Episode 1: The Ensemble
by Legendary Emerald
Two tickets swiftly exchanged hooves. Derpy dragged Bon Bon past the doorman and into the theater, hooves not bothering to touch the ground.
"Derpy, please." Bon Bon begged as Derpy raised her above the other ponies milling about in the auditorium. "I know you're excited, but there's no rush."
"I've never been invited to a show here before! We need to get the best seats possible!" Derpy replied, holding a hoof over her brow as she scanned the pews.
"Can't we just sit somewhere back here, where nopony will notice us?" Bon Bon asked.
"Ahah! Found a spot in the splash zone!" Derpy answered, eyes lighting up. Her wings began to flap harder.
"Splash? I don't think it's that kind of shoooow!" Bon Bon's words trailed after her as Derpy swooped forward through the air, Bon Bon trailing behind like a kite string.
Bon Bon was unceremoniously dropped down onto a cushioned pew in the second row. Derpy dropped next to her, almost causing Bon Bon to fall out of her seat.
"Why does this keep happening to me?" Bon Bon whimpered, holding her head between her hooves. "The concert hasn't even started and already I have a headache..."
"S'up?" a familiar voice called from Bon Bon's right. She turned her head to see that she was seated next to Vinyl Scratch. "Not-Lyra, right?"
"Bon Bon." Bon Bon corrected in an even tone.
"Ah. Silly me." Vinyl said.
"Don't worry Vinyl, I forget her name all the time too." Derpy piped in with a smile.
"Right? It's just so unmemorable." Vinyl concurred.
"Well, I see you two know each other already." Bon Bon said, huffing slightly.
"Of course!" Derpy said happily.
"Not really. She delivers the mail." Vinyl answered, causing Derpy to deflate. "There was that one time she crashed a delivery truck through the record store, though. Demolished the entire pop-rock aisle and nearly gave Tombstone a heart attack. Pretty awesome."
"Yeah, that was pretty neat." Derpy said with a smile, matching Vinyl's own. "For some reason they never asked me to drive again after that."
"Tragic." Vinyl said, without a hint of sarcasm.
"I see." Bon Bon said.
The lights in the room began to dim, until the entire auditorium was taken over by darkness. A hush fell over the gathered crowd.
"Ooh, it's starting!" Derpy said, lightly clapping her hooves together.
A single light came back on over the stage; a spotlight which illuminated a brown and white pony wearing a blue bow-tie and white collar.
"Good afternoon, everypony." Frédéric addressed the crowd. He looked out over the crowd for a moment, taking in the silence. He took in a deep breath through his nose and let it out slowly; as he did so, the curtain behind him split apart, moving towards either end of the stage and revealing Octavia, Lyra, and Beauty Brass, instruments in hand. "We are the Equestrian Greats. And we will now begin."
Frédéric turned from the crowd and stepped towards his piano, set just to the right of the other performers.
"Wooh! Rock em' dead!" Derpy cheered. Vinyl smirked, while Bon Bon hid her face in her hooves.
"Thank Nightmare for the dark." Bon Bon whispered to herself, beet-red.
Seated behind his piano, Frédéric tapped his hoof against the ground three times. On the third tap, all four of the musicians began to play.
As the song played, the uniqueness of the ensemble made itself immediately apparent. The four instruments on stage worked together in ways they were never meant to interact. Frédéric's piano lent a bassy heaviness to the song, while Octavia's cello carried the main melody. Lyra's lyre lent support to the melody, plucked and strummed through the finesse of her magic rather than her blunt hooves. Beauty Brass entered the song only when appropriate, which meant that while the sousaphone was used scarcely, it had a strong impact whenever it did make its voice heard.
"Oh, wow. They're really good." Bon Bon whispered partway through the song.
"Meh." Vinyl shrugged. "I'm really only here for Octavia. A bit disappointed Lyra isn't really playing in her sleep, though."
"Speaking of..." Bon Bon interjected. "What was the plan if a harpist or lyrist couldn't be found in time?"
"Kazoos." Vinyl said.
"Kazoos?" Bon Bon repeated.
"Three ponies walk on stage wearing black business suits and dark sunglasses. They take out their 5 bit kazoos and take the audience on an jazz odyssey for the ages." Vinyl explained.
"You're pulling my hoof, aren't you?" Bon Bon asked warily.
"Why? You feeling sore?" Vinyl asked sarcastically.
The song came to an end, and the only sound that could be heard was Derpy's clapping hooves. Several ponies began to look in their direction. Bon Bon scooted away from Derpy and nearer Vinyl, who pushed her back towards Derpy.
Curiously, the next song did not start right away. Frédéric subtly looked around himself, and so did the other musicians.
"It's already over?" Derpy asked. "What a gype! Good thing we got our tickets for free, huh Bon Bon?"
Whatever the ensemble was waiting for never came about. Frédéric shrugged and began to tap his hoof against the ground. 1, 2, 3... Octavia played a single note.
The music stopped as the front of the stage exploded into multicolored smoke at the bold proclamation, causing the crowd to gasp. From inside the cloud, the figure of a pony in a cape and wizard-hat could barely be made out. Derpy grabbed hold of her tail defensively.
"This stage has been taken over! By the great! And powerful! Trixie!"
As the dominating voice spoke, the gas began to rise. It swirled up and around itself, revealing Trixie in all of her glory and blanketing the roof in a cloud of mesmerizing colors.
"I gotta get out of here!" a pony in the audience shouted at the top of his lungs as he lunged out of his seat, charred top-hat falling off in his haste.
"Maestro!" Trixie commanded. Frédéric frowned, but commenced tapping his hoof. On the third beat, Octavia's cello began to sing once again. Trixie smirked and reached into the back of her cape, pulling out a magic wand. She pointed it up at the cloud above her. "Now, watch in awe!"
Lightning shot between the wand and the cloud, causing electricity to race around the contours of the gaseous mass. It was a beautiful sight that caught the rapt attention of everypony in the audience.
"Now this is more like it." Vinyl grinned and nodded her head.
"Popcorn?" Derpy offered, pushing a bag past Bon Bon and towards Vinyl.
"Where did you...?" Bon Bon let her question trail off into nothingness as a sound like thunder rolled throughout the auditorium, calling her attention back to the display of power.
The light that had been cast into the cloud began to form itself into tiny beads, crafting a picture against the cloudy backdrop. Purple specs dotted the ghostly canvas, shining like stars in the night sky. More and more appeared, until the illusion was complete. The stars grew larger as the focus of the image changed to the distance beyond them. As the image picked up speed, the stars gave way to concentric pulsating circles of green and blue light.
As the last hoop swallowed the audience, a new form began to take shape. Purple ovals raced downward over a sloped surface, soon revealed to be the moon. Over the heavenly body's horizon appeared another familiar shape: a planet cast in green and blue light.
The surface of the moon was left behind as the planet drew ever closer. Eventually, the perspective of the illusion crashed into the surface at breakneck speed, ending up in a winding purple valley. The outlines of craggy rock passed by on either side as a castle loomed in the distance.
Lyra began to lose her concentration as she stared up at the display from the other side, seeing a mirrored image of what the audience was seeing. The castle exterior had been replaced by the interior, torches leading the way further into the regal structure.
Then, a door-like portal appeared in the forefront of the image, and behind it was a path surrounded on either side by what appeared to be magma. Spurts of the viscous substance jumped up and crossed over the walkway, landing in the opposite pool. Another door was waiting at the end of the hazardous trail.
The journey reached its endpoint in a regal throne room. And sitting on the throne was a manifestation of Trixie herself, a malicious smirk upon her face.
"Why didn't I see that coming?" Bon Bon groaned, ignoring Derpy's frantic popcorn munching.
The perspective of the scene swiftly changed, revealing that the whole scenario had been seen through the eyes of an enormous serpent-creature. And now the beast had finally found its target.
"Nice hair." Vinyl joked, noting the monster's obnoxious pompadour and curly mustache. The serpent roared as if in response, and snaked its way through the air at the image of Trixie. Another beam of magic shot from the physical Trixie's wand into the cloud, appearing to power up the illusionary Trixie.
Frédéric quickly looked towards Octavia and tapped his hoof five times. Octavia nodded, and then the two began to play a different, more aggressively paced song. Lyra didn't get the memo, and stumbled over her notes as she tried to switch gears as quickly as possible.
Faux Trixie's horn grew with shining white light. She stepped down from her throne, brandishing her new forehead mounted weapon. At the same time, the serpent opened its jaws wide as it neared ever closer to its prey. Faux Trixie wheeled her head backwards, and then whipped her neck forward just as the beast got in range. The light from her horn severed the creature's neck from the rest of its body, and what remained of the beast fell writhing to the ground.
The majority of the audience gasped, while a smaller number cheered. Trixie grinned wildly and shot another blast of magic into the cloud.
The serpent began to reform itself. From its stump, two necks connected to two more heads grew within seconds. Faux Trixie tried the same strategy as before, leaping forwards and claiming two heads with one swing of her magic blade. But even as the eyes on the beast's severed heads closed for the last time, four more heads had already begun to take their place.
Outnumbered, her current strategy useless, Faux Trixie backed away from the angry serpent until she stood upon her throne once more. The castle walls around her collapsed and the ground beneath her began to melt, turning to water. Soon she was alone in a wide open ocean expanse, four vicious faces staring her down.
"Throw a thunderbolt!" Derpy shouted, tossing her popcorn to the ground.
Faux Trixie did not take the advice, and was swept off of her throne by the four heads of the monster. They constricted around her tighter and tighter, until she could no longer be seen under the mass of writhing scales.
Trixie twirled her wand five times and pointed it back towards the scene she'd crafted. She shot a third beam of magic into the cloud. The entire theater was blanketed in searing white light, and when it receded, Faux Trixie was free of her binds, and encased in a white aura.
From four charred stumps arose eight more heads. The light surrounding Faux Trixie grew brighter and brighter, until it could be contained no longer. Orbs of brilliant white light blossomed out of Faux Trixie's body, striking the serpent from every angle.
Trixie closed her eyes as she began to laugh maniacally, pumping more and more of her magic into the illusion she had cast. She didn't notice when one of the spells her fake self was casting broke free of the illusion and hit the ceiling, setting it on fire.
The crowd murmured worriedly, and their fears were confirmed when another orb of magic shot out into the crowd, turning the pony it hit into a frog. The audience began to panic. More and more spells went out of control, veering into the path of the audience and transforming ponies into various beings, both animate and inanimate.
"This can't be part of the show!" Bon Bon cried out, watching as Lyra and the rest of the band tried to play through the rest of the song while dodging stray bolts of magic.
"Get down!" Vinyl shouted, suddenly putting her hooves on Bon Bon's head and pushing it down onto the seat. An orb of light streaked right through where Bon Bon's face had been.
"Thank you." Bon Bon managed to squeak out, raising her head to see Vinyl shaking her hooves as if she'd just touched something dirty. The pony behind Bon Bon screamed. She looked back and stared into the oversized eye of a cyclops pony. "Waah!"
"I can see... everythiiiiing!" the one-eyed pony screamed. "Aaaaah!"
"Ooh, neato!" Derpy said, watching as the cyclops pony ran out of the theater wailing. She bounced up and down excitedly. "Me next, me next!"
Trixie was completely oblivious to the chaos she was causing, eyes focused only on the spectacle she was crafting above her head.
"Now you have seen the true power, of the one and only, Trixie!" she finally yelled. Trixie lowered her wand, and Faux Trixie stopped her attack. The hole-ridden body of the serpent hovered momentarily above the water, still managing to fly by some unexplainable means. The mass of scales and necks then finally collapsed into the ocean, creating a tidal wave.
A tidal wave that spilled out of the illusion, and into the theater.
The band finally stopped playing as they saw nearly half of their audience washed out of the building, while the remaining half clung onto their seats like barnacles to a boat.
Trixie stood at the front of the stage with her eyes closed, panting heavily, but with a triumphant smile upon her face.
"Thank you, thank you everypony!" she said graciously, before opening her eyes and seeing a veritable lake out in front of her. Her demeanor did a complete 180. "Did... Trixie go too far again?"
"Ya think?!" Beauty Brass asked, before blowing into his sousaphone and shooting out a koi that hit Trixie in the back of the head.
A very wet Derpy hovered over the stage, front hooves hooked around Bon Bon and Vinyl. She deposited the two soggy ponies onto the stage, and then sat herself down. Lyra dropped her lyre and ran over to Bon Bon.
"Are you okay?" Lyra asked, putting her hooves on Bon Bon's shoulders.
"I'm fine." Bon Bon said, looking away. "Are you?"
"Yeah. The old dumb luck got me through unscathed again." Lyra joked. She looked towards Trixie. "I'm a bit worried about her, though."
"Her? She's the one responsible for all of this!" Bon Bon accused, voice beginning to rise.
"I know! We should all thank her." Derpy said, gaining a frustrated glance from Bon Bon. Lyra ignored both of the ponies, and trotted up to Trixie.
"Trixie... failed again... in front of everypony." the magician muttered to herself. "Just like Ponyville..."
"Don't worry, Trixie. You may have failed spectacularly, but you have the rest of us to back you up." Lyra consoled, sweeping a hoof out towards all of the other ponies on stage.
A single police officer approached the front of the stage, manning a small rowboat.
"Okay, who all of you is responsible for this?" the officer demanded in a slow drawl.
"All her." Beauty Brass said, suddenly next to Trixie and pointing her out. The officer nodded and reached into his pocket to produce a sheet of paper.
"Or not..." Lyra smiled uncomfortably.
"You are hereby banned from ever stepping foot into this premises. Sign here, here, and here." the officer stated, putting the paper on the ground and producing a pen for Trixie's use.
"That was fast..." Trixie said as she telekinetically operated the pen to sign her name. The officer picked up the completed form in his teeth, and stuffed it back into his pocket.
"Mayor Wootie was in the audience tonight." the officer said, looking towards a soaked pony in the audience with a mustache to rival the serpent in Trixie's illusion. "You're just lucky the courts declared moon imprisonment unconstitutional. C'mon, Officer Silver, let's get the good mayor out of here."
The officer's last comment was directed at the boat, which he tapped with his hoof. The rowboat began to move on its own, and as it departed, Trixie saw a pair of pony-like eyes glaring at her from the boat's rear.
"Those spells will wear off eventually, right?" Bon Bon asked. "Right?"
The remaining members of the audience began to swim out of the auditorium. Frédéric and the rest of the ensemble, aside from Lyra, started to pack up their instruments. The other castaways just stood still, basking in the glow of the night's glorious failure.
"Good show, everypony." Frédéric said cheerfully. The other ponies stared at him in perplexity. "No, really. Octavia usually counts at least three ponies falling asleep per show. This show? Not a single one."
"I can't imagine why." Vinyl smirked.
"And Lyra?" Frédéric said. He walked up to her and clapped her on the back. "I won't be seeing you here this Wednesday for band practice. Because nopony who's a member of this ensemble actually shows up."
At first, Lyra looked confused, but she slowly began to smile as realization dawned on her.
"Thank you! Thank you so much!" she said excitedly. Vinyl and Bon Bon both smiled at her reaction. Octavia merely closed her eyes and nodded her head.
"There's a rear entrance backstage. I'll be seeing you." Frédéric said with a nod, and then he walked off backstage alongside Beauty Brass.
"Everything went better than expected!" Derpy proclaimed. The sound of hooves pounding against the stage was heard.
"Celestia damn it all!" Trixie cursed loudly, eyes beginning to water. "Ever since Ponyville I haven't done anything right! Why does everything turn out fine for everypony but Trixie?"
"Oh, yeah. She's here." Vinyl pointed out lazily, re-adjusting her glasses.
"Aaaargh!" Trixie moaned, slamming her head against the ground. She continued to mumble to herself. "And now Trixie's hurt her horn, too."
"Well, to be honest, what did you expect?" Bon Bon asked.
"To be showered with love and attention! Was that not obvious?" Trixie retorted. Her voice took on a plaintive tone. "Wasn't it?"
"Heh, you wanted to be showered, but everypony else got wet instead." Derpy chuckled. "That's like a... a funny thing."
"Not helping, Derpy." Lyra said with a polite smile, and then turned her attention back to Trixie. "What are you going to do now?"
"Run. Leave town. Just like the last time something like this happened." Trixie explained succinctly. "Trixie has embarrassed herself and been barred from the only venue in this town that befits her. Trixie will just... try again. In a different town. Where nopony knows her name."
"Okay, well that's one plan. Or..." Lyra stretched the word out. "You could stick around a bit and make some friends."
"Friends?" Trixie asked.
"Friends." Lyra repeated. She pointed at each of the ponies on stage in order. "Bon Bon, Derpy, Vinyl, Octavia... I didn't meet most of them until today, and now we're all friends."
"We are?" Derpy asked excitedly. She ran over to Octavia and abruptly hugged her, catching the cellist off guard.
"We are?" Bon Bon muttered disbelievingly. Octavia too seemed to be wary of the suggestion, one eyebrow raised curiously as she gently unwrapped Derpy from her body. Vinyl appeared indifferent towards the suggestion, hitting the side of her head and dislodging water from her ears.
"Well, maybe I'm skipping ahead a bit." Lyra admitted. "But what's to stop us from trying, right?"
"I... Trixie doesn't know." Trixie stumbled over her words. "Even if Trixie had... friends... there still may not be a place in this city for Trixie."
"That's a lot of hooey! A glitzy town like Las Pegasus? It's made for a show-pony like you!" Lyra argued enthusiastically. "And we can all help you, too! Just give it a chance."
Trixie looked at each of the gathered ponies, all of whom had formed a circle around her at some point. She saw that some of them were just as nervous as her about the idea. But they hadn't backed off yet. Trixie sat there in silence for a moment longer. She took a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
"Trixie agrees that... that it might not be the worst idea Trixie has ever heard." she finally said, the vaguest hint of a smile appearing back on her face. "In fact, it might even be..."
"Group hug!" Derpy suddenly butted in, stretching her hooves out. She tackled both Bon Bon and Lyra on her way towards Trixie, forcing them to participate. Octavia shrugged, and then robotically hugged Trixie from the opposite side.
"H-hey! Trixie does not appreciate this!" Trixie complained, though not angrily. She glanced at Vinyl, the only one not involved in the affair.
"Sorry. I don't do 'touching'." Vinyl explained, wiggling her front hooves as if she was handling something vile. "I guess you can use your imagination, though."
Trixie couldn't help but chuckle.
And then a chunk of the roof fell down, splashing into the stagnant water below. The whole ceiling began to creak disturbingly.
"Structural supports have weakened. I suggest we evacuate the premises."
"I'm going to agree with that statement."
"Hey, is anypony else hungry? I'm feeling pretty hungry."
"Ooh, I'm hungry too!"
"Well, it's true Trixie hasn't eaten since this morning..."
"Awesome. I know this one okay bar that's hidden around here..."
"Night night, girls!"
There was a loud crash, followed by sound of a door closing shortly after.
"... Is she going to be alright?"
"Ah, she's fine, she's fine."
Lyra tried to insert her key into the door, and when she did so, the door to their apartment swung inwards without protest.
"Oh yeah... we should get that fixed some day." Lyra chuckled, stepping inside the dark apartment. Bon Bon trailed in after her, and turned on the lights. Lyra shrieked. "Hey, turn that off, I'm goin' blind!"
"Well, that's what you get." Bon Bon sighed, flipped the light switch again and closed the door behind her, drenching the apartment in darkness once more. "I can't believe you took Vinyl up on that drinking game."
"I can't believe you didn't!" Lyra responded, her words slurred and pitch slightly higher than usual.
"Well, one of us has to be the responsible one." Bon Bon retorted, setting her saddlebag down on the counter.
"Whatever you say, Ms. Margarit. Ah." Lyra chuckled, dropping her backpack to the ground. "Get it? Margarita. It's a pun because..."
"I get it." Bon Bon cut Lyra off with a smile, setting her purse down on the floor. "What can I say? I needed at least a little something to help me deal with all those crazy ponies."
"Our friends." Lyra corrected, flopping down onto the couch.
"I guess." Bon Bon said, shaking her head. "New apartment, new friends... what have you gotten us into, Lyra?"
"Nothin' you can't handle. After all, you are the responsible one." Lyra said with a smile, trying to get comfortable on the couch. "Such a good lil' wifey."
"W-what?" Bon Bon asked, taken aback. Lyra giggled like a little filly. "Oh, shut up!"
"This couch is terrible." Lyra complained, rolling back and forth.
"This morning you said it was amazing." Bon Bon said.
"That was then, and this is drunk." Lyra pointed out. She suddenly sat upright. "Hey, you said there's room in the bed for two, right?"
"W-well, yes..." Bon Bon said, a tad nervously. Before the words had finished leaving her lips, Lyra had waddled off of the couch and into the bedroom. Bon Bon followed after, just in time to see Lyra belly-flop on top of the sheets.
"Much better." Lyra mumbled, already drooling on the pillow. Bon Bon approached the bed from the opposite side, sliding between the covers and the mattress. She lay there awkwardly, staring up at the ceiling. "Hey Bon Bon?"
"Yes?" Bon Bon answered.
"Good morning, Bon Bon." Lyra said. Bon Bon paused.
"Lyra, that joke doesn't work anymore. It's night." she explained.
"Oh." Lyra said. She didn't say any more, already having fallen asleep.
Bon Bon looked at Lyra and smiled sweetly.
Authors Note: Thank you for reading the "The Ensemble". This is only the pilot episode of the first season; there's much more to come, right here on The Hub! I mean, on whatever fanfiction websites I upload the following episodes to. Yes. I'm looking forward to hearing your feedback, positive and negative, so please don't click off of the page without writing me a lil' somethin' first to tell me what you thought of this fic.
Also, note that this story was in production since before season 3 began. Certain things like Trixie's second visit to Ponyville with the Alicorn amulet have not come to pass yet in this story's timeline. Same goes for Alicorn Twilight, though that event won't have any effect on the storylines I have planned.
Lastly, there's a bunch of references strewn throughout this fic, mostly to brony musicians. I don't want to turn the comments section into a scavenger hunt, but If anyone can correctly identify what I'm referencing (read: stealing shot-for-shot) during the first half of Trixie's performance at the Teatre, you or your OC will be get an appearance in the next episode!
Special thanks go out to my friend who created the cover art, Arylett Dansborough, and all of my amazing pre-readers; David247, BetaWolf, Gordo Freeman, Silver Neko, Xensky, Sky Warden, Key Gear, and Silver Arrow. I couldn't have done it without them.
~ Legendary Emerald
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