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Posh


Blue-Haired Babe

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Feb
24th
2017

The Document of PGS: 13 and 14 (Beneath the Blood-Stained Sand/A Terrible Fury at Being Alive) · 12:40am Feb 24th, 2017

It's the grand finale of the Solid Snake and Twilight Sparkle Show! Part... three? Three and four? To be honest, even though they're numbered 13 and 14, I think of both chapters together as separate parts of 13, but as has been pointed out to me, having nearly 40k words divided across two documents does qualify as two chapters. So... part three and four of the Solid Snake and Twilight Sparkle show.

A few things to cover before we get started:

1. Yesterday, I published a little ditty that was part of a recent writeoff; it placed sixth overall out of sixty-one (I believe that was the total number of entrants, anyway). It's short, sweet, and I actually like how it turned out quite a bit, even if it wasn't as ambitious or creative as it probably could have been. If that strikes your interest, then click here for cute Spike/Twilight dialogue and liberal use of frozen peas.

2. Pony Gear Solid still has its own TV Tropes page! The poor dear could really use some TLC, so go contribute to it, and maybe I'll send you a ham in the mail.

3. More relevant to your interests (probably) is that I just finished drafting chapter 15! 13 and 14 together conclude a fairly long and tiring arc of filler intense bug-fighting action, so 15 is going to be a breather before the story lurches into its final act. We're going to revisit some dangling plot threads, tying some up while continuing others, and setting up new ones that'll no doubt bore and confuse delight and intrigue you over the rest of the story.

Revisions/editing will probably take a few days, but I'm hoping to have it out by the 27th at the latest. Once that's done, however, it might be a little while before you get 16. See, even though I think I was able to wrap up the Dodge arc effectively, it was a legitimate mess to contend with, and I want to avoid another situation like it. I'm going to be planning out the rest of the story in far more careful detail, and I'm not going to start writing 16 until I'm satisfied that I have an outline that works.

Plus, I have a fairly packed slate of shit to finish by April, and I'm hoping to maintain a fairly consistent level of activity between now and then. I'll be working on PGS in the background of other projects, including another writeoff entry from January that I really want to get posted. I'll let you guys know when it's time for the hype train to leave the station.

But for now, check below the break for retrospective, self-deprecating analysis, and a bit of cut content, too. Spoilers, so beware!



Just wanna say, first of all, that the mental image of Rainbow and Twilight singing along to Kids In America while Snake hunches over his steering wheel with thoughts of murder in his mind is too hilarious to not share with the world. I'm either going to commission art of that, or just write an entire spin-off about Snake driving the Mane Six around on road trips. Possibly both.

So, like I said in the author's note for 14, it quickly became apparent that I was not going to be able to finish off the Dodge arc, and accomplish everything that I wanted to accomplish, in a single chapter, without said chapter being humongous. I also didn't want to leave readers on yet another cliffhanger while I finished writing, so I resolved to write 13 to its conclusion, find a good spot to split it, and post both halves of the chapter simultaneously (it was going to be after the scene where Twilight talks to the unconscious Rainbow Dash, but Editor Man suggested splitting it before the fight with Chryssimonster). Downside is that you're still getting a bloated, oversized mess, but it's at least one that's easier to break down and swallow.

The original plan for Dodge, back when I first planned it out (in, what, 2013? 2014?), broke down this way:

-Snake and Twilight visit Dodge, find it deserted/overrun, and are chased to Cherry Hill
-There, they find a vehicle (a truck in the original plan), and evidence that Trenton did, indeed, plan to meet them there with Rainbow Dash
-They find Rainbow Dash hiding in the barn with three foals. Tearful reunion and explanation follows
-Rainbow tells them that there's a big scary monster stomping around in the orchard, and they need to kill it before they can leave
-Snake and Twilight leave to do that. They kill the monster. Trenton appears and helps out during the fight
-Trenton tells them various things and runs away
-Snake, Twilight, and the foals hop on the truck and drive home

All in one chapter. The broad strokes of what's in it now were still there; soul-bleeding was a thing, as was the mental connection (like I said in the blog for 12, the foals were supposed to have a quasi-hive mind), but much of what ended up in the mix resulted from changes to the story when I came back to it last summer. The Operator wasn't part of the chapter, nor were Killjoy and the Guard, nor was the lost realm of Canterbria CANTERBRRRRRRRRRRRRRIA, and the culprit was even more vague and opaque then it ended up being in the final product. Cherry Jubilee wasn't going to appear; I don't think I'd even decided whether or not she survived the attack on Dodge. And there were no changelings.

Jury's out on whether or not what you ended up with is better than what I originally had in mind, or even whether or not the story would have been better without Dodge, period. I'll revisit the question once PGS is over and done with.

As you perhaps know (or don't), writing 13 was a struggle, an actual physical and mental struggle. I had a lot on my plate over the months following 12's release, and it made it difficult to sit down and write, much less get the words out when I did sit down and write. November was particularly difficult, and at one point, I just threw out everything that I had and decided to start over, more or less from scratch.

I batted around idea after idea after idea, at one point thinking of having Snake encounter Trenton, and having half the chapter be from his perspective as he goes looking for Twilight. Twilight would have met Thorax instead, who would have filled her in on what happened in Dodge, and been the one to explain about Chrysalis and her motivations for digging a hive beneath Dodge. He and Twilight would have interacted with Chrysalis's golem, too, who would have been alive and intact, rather than languishing in the Silence of the Lambs-style set-up that she ended up with in the final draft.

Finally, in part on the advice of Editor Man (who, I cannot stress enough, is the reason why this arc has any redeeming value), I returned to my original idea and just began again. I followed the general idea of how I wanted the chapter to progress, but everything besides the plot points (Twi meets Trenton, Twi talks to Trenton, Twi sees things, Twi finds Rainbow, etc.) was just outright gone. Including the setting, which is to say, how much of the hive vs. how much of the ruin we got to see, the full extent/nature of the ruins, the setting for the boss battle with Chryssimonster (oh, by the way, the monster's literal, official name is fucking Chryssimonster), and most, if not all, of the dialogue between Twilight and Trenton.

Again, I can't say it's an improvement, but it's... a somethingment.

Twi and Chryssi's conversation at the start of 13 went through some changes; at one point, the two of them had a fairly detailed conversation about the history of Canterbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrria that Editor Man suggested was out of place. The city's backstory ended up being conveyed in this blog, instead, so if you read that and wondered why it was tagged with PGS... that's why.

(It also, incidentally, inspired a story about Daring Do and Rainbow Dash attending a luncheon which I am eager to eventually write).

Twilight was also originally far more brutal and willing to use lethal force in her fight, and would have killed every last one of the honor guard except for Chryssi's puppet (who Trenton would have capped instead), which felt out of alignment with the trajectory of her character arc. She pulls her punches in the final draft.

Trenton was difficult to write for here. Dialogue-wise, I mean. We get glimpses of personality during his few appearances in previous chapters, but he doesn't say or do much to imply personal depth beyond "hurrdurr I'm a scary robot man." Consider the difficulties of trying to convey emotion and motivation for a character who rarely projects feeling in his voice, who does not have a face (there's only so many times I can write "Trenton's eye flickered" before I just want to cut my own hands off), and whose body language almost never betrays any hint of thought or emotion. You'll understand why I might have struggled with Trenton.

He turned out okay, though. I think. Even though he flaps his invisible gums constantly in the chapters. Although, on the other hand, his speeches about Equestria being a mirror for America are, collectively, some of my favorite material from the entire story. As are his occasional references to Marxist thought and literature.

Also, favorite quote from the editing sessions for 13/14:

"Trenton is starting to develop a sense of humor, and it's scaring me."

-Editor Man, 2017.

The bathhouse was fun! Difficult to piece together, but fun to conceive of and write about. I based it on an ancient Roman thermae, and used the floor plan from the one in Pompeii (itself the inspiration for the fall of Canterbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrria) as the basis for this one. It's not quite a 1:1 recreation, but the way the chambers fit together is more or less faithful to that original concept (there isn't, to my knowledge, a servant's passage in the Pompeii bathhouse).

Fun fact: ancient Romans loved to shitpost. I don't think they etched pictures of peasants buggering the rich onto the walls of their thermae, but they never shied away from writing lewd or explicit messages on things. I had a few lines of written graffiti among the pictures in the servant's passage, but I ended up cutting them; they were a little too derivative. And I also figured that having a lactating mare and written jokes about fornication with politicians' daughters would have been too much all at once.

The graffiti in Pompeii is pretty good for a laugh. Look it up sometime, I encourage you.

Regarding Chryssimonster: Chryssimonster was, as noted before, part of the Dodge arc from inception, though it wasn't going to have Chrysalis or a trace of changeling matter in it. It was just supposed to have been a monster made from the souls of the Dodge townsponies. It was also going to be Gear REX from Peace Walker.

Inexplicably.

Not an idea I ever really loved. In part because I don't think Gear REX's attack patterns would have translated well to the written word, and in part because the idea of the final boss being a non-canon side-boss from Peace Walker's Monster Hunter crossover was too stupid, even for me. Once the changelings were in the mix, I thought of a different design for the monster. Basically, it's Metal Gear EXCELSUS by way of Metroid Prime. With an element from Amygdala (the human arms) for good measure, with some visual cues to suggest a changeling origin.

Also, while Twilight speculates that the Dodge townsponies are part of Chryssimonster, that's not actually the case. It's made from the transmuted souls of the changelings, and imbued with Chrysalis's soul; the Dodge population served a different purpose. They were the albumen in the egg that Chryssimonster hatched from. Changelings feed on love; ponies are full of love. Ergo, the souls from the Dodge ponies were used to nourish Chryssimonster while she gestated. The fog in the barn, that's what's left of them after she hatched.

Flynt Coal mentioned in his review that he felt the Chryssimonster fight ran a little long, which was something I was concerned about when I was writing it. I felt like having two hope spots back to back (Trenton cripples the monster, and it regenerates; Trenton impales the monster RULES OF NATURE style, and it regenerates) was redundant, and considered condensing. I was also concerned that it'd end up running too short, and would end up not being sufficient payoff for all the build-up, as well as the cliffhanger ending of 13. So I ended up keeping both, and just doing my best to keep them fast-paced and interesting.

I think the interactions between Snake and Twilight more or less speak for themselves. Predictably, Snake was too noble to leave Twilight to die, and Twilight's whole opinion on him has more or less flip-flopped after he went after her. We'll deal with that a little bit more in later chapters, but suffice to say, she sees him as a far more heroic figure than she did when they left Ponyville.

Worth pointing out, at this juncture, that if she had simply asked him to go with her, and showed him respect and due consideration in the first place, rather than assuming that he wouldn't go along unless she twisted his arm into going, he probably (no, definitely) would have done it. Grumbled about it, but he would have gone with her, and there wouldn't have been anywhere near as much tension between them as there was. I think that Twilight's arc, from here on out, is going to deal with her assessing herself, realizing that she's straying from her principals, and trying to realign herself with the person she was/the person she wants to be. Coming to terms with how she treated Snake, and the two of them resolving their lingering differences over that, will be part of her arc in the last act of the story.

Oh, Strudel's litmus test for Twilight is taken from the comics, for those who weren't aware. I'm not what you'd call an avid reader of them, but these panels are just gold.

Chryssimonster dies, Cherry foreshadows, Twilight and Rainbow reunite and hug after three years of waiting (*sniff*), and Killjoy tries to make out with Twilight. Snake and Rainbow banter (it's not explicitly stated, but Rainbow has a much higher opinion of him, since he kept the promise he made to her and stayed to help Twilight and the others), Snake and Trenton banter, and the gang rides off into the sunset while listening to The Cure.

I don't dislike The Cure. My dad does, but I don't. Having Snake hate The Cure, besides being a cute reference to MGSV, is supposed to distinguish him from Big Boss. He's very close to Clone Daddy and Fake Clone Daddy in terms of temperament and personality, but I think their musical tastes would diverge sharply. Venom doesn't strike me as the type to carry J-Pop on his iPod during missions, even if it does help restore his Psyche meter.

Chapter titles come from the lyrics to It Has To Be This Way, and from The Fury in MGS3. 13's quote is from Psycho Mantis in MGS1, relating to Trenton, while 14's is from one of the torture tapes in Ground Zeroes. Skull Face's loss of body and identity is supposed to reflect Chrysalis's own feelings.

I think that's all the major stuff (or at least the stuff I felt needed covering). If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Either way, thank you again for all your patience and support, and we'll see you soon for 15. :twilightsmile:

Oh, bonus! Cut content! I teased this when I did the blog for 12; it's the original scene where Twilight and Rainbow reunited. Featuring Not!Scootaloo, Not!Apple Bloom, and Not!Sweetie Belle, as well as hot wing-hugging action!


To the right of the barn door was another door - smaller and pony-sized. Bracing his back against the wall beside the door, Snake reached out with one hand and gave it a tentative push. It shook, but didn't open.

Locked, Twilight thought. From the inside. Naturally. She ran through their options - the lock wasn't visible, and she didn't think she could pick a lock she couldn't see. There wasn't any other easier way into the barn. Really, it was this or nothing. She eyed the door - Applejack's was solidly built and reinforced, but compared to hers, this one looked slipshod, lacking in craftsmanship.

"We could just knock," she said softly. "If she's in there..."

"...she could be in trouble. Held hostage." Snake's voice was quiet, almost a whisper. "Could be that Trenton's in there with her."

In which case, maintaining the element of surprise would be paramount. She nodded at Snake, flashing her aura around her horn, and mouthed "stand back" to him.

Snake nodded and got into position behind her, drawing his gun and holding it at the ready. Twilight squeezed her eyes shut and focused hard. The events of the day had taken a toll on her, but she could still break down a door, at least. She just had to try a little harder than normal.

Her aura shone brighter around her horn. She felt a point of warmth build at its tip. She clenched her jaw and lowered her horn to the door, eyes shut tight as she focused. With a sound like rolling thunder, the door exploded off its hinges, pieces of wood flying into the pitch-dark barn.

Twilight was in first, the light from her horn bathing the barn in pink and purple hues. In the split second she had to survey her surroundings, she saw barrels of cherries and bales of hay were stacked on either wall a door leading down to a cellar at the far wall -

- and something to her right screamed a raspy battle cry and crashed into her, cutting off her investigation. Shocked by the suddenness of the attack, she lost her focus on her magic and her aura disappeared. She and her attacker rolled and tumbled together in the darkness, a tangle of hooves and legs, until they came to a rest with Twilight pinned to the ground.

Her first thought was about why Snake hadn't shot her attacker yet; her second was about how frustrating it was that one of the day's themes seemed to be "Twilight Sparkle gets pinned to the ground by bloodthirsty monsters". She focused, straining to reform her aura for a counterattack.

"Twi?"

Twilight's heart plummeted into her stomach at the sound of that voice. Her aura flickered into existence again. Above her was a look of distinct confusion etched across a pale blue face with bandages running across both cheeks. The attacker pulled away and plopped onto her haunches as Twilight rose on her elbows. There was another bandage around her wounded wing, and her normally lustrous mane was a twig-and-pebble-filled nest of tangles, and there might have been other things about her appearance that were off but Twilight couldn't tell because her eyes were unaccountably full of water that kept leaking down her face.

"What are you doing here?" Rainbow Dash asked. She sniffed, wrinkled her nose, and frowned. "And have you been drinking?"

Instead of answering, Twilight catapulted herself forward and flung her hooves around Rainbow Dash, squeezing tightly against her and laughing joyously. "It's you! It's you it's you it's really you! You're alive!" She buried her face in Dash's mane - she smelled like sweat and forest and diesel - and laughed as she wept openly.

Dash laughed nervously, punctuated with the occasional wince. "Yeah, it's - ow - it's great to see you too, Twilight. I'm - ow - Twilight, you're hurting - OW!" She finally extricated herself by force and held Twilight at arm's length. "The wing, Twilight!"

"Oh." Twilight glanced at the bandage wound tight around Dash's appendage and her sobbing laughter became a wet giggle. "Sorry."

Rainbow Dash shrugged with a smirk. "I won't hold it against you. I'd be pretty happy to see me too." She leaned back and brushed her chest with the back of her hoof casually.

Getting crushed and kidnapped and dragged out into the middle of a town filled with flesh-eating, bloodthirsty monster ponies? she seemed to be saying. Man, I'm Rainbow Dash. It ain't no thang. Part of her wanted to shake Rainbow Dash by the shoulders until she was crying just as much as Twilight was.

Instead, Twilight hiccuped, sniffled, wiped at her eyes with one hoof, and embraced her again, taking care to avoid the wounded wing. "I thought you died," she whispered. "I'm so sorry for thinking you died."

"C'mon, egghead." Rainbow Dash chuckled sheepishly, "You're embarrassing me." She tried to sound nonchalant, but there was a quiver to her voice, and she was dabbing at her own eyes as she wrapped her unhurt wing around Twilight and pulled her closer.

A loud, gruff cough drew their attention back to the door. Snake stood there awkwardly, his pistol now lowered. "Sorry to kill the moment, but..." He nodded in the direction of the cellar door.

Twilight, a little reluctantly, unwrapped herself from Rainbow Dash. She blinked rapidly to clear her vision, wiped away her remaining tears, and looked toward the cellar door. It had opened, and a little off-white earth filly with a pink mane was poking her head out to regard them cautiously.

"Miz Dash?" said the filly. "Can we come out now? It's kinda stanky down here. Kinda super stanky."

"Yeah yeah, come on," said Rainbow Dash, beckoning the filly closer. "It's cool. These are my..." She looked past Twilight, at Snake, and a flicker of uncertainty crossed her face. "I know these clowns."

The filly emerged from the cellar, followed by three other foals - two colts and a filly. They crept slowly toward the new arrivals, staring at Snake with something between caution and awe. "I told 'em to hide when we heard you at the door," Rainbow Dash explained. "We figured something would be coming through, just didn't know what. Or who." She shoved Twilight playfully. "You could'a knocked."

"I'll file that away for next time. But, uh, Rainbow..." Twilight eyed the gaggle of foals confusedly. "Dare I ask why you're locked in an empty barn with a bunch of schoolfoals?"

"Uh, heh..." Rainbow Dash rubbed the back of her filthy mane with a hoof that was still raw and red where a rope had chafed it. "That's kind of a long story. And you didn't answer my question. What's goody-four-shoes Twilight Sparkle doing smellin' like she did the backstroke in a swimming pool filled with rum?"

One of the foals - an amber-maned, black-coated pegasus - moved closer to Twilight, pressed her face uncomfortably close to her flank, and took a big whiff. "She's stanky too," the filly reported, oblivious to Twilight's scandalized reaction. "But a diff'rent kind'a stanky."
A green-coated, green-maned colt perked up. "Kinda like daddy - "

" - on Friday night!" finished a burnt-orange unicorn colt. The three nodded together; Twilight's cheeks burned.

Snake, leaning awkwardly in the doorway with his pistol holstered, looked from Dash, to Twilight, to the foals.

"So," he said. "Who goes first?"

There was actually a partially completed draft of 12 after this scene. I guess I deleted it at some point.

Comments ( 5 )
Majin Syeekoh
Moderator

Oh Poshy-Woshy, you technically placed sixth out of sixty because one of the entries was disqualified for being batshit insane( it’s still a fair sight better than my placing at 33, though).:raritywink:

Nevertheless, this is an interesting write-up of a story I haven’t read yet and it looks like this story involves Chrysalis, so I’ll have to bookmark it and check it out when I can muster the energy to do so(I have had an absolute dearth of motivation to do anything for the past few months, but I’ll most likely cycle out of it so no harm done).

Oh hey, you mentioned a certain cool guy extraordinaire. Neat.

And yes, the TvTropes page could definitely use more love. I can't edit it all by myself here!

Just wanna say, first of all, that the mental image of Rainbow and Twilight singing along to Kids In America while Snake hunches over his steering wheel with thoughts of murder in his mind is too hilarious to not share with the world. I'm either going to commission art of that, or just write an entire spin-off about Snake driving the Mane Six around on road trips. Possibly both.

Funny, I was just going to request (loudly and belligerently) that we get a story about Snake taking ponies on road trips. I'm holding you to that! :twilightsmile:

Before you put yourself down any further, let me just say: These difficult to write chapter(s) of your crossover turned out way better than the similarly troublesome chapters in my own crossover. Clearly you didn't take my advice of "just get it done and don't worry about the fact that it sucks like mine does". Then again, I suppose I have just a teensy bit of bias when comparing your work to my own! :raritywink:

And on that note, I totally feel you when you say that writing for Trenton is hard. Try to imagine writing a story where literally half the cast are wearing full body powered-armor at all times. The appearance of any human character with a face was like a goddamn oasis in a desert filled with repetitious body language and vocal inflections.

Also, I am proud to say I immediately recognized that scene from the comics when it was referenced in the chapter. Can confirm: Those panels are fucking fantastic.

The deleted scene was interesting, but I definitely prefer Rainbow and Twilight's reunion in the version that ended up in the story.

Overall, this has been an insightful After-Action Report. I look forward to chapter 15, and spending the following half a year waiting for 16! :trollestia:

4434206 I mention repeatedly what a mess my story became because of poor planning, and your response is "looks interesting, I'm gonna read it."

...You're a strange one. I certainly can't stop you, but, you know, if you read that whole document, then you kinda spoiled four chapters of it for yourself. Good work. 8/10.

4434423

And on that note, I totally feel you when you say that writing for Trenton is hard. Try to imagine writing a story where literally half the cast are wearing full body powered-armor at all times. The appearance of any human character with a face was like a goddamn oasis in a desert filled with repetitious body language and vocal inflections.

I mentioned once to Editor Man, back when we were doing 11, that it's difficult to properly transcribe all of Snake's sub-vocal grunts and growls. They're such an important part of David Hayter's performance that I can't not include mention of them, but getting the right inflection in dialogue tags for every single individual flavor of grunt is a challenge. On par with (or even surpassing) Trenton's body language.

At some point, I'm just going to replace "said" with "grunted" where Snake is concerned, "said bookism" be damned.

4434527

I forbid you to do this.

4434585 You fool.

It's already happened.

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