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Writer, reviewer, creator of Filly Fantasy VI, occasional PMV maker, and uploader of mildly amusing image macros to Derpibooru

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Lightning Dust Reviews 2 - Lightning Strikes Twice · 8:59pm Oct 5th, 2015


This story opens on a quick action prologue where Lightning Dust is injured during a storm and cripples her wing. Grounded for life, she's stuck in a dead-end job sweeping an old book store, and all her friends have abandoned her since, well, they're pegasi and she can't fly anymore, kind of hard to do things. She accidentally causes a fire that almost burns down the shop, but pushes herself and her abilities to fight it off and stems some of the damage. In the aftermath she meets Celestia and a young unicorn who caused the storm that crippled her with weather magic, and Celestia heals her wing with her horn.

The story is decent, Lightning Dust learns some lessons about friendship and herself and her own worth, and there's some good moments. My major issue is the ending. Celestia healing Lightning Dust seems a deus ex machina and of course opens a lot of plot holes if Celestia has the ability to heal lifelong injuries other doctors can't. What bugs me about it most is that Lightning Dust seems to be on the path to learning to live without her wings and still see she has worth without them, and then she's healed. Kind of devalues the lessons she learns. But, still, the lessons themselves are fine.

Recommendation: Worth at least a look.

Days at the Academy

The first several parts of the story follow Lightning Dust as a foal, idolizing the captain of the Wonderbolts and her dad, Blazing Thunder. You have three guesses what happens to him and the first two don't count. What I like about this fic though is that it doesn't gloss over her dad's loss and use it as an excuse for Lightning Dust turning out how she does, we see the pain and heartache she goes through visiting him and then coping when he's gone, and learning to move on with her life.

We then transition to the end of Wonderbolts Academy, and a variant on the "I know I just kicked you out but you can come back" thing that was in yesterday's stories; Spitfire stripped Lightning of her rank, but she never said she was out of the Academy. The two have a talk and Spitfire sums up the reasons why she stripped Lightning of her rank, and what it really means to be a Wonderbolt. And it comes back to her father's advice to her as a kid and how she didn't understand what she meant, but Spitfire spells it out for her and gives her a second chance as Rainbow's wing pony. She and Rainbow talk, and as if the author was fixing the OOC fic from yesterday, Rainbow explains she's loyal to all her friends, not just the Mane Six, so come on Lightning, don't make her have to choose between her old friends and her new one. They of course make amends and life goes on.

The story's themes are familiar after yesterday's fics, but there's proper skill put into executing them that makes it enjoyable. The emotions seem real, the lessons we want Lightning to learn are learned, and Rainbow is in-character in their final talk. Nothing really stood out to me as awesome, but I ended the story satisfied.

Recommendation: What the story lacks in originality, it makes up for with good execution.


To explain this story properly, I have to go into pseudo-rant mode. I don't mind fixfics. In any medium, including Pony, there are some times when you just want to call a character out on something they did, and then you write a fic where another character does it for you. And, properly done, there's nothing wrong with that story. There's nothing wrong with wishing characters would take responsibility for their actions and learn from their errors, and likewise there's nothing wrong with wishing other characters don't forgive and forget and confront them over it to make them take responsibility. If folks have a problem with each other, talk it out and come to an understanding. That's part of character development: recognizing your flaws and mistakes, taking responsibility for them, and working to overcome them.

This story is not a fixfic. It is a retcon. At the end of Wonderbolts Academy when the balloon is destroyed, Lightning Dust rallies the other recruits to save the Mane Six, and then in Spitfire's office takes responsibility for her actions. When Spitfire tries to kick her out, Rainbow speaks in her defense and Spitfire relents, but switches their ranks. The final author's note admits the story is basically a write-up of an alternate ending to the episode posted on Meghan McCarthy's Twitter, viewable here.

While I would personally prefer this ending over the one we did get, we got what we got. Instead of working off of what the canon gave us to redeem Lightning Dust, this fic rewrites her personality so she really doesn't need redemption. And it feels cheap to do it that way. It's like rewriting the end of Boast Busters to Twilight complimenting Trixie on trying to fight the ursa minor and Trixie apologizing to the Mane Six for her behavior. It just isn't right, you get me? A fic where Lightning Dust returns to the Academy to face up to Spitfire and Rainbow could work, heck it's been half the fics I've seen so far, but this fic just outright changes the ending and related characterization entirely. There's no real conflict, no development or emotion, because Lightning Dust has been re-characterized so there's no development to be had. It's just ponies talking until we get the tawdry resolution.

Recommendation: Everything this fic does, another fic reviewed today or yesterday does better and without having to rewrite the canon to pull it off.

Second Best

We start off to a familiar scene - Lightning Dust wasn't actually kicked out of the academy, just demoted, but Spitfire still needs to have a talk with her. Lightning has been humbled since the events of Wonderbolts Academy, but perhaps a bit too much. Basically, she's lost her edge. So Spitfire and Rainbow come up with a scheme to help her find it again. What follows is some training exercises done with the specific intent of pushing Lightning Dust to the limits of her patience as Rainbow keeps outdoing her. Eventually she snaps and takes off, and she and Rainbow have a talk. After that Lightning gets in trouble, but Rainbow comes to her defense and the two are let off the hook.

I really like this fic because it isn't a straight redemption story. It's a story about competition and rivalries. Lightning Dust has clearly learned her lesson from the episode, the problem isn't that; it's that she's stopped trying, afraid of getting in trouble for being reckless or breaking a rule. Rainbow Dash constantly outdoing her teaches her that she should always push herself to do better than she did before, but not get too hung up on being #1 and accept that sometimes, someone is just gonna be better than you. But it doesn't mean you're not great in your own right. It's a good lesson and one a lot of people should take to heart.

Recommendation: An original and refreshing moral and good characterization, definitely check it out if it's your thing.

One More Shot

This fic is from the POV of a bartender at a bar Lightning is drinking at, apparently some years after Wonderbolts Academy. Rainbow, now a Wonderbolt, comes to see her. Of course the two have it out with Rainbow pointing out it's a waste for a flyer of Lightning's talent to be spending her life guzzling booze. She gives Lightning Dust another chance, because she's her wingpony to the end, and invites her back to the Academy.

Not much to this fic. Lightning is a miserable drunk, Rainbow gives her a second chance to get her life in order, she takes it. Not a lot of emotion in the reveal, either. Mostly Rainbow just tells Lightning the lessons she should have taken away from the episode's events, then gives her the invite. The decision to have it take place from an outsider's POV doesn't add much, while it does give some new perspective on things to watch it happen from the perspective of someone who doesn't know their history, it ultimately seems forgotten partway through the story and shifts into a pseudo third-person.

Recommendation: Aside from the punny title, not a lot to see here.

My thanks to everyone for submitting their recommendations. Tomorrow, back to the read later list.

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Comments ( 2 )

I like the One more Shot story and Second Best, ESPECIALLY Second Best, but oh well.

Thanks for reading and reviewing Lightning :twilightsmile:
My reason for Celestia healing her (which I should probably clarify in the text) was the nature of the accident: Celestia was cleaning up the damage her student caused, which in Lightning Dust's case included a magically complicated injury.

That and I had this silly idea that everything should go back to the way it was just in case LD ever showed up on the show again; short of her recounting her every waking moment since Wonderbolts Academy, my little story wouldn't get steamrolled by canon events.

How times change: I married off Octavia, I married off Rarity, I let Twilight visit Earth and accost a poor, defenseless human… my most recent story was all about BIg Mac destroying Ponyville's status quo. :scootangel:

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