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Peace reigns in Equestria in a glorious tone that rings throughout the land.  Surrounding it are rival nations, each embroiled in their own bitter struggles, each looking upon the home of ponies with envious eyes.  When all around them are currupted by greed, selfishness, and bitterness, how does this nation remain free of war?

Equestria's Secret Service is an organization hidden from the public eye. These brave ponies are unknown to the populace, and their brave deeds are ever unsung.  In a world brimming with cold anger, hate, and violence, they move to prevent conflicts before they ever happen.

For peace. For Celestia.

For the good of Equestria.

First Published
13th Sep 2012
Last Modified
21st Sep 2014

This looks like quite a promising story. :3

Wow, I'm about to put a story up, with the EXACT same image...only I have permission.

now this looks like a good read :rainbowdetermined2:

Favorited and marked for later reading simply because this is massive.   A thumbs up and obligatory MOAR!!! :flutterrage: in the mean time.  Good work thus far.

Good thus far, but there is one issue.

Autumn was silent again.  Spotter likewise said nothing, but watched with a look of mild interest.  When Autumn finally spoke again, his only reaction was a raised eyebrow.  "Very well.  Build a cairn, but dig a small pit for it as well; we don't need it standing tall and warning our enemies we are here.  Move quietly, and stay alert; nopony else needs to share her fate."

Tactically, what Autumn said makes the most sense.  Given these are ponies trained in the art of espionage and "Special Forces" work, they should understand that.  This feels slightly out of context versus the world they inhabit and the lives they know.  Granted, this is very, very minor as it looks like it won't affect the story.   Just a thought basically.

Onward!

I needed to stop at the end of Ch. 6 for now.  You managed to kill what I had planned today.  Nice job.

Good action, almost a pop-corn flick type of feel.  A few of the characters were in danger of becoming cliche, but the idea of a conspiracy unraveling in later chapters saves Golden Lock from arrogant ass boss archetype.   The characters don't have as much "depth" as some other fic-novels I've read, but that ISN'T the purpose of this story.  

I like your OC's Autumn and Dew thus far, and the little snips at the beginning of each chapter add a nice feel.  

There are some openings for a few comedic elements to help the heavy feel of this piece.  Little snips of dialogue of that type could help, but this is just a personal suggestion.  

I can't speak for others if they will like or dislike it.  This is heavy investment of time to read, but it's worth it to me.  The amount of work you've done shows.  There were only a few little formatting and grammatical errors.  In a piece THIS large, that's a testament to the work.  

The pacing felt slow in some parts, but it picked up appropriately before getting anywhere near the cliff of disinterest.  The original chapter splits between the ESS and Clear Skies was well done.  The tension was well done.

Aside from a few comedic areas, I'd also suggestion some backstory to Spotter as well.  He was such a valuable character and it would be a pity to see him be left as an afterthought.  

Granted that Autumn is the intended protagonist of your story, but Dew really, really shined as a character once she got some development.  Perhaps some shift to add a bit more focus on her?  

These are just my thoughts through Chapter 6.  Outstanding job overall!  :moustache:

P.S. Forte is a pimp.

>>1270421

Not to worry; I do too.  Thank you for implying that I steal artwork.

>>1272993

Your thoughts.  They are appreciated.

Most of your comments are things that will be addressed as the story progresses.  The others I will be sure to look into, and see what I can pull off.  Also, I apologize for killing your plans; I didn't mean to.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.  I hope to be able to hold your interest in all my chapters.

>>1274229  Apologizing for making a story that had me going "just one more chapter..."?  You never have to apologize for that.  I meant it as a high compliment to the story.   :twilightsmile:

Wow... just... wow. MUCH better than I originally expected. I tip my hat to thee!

~Xanadu

Very realistic. I especially like your usage of the Golden Locks character.

One minor error I noticed: Nevertheless doesn't have hyphens in it.

~Xanadu

All of my approval and blessings.

:coolphoto:

cant wait for this to continue

nice chapter. seems like the plot is coming to a boil  :rainbowkiss:

Glad to see this story again after so long! Keep it up :yay:

I think somebody is going to either meet Celestia or Luna.

This shit needs a LOT more readers. Yes, I am grumpy over this.

I'm seriously disappointed that this hasn't got more people reading this.

Excellent, thanks for the latest chapter.  

Please keep up the superb writing.

>>1860959

>>1849082

Heh...yeah; I'm a terrible advertiser.

(See?  ↑This is me saying, "I have no idea what to do about it, so feel free to spread the tale as much as you want to."  But I don't say that.  I just sit back and wait until someone picks up on the subtleties of the message, and then watch with interest.)

(Man, I suck at this)

>>1852175

:twilightblush:

:moustache: Hm, interesting. I severely hope these dogs get what's coming to them. You, author sir, have me hooked. Looking forward to the rest of the story. :twilightsmile:

I just found this and am excited to start reading this tomorrow.

Quick question: Do you watch Spooks? (or MI-5 as it's called in the US) I've recently been hooked on that show and it's inspired me to try my hand on something with this similar premise. If not I highly suggest watching it.

I am still angry furious livid flabbergasted that this doesn't have more likes, people don't know what they're missing! You have no idea how excited I got at seeing this updated.

Wow, I would've faved this a lot sooner if I'd known it was already on Fimfiction.  I feel silly. :derpytongue2:

Looking forward to future chapters!

>>2192085

I just found this and am excited to start reading this tomorrow.

Well, good to know that my obscene amount of text isn't acting like a deterrent.  I hope you enjoy!

Quick answer: I'm afraid I haven't.  I think this might be the first I've heard of it (I don't watch much telly, so...).  I'll take a look if I can get the time.

Dear EdwardJ, q97randomguy here. I just rediscovered this story, and guess what...

....

I'm here to thank you.

For what, you might ask?

For introducing me to the wonderful world of fanfiction. I had been avoiding it like the plague, mainly because I didn't want to see authors abusing (read: badly writing) the mane 6. (Also because I was horribly afraid I would be inexorably drawn in, which I was. I'm currently at 9.8 Million words read, which I thank/blame you for.)

After seeing that your story involved exactly none of the mane 6, I decided to risk it. Given that you're reading this, you already know how it went.

I also need to thank you for getting me two new friends. I would've never met them without your story. I also would've never found out that I actually can write a story that other people can read. I'd always seen that as something that was an impossible goal, but... just look at me now. (Looking not required. It is, however, welcomed.)

I'll be faving this now, as well as getting back to reading it. Just so that subsequent comments don't catch you off-guard, I give almost any story I like a cursory editing job. Seeing as how you have an illustrious team of prereaders/editors, I don't expect that you have much to worry about. I'm looking forward to getting back into this story.

Gratefully yours,

q97randomguy

Autumn wears a white mask? He can move undetected? This can only lead to one, insane, illogical conclusion. But first I must verify my theory. So I shall ask Autumn one, simple question:

"Are you a spy?":unsuresweetie:

I wonder what the deal is with this Cause Celina's working for. :applejackunsure:

Okay, so I'm making my way back through the story, re-acclimating, and I've basically been skimming. While I've been doing so, I've noticed a few things you seem to be doing really well and a few things that you're... well, not doing so great at.

First, the good! You're story is dramatic, engaging, and suspenseful. The characters are interesting, especially Autumn. I really want to know more about him. Hopefully, in later chapters, there'll be more back-story. The dual threat is a fantastic element and is made even better because the Cause is a good organization in their own eyes. Often the bad guys in a story are just that, bad, which isn't how people ever really see themselves when they form an organization like that.

Now, for the not so good... Semicolons. You're using them everywhere, but not well. Basically, you use them where there's either not a complete independent clause on one of the sides or there isn't enough connection between them. This is not how they should be used. I find this guide to be a useful source of accurate, comedic knowledge on the subject. The other thing is dialogue. Mostly, it's fine, but there's something weird with a few of your characters speech. Most of them seem to use a disproportionately high amount of complete words when people typically use contractions in the same context. If just one character does it, then it's their thing; it makes them who they are. However, the majority of your characters don't and it's... not grating, that's too strong, but maybe... unusual, leaning towards distracting. (Edit: I gave the next chapter a more thorough read and found that this problem wasn't nearly as pronounced there. It's possible that I had a misrepresentation of facts because I was skimming and thus read mostly from Autumn's lines. Or, you might have just improved your writing.)

As I've really only been skimming, I can't really speak to Showing vs Telling but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Anyways, I saw on your user-page that you'd probably be offline for a while, so I hope that when you do get this you're doing well. I think I may have lost track of this story after the next chapter, so you may have an incoming pile of notifications, courtesy of me. (I hope that you take any edits I offer well, and I will even take the edits section of my comments down on request.)

Yep, this was a new chapter to me. And it was a good one at that! The story's really kicking into high gear. It seems that this is going to be a political intrigue/espionage type story, and those are some of my favorite!

I must wonder, is Autumn really a pegasus? It could just be a disguise, but then again... There was that thing from way back in chapter two... I'm thinking he is.

You're welcome to come along; I doubt Spice Melange would have an issue with a guest of mine."
I see you read Dune. :twilightsmile: Interested in a ponification of the Bene Gesserit fear mantra?

Let me preface the edits with this: Most of them are helpful suggestions, while a few are definite problems that require fixing.

Finally, he sighed and lay his hooves on the desk; the gesture caused the ponies to stop moving and stand at perfect attention.
Right off the bat I'll tell you that this is something I'm working on myself, that's why I pick it out in others stories, so I can better identify it in my own. Right here is a technically accurate sentence using a semicolon. However, semicolons are a highly visible punctuation whereas commas and periods are easier for a reader to gloss right over. Here, the " ; the gesture" could be replaced by a single "which". That would maintain the meaning of the sentence, make it shorter, and get rid of the semicolon.

For now, you are dismissed; I shall decide my actions at a later time."
The use of a semicolon here would imply that their dismissal will make him decide at a later time. I'd go with a period to achieve the desired level of separation for these ideas.

Though it strained his belief to think that the records were faked, he wasn't going to overlook anything; not with this pony.
The semicolon here would mean that "not with this pony" could be a standalone sentence. If you're okay with this in your narrative voice, then it's fine. It's just something to be aware of.

"Leave the report; you are dismissed."
This one definitely needs to be a period. Leaving the report and being dismissed have entirely different reasons behind them, leaving them only tangentially related.

He checked the clock; he'd been staring at the papers for several minutes.
I feel that instead of the semicolon you could use " , and found"

He let the rest hang there, unspoken; the silence enough spoke volumes.

but only  for a
Double space.

"Very good, Quillstroke; see to it that the search starts now.
Semicolon should be a period. There's not enough connection between them. Granted, Quillstroke doing a good job is a cause for starting a search, but here that just doesn't seem to cut it. Funny thing, most things in a story can be said to have similar relationships with what came before them.

It feels like the music is making love; it feels fantastic.
I can see why you used a semicolon here, but I think that you could benefit from making it into two shorter sentences. It would give the second more impact.

She sighed; so much for an hour's peace.
Needs to be a period. Also, the second sentence should be italicized as it seems to be Octavia's thoughts.

"Come inside; I'll make you some tea."
Needs to be a period.It would definitely be a full stop if you were going to say this.

He would claim that he didn't want to impose; to Octavia, he seemed to be walking on eggshells with any subject not related to music.
This really seems to be a full stop.

"I do not know; just 'away.'"
Here's the thing about dialogue: You can make it grammatically inaccurate, but for situations like this, we can't tell for sure if you wanted the "just away" to be treated like its own sentence or if you just didn't know how to use the semicolon. A period would clear up any doubt about that.

They were unhappy about the gathering breaking up; they said something about a war."
I'd highly recommend changing that to a " , and"

I'm going to stop explaining now. I think you can figure out what I mean from here on out.

"This is not the mines; there I had a clear target, a plain enemy.
Period.

The Service will have no more need for you; who knows what they will do?
Period.

"Go back to the Service; find out what I can,"
Period.

"Must you go back?" he asked.

"I have to," she replied.

Something weird happened to your indent here.

Go back to the palace; keep your head down, stay out of trouble.
Period.

"Anyway,"
Something with the indent.

"Had to?"
Here too.

"There is still one Shaman left in the mines; reports indicate that he was the leader."
Period.

...

Wow, that was a long comment. Anyways, I'll read more tomorrow... probably.

Clear Skies shook her head, struggling to speak.  "N-n-no, i-it isn't..."  She sniffed, and Dew saw that she was clutching her stomach.  "I-it's... She s-stopped moving."

        "Why didn't you stop them?" Good Harvest asked.

I feel there should be a paragraph separation here, since as it currently is, it throws off the reader, flinging them to a different perspective, while also minimizing the impact of Clear Skies' last line. Other than that, this is building up nicely. :twilightsmile:

Divine Master, huh? Interesting. I can even see why he'd think that...

Autumn closed his eyes, and Fiddler opened them.
That, that, right there, is an amazing line.

win against this many unicorns, but, by Lassie
Pffffffffft! Ha! :rainbowlaugh:

Nice chapter, on to the next one, after these messages.

----------

In truth, he owned little else; only a small amount of coin and a dusty black bindle that held a vest and mask.
Comma.

So" —he picked up the tea tray and set it on the table— "I made you breakfast."
The EM dashes need to be on the other sides of the quotes.

She looked over the tray; sitting beside the teapot, from which a warm scent of cinnamon drifted, was a salad of fruits, garnished with lavender and chrysanthemum.
Period.

smile,  bid
Double space.

and left the room once more; he needed to be prepared for whatever lay ahead.
Period.

seen the large WANTED printed along the top.
Should be either "WANTED" or WANTED

He caught the ledge and, holding his breath, peered in.
Comma.

The room gained shape and details; a bed, end tables, cushions, and books.
Colon.

Books everywhere; stacked against the walls, lying on the floor, hanging over furniture, and there, draped over a large pillow, was a pony.
This one really needs some restructuring. Option one: "Books were everywhere. Stacked..." And two: "There were books everywhere, stacked against the walls, lying on the floor, and hanging over furniture. What really caught his eye though was draped over a large pillow: a pony."

A passing thought; he quickly realized that she must have had some alarm spell set up on her window.
"With a passing..." and comma.

He waited; there was no response.
Period. Sometimes, in high-tension scenes, short, choppy sentences are your friends.

She has grown, he thought, remembering how small she had been the day of her return, standing beside her sister.  She looks to be just as tall now.  How did she grow so fast?
This is a strange amalgam of prose and thoughts. If you just read the thoughts, it's broken. Simple fix is to just add in "as Celestia" after "tall". That's all it really needs.

I am not an assassin; this mask was a gift, given to me because I hide.
Period.

Good; that'll make this easier.
Period.

The Shaman spread his arms, gesturing at his meagre pack.
Indentation problem here.

around at the gathered dogs; the warriors clad in steel, the acolytes in their training cloth, the hunter leaders wearing their collars.
Colon.

that I, would
You should use italics. Bold looks sort of cheesy. You probably wanted to use caps lock, but... I.

Leave; leave us to our rot.
Period.

He might have gone through with it; called upon his pack to fight and die.
Comma.

"Thou wished for an audience; it is granted."
Period.

A worn sigh; he had been having that same thought a lot.
Comma.

Funny; I never considered myself much of an Intelligence pony.
Comma.

and he saw they dying glow from the princess' horn.
"the"

No; not as yet.
Comma.

Darker than the room; darkness you can hide in.
Period. Again, choppier sentences would be to your benifit here.

Meadowlark; there is
Comma.

You now know that I am not trying to trick you; surely even a dog like you can understand that.
Probably period. I find it hard to see him saying that straight through, but... it could happen.

No ponies will come this time, you have my word; I'm good at keeping secrets.  I only ask for you; you will accompany us to Canterlot."
Periods.

>>1865471

I come bearing joyous news! Well,kind of. Seeing as you've not been online for a few days, you'll likely be reading this quite soon after all the other comments. This means you know that this was the first fanfic I read. I'd like to mention that it now also has brought me to reading (just over) 10,000,000 words of pony, as of this chapter. Once more, I thank you. I could wax philosophical on how you've changed my life, but I'll hold off on that. (Unless you want me too.) Anyways, this gives me a big enough occasion to mention it to my other friend that reads on here. Hopefully, I'll garner you another reader.

Obligatory:

I shall read the latest chapter tomor... later today.

----------

It's nice to see you again; I'd heard you'd gotten out early.
Period.

she was not going to be sharing it with them; not while her wounds persisted, anyway.
Period.

It was still tenable, and not strong enough to overpower her curiosity; not yet.
Period.

He gestured at the scene below; Canterlot spread across the mountainside,
Period.

They had weapons, then; tools.
Comma.

By luck, sure; I heard they almost made the situation worse.
Comma.

long years have made her forget who the rest of us are.  Made her forget what being mortal is."

        "These... are dangerous thoughts right now," he finally said.

Missed a return.

I just got here, I'd kinda like to know the type of ponies I'll be living with for the next several years."
Semicolon. Or period. Your call.

prepared to listen patiently for the next several hours if need be; a true professional.
Comma.

Yes, ponies will still talk; and when they see him, they will talk more about him.
Comma. Never use semicolon before a conjunction.

unco-operative
"uncooperative" also, "cooperative" It seems that the dash isn't necessary, and including it may cause a small hiccup in someone's reading.

faith in your old follows
"fellows"

Silence; the room seemed to darken slightly.
Either a comma or a period. It depends on how you want it to sound.

She liked that feeling; like a miniature breeze after a hard flight.
I think that with your voice, you can get away with a period here. However, you could also add in "it was" to correct it.

She ached, but it was a good pain; a memento of him, in a way.
Period or comma. Again, it depends on how you want it to sound. I'm leaning towards period, might just be me...

"It is... a tempting challenge; to find the unfindable pony."
Colon.

the  fruit  before
Two double spaces.

Welcome back, old friend; how've you been?
Period.

Yeah; it's your turn to pay for it.
Comma.

We got a poster hit this morning; old mare looking out her window.
Colon. (They'll pop up more frequently in debriefing and intelligence type scenarios.)

and so we pushed our way in; started causing trouble, looking into each piece.
Comma.

Full of plans; well thought out ones, too.
Period.

Had contingency plans, as well; could work through most any situation.
Period. The beauty of dialogue is that you don't necessarily need complete sentences when you use periods. Sometimes. Granted, you could use a comma here...

The case was closed; evidence packed in storage.
Comma.

Shame, that; I always liked seeing her when I came in."
Period.

the weight of the folder in his bag was suddenly a lot heavier; six items without any apparent source.
Comma.

Dude, the opening of this chapter is awesome. I love it.

The political intrigue is really stepping up! Gosh, this is a fun story. I like what you're doing with the nightguards, it seems like it will be very interesting. Also, it seems like they can tell a lie from the truth through their undoubtedly insanely good hearing. Hearing a pulse, anyone?

To anyone looking at possibly reading this story, do! The text wall that follows is a minor qualm beside how great the story is.

>>2193483

Well, good to know that my obscene amount of text isn't acting like a deterrent.
Pfffffffft. Thinking 85K is obscene. HA! That's actually funny. I'm reading this 650K one that's, according to the author, only half done.

Anyways, I look forward to more of this story. Alas, it looks to be a while before more is available.

----------

"Smiles; thy findings?"

with is taken; their conversations

"I trust Meadowlark; I do not trust him."
Periods.

"Very well; we shall await his council."

The timing was impeccable; four days

Congratulations; you've made it past the first step.
Commas.

of them again; he hadn't moved,
Period.

I'm sure; grand tales about
Comma.

She looked over the ponies before her, watching their faces; her eyes flashed to the nightguard

"I've had enough of this farce; who's with me?"
Periods.

Fine; have fun being laughed at

"That was quite a performance you gave; very dramatic.

"Come; we mustn't waste time.
Commas.

Her eyes widened; the wall parted soundlessly.
You can actually keep the semicolon if you reverse the order. Otherwise, replace the semicolon with an "as".

It was a narrow thing, that passage; less than a wingspan.
Comma.

Dew looked around; the hallway was completely empty
.

"Relax; breathe easy.
Periods.

Blinking through the bright,
Maybe "through the bright light"

"Come; we mustn't keep her waiting."
Comma.

Dew looked back to the princess; she was frowning

"Smiles has given us report; very little gives his claim cause.

from the care of diamond dogs; it was his belief
Periods.

"Indeed; the council had much the same reaction.
Comma.

something behind it; I am certain of that.
Period.

"Very well; we shall hear her."
Depending on how you want it to sound, either a comma or a period.

where she should begin; his face was an unreadable mask.

She looked over to Autumn; he was calm
Periods.

ties to her home; not really, anyway.
Comma.

that the Violin she'd lent him
Capitalized why?

but even that proved fruitless; Frederic had not been happy
Period. Also, a significant other for Tavi? And it's not Vinyl Scratch?! BWA???

I kid.

any ties to her home; not really, but she

"Come on; I'll make you something."
Commas.

Don't worry about it; just... send a letter next time, or something.
Period.

Now come on; no guest of mine will sleep on an empty stomach.

few things for a light meal; a quick salad and a sandwich.

Who knows; they may be your clients soon."
Commas.

the corner of her eye; Dusk didn't respond.
Period.

Read in one sitting.  Liked and faved.  Late now, will comment later, but.....

Gosh, this is quite good.  Really good.  I humbly and eagerly await more.

>>2196317

I've been sitting here for about three hours now trying to figure out what to say.  To think that something I wrote inspired someone else to read more fiction as well as become a writer themselves...I am at a loss for words, and I usually have a lot of those.  When someone says that a writer's work is worth the time to read, it is a compliment greater than anything else that could be said.  What you have given me is more than that, and I really don't know how to take that.  I mean, I've never been good at taking regular, ordinary compliments to begin with, so...

Thank you.  Truly.  It feels like anything that I might say would fall short of what should be said.  I am truly humbled, and I hope that, wherever else the consequences of this may lead you, you find enjoyment in it.

I'll keep writing, and I'll try not to let you down.

>>2208034

I abuse semicolons.  This I know.  I have gone through a great many guides on how to use them, and most of the time I still feel justified using them as I do.  I am working on it, but it is a slow procedure.  Part of the problem, I think, is that I see connections in my head that readers don't, things that I think should be connected.  As such, I shall give every one of your suggestions a look over, but I may very well not follow all of them (but don't let that discourage you!  I am always looking for improvement).

Dialogue...yeah.  I talk like that, and I need to run my speech through a writing filter sometimes.  When I started, I had to remember to use the word "it" in many cases that regular people already do.  I tend to drop it, myself; is a quirk of mine, I suppose.

>>2221411

What the—?  I swear I had that!  Look!  It was still in the gDocs version!

Bloody rassin'-frassin' random changin' crap.

Fixed.

>>2209723

>>2226861

>>2227400

>>2240506

Wow, you hate semicolons.

So" —he picked up the tea tray and set it on the table— "I made you breakfast."

The EM dashes need to be on the other sides of the quotes.

I have proof of otherwise.

She has grown, he thought, remembering how small she had been the day of her return, standing beside her sister.  She looks to be just as tall now.  How did she grow so fast?

This is a strange amalgam of prose and thoughts. If you just read the thoughts, it's broken. Simple fix is to just add in "as Celestia" after "tall". That's all it really needs.

I would disagree.  Yes, reading only the thoughts makes it broken, but tell me when you think only in words.  Ideas, impressions, emotions, and memories will always accompany you in your own head.  As he remembers her standing next to Celestia, that also affects his thoughts.  Thus, the amalgam cannot be taken piecemeal.

unco-operative

See, here's the thing about this: I grew up with this being right.  Whether that was from the age or the location, this is right to me.  Whenever I see "cooperate," it always sounds like "coop-erate" in my head; you know, like a chicken coop.  Is like when InfinityXanadu tells me that 'never-the-less' has no hyphens; I grew up with that, is right to me.

Capitalized 'Violin'

Every single instrument name is capitalized in Octavia's perspective, and this is the first one you notice?  There were so many in her last bit!

a significant other for Tavi? And it's not Vinyl Scratch?! BWA???

Who said that Frederic is a significant other?  You are correct, however, in that this story contains no Octavia/Scratch.  I do not understand why people seem to enjoy that pairing.

As to all the rest of stuff...I'll have to find some time to go over that in detail.  I've got a couple more weeks before things will slightly calm down over here.  Anyway, thanks for the thoughts!  I hope future chapters fail to disappoint.

>>2312035

Let me start by addressing this:

I've been sitting here for about three hours now trying to figure out what to say.
Three hours? Wow... Sorry I broke your brain. But seriously, thank you. What you wrote was literally life-changing. It didn't really change my outlook on life, but it's very different than it could have been. I've made some more friends and written a 50K story. (Yeah, if you do the math or check my blog, you'll see how big the next chapter is already.) I've read 10.25 Million words on here. I've made friends. I've had a lot of fun. I've laughed and cried. So... Thank you.


Hate semicolons? No. You just use them really often. I make sure that when I use a semicolon, I really mean it; they are rather visible punctuation, after all.

As for the EM dash thing...

See, I have evidence for otherwise too.

“Derpy, muffins don’t” – Carrot Top put a hoof to her forehead – “grow into muffin trees when you bury them in the ground.”

A quick note: there’s a difference between putting the dashes outside of the quotation marks and putting them inside the quotation marks.

“Derpy, muffins don’t –” Carrot Top put a hoof to her forehead “– grow into muffin trees when you bury them in the ground.”

In the first example, the action is performed concurrently with the dialogue, and in the second example, the action interrupts the dialogue, which then continues once the action is complete.

This method allows the two types of action to have their own individual punctuation scheme.

Though, thinking more on it, it's possible that you meant for him to pick it up as he spoke... That's just not how I saw it while reading. I saw it as him saying "So" then picking it up then saying the rest. But that might not be what you meant.

She has grown, he thought, remembering how small she had been the day of her return, standing beside her sister.  She looks to be just as tall now.  How did she grow so fast?

This is a strange amalgam of prose and thoughts. If you just read the thoughts, it's broken. Simple fix is to just add in "as Celestia" after "tall". That's all it really needs.

I would disagree.  Yes, reading only the thoughts makes it broken, but tell me when you think only in words.  Ideas, impressions, emotions, and memories will always accompany you in your own head.  As he remembers her standing next to Celestia, that also affects his thoughts.  Thus, the amalgam cannot be taken piecemeal.

...

I can accept your reasoning. I don't particularly like it, but I understand.

Every single instrument name is capitalized in Octavia's perspective, and this is the first one you notice?  There were so many in her last bit!
Let me go and be ashamed for a second...

a significant other for Tavi? And it's not Vinyl Scratch?! BWA???

Who said that Frederic is a significant other?

Just in case you couldn't tell, that was sort of my way of making fun of shipping in general.

(Note: I'm not opposed to shipping. I actually like it. However, I also like poking fun at it.)

Anyways, I look forward to the next chapter!

Okay then. I said that I would comment, so here I am.  My thoughts (if you care to have them) are as follows:

     The story has a rather bleak and stark tone, which fits the story well.  The characters so far all have had a desperateness to them that has carried over into the feel of the story in general.  The characterization has been consistent, and a pleasure to suss out, really (on that front, that bit where Dew [edited for SPOILERS] was... something.  I was convinced that you couldn't possibly be saying what I thought that you were.  That you were laying out a red herring for the foolish reader.  Imagine my surprise {and slight embarrassment} when you revealed that yes, that was totally what you meant to say.  I suppose that I'm not nearly as clever as I sometimes think I am).

     Noticing and enjoying some of the techniques you've used .  Little things, like the viewpoints you used, or did not use, for certain events; your usage of semicolons, which never bothered me, but I'm fairly fond of them myself; the manner in which you placed bad guy flags over certain characters heads, which was most noticeable, for me, with Celina.  By design, I know.  Just noticing, is all.

     I don't think that I would be doing much good to mention any grammar mistakes; q97randomguy is being very thorough.   I did, however, see a your/you're error.  FOR SHAME.  

     I'm not sure what else to say, other than wonder out loud (in print) about the direction the story's taking (I'm intrigued, and vaguely unsettled, but hopeful) , compliment you on certain turns of phrase (the quotes at the start of each chapter are a peachy good time), or just give general impressions of various feelings the story has given me  (Dark tag is probably appropriate, but I'm not tempted to leave yet.  This could be interesting....).  I do fear that I've rambled on quit a bit, so thank you, dear author, for the story, and I look forward to seeing the rest.  You know, if that's okay with you.

Cheers!

>>2327484

My thoughts (if you care to have them) are as follows:

Always

...that bit where Dew pretty much gives away...

Aaaaand now it's ruined for those who read the comments before the story.

laughter

No, really that's fine; I don't care (Dew was a bit tired then; she wasn't entirely sure what she was saying).

bad guy flags

What?  Who says they're bad guys?  Didn't you hear them?  They're working for the good of Equestria, not toward their own ends.  Celina is just...arrogant.

I did, however, see a your/you're error.  FOR SHAME.

What?  Where?  EDWARD SMASH!  Then Edward fix grammar.

sips tea

For the rest, I'm glad you like it.  Things may get a little more unsettling at points, but hopefully I continually fail to drive you off.  Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.  On that note, is there anything that you might like to see in the opening quotations?  Or, so far as you've seen, other tags that might be appropriate?

I look forward to seeing the rest.  You know, if that's okay with you.

If it wasn't, would that stop you?  No, seriously, please: tell your friends, tell your enemies, and come along for the ride.  It may be a little slow, but I'm working on it.

Next chapter is fleshed out and currently under the knife.  Should be able to get it up soonish.

FINALLY, AN UPDATE! :pinkiehappy:

WOO! Update! And what a good one at that! I love world-building SO MUCH! So much! :twilightsmile::twilightsmile::twilightsmile:

----------

By now his head throbbed, and it was keeping him awake.
Comma.

It was a beautiful sight, flying over the slumbering city; almost enough to make her forget about the cold.
Should be a comma.

"Sure, but we don't want to go too high, or fall too early.
No comma.

many a valiant candle wick was cut short, it's light extinguished."
Other one.

"Nothing's been ruined, you just... where did you ever hear that story?"
Should be a capital. The other sentence really got aborted, so this is a new one.

Dad's still around—he's an advisor for the Trades Council; spends a lot of his time in the guildhouse.
Should be a comma.

but after working here I'm not sure if I trust it."
Commas.

"Dad was there, and all his friends.
No comma. That might look a bit odd, though, so perhaps adding in a verb would be the better choice.

She paused at the memory; grim-faced ponies knocking on their door late one evening, apologies dripping from their tongues.
Should be a comma.

and by that time their sides ached with glee.
Comma.

If they find out they'll send orderlies to interrupt me."
Comma.

She looked at him and her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
Comma.

but compared to the maelstrom of the city it was a lullaby.
Comma.

Right now it was vacant save for herself and the unicorn at the far end
Commas.

She came up behind him and cleared her throat; he didn't turn around.
Should be a period.

"I'll speak to him; perhaps remind him of his place.
Should be a comma.

>>2546450

FINALLY, AN UPDATE! :pinkiehappy:

>>2557984

WOO! Update!

I swing by and see things like this, and I think: "I really need to update this faster."

Then I look at my work schedule and think: "Crap."

I haven't forgotten about you guys!  Really!  I got promoted, so I'm trying to figure out what it is I'm supposed to be doing (no pay increase—just more tasking).  Don't worry, though: there are words down in next chapter, so it is still happening.  Just...slowly, you know?

>>2760064

Yeah, take your time. It's not a problem.

#47 · 73w, 3d ago · 1 · · II - The Plan ·

I have to say that, so far, this story is excellent (it's Sunday afternoon here, I've only gotten to chapter two, and I have other matters to attend to today before I can continue this). Your hook, pacing, and—even though I noted a few rough patches—style are all exceptionally done. Had I bought this story in a store, (which admittedly, implies it been about humans, not ponies), I would so far feel that I've received my money's worth in the form of a thriller / military spy novel.

I sincerely fear that I am enjoying this story far too much to provide critical feedback.

However, one thing I finally noticed in this chapter was a glaringly out-of-character moment for Autumn:

He looked over and smiled.  "Everypony here volunteered to come, remember?  She is here to help; she chose to be here for that."  He turned back to the setting sun.  "Every one of us is risking a lot out here, and we don't even know for certain if my plan will work.  If this should fail, then there will be nothing at all to show for it, not even commendations of service.  We are all here without orders, and the Vice-Commissar may even say against them.  If he catches us, who knows what he will do."  He sighed.  The sun kissed the horizon, and the red sky was slowly darkening.  "The odds are against us, Dew; Celina probably sees that.  She is worried, and understandably so.  Give her a chance."

This is, because so far, I've learned four important things about Autumn:

1) He's incredibly introverted, which comes from a childhood of bullying—one that Dew was there with him.

2) He's intelligent and resourceful, though somewhat socially aloof, however...

3) His emotions sometimes get in the way of his judgment—i.e., leaving behind his saddlebags that could very well begin a war, misreading the council's reaction to him.

4) He is incredibly loyal to the few individuals he trusts.

All of these make me think that he's far too trusting and empathetic towards someone he barely knows. I mean, if they're out in the boonies and his best friend is warning, "Hey... this person's acting screwy," it makes a ton of sense for this character to tell the new character, "Hey, fuck off, then." Heck, the plan so far even allows for that—teleport her home, let her tell Golden Lock where they're at, and boom, suddenly, there's a second armed force in the area to help rescue Clear Skies.

Still, I'll put on some +3 Goggles of Suspend Disbelief, and continue this story with high hopes.

>>2912118

...a glaringly out-of-character moment for Autumn

Fwaaaaa....good catch.  I shall have to figure out how to fix this.  However, this does suggest that there may be a point in chapter five that you might call out-of-character, but I assure you it isn't.  There are reasons, and I have them.

I sincerely fear that I am enjoying this story far too much...

YAAAay oh dear.

There's eight more chapters where things could go horribly wrong.

¬_¬

⌐_⌐

hides in pillow fort

Heh. Well, here I am after another two-hour reading fest, and I'm still enjoying this greatly. I liked the little bit of relief / slowdown in this chapter; with the political intrigues of spies being what they are, I was worried that there'd be some sort of in-the-field betrayal for our heroes.

Now, some points of critique that I collected:

1) I lost track of the storm after Dew made it. I mean, you didn't say it stopped, but seeing how "there wasn't a lot of mist in the air" or something like that, I didn't really think that the storm was as long as it appeared to be when Dew commented, "They know the storm was a diversion."

2) More than a few of your characters share the backbone of Autumn's dry manner of speaking (low number of contractions, etc.). This works for him, since he's already deemed to be weird, but for them, it's slightly more noticeable.

3) Is, uh... is it intentional that that hospital was shady as hell with Cloudy Skies' baby? :rainbowhuh:

Either way, I'm continuing to enjoy this story greatly; I just had to take a break this morning in order to get breakfast. :rainbowwild:

And now I'm all caught up; it only took me an extra week. :raritydespair:

I like where this story is going (as of Chapter 10). All the lines are (mostly) drawn, and I see this story as beginning its descent into the final conflict resolution within 4-5 chapters (barring "come down" chapters, such as this one). So far as macro writing goes, I think this is fine: all the pieces are in motion (though I'll admit that I always get confused whenever it's a scene starring straight-business pony and his slutty girlfriend), and they're all headed towards that final resolution I talked about.

My biggest stylistic problem I had with this is your dialogue (which, your writing style does an exceptional job of letting you say more with rumination and inner thoughts than actual words, so it's already mitigated problem). First, to me, it sounds like a lot of your characters fall into two speaking categories: either über refined/awkward, like Autumn, or colloquial, like Dew. This wouldn't entirely be a problem, but in some scenes with two or more characters of the same gender, it can be difficult to tell who's talking based on "she said" or "he asked" etc.

Other than that, this story flows and paints a vivid picture of the events you're telling. It's been a treat to read so far, and I hope to be able to continue reading this. :twilightsheepish:

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