For the next few days, The Rainbooms worked more seriously than they ever did before. Over time, they all grew into the new black metal sound that they'd managed to create, and eventually, managed to learn a complete black metal song that caught on to them. In short, things were going unexpectedly well for them, and they were in peak physical and musical condition to take on Bronycorpse.

Bronycorpse, meanwhile, were also working as hard as ever. Even though they'd already found their black metal sound and nailed all their own original material many times over without a single mistake, Hest pushed them all harder than he had ever done before. He was especially hard on Flash. To outsiders, this would be quite understandable, since Flash was the lead guitarist, after all. But ever since Flash's outburst last Monday, Hest had become noticeably less friendly towards him than he had been initially, leading Pervertor, Tartarus and Discordia to wonder whose fuse would detonate first...


And then, before either band knew it, it was Saturday evening. It was the night of the Battle of the Bands at Canterlot Concert Hall, between Bronycorpse and The Rainbooms. Of all the bands scheduled to perform, The Rainbooms were the first to arrive at the venue. There was already loads of students from the school and their parents piling into the building, eager to see these two bands, and all of the other opening acts, in action. This, however, led to the ironic side effect of the front entrance being nearly impossible.

But for The Rainbooms, this wasn't a problem. Rainbow Dash simply drove the van into a back alley behind the Concert Hall and parked it there; a perfect spot for getting around the dense crowds.

"This way, we'll be able to get our gear unloaded and onto the stage without people mobbing us," she affirmed. "It'll save security the trouble."

"We should get this done as soon as we possibly can," said Twilight, "before Bronycorpse comes in and decides to pull anything tricky on us. The cops should be on their way any minute now."

"Remember, girls," Sunset chipped in. "They still think Fluttershy is dead... at least, Hest does. I think it's best we don't spill the beans until we go onstage."

"But I don't want to face Hest again!" squeaked Fluttershy. "He looks like an angry orc ready to clobber me!"

"Don't worry about it, darling," Rarity assured her. "We'll keep you safe from him if anything does go wrong."

"Well we'd better get rollin', then!" exclaimed Pinkie Pie.

"Right-o!" replied Applejack.

The girls then all got up, opened the two back doors to their van, and with much effort and hard teamwork, unloaded Rainbow Dash's guitar, Applejack's bass, the individual pieces of Pinkie Pie's drum kit, Rarity's keytar, Fluttershy's tambourine, Rainbow Dash's amp, Applejack's bass amp and Rarity's Roland KC-550 keyboard amp. It then took them multiple trips to get the load into the building and onto the stage to be set up, but they all managed to get it done just in time for them to retreat to one of the backstage dressing rooms where they could all breathe easy, for the time being...


Much later, the venue was totally packed and ready to go. All of the fans, students and parents alike, were in their seats. The stage was crowded with the instruments and amplifiers that were to be used by Bronycorpse and The Rainbooms, as well as all of the opening acts.

Meanwhile, at the front and center of the crowd, sat a number of assorted family members and friends of The Rainbooms, including Big Macintosh, Soarin'—the boy whom Rainbow Dash's crush on was a big contributing factor to this event— and Flash Sentry's parents.

"I still don't like this," Flash's mom panicked. "I thought we told him that he shouldn't be playing in this devil band!"

"I don't like it either," replied Flash's dad, "but we gotta support our son nonetheless. Plus, Principal Celestia told us that Bronycorpse and all the other bands would be barred from doing any of those crazy theatrics, so this shouldn't be a repeat of what happened last time."

"I hope you're right, dear," replied his wife nervously. "We paid forty bucks for this."

"Cheaper than the usual price around this joint."

The crowd immediately fell silent. At the front and center of the stage were Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna.

"Welcome, one and all, to Canterlot High School's Musical Showcase/Battle of the Bands!" Celestia announced.

After the resulting applause died down, Luna spoke up. "This is where two of Canterlot High's most prominent musical acts—the fabulous pop girl group The Rainbooms, and the vicious black metal band Bronycorpse—will settle their differences once and for all. Of course, when we were first pitched this idea, I was reminded of our last Battle of the Bands, and how it was conceived originally from a musical showcase. So my sister and I thought, why not combine the two into one event? These two bands might achieve closure, and the other students are getting involved without getting involved, if that makes any sense..."

"Anyway," Celestia broke in. "Give it up, everyone, for our first opening act; the Cutie Mark Crusaders!"

The crowd then applauded as the stage was taken over by Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. The applause quickly grew into loud cheers and cat-calling from the men and boys in the audience when they noticed that the Crusaders were all in bikinis; Apple Bloom had on a black bikini with white stars, along with a black bandanna with white skulls, and her hair was hanging loose, as opposed to the ponytails and bows she normally wore; Scootaloo was clad in a purple bikini with blue and purple stripes; and Sweetie Belle was sporting a pink bikini with light green stripes. Her hair was hanging loose like Apple Bloom's, only hers was down past her waist and was done in a very rough rocker-type style, plus she had pink makeup around her left-eye to compliment her bikini.

As for their actual performance, it was very short, but very sweet; the males in the audience could certainly attest to that statement! They came up with one familiar song: "Hex Girls" from the movie Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost. They didn't play their own instruments; rather, they had the music playing on the speakers while they sang and danced in unison. Sweetie Belle was allowed to be the main singer of the group; no girl could be just as talented as she was.

This really got the crowd, especially the boys around the girls' age, focused on them. Pipsqueak, a slightly shorter foreign exchange student from Trottingham, couldn't help being entranced by the lovable Sweetie Belle. Featherweight, the buck-toothed photographer of the C.H.S.'s newspaper, trained his camera on Apple Bloom almost entirely throughout the song. Rumble, little brother of Wondercolts player Thunderlane, imagined Scootaloo winking at him.

As they sang, the girls did the most challenging dance moves they could think of, ranging from Elvis-style pelvic thrusts and gyrations, all the way up to modern-day styles like twerking. It was tough, but they managed through practice. During the final chorus, they even grinded against one another. Most of the audience cheered wildly. Watching from backstage, however, Celestia and Luna started to ponder over the effects of pop culture on young girls. Rarity, Applejack and Rainbow Dash just shook their heads, knowing that this lifestyle was not what they wanted their younger sisters to lead.

When the song was over, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle took their bows and blew kisses at the cheering men in the audience as they retreated backstage. Many other opening acts followed them, but none of them were as "engaging" as the Crusaders.

Snips and Snails, wannabe rappers, did a hip-hop duet that resulted in the audience booing harshly. Lyra Heartstrings and Sweetie Drops played a duet on the harp and piano that left everyone soothingly mesmerized. Photo Finish and her band, the Snapshots, did some entertaining geek rock that managed to bring the inner nerd out of even the biggest jocks in the crowd. Bulk Biceps, normally a big, tough jock himself, pleasantly surprised everyone by letting his softer side show through a soothing piece on the violin. Vinyl Scratch, using her stagename DJ Pon-3, broke out her turntables and blasted some powerful hardcore techno and dubstep that made everyone want to get up and dance like how the Crusaders were dancing when they were on stage. The self-proclaimed "Great and Powerful" Trixie, along with her band The Illusions, finished off the opening musical showcase with their signature song; the electronic/rock hybrid hit "Tricks Up My Sleeve."

Once Trixie and the Illusions finished up their piece and took their gear backstage, Celestia and Luna got back onstage.

"Are you ready for the main event, the Battle of the Bands?!" asked Celestia.

The crowd responded with a chorus of loud, excited cheers.

"Great!" replied Luna. "Now brace yourselves; first up is the most extreme band to ever set foot at our school. So extreme that Celestia and I had to pull the plug on them when they played there! Give it up for... BRONYCORPSE!"

The crowd applauded as Hest, Pervertor, Tartarus, Discordia and Flash slowly, ominously made their way onto the stage. All of them were wearing the black-and-white corpse paint on their faces that was the staple of the black metal look. Hest, Pervertor, Tartarus and Discordia were all sporting spiked gauntlets on their forearms and bullet belts on their waists, and neither of them were wearing shirts, instead preferring to show off their very prominent muscles on their upper bodies, earning some cat-calls from the females in the audience. Flash, meanwhile, just stuck with his regular old black leather jacket.

Almost casually, Discordia sat down at his massive drum kit, while Pervertor and Flash picked up their guitars and Tartarus picked up his bass. As Hest went up to the mic, Flash, Pervertor and Tartarus started out with a single sustained A note...

The audience jumped in shock, some of them genuinely frightened, as they got their song started. The song they opened with was "Black Metal ist Krieg," as made famous by the German black metal band Nargaroth. The first half of the song consisted of Discordia furiously blasting away almost constantly on the drums, with the occasional fill thrown in, while Flash, Pervertor and Tartarus played an ominous tremolo-picked harmonic minor-third riff in the key of E.

All the while, Hest screamed these words…

Black Metal ist Krieg!
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Black fucking Metal ist Krieg!

Black...
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Black fucking Metal ist Krieg!
Black Metal ist Krieg!

Black...
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Ihr Wichser, es ist Krieg!
Black Metal!

Black...
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Black...

Black...
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Fuck, Metal ist Krieg!
Black Metal!

Black...
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Black fucking Metal ist Krieg!
Black Metal ist Krieg!

Krieg...
Ihr Wichser, es ist Krieg!
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Ihr Wichser...
Krieg...

Krieg...
Black Metal ist Krieg!
Black fucking Metal ist Krieg!

Krieg...
Fuck you!
Krieg, es ist Krieg!

Black Metal ist Krieg!

Krieg...
Ihr Wichser, Krieg!
Es ist Krieg!

Black Metal ist Krieg …

The second half of the song was more mid-paced, but even more chilling. As Discordia played a more rock n' roll-type beat, with the occasional double-bass kick thrown in, Flash, Pervertor and Tartarus played a riff that went from high E, down to low A, up to high D, then up to E, all in conjunction with minor chords and arpeggios in between and throughout that were so grim, chilling and ominous that the audience all literally got goosebumps. To them, it literally felt like it had just gotten colder inside the venue, even though no one had tampered with the thermostat; that was just how grim and frostbitten they managed to sound.

Hest, meanwhile, screamed indistinctly now and then as the rest of the band played on, and also took the opportunity to drink some water now and then in between measures. Even his vocal cords weren't exactly invincible.

However, that was where the real exclamation mark of the song came into play.

Before everyone knew it, the song came to its end, but it was a powerful one indeed. As Flash, Pervertor and Tartarus all played one, long, final sustained E note to cap it all off, Hest went over to Flash and held the microphone up near his mouth, at which point Flash, almost without thinking, yelled in an incredibly raspy, black metal-like tone that he never thought he could pull off.

"CANTERLOT IST KRIEG!"

This brought the crowd into a raucous applause as the sound from the guitars died off. The audience continued to cheer as Hest, Pervertor, Tartarus and Discordia all posed arrogantly before the crowd, flexing their massive muscles, while Flash just casually gave the sign of the horns and smiled.

When the cheering and applause started to die down, Bronycorpse retreated backstage, all satisfied with their performance, especially Hest.

"De Rainsboom will nevers be ables to tops dat!" he cackled to himself. "Dey'll either bes disqualsifieds or blow dere throat outs and chafs dere finger offs, and we'll wins by defaults! It perfects…"

"I dunno what you're saying, Hest," said an eavesdropping Tartarus, two fingers pinching his nose, "but I know you could use a breath mint."

"Alright, this is it, girls," Rainbow Dash said to her bandmates as Celestia and Luna addressed the crowd. "This is what we've been training for, right here! We're gonna do black metal so cold, so dark and grim, that Bronycorpse will be pleading for mercy! When the crowd goes crazy for us more than they were for those chumps, we'll win for sure! Now who's with me?!"

"We are!" cheered the rest.

"And now," proclaimed Celestia, "put your hands together for our school's biggest breakout popular hit group... THE RAINBOOMS!"

That was their cue. Twilight went up to the front and center stage where the microphone was, while Rainbow Dash walked up near the front with her guitar, Applejack with her bass, and Rarity with her keytar. Pinkie Pie sat down at her drum kit and Fluttershy stood back by the drums with her
tambourine in hand. As the crowd watched with bated breath, Pinkie tapped one-two-three-four on the hi-hats, and then their song started.

It was called "A Sovereign Fortress," originally performed by an old Norwegian black metal band called Antestor. That band had been strongly hated by the broader black metal scene because they practiced something that all those other bands stood against; Christianity. Antestor were a Christian black metal band, something that other black metal bands saw as blasphemy, and likewise something that The Rainbooms thought would be the perfect slap in the face to Bronycorpse, especially the radical, fanatic and maniacal Hest Endetarm.

The song started with Rainbow Dash and Applejack playing a riff in the key of D minor, that went from D, down to B-flat, down to G, up to A, and then back up to D again. They played this riff through for four measures; starting on the third measure, Pinkie Pie beat out a six-eighths beat on the drums, Rarity played some dark, cold ambient background noises on her keytar, while Fluttershy quietly tapped her tambourine along with Pinkie's drums in the background.

Then, for the next eight measures, Rainbow Dash and Applejack played in the key of A minor, moving from A, down to F, down to E and then back to A again. Pinkie Pie continued her six-eights beat on the drums while adding in double-kicks on her bass drum. Rarity kept up with her cold, ambient sounds on her keytar, Fluttershy kept tapping along on her tambourine, and Twilight, in a harsh, raspy screech that no one would've ever thought she could hope to achieve, belted out the beginning lyrics;

In You, I Have Taken Refuge
Never Let Me Be Put To Shame
As You Are Righteous Rescue Me And Save My Life
Hear Me And Set Me Free
Be A Rock Of Refuge For Me,
Where I May Ever Find Safety At Your Call
For You Are My Towering Crag And Stronghold
O Lord, Keep My Life Safe From The Wicked

As she sang those words, she reached up to the sky with her right hand, as if she were reaching out to God Himself. Already moved by the band's performance so far, the audience did the same. And as Bronycorpse was watching from the closed circuit TV screen in their backstage dressing room, Hest was outraged. Not only were The Rainbooms actually performing real black metal, but they were worshipping God, not Satan. To him, there was no greater blasphemy…

Twilight smirked. She had planned on using Rainbow Dash's suggestion of a song the minute she read the music.

Meanwhile, The Rainbooms played on. The song suddenly slowed down considerably, with Pinkie plodding along on her drums almost at the pace of a funeral march. Rainbow Dash and Applejack remained in the key of A minor, starting in D, then up to E, and then up to A before starting the riff over again. And as Rarity and Fluttershy plodded along on their instruments, Twilight, still in her God-worshipping pose, kept on shrieking.

You Are My Hope, O Lord, My Trust, O Lord, Since Girlhood
From Birth I Have Leaned Upon You
My Protector Since I Left My Mother's Womb

The song then went into one of black metal's signature trademarks; blast beats. Pinkie Pie broke out into a furious blast beat, still in the six-eighths time signature. Rainbow Dash and Applejack played along in the key of D minor, going from D, up to E, down to C then back up to D again. They played that through a couple of times, then went down to B flat, then down to A, before starting the riff over again, with keytar and tambourine still playing along in the background... then the song abruptly went back to its earlier six-eighths A minor segment from the first verse.

Twilight, now once again reaching up to the heavens, screeched these words;

Let All My Traducers Be Shamed And Dishonored
Let All Who Seek My Hurt Be Covered With Scorn
But I Will Wait In Continual Hope
I Will Praise You Again And Again
All Day Long Your Righteousness, Your Saving Acts,
Shall Be Upon My Lips
You Shall Ever Be The Theme Of My Praise
Your Righteousness, Yours Alone

Then they once again played their really slow and doomy piece, with Twilight once again screaming;

You Are My Hope, O Lord, My Trust, O Lord, Since Girlhood
From Birth I Have Leaned Upon You
My Protector Since I Left My Mother's Womb

The song then went back to the blast beats, playing that segment over again for four measures. Then, it went right back to its opening riff, this time with Pinkie Pie playing along in a slow four-fourths beat. She played like this for two measures before switching to a six-eighths beat while the guitar, bass and keytar kept playing their D minor riff.

At the same time, Twilight screamed these words up to the heavens;

For You Have Done Great Things
Who Is Like You?

With one final shriek of "O LORD!" the song ended abruptly. As cold and dark as it sounded, the song was also very uplifting for the audience; uplifting enough for them to reap massive amounts of applause upon The Rainbooms, who humbly took their bows, satisfied with their own performance, and more confident than ever that they'd beat Bronycorpse.

Bronycorpse themselves emerged from backstage to join The Rainbooms on stage once the cheers died down; it would now be time for the audience to judge which band won this battle. Both bands stood facing the crowd, trying like hell not to look at each other, but none put up a greater effort on that regard than Hest.

"Hows in helvete dids they pull dats off!" he seethed. "Black metal is ours ting! Hell, deys even brought dat Fluttershy chick back from the dead?! None of my pacts with de Devil dids anything closes to dat!"

"Dude," began Pervertor in a straight monotone, "zip it."

In the meantime, the mood throughout the venue as a whole was more upbeat as Celestia took the microphone once again. "Well, I think we can all agree that those were both top-notch black metal performances that would make Norway proud," she said, with the audience applauding in response.
"Unfortunately," Luna broke in, "only one can come out above the other one here. And there's only one way to decide that outcome. If you think Bronycorpse is the winner, make some noise!"

On cue, loud cheers erupted from the crowd. Hest, Pervertor, Tartarus and Discordia all arrogantly flashed their muscles for the fans as they cheered while Flash simply smiled and waved.

"If you think The Rainbooms are the winners, make some noise!"

The Rainbooms all bowed as cheers came from the crowd; cheers that were just noticeably louder than those Bronycorpse received. Flash just shrugged it off; he wasn't looking to win, so much as to have fun, after all, which he did achieve, so all-in-all, he was satisfied nonetheless. If anything, he should be glad that his friends were getting this much applause. But Hest, Pervertor, Tartarus and Discordia hardly even noticed. They were all still certain that a large majority of the crowd had voted for them.

As Flash began to turn his head toward The Rainbooms' direction, he suddenly remembered seeing a flicker of gold and crimson to his right a few seconds ago. He looked back and found Sunset standing backstage, giving him a tiny, warm, encouraging smile. Nervously, Flash lifted his right hand and waved in her direction. Sunset's face instantly flushed.

Now Flash understood what came over him when he tacked Hest. It was like grade school all over again. Back when Flash and Sunset first met. Back when she was so helpless and he had to be the one to rescue her…

His focus was broken as Celestia and Luna took the mic one more time. "We have a winner," they declared in unison. "THE RAINBOOMS!"