"Chance Happening here to say that tonight's the night! It's Halloween and it's not your average night of spooktacular festivities. Not only has the long lost Rock God temple opened for visitors, the Candy Corn Moon is here, a once in thirty four year occurrence. Buzz Newsworthy on the scene with Professor Caterva - take it away, Buzz.
"Thank you Chance, and thank you Professor Rigaudon for coming out for this special event!"
"No no, thank you for interviewing me! As the people of Peaceville know, there's been a major archeological right in our backyards! We at the Museum of Musical Menagerie have been hard at work restoring it back to its former glory. And wouldn'tcha know, we got it spic and span just in time to perform a long lost ritual found inside!" The aged gentleman's epic mustache quivered with joy. Or he had to sneeze. Hard to tell with that much facial hair going on.
"But wouldn't performing a previously unknown ritual on a day of cosmic significance unleash forces beyond mortal keen?" The reporter questioned.
"Of course not! That's what the math and budgeting departments do on Cthursdays. We have made every precaution that, if something were to be summoned, that it's entirely within mortal keen and therefore marketable." The professor coughed into his fist before saying as fast as possible, "the museum would like to say that its not responsible for any side effects of the ritual."
"There you have it folks! Don't forget that the festivities start tonight at sundown, including a double opening act with open slots still available. Sign up while you still can!"
The old television set gave a descending hum as it shut off.
"See guys? I told you I'd get us a gig for tonight!" Corey boasted as he spun the remote, internally thanking the universe for convenient opportunities to hide his forgetfulness.
"Let me guess, you got a crazy plan that just might work to get us lyrics?" Laney said from her prone position on the floor. The floor was what happened when you waited to tie your shoe instead of dashing ahead to claim a seat. At least she snagged a cushion.
"Actually, they got that part covered", Kin toned in as flicked through his phone, "They want us to cover these lyrics they found inside the temple."
He turned his screen towards the rest of the band, showing them the article in all its poorly coded greatness. A slightly off center jpeg showed the notes deeply carved into white marble. Another, more pixelated image showed a decayed relief depicting several figures playing primitive instruments. "They got the chords and everything!"
"Is that Greek?" Kon asked. "The letters look extra squiggly."
"What time did they signups end again?" Laney asked, far more concerned with the practical side of things.
"Uhhh...Leeemmmiieeee chhheeeccck..." Each word was drawn out as the keyboardist tried to navigate the glitchy webpage. "Oh, it ends at seven thirty."
In sync, the band turned to the sole functioning clock left in the garage. Despite the cracks in the glass, the arms shone true at six fifty seven.
"We got plenty of time!" Corey declared confidently.
"Isn't the place all the way up Mount Peaceville though?" The drummer pointed out.
"Yep, and all the buses are busy because of it", Kin reported.
"WE GOT NO TIME!"
"I got a teleporter in need for testing." Honestly, he'd been waiting for a suitably dramatic moment to announce that. And human guinea pigs to test it on too.
"Nuh uh and no way, I've the Fly", Laney quickly vetoed, "can't we ask your sister for a ride instead?"
"Great idea, Lanes!" With that he dashed up the stairs, taking two at a time.
"TRINA! NICK'S AT THE TEMPLE REOPENING AND HE'S LOOKING FOR AN UBER CUTE DATE!"
One life threatening car ride later, Trina pranced off in search of the hunk of her dreams. The band wasn't in prancing shape. Or being able to stay upright shape for that matter. Speeding along curving mountain roads tended to do that to even the most stable center of balances.
"I think my life's still flashing before my eyes", the redhead managed between carefully balanced steps, "and its its set to an offkey ukulele of all things. I spent so much time bothering chickens..."
"Really? Mine has marimba. And a LOT of cheese." Kon replied, taking the much safer route of crawling to the information desk. He still didn't manage a straight path.
"Wait, is that Corey? How's he get past us?" Kin asked from his seat on top of his brother. He took out a telescope to peer at the distinct orange beanie poking out from the crowd. "That's not our weirdo!"
"The Newmans! The trio gasped, hissed and growled in a chorus of rivalry. Somewhere off in the distance, Corey flipped their general direction off. Not even extreme carsickness could hold him back from heckling the rival band.
"Ew, it's the gross band", Konnie scoffed.
"Too bad losers, we were here first!" Her twin added in.
"Well, well, well, look at what the cat dragged in", Carrie said as she placed a hand on her chest in mocking offense. "You're not gonna perform today, or for any other museum sponsored gigs from this day on!"
Larry rolled his eyes at his bandmate's dramatic evil laughs, but smirked nonetheless. Rubbing their hard won - well, more like lucky - victory in their counterparts' faces felt too good not to resist. That, and it always felt nice to hear them laugh.
"Actually, we need two bands for tonight", the mustachioed professor interrupted. His sudden appearance broke the tension in the air or rather that it was hard to keep the tension on when the group just about jumped out of their skins. Oblivious to the change, he rattled on, "and with an attitude like that, consider your contract in jeopardy! I will not tolerate jerkitude on this dig site. The spiritual energies are wacky enough without teenage angst thrown in."
A flush rose to each of the Newman's faces at the chastisement. Bad enough to get called out by someone old enough to be their great grandparent, but in front of their declared rivals too? Nevermind that they were all jumpscared by him. Said rivals victory was short lived as the gentleman turned onto them.
"That goes for you as well! This is a professional setting and all of you will behave as such. No dilly dallying, no hanky panky and no horseplay, so get off of him boy!"
Kin yelled as he dismounted off of Kon, who was frantically and unsuccessfully trying to get the dirt out of his white shirt. The rest of the group hurried to do, or at least look like they were doing last minute touch ups. Professor Rigaudon surveyed them critically, tapping his chin in thought as he let them stew in panic for a good minute.
"You there, with the gold barrette, where's your fourth member?"
Laney turn her frantic shirt pawing to frantic placating gestures. "He's, uh, kinda really carsick? He'll be here at any moment though!"
Kon paused his shirt licking to add his two cents. "Yeah, he'll be fine! Dude can bounce back from, like, anything."
As if on cue, their frontman jogged onto the scene. 'Fine' was stretching it for his current state. He still had the complexion of rancid milk from the hellish car ride. Kind of sweaty too, but that could've been from running while in three layers of clothes after sicking up.
"Hey guys", he managed cheerfully enough, "what'd I'd mi- oh, gross, Newmans?!"
"None of that lip out of you, cheese boy!" The professor forcefully shushed him and plowed on, gesturing all the way. "We're cutting it close so I'll explain on the way. In a straight line, children!"
It wasn't quite a straight line, but it satisfied their personal space bubble and Rigaudon's strict teacherness. Past the makeshift parking lot and up the hill they went, with the professor chatting the entire away. Most of what he said went in one ear and out the other. The sunset painting the treetops was way more interesting than some old guy nattering in about long lost civilizations meeting a cruelly ironic end. The naturalist scene was broken up by handfuls of backstage crews working on setting the lights on the trail. Many of them waved to the doppelgänger group as they passed. There were only so many stagehands and bands in a town as small as theirs; being able to recognize their faces was only a matter of time. That, and having lookalikes so close together was bound to turn heads no matter who they are.
Finally, Rigaudon got to the important part. "The song in question is fairly simple, so I expect all of you to memorize your parts in time. There's going to be music sheets at your places. You all are going to be playing in the temple itself and it should go without saying that damaging it is out of the question. I mean it, I'll call your parents!" An eight person chorus of gulps followed that proclamation. "The same goes for the rental instruments. We got them customized from the magic shop just for this ceremony. Who knows what could go wrong if you even think of damaging them!"
At long last, or rather fifteen minutes of theorizing about magical interest rates, they reached their destination. For being partial ruins, the structure was in pretty good shape. The marble shone like it was on a factory floor, what's left of the statues were standing proudly and somebody managed to drag a whole gelato cart right next to the entrance. It already had a line. Workers were milling about like a kicked over ant nest; trailing wires and tape, strategically placing filled drink coolers and empty trash cans.
"Woah", Corey said quietly as he took in the hustle and bustle. "Are you expecting the whole town to be here?"
Surprisingly, the professor didn't get angry at the interruption. "More or less, over the course of next week or so. We'll see if we can extend it if the turnout is high. Ah, here we go."
He turned to face the two bands, face stern underneath bristly grey hair. His eyebrows and glasses covered most of his expression but they still stood straighter as the silence stretched out. It went on long enough for it to not just be stretching, but full on pilates.
A crooked grin shone through his facial foliage. "Have fun, stay safe, be respectful, act responsibly and help yourself to the refreshments! I'll be back before the show begins. Tata!" With that, he walked off like he was a comedy relief character in an old timey musical.
"Well, that happened." Larry spoke after a moment of puzzled silence.
"I guess we can practice in the meantime?" Laney suggested with a shrug.
"Who wants gelato?" Konnie asked.
Twelve cups of frozen treats later, the two bands were ready as they could be. True to the professor's words, it was a piece of patty cake to memorize the simple melody. Feeling their way around the enchanted instruments took at least three times as long. Which wasn't saying much, really. They were professionals after all. It was the vocals that proved to be an obstacle. The two singers had their work cut out for them what with learning how to harmonize in an entirely different language. The constant sniping between them while the so called adult supervision was away wasn't helping either. It took their respective managers hauling them away by the sleeve to get them to settle and actually practice.
"Do they any idea what these lyrics mean?" Laney wondered out loud as she looked through the music sheets for the seventeenth time. None of the words had been translated. The only hint they had were the heavily damaged writing on the walls and the comic sans pronunciation guide provided.
"I've been plugging them into every translation site I could find and they all gave me different results", Kin huffed. "The words keep changing but they keep saying something about a true groove and changing inside. I'm starting to think this isn't actually Greek."
Before anyone could figure what that meant, the professor strode up to the separated groups and cleared his throat for their attention. The ruins didn't have great acoustics but he made the sound echo regardless. It was the kind of sound that grabbed the attention of a chatty lecture hall. Naturally, they all whipped to look at him.
"Places, everyone! You, you and you", he pointed at Kon, Larry and Kin respectively, "go over there on the raised pedestals in that order. You other three do the same on the opposite side. You two with the lyres come up on front and center. No, not there, where the circles are! And don't manhandle those things or else we won't get the deposit back. There we go, perfect. The sound crew will be bringing your microphones in a moment. Remember, when the moonlight shines through the skylight is when you begin!" With that, he turned and left them back to their own devices again.
The rival band members gave each other the hairy eyeball as they set up. Neither wanted to jeopardize the gig themselves, but were convinced that the others will all for the sake of bringing them down in front of a live audience. That, and intermingling with declared arch nemesises (nemesi?) just felt plain weird. The rising tensions were defused just in time by the appearance of the sound crew. All the checks and corrections nearly made them miss the opening call.
There was little of the way of introductions. Light pooled from the ceiling and a hush fell over the gathered crowd as they began to play. The song itself was simple really; a back and forth that built on top of the previous, getting longer and more complex with each iteration. It wasn't even that long either, nothing the two freshest up and coming bands in town couldn't handle. The lyres, harps and instruments they didn't have names for rose to occasion as their sounds wove into the growing harmony. Despite themselves, or maybe because of, the doppelgängers found themselves smiling - how could they not with the crowds enchanted eyes on them? How could they resist the music pulling at their fingers like it had a life of its own?
Maybe it was the ethereal orange light of the moon, or maybe it was the instrument's sound becoming more and more otherworldly. It could have been the faint rumble underfoot, or the way the weathered sculptures shifted under the odd shadows. It could've been the distant sounds of a party just beyond the edges of the forest or the rumblings of a fierce storm. A precipice was reached and unknowingly tripped. There was a flashbang of pure sensation, then the blank nothing of unconsciousness.
AN: This is my main story, being an AU of sorts inspired by Monster Falls. If anybody here remembers that or read the AO3 version of this fic, you'll know where this is going. Shoutout to Prince Squish and Grojzow11 for betaing this when it first came out! This version is going to be slightly different, just slightly more edited. It's also going to be updated once a week as I have a small backlog of chapters and very little time to work on new chapters thanks to my new job. Pray for me, I'm working 10 hour shifts from here until January