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    It's Steel Song's day off, and he's got plans. Plans of the relaxed sort. Plans that most definitely do not involve a strange, brown earth pony who acts like he's known Steel for years. And why is he running, anyway?  · Viking ZX
    10,199 words · 844 views  ·  151  ·  2  · 

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This story is a sequel to The Definition of Strength

It's Nova's first official day off, and he's decided to spend it in one place he knows he can relax: the Canterlot Bazaar, where anything and everything is for sale from all across the globe. But when he runs into a pony he didn't expect to see again, can he face who he once was? Or are old habits best left forgotten?


Third of the Side Stories to The Dusk Guard: Rise. Familiarity with Rise is not required per se, but recommended.

Side Stories so far:

Carry On

The Definition of Strength

Old Habits

Emoticon

Remembrance

Trust

The Saga has a TV Tropes page!

"This is 100% Approved by Twilight's Library!"

Added to Twilight's Library 4/9/2014

Special Thanks to Sonorus, Jorlem, Sinister Voice, and Bronze Aegis for their help pre-reading, editing and getting a summary together.

Art by NabderbD

First Published
10th Mar 2014
Last Modified
7th Apr 2014
#1 · 40w, 2d ago · · · The Plan ·

I can tell this will be a personal fav. I'm curious to see how this will go with all the foreshadowing (at least what seems like the potential for it).

^^

#2 · 40w, 1d ago · 3 · · The Plan ·

“Why do you have—and in fact is that—an actual griffon skeleton sitting on your desk?”

Sky Bolt: "Just finished lunch!"

Nova: :pinkiegasp:

Also, why did I not see this story get posted earlier? >_<

#3 · 39w, 6d ago · 1 · · The Plan ·

Muahaha, I am caught up with the Dusk Guard! :pinkiehappy:

I get the feeling that, among other things, we may get to see a bit more of that implied possible NovaScratch ship. This makes me happy, although somewhat wary of an upcoming snark overload. :raritywink:

Now, I believe the traditional response in these parts to catching up with a story is MOAR!!! :flutterrage::rainbowlaugh:

#4 · 39w, 4d ago · · · The Plan ·

I think we might have quite a bit of foreshadowing.... The bit behind the curtain's likely to show up at some point.

Getting Nova shaved coatless (and maneless)is an interesting prospect.

Also 2 things:

The cover looks like it has a touch of Borderlands 2 (not that i'm against it)

“Why do you have—and in fact is that—an actual griffon skeleton sitting on your desk?”

Thinking the same thing.

It better not be from the griffon which derailed a train...

#5 · 39w, 4d ago · · · The Plan ·

>>4061984

I can't say. All I can say is I think you're going to be surprised. :pinkiesmile:

>>4070518

Gotta lay the groundwork for her projects somehow ... this one is actually a tie-in with Sky Bolt's conversation with Steel during her own side-story (now let the mad theories commence!).

>>4079094

NovaScratch? You don't say? We shall see. Incognito :moustache:

>>4085832

The cover definitely took a very large piece of inspiration from the BL2 title cards. As for the griffon skeleton, I can't say much about that now...

#6 · 39w, 2d ago · 2 · · The Scene ·

There should be a way to like this story more - all of them - a thousands of likes!!! :pinkiecrazy:

I love those music links you place in your stories - playing them in background and stopping/switching when next one happens really makes experience more enjoyable for me. Like that switch from basar music to daft punk inside music shop. :twilightsmile:

Thank you for all those stories and i hope to see more of them. i a kinda sad i didn't find them sooner - i am here tx to that crossover piece with x-com i read.

#7 · 39w, 2d ago · 1 · · The Scene ·

Finally caught up!

It'll be interesting to see if Vinyl remembers when Nova robbed her, and what Nova'll do if she doesn't.

Also, still wondering why Sky Bolt had those bones. My best guess is that she's trying to base a design around a griffon, probably wings or talons for their armor. Or it was a one-off joke and I'm reading way too much into this.

#8 · 39w, 2d ago · · · The Scene ·

Oh wow, Nova is in deep. :pinkiegasp:

#9 · 39w, 21h ago · 1 · · The Plan ·

Vinyl Scratch. At one point you saved her club from golems. Another point had you stealing from her. (kinda hoping for 'Tavi to show up)

Guessing from the intro he's going to meet another thief. Offer him the 'chance of a lifetime'.

#10 · 39w, 21h ago · · · The Scene ·

A little paranoia never hurt. Though in the daytime I wouldn't think it to be that much of a problem.

So. Misunderstanding time. He thinks she's after him for the theft. She's probably wanting to thank him for saving the club. Either he fesses up immediately, which isn't likely, or he'll trip up and reveal it at some later point.

One thing to note is that each of these little slice of life stories is great for building the character. But eventually hope that the sequel has them actually working together more as a unit. First thing I'm expecting is the rematch to show how much they've improved. Mods probably will be disabled. Actually armor is probably banned. Wouldn't want them to curbstomp the guards, ignoring all the magic lasers.

#11 · 39w, 18h ago · · · The Scene ·

>>4097308

Glad you're enjoying them, and glad you enjoy the music links. It's fun sticking little tidbits like that into the work, and it's something you can't do with a non-digital format or with a published work, so it's fun to play with.

>>4099528

Vinyl? Oh, you'll have to see. Now, as far as the bones go, while it was a fun laugh, she definitely has them for a reason. It's long term though, don't expect to find out why anytime soon!

>>4100052

:pinkiehappy:

>>4104356

Ah, but see how they act around each other during "Rise" compared to here and notice the difference (or even just how they fought at the end of "Rise"). Unless Steel particularly comments them on it, such a thing is a gradual shift with how they spend their time and practice.

#12 · 38w, 6d ago · 2 · · The Scene ·

>>4104356

I could just see her -knowing- what he had done but playing innocent to make him sweat.  Glasses make for best pokerface.

#13 · 38w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

Aaaaand he's screwed. Then again, this is Vinyl, so who knows?

#14 · 38w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

Interesting interrogation technique - when she decides she don't like the answers she will force feed him with whole pitcher of Shock won't she?

:trixieshiftleft: I mean it gotta be illegal drink  - sounds to dangerous to be sold legally :trixieshiftright:

Like something from twilight basement!:twilightsheepish:

#15 · 38w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

!

Nova got caught. Best to just fess up honestly, readers would also get to figure out. He could try escaping, but that wouldn't do much since Nova is kind of a high profile character in Canterlot.Only other option is to have something interrupt the conversation, like a mugging.

#16 · 38w, 2d ago · 1 · · The Mark ·

>>4128250

Tune in next week! :pinkiehappy: There is a critical detail here that people are missing though.

>>4128265

Shock is actually 100% legal! It's no worse then hitting yourself with a decently low-power taser. On the inside. Sure, you might want to not let grandpa with his weak heart take a whole pitcher at once, but if you can handle a nice buzz, you can drink Shock.

On a side note (which I forgot to put in the authors note), Shock is one of my personal favorites for things I had to invent for the series. I'd love to actually try some.

>>4128303

This is Nova. The kid can vanish. If he wants to run, he could be in Seaddle before anyone even realizes where to look.

#17 · 38w, 2d ago · 1 · · The Mark ·

>>4128397 Still I don't think he would run. I'd think his team would be competent enough to track him down if need be.  Us readers will get to see soon enough.

Also, for Shock, not exactly this, but I was playing around in high school physics class with a Van De Graaff machine, and I put a bottle of fruit punch to the device for about ten minutes while the teacher was lecturing. Then, deciding to take a sip, I proceeded to get zapped a bit. It was amusing.

#18 · 38w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

I love the crazy magic drinks people come up with. Shock, Highground ("Hi ground!" *thud*), Mind Bombs (multicolored smoke comes out your ears), Pan Galactic Gargle Basters...I just love these things.

#19 · 38w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

Very nice. This and the last chapter are awesome.

#20 · 38w, 2d ago · · · The Scene ·

I really like this story. One question though

e almost shook his head, but opted instead for nodding politely and then ducking out of the way of a  black-and-grey griffon carefully balancing a large platter of something that spelled spicy in one paw.

Is this a talking tray?

#21 · 38w, 2d ago · · · The Mark ·

In deep, I tells ya! :pinkiegasp: :fluttershyouch:

#22 · 38w, 1d ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4128430

Wait, this is actually possible? Someone get on this! We need some tests!

>>4128723

Shock is one of those things that's sits firmly in the camp of "I'm writing about this because I can't have something like it. :pinkiesmile:

>>4128815

Fixed. And glad you're enjoying it. We'll see more of Nova hanging out at the bazaar in the future...

>>4129942

:pinkiehappy:

#23 · 38w, 1d ago · · · The Mark ·

So Vynl Scratch got a decent-enough glance at him when he swiped from her? :pinkiegasp:

#24 · 38w, 20h ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4134147 Indeed. To a degree it's "screw regular drinks, we have frickin' magic!" and I love it. Magic, which we view as being so freaking awesome or mysterious is used for something so mundane because in their world it's "why not?" It adds a level of "yeah, magic exists as a common thing in this world" to me and really makes a world feel more real.

#25 · 37w, 6d ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4128397

...well, at least it's not scumble

#26 · 37w, 5d ago · · 1 · The Mark ·

This is a comment about Rise and its three side storys. I post it here because it is the point furthest into the future of the universe avaible (not including the crossover).

At the beginning of my read I was amazed by the characterisation of the princesses. Unlike many other ficts they acted as it would be excepted while staying canon. This for many writers unassailable grap to see beeing taken seemingly effortlessly was my reason to read further.

Your style of writing was at that point like coffee keeping me awake, really good and strong coffee.

Althrough Rise is labled as adventure it does not take on many of those cliches. Your characters does have a goal but they are not travelling through all of everywhere to get there while meeting every chapter new people and having to solve small quests (every read Eragon or similar adventures?). There is allways something new but that are the character themselve and what they are doing and how they react. Even in the side storys you keep that (while calling it Slice of Live becouse the goal is missing). And it may not feel like a full-blood adventure but it definitly feel like a adventure.

I adore how you set up the goal long, looong before it became clear that it would be the thing the Dusk Guard would have to investigate. First just as small footnotes that Equestria is not as crime free as it seems. Than playing with the reader by introducing some ways in wich the robberys may occur (Luna s doormagic, hijaking bandits/changelings, Sombras followers) and for what goal they may have (Sombra chants "Chrystalzzz") while staying completly original in my mind (has anyone ever guessed correctly  before you revealed it?).

Story wise marvelus!:pinkiehappy:

The one thing I did not like was the gear. Sky Bold may be a genius but the idea to create armor out of crystals only becouse of their resistant qualitys I find strange. Not only are those crystals brittle (unlike tough steel which can be extremly hard as well) but as well extremly expensive and non repairable.

The bodysuite? Understandable and have a reason why they are not used wide spread (princess private hord of nearly forgotten bits).

The mods? Similar through out reasons for their current use.

The Hummingbird? Marvelous constructed.

Following proof of concept ideas out of the middle age would be scale armour (sadly not silent but by using enchanted steel as plates and working the crystals in sufficiently thickness on top without giving them room to move and make noise (for further reduce of noise could the etches of frequently touching plates be covered with cloth)) while in Equestria the dragons are proof of concept for these type of armor.

Yeah. I could not warm up to it... :applejackunsure:

Alle the characters work well with each other. There is no denying it. You have switched the POV frequently between them and others so the reader could learn to know them. You stated it in a later comment that you find it hard to write out of the POV of certain characters and it is understandable that during the introduction everything was told out of Steel Songs POV.

Neverless I want to ask if you have noticed, that you particular never wrote out of Sabras POV? Until reading The Definition of Strength he appeard to me as an wholesome complete character. And kind of boring as if you have only needed a sixth member.

Dawn with her aloof facade and professional cold felt right with her few appearances as POV-character.

I regeted it that Steel only got his moments while beeing at his sisters place but given the amount of paperwork he had to fight it would have been boring most likly.

You used Nova and Sky Bold frequently but thinking back I feel like you always used Hunter to tell the story.

Yes, all had their moments but this is how I fell thinking back on it. :rainbowhuh:

As a final word I want to say that I happily await the next update. :rainbowdetermined2:

#27 · 37w, 5d ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4136458

Maybe? :trixieshiftright:

>>4138058

:pinkiehappy: Eeyup. If I ever end up in Equestria, I'm finding myself a glass of Shock to celebrate.

And since it isn't plot critical, the drink is made by mixing charged thunderclouds into the mix near the end. Jam Roll's wife is a pegasus. So, now you know the secret island ingredient!

>>4148504

By Celestia's beard that's a lot of text! :pinkiehappy: To arms, my fingers! Prepare the keyboard!

Ok, *ahem!*

First of all, glad you enjoyed the Dusk Guard so much and are having a blast with the series. And I'm especially glad you enjoyed my portrayal of the Princesses. I spent a lot of time thinking about what they would be like, how they could be both personable and yet immortal demigods and worked hard to get their characters just right in my head and then on paper. I'm glad you appreciate the effort and that I was able to make them real. We're going to see more of them and their sort of "semi-hooves off" advice as well as direct orders in the future. :pinkiesmile:

Second, I'm glad you enjoyed the adventure! The reason it feels a little different than something like Eragon is because "The Dusk Guard" isn't just Adventure, it's also an Epic Fantasy. Which makes it an adventure epic like LotR or The Wheel of Time. Which doesn't mean that the action will be any less intense (after all, I'll bet those last few chapters of "Rise" had you sucked in to the point of no return) but that the stage is vast. I can't give anything away, but just as "Rise" started off at a gradual pace and then began to pick up speed, the saga as a whole follows a similar arc. Stick with this to the end, and you're going to see some seriously cool stuff happen. In other words "Rise" is the slowest moment of the entire series.

And of course, that plays into the gradual reveals. While I can say that some readers have guessed some things correctly (a few have figured out that Golden wasn't the real figure behind the curtain), I can say with confidence that there are several things that no one has yet actually figured out (and that includes the TV Tropes page). There are enough scarce clues to sort of put the pieces together, but no one has yet. I expect when book two arrives, there will be some very "WHAT!?" moments, followed by "OOooooooh, so that's what that meant."

And yes, that is a challenge to the really astute readers out there to do a second read-through and see what you pick up. I've laid out my spider-web carefully, and on a second read through, you might notice a few key things or lines that seem ... out of place. Someone once commented on "Rise" having only a few logical errors and I had to :pinkiehappy: because I know what they were referring to, and ... well... *insert maniacal laughter here*

So no, as of yet there are still a few pieces of the puzzle that no one has guessed or put together. That said, I'm not going to leave them that way. All will be explained in time. :pinkiehappy:

It is a bummer that you couldn't get into the gear though. If it helps, try to think of it more as Mjolnir armor or the nanosuits from Crysis. Except using magic instead of science to enhance and improve. And what you've seen here is only the Mark I designs. Yes, it's expensive, but it's pretty durable, tough, and serves the team well (and you'll see more of this in the future, like I said, for now it's Mark I, but as things really wind up, the armor is going get to strut its stuff). I'm not going to spoil anything, but if you have technical questions about stuff, I can probably answer them. Crystal is brittle for us, yes, but as you might have noticed, this particular crystal is pretty tough stuff. That said, you saw it get beat up in the battle at the end of "Rise," and their gear is going to suffer a lot more wear and tear as the saga moves on. Huzzah for realistic battle damage!

Oh, and here's a fun fact. One of my alpha-readers was a steam-enthusiast engineer, and both The Hummingbird and the superboilers that power it are completely viable. How's that for cool? If only we had access to the magic supplies Sky Bolt does ... I could be typing this from the deck of my steam-powered airship!

I deliberately only wrote one scene in "Rise" from Sabra's PoV as I didn't quite trust myself to understand his mindset or character at that point. Which was one of the reasons I was both excited and nervous to write "The Definition of Strength." Fortunately, I got into his head, and that story turned out all right. But for the most part, "Rise" bounced between Steel, Nova, and Hunter, although Steel and Nova were the two that got the most development. I can promise that by the end of the series, I'll have done my best to give each of the characters their due over the course of the saga with regards to viewpoints, and each member of the Guard will have had their moment of glory. It sounds like you enjoyed Hunter's PoV the most though (from what you remember) which probably has to do with how laid back he is.

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed "Rise" and that you're enjoying the side stories. There's still a lot more to come, and a lot of surprises incoming! Also, since you enjoyed my work, I'd also like to point you towards my sole published work so far: One Drink. The sequel hits next month with the force of a bomb, so definitely check it out so you can be ready! I hope you enjoy it (and not just because you buying my stuff helps keeps me afloat, although there is that)!

Also, there's a Dusk Guard contest going on here that closes in a few days you might want to check out as well!

Thanks for reading!

#28 · 37w, 5d ago · 1 · 1 · The Mark ·

>>4148769

Thanks for the fast answere! :pinkiegasp:

Epic Fantasy I have not considered. It fit. And I find Rise not slow at all but nicely paced. And memorable adventure in wich the characers did not get herded from one point to the next.

To the armor: Do you now the difference between though and hard? Diamonts are hard but brittle. Bronze is though but weak. Hardness and thoughness are different and to archive both is hard to impossible because they cancel each other out.

A stone will not change form no matter how often it is hit but just one hit to hard will break it. A metal ball instead will change its form wich every hit a bit but never break.

Additionally has a extremly hard armor another flaw. Where goes the energy of an hit? If the armor does not absob it (usually through deformation) it has to go somewhere. The first cars build had an extremly hard car body. So hard that even in a crash the damage was small. Where did the energy go? The drivers got thrown around in the car and broke their bones.

Extremly though armor does not break but absorb as much energy as possible while deforming as little as possible. Its physiks.

:rainbowhuh:

....

:rainbowkiss:

I feel like a nerd.:rainbowlaugh:

#29 · 37w, 5d ago · · · The Mark ·

>>4149163

Well yeah, that's why we don't make armor out of diamonds. Diamonds are tough but brittle.

But between the alternating layers of the armor and undersuit, the stuff the Dusk Guard wear is both durable and capable of taking a solid hit and redistributing it (multiple layers with different angles of crystal formation ensure that it's like trying to break through a phone book: page by page). And ... in addition, it's also magic (and yes, that's a hand-wave, but under the Rule of Cool). Basically, consider the stuff much hardier than the metal armor the Royal Guard wear in addition to having other factors going for it. Their armor is made out of the same stuff the crystal golems were, and those suckers were durable. :pinkiehappy:

#30 · 37w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

Oh shit :pinkiegasp:

Also, Shock sounds like the coolest drink ever.

>>4149207

Yeah, I think it's pretty simple. Good armor (or car body, or whatever) is usually deformable, as the deforming absorbs the kinetic energy that would otherwise injure the wearer. But if you have an enchantment on it to dissipate the kinetic energy, you can build the armor much, much harder than you could otherwise.

#31 · 37w, 3d ago · · · The Mark ·

Dat ending.

#32 · 37w, 2d ago · 2 · · The Reveal ·

Bonding!

If they don't end up at least friends after this, I will buy a hat and eat it.

#33 · 37w, 2d ago · · · The Reveal ·

A little reminder for Nova that there are no innocent crimes.:derpyderp1:

#34 · 37w, 2d ago · · · The Reveal ·

Dawww!!!:twilightsmile:

Thanks for update! :pinkiehappy:

#35 · 37w, 1d ago · · · The Reveal ·

>>4158148

Nothing like a good cliffhanger! :pinkiesmile:

>>4161881

:pinkiehappy: Who knows? The shadow knows...

>>4162701

Action ... meet consequence. With a side order of guilt.

>>4163211

Your welcome! Still one more to go! And there's a nifty surprise coming along with it I think all of you are going to like! It's freaking awesome, IMO!

#36 · 37w, 20h ago · 1 · · The Reveal ·

A blind Vinyl Scratch! Now THERE'S somewhere I didn't think you would go!

Anyway, I'm still loving this story universe. Keep it up!

#37 · 36w, 6d ago · · · The Mark ·

shock- because the gargleblaster needed SOME competition.

#38 · 36w, 6d ago · · · The Reveal ·

>>4161881

If you buy a hat to eat it, it's not worth as much.  I suggest eating your socks, less emotional attachment, but more sweat.  Sounds more impressive.

#39 · 36w, 5d ago · · · The Reveal ·

>>4179151 NOTHING is better than the Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster.

As a side note, there's a bar in Ottawa called Zaphod Beeblebrox that serves something they call "Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster". Doesn't live up to what's promised in the book.

#40 · 36w, 4d ago · 1 · · The Plan ·

Nice stuff. I particularly liked the observation about exam tables. Those things are somehow always cold, regardless of the surrounding temperature.

I can see these stories are only going to get better and better. Don't slow down now!

I really liked this story, especially his message. It shows that Nova isn't some idealistic hero, especially not with his past, that's going to 'end all crime'. He realizes that trying to enforce a total shutdown of crime would end badly, as it would encourage them to escalate in retaliation. Thundercloud is a bit dense though. Didn't realize that the crime itself that bothered Nova, it was using the kids and calling them trash, especially with what we know of his backstory. Now to see if there are any underlying groups that are willing to go against the Dusk Guard, even after the warning. Possibly assisted by Mint and her numerous hidden assets stored around Equestria. Wonder where the griffin merc fr-. Well, now I think I know where the next story (hopefully) is headed.

Awesome.  Greatly enjoyed it. :)

This was excellent, though I expected nothing less.

And now I feel like playing some borderlands 2, still have a couple of DLC's to shoot up!

Have I said already that Nova is a badass? Because he's become quite a badass :rainbowdetermined2:

Also, NovaScratch! *ShippingGoggles*

Awesome :pinkiehappy:

I can't help but notice that you mixed in Thunderhead instead of Thundercloud a few times, other than that, can't wait for what's next.:pinkiehappy:

This was a fun romp. I can't wait for Hunter's side story.

>>4173169

I must admit, it isn't the first time it's been done (so I can't lay claim to the idea at all), but I felt it really helped for the story. Glad you liked it.

>>4189296

Even in a desert. Throw an exam table into the sun, it'll hit the core cold.

>>4197309

Doing what I can! Glad you're having fun with them!

>>4197312

I ... can say nothing. Except that I think you're going to be very, very surprised. :pinkiehappy:

>>4197341

Thanks!

>>4197646

Yay! And BL2 is awesome.

>>4197657

Yeah, he is. Along with the whole team. When they get pointed at you, your best option is to surrender. :rainbowlaugh:

>>4198075

Thanks!

>>4199038

I think that was shades of Nova calling her that which didn't get edited out. Thanks for the catch! Fixed!

>>4199070

It's coming. Of course, there's a bit of a wibbly-wobbly adventure with Steel coming first, at least if I'm reading this little gadget with the bright light correctly...

Dammit man, stop making yourself my favorite author.

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