Goodness. Where does the time go?
Anyway, today I'm looking at Discord's First Very Faithful Student by Pokonic. This is a bit of a tough one because it's a lighter tone than the two previous things I've looked at, but I'll see if I can get to what it's saying. (Irrelevant: Pokonic, this story is lousy with typos, man, fix your shit)
The story opens with both Discord and Diamond Tiara being bored and lonely. This is, curiously, not a cause for sadness for either of them. They seem totally content with themselves and aren't in a position where they want someone to reach out to them and pull them out of a bad spot. Their first connection isn't one of empathy - it's a profoundly selfish moment where both of the two realise they can extract something of value from each other.
In fact, soon after Discord prompts Diamond to show that weakness to Silver Spoon. For a moment I thought the story had done some weird backflip but it reveals that as a con. Discord isn't interested in making Diamond a good pony and Diamond isn't interested in becoming one - just in using it as a cover while really interesting things happen. Again, this is a positive lesson that has it's roots in profound self interest and I'm starting to suspect that's the heart of this story.
Diamond Tiara has been set up the entire story as a pony who doesn't need a hug; she's been shown to be a legitimate jerk, a sociopath who's special talent is bossing people around and who needs to channel that power to productive and humorous ends. So it's kind of got me stumped that the story abruptly shift tacks when Diamond's mother shows up and suddenly she's like a different character, with no self confidence or anything. She can brush off everyone else's opinions but she really wants her mother's approval. Which she seems to have, although in an abstract, distant sort of way.
And that's pretty much it. I'm really struggling to say much of anything about this story. It's incomplete, but it spends so much time talking about stuff that isn't the point that I'm just kind of waiting for it to get to the stuff that matters. There's a conversation with Celestia which goes nowhere. There's tonnes of worldbuilding and setting history but it's all distraction from what I'm really interested in. I'm trying to figure out who Pokonic thinks Diamond Tiara is and what she's going to get out of being mentored by Discord and so far the only thing I've got is "Doubts and history lessons". It feels like such a huge missed opportunity because the story that is sometimes there - about two sociopaths learning how to wreak legitimate havoc and learning lessons along the way, the story that's promised by the title, the tags and the description just isn't there. Instead it's like "Diamond Tiara Gets A Substitute Teacher". Lots of individually funny or cool moments but just not tied together.
Also holy shit the typos, dude.