietly, and you have to strain to hear her.
  3093. >"And, how can you prove that, Ambassador?"
  3094. "Good. What's your next line?"
  3095. >"These are clearly American weapons."
  3096. "You're doing fine."
  3097. >She offers you the smallest smile.
  3098. >"We have been very forgiving, but every day your men trespass further and further into Equestria."
  3099. "Perfect."
  3100. >"That is no excuse, Ambassador. The Russians keep to their camp as agreed to. Yes, they bring more of their metal wagons each day, but they do that to protect against your forces, and now I see why!"
  3101. >This time she doesn't wait before continuing.
  3102. >"Your people are banished. You will remove your soldiers from Equestria before the sun rises tomorrow, or we will expel them by force."
  3103. >She glares at you, like you have insulted all of Equestria.
  3104. >"No, allowing you to stay was a mistake. Now go."
  3105. >Her demeanor changes and she smiles widely at you.
  3106. >You turn and see that the other actors have been watching closely, and are happy with the results.
  3107. >Even File gives you an appreciative nod.
  3108. "Good job. Just do that again."
  3109. >"But… the cameras..."
  3110. "Don't worry about them. I'll be right here." You pause. "Well, not right, right here. But right behind the cameras. You're going to do fine."
  3111. >And she does.
  3112. >Occasionally you give her a hoofs up, but after a few takes she hits her stride.
  3113. >You sit next to the Director for several takes before you think she is confident enough for you to take a break.
  3114. >And it's just in time too.
  3115. >You wince in pain and hold your belly, before trotting back over to File.
  3116. >"Are you alright?"
  3117. "I'll be fine. Must have been something I ate."
  3118. >"Too many donuts."
  3119. >He pokes your belly, and you smack his hand away.
  3120. >Luckily, nopony saw that.
  3121. >You don't want them to think you're... more than friends.
  3122. "Don't do that. The other ponies might get ideas."
  3123. 7/8
  3124. >"Oh, sorry. You're right."
  3125. >You adjust slightly so your stomach doesn't bother you quite as much.
  3126. "It feels like I swallowed magic or something."
  3127. >He give you a mischievous smile.
  3128. >"Hmmm, like, the magic of friendship?"
  3129. >You glare at him.
  3130. "Oh, whatever, File. You don't believe in that."
  3131. >He leans over, so his shoulder just barely touches yours.
  3132. >"I'm starting to."
  3133. 8/8
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