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Martini Paradise was excited, very excited. Here she was at the Grand Galloping gala in Canterlot! She had never been to the famous, magical capital of Equestria before, let alone here at its biggest annual event, reserved for those ponies lucky enough to be invited by Princess Celestia herself! Of course, Martini wasn't really a guest; she was an employee - well, temporary hired help for the night. Even in that regard she was very fortunate - it was a night off from her job at the Rhinestone, and her boss, Sterling Stone, somehow managed to pull some strings to land her this gig! The pay was great, but what really made Martini happy was the opportunity to be at the center of Equestrian society, to serve a whole new class of customer. Martini was going to make the most of it.

Time to put her best hoof forward. After all, she wasn't just representing herself, but the Rhinestone itself, and she didn't want to add to any rumors that it was some roughhouse or the like! Bareback had enough bad press as it was, thank you very much! The young mare could barely contain her giddiness. She loved to mix drinks, regular and those with that "extra kick." It wasn't just her special talent, it wasn't just pouring liquor into a glass - it was a work of performance art. And then on top of awing the customers, as much as that made her happy - she was even more thrilled that she would get to socialize with them, listen to them, give them that caring shoulder, that attentive ear that made a difference. So many stories to hear!

Looking about, she did feel a little out of place. She was too poor to ever own any of these fancy dresses or the like, and she had to wear a uniform besides - a trim black saddle with white lace around the edge, a black bow-tie around her neck and a little black cap atop her head. Martini made the uniform her own by accessorizing with some small pink flowers in her mane that matched her coat perfectly.

"Alright Martini, you can do this, you're great at this", she murmured to herself to build up her confidence. "Think of the bits, the opportunities, and the stories you can tell Sunrise when you see her again". With that thought, Martini gave a demure, alluring smile and stepped out behind the bar, waiting for her first customer...

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The gala's atmosphere was stuffy, mostly due to its equally stuffy guests. Maximilian Rockefilly Jr. was practically begging for relief, in the form of a drink of course. The only drinks he'd had were only able to sour his mood. He didn't have much to be happy about. The white unicorn tugged at his tux, anxiously looking for some refreshment that didn't feel like a glass of water.

Hopefully SOMEPONY here can mix a drink, or I might have to find some rubbing alcohol

Raised as a Manehatton socialite, he learned how to handle his drink; but the chances of finding that at such a fancy party seemed slim. Max noticed a fresh face running the bar, and with no other options, he decided to give her a try.

Ordering a drink is almost as complicated as making one, depending on who's ordering. Usually Max would get a dry, rinsed cosmo in a chilled glass with no less than 3 olives. But he decided to live a little. He might as well give the barkeep a little leeway, who knows? She might even be good!

Without hesitating, Maximilian trotted over to the counter and spoke with his usual tone. He flashed her a sly grin meant to challenge the mare.

"I'd like a drink..."

He paused a moment, acting like he was making a choice. He motioned for her to be quiet as he thought. With a theatrical shrug he added:

"Surprise me..."

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Martini was humming to herself as she wiped the already clean bar top with a soft, white cloth. While it did help to keep her mind occupied and her nervousness at bay while she waited for her next (or first) customer, it was more just part of the role. Bartenders always had a rag, and wiped at the bar. It was what ponies expected. She wasn't cleaning a clean bar for long, though, before somepony came up to her - a rather dashing white unicorn with a beautiful golden mane, wearing an expensive black tux. She wondered if he was from Canterlot - he certainly seemed to fit right in.

"Greetings!" She chirped with a smile, about to say more when he gestured for quiet, a thoughtful expression on his face. Then he did, indeed, order. Surprise him? Martini smirked playfully, a light in her eyes, not having to take long to think on the matter.

Martini considered the obviously wealthy pony. He looked the sort who was used to the fancy drinks, sipping drinks... but he was looking for something different. She wasn't sure what he was used to getting, but any fancy drink she might try could easily be a drink he'd already gotten tired of...

So it was time to go to the other side of her repertoire

She took a fresh mixing glass and scooped up some ice, her horn glowing as she brought down two bottles - one of the Southern Peach family's special top-shelf peach liquor, the other a coconut rum from her own home of the Gallopocus Islands. She caught both bottles on her hooves and let them spin before turning them over the ice, the streams mixing and chilling at the same time. She dropped the bottles so they landed upright on the bar, then tapped them up and over her shoulder, her magic guiding them back to their places on the shelves with a melodramatic flair. In rapid succession she added a few splashes - pineapple juice, lemon juice, and just a dash of grenadine syrup...

She capped the drink with one hoof, and taking it between both forehoofs, she gave the mixture a good shake, chilling the whole concoction swiftly before straining it out into a pony glass.

But not yet done, she took down a shot glass. A dash of almond liquor, a dash of coffee liquor, a dash of root beer shnapps, and then just a bit of some very, very good rum. One, two, thre, four, just like that, she took bottles without looking at them, tipped them over the shot glass, and had them back where they were before most ponies would even have a chance to read the label. The last she lingered on just a little, careful with the rum...

She slid the first, taller glass across to Rockefilly, a lovely pink drink, classy and upscale... then, with a spark of her horn, she lit the shot glass on fire. The fire leapt colorfully into the air, tinted by the swirling liquors, as she lifted it up, waited a few more seconds, then dropped it, shot glass and all, into the pink drink.

"Your drink sir! One 'Surprise'! Bottoms up!" She smiled rather proudly.

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Knightly walked into the bar he was adorned in his formal armor on his chest only. It was the regular silver color but with gold trimming. He just sat down at the bar as the mare behind the counter finished up a flashy show of mixing a drink for a dashing looking stallion. Knightly clapped his hooves for the bartender while smiling. "Good job!" He was happy to see a really good bartender at the bar for the Gala. He wondered what he would have. It has been awhile since he had a good drink. "Hmm."

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Well, he asked for it. He had issued a challenge and the lovely bartender was up to it. With flair and grace she performed her job in a way that seemed more like art than work.

She's good...

He raised an eyebrow at her selection, the mix of fruits and other spirits seemed a little unorthodox. Max watched as a plethora of liqueurs were mixed together in a seemingly chaotic manor. The sense of anticipation grew inside of him as he tried to guess what the drink could possibly taste like.

A bit fruity, but strong... Wait, what's with the shot glass?

Max was in awe as she tossed bottles and mixed drinks in a way he hadn't seen in years. There were many good bartenders in Manehatton, but she was simply a level above. Maximilian was enthralled, and he realized that he was staring at the pink mare in front of him.

She's amazing! But there's more to drinks than showmareship. Let's see how this stuff tastes...

As the mare poured the pink mixture, he felt like reaching for it, but he was taken aback when she lit the shot glass on fire and dumped its contents into the pink drink. A depth charge! He hadn't seen one of those in a few odd years!

Where was this kind of talent in Manehatton?

He lifted up the glass with magic, and after observing it for a moment he took a swig. Max let the mixture sit on his tongue for a brief time before swallowing, allowing the full flavor to fill his mouth, The sweet fruit tingled his mouth as the strong rum burned his throat; a contrast in feelings that was a welcome departure from a simple cosmopolitan. Maximilian gave his head a quick shake and took another gulp before looking at the pink mare in astonishment.

"I've had many a drink in my life, and I've been to every bar in Canterlot and Manehatton. Yet I've rarely seen a talent like yours and I've never had a drink like that. I asked you to surprise me and you certainly did."

Still in a daze, Max opened his tuxedo's pocket, and using the magic link to his fortune he levitated a lump of bits out and plopped them on the table without bothering to count them.

I know where i'm spending this gala

One of his reasons to stay was obvious, he wanted more drinks like that one. But there was another reason, he never really chatted with anypony, and this seemed like a genuine opportunity to have a nice time. You don't make many friends in the business world.

"Let me introduce myself. The name's Maximilian Rockefilly Jr ,from Manehatton. How is it that I couldn't find a talent like you until now?"

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Doctor Whooves arrived at the bar with a very quick step to his hooves. The lover of history and delver of ancient sites, tinkerer, and all around clever pony, was all dressed up. He had a white dress shirt, a brown suit coat, and a very nice tie.

Except the tie was tied around his temples, dangling down the side of his face.

His front hooves stopped at the bar, though his rear hooves took a couple extra steps, turning him a little sideways, then retraced their route so he was straight no again. A daiquiri glass, balanced on his nose, slid off smoothly onto the counter.

"Ahhh, that was a wonderful Banana Daiquiri!" he cried happily! "How'd you know just how I like it?" He blinked, thought a moment. "Oh, right, I mixed it myself!"

Amicably, he threw his hoof over Knightly's shoulder, and spoke to the noble knight in a friendly manner. "But I remember her. She made me one before. Listened to me being crazy, too! Not that I am crazy. Really good Daiquiri. Love to say Daiquiri. Daiquiri Daiquiri Daiquiri, Doc!"

He laughed a bit, grinned up to Martini. "Another! Make it two! I'll bring one to... ohhh... Luna or Celestia, whomever I find first! Gotta say hi, while I'm here!"

He peered at the pony on the other side of him. "Oh, hey, I know you! Yes, don't tell me... yeah! You owned the dig site where half the ponies got turned to stone before that whole problem got sorted out! Nice to see you!"

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Babbles glided through the crowd to the bar. She was, after all, more observer than guest, and if there was any vantage point for a large party better than the bar, she had yet to find it. Something good would be happening during the course of the evening and she'd be damned if she was going to miss it.

She sidled up to the bar, choosing a point to the side where she could lean ever-so-casually and still have a full view of the room. She barely acknowledged the bartender, or the babbling stallion that had approached just before her, but she made note of the other two vaguely familiar faces. She knew the knight, of course, she made a point of knowing anyone who was anyone in Canterlot, whether they chose to retire to the boonies or not. The other stallion she couldn't quite place. His appearance, finely groomed, expensive clothing, bits for a cutie mark, certainly pointed to wealth. Which likely pointed to good breeding as well. A Rockefilly, perhaps?

Babs let her attention sweep out over the room, looking for something or someone to catch her eyes or ears.

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Martini Paradise watched with eager excitement as the handsome white unicorn tried her "surprise" drink. She watched with anticipation as he drank, but was distracted as a new patron, a white pegasus, complimented her enthusiastically. Martini smiled warmly, just the fainted red blush touching her cheeks. She was ever so proud of her skills with the art of the drink, but compliments still made her feel a little giddy inside, even if she had to maintain a level of professional demeanor. "Thank you and good evening sir! Please let me know as soon as you decided what you would like, we have everything here at the gala!"

The wealthy-looking white unicorn stallion loved her "surprise." Not that she was really worried at all, but one never knew. Taste was such a personal thing. His kind compliments were certainly very courteous, far more so than what she was used to by the more roughmane types back at the Rhinestone. Looking demurely at the handsome unicorn, she couldn't help but blush more, "why thank you sir, I do enjoy a mixing challenge." Her eyes widened as he threw a handful of bits casually over the counter. That would have been a good tip at a pricy bar - and drinks here were free! This one tip, by itself, was as much as she'd make in an average night back in Bareback!

She smiled as Maximilian Rockefilly Jr introduced himself, still feeling stunned by the tip. It turned out he was a Manehattanite, and a very complimentary one at that. "Oh, I am sure there are plenty of good bartenders around here, sir. Myself, I am just extra, outside, hired help. I am actually from Barebrack Ridge.", she rolled her eyes a little at the way that came out. "Well not from there, but it is where I currently live, actually I am from Gallopocous Island, and ..." she knew she was babbling in a flustered manner, but what was she to say? Then, a vaguely familiar brown earth pony came waltzing up to the bar in a haphazard way and started making friendly with everyone.

At first she wasn't sure if he was really friends with the other two or just being strange - likely the latter considering the tie around his head like some sort of Painted Pinto Desert headband. A customer was a customer, though, and he was one once he ordered his Daiquiri. "Coming right up, sir! Why don't you just sit right there", she pointed to the center spot in front of the bar, "I'll be but a second!"

She opened up the ice chest with one hoof and floated out a big hunk of ice, then focused at it. The chunk of ice seemed to *explode* in mid-air, then come back together into a ball of crushed ice. She briefly looked over at the familiar, very bubbly earth pony, making sure he wasn't causing a ruckus while she held the ball of ice flakes together in mid-air. That ice spell was tricky and she didn't want anypony to disrupt what she was doing. She dumped the ice into a mixing glass, brought up the banana, and squeezed it out of its peel into the glass as well. Her rear hoof kicked the bottle rack, and two bottles fell loose. It was a decent enough trick; hiding the fact that she gave those two bottles a nudge with her telekinesis.

Her two front hooves reached out to catch the falling bottles. One of them, she kept spinning on her left hoof, while she tipped over the triple sec to let a splash of that into the mixing glass, then tossed that back into the rack to settle in place before pouring quite a bit more rum into the glass. The second bottle followed the first, thumping into place in a satisfying manner. With her telekinesis she floated out a spoonful of sugar and a half a lime, squeezing out some lime juice into the glass. She picked up the lid, slapped it on top, and shook the glass like crazy before pouring it all out into a tall, thin glass. She topped it off with a cherry, and set it down cautiously in front of her latest customer, not wanting her to spill it with his waving hooves as he continued to make nice with his neighbors.

With that she noticed yet another customer, at least she hoped it was a customer - a rather sophisticated, if distracted, young unicorn mare. She didn't really say anything, but anypony was welcome to sit at the bar. As any good bartender would, Martini took the initiative, "Is there anything I can get for you, miss?"

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He knew what he wanted now and looked over at the talented bartender as she made the drink for the good Stallion that just sat down next to him. Knightly looked over at him laughing with him. "Why hello you seem to be a bit of a crazy pony." He then looked over at the lovely bartender. "I would love to have a beer martini please I havn't had one of those in ages." He thought back to when he was a knight and was having drinks in the Canterlot bar. "Those where some good times."

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Max watched as the good knight ordered his drink. He took this opportunity to adress the eccentric pony to his side who had mentioned something interesting. Something wasn't quite right about him, especially the tie. Maximilian lifted his drink.

"It's great to see you, too! Cheers!"

He flung his hoof around the earth pony and pulled him in for a tight hug. Maximilian chuckled and observed the others as they did their own business. When he was sure they were amply distracted he leaned in and whispered in the doctor's ear.

"I don't know how you know about the dig site, and frankly I don't care. But I suggest that you NEVER mention that again."

To maintain the cheery attitude he pulled back and gave a warm laugh. Max noticed the brown unicorn farther down the bar and he gave her a suspicious glare.

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"Hmm?" Babbles said idly before tearing her gaze from a knot of stylish ponies across the room. She blinked in surprise, realizing it was the bartender speaking to her, and recovered quickly. "Oh! Of course, um... something fruity. Easy on the liquor. Please." She gave a saccharine smile before scanning the room for the ponies she'd been watching, but they'd already scattered.

As she let her keen eyes rove the room for someone new to catch her attention, she noted the glare from the pony she'd pegged as a Rockefilly and smiled to herself. She'd pegged correctly, a gallant smile overshadowed that glare to anyone not looking closely enough. Charm hiding his true intentions, classic Rockefilly behavior. She wondered if the vaguely batty looking pony he was getting chummy with would prove more interesting than she gave him credit for and perked her ears toward the two stallions, pointedly keeping her gaze elsewhere.

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Doctor Whooves blinked, and grinned a little bigger. This wealthy pony was actually trying to *threaten* him?! That was ... hilarious!

"My good pony!" cried Doctor Whooves, laying a forehoof on the fancy stallion's dress shirt, "I found out about it because I'm the pony that got the other half of the miners out of there and sorted the whole thing out! Also had to get out of that whole nest of gorgons while blindfolded when I tried to go get the statues back, and the entrance was collapsed behind me, so it was quite an adventure! I will say, it was the most creative use I've ever put a turnip towards, believe you me!"

A smile of genuine amusement spread across his face as he leaned in, his voice losing its 'tipsy' flamboyance and becoming briefly serious and quiet. "So please believe me when I say that your threats mean very little to me."

He laughed, then, and said out loud once more, "But there was no way to know you'd mined into an ancient seal keeping them locked away, like that! No fault to be laid here!"

He turned away from Rockefilly tossed a couple bits on the bar, took up the two new Banana Daiquiris waiting for him on the counter, and balanced them both atop his head. "And that's all behind us! I'm off, dunno if Luna's ever tried a Banana Daiquiri before, and I haven't seen her in a while, so let's share the love!"

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Martini Paradise was in her zone, now.  Even though the surroundings and the city of Canterlot itself was strange to her, the commotions of a busy bar were welcome familiarity to her ears and eyes.  Everypony seemed to be enjoying themselves, she got her opportunity to perform, and who knows?  Maybe this could be some great opportunity for her!

She nodded happily upon hearing the dashing white pegasus' order.  "Yes sir! One beer martini coming right up!  Martinis are my specialty, after all."  She winked, giggling lightly.

Three ice cubes and three olives floated up out of their respective bins behind the bar, moving through the air in two rows that merged together before spiraling down into the martini glass.  She used her forehoof to kick open a mini-fridge under the bar, and pull out a bottle of Hay Bale Pale Ale.  Her head dipped, so that she could use the tip of her horn to pop the top off the bottle, and then she tipped a couple glugs of the good, rich pale ale into the glass.  She slid that to the side in case someone else needed a similar drink, and instead kicked the liquor stand again, making more noise then impact so that she could tap the green bottle of gin off, and catch it on her hoof.  She gave it a spin, turned it over, and added a goodly amount of sweet gin into the glass as well.  She tossed the bottle over her shoulder so it landed back on the shelf, and then ducked her head over the martini glass.  The liquid started to turn in the glass, swirling into a miniature whirlpool ... then lifting up out of the glass to swirl through the air in a helix as Martini gave it her own special "Martini Stir." Once it had mixed up to just the right amount - didn't want to overstir - the spiral smoothly drilled down into the martini glass without a drop splashing out, settling to a mirror-smooth surface as she set it down before the pegasus. "There you go stir, one beer Martini, done in the best manner in all of Equestria!" she said with a rather proud smile.

She kept a close eye on the eccentric brown earth pony, if for no other reason than to make sure he didn't spell his drink all over the place.  She honestly wasn't sure if he was tipsy or just always like this.  What was it he asked last time?  Flying Cacti?  At least he seemed to be good friends with the handsome white unicorn, or maybe it is the just the atmosphere of the gala.  She wasn't sure what they whispered though and she wasn't going to try and eavesdrop - all secrets stay safe at the bar.  The cream colored young unicorn mare appeared really distracted.  Martini wasn't sure if she was looking for somepony in particular or not, at least she wanted a drink.

Something fruity, hrm?  Martini was from the islands!  Just about every single drink from back home could be considered fruity, though the alcohol level varied greatly, of course.  Well, if she didn't care what she wanted, it was time for Martini to get to to do something she loved:  experiment!

She checked the mini-fridge again and smiled approvingly, pulling out some pineapple juice and some orange juice, one in each hoof, which she poured into a glass pitcher.  She added some lemon juice, a dash of pomegranate juice, and a good amount of apple juice to mellow out the sharp bite of all the citrus.  She then floated over a bottle of a nice vanilla liquor, tipping a bit of that into the drink, giving it a good, creamy taste.  Ice, then, floated out, and she smiled as she used her own special ice-crushing spell before dumping it into the pitcher as well.  The pitcher swirled itself around, the drink mixing with the ice to make something of an alcoholic slushie.  She poured the resultant mixture into a round glass, for the whimsical reason that it reminded her of a coconut, and tucked a little paper umbrella and a straw into the pleasantly pinkish-orange colored crushed ice, then slid it down the counter to the young mare.

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Knightly watched the mare performing while mixing the drinks and he smiled happy that there was a good bartender here at the gala. He was even thinking of leaving a good tip for her. He saw her set the beer martini down for him he took a sip of it and was amazed at how well she mixed it. "Give me a sec." He pulled out of a small saddle pack he brought with him just in case. He pulled out a little sac with 10 bits in it. "Here have a nice tip you deserve it." He bowed his head at the pony with a smile. "Thank you."

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Max watched as the eccentric pony placed a hoof on his Tux. Normally he would have protested to it, but he was much too concerned with the doctor's words. The large grin offsetting the matter-of-fact way in which the pony described the events at the dig site. Maximilian's skin crawled and his face went pale as the realized his mistake, he had underestimated the earth pony.

The events being described were not something that should EVER go public, and Max was doing mental cartwheels trying to figure out how in Celestia's name he was going to make that pony keep his muzzle shut. If the word got out that the Rockefilly's covered up such a crazy event, it would undo all of his attempts to redeem the family name.

Maximilian was frozen in place as the doctor leaned in and whispered to him. He felt a cold shiver go up his spine as he was dismissed with nothing more than a sentence. And it was only made worse as the Doctor added a 'friendly' consolation before leaving.

For the first time in a while, Max lost his cool. His face was a bright red as he shook his head from side to side, trying to keep himself from doing something stupid. He continued doing this for a few moments before he buried his head in his hooves and muttered to himself.

"Not good..."

He wasn't able to mope for long before he remembered a crucial fact.

He said all of that in public

With a frantic urgency Maximilian looked around trying to see if anypony had heard what had been said. His gaze fell upon the brown unicorn further down the bar. Instead of glaring at her, he simply stared at her with a look of utter shock and disbelief.

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Babbles levitated a few bits out of her small saddlebag to cover the drink and the tip, idly taking a sip as she let them fall gently to the bar. Her attention snapped back to the bartender as the fruity concoction hit her taste buds. With an approving nod she added a few more bits to the pile. "Perfect, thank you." She said sincerely, smiling at the bartender briefly before flicking her ears back toward the two stallions at the bar. Her suspicions about the slightly off-kilter gentlepony had been correct, no surprise there. With her face a perfect mask of disinterest she turned toward them, letting her eyes drift across the crowd behind the pair. Miners? Gorgons? An ancient seal? Far from the usual salt lick gossip, that's for sure.

Babs feigned as much disinterest as possible at the stallion's exit, drinking in the reaction of the pony he left gaping at thin air.

"He seems to have left you a bit rattled," Babs said coyly as the white stallion's red faced stare caught her eye. She moved down the bar closer to him, levitating her drink alongside her. She glanced in the direction the other pony had disappeared. "I've never seen him around the city before. Then again, I haven't seen you around either." She turned her attention back to the stallion, smiling warmly and laying on the charm. "What did you say your name was?"

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"Um.... Max, Maximilian Rockefilly..."He paused before adding "Jr." He took another sip of his drink and slowly set it down on the table. "From Manehatten."He tried to lighten the mood. "Don't believe anything you may have heard of me, especially if it came from a journalist."

The Cream colored pony was being kind, but you don't live in Manehatton your whole life without becoming at least a bit suspicious of everypony else. Max took a deep breath, trying to calm down. Even if the mare had heard what had been said, it wasn't anything serious. He hoped and prayed there were no members of the press nearby, but at least he could talk to her, even if he had to lie. Max turned to the bartender.

"Something very, very, very strong please."

He returned his focus to the inquisitive mare, and Max decided to match her charm with some of his own. Max shrugged it off and added with a slight pout. "My friend was merely reminding me of a literary project we've been working on. He takes it a bit too seriously for my tastes. Sometimes I worry that he thinks it's real" He flashed a confident grin that was betrayed by his bright red face. He was usually a great liar, but he was just too flustered to do it correctly at that moment.

"I'm afraid I haven't seen you around either. And since I've given my name, I would very much like to know yours"

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((OOC - Note, feel free to engage each other as much as you all like, Martini is the bartender, so no need to talk to her if you do not, although she loves conversation :) )

Martini Paradise simply looked bemused by Doctor Whooves' eccentric behavior. Whatever he and the handsome white unicorn had started talking about in hushed tones quickly became quite audible to the entire bar - Doctor Whooves hadn't seemed to share the wealthy white pony's desire for quiet - he seemed quite content in his tipsy monologue. Perhaps it was the previous drinks he'd had, or perhaps he was normally this whimsical - after all, he hadn't acted much different, the first time she had met him.

As Martini watched Hooves precariously balance his Daiquiris upon his head in a practiced manner, she smiled with that tolerant amusement one gets around drunks, "Take care, sir! I hope you were able to find your flying cacti, and please don't spill those on the princess". Martini meant all of that in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Surely he'd never found anything of that sort in the desert, nor would he get anywhere near Luna, but she was bemused none the less by his disarming nature as she collected the couple of bits he tossed on the counter.

How could she not be in a good mood? For once, it seemed all the patrons were tipping, and tipping well. The white pegasus' tip for his beer martini was worth more than the drink itself normally would be. I guess everyone in Canterlot is well off, she thought to herself as she collected the bits. "T-Thank you sir!" she said to Sir Knightly, "I hope that you are having a wonderful time here at the Gala!" It was a typical employee response, but she hoped that the sincerity in her voice would carry through, and let him know how much she truly meant the words.

As Doctor Whooves took his leave, the dashing white unicorn seemed visibly shaken by the whole experience; clearly more was communicated than just words. Martini just politely collected any empty glasses while she listened, being subtle about anything she heard and promising to herself anything said here stayed here. Whatever that whole conversation was about, it got the previously distracted young unicorn mare's sudden attention, and that didn't ease Rockefilly's apparent disquiet as he ordered something "very strong".

She considered... his tip was extravagant, and she knew of one thing which would certainly fit the bill, from the look on his face and his obvious well-off background. One of the glass doors of the top shelf opened, and Martini took down the bottle with a careful telekinetic touch. She floated it before her without her usual showy flamboyance or stage presence, but instead with a reverent solemnity. This ... was a Saddleton 12-year Single Malt. She had never opened a bottle like this, before. What she wouldn't give to have just one mouthful of a whiskey like this...

Uncorking the bottle, she smelled the aroma. It was a rich, deep aroma, and she didn't bother a whit with any of the other elements. Cold would just dull the taste buds, and mixing would insult the top-shelf whiskey. Rather, she poured it, straight up, for half of a tumbler's worth, and just perched a slice of lemon on the rim of the glass. "Here you go sir, something very strong"

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hi hi

Wading through the sea of party-goers, Ginger Mint excused herself a couple of times as she made her way towards the bar. She politely nodded to the ponies on either side of her before settling into her spot at the bar. With a gentle sigh and crestfallen expression, she leaned up against the side of the bar as if using for balance. She looked for a moment as though she was savoring the brief respite before she turned towards the light carmine-pink pony behind the bar.

"Good evening," she said with a small smile, an attempt at a cheerful attitude that was half-hearted at best, "You wouldn't happen to have anything warm, would you?"

Even as she asked her question, her eyes were wandering casually across the various bottles and labels that sat on display behind the bartender, perhaps taking stock of the selection for herself not expecting an affirmative answer, perhaps contemplating something entirely unrelated.

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"I'm Babbles," the unicorn said with a smile and a hint of a curtsy. "Call me Babs. Your eccentric friend must have some imagination." She didn't buy the story for a minute. And the stallion's order only confirmed her suspicions. She was quick to assess the situation, and decided to keep her profession, particularly the nature of her particular brand of journalism to herself. Hoping, of course, that no one that might happen to approach the bar would recognize her and blow her cover.

"So you have a reputation, do you? What might I have heard about you," Babs kept her voice light, calling to mind every rumor about the Rockefilly clan she'd ever heard. The list was long. "I can't say I've heard much about you, Max." Lie. "Though that may be because I hardly ever get a chance to make it to Manehatten." Also a lie, and one she sold with a quiet giggle and a flutter of her eyelashes. She'd spent the previous weekend in Manehatten dishing with a friend who'd moved there only a few months previously. What was it Murmur had told her about the handsome young Rockefilly again...?

Babs cut her eyes at the pony who'd just approached the bar, her breath catching for a moment before realizing she didn't recognize the mare at all. Her ruse would last a bit longer, anyway.

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"My reputation? Oh, the usual. Like how I supposedly had Carneighy's office burned down to drive him out of business. Or how I allegedly swindled a bunch of ex-guards out of their pensions. But it's not true..." Max grinned, both stories were true. Of course, if you're going to lie, lie big. 

Maximilian traced the rim of his glass with his right hoof, finally able to voice his pent up disgust with the media. Max had no clue that the mare in front of him was a journalist, mainly because he mostly concerned himself with the business section of the newspaper, and rarely with periodicals.  

"You know the press, too busy digging around in dumpsters for a story to do anything worthwhile. I mean, I read stories about my family that make me sick!" His voice was filled with angst, and Max's whining only got worse. "Most of it's just a bunch of worthless gossip anyways. If those foals would just let me do an interview I'd give them enough real news for a whole year!" He meant it too, his brain was filled with secrets and scandals. 

Max chuckled weakly and levitated the glass so it was in front of his muzzle, he still felt terrible. He gave the whiskey a quick glance and prepared to down it all, but something stopped him: the aroma. Maximilian took another sniff and his mind was flooded with memories. This was his father's drink, the stuff his dad would sip as he singlehoofedly ran an empire! He remembered his father reeking of be stuff after a night in the office.  With a tentative sip Max let the strong liquor drip down his throat, and the powerful drink burned his throat and instilled a new confidence in him.

I'm a Rockefilly! I can do anything!

With a quick motion he turned to the bartender and forcefully flung another lump of bits on the bar, making sure to show off his wealth to the others. "Thank you, just what I needed."

 

Max slammed the glass down, and with a fire in his eyes he turned to face Babbles. He was about to say something to the mare, but the arrival of a fresh face distracted him. Out of the corner of his eye, Max noticed the cream colored unicorn catch her breath. His instincts kicked in, and he realized that something was definitely suspicious about this mare. Slowly, he started to piece together the clues, but without any conclusion to make, he decided to continue the conversation. 

"Well, Babbles, I don't suppose you were invited here only for your charm and good looks, What do you do for a living?" He finished his sentence with a commanding look, his confidence was back, and he was on guard. He'd let her think he didn't suspect a thing.

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Martini Paradise kept an eye on her various patrons, ready to be there with a bottle and a glass at a gesture from them, as she used her horn and a clean rag to wipe at some of the glasses. Not that the glasses needed cleaning, but ponies expected to see it. Some of the customers seemed involved in some manner of intrigue or controversy, from the scraps she could pick up. Hearing such things wasn't new - it happened all the time back at the Rhinestone. Nor was she surprised that a place like Canterlot or Manehattan held all sorts of social maneuverings and the like. Whatever the handsome unicorn stallion was discussing with the cream colored unicorn mare, he suddenly appeared to find his fortitude again once he started to drink. Martini made a slight chuckle, curious if the Saddleton Whiskey really was that good, which made her all the more tempted to try it herself.

But despite her own curiosity, she kept a discreet distance and demeanor, especially when she noticed a new patron approaching the bar. A very light yellow-Chartreuse filly came up to the counter looking rather forlorn and asking for something "warm". Martini's heart went out to the filly. Back home in the islands, few bars had any sort of 'warm' drinks - everyone was already too warm, and wanted something to cool down. But she'd found lots of these colder regions that actually got snow in the winter were rather different, and had hot drinks. She'd expanded her repertoire quite a bit, with all her travel, and this bar did seem to have it all! It was certainly stocked for the aristocratic sorts that populated much the Gala. Still, it took Martini a few extra moments for her to wrap her mind around a warm 'pick me up' for this disheartened filly.

Martini checked the supplies and blinked. Oooo, Herdiva Chocolate Mix. This would make a *good* drink. She floated a large mug down from the shelf, and a carton of milk floated up from under the counter, filling the mug near full. Martini lowered her head, touching the very tip of her horn to the mug. Within moments, the milk was frothing, steam rising up from it. The Herdiva chocolate was thick and syrupy as it poured into the milk, which swirled around under the influence of her horn, making a dark mixture with little white froths atop the drink. Down from the liquor rack came a bottle of Dr. McFillycudy's mint schnapps, dashed into the drink, and the drink came to rest with the milky froth atop the dark, rich mint chocolate forming the shape of a four-leaf clover.

Martini gave a sincere, friendly smile, the type that she hoped that indicated to the Chartreuse filly that she was here to listen, "Here you go hon, something nice and warm for you, with a little added kick."

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Ah yes, it was the fires. Murmur had picked that one up from a friend of someone who knew the pony Rockefilly hired, of course. She smiled indulgently at his rant, taking a sip of her drink in a vain attempt to hide the thrill that ran up her withers at that magic word. Interview. He'd keep her gossip collumn flowing longer than any other pony she'd managed to wrangle into talking on the record. Not that there was such a thing as off the record with Babbles. She had to play this carefully.

She set her drink back down on the bar, the question remained, how coy was she going to put on. He had an inkling she was more than she was letting on, to be sure, and his confidence was clearly kicking in. But how much did he know?

"I never miss a good party." No need to lie, but no need to be completely forthcoming unless absolutely necessary either. She stirred her drink with magic, knowing full well the glow from her horn would set off the light hint of blush that grew on her cheeks at his flattery. She wanted to hook him before revealing she was an enemy cohort. "I'm a bit of a regular fixture in Canterlot's night life, I suppose you could say."

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hi hi

As Martini started to mix the drink, Ginger Mint's mind stopped wandering. Not entirely sure what the bartender was pouring, she figured it would be better to leave it a surprise and just watched the motions. Suppressing the urge to inhale the smell, she watched intently as the contents were heated with seemingly little more than a thought.

Only when the finished drink stopped in front of her, did she allow herself to take a deep breath, savoring the smell of chocolate and mint. She nursed the drink slowly, closing her eyes, and for a little while her entire world was focused on the sensation.

"mmm..." was all she managed before she took another sip, although this time her ear couldn't help but twist in the direction of the conversation the ponies next to her were having.

Back to reality once more, some of the tension seemed to be gone from her face and she looked back to Martini.

"That was... that is truly very good. Thank you." She went back to her mug for a little more, saying to herself more than anyone in particular, "...and to each their own time and place."

Ginger Mint couldn't help but feel a little better now. There was something about the drink that reminded her of home, maybe it was in the mint, maybe it was the earthy chocolate, maybe both; but for the moment at least she didn't feel quite so out of place.

She considered saying something to the two ponies standing next to her, but she decided to turn back to the bartender for now and perhaps wait for a better opening, her one ear still turned in their direction.

"Do you ever get the feeling that you're just getting in everypony's way sometimes? You know, a fifth wheel, stepping on everypony's hooves... I mean, I'm sure you don't have to worry about that right now being a destination as you are, in a manner of speaking. Its just, well, everypony trips up once in a while right?"

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Cherry Dawn

She was falling. Clouds wrapped around her, enveloping the young filly in soft moist air. Butterflies fluttered around in her stomach as vertigo drew her onwards, hair was drawn out into long streamers behind and nightgown billowed with the rushing wind, the sensation was as real as anything she would experience in the waking world. She had jumped so high. Up through the broken ceiling of a child's painting. Out above the ruins of a forgotten world into an awaiting sky of rainbows and unending blue sea. Her hooves brushed the crest of a wave as it bore upon the sunset and watched as it broke against a sharp barricade of light, shattering into a thousand tiny white birds.

Cherry grinned widely as she turned away from the beautifully ornate tapestry, braking her entranced daydreaming. A room of busy conversation and tremulous calming music swam back into focus. Such small wonders often drew her rapt attention, the young Pegasus had stared at the swirls and shimmers of coloured thread for around half an hour. Briefly, though she knew the answers ahead of time, she ran though a mental check list that had been rigorously drilled into her.

One; Clouds or ground? She tapped a hoof against the cobbled floor, defiantly solid so no risk of stepping off an edge.

Two; Where are you? Looking around the party she absorbed the scene of the high ceilinged ballroom, adorned with wonderful decorations and filled with ponies from walks of life. Guests were dressed to the nines in regalia and in the distance a quartet of musicians were playing classical melodies. Truely there was no place like this she had ever experienced. The royal palace, the night of the Gala. A far more plesent sight to return too then some of the places she'd worken up in, the Everfree forest for example.

Three; Are you supposed to be here? Well at the very least she seemed to be dressed for the occasion, a glance at her reflection in one of the polished statues confirmed this much. Her mane looked freshly brushed and sported a lily flower tucked next to her ear. Both her mane and tail had been braided properly for once, each pinned at the tip with a small bunch of cherries. Dressed in the posh saddle Aunt Em was so fond off, Cherry speculated for a moment whether it had been the best idea to let the elderly relative help her dress for the evening. Aunt Em was colour blind after all, so the garish contrast been her light mauve pelt and the lime green lace of the saddle probably wouldn't have occurred to the old mare. But the girl cared little, Cherry didn't have a concept of embarrassment... or fashion for that matter.

Lifting up her right for hoof, the Pegasus examined a ticket that had been tucked into a cuff around her ankle. Aunt Em always got an invite to the gala but couldn't go this year on account of her hip, so had arranged for Cherry to go instead.

Exhilaration rushed through the filly like an electric shock. As she looked around the colossal dance floor Cherry Dawn realised something. She was here. At the gala. And she was REALLY HAPPY about it!

And she was thirsty.... hmm.

With a slight spring in her trot, Cherry approached the open bar and surveyed the array of bottles with a gentle grin of intrigue. So many colours. So many faces too. Ponies revelling in the night's splendour, but also pouring their problems into glass tumblers.

Patience was a virtue that the young Pegasus had in abundance, so she stood quietly, listening and watching the lights of the ballroom dance through the coloured bottles of sloshing liquors.

ooc: hope nopony minds me joining in here, but I couldn't really think of anywhere else other then starting a new topic, which I'd rather avoid for a while :D I'll get some interaction going soon.

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