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ThursdayFic recs, October 30th12 comments · 141 views
Hot dang, I love that there's a "new blog post" button in the drop-down now. Also, newer, easier-to-use story tagging system! :D
Things will be slow for a bit as I’m currently a third of the way into an audiobook of The Celestia Code, which will be my next vs. post. Unless, y’know, I read something else first. (I have a couple shorter ones lined up.) The upside is, my dad’s finally recovered from his heart surgery and will be going back to work, which means mornings are mine again! That means more time to listen to stuff, is what I’m saying. :B Also, when I said I wasn't doing Halloween recs this year, I meant it. Hope no one's disappointed.
H: 1 R: 2 C: 2 V: 0 N: 0
The Life and Death of April Fool by Prak
Genre: Surreal Comedy
A little filly named April Fool comes out from under a rock in the Everfree Forest once a year to play with the foals in the nearby town. This is a magnificently charming comedy, moving from whimsical fairy tale to bizarre random fic at the drop of a hat and without ever feeling disjointed. That is the biggest “thing done right” in this piece. I’m kind of amazed at how much comedy is packed into this, given that the fairy tale and nursery rhyme motifs are front and center. The twist at the end is the kind you’ll never see coming, but which makes perfect sense in hindsight. Definitely give this a read if you’re looking for something upbeat and cheerful (yes, in spite of “death” in the title, there is no darkness here) with maybe a bit of whimsy and carnival in addition.
Sacrifice by Mystic
Genre: Low Fantasy
Two pegasus knights climb a mountain, hoping to slay a dragon. This isn’t very pony, set as it is pre-Unification, and it’s rather telly, but man, it’s kinda cool. The dynamic between the two characters is compelling, and there’s a lot of little hints of world-building around the edges that really caught my attention. Plus, the fight against the dragon is a lot of fun. The ending is pretty well foreshadowed, so it likely won’t catch you by surprise, but if you ever wanted a tale of pony knights doing knightly things, check this out.
Recommended If You Don’t Mind Telling
Breaking the News by horizon
Oh yeah, horizon’s got a writeoff compilation too, so expect lots of him in the future. :B This has a great premise: how do you manage a disaster when they're all planned? Given the ponies’ control over weather, this seems a natural thing to consider, and the journalistic style makes this a hilarious read. This is absolutely brilliant, and its shortness means it doesn’t stretch out its central joke more than necessary.
Sugar, Cubed by BlazzingInferno
Genre: Slice of Life
This story is a giant middle finger to anyone who took “Don’t use your fancy mathematics to muddle the issue” to mean “Applejack is terrible at math”. Here, we see just what math means to her, both in the present and the past. Despite the Sad tag, the emotional overtones are subtle, and the result of the contest deftly avoids either of two poor outcomes. My only real complaint about this piece is the use of the title; it’s extremely cheesy, specifically as it appears in chapter 3. Still, the writing is good, and this is a very unique look at Applejack.
Sonata Grabs Twilight’s Peaches by Admiral Biscuit
Sequel to Twilight Eats Sonata’s Taco
Oh dear, we’ve crossed the memes. Never cross the memes! Anyway, all you have to know about the prequel to approach this story is that Twilight Sparkle ate a taco that was Sonata’s and it wasn’t sexual in the least. I find I like this story more, for a couple of reasons. First, while it’s mostly just an excuse to again have a silly sexual title, the characters feel a little more real and the situation is less far-fetched. The inherent ridiculousness is left to hang in the air while the characters move on with the story, rather than the setup. Second, it’s mostly just the Dazzlings arguing, and that’s always fun. Third, the touted locker room scene just barely passes muster by leaving all the true details to the imagination. And fourth, the ending has quite a twist to it. I hope we get more in this series.
Recommended for Sonata Fans
SundayFic recs, October 26th24 comments · 278 views
Man, do you realize Leap of Faith is a look at how scammers play on the fears of the elderly? Heavy.
Griffin from City of Doors has started posting redirects to his blog on his Fimfic account, along with rewrites of old reviews! So if you didn’t have a way to follow his site, now you can be one click away by following him here!
This is another monster review blog because I wanted to get one story out from each of the collections I’m now trying to get through. Expect lots of Cold in Gardez, Esle Ynopemos, Benman, Chris and Pascoite in the future!
H: 0 R: 7 C: 10 V: 1 N: 0
I’m Afraid of Changeling by Cold in Gardez
We kick off the story collections with a short piece about a changeling going to a psychiatrist. What a comedy this is! The centerpiece is the psychiatrist, who remains unflappable and entirely professional while his client does very changeling-like things. There’s a lot of great wordplay in this, and the punchline is fantastic. For feeling shorter than it is, it manages to pack in a lot of laughs.
A Night in the Barn by Esle Ynopemos
Granny Smith can’t sleep one night, which ends up being rather fateful. Honestly, I’d hate to think what would’ve happened if she hadn’t been up to see Applejack leave the house. This is a pretty solid little piece, giving us some nice background on Granny and approaching Applejack’s reaction to the loss of her parents in an original way. Definitely check this out if you’re into stories about that.
One Giant Leap by Benman
Sequel to One Small Step
Princess Luna seeks to reclaim her role as Princess of Equestria starting with a few titles, including... Captain of the Wonderbolts? I was kind of hesitant to get into Ben’s collection, because so many of the stories are abandoned, but despite being marked so, and being a sequel to a story of his I haven’t read yet, this stands on its own remarkably well. It comes in two parts, first Celestia and Luna playing Go and discussing Luna’s plans, then Luna and Spitfire racing for control of the Wonderbolts. It’s obvious that there’s room for continuation, but I was satisfied by the ending, not to mention it’s pretty funny. As for connections to One Small Step, all I saw was a mention of Luna’s assistant Lodestar, who I’ve seen in other stories of Ben’s, so I wasn't bothered by it and now you know enough to deal with her yourself. This is a good followup to Luna Eclipsed, and it’s well-written to boot.
Doppelganger by obabscribbler
Rarity takes over for Vinyl Scratch. The whole situation is as well-explained as it is far-fetched. My only complaint is that this is all setup with no denouement; I wanna know how the show goes! Still, if you ever wanted to see two characters interacting who normally never would, this is your chance.
Recommended as Light Reading
Dream Pony by Dimondium
Pinkie recounts her relationship with Twilight. This is pretty average as shipping goes: Pinkie likes Twilight, finally works up the courage to tell her, and finds out Twilight secretly liked her back. The draw is the follow-through and the voicing. I started off feeling like this was too serious to be Pinkie, but in short order the narrative really takes a turn for her style, and the serious bits are understandably mixed into that. As for the follow-through, we don’t see much of the courtship, but this goes into the wedding, and them dealing with other life issues: losing friends, relationship troubles. That said, it is all told, so YMMV.
Recommended for Shippers Only
One Day in the Crystal Library by FanOfMostEverything
The last three collections are (mostly) writeoff-based, and rather than read and review the literal dozens of entries for my writeoff edition, Imma just do ‘em with these guys. This one deals with Sombra and Cadence before all that “taking over the Crystal Empire” business. The ending scene feels rushed, but otherwise this posits a scenario that is both believable and interesting. I do wish a little more had been done with it.
Recommended If You Like World-Building Vignettes
Of Course, You Realize… by Chris
Rarity and Rainbow Dash play War; it doesn’t end well. This is maybe the definition of “just enough” as stories go: at not even 300 words, it's sufficient to get the scene established and lay out the punchline. I will make some bones about Rarity’s behavior, but it’s kind of worth it given that it's Rainbow Dash falling for it. Reading this won’t put a dent in your day, anyway.
Recommended as Light Reading
Sweet Temptation by Pascoite
Dinky Doo is taunted by a muffin. This is mostly light comedy for the sake of cuteness, but it takes a bit of a turn when Derpy Ditzy shows up. Also, there’s something truly amazing about Dinky saying “By Celestia, I’ll unmake you!” There’s a good balance of adorable and super-serious meant for comedic effect, but I can see a few places where word choices could have been improved. Granted, that’s comparing something two years old to the author’s current works; had anyone else written this, I might not have even noticed. Definitely worth it if you’re into cute stuff, especially as it doesn’t go overboard.
From a Filly on a Hill by littlerobotbird
Genre: Slice of Life
This is written very strangely, making it hard to suss out what’s going on. What I think it is is Dinky recounting a time she lay out on a hill after either a fight with her mother over having gotten into a fight at school (likely started by Dinky trying to protect her), or that fight itself. There are concrete things I can point to, like the tense shifts and certain spots where repetition doesn’t work, that are definite errors. And then the perspective starts getting all wonky toward the end, and the overall effect is simply confusing. I’m not sure what the purpose was of writing the story this way. (Up until the very end, I thought the narrator might be the spirit of Dinky’s departed father, watching over her.) I’m just baffled by it.
Trixie’s Favourite Pony by Blueshift
Reading by Sleipniiir that I am not linking to because the cover image is kinda NSFW
Trixie finally works up the courage to tell her favorite pony she loves her. This is an extraordinarily silly (and old) piece, written by the master of silliness himself. The central joke is amusing, things ramp up nicely, and it’s no longer than it needs to be. If you want Trixie silliness, look no further.
Recommended If You Like Silly Things
Scent by DegeTheMighty
After Ponyville’s first Nightmare Night celebration featuring Princess Luna, Big Macintosh goes in search of his missing little sister, all the while aware of an unfamiliar scent in the air. This does at least one thing majorly right, which is using an unusual sense to instill foreboding over the narrative. And “foreboding” is the right word, for that’s what I was filled with by the end. I was waiting for the proverbial skeleton to jump out, but this story doesn’t bother with trying to explain itself. I however was intrigued and wanted to know what the heck was going on. The answer is in the comments, but I’ll say this much: the one thing missing is an indication that the scent is a signifier in the first place. Once you know that, it’s just a matter of piecing together the fridge horror yourself, spoiler comments or no. Going through the story myself, I wasn’t quite looking at it from the right angle to get the full effect, and that’s fine, because I did at least get something out of this. If you’re looking for a spooky scare this Halloween, check this one out! (And if it spoops you too much, check out the parody in the comments.)
Recommended for Horror Fans
Rainbooms and Marshmallows by electreXcessive
Rainbow Dash visits Rarity, her self-esteem crushed after her encounter with Prince Blueblood, and cheers her up with sex. I’ll hand it to the author, the intro to this is pretty well-crafted, though it also contains my major issue with the piece. Rarity is clearly shown to be in the throes of self-doubt, her self-worth entirely nil. So is it okay that she has sex with the first pony to compliment her, genuine compliments or not? Beyond that, this has some weird issues with POV and cheesy dialogue. Face it, if you’re coming at this story for anything but the clop watch out for the fisting, you’re doing it wrong.
Recommended for Cloppers Only
The Words Won’t Come by True Blue Spark
Fluttershy tries to work up the courage to tell Applejack how she feels about her. At its core, this is pretty much every shipfic with Fluttershy on the attack. In true anime style, she “accidentally” cooks too much food, invites AJ out for a picnic, and then tries her damnedest to say the words she wants to. In true February fic form (I think; it’s been a while since I used that term), she starts out already liking AJ, and they end up practically married by day’s end. Non-shippers will definitely want to skip this, but if you like shipping — and this is one of my favorite pairings, I should add — this is fluffy and cute and features a great cameo by Apple Bloom.
Recommended for Shippers Only
Maud’s River by ArtichokeLust
Genre: Character Study
Maud’s reaction to Pinkie’s first party. As character pieces go, this is quite good. Maud’s voice subsumes the narrative, and it makes a good case for her having some kind of mental issue. (Not autism, though, she’s too good with metaphors. If anything, her inability to understand the actions and emotions of others sounds more like sociopathy, at least in this story.) It’s also a very admirable and believable effort to reconcile season four canon with season one. (Remember that period of time between Pinkie Pride and Maud Pie where the question on everyone’s mind was “Who is the third sister?”) Though I will say that adding in Maud finding Boulder was a bit of an overreach, but probably the only issue I have with this. I’m just glad someone not only tried to do this, but got it right.
The Brief Reign of Princess Twily by Forthwith
Wanting to give Celestia a day off, Twilight Sparkle finds a loophole in Equestrian law that will allow her to do just that. Hopefully. This story has a “Lesson Zero but not terrible” vibe to it. (The scene when Twilight is contemplating ways to cause a national crisis got me worried, but the execution pays off.) It’s a really fun piece, even if it drags just a bit in the middle. We get to see both Twilight and Shining Armor as kids in the palace, and Celestia having a little fun at Twilight’s expense. Plus, filly Twilight as a cranky tyrant is just lots of fun. Also, there’s plenty of Cakelestia. If you missed this back when it was in the featured box, now’s the time to check it out!
PETAshy by Chelis
Fluttershy ends up as part of an animal liberation raid on a facility, coordinated by the Eco Kids from school. What strikes me about this is how she gets involved in this: she’s got a crush on the kid with the green dreadlocks, if you remember him, and what she thinks is going to be a midnight tryst ends up being, well, this. That’s hilarious. That said, the ending is played rather straight, so this isn’t quite as funny as it could be. This is in major need of proofreading, with colon misuse and “they” instead of “the” all over the place, but if you’re here for lols, you’re probably not going to care much.
Recommended If You Like Silly EQG Stuff
Bad Sonata! by Syeekoh
The Dazzlings accidentally meet up with Twilight and Sunset at Donut Joe’s after their defeat, where a horrible truth comes to light. This story is kind of amazing for a number of reasons. First, it shows the Dazzlings post-defeat as actually caring about one another, Adagio for Sonata in particular. That’s definitely not how the trope has been going lately. Second, Sonata has a “stupid attack”. Third, it balls up a bunch of EQG-related fanon into a single explanation that manages to be the most Cards Against Humanity-style hilarious thing ever. And then we learn about the power of forgiveness. This is pretty good, but be warned, it does take a turn.
Recommended for Terrible People
Hooves of Clay by iisaw
Twilight attacks Lyra in broad daylight, revealing her as a changeling, then vows to do something about them. It doesn't turn out well. I have my misgivings about this story, and though it tackles most of them during its course, the primary one remains: I can’t imagine Twilight getting that angry. I mean, we’ve seen her that angry, two seasons after this story was written, but problems of using later show canon for critique aside, it took a clear and present threat to all five of her friends, the princesses, and Discord before she acted on her emotions. Still, this ends up being more about Luna, and Twilight bonding with Luna, and the state of modern American politics than anything. Yeah, that last one’s totally in there. This gets maybe a little tangled up in the allegory, focusing on it more than is necessary, but I nevertheless appreciated it, and that it ends on a positive note. Given how things stand at the start of the second chapter — from where most of my misgivings stemmed — I was expecting another The Hanging of Twilight Sparkle. It’s just a matter of getting everyone to calm down so they can talk things out like rational ponies, after which they don’t seem to be so out of character. And Twilight learns a letter about politics. Definitely a worth read, as it left me with a lot to chew on.
SaturdayIf you liked Awful Rumors...6 comments · 112 views
18 comments · 115 views
1w, 17hFic recs, October 23rd!34 comments · 311 views
Did you know I follow 26 people who haven’t written anything? Crazy, right? Some of them are admins who aren’t writers. Some are musicians or VAs who aren’t writers. And then there are the people who I hang around with all the time and tend to forget are not writers. And then I judge them. I am judging them right now because they need to start writing. :|
Pascoite’s begun an interesting conversation about EQD, fic rejection and decreasing numbers of writers seeking help over here.
Neighrator Pony needs more exposure! He’s done a reading of Old Friends by RBDash this time, which is an excellent story. Dude just keeps cranking these out. :D Remember, you can follow him on Fimfic to get the updates, he cross-posts the videos. :B
Lastly, after the my last blog’s impromptu poll, I will be doing a Skywriter edition of fic recs sometime in the future! I chose him out of a three-way tie mostly because he has fewer stories that need vs. posts than Cold in Gardez. <.< (Also damn, it’s amazing how many stories from both of them I read before I started reviewing.) So he can expect to have his entire life’s work shit upon get some analysis of his stuff soon! :B Ish. My next project is reviewing all the writeoff fics, of which there aren’t as many (in the group anyway) as you’d think. (It’s also worth noting that, since he got a number of votes, I have added all of autumnschild’s stories to my RIL, and I added a few stories by other people who were voted for, but who I'm not following. Expect some reviews eventually!)
Anyway, I have no idea how this one got so huge that’s what she said, but hold onto your butts RILs, 'cause it’s about to get bumpy!
H: 0 R: 9 C: 3 V: 3 N: 0
Mr. Lonelyheart Meets Miss Lovestruck by scoots2
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cheese Sandwich is called upon to throw a wedding party for Braeburn. The only problem is, Braeburn hasn’t exactly met his bride-to-be, and neither is what the other expected. This is fun for a couple of reasons, and the big one is Cheese. He makes a great foil for Braeburn, and he’s characterized really interestingly. In Pinkie Pride, most of what we remember of him is the wacky party pony, but it’s easy to forget that he spent the first and final few minutes of the episode being very serious. It’s suggested, in no small amount of words, that he only gets silly once there’s partying to be had, and because no wedding party is imminent in this piece, he remains stoic. I will say I was a bit put off by the reasons why Braeburn and Cherry Jubilee are disappointed in one another, mostly for Braeburn’s side, though they do balance. Cheese sees her as older than expected, overweight, and very much made-up, while Braeburn is too young and not the rich, middle-aged ranch owner Cherry was expecting. The clincher is that one is meant to stay on an apple farm, and the other on a cherry farm, and they sort of neglected to mention that in their letters. I want to give this points for having a really great punchline, which is something that’s been rather lacking in stories I’ve seen of late. On the whole, if you’re up for a low-key comedy featuring an interesting mix of side characters, check this one out.
After Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie declare snowball war on Twilight and Applejack, things begin escalating. This is one of the best slice of life (that is, no-stakes) fics I think I’ve ever read. Central to it is a true understanding of the ethos of Equestria: that it is perfectly reasonable for an entire town, even its leaders, to drop what they’re doing in order to engage in what is essentially a huge game of pretend. Missteps were few. There are a couple spots where the comedy is meant to come from overblown language that doesn’t really fit the tone. I was surprised when, partway in, Twilight was addressed as “Princess”, because given her “what is the point of this frivolous activity, oh wait, now I am experiencing this emotion known as ‘fun’” reaction to the snowball fight, I had this pegged as a season one fic. The Princesses’ arrival was, I felt, wholly contrived, though Luna absolutely steals the fic with a single line. Derpy’s scenes were maudlin and helped drag the story out a little too long, and that is where the major issue lies. There are so many spots where it seemed like the comedic beat of the moment would be the perfect punchline to end the story on, but it kept going and going. For the most part, this worked, but the author got greedy and kept pushing for more, driving up the chance of narrative overreach. Derpy’s scenes were partly to blame for this; the CMCs were another part. I wouldn’t hold this story up as an example of pacing, but as a light, show-tone comedy, it’s really fantastic. I like this 8’s and 6’s man.
Lyra Grows Fingers by Scramblers and Shadows
So I went into this expecting a little of this action, and I was so very, very wrong. Lyra grows fingers… from her shoulder. Oh my god this story is creepy. D: Body horror is a really good way to get a reaction from an audience, but few are the ponyfics I've seen that have actually been able to pull off any real kind of horror. It’s not just that fingers are growing from a place they have no business growing, nor that they’re sentient and start attacking her, nor even that they keep fucking growing. What sells the body horror is that Lyra feels through them. And much like Ash in Evil Dead, she’s gotta hack them off herself. The writing is perfect, showcasing Lyra’s obsessions in good order and using the “pop” sound effect to make everything that much creepier. (The innocuous noise Doctor Cobra uses for the onomatopoeia in the reading really helped.) Missteps are few; mostly I was just concerned by how bitchy Bon-Bon is. She wasn’t selling “they’re in a relationship” very well, though she makes up for it by the end. There’s also a good bit of swearing and some other, minor asides that didn’t feel too pony, which surprisingly bothered me more than anything else. I was thrown by the phrase “horn field”, though it’s at least easy to figure out what it means. I did like making Lyra a music teacher, as that’s a rather unusual, but entirely believable step for her as a character. I was absolutely riveted by this story, and fans of Stephen King will find a lot to enjoy. As for the rest of you, ‘tis the season for creepy shit, so turn off your Mature filters (it does get very gory toward the end, and though somewhat gratuitous, I will say this is the one fic where gore actually adds to the narrative) and go check this out! As horror, it’s up there with NIGEB, and as an inversion of fandom tropes, it’s tops.
Best Friends Forever by Obselescence
Celestia pays Twilight and her friends a visit. I would love to leave the review with just that non-descript summary and “it’s Obselescence, go read it”, because going into this story blind is so very rewarding. But if that's not enough for you, let me give you a taste of what to expect. It’s obvious that something is wrong early on because Celestia is flying over an abandoned Sweet Apple Acres and she has to disable magical wards to get into Twilight’s castle. Most importantly, the castle has a nursery, and its cribs are filled with… Twilight’s friends. The rest, you get to find out yourself. Suffice to say this is one of the best “Crazy Twilight” fics I’ve ever read, and the ending is fantastic. It carries a really weird idea all the way through. I will say that there were a couple spots where I wished the narrative wasn’t telling us what was going on, but in the end, this one’s totally worth reading. And in season!
Fluttershy’s Night Out by Bad Horse
Genre: Real Issues
Fluttershy goes out to a bar and meets someone. This is a story about a lot of things, but I’m not sure I can figure out what it’s about about, and I fault myself. I feel like all the parts are there and I’m just not putting them together. If I had to sum it up, I would say “sex doesn’t make you a whole person”, but I think that would be missing something. There’s Fluttershy, pre-show, trying to find her place in Ponyville, conquer her fears and grow up all at once. There’s the ponies vs. animals thread, which I couldn’t figure out at all. Then there’s the fact that this was written by Bad Horse and I spent the whole time reading it in a tizzy, waiting for the big R to drop. But while you could read consent or lack thereof into this story, it’s plainly obvious that that isn’t the point. The point, as I think is more clearly stated by the epilogue (added in after a year), is kindness, and forgiveness, and quite possibly that forgiveness is more about the forgiver than the forgiven. Definitely worth a read.
To Be a Mule by archonix
A young mule in love with a unicorn has a lot to learn about the rules of life. I like this because it focuses on Equestria’s institutionalized racism without having that be the entire reason for the protagonist’s problems. It’d be a little pat if it had. Added to this is Dal’s father’s views on romance, which are wholly realistic and entirely appreciated. This is a short piece, but in it we get a lengthy view of Equestrian society from those on the bottom of it, not to mention a rundown of one man’s regret. It’s really worth the read.
Gateway to Happiness by Spacecowboy
I ran into this feller while in the midst of Project Bookshelf, and he basically goaded me into reading one of his fics. :V That said, most of his big ones were pretty long, so the chances of me picking something good out of the short ones were low (as I have found tends to happen). This one, for instance, needs some work, mostly just in the writing. It takes a few paragraphs, for instance, to really sound like Twilight, and there are some spots where sentences could use some ironing out. But at its core, this presents an interesting idea: Twilight telling Celestia what she’s learned about other ponies by looking in their eyes. This is, if anything, a refutation of your standard immortality fic, taking place as it does between seasons 3 and 4, and I appreciate that.
Recommended If You Value Substance Over Style
Magic, and Mayhem, and… Murder? Oh My… by Invictus
suggested by Blood_rose_doll for being my 468th follower
Genre: Psych Crossover
An Earth-banished Nightmare runs afoul of fake psychic detective Shawn Spencer in her attempts to return to Equestria, and ends up dragging him along with her. I don’t know jack shit about the show this is a crossover with, but from what I can glean through the Wikipedia page, main character Shawn Spencer is a gifted, Sherlock-Holmes-level detective who, for some reason, isn’t really a detective and has to use his deductive powers and eidetic memory to pretend to be a psychic so he can actually help the police. It sounds funny, at least. Needless to say, when I was assigned this story to read, I was dubious. I certainly wouldn’t have read this story on my own, but happily, I’m glad I did, and I’d like to thank Blood_rose_doll for recommending it and being patient while I got around to it. (I might even consider checking out the show now!)
So what worked? For starters, Shawn comes off as your standard snark-fueled protagonist, which may turn off those leery of HiE’s. However, what the author does right by him is A) not make him the only POV character (though the first switch to someone else was rather jarring), and B) not make him the only funny character. (I was impressed, for instance, that Shawn was not the one to make the requisite “only the Shadow knows” joke.) This story has a good Pinkie Pie, and Shawn plays off Rainbow Dash remarkably well. He actually turns out to be an interesting character on his own merits. We get to see him both exercising his detective skills, and putting on his psychic act not only to bamboozle his opponents, but to impress his allies. I particularly enjoyed the running gag of his malapropisms, which was never overused. (Oddly, I found myself comparing him to Harry Dresden a lot; I mean, he even has a tiny car with a name!) Ultimately, the story ends up being about Celestia trying to atone for her mistakes, which is a plotline I always find compelling.
There’s a huge amount of really great world-building in this, as the last half takes place in a lawless city of thieves and smugglers, whose existence is explained quite well. (And in the ballsiest use of canon to justify breaking tone, Pinkie is linked to it just as believably.) The best world-building involves the minotaurs, though I also liked the snatches of Diamond Dog language. And on that note, this is one of those stories that revels in spotlighting all the ‘major’ races of Equestria, yet manages to do so without feeling contrived. There are plenty of great side characters, not all of them ponies. This is also a story an example of a crossover done well. There was only one spot where a reference to Psych lost me and was never explained, but it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sort of thing whose loss didn’t negatively affect the narrative.
The story comes in three acts. The first quarter or so is more or less your standard HiE: Shawn comes to Equestria, has to figure out what’s going on, makes friends with ponies. It’s honestly the weakest part of the story, with only one bit making it interesting: the question of what will happen to the Nightmare in his head. (An aside: I fully expected that Shawn would end up possessed by the Nightmare, or at least unleashing it into the world; that’s not what happened, so I have to assume I read something into the story that wasn’t there. Hopefully that doesn't ruin the first part for you.) The second third or so involves Shawn getting caught up in a murder investigation in Canterlot. Now, while the reasons for this happening are pretty contrived, once you’ve made that transition from HiE to “oh, now he can can show off his detective skills”, things really pick up. Not to mention, the ponies’ reaction to things like crime and death really sells the difference between Earth and Equestria. What follows in the rest is a long adventure piece, with lots of politics and skulduggery and all that world-building I mentioned before, not to mention explosions and some really excellent action scenes. The story pacing isn’t perfect, but on the scene level, nothing ever felt dragging or overly detailed.
What didn’t work? Well, the humor was kind of hit-and-miss. Shawn does a lot of pop culture referencing, which I have to imagine is true to his show, but wasn’t always appreciated. (Another similarity to Dresden.) Most of what I didn't like was just little things, but there were also a couple of big, sexually-themed “it’s not what you think it sounds like” jokes that I didn’t appreciate. There were a couple spots where the narrative went in a direction I expected and didn’t want; the identity of the noble’s daughter is the big one that comes to mind, though it ultimately was a non-issue. This is one of the few stories I’ve ever seen whose writing is a valley; that is, it starts out fine, gets worse in the middle, and then recovers by the end. I’m not sure what happened there, but having a mostly typo-free ending was appreciated. Also, Shawn thinks Val Kilmer is the best Batman, and that is just not cool. Really, in hindsight, far more worked than didn’t.
Ultimately, whether you read this will come down to two things, and I’ll say this: don’t let the crossover balk you. It’s fine. The HiE stuff at the start is both pat and a bit of a slog, but once you hit the first investigation, it all becomes worth it. I’ll be holding this up as an example of a good crossover for a while.
A Bad Plot by Achaian
After overhearing what she thinks is Rarity and Rainbow Dash deriding her posterior, Twilight goes a little nuts trying to find out the truth. There’s a lot going on in this story, and it’s all baffling; suffice to say, this is an awful lot of work to make a pair of bad jokes. The first is the old fanon standby of “plot = ass”. The second is the book Twilight sharing a name with one of this show’s characters. And that’s more or less all there is to this. You’ve got Twilight acting like an idiot for a few thousand words, a la Lesson Zero. You’ve got a background running gag about Fluttershy that, while humorous in its reveal, is very transparently meant as a red herring/distraction from the main story. Pinkie is admittedly pretty funny in both of her main scenes, and I was amused by Luna’s awkward attempts at the end to be amorous. Oh, and I called this a metafic because I'm pretty sure there's a running thread of comparing the standard story plot -- rising action, climax, all that -- to an orgasm, while both are happening in real time. But honestly, I'm just not sure. Really, I just don’t think this was worth it, though given my opinion on Lesson Zero, I have to imagine the whole fandom will enjoy this story.
Scootaletter by Poultron
You know, I had Poultron in my “need to review one story by everyone I follow, but only has incompletes” pile, but he’s also got this story, which I had already read! There’s honestly not much here. It was published before the encoded word limit and doesn’t even hit the minific limit of 400 words, and it’s just a short letter written to Rainbow Dash by Scootaloo. I don’t really get anything out of it, but I’ll say this: he captures the mindset of an excitable six-year-old writing about something she dearly loves. It’s just unfortunate that that mindset is kind of… annoying. You won’t find any deep character reveals or plot twists… or plot at all, really. But if you like slice of life stuff, this won’t take up too much of your time.
Coming for to Carry Me Home by MillenniumFalsehood
I’m reading this piece for the same reason as the last one, though it’s kind of unfair to really critique it since it was apparently a commission. Well, beggars can’t be choosers. This tells the story of Mark Adams, the brony son of a minister, who ends up going through a lot of shit when his parents find out he likes ponies. The approach to bronies here is pretty light; phrases like “He’d watch Rainbow Dash create a Sonic Rainboom later” feel disingenuous in this sort of story, like the author doesn’t really know what MLP fans do in their spare time. Mark’s conversation with his friends likewise feels more like a pastiche than a real discussion. What’s worse, Mark’s dad is pretty much every ultra-religious stereotype rolled into one character: he’s raised his son to be manly, he hates “fags” and of course he won’t stand for any of that sissy, sinful stuff influencing his children. If not for the fact that this purports to be based on real events, it would be comical. And that’s what this really comes down to. The writing isn’t the best and the characters are stereotypes, but real people have gone through real situations like this for the same reasons. I do wish this hadn’t gone the BiE route, because it adds another layer of preposterousness to the whole thing, not to mention cheapening whatever real ills others may have gone through. Then there’s the whole “Celestia as agent of God” thing that just… I really can’t take that seriously. It’s no surprise, though, I knew this wouldn’t appeal to me when I went into it, so I’ve got no one to blame but my own silly OCD.
Recommended Only If You’re Actively Smarting from Your Ultra-Religious Parents Having Found Your Pony Stuff and Thrown the Book at You for It
Hips Don’t Lie by Syeekoh
Rarity is mesmerized by Adagio Dazzle’s swaying hips. This is actually a pre-Rainbow Rocks fic, written based off the Battle of the Bands promo video, and as such, a few bits of it don’t line up with the movie, which is fine. It’s obviously not meant to be taken seriously, and it’s amusing as-is. I do find it odd that Rarity was picked as the one for the joke to center around; it could have been any of them, honestly. And I kind of feel like the ending joke about Sunset Shimmer eating meat is somewhat funnier than the one all the buildup was for, but that’s just me. This is short and fun, and that’s all I needed.
Recommended If You Like Silly Stuff
Overture by SuperGiantRobot
Vinyl Scratch tells the story of how she met Octavia. My review shelf is getting me into trouble already. City of Doors reviewed this, and I noted that I had read but not reviewed it myself and had to wonder just why I upvoted a ScratchTavia. (One not tagged Romance, I’ll note.) The draw here is the voicing: it actually sounds like (stereotypical fanon) Vinyl telling the story. Not just being the “I” in something that could just as easily have been third person, but actually relating a tale to an audience sitting right in front of her. Her asides are humorous and she injects a lot of personality into a story that’s basically “I was curious about classical music, went to see it, and it was generally not my scene, except, oh, that cellist was hot”. The buildup makes her getting sappy about everything work even better. And, well, other than the first scene telling us that they got together afterward, this ends up not being a ScratchTavia at all, just an emotional recounting of a musical performance by someone who didn’t expect to get caught up in it. And now I know why I upvoted.
Rarity Sprains Her Hoof Applebucking by SuperPinkBrony12
Genre: Alternate Episode Ending
Story synopsis is right there in the title. I am thoroughly baffled by the existence of this. The “Pony Does X” title, tags, and general setup suggest a crackfic. Instead, we get Rarity spraining her hoof, Applejack taunting her a bit, Applejack taking her to the hospital, and Rarity ending up in a wheelchair for a little while. It’s played completely straight, and I have to wonder what the point is. (That she and Trenderhoof have a sober conversation toward the end of the story might be a clue to the author’s intentions.) I really don’t know who would want to read this, but I suppose it works as a thoroughly realistic “what-if” for Simple Ways. It's certainly not written poorly.
Spike’s Hoard by Shotoman
Genre: Future Fic
Spike meets the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ newest member ahead of a day filled with crusading. This is the second piece in today’s journal that I would consider a refutation of standard immortality fic tropes. It’s obvious what Spike’s hoard is going to be from the start, but overall the tone is upbeat and the ending happy, if also genuinely touching. I really appreciated the use of fandom characters as descendants of the mane six; I also liked that Pee-Wee shows up, but only as having found Spike centuries after they last parted. The author set out to show that memories of past friends and family make outliving them bearable, and he has done precisely that.
I love how "brony son of a minister" sounds like an epithet. :B
The Adventures of Wondercloud and Sugar Rush
It was a bright and sunnytimes day in Pony City, and life was slowly returning to normal after the big evil attack from the evil aliens from the evil planet of Badhorsia, which happened in the last story, which you should read if you haven't already, because you need to know what happened and recaps are dumb and annoying.
Everypony was busy putting their homes back together. A huge frickin' crane in the downtown area was pulling skyscrapers up off the street because there were totally skyscrapers in downtown Pony City even though I forgot to mention them last time. It is a city, after all!
Meanwhile, in the neighborhood where Wondercloud Lightningbolt and all her friends lived (except Midnight Twinkle; she lived in the cemetery because she's a goth), they were putting their homes back together the old fashioned way, with wood from the Everlame Forest. The pony carpenters and lumberjacks had been busy busy busy all week cutting down lots and lots of trees from the forest, because A) having less lame stuff in the world is good, and B) seriously, fuck that place.
So to actually get to the story now, we pick up with Johnniepear and her older brother Bawsc being badasses. Johnnie was seated next to a huge pile of logs, which she picked up two at a time, one in each hoof, and tossed at her brother. Bawsc, who was reeeeeeally big and strong and dark red and had a cutie pahootie that was a picture of himself wearing sweet shades and holding up a pear in one hoof, would flip up and roundhouse kick the big boards. Then, one of two things would happen. Either the board would be kicked right to where it needed to be, upsetting the bucket of nails which then flew up in the air and nailed themselves right into the board, securing it in place, or else the board would break into the right sized pieces and then all that other stuff would happen. They could kick a house together in about ten minutes.
"Oh thank you, thank you!" cried a cream-colored earth pony with gothy black mane with blue and purple streaks, who was wearing black mourning garb and had a cutie thinger that looked like two interlocked wedding rings with plus signs hanging off the bottom. Her name was Mai Waifu. "Pear Family, you're the best!"
Johnnie and Bawsc leapt into the air at each other, meeting over the top of the house, where they did an epic brohoof into a pile of rocks that exploded and stacked itself up neatly into a chimney. Then they posed on the roof. It was really badass.
"Y'all're rightly welcome, Ah reckon!"
"Like a BAWSC!" (That was Bawsc's catch phrase and pretty much all he ever said.) (Also, she wouldn't admit it if you asked her, but Johnnie secretly looked up to her big brother a lot and believed she got all her cool badassery from him.)
Unfortunately, there was a flock of birds flying overhead at that moment, and they got caught in the Badassery Wave that emanated from the epic bro-chimneying. They all exploded, raining guts, feathers and tons and tons of bird poop down on Johnnie and Bawsc. Johnniepear shook her hoofsie at the sky.
"You horseshit goddamn birds!" she yelled loudly. One last bird, who had been all the way in front of the flock and thus just barely missed by the Badassery Wave, finally succumbed to the unstoppable badass that was Johnniepear, exploding and landing a tiny plop of poo right on her hat. She grumbled and got down off the roof.
"But oh, oh, oh!" sobbed Mai Waifu into her hoofkerchief, ignorant of all the badassing and poopery happening above her head, "if only you knew where my poor husband was! His name is Strum McAwesomeposture! I haven't seen him since before the aliens attacked our town! I'm ever so lonely and bereft without him!"
Johnnie and Bawsc looked at each other and shrugged.
"Ah reckon we'll keep a peeper open for 'im," Johnnie said with her funnytalk, "but I ain't rightly seen 'im none, now, gol durn dangit."
Meanwhile, across the street, Wondercloud and Sugar Rush were busy putting up the same house they'd been working on all day. It was Sugar Rush's house, and she was being kind of random in how she decided it should look.
"We need more frosting over here!" She zipped around from place to place inside the house frame while Wondercloud lugged a single, small board of wood overhead. "Ooh, and this part should look like a haunted factory! And this is where the koi pond will be!"
Wondercloud kind of wasn't paying attention to her fillyfriend, though. She was distracted by watching Johnnie and Bawsc be awesome.
"Man," she grumped to herself, "I may be awesomer than Johnniepear, but not by much. And it doesn't help that she's so strong. This sucks!" She plopped the board she was carrying down onto a bucket of nails. She was at least awesome enough that that auto-nailing trick worked, but it didn't do anything to cheer her out of her funk.
"Hey, Cloudie, don't be such a saddypants!" exclaimed Sugar Rush exclamatorily. "Why don't we take a break and get something to eat? I bet I left a sandwich around here somewhere!"
She turned as there was a huge BOOM! and the sound of a house exploding.
"Oh no," she cried, "it's Badhorsia! They've come back!" She lifted up a piece of flooring and scooted underneath it, turning into a pony-sized lump in the floor.
Wondercloud rolled her eyeballs. "No, Sugar, it's just Captain Carrotbeard acting up again."
Sugar Rush peeped out as Wondercloud pointed to a house on the other end of the area. It was shaped like a pirate ship, complete with a big cannon that was still smoking because it had just fired a large cannonball. Seriously, what did you think that BOOM! was? That very same cannonball had arced gracefully through the air to come to a stop on a house that had once been covered in flowers and pagodas and throwing stars, but was now just a pile of rubble with three very angry ninjas in it because the cannonball had really more gone through the house instead of resting gently upon it.
One of the Ninjas wore a green ninja suit and carried nunchucks. Her name was Foxglove. The second had a rose-colored ninja suit and used sais; she was Thorn. Last was a ninja in a yellow suit, named Pistil, and she dual-wielded wicked sicknasty Colt .45s that were modded to hell and back so they were really long and had big magazines and were covered in insignias and kill counts and stuff. They all used throwing stars and kunais and ninja-y stuff like that, but come on, a ninja with massive revolvers, how cool is that? Also, the only reason anypony could see them is because the ninjas allowed them to.
Anyway, they were all glaring across the street at Captain Carrotbeard, while she slapped her flank with her hook and waggled her carrot-shaped beard at them. "Yarr-harr-harr!" she laughed, and disappeared into the hold of her houseship.
This was a fairly regular occurrence in Pony City.
The Flower Ninjas (that's what they were called) looked at each other, sending mystic ninja-vibes between themselves instead of talking, and nodded before vanishing and reappearing over by Johnniepear and Bawsc.
"Oh Johnniepear-san-chan-kun-sama-hime," said Foxglove with a ninja accent, which is like a regular accent except you can't hear it because it's ninjas, "our house was just destroyed by cannon fire from our arch-nemesis, Captain Carrotbeard."
"Shoot an' shucks in the willikers, I reckon," Johnnie said, scratching under her hat.
"This happens all the time!" cried Pistil. "Could you maybe get her to knock it off, at least while we rebuild from the alien attack?"
"And could you maybe give us a hoof?" Thorn added askily.
Johnnie looked at Bawsc, who nodded at her.
"Sho' nuff we can, or mah name ain't Johnquilinda 'The Walkabout' LePear!" Johnnie said. "Ah'll go give Carrotbeard a right-up talkin'-down to, and Bawsc'll give you gals a leg or three fixin' your shack-dig."
The ninjas prostrated themselves before Johnnie (and that means they bowed really low, and not anything having to do with what's up a colt's hiney, I had to look that up) and exclaimed, "Thank you, Johnnie-bo-Bohnnie! We will be eternally in your debt!"
As the group broke up to go do their respective what-they-said-they'd-do's, Wondercloud harrumphed and pouted and crossed her hooves over her chest very grumpily.
"That sucks!" she moaned with a huff-po. "I'm the one who saved Ponylandia from aliens, but they go to Johnnie for help! What's the deal with that?"
"Maybe you don't have any name recognition," said Midnight Twinkle, who was totally there and gothy as usual.
"Name recognition?" Wondercloud tilted her head, looking at her friend who kind of wasn't really her friend but hung around anyway.
"It's like with fashion brands!" whined Fashionface, who was also there and now talking about the only thing she knew anything about. "The one with the highest advertising budget is most well known and so everypony goes to that one first!" She could talk about fashion without whining. It was a gift.
Their buttery-yellow pegasus friend Whisperlite was also there, but she didn't say anything because ladybugs.
"Well," wondered Wondercloud wonderfully, "how do I get some name recognition, then? I mean, ponies ought to know about us, and me especially, since we saved their butts and everything, right?"
All the ponies assembled nodded. "Cloudie, I have an idea," Sugar Rush began, but she was interrupted as two streaks of flying pegasudes (this is the proper plural of pegasus, by the way, not pegasi; it's all Latiny and Greeky and stuff and hard to explain) as they came in for a landing. Wondercloud's eyes got really wide as she recognized them.
The first one was a light blue stallion in a slightly darker blue flight suit with lightning bolts all over it, and even slightly-more-darker-than-that mane that was kind of crazy and mussed up like he'd just woken up or something. He looked like he had coffee in his veins instead of blood, because when he twitched he sort of moved too fast for the eye to see. He'd jitter a little bit and then suddenly be over at the edge of your vision, and he did this a lot, just popping back and forth randomly, while muttering things like, "Pies, cakes, pies, pies," under his breath. His name was Pie in the Sky and he was drooling slightly.
The second was a bright yellow mare clad in tight, tight, tight black leather assless chaps and a black leather flight jacket with a logo on the back: a letter A made out of skulls and lightning bolts and fire. She was wearing flight goggles and smoking a cigarette coolly. There on her butt was a picture of a pair of lips that were getting ready to make a kiss but they were on fire. Her name was Hotflank and she was the leader of the Awesomebolts. Pie in the Sky was also an Awesomebolt, in case you didn't realize it, and actually he was the only other one.
Wondercloud made a little squealing noise and did a small loop in midair.
"Oh my giddy aunt, you're Hotflank and Pie in the Sky! You're the Awesomebolts, the coolest ponies in all of Ponylandia!"
Sugar Rush thought that was weird for her to say. After all, wasn't Wondercloud the coolest pony in all of Ponylandia?
Hotflank nodded and bit her cigarette, which put it out. She spit it into the street. "Yup. The Princesses told us about the devastation here, so we came to help out. Where's the fire at, sexy britches, or is it just me?" She laughed, and all the ponies just kind of looked at each other and shrugged because they didn't get the joke.
"Wow, this is so awesome!" Wondercloud flew over to Pie in the Sky, who was busy watching a butterfly from every conceivable angle as it meandered through the air. "Is there any chance I could join you guys while you're here? It'd be a dream come true!"
Pie in the Sky ate the butterfly.
Hotflank went, "Pffft!" and looked at Wondercloud. "And just who d'you think you are, kid?"
Wondercloud opened her mouth, but Sugar Rush interrupted her.
"She's Wondercloud Lightningbolt, and she's the coolest pony in Ponylandia!" she said crossly. Her eyebrows got all big and bushy and frowny. "She saved everypony from aliens, you should know who she is!"
Hotflank, who was now chewing on a toothpick, gave Wondercloud a once-over. "Never heard of ya," she said out of the corner of her mouth, and spit her toothpick at Sugar Rush, who ducked it. It stuck into a board in the side of her house, standing straight out.
"Anyway," Hotflank continued continuously, "we're gonna go find the Mayor. If you want an autograph or something later, maybe we'll do that." And the Awesomebolts walked away from them, Hotflank's flanks swaying and drawing all their attention and some of their drool, while Pie in the Sky just kind of blipped from place to place behind her.
When they were gone, Wondercloud gave a dejected sigh. "Great. Not even the Awesomebolts know who I am."
"Pish-posh and pshaw!" declared Sugar Rush. "You don't have to be a Mopey McMoperson! Err, McMopony! All you have to do is do something to impress them and they'll let you join for sure!"
"And if you joined the Awesomebolts, you'd get that name recognition you need!" added Fashionface.
"This actually sounds like a viable plan, assuming you can actually impress them," Midnight Twinkle grumble.
Whisperlite didn't say anything, but then she'd also gone sort of transparent since her last scene, and if they'd looked for her, they would have had a hard time seeing her.
"Of course I can impress them!" Wondercloud said, thumping her chest with a hoof. There was a hollow rumble like distant thunder and she farted a tiny lightning bolt. "Just you wait, I'll show them! I'll show them all! I'll be the coolest pony in Ponylandia and a member of the Awesomebolts!"
"There's one thing I don't get: how can the Awesomebolts be the coolest ponies in Ponylandia if Wondercloud is the coolest pony already?" questioned Sugar Rush with questions.
"It's a matter of terminology," stated Midnight Twinkle plainly. They were sitting on a hill overlooking Pony City while Wondercloud warmed up, twirling and making awesome spirals and patterns in the air with her sweet rainbow contrail that sometimes had lightning bolts in it.
Midnight continued, "Wondercloud is the coolest pony, singular, while the Awesomebolts are the coolest ponies, plural. Though if you ask me, it's all fairly ridicu-"
"Ohhhhhhh!" Sugar ohhed. "That actually makes sense now! So even if each of them is just a little less cool than Cloudie, when combined as a team they outclass her!"
"Exactly!" smirked Midnight, feeling ever so slightly proud for having explained it so well. "Just how we, as the Elements of Awesomery, as a team, are way more powerful and awesome than we are by ourselves. We could easily outdo the Awesomebolts, for example, if we cared to."
Wondercloud came in for a landing at that moment and snorted. "Speak for yourself, Twinkle-toes," she said, pointing behind her. In the air behind her was a slowly-fading rainbow that was twisted into a soft pretzel, complete with electric sparks for salt. "I know why Sugar's here, but why are you here, anyway?"
The purple unicorn snorted back. "Because I want to see this with my own eyes. Besides, I just got here and don't own a house to have had burnt down, since I live in the cemetery and all."
Wondercloud shrugged. "Anyway, I'm all set. Now to find those Awesomebolts!"
They wandered back into town, past various ponies still putting their houses back together. It didn't take long to track down the Awesomebolts. Their twin fiery contrails streaked through downtown Pony City, as they helped shore up skyscrapers and clean up debris, as well as ferrying ponies back and forth between work sites and occasionally posing for ponyrazzi photos. They looked really awesome while doing it, at any rate.
Wondercloud cracked her knuckles somehow and rolled her neck, loosening up.
"All right, ladies," she said forcefully, "stand back and watch a master at work. I'll throw up a few Raincork Screwbows, maybe an Inverted Spiral Thunderstorm, and they'll be putty in my hooves!"
Sugar Rush held up a blob of squishy yellow stuff. "I have some non-Newtonian fluids lying around, would that work?"
Wondercloud made a :| face, shook her head, and flew off.
Midnight Twinkle gave Sugar Rush a sidelong glance.
"Dare I ask why...?"
"Sometimes," replied Sugar, a faraway look in her eye, "I'll suddenly realize that there were fluids around me that weren't there before..."
Meanwhile, Wondercloud was flying for the center of town, gauging exactly where to make her best entrance. She didn't want to get too close to the buildings, of course, and she had to make sure that her tricks would be visible from the angle they were flying.
Finding the perfect spot, she revved up and immediately launched into a series of loops and twirls, doing barrel roll after barrel roll like she was a rabbit in a biplane. The rainbow contrails twisted around each other, and soon she was tying them in knots and double knots and Gordian knots and Freudian knots, which don't even exist, but she was fucking doing it because holy shit this is some amazing aerial acrobatics we're talking about here.
Unfortunately, Wondercloud had miscalculated slightly. The Awesomebolts had already moved on to the Town Hall to hobnob with Mayor Sexynickers by the time she was done, her twists and knots and pretzels and thunderstorms just littering the sky like so much litter on the ground. Only awesomer. And in the sky. As she was ascertaining this circumstance, she plowed headfirst into a building. She made squeaky noises as she slowly slid down the side of it.
In the next scene, she decided she'd have to step up her game.
"It's time for a Sonic Awesomeboom!" she said to nopony in particular, although a pony who was washing windows up high overheard her monologuing and really had no idea what she was talking about.
Wondercloud flew up really high, at least as high as a cloud, whereupon was seated a very surprised duck or something, then she started nosediving towards the planet, which seems like a really bad idea if you don't know that this is step one of achieving a Sonic Awesomeboom. Her plan was simple: she'd fly down Main Street and hit booming velocity right in the center of town. It was sure to attract the Awesomebolts' attention.
And thankfully, her plan went off without a hitch. To an onlooker -- yes, I mean you, Taxi Driver Magillicuddy, I see you rubbernecking over there! They may put up with that kind of slacking in the taxi fleets, but you're on construction pony time, mister! Back to work! -- it appeared as though there was a big huge rainbow ribbon stretching down out of the sky along Main Street, straight for the center of town. It almost touched ground right where Main Street crossed Pony Boulevard, at which point there was a huge boom and the word AWESOME exploded outward in rainbow colors. Then the ribbon did a 90-degree (Fahrenheit) turn and took off up into the cerulean stratosphere again.
But hang on just a minute, what in the heck was a duck doing on a cloud anyway? I mean, they can fly and all, but they're waterfowl! They're not known for hanging around high in the sky. I need to do more research next time! Anyway, back to the story.
Unfortunately, setting off a sonic boom of any sort in the middle of town means that there are going to be no windows in about a two-mile radius when you're done. Ponies scattered left and right, fleeing from the falling glass shards, as Wondercloud looked back with some chagrin to see what she'd done.
"Oops," was all she could think to say before she impacted the underside of a passing zeppelin.
"This is not my day at all," she groaned, and with a light popping sound, detached from the dirigible to float gently to earth.
Tragically, the Awesomebolts hadn't even been outside to see the Awesomeboom at the time. Pie in the Sky was busy raiding some poor bakery of all their delicious baked goods, just after they'd gotten back up and running finally, while Hotflank was having an "extended meeting" with Mayor Sexynickers, which is a nice way of saying "they were totally doing it", because they were.
Wondercloud decided to give it one more try, because that's how these things go. Unfortunately, she was out of ideas, so she just waited for the Awesomebolts to wander by and started busting some sick dance moves in their direction. She had a boombox with her, so it was totally awesome.
Unfortunately, they kind of didn't notice her popping and locking and hopping and docking because they were too busy staring at the destruction wrought by her Sonic Awesomeboom. Or at least Hotflank was, Pie in the Sky was too busy flitting around and asking random passersby, "Pie? Pie?" Not if they had any, just more or less if pie existed. Most of them did not make eye contact.
"What the crap happened out here?" Hotflank demanded, wiping her lips with a hoof. Wondercloud did a 720 on her forehoof, finishing impressively on her wingtips.
"I've been trying to get your guys' attention like all freaking day!" she exclaimed. "Did you see my awesome breakdancing?"
Hotflank just stared at her. "Wait, you did this? All these windows were just fixed and washed and now they're all gone! Not to mention, crap, I just realized we've been walking in glass this whole time. What in the name of moist dragon dildos were you thinking?"
"Uhh..." Wondercloud said elocutionally, not looking directly at Hotflank.
"Look, it's nice you want to impress us and all, but we're not here for watching flashy tricks!"
"We're here for pie!" mumbled Pie in the Sky, in a brief moment of lucidity. "Both kinds."
Hotflank rolled her eyes. "No, we're here to rebuild. This isn't the time for acrobatics, it's the time for putting houses back together and shit! Princess almighty, if you want to impress us, go build a house or something!"
"Oh, I, uh," Wondercloud stammered, and then she drooped with emotional weight. "You're right. I shouldn't be showing off when there's important work to be done. I'm sorry, you guys." Then she snapped her head up, and cut a butterfly in two with the whiplash. "Well you know what? I'll impress you that way, then! I can totally build a house in..."
She looked back towards the area where she'd been working that morning and sagged again as the emotional baggage just piled on. "Half a day."
"Yeah, kid, whatever. Get back to work." Hotflank smacked Pie in the Sky with her tail and sauntered off, hips wagging seductively.
When Wondercloud was able to tear her eyes away from those enticingly leather-clad cream buns, she slowly winged her way back to where Sugar Rush was watching with sadness and Midnight Twinkle was watching with laughter.
"I knew you couldn't do it!" Midnight Twinkle said triumphantly.
"Oh, shut up," said Sugar Rush. "Cloudie, what're you gonna do now?"
Wondercloud sniffed, more in resolution than sadness. "Gonna make a house, all by myself. That's the only way I'll impress them, so that's exactly what I'm gonna do."
"Don't hurt yourself trying," Midnight snarked. Sugar Rush punched her in the shoulder and she tumbled down the hill, yelling curses and grass all the way.
Sadly, building a house by herself was way harder than Wondercloud anticipated. She tried kicking the boards into place like Johnniepear had, but she missed the mark most of the time, and one even rebounded off a wall and came back to smack her in the rump. Then she tried the orbital bombardment method, carrying up a bunch of boards into the air and dropping them into place, but that didn't work with the nail bucket thing, and they kind of just clattered off of each other. She wasn't getting anything done, and it was getting on into the afternoon. She was running out of time.
She tried pleading with the boards, but that didn't work.
She tried gnawing on them, which only gave her mouth splinters, eww.
She tried kicking the boards that were already in place, but that just broke them and then she was making negative progress, which wasn't good at all. It was, in fact, less than good.
Finally, she stomped her hooves in the air (because you can do that if you're a pegasus and really frustrated) and grumbled to herself.
"It's hopeless! There's no way I can put a house together as well as Johnnie! I should just give up on this whole stupid thing and forget about the Awesomebolts." She crossed her hooves and pouted, which was cute.
"Now hold on, apple-de-ap," said Johnniepear, suddenly appearing in the scene, "that there ain't no way no how to get goin' on buildin' a house none, Ah reckon-alutely."
"Johnnie, what're you talking about?" As a matter of fact, Wondercloud really had no idea what her friend had just said, and for the most part, never did.
"You been wastin' time all day tryin' tuh compete with me 'n mah brother, ain'tcha?"
Wondercloud looked like she'd just snuck a cookie from the cookie jar and given it to the dog. "Yeah..."
"Well, shoot and a half, Wondercloud, why don't we just work together!" Johnnie slapped her own flank and whooped. "Buildin'll take half as long if we stop competin'!"
It was like something electric clicked in Wondercloud's head, except if it had, she'd have shot sparks out her nose, which she wasn't doing, so it was kind of a dumb simile. She zoomed up into the air and spun around.
"You're right, Johnnie! Why didn't I think of it before? We're both awesome, you and me, and if we combine our powers, we can awesome some houses together in... in less than half a dozen winks!"
Johnnie waited for Wondercloud to come back down to earth and smacked her on the back. "Now yer thinkin'!"
"Hmm," hmmed Wondercloud, putting a hoof to her chin in thought. "I'll have to work on that catchphrase, though. Lickety-split?"
Johnniepear shrugged, then she said, "Hey, here come all our friends!"
Sugar Rush, Midnight Twinkle and Fashionface came over, and so did Bawsc because he'd been there the whole time. Where's Whisperlite, you ask? I have no idea. Maybe she was off being cute with kittens or something, it doesn't matter. Even if she's slacking off, whatever she's doing is completely fucking adorable because KITTENS OH MY GOD.
Wondercloud looked at each one of them in turn and smiled. "Guys, I'm sorry, I should have asked you for help way sooner. I may be the coolest pony in Ponylandia, but I'm not half as cool as all of us put together! Let's awesome up some houses!"
The ponies cheered and then set about doing just that. Working together, with their powers of awesomery, they could build a house in two minutes! That was way faster than anypony else! They built a house for Wondercloud, full of clouds and lightning bolts and also some columns; they built one for Whisperlite, with trees and birdhouses and stuff; and they built one for Fashionface with fashion and fashion and also some fashion in it. Soon, they were throwing up a huge dust cloud with all of their awesome building skizzles (that means skills, lol), which attracted the attention of not just the Awesomebolts, but every pony in Pony City!
When Wondercloud and her friends took a break after their tenth really awesome and totally customized house, they saw that they were surrounded by a crowd of smiling faces, as well as the ponies to whom those faces belonged, all cheering and stomping applause for the awesome work they had all just done.
"Congratulations!" cried Mayor Sexynickers, finally having recovered from her "extended meetings" with Hotflank. "Not only did you all save Pony City and all of Ponylandia from aliens, you're also hot tits at rebuilding homes! Three cheers for the Elements of Awesomery!"
There were, in fact, four and a half cheers for them, but who's counting?
"Aw shucks," said Johnniepear, stepping forward, "we all couldn't-a done it if it 'tweren't for Wondercloud here now then none goldurnit shucky dang-a-dong doo!"
"She's right," said a voice from somepony they couldn't see. The crowd parted and up stepped Hotflank and Pie in the Sky. "You're all really awesome when you work together."
Hotflank came up to Wondercloud -- very very close to Wondercloud -- and Sugar Rush got a little jealous and overprotective, because she does that when mares be frontin' on her womans. But she didn't say or do anything other than write Hotflank's name on her mental list, because it would have ruined the moment.
"I was wrong about you, Wondercloud," said Hotflank in a very sultry manner. "You're really awesome. In fact, I think you yourself might be even more awesome than the two of us combined."
"Really, you mean it?" Wondercloud was getting excited. No, not like that, she was hoping that Hotflank would ask her to join the Awesomebolts, is what I'm saying.
"I bet you still wanna join the Awesomebolts, don't you?" Hotflank breathed, her face mere inches away from Wondercloud's.
"Y-yeah," gulped Wondercloud, trying not to look at all the parts of Hotflank's face that were really, really attractive. "I do still wanna join, if you'll let me."
"Well too bad!" shouted Hotflank, and whip-cracked her tail, turning away from Wondercloud. The crowd gasped and Wondercloud's heart sank.
Hotflank looked back over her shoulder and grinned. "Because we're joining you."
The crowd cheered and Sugar Rush jumped forward to hug Wondercloud and keep her away from the leather temptress. Hotflank laughed and nodded.
"It's obvious you're cooler than us, so we'll join you! We'll even name ourselves after you! Let's see, what was your full name again?"
"Wondercloud Lightningbolt," said Wondercloud Lightningbolt, wiping away a single manly tear of joy. Where it landed on the ground, a flower sprouted, blooming with a rainbow bloom that released butterflies when it opened.
Hotflank conferred with Pie in the Sky for a hushed moment, then nodded and looked at Wondercloud.
"All right, we've decided. We'll be called..."
Pinkie craned her head around, trying to see across her room to where Rainbow Dash was seated in front of her computer. Even with headphones on, the sounds of clashing firearms could be heard thundering against Rainbow's head. There was absolutely no way to get her attention from afar.
Setting her laptop aside, Pinkie crawled out of her bed, regretting it once her hooves hit the cool wood floor.
"Soon, Mister Blanket, we will be together and warm once again," she said, casting a lingering glance at the bedspread as she moved towards Rainbow Dash.
Her first instinct was just to tap the pegasus on the shoulder, but she realized that would no doubt startle her, as Dash got very intense when she was campaigning. She opted instead to wave her hoof between the screen and Rainbow's eyes. In hindsight, it didn't seem possible not to have startled Rainbow Dash, no matter what she did.
"Agh, Pinkie, cut it out!" Rainbow's head darted back and forth, trying to see around Pinkie's hoof. "My kay-dee ratio is like fifteen to one and I've been hunting this noob for... Oh no you didn't! You flank-sucking son of a buffalo, you did not just camp my ass!"
Pinkie, who was plastered up against the nearest wall at this point, peeled herself away from it and put on a cheerful expression. "Uhh... Now that you're dead, Dashie, d'you wanna read my newest fic? It's almost done!" She hopped in place, trying to add emphasis via movement.
"Sure thing, Pink," Rainbow Dash said, not looking at her. "We've got like five minutes left in this match. I'll come read it when I'm done."
"Okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie gave Rainbow a peck on the cheek and hopped back into bed, thankful for the lingering warmth that remained between the sheets. She scooped up her laptop, settling it comfortably in her lap, and put a hoof to her chin.
"Hmm, now let's see, where was I? Oh yeah, that's right!"
Hotflank paused for dramatic effect. "We'll be called the Lightningbolts!"
There was a pause, and then the crowd applauded.
"Not a bad name, if you ask me!" said Wondercloud, nodding appreciatively.
"Ah think it makes a lotta darn sense, Ah reckon," added Johnniepear.
"Too bad it has nothing to do with anything at all," grumbled Midnight Twinkle.
"Oh, stop being such a whiner," said Fashionface, burning Midnight but good. "It's fitting!"
Sugar Rush gave Wondercloud a huge smooch-ola on the lips. They all celebrated and then the crowd went back to working because somepony who was a total buzzkill -- I'm looking at you, Corporal Couch and Pen! -- mentioned that they were all slacking off and daylight was burning. But it was okay, because Wondercloud and her friends had a big group hug, even Midnight Twinkle.
"Wow, so I guess all this time, all I needed was my friends! Thanks to you guys, I'm the coolest pony in Ponylandia again, and I totally have awesome minions!"
"Uhh, we aren't exactly minions," said Hotflank crossly.
"No, you totally are, watch this." She straightened herself up and put a hoof to her chest, closing her eyes, and then pointing with that same hoof. "Minion! Go fetch me a lemonade!"
Hotflank just stared at her, and her stare turned into a look of pure surprise when Pie in the Sky brought over a tray with an ice-cold lemonade on it. Wondercloud tousled his mane and drank it in one gulp.
"Ahh, refreshing! See? Minion. And one minion is better than none!"
"Just don't let it go t'yer head, now, y'hear?" chuckled Johnniepear.
"Aww, how could I?" Wondercloud flashed her winningest smile, which did in fact win her something somewhere. "You guys are the best friends ever. But now that I'm number one in awesomeness again, there's something that's been bugging me."
Wondercloud cast a pointed glance at Fashionface, who yelped when the points poked her.
"Ow, not so pointy!"
"Fashionface," said Wondercloud seriously, "you are by far the least awesome of the Elements of Awesomery. And if I'm gonna be number one in awesomeness because of my friends, I need to cut out some of the dead weight, if you know what I mean."
Fashionface shrank back, her curly purple mane bobbing, as all eyes turned to her. For a moment, it looked to her like all the ponies around her were dark shadows, with shining red eyes and hungry teeth. She fought back a scream.
"That's why," continued Wondercloud, "I vote we change Fashionface's Element of Whining to something else!"
Everypony gave her a weird look for a while, like she'd just spewed water ponies out of her mouth or something crazy like that.
"You can't just change the Elements!" cried Midnight Twinkle sourly.
"Ah don' see why not," shrugged Johnniepear. "After all, votin' can solve all yer disputes! It's the American way!"
"I think it's a great idea!" added Sugar Rush.
"But what would you change it to?" whined Fashionface. Wondercloud winced.
"Ooh, I know!" cried Sugar Rush, hopping up and down sideways. "You could be the Element of Bitchiness! You know..." She stood up on her hind legs and waggled her head back and forth. "Oh no you di'int, fillyfriend, snap snap!"
The ponies all wondered exactly how Sugar was able to snap her hooves like that, but then they remember that she's the Element of Randomness, so it was okay.
"That sounds pretty good, actually," said Fashionface without so much whining this time. "I could totally do that!"
"Sweet!" cried Wondercloud. "Great idea, Sugar. All in favor?"
Five hooves went up in the air. Whisperlite would never miss a chance to exercise her right to vote, after all.
"But you can't just change the Elements by voting!" Midnight cried, holding her hooves out pleadingly. "This is old magic we're talking about!"
"Midnight abstains," Wondercloud said. "The motion carries!"
They rushed in and hugged Fashionface, while Midnight pouted.
"Nothing happened, I'm telling you..."
"That's what you think, girl," said Fashionface snarkily. She snapped her hoof right in front of Midnight's face and the lavender unicorn syndrome fell right over!
Everypony laughed. It was a good day.
"C'mon, Sugar," said Wondercloud with a little yawn. "I'll walk ya home."
Sugar gave a little yay and cuddled up against Wondercloud, who put a wing around her and started back towards Sugar's house.
"But like oh no and stuff," Sugar sadly said, "we never finished building my house!" She frowned a big frown and looked down at the ground, which rhymed but didn't make her feel any better.
"Don't be so sure," Wondercloud said, nudging her. "Look over there!"
She pointed with a hoof and there, much to Sugar's delight, was her new house! Even though she couldn't remember them having worked on it all day, not only had it been completed, it was everything she'd ever wanted! Every last detail -- chocolate lagoons, tropical fruit trees, even the demolition derby arena -- was there, including a few things that she hadn't even known she'd wanted!
She squealed in delight and hugged Wondercloud and pranced over to the door, which looked like a clock made out of sprinkles and licorice. She was about to open the mushroom-shaped doorknob when she noticed something. There, between the door and the right-side window, was the toothpick that Hotflank had been chewing on earlier that day, that had stuck into the wall. Hanging from it was a small sign and on that sign was an inverted cupcake.
Sugar's eyes went wide. Her teeth chattered. Her mane got all standy-up and spiky and her whole body freaked out. Without so much as knocking on the door (why would you knock on your own door though?), she turned tail and zipped back over to Wondercloud, who had been watching here, bewilderedly, all this time. Sugar hid herself under Wondercloud's wing, peeking out and shivering.
"Sugar Rush, whoa, what the crap, settle down, damn!"
"It's there, Cloudie! On my house!"
Sugar Rush pointed a quaking hoof at the house. "It's right...!" But as she looked again, the toothpick and sign had both vanished. Had she imagined it the whole time? Sugar got a very urpy feeling in her tummy and made a poopie face.
"I don't see anything," Wondercloud said, starting to get worried. "Are you sure you're feeling all right?"
"That's a good question." Sugar sighed. "I'm sorry, Cloudie, I guess I freaked out over nothing. But can I spend the night with you anyway?"
The pegasus covered in cutie marks laughed. "Of course you can! It'll be fun." She gave her fillyfriend a big kiss. "You're just so random sometimes." Then she chuckled and gave Sugar a hug and they both went to Wondercloud's house for the night because she's a good fillyfriend.
The best part of Pinkie Pie's morning was checking her fanfiction sites on the Canternet for new comments on her stories. Comments always gave her a happy feeling inside, like she'd just eaten a bowl of good cream of hay soup, and it was doubly so after she'd released a new story.
So it was with high hopes that she turned on her laptop and dialed up ponyfanfiction.pon, the first site on her list.
Sitting there, waiting for her, was an entire paragraph of comment. Her eyes lit up with expectation as she read it.
wow, I shared this with my friends and they LOVED IT! omc, your writing is so hilarious, you should really get published or somethin! we really liked Hotflank and Pie in the sky too, Hotflank is such a sexy beeyetch (*bg*) and Pie was a lovable idiot. Like, his antics were hilarious and he just didn't seem to know what was going on lol!! he totally reminds me of a friend of mine ;D anyway I really liked this and my friends too we can't wait to see what you write next! keep on partying, PartyPartyParty99!! <3
Pinkie had spent the entire time biting down on her hoof so she wouldn't scream. The comment fully read, then reread, she let out a gleeful shriek and began bouncing up and down in her bed. Gummy, disgruntled by the sudden oceanic movement of his preferred sleeping spot, slithered off the mattress onto the floor and curled up beneath the bed.
"This is so exciting!" she exclaimed. "I got a whole new fan! I love each and every one of my fans so much! I'll write them a reply, just to say thank you! I wonder who they could possibly be..."
As luck would have it, on the other side of Equestria, the mare secretly known as TinieWings was checking the Canternet at just the right time to see the reply to her message. Fleetfoot's laughter echoed through the Wonderbolts' rec room, attracting the attention of at least one of her teammates.
"What the hay are you laughing at, Fleet?" Soarin asked, leaning over to peek at her monitor.
She snarled and pushed him away. "Hey, back off! I just got a comment from that author who wrote that story..."
"Ohhh no..." Soarin's eyes widened, his pupils dilating to pinpricks.
"You know, the one with-"
"Don't say it!"
Fleetfoot's face lit up in a manic grin. "Pie in the Sky!"
Soarin groaned and hid his face while Fleetfoot continued laughing.
"Fleet, seriously, I don't wanna hear about it."
"Which is exactly why you will," said a third voice from the doorway. Spitfire smirked at her comrades before entering the room. "What was my name again, Hotfire?"
"Hotflank," Fleetfoot said, giving her team leader a grin. "And such a hot flank it is, too."
Spitfire hissed through her teeth. "Ooh, I know, I can't help it! It's all those assless chaps I just can't resist wearing!"
Soarin was now covering his head with both hooves. "Guys, c'mon..."
"What's the matter, pie boy?" Spitfire smirked at her wing leader. "Can'tcha take a joke?"
Soarin rolled his eyes. "It has to be funny first."
Fleetfoot pouted. "Aww, poor Soarin. We'll have to get him some pie to cheer him up."
Soarin's cheeks began to burn and he looked away from them.
"Yeah," said Spitfire, barely able to contain laughter, "both kinds!"
Both mares collapsed onto one another, laughing until their eyes watered, while Soarin, red-faced, made a hasty retreat from the rec room.