The Eternal Song

by Stereo_Sub

Chapter 1: 1: Anacrusis

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Alcohol’s a hell of a thing.

It loosens lips, boosts egos, and can turn the shyest pony you’ve ever seen into the life of the party. It can pull you up or tear you down, sometimes both. You can drink for joy, or slug ‘em down just to numb the pain away. Both good choices, depending on your mood, but either way, I’d say Equestria wouldn’t be what it is today without my good old friends Barley and Hops.

Some ponies treat the juice with respect, something to be savored and enjoyed. Others, like yours truly, use it as an excuse to get really freaking hammered.

I was planted firmly in the second category when I stumbled through the door of Glowstick Gardens, Manehatten’s hottest rave destination. This was the fourth spot I’d hit in as many hours, and the various neon-colored drinks I’d thrown back at the other three were definitely taking their toll.

I glanced around the club’s grimy, light-soaked interior, looking for my bar-crawl buddies Flitter and Cloud Kicker before remembering they were still back at our last spot. They’d had to stay behind after Cloud Kicker threw back four of the bar’s signature ‘Applebucker’ shots on a dare from some cute colt. To her credit, she’d lasted long enough to get outside before dropping, as Flitter had put it, “like an anvil through a cloudhouse.”

Pegasi, I swear. Freakin’ lightweights, every one.

Grinning at the memory, I started working my way through the crowd, swaying from a combination of the music thumping through the speakers and my own drunkenness. After a few minutes of wandering around and trying not to step on anypony’s hooves, I found my target: the club’s bar, shoved up against the rear wall like it’d been put there as an afterthought. Which, I realized, it probably had. Glowstick catered more to the ‘come in, get high, dance ‘till you drop’ school of getting wasted than my preferred method of ‘drink until you run out of money, then drink some more.’ Not that I minded, really. Booze was booze.

I slid onto a cracked black-leather barstool, spinning a few times and flashing the bartender my best ‘I’m drunk, but still sober enough to spend money’ grin. It was a look I’d perfected over months of intense practice and field testing, guaranteed to convince even the most jaded barkeep into begrudging me another shot or two.

“So, whadoyouguysh got, huh?” I slurred, still holding my smile. The bartender, a reddish unicorn stallion with his mane spiked in a multicolored mohawk, looked at me and rolled his eyes. Jerk.

“You look like you’ve had plenty already,” he said, pointing to my forehooves, which, I realized with a burst of annoyance, were shaking worse than an old mare’s. “You should take a break. Go outside, get some air.”

I narrowed my eyes. He wanted to play that game? I’d play right back.

“Oh... oh yeah? Well, guesh what? I haven’t even HAD a drink here yet, so you can’t kick me out!” I yelled, drawing a couple stares from the other ponies on nearby stools. “I’ve got dippo- dipilo- the thing in the movies where they can’t kill the guy because he’sh like... yeah! That, but with drinksh!” As speeches went, it wasn’t my best, but hopefully it would do the trick.

The bartender sighed, mohawk swaying as he shook his head defeatedly. “Fine. But you start causing trouble, you’re outta here faster than you can say—”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Shutup and let me spend my bitsh,” I muttered, rolling my eyes. “Sho, what’sh the hardesht thing you got?” If I was gonna get wasted, I planned on getting wasted right.

“Bottle or shot?” Mohawk replied cooly. He had his back to me, polishing the glasses with a dirty, spot-covered rag. It looked nasty enough to grow a few small plants out of, but somehow the tumblers and mugs were getting shinier.

I thought about the question. Something from a bottle would probably taste better, but I didn’t I’d be able to finish it before I dropped, and I hated wasting bits on quality booze.

“Shhhhot,” I slurred, giggling. “Gimme shomethin’ good.”

The stallion turned around and smiled. Not a friendly smile. A ‘you have no idea what you just got yourself into, and I’m gonna enjoy it’ smile. I grinned right back, looking him dead in the eye. Intimidating me, with this much alcohol in my system? Filly please.

“That’d be the Sonic Rainboom,” he said, gesturing to a chalkboard behind him. On it was a drawing of a pegasus with X’d out eyes next to a shot glass filled with rainbow-colored liquid. ‘THE SONIC RAINBOOM: LAST MORE THAN ONE AND THEY’RE ALL FREE!’ was written below. A second chalkboard next to it looked like a hall of fame, listing ponies’ names and the number of Rainbooms they’d taken. The letters were swimming a little, but I didn’t think I saw any number higher than two.

“They’re all free, huh?” I said to Mohawk, smirking. “Whassiniit?”

“Half Northern Talon, a quarter Spiked Horseshoe Hard Cider, little bit of lemon.... and the secret ingredient,” he replied. “Last more than one, they’re both free and you get your name on the chalkboard. Wouldn’t bet on it, though. I’ve seen stallions twice your size knocked on their asses from just one, and that’s when they were sober.” He laughed, mocking, and I felt my eyes narrow. “You’ve got as much of a chance as an ice cube in Tartarus.”

Oh it was on.

“Ish that a challenge?” I asked, blood humming in my ears. “I bet I could take three!”

“Three,” Mohawk deadpanned. “Uh huh.”

“Whaaaat, you shcared to let me beat the record?” I squinted at the Rainboom’s chalkboard and frowned. “Waitaminute... you shaid... whassa secret ingredient? I’m not drinking anything that I don’t know what’sh in it.” I’d had too many nasty experiences with spiked drinks to take any ‘secret ingredient’ at face value.

The bartender snorted. “Wouldn’t believe me if I told ya.”

I gave him the grin again. “ Psshhhhh. Try me.”

He leaned closer, giving me a nice blast of nasty clubber-breath, and whispered:

“Pure rainbow. The good stuff, not that watered-down crap they sell to tourists in the Cloudsdale market. This is cloud-free, straight from the factory. We’re the only club in Manehatten that’s got it,” he finished smugly.

I raised my eyebrows. Northern Talon was a griffin vodka that went down cold and bit like a hydra. Spiked Horseshoe was famous for being ‘The Hardest Cider Around’, and lived up to its title. Combining those with rainbow (illegal bootleg rainbow, no less), didn’t seem like the smartest idea.

Luckily, I’m not a smart pony.

Mohawk saw my hesitation and smirked . “What, you chiken? Can’t take a little color?” He turned to the other ponies at the bar. “This filly thinks she can take three Rainbooms. 10 bits she won’t last one.” I heard chuckles and a few mocking whistles from the small crowd that had gathered around us.

Freakin’ jerkbag...

I grabbed my bitpurse from my saddlebags, holding it in my teeth, and dropped it on the counter with a smack. Probably not one of my better decisions, but a mare’s gotta defend her honor.

“Hit me, barkeep.”

He smirked wider and took the bits.“Three Sonic Rainbooms, comin’ up.” I heard some scattered cheers from the crowd, and my face lit up with a stupid drunk-ass grin. This would be easy.

I watched as Mohawk turned around and began to mix, shake and stir the Rainboom’s various ingredients, then ran it under a spout from a huge steel drum marked ‘Secret Ingredient’ near the back counter. I giggled. Could they get any freaking cheesier?

A half-minute later, he turned back around, levitating three shot glasses full of a glistening rainbow liquid. He put them down in front of me, lined up in a row, and crossed his hooves.

“Well? Let’s see it.”

I squinted down at the shots. It might’ve been the fact that I was drunk, but I could’ve sworn they were... wriggling a little.

“You don’t drink it, you’re payin’ for the other two,” Mohawk said, slowly shaking his head in the most obnoxious way...“You mares are all the same. Comin’ in like you’re the hottest thing since Celestia the Sun, then backing out soon as—”

I spun on the barstool, giving him a hard smack with my tail. ‘Snarky Barkeeps’ was very near the top of the list of ‘Things Vinyl Doesn’t Put Up With.’

He reeled back, wincing, grabbing his jaw, glaring at me. “Ow! What the hell is wrong with y—”

I grinned and downed the first shot.

Then my mouth exploded.

Oh dear sweet Celestia that was a hell of kick! It was like an icepick covered in chili powder had been rammed through my skull into my mouth and nose. Gagging, I barely managed a swallow, immediately regretting it as the feeling repeated in my gut. I saw Mohawk’s smirk through my teary eyes and grit my teeth. One down, two to go.

The second Rainboom went down a little smoother than the first, though that might’ve been because most of my head and throat were already numb. It still felt like a buck to the mouth, and I had to choke down a little bit of bile as the shot hit my already-churning stomach. I heard more cheers from the ponies watching and whooped myself, letting the excitement push me forward through the haze of hard alcohol.

“Drink to thish, motherbuckers!” Grabbing the final shot with my teeth, I flipped the glass into the air, catching most of the liquid in my mouth as it spilled. I coughed, gagged, and nearly puked all over the counter, but eventually managed a triumphant swallow.“Three for three!” I shouted, slamming a hoof on the bar hard enough to rattle the glasses. “Gimme my bitsh!” My head was spinning, my mouth was burning, and my stomach felt like it was about to stage a full-scale revolt, but I couldn’t have been happier. Being drunk out of your mind will do that to ya.

Mohawk smiled, and this time, it looked almost genuine. “Well, shit. Didn’t think ya had it in you. Take your money,” he said, sliding my bits back over. I grabbed them and shoved them back in my bag, grinning like a madmare. “So, who am I writing up on the Rainboom Survivor hall of fame?”

“JD... I mean, DJ PON-3. Yep, thash me! Besht drinker in Equestria!” I burst into giggles, rotating slowly on the barstool... or was that just the room spinning? “Now, excush me. I haveta go... do DJ thingsh.” I shot Mohawk a wink, still giggling drunkenly, and started wobbling my way back through the crowd. I could already feel that familiar heaving in pit of my stomach, and I didn’t think the club staff would be too happy with me barfing on their floor, Rainboom Survivor or not.

My head was pounding, my legs were stick of jelly, and I was seeing triple, but I somehow managed to make it out the door and into a nearby alley before the Rainbooms decided they wanted out .

I coughed, swallowed, then retched, spewing out a fountain of glowing rainbow sludge that splashed and stuck to the alley walls like the world’s nastiest glue. The shots somehow managed to taste and feel even worse coming up than they had going down, and soon I was doubled over, unable to do anything but heave and groan.

A couple minutes of pure hell later, my stomach finally decided the evac was over, and I leaned against the wall, sweating and hunching back over for the occasional dry heave. “Ugh... never again... hm? Whathehell— Whazzat?”

Hovering above me was a tiny, flickering blob of chartreuse light. It drifted back and forth above me (though that might’ve been the booze), painting the whole alley in an eerie green glow. I squinted in confusion. “Eh? ‘m not that drunk... wellll... maybe... yesh I am!” I laughed, then winced, retching, as it quickly turned into another bout of dry heaves. When I’d finished, the light was still there, floating lazily through the air, back and forth... taunting me. I frowned, reaching up a shaky hoof to swat at it. “C’mere, shiny!”

Not one of my better ideas.

There was a CRACK and a blinding flash of green, and then I was facedown on the puke-slicked ground, eyes burning in my skull and mouth tasting of something sharp and cool, almost minty. Groaning and coughing, I shoved myself to my hooves...

And nearly fell back down again in shock.

“Wha... what the shit.

Lying in front of me was an earth pony mare, her emerald green coat ragged and crisscrossed with hundreds of bloody scratches. Her mane and tail might’ve been pure white at some point, but now they were so dirty and torn it was hard to tell, and sticking out from her side was... I wasn’t sure. Some kind of weird growth? A tumor? Whatever it was, it was lumpy and scabby and pretty horrible-looking, and I had to fight down the impulse to get away from it and her as fast as possible. I liked to think I was decent pony, and decent ponies don’t leave other ponies to bleed out in an alley, disgusting tumor-blobs or not.

I took a breath, steeled myself, and leaned in, poking her gently. “Uh. Hello? You ‘kay there?” Please don’t be dead, pleeease don’t be dead...

She groaned in reply, rolling over and rubbing her head, and my stomach jumped as I realized she had another tumor on her other side, just as nasty as the first. A matching set. Nice. “So... izzat a no?” I asked, taking a few steps back. Call me paranoid, but teleporting alley mares with tumors growing out of them ranked pretty freaking high on the Vinyl Scratch weird-o-meter.

She stirred again, mumbling something into the ground and keeping her eyes closed. “Didn’t catch that, shorry,” I said, then froze as I had a sudden, terrifying thought. Wait, if she— ohhh goddess, I hope she doesn’t...

The mare gave a hugeand raised her head, practically shaking with the effort. Her mouth opened... ohhh, nonono, don’tsayitdon’tsayitdon’tsayitdon’tsayiiiiit...


I groaned softly. Of course she said it. Now I couldn’t leave without feeling like complete scum, even though I knew I wouldn’t remember this tomorrow. “Uh... whasswrong?” I scooted a little closer to hear her reply, making sure to still keep my distance.

“You—” She stopped. My drunk, terrified brain was screaming at me to get out right the hell now, but I couldn’t just leave her... but what could I do? I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to make it home myself, forget carrying somepony else...

The mare interrupted my mental tennis match. ”You... hear?”

“Hear what? Whadoyou mean?” If the weird-o-meter had been high before, it was redlining now, and I was debating running away as fast as my shaky hooves could carry me when she spoke again.

“The music...”

It might’ve been the alcohol. It might’ve been my pride. It might’ve been the spirit of Discord possessing my mortal body and driving me temporarily insane. Whatever it was, it made me answer back:

“Music? ‘Course! ‘M DJ PON-3, besht producer ‘n Equeshtria!”

“You...” The mare paused, shivering a little, then breathed a massive sigh of relief. “Finally. Oh, thank the gods.” Then, before I’d even started processing anything she’d said, her eyes snapped open, locked with mine, and flashed, pure white, bright and blinding. I yelped and stumbled backward, blinking rapidly as stars sparked behind my eyes. The weird-o-meter was now broken from overload, and it was taking every fiber of my being not to spin around, take the hit to my conscience, and bolt.

“Wha... whawazat?” I mumbled, rubbing my aching head. “Whajoo... do?”

“I— It doesn’t matter.” She was up on her hooves now, swaying a little, but up, and some of the color was back in her cheeks. ‘Good’ might’ve still been a stretch, especially since I could still clearly see those gross-looking flesh-nubs sticking out of her sides, but she at least looked better. Her eyes were open, too, brilliant blue, staring straight at— no, through me, and I had to fight back a shiver as she continued. “I can’t stay long, so you’ll just have to listen to me. Please.

I stared at her, processing for a few seconds, then slowly shook my head. “You know I’m drunk off my flank, right? ‘M not gonna remember any of thish. Sorry.” It was half truth, half what-the-hell-is-going-on-please-let-me-get-out-of-here-and-don’t-kill-me. Good enough for my conscience, good enough for me.

The mare stomped a hoof on the ground, winced, then sighed. “Drunk. Figures. All right, then. Just one question.” She took a deep, shaky breath, planted her hooves on the dirty alleystones, and murmured, so quietly I had to prick my ears to hear it...

“if you could save a world... would you?”


“Shure, coursh!”

Damnit, Vinyl. Celestia. Fucking. Damnit. Brain first, mouth second. Well, too late now. Saving a world isn’t really something you can call backsies on.

“Oh... thank you...” she said, mouth turned upward in a strained smile. “Take this, it’ll tell you everything.” There was a flicker of green light and a hissing, sucking noise, then a battered-looking envelope just sort of... slid out of the empty air. It floated down to about my nose level, glowing faintly, and stayed there, hovering. I stared at it for a few seconds, brain ever-so-slowly kicking into gear, then grabbed it gingerly with my teeth and tucked it into my saddlebags, not trusting my booze-addled magic. Teleporting alley mares, flashing eyes, letters from thin air... shit, at that point, Celestia could’ve popped out of a manhole and started a song-and-dance routine, and I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

“Thank... you...” The mare’s outline was fading, rippling, tearing and fuzzing at the edges like she was being broadcast through a bad signal. As I watched, she got less and less distinct, until I could almost see the grimy alley wall straight through her. “I...hope...see you... soon...” She started to glow, bright enough to irritate my already-aching head, and I turned away, squeezing my eyes shut as her outline got brighter, brighter, lighting up the night like a miniature sun.

There was another eye-searing flash, and she was gone...

But there was something new around my neck.

I looked down, mouth slowly dropping open as I saw it: a shiny silver amulet in the shape of a quarter note, hanging from my neck on an equally shiny chain. Set into the note’s ‘head’ was a small gem that pulsed as I stared at it, throbbing with its own inner green glow.

Green. Just like the light. Just like the mare...

That did it.

I’d broken a bar record, drunk enough booze to knock a manticore on its ass, vomited my guts out, gotten asked to save the world by a teleporting earth pony, and now I was pretty sure I’d just seen that pony transform into a piece of tacky jewelry. My brain had had just about enough weird shit for one night , and it was about to make that fact known in the most direct way possible.

“Nighty-night,” I murmured as the alley warped and spun around me. “Sweet dreams, me.”

Yeah, I was probably about to go unconscious in some shady downtown alley, fall in my own vomit, and be completely vulnerable for Goddess knows how long, but you know what? After everything that had happened, passing out was almost a relief.

Next Chapter: 2: Prelude Estimated time remaining: 5 Hours, 39 Minutes
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