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Apr
10th
2017

Retrospective: SunLight Sliders · 7:01am April 10th

What if you could travel to parallel worlds? The same year, the same world, only different dimensions. A world where the airships soar the sky... or you were one of the two immortal Princesses of Equestria... or where the world you knew is only a television show? Sunset and I found the gateway. Now the problem is... finding a way back home.

Twenty-five authors. Fifteen hundred words each. Seventy-two hours an author. Three and a half months. Two mares. One interdimensional talisman. One crazy ride through the multiverse.

Welcome to the Retrospective on SunLight Sliders.



Now, I noticed I suddenly have a lot of new followers. First things first.

This isn’t my story!

Well, it’s not just my story. Twenty-four very talented individuals lent their storytelling gifts to make SunLight Sliders a reality. I strongly encourage you to pick out your favorite chapters and go check out the stories written by those authors! Give them a few likes and a follow! They deserve the credit for their hard work. I might have built the foundation, but they built the house. And it's a freakin' gorgeous house!

This is more important to me personally than any other aspect of the story. I want respect given where it’s due.

So go check them out!

Before we go any further, this is going to be a little different from my usual retrospectives… namely because I didn’t write most of this story. So this is going to be part Retrospective, part Commentary. Just a fair warning.

Quick Note: For some reason, the site's emoicons aren't working on this post. I have no idea why. :derpyderp2: So a few lines might be odd without them.

Let’s talk about the beginnings of SunLight Sliders.


Inception


Believe it or not, I came up with the concept for SunLight Sliders smack dab in the middle of National Novel Writing Month back in November of 2016. I think it was shortly after I read At the Drop of a Hat by the AppleDash Group, which Tchernobog ended up publishing. I combined that idea with the fantastic concept introduced by Oroboro in his keystone story of the “Sunset Shimmer Shipping Project,” A Sunlit Journey. The simple idea of developing a portal from Earth-based tech that went to other dimensions.

Then I started playing with the ideas. Now, I’ll be honest. I had my best NaNoWriMo to date this last year. I knocked out 50,000 words in Wavelength Theorems, finished the first draft of How Not To Use Your Royal Prerogative and then even started A Study in Chaos Theory.

However, I was smart enough not to fire it up in the middle of freaking November or December, because that would run across Thanksgiving and Christmas and the rest of the holidays. Yeah. That just wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I exercised some patience (for once) and did a post to the main Sunset Shimmer group and the various SunLight and Sunset Shimmer Shipping Groups (somehow, I forgot to include the actual Shipping group in this, silly me).

I posted the idea with my first concept of the prompt with the original title of “The SunLight Initiative.”

The portal between CHS and Equestria is stuck open and now anyone--or anypony--can just wander through! Princess Twilight and Sunset Shimmer team up to get to the bottom of it and see if they can shut things down before reality itself is torn apart… or worse, Principal Celestia OR Princess Celestia find out about it!

The idea was that authors could pick which Twilight to use. Yeah… not a bad comedy prompt, but it doesn’t give a lot of room for originality. We needed something broader. More fun. And… I needed to pick a Twilight. Eventually, I ended up with my original favorite ship. Yeah, yeah, sue me. :derpytongue2:

Eventually, to get a better concept, I ended up bothering Tchernobog.

Endlessly. :twilightsheepish:

I asked him how he had done it. Since others had done it before, might as well learn, right? It helped that he had already been through two of them.

I knew I wanted the portal (since it would give the most amount of flexibility) and since we’re talking about reality breaking down… somehow, it finally clicked. Well, it clicked after Tchernobog made me look at it the right way.

And this was the second version of the prompt:

After a short visit to Equestria with Twilight, both Sunset Shimmer and Princess Twilight head back through the portal... only to find themselves not at Canterlot High, but in a world neither of them have ever seen! Can they return to Canterlot High, or will the portal send them somewhere else? (With their luck, probably somewhere else)

And that gave us the new title of SunLight Sliders. And though this wasn’t the final prompt, we were a lot closer.

So, on December 3, 2016, I launched the main thread on the Sunset Shimmer Group and pointed all other groups to that specific thread (trying to keep it concurrent in four different groups was going to be impossible). I sent out several personal invites to some of my favorite SunLight authors (you know who you are).

I gave everyone a month to sign up and suggested we have a start date of January 1, 2017. “Nothing like a new year to celebrate the best OTP.” Everyone seemed really happy with that, so I just watched the thread and started to tally the people!

I ended up locking the author list on December 26 (though it would still change three times after that) and then generated the final version of the Author’s List. I’ll admit, I did a little tweaking here and there to space out some of the more established authors among the newer authors to give us a broad scope of possibilities.

And then… on January 1, the start flag went down and I fired it up (And for the record, yes, I did wait until January 1 to start writing, though I had been thinking about it for weeks).

Fun Fact! This was the original cover I based SunLight Sliders on. I'm so very happy we got SciSetDaily instead of my initial design. While this art is awesome, I never liked what I ended up doing with it to get it to be a vertical cover!


Launch


Since this was my crazy idea, I decided it was only fitting that I end up starting us off. I did my best to set up the system, the world and the rules. I’ll admit, I ‘borrowed’ (read: stole) from Sliders a ton here. But I wanted a bit more flexibility than Quinn’s Timer. So instead, I came up with the Talisman. Based on Sci-Twi’s magic-stealing amulet, she decides to get rid of it… and of course Princess Twilight wants a crack at it.


Sci-Twi never wanted to see this darn thing again.

Here were the rules I built into the Talisman:
1. The device has to be activated by pressing a button which creatures a portal in space-time Sunset and Twilight need to jump through.
2. The Talisman recharges based on the ambient magical energy of the world they’re in. (It recharges faster in some worlds, slower in others).
3. The device is configured to work for only two ponies.
4. The device needed… calibrations.

Why did I set these up? I’ll tell you!
1. One of the things in Sliders is that the heroes have to get to the specific location and use the Timer at the precise moment or else get lost further in the multiverse. That’s a big limitation. I wanted more flexibility. So instead, the Talisman doesn’t need to be activated immediately upon hitting full charge. It was to allow an author to stay longer in a specific world if they so desired. However, it does need to be activated and it doesn't just teleport them out. (I’ll admit, this one was not followed all that consistently :twilightoops:)
2. The recharge time was designed to help pacing. Authors could use it to either speed things up (high ambient magic) or slow things down (low ambient magic) as needed. But they couldn’t just keep jumping until they find something they like (that would be too easy anyway). This got played with a little and Idsertian did something really creative with it by having it still recharging, but using it to capture an energy bolt to fire it back up.
3. I’m surprised no one took advantage of this particular little bit of fine print, but Twilight warns Sunset that the Talisman was only designed to teleport a maximum of two ponies at a time. And it would have… side effects if more were included. What those side effects were, I was leaving to the authors.
4. Of course, when the first fire it up, they don’t end up at CHS.

Now, the funny thing is… there was one other important element that I didn’t get a chance to set up. Namely… that this device was designed to teleport directly between Equestria and CHS. Nothing more. They didn’t mean to go exploring the multiverse together. It was an accident. So why the Talisman took them to another world and why in later chapters they said they were just exploring was never established.

This is one of the main reasons why Chapter 1 (Extended) was written, so I could set things up a bit better and give them a reason to actually want to explore and to make it fun. It also dovetailed nicely into Oroboro’s chapter introducing Voyager Sparkle, who finally reconfigures the device properly to get them home in ten or twenty jumps (though of course, that never happens).

I won’t lie. The other reason was I wanted more steampunk adventure warzone stuff! Though I admit it was actually really fun to link that into NotSoWickedWitch’s chapter (Seriously, I never saw the literal “Shipping War” thing coming. Stroke of genius, that).


Because steampunk is awesome. That's why.

Lastly, I wanted to set up two important elements. First, Sunset was crushing just a little bit on Twilight in the opening. I wanted to establish that they weren’t currently in a relationship and see where the authors took it. And here’s a little hint that Twilight might feel something too with that peck on the cheek. After all, to have them together already… I don’t know? Maybe it’s me, but I like watching ponies/people fall in love. Call me a sap if you must, but one of my favorite kind of stories of romance.

Anyway, this is a shipping story. Shipping is far more fun when we start from the beginning. :twilightsmile:

The other element was how “dark” the story was going to get and I’m happy to say I think most folks stayed roughly in this area. It was namely with a single line during the Shimmering Dawn’s attack on the city:

Any enemy caught in a blast was instantly knocked unconscious and left floating in midair in a strange little bubble.

This was supposed to be a fun, silly romance adventure comedy, not some dark and gritty war story. So by throwing them into a war from the get-go and setting the tone there, it allowed folks to have a bit more fun and be more creative with their approaches.

And then… came the hardest part.

...letting the story go. :rainbowderp:

"You've worked on that long enough, Sunny!"


Journey


I had a lot of fun with my PMs to each author. In the end, everyone got their story in on time, save for one person who got screwed by a power outage at the worst possible time and one other person who I had a miscommunication with about dates.

The real fun part was that I sent a picture of SunLight art with every single message. I got to expand my own collection quite a bit there, too. Every author got a notice when it was their turn to start writing, with a reminder on what day/time it was due. They each got either a message a day or a message on Day 1 and Day 3. A few people liked to psych me out and remind them a few hours before it was due… but those didn’t get pictures because I was being grumpy. :ajbemused:

Now, as to the actual start of the story...

There was some minor confusion at the get go. A little bit of miscommunication when it came to how authors picked up the next chapter. Thankfully, we got it worked out really quickly and Chapter 1 (Extended) fixed the little gap we had between the original Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. Ironically, Chapter 2 was our second shortest chapter. One of the very few people who actually went with the “reported” goal of between 500-1000 words (1500 was supposed to be the max, but since my first chapter was just a hair under that, I can’t blame anyone for doing the same as me).

This is also the chapter where I learned the most important rule of collaboration stories like this: no matter what, the next author will do something you never expected. They’re going to take what you did and run a totally different direction.

Case in point: The brilliant idea of the airship battle being a literal shipping war against the PinkieDash Nation. Genius. Pure genius.

I definitely did not see the inanimate thing coming though. And I’ll admit… Tumbleweed's chapter made it a bit creepier.

Especially with that blasted “Applejack’s in the basement line.” I mean come on!

Now, I’ll admit to sneaking in here a bit. The last line screamed that this was going to go into horror territory. I may have poked DrakeyC to adjust course just a tad. He also wasn’t required to listen to me at all.

...but that Aperture Science Testing Associate line crack was just begging to be made, wasn’t it? Had to be done.


"I happen to be a certified Aperture Science Testing Associate. How the heck do you think I have bits to use at CHS?!"


Multiverse


Starting in Chapter 4, we got to explore a bit more of the multiverse. And where better to start than Sunset and Twilight meeting their Princess doubles. I will also admit that DrakeyC’s chapter was part of the inspiration for what became And a Sky Full of Stars. I was even tempted to use the characters outright for a time, but ended up going in a different direction.

Now, DrakeyC’s been lurking around The Albinocorn for quite a bit if I’m to judge from various footnotes and comments. So I may have done a serious squee when we find the Nightmare Moon story parallelled in the fate of Vesper Radiance. I have to admit, every little bit of worldbuilding in here was done magnificently. From “My brother, Shining Armor the Bearded,” to Sunset “fending for herself in the wilds of the forest” (A wonderful Witch of the Everfree nod, I believe) and ending with the fact that Trixie had too much of an ego to actually use the Elements properly, forcing Twilight to use her Love Appeal attack…

Princess Sunset glared. “This story would be told much better if you stopped interrupting it.”

And this was awesome. Almost as awesome as Twilight freaking out as their Princess selfs start to… cough become involved.

My one regret is that Sunset didn’t get off a quip like “Andddd… we’re done.”

Then Fuzzyfurvert introduces our first villain of the piece. None other than Tirek, that magic-stealing demon centaur jerk. Not only that, but it’s the first time the Talisman gets cracked open and played with (I’m surprised he didn’t boobytrap the darn thing). I knew he was going to reappear later… but definitely didn’t see where he would come in.

After all, every epic adventure needs a good bad guy.

(Fun fact: Fuzzyfurvert actually wasn’t on the original list! We were running so far ahead of schedule, we actually had room to sneak someone in!)

Afterwards, RQK gives us a great example of pacing. We just escaped from Tartarus, now have a looming threat over our heads. Despite that, RQK allows Sunny and Twi to finally get a break on a tropical island as ponies and we start amping up the shipping a little bit more. And then we get the wonderful curveball… of Twilight and Sunset not being the only ones jumping between worlds.

How this would turn out is not something I would see coming at all.

...just like seeing Twilight and Sunset appear in a television series that is named something really strange. I can’t quite remember it. :duck:

Oh yeah, and another shout-out of one of my favorite lines:

Despite being one of the biggest minds in Equestria Twilight only now seemed to slowly realize her situation.
Which is why Sunset decided to take matter into her own hooves.
“Hahaha, that’s enough, Tara. You can drop the act now.”
Spike’s expression went from concerned to annoyed again in an instant.
“Really? You’re on thin ice, Rebecca.” He pointed a claw at her. “Don’t forget, that we let you join the main cast mostly because of fan demand… especially after the bad response we got with Starlight last season.”
“If you’d let me appear in more episodes–”
“Shut up and go back into your corner, Kelly!”

I laughed. So. Damn. Hard. :rainbowlaugh:

And then it got better:

The group of ponies dispersed and they started chatting among themselves.
“Bold move.”
“I can’t believe she did that.”
“Can I come out of the corner?”
“She really got me.”
“No, Ashleigh, we won’t make a spin-off called ‘My little Dash: Rainbow is Awesome’.”

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the naming conventions? You can find the logic here. It’s a lot more thorough than anything I would have come up with!

And after TheNewYorkBrony completely cheats us out of what could have been an awesome kissing scene (What? There’s no salt here! You can’t prove anything!) we get another classic: the mirror universe. My only serious problem was that no one had goatees…


It's not a real mirror universe without goatees. Well known scientific fact.

Though, NYB makes up for it with the “Rainbow Dash always dresses in style” crack. :rainbowlaugh:

And Applejack? Applejack was still...well Applejack.
“Wow, I guess Applejack is the same in any dimension.” Twilight said.

And that.

Sunsette (originally Yennefer) then gives us a nice little wrap up and some tenderness from both Sunset and Twilight before jumping into the next world…

And then Oroboro takes the stage.


Universal Constants


I happily admit that Oroboro’s chapter was the first one to make me actually squeal. I was so freaking psyched about the idea of a Twilight and Sunset having the actual powers of a Mistborn! As I’ve said before, I’m diehard Brandon Sanderson fan, so to see Sparkle actually do a full-on steelpush was so epic. And yes, I know I’ve gone on and on about it multiple times, but I don’t care. I still love it! The moment I saw the vial with the metallic flakes in it… yup. Lost it.

What’s even better is showing Sunset and Twilight their possible future if they don’t find a way home. What they could end up becoming. To call Sparkle jaded is to do her a great disservice. She’s far more complex than that. She’s simply seen too much. She’s fought too long. I’m very much looking forward to seeing him explore Sparkle in-depth in his upcoming novel. It’s going to be awesome.

Also?

“Wait, how does that even work?” Twilight tilted her head to the side. “There's a function of distance that matters when dimension hopping?”
“No, of course not. It's…” Sparkle scowled, and crossed her arms over her chest. “What do you want me to do, sit here and explain the entire theory of multidimensional waylines to you?”
“Yes!”
“Right, of course I would say that.”

This single chapter had so much bottled up within it. So much storytelling potential. Yeah. This is something worth exploring. And even better? We get an official term for what we’re doing other than sliding.

Voyaging. It’s not a word I would have come up with myself… but it grows on you.

And the beginning of the “Universal Constants” theme. (I loved this theme!)

Finally, we have the moment of fear Twilight shows watching Voyager Sparkle leave. The line of “I don’t want to become her.” It’s almost as good as Sunset’s vow never to let that happen.

(Also, I’d like to give a special shout-out to Ladrian’s various comments. They were amazing. I loved seeing his reaction to Oroboro’s Mistborn reference. In fact, I demanded he get in the thread and read this story the second I saw it. He was the second person I told about it right after I geeked out with Oroboro a bit.)

OddOneOut then finally gave us our first real dose of shipping. Okay, honestly? This was an overdose. And then some.

...they Voyage to a freakin’ love hotel?!

I actually didn’t even know this was a thing. Then I looked it up. Actually, I just looked it up. Blinked a few times. And then went “Oki doki loki.” :rainbowderp:

It helps that it started with Sunset trying to calibrate Twilight. :rainbowlaugh:

And then rapidly go downhill from there. It stops just shy of the gutter though! Seeing Twilight literally jump Sunset was not something I saw coming. Remember how I said that authors are always going to do something unexpected? This was unexpected. Very unexpected.

...especially the “pet names” bit. :facehoof:

Though what I’m really happy about it the emotional reaction at the end. Twilight’s utter horror over her actions. Sunset’s acceptance and mild teasing over it. Both of those were perfectly in character for our two favorite Book Horses.

Also?

You know, starting was fun. I set up the mechanics, add the definitions and boot them off into random worlds... then sit back with the biggest bucket of interdimensional popcorn ever. (Okay, fine. I have to annoy and organize still, but it's still fun!)

This was my own comment in the thread near the end of January. And it was true all the way through.

Then, the one with the experience took the field. And let’s be honest, if you didn’t know what was coming, you’ve never read anything by Tchernobog before (and if that’s the case, shame on you!).

First, we get a really touching conversation between the two of them. A reaffirmation of a promise… and it’s an important promise. Considering we’ve seen what corrupted Sunset looks like… and we’ve seen what corrupted Sci-Twi looks like… Sunset’s promise to keep Twilight away from that path is actually a pretty big deal. Not only that, Sunset's probably the best qualified to do it.

And then comes the mandatory AppleDash. :ajsmug: :rainbowkiss: With another line about Universal Constants. Because it’s Tchernobog. And that’s how he rolls. And how he rolls is with Applejack apologizing for Rainbow… like always.

“Rainbow!” Applejack glared. “Sorry ‘bout that one.” She said as Rainbow laughed, shrugging helplessly . “You know how she is. “C’mon. Breakfast is my treat. Tell us everythin’ there.”
“In every dirty detail-”
“Rainbow!”

And no, for the record, I have no idea where Tch got his obsession with pixie-cut Sunset from. No idea at all. :rainbowderp:

Other part? I’m glad we got some real shipping for a few chapters… because the next few chapters? Things get cranked up to 11.


A New Challenger Appears


KalenNighteyes came out of left field with a brand-new enemy that no one saw coming. An agent for a group that would come to be called “The Accord.” A woman by the name of Aeon.

I have to admit, having her come out of nowhere, tell the two of them they were breaking the law and the penalty for breaking that law was death seemed pretty extreme to me. Even then, we got some really good mileage out of this plot thread. It ran all the way to the grand finale, in fact.

Though I still say Kalen was evil for dropping someone who could literally chase them through dimensions on Sunset and Twilight. Come on. Evil. Even more evil because Kalen admitted to not having a freaking clue how to resolve it, too! :rainbowlaugh:

Idsertian jumped in. First, as I said earlier, major bonus points for remembering that the Talisman is Sci-Twi’s amulet and using it to absorb Aeon’s blast of energy. Also gets bonus points for having Rainbow try to charge in, but AJ being smart enough to say “This time, this ain’t our fight.”

Though seriously, Aeon’s got some anger issues. She needs to see a shrink or something. In addition, Idsertian gets the credit for giving “The Accord” its name!

...then we end up in Hell?

Oh, phew. Not actual Hell. (Despite original intentions. :twilightsheepish:) We’ve got a Sombra, folks. Psychotic, demented, evil Sombra who murdered the world. Oh, this should be just swell. And then Aeon appears… and is instantly captured. She’s so very screwed… but instead, Twilight ends up playing the noble sacrifice card. Dammit, Twilight. I swear… :facehoof:

The funny thing was I remember having a great idea on how to get out of this particular situation, but I ended up [REDACTING] so much of it I can’t remember it anymore! Then Tchernobog yelled at me for not following my own rules. We have a minor argument with ponyemotes (that happens a lot, actually).

Which finally results in this exchange:

Tchernobog: :twilightangry2: Follow yer own rules or there'll be ANARCHY!
Novel: ...how is this not already anarchy? :rainbowderp:
Tchernobog: :twilightoops:
RadiantBeam: You're just encouraging him to break his own rules! :raritydespair:
ratedoni: As if they haven't already been destroyed. It’s like shooting at a barrel that had already exploded and someone gets close to you and tells you “Don't shoot it, it may explode!”
Sorry, it is a bit too late for that warning.

Have I mentioned how much I loved this project?

Next up, we’ve got Space Jazz, stepping into a confrontation on the surface of hell. Twilight does exactly what Twilight would do: sacrifice herself, even for an enemy. And we get one two of my favorite sequences in the entire novel as Twilight agrees to stay with the demented Sombra in place of the captured Aeon.

“Twilight,” Sunset sighed. “Please, don’t do this.”
The alicorn shook her head. “I have to. It’s the only thing that keeps Aeon alive and you safe. Just promise me, take the TPT and get as far away as you can. Don’t let Aeon find you and don’t come back for me.”
Sunset nuzzled her friend’s face, holding back a choked sob. “It’s a Talisman.”
Twilight let out a weak laugh. “Always defiant.”
Sunset nodded. “I’m coming back for you, too.”
“I know.”
Without another word, Sunset activated the Talisman and disappeared into the portal. Aeon immediately followed in a portal of her own.

I love that Twilight tells her “Don’t come back.”
Sunset responds with “I’m coming back.”
Twilight replies with “I know.”Seriously, this is as good as the Leia/Han “I love you/I know” bit.

Then a gorgeous scene where Sunset basically tells Aeon to buck off while she watches the sun set on another world. There was only one thing here that would have a ripple effect through chapters-to-come:

Aeon forced Sunset back up into a standing position. She pried away the still charging talisman and stuffed it in her own jacket. And without a word, she slapped on a pair of handcuffs onto Sunset and jerked her backwards towards the cliff.

...a ton of people (including myself at first) missed that line. They missed that Aeon confiscated the Talisman. Now, it makes perfect sense that Aeon would do this. And it’s perfectly in character. She would have to take this thing away from Sunset. It’s too powerful of a tool.

But somehow, it got missed and caused confusion down the road. The editing team had to make some changes to reflect this properly, but thankfully, we were able to iron out the few wrinkles from this getting mixed up without too much trouble.

Finally, we end with what might be my favorite ending of any chapter of SunLight Sliders:

“I’m going to save her,” Sunset said with an air of confidence. “And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
“Why do you care for her so much?” Aeon asked. She sat down next to Sunset. “There’s a million different versions of her.”
“Not her. She’s different,” Sunset said. “She’s mine.”

I got shivers from Sunset saying this. And I also just realized why. Because I use something very similar to this in an upcoming story. And there’s the same amount of passion in that scene that there is in this scene. It was a perfect note to end on.

Oh… and one final note: Space Jazz is totally evil for separating them.

Now… it’s time for another legend to take the field.

That’s right kids, it’s time for none other than the confirmed King of Sunset Fics The Albinocorn.


The Deal


The Albinocorn’s chapter would end up shaping the rest of SunLight Sliders. The introduction of Aeon in Kalen’s chapter started to give us a true consistent plotline, but this is where we finally get to see the light at the end of the tunnel… though in the case of The Accord, that could very well be an oncoming train.

We get Universal Constants (yay!), the introduction of the mysterious leader of The Accord, a creature by the name of “Stella Nova” who is literally black and white just to reflect her morale code, and the true nature of what we glimpsed back on that island so many chapters ago...

170 Sunset Shimmers and/or Twilight Sparkles have been before Stella Nova.

Universal constants. Sunset’s heart fluttered for a moment, then died again. Whatever she felt for Twilight was in vain. They would not be together now. Sunset hated herself for not saying something sooner. All of the signs had been there—they had always been there, ever since Twilight had reached a hand out to pull Sunset from her darkest moment. As much as she tried to push it away, Sunset knew they couldn’t be just friends.

Can I just say that I love this? That’s it. Just saying I love this sequence.

In the meantime, I also grow tired of seeing you in my courtroom and having to send you to be executed.

I’ve got this story in my head that every single time they were sent to be executed, Voyager Sparkle and Voyager Shimmer would come out, kick ass and save their alternate selves, no matter what the Accord did. That’s the real reason Aeon and The Accord hate Sunset and Twilight so much… they’ve never actually been able to nail them and they keep getting outwitted by them.

And finally, we get the last few pieces of our story. Tirek’s out. And it’s their fault. So Stella tells Sunset she needs to go fix it. Which is actually somewhat fair, even if she is demanding the destruction of the portal between CHS and Equestria.

Finally, we have my second favorite line in the entire series. After a supremely tense lecture from a creature who could kill Sunset in an eyeblink… she finally snaps…

“Now get out of my sight. As always, your hair offends me.”

I have to say, I did not envy CoverArt for having to follow up that magnificent number, but he did a bangup job for such a big challenge. Not only that, but he gave us a key component of the the final arc: the training teleporter (Though ironically, different authors called this different names from here on out. The training teleporter, the Talisman, the training talisman).

We have the oddest rescue in the history of Equestria. Sunset must rescue Twilight from… a picnic. Well, it it helps, it was a picnic of evil? Maybe? That was a great twist. And then… we get the Mirror Pool. At first, I thought this was totally out of left field, but it was actually ingenious. And it was even unintentionally ingenious as well!

Oh, and it’s time for another “Aside from the Comments...”

“So this mirror pool can create duplicates of you two, and then I can keep them?”
Twilight nodded, “Yes, you’ll never be alone ever again.”
Sombra took a moment to ponder the deal, before nodding slightly, “Alright Twilight Sparkle, I accept your deal.”

Ladrian: Dear god, the implications of the society that would exist on this world in a thousand years are incredible.
CoverArt: The way I see it is that Sombra would spend his time killing the clones, or having picnics with them. Though I didn't put that in my chapter.
Novel: Uhhh... yeah, I'm not putting a dark tag on this thing. So I'm using Organizer's Prerogative and just saying NOPE to that one! :rainbowderp:
CoverArt (Totally prepared for this and smarter than me): I knew it wasn't going to be that dark of a story that's why I intentionally left it out. I do hope it was a good chapter. (It was an awesome chapter).
Ladrian: That's not what I was thinking. I was imagining a society composed entirely of Sunsets and Twilights, with "Twisexual" being a widely accepted sexual preference. Because I have never thought of an excuse to use that word that was too stupid to take.
Also the super-intelligent society thing, but this is a shipping story, so let's focus on the important parts.

...I mentioned I love this thing, right? I’m mentioning it again. I love this thing. :rainbowlaugh:

Now… here’s the real issue: Albinocorn knocked out his chapter in less than a few hours instead of taking three days. CoverArt was almost as quick. Because of the speed of the other authors and a few other matters… we were suddenly like a week or two ahead. Wasn’t quite sure what to do.

Then I stumbled across SciSetDaily, whose comic I had been enjoying immensely for months now (I didn’t even realize Adge (the artist) was behind my favorite Philomena comic of all time too). Tchernobog had been the one to suggest actually bringing in a comic artist. So I hit her up on Tumblr to see if she was interested. Actually, I think I did that several weeks before this happened. I even asked CoverArt to try and get in his chapter a little early so give her more time. And CoverArt did an awesome job.

But the best part was keeping the whole thing secret from the entire group. Only Tchernobog and myself knew about it.

We were chatting back and forth for a bit about it. She ran the initial concept by me, I told her I loved it and go for it. And then… we get the faces!

Scrunchy Twilight is Scrunchy.


...there seems to be something off about that last Sunset…

Ladrian:

The extra Twi trying to be a Sunset is the best.
"No I'm the real Sunset!"
*Everyone stops and stares*
"What?"
"You're... you're a Twilight..."
"I could be the real Sunset! I can dream and aspire! Don't be a realist! Er... A copyist! No, wait, that one's also taken. A clonist! Yeah! That's bad and you should feel bad!"

(Okay fine, I confess. His comments are among my favorite comments on any of my stories. I’m biased! Deal with it!)

Yes, Twilight. Book.


Oh my god, I just want to hug her and squeeze her and… cough I’m sorry, where was I?

Explosions make everything better!


And now we have canonized the name of the Voyaging effect. It’s Bzoot. Scientific progress goes Bzoot. You heard it here first, folks!

My response verbatim:

A loud sound echoed throughout the thread.
All the ponies just stared at Novel.
"What level of squee was that?" Pinkie asked.
"You already know the end to that joke," Twilight replied with a roll of her eyes.
"Awww..." Pinkie pouted.
:pinkiehappy:
You're awesome.

And who better to follow that up with a nth-time Alumni of the Writeoff Association, another powerhouse of FimFic, Dubs Rewatcher?

Now, the first thing I tripped up on was that that teleport was supposed to send them to the Tirek universe. But the best part about that it didn’t... was it meant that the training teleporter wasn’t working right! This gets even more interesting once it’s revealed what actually happened to it (Oroboro came up with that one!). So in the end, this worked out totally awesome and I’m so happy with it.

We get a nice walk through the forest as a short break. We get Sunset using… “earther” terms that just gets blank stares out of Twilight.

“It’s a long story. Like, at least twenty chapters.”

This is equal parts :rainbowlaugh: and :facehoof:

But seriously, Dubs is a jerk for separating these two again! Come on! Tchernobog agreed with me! But then Albinocorn pointed out that we’re all evil anyway, being authors, so what are you going to do about it? :rainbowderp:

By the way, Marwile was indeed the one who came up with the idea for good Author’s Notes. :twilightblush:

Then Deathscar stepped up to the plate and slammed one out of the park. Twilight comes back from losing her memory thanks to Dubs being evil and punts a giant freaking killer bird through a forest with a single punch.

DON'T. BUCK. WITH. PISSED. TWILIGHT.

At first, the Sanderson fan in me cried a little since the vials Aeon gave Twilight and Sunset using non-Mistborn powers. He was even nice enough to listen to me whine about it. Unfortunately, Deathscar had been deprived from Sanderson’s genius (don’t worry, I fixed this!), so he ended up coming up with something totally different for what these vials did.

He made the right choice. Because the magic system for Mistborn is very specific and very structured. To have it imposed upon the rest of the story would have been unfair for any author who hadn’t read Mistborn and meaningless for any reader who hadn’t read it. So he made the right call and I’m glad he did. Because this gave the final authors far more freedom.

He also happened to share an extra 600 word piece of the real reason Aeon gave Twilight the vials (which I’m going to make him publish). In fact, he just did publish it and you can find it right here. While it's not truly 'canon' to the story, it's a wonderful glimpse of another vector of the multiverse.

Not only that… but he gave us the perfect opportunity to solve the teleporter/talisman conundrum.

Even better? He went back to my original theme of them doing this together. I’ll admit, during editing, I changed Chapter 1. Where once only Sunset had said “Together” when they first jumped through the portal, I changed it so it would mesh even better with Deathscar’s Together theme that Ebon Quill was brilliant enough to run with.

Also? I never expected the Talisman/TPT thing I introduced in Chapter 1 to become a running gag thing. It was awesome :rainbowkiss:


Showdown


Then, this was a moment I was waiting for. As most of you know, Ebon Quill has been my right hand editor since the launch of The Application of Unified Harmony Magics. He is an incredibly talented author who has penned his own endorsed and canon entry into the Wavelengths Timeline called Little Truths. This guy can write. So I was so excited to see what he had in mind.

In fact, he ended up writing two completely different chapters. His first take on it would have been freaking awesome if it had occurred earlier in the story and I was sad we couldn’t get it to work. (It asked too many questions without moving the story far enough along so we could possibly reach the ending; you can find it here.) It also finally put into play the Theory Cube Voyager Sparkle had given Twilight in Oroboro’s Chapter.

In the end, I’ll admit that Ebon and I bickered a bit about his chapter, but we also bickered about my chapter too. So, since we were both editing each other’s works, it ended up equaling out. First of all, we got the message that the training teleporter wasn’t working right and got it quickly when they end up in some sort of unique plane of existence. And in this plane of existence…

Twilight and Sunset finally get the moment we’ve been waiting for. It only took us twenty-two chapters to really earn that Romance Tag, but when we earned it, hell, we earned it. :heart:

Sunset chewed her lower lip, and tried not to think about the ratio of skirt to leg Twilight’s human form favored. Instead, she focused on the upcoming battle, tallying up advantages and hindrances.
Zero sum, no matter how I look at it.

:rainbowlaugh:

Ladrian Comment:

Advantages and hindrances like the probability that Tirek will be distracted by the amount of leg her skirt is showing compared to the probability of it distracting me. Hmmm. I don't know, so clearly I have incomplete information, and should take another look. . . . . Eeyup. Definitely going to be more distracting to me than to Tirek.

“Right. It's just us.” Twilight glided closer, and leaned up towards Sunset, eyes lit by the blue of the tunnel. “Just us, in the quiet before the storm. If we are constants… well, if we are, I’m glad it’s with you. I might not have been the best at saying it, but I want—”
Sunset cut her off, pulling her into a tight embrace and kissing her deeply. Their bodies moved together, channeling the electric passion as they drank in each other.
Sunset pulled back. “Twi, I’m sorry! What if this is just like back at that hotel—”
“Hush. That was then, and you knew to stop. This is now.” Twilight pulled her back into another. This one long, languid, and a release of everything they'd not said to each other. Instead, they expressed all those lost moments in this one kiss.
It was the culmination of a friendship. It was validation of restored empathy. It was a perfect balance. It was an affirmation.
It was a beginning.
It was magic.

By Celestia’s Beard, I’d been waiting for so freaking long for this scene. Everyone had been waiting for this scene. And Ebon killed it. I don’t even have the words to really say how satisfying this was. It finally shoved our two heroines into the relationship they’ve needed for so long.

Even better? We get both Ascendant Sunset and Ascendant Twilight. (Sue me, I never liked ‘Daydream Shimmer.’) And they race after the retreating form of Tirek together.

My verbatim comment to his chapter:


./squee

In case you're curious, this is the concept we went with for "Asecendant Twilight"

And because Ascendant Sunset/Daydream Shimmer is awesome...

Now, for the next chapter, journcy decided to reach out to me to run some ideas. It was so hard to keep to my rule of not influencing authors at this point. So hard. I admit, I crumbled a little. I ended up creating a “cheat sheet.” Not of things that could happen, but of all the things that had happened.

I gave them potential questions, a “Current Quest Log” and other such things. It was just designed as a reference guide, I swear!

And the two things I never saw coming in this story was the “Toy Story”-esque universe and for Voyager Sparkle’s consciousness to tell Twilight to break reality to prevent anyone from Voyaging again. I sort of screamed bloody murder at that point and screamed at Twilight “You’d better not do that! I’ve got plans!”

It’s okay, because this actually worked out wonderfully. And Oroboro himself praised journcy for just how well he nailed Voyager Sparkle’s character. And this was a great view for just how far this version of Twilight had fallen… and how she is nothing like either Sci-Twi or Princess Twi (by the way, I did ask Oroboro, and Voyager Sparkle is actually Sci-Twi).

But we now have one more complication to the oncoming fight… the consciousness of Voyager Sparkle sitting in Twilight’s head.

It was around this point where people started to point out that the inertia of this story was simply too great to be handled in the amount of words left. We were running out of words with way too much story remaining.

So I started planning, but I waited to see what X3n0heart was going to pull off before putting anything into motion. And he launches us into a battle with Tirek, throws us the curveball of the Theory Cube being destroyed, knocks Sunset clean out of the fight.

...then Tirek says this:

“I will consume you first as Twilight watches. The look on her face never gets old.”

Oh, I so very much wanted him dead at that point. :flutterrage: But fun fact, I can point to this single line and say that this was where the inspiration for the villain of And a Sky Full of Stars came from! (And I’m very, very glad I had that, because I had no idea who the villain was going to be until he/she stepped out of the shadows.)

We also get a great use of the training teleporter by using it to teleport to the same dimension they were already in. That was something that really wouldn’t have occurred to me. So bravo for great tactical strategies!


Bonus Round


However, at this point, several people were clamoring that “we need more words.”

To summarize, here’s something I told the group:

In the end, the story simply had too much momentum to be finished in the words allotted. Everyone was just too good at throwing curveballs! Now we have to try and catch them all! :pinkiecrazy:

So guess what? It was time for the Bonus Encore Round!

I first checked in with RadiantBeam. I wanted to make sure she was aware of what was going on and that she was okay with adding a few authors ahead of her to give her the space she needed to properly wrap up the story. After chatting with her, she requested that I set her up for an “Epilogue” style ending.

Now, originally, I was going to try and find a couple new authors to help finish the story out, but sadly, the ones I knew had prior engagements. I wanted to keep the rules the same: three days, 1,500 words maximum. So in the end, I decided to bring back in two of our ringers: Oroboro and The Albinocorn.

And to be honest? The only reason I did an encore chapter was because of ‘popular demand.’ I was going to bow out of it, but several people--including my wife, Painted Heart--said I was being foolish. I didn’t want this story to be mine. I wanted it to be ours. But in the end, it was ours.

And we did awesome.

Also, for some reason, I decided to keep the Bonus Round authors a secret. I have no idea why I did this. Maybe for funzies?

Then… Oroboro steps back up and simply kills it. He manages to end the Tirek fight pretty much perfectly. First of all, we all know there’s no way in hell Twi is going to win a straight up fight with this jerk. So we get the sudden reappearance of Voyager Sparkle, slowing down her perceptions for a few moments, just long enough to talk.

...can I also just say that Twi asking her if love was enough to defeat Tirek and Sparkle responding with a flat “Nope” was magnificent?” :rainbowlaugh:

I was honored to actually help edit these last two chapters of the Encore Round. I had some good back and forth with Oroboro about some of the last details so we could make sure to wrap up all the outstanding plot points (the Talisman/Teleporter, man. I tell you). Then Oroboro has this great movement of personal sacrifice for Twilight of destroying her only way home to send Tirek back to where he belongs.

Sunset rose like a phoenix, her fist connecting with his jaw and sending the now far less physically imposing demon sprawling. She wiped at her mouth and spit out blood. “I don’t go down that easy.”

Badass Sunny is bad<BUY SOME APPLES>ass.

Her vision darkened, and Twilight slipped from the sky. Before she blacked out entirely, she saw Sparkle’s face, smiling down at her and fading away.
“You’re a better me than I ever was.”

...yeah, totally cried here.

Also, another aside for And a Sky Full of Stars, originally, this was how Sunset was going to get restored. They would actually see this entire thing play out through one of the portals Twi opens here. In fact, in my original epilogue when Twi here sees a Twilight and a Sunset together through one of the portals, it was supposed to be the couple from Sky. Either way though, it was Twi’s ‘friendship flare’ that ended up opening a portal back to the couple’s home universe, allowing them to go home.

This chapter was so good. So. Freaking. Good. A perfect ending to the Voyager Sparkle arc and the Tirek arc (with one last thing needed for the Voyager Sparkle bit). :rainbowkiss:

But we still had one more demon to face: The Accord.

And since The Albinocorn introduced Stella Nova and really made The Accord into what it was… he was the perfect person to give us the resolution of The Accord.

So once more, Stella appears with a full contingent of armed Accord soliders. She gives our two heroines a little golf clap and instructs them to make good on their deal. Remember that? The one where they continue killing Voyagers and force Twilight and Sunset to destroy the portal between CHS and Equestria?

Yeah, there’s no way in hell Sunset’s going to let that happen.

Sunset remained quiet and kept her focus on Twilight, feeling that if she looked up, she might say or do something regretful. You’re a lot better at diplomacy than me. Her eyes found Twilight’s burnt hand again. I wish I had taken that for you. I should be the one lying unconscious. Sunset let out a soft laugh. Fine, leave me with the hard work.
“Well, Miss Shimmer? What is your answer?”
Sunset laughed again. “You’re all stupid.”

Is there any question why Sunny and Twi are best pones? Seriously?

I’ve read this chapter so many times. As I said before, I was honored to help edit it, though ironically, most of my content editing for both Oroboro and Albinocorn’s chapters was about the fate of that darn Talisman…

I simply… I don’t have a lot to add to this. This is magnificent on its own. It speaks for itself. It’s brilliant. We get to see a tiny change in Aeon’s attitude. A tiny bit of humanity put inside of her. Stella herself said she was a being of Order. And Order should remain balanced.

And I am going to claim credit for one tiny, itty-bitty thing. Her last quip about the hair was my suggestion. :yay: I didn’t tell him how to write it, just mentioned she should say something! I was so thrilled when he did it. :yay:

Ladrian Comment:

7/10. Needs more Sunlight. - Said by Albinocorn in the notes for his chapter.

Lap pillow and hair tuck not enough? I mean, sure, you could go further (or wider, banter is always welcome :pinkiehappy:) but this is rated T, and you gotta leave something for Novel and Radiant.

I love this guy. I really do.

After the climactic battle with Tirek, the fact that they were able to talk their way out of this fight was a perfect beginning to the denouement.

There was only one problem.


Swansong


Novel:

I just realized my fatal error: I have to follow up Oroboro and The Albinocorn because I listened to my wife (and a few others). I'm doomed. :pinkiecrazy:
The second-to-last chapter ofSunLight Sliderswill go live by Friday, March 17 at 11:59 PM Pacific. One way or another.

Ladrian:

Eeyup. You so screwed. :eeyup:
...wait, you wanted encouragement? ...Uh...Go get Albinocorn to give you an inspiring speech or something.
And just remember it was all your fault. Absolutely none of the blame lies with the people who were egging you on to add more chapters. None.
...
Good luck!

And at long last, it’s time for the final chapter before the grand finale.

For some crazy reason, these people forced me back up on stage.

There were a few moments in this chapter that just came to me and I knew I needed to get out.

“I’m sure about one thing, though.” Twilight smiled. “Even if we didn’t get through to Stella… Aeon’s going to see things differently now. Getting even one of them to see the bigger picture… I’m sure it’ll help.”
“Twilight… she arrested me, even after you sacrificed yourself to save her. She tried to kill us.”
Twilight couldn’t help it. Maybe it was the emotional rollercoaster. Maybe it was just the surreal nature of the last few days. But she laughed again and sidled up to Sunset.
“I seem to recall someone else who once tried to kill me… and look how she turned out.”

This is one of my favorite plot points for Sunset. No matter how you look at it, Sunset Shimmer did attempt to murder Princess Twilight Sparkle at the end of Equestria Girls with that fireball. In fact, she laughed about it until the smoke cleared and the magic shield was revealed.

This has always stuck out to me as something that would haunt Sunset Shimmer for years if not the rest of her life. The simple fact that Twilight was the one who pulled her out of that crater when Sunset had tried to kill her minutes before… it’s amazing. It’s simply amazing.

Sunset turned her back on that demon. During the events of SunLight Sliders, Twilight saw her own version of her demon self… but in a much more horrifying way… because it was all too real.

Both of them turned away from those paths. It’s a big freakin’ deal. And so, they jump through the portal one last time, together.

...but I had one more surprise waiting for everyone.

It came to me--like most ideas--just randomly one morning while getting ready for work. I didn’t want to reuse Voyager Sparkle. Her arc was complete and adding anything would have been tacky. So instead, I thought it was time to see the other side.

Voyager Shimmer. She’s just as cocky as her partner. And yes, I intentionally had her lounging at the Map just like Starlight had, but unlike being in Fluttershy’s chair to symbolize the Butterfly Effect, I wanted her in Twilight’s chair, to symbolize magic. Because that’s what Sunset and Twilight are about. One was meant to be the original Bearer of the Element of Magic and the other became the true Bearer of the Element of Magic.

The first thing I wanted to establish here was that they were indeed home. It’s not like Voyager Sparkle’s spell with the dimensional pause button. This was “simply” a time bubble, because I didn’t want other characters on the scene here. We needed it nice and private.

“So why are you here?” Sunset snapped. “We’re done! Our Talisman—”
“TPT” Twilight interjected.
“…Seriously?”
“It’s still more science-y,” Twilight insisted.
“Whatever!” Sunset groaned.

What can I say? I loved what everyone did with it, so I wanted in.

Shimmer leaped into the air, did a somersault and landed with almost unnatural grace.

Yes, she was burning pewter, for those of you who know what that means.

And then… we get to Twilight’s Friendship Flare. A pulse of pure Harmony magic sent throughout the multiverse. Entire worlds were washed with that magic, even if it was only the faintest of a whisper. For most worlds, it didn’t have a huge effect (at least in my book), for some worlds, like the one in Sky, it did unexpected things. But most importantly… for the Sunsets and Twilights out there… they felt it.

And who needed to feel it more than these two?

We’ve seen Voyager Sparkle’s eyes. We’ve seen just how meaningless everything becomes when you can do everything. What they needed… was to be reminded who they were once upon a time in the magical land of Equestria (Oh sush, it was clever and you know it.)

Voyager Shimmer then reveals one of the secrets of the multiverse.

This was one of my favorite moments. Where we give the capstone to the Universal Constants Theme. The thing I wanted to highlight here was that Sunset and Twilight won’t necessary always become lovers. Sometimes, they’ll just be friends. Sometimes, one will be the teacher and one will be the student. I wanted to capture the entire gambit of SunLight and SciSet stories out there. Every possibility. I even included the human Sunset in there.

I also decided to do a bit of promotion, for those of you who didn’t catch it.

“I’ve seen universes where Sunset never jumped through the portal and she still ends up beside Twilight.”

- my own Wavelength Theorems (though you’ll note I said beside, not with, so don’t pretend you know what I’m going to do in these stories).

“In others, Twilight rules Equestria with her beloved student, Sunset.”

- Sunset of Time by The Albinocorn. My favorite Sunset Shimmer story of all time, bar none. Actually, one of my favorite novels of all time.

“Sometimes, Twi loses me as a child, only to find me again as an adult.”

- Fractured Sunlight by Oroboro. Even with the incredible range of storytelling Oroboro has, this is still one of his brightest stars.

“Oh, yeah. Almost forgot.” Shimmer tossed something to Sunset and Twilight. Sunset caught it in her magic and stared.
It was the Talisman.
“But it was—”
“It’s ours,” Shimmer said with a little smirk. “Our original. We haven’t needed it in a long time. Since you lost yours… well, it seemed a fitting thanks.”

There was one final thing I needed to do though. Twilight had sacrificed the Talisman to put Tirek down. Oroboro wanted that to be a meaningful sacrifice and I wanted to respect that. But I also didn’t want to simply end it there.

So once sacrifice deserves another, even if it’s a token sacrifice on the part of one party.

Why?

Possibilities. That’s why.

“By the way, Sunset… why’d you go for the Princess?”
Sunset stammered, searching for an answer. “I… I dunno. She saved me?”
“Huh.” Shimmer shrugged. “I always liked the dorky one better.”
“Uh…”
Shimmer rolled her eyes. “Sci-Twi, you twit. Seriously?”

Blame Tchernobog for that one. He was quite thrilled when I decided to add that.

I should also mention I may have cheated a little on the word count for this chapter. I’m terrible person. I know.

And so, we finally come to the last curtain call. As promised, RadiantBeam gives us a very, very fun finale to this epic story. She wraps it up with a wonderful little bow… and the bow can be described in a single line.

“… Everything that happens to you is weird,” Starlight Glimmer said at last.

I also love that after all the chaos, Sunset has some plans for Twilight. After all… what better way to celebrate being alive?

The moment they got through the portal safely and their feet touched ground again, Twilight didn’t hesitate to grab Sunset’s hand in hers, lacing their fingers together. It was funny, really, how quickly she had taken to the idea; it was a purely human gesture of affection, but the more she did it the more she liked it. It would be hard to go without it once she was back in Equestria.

I am so very glad RadiantBeam put this in here. I actually wanted to make this a big deal in my chapter, but I had to cut it for word count.

Come on, we can walk.” Sunset paused, then grinned. “That way you don’t have to let go of my hand.”
Twilight tried to scowl, but it didn’t quite work. “You like it too.”
“Oh, I do.” Sunset lifted Twilight’s fingers to her lips, pressing a light kiss to them. “I just also like to get my cheap shots where I can.”
“… You’re lucky I love you.”
“I know I am. And I love you too.”
“Start walking, Sunset.”

Squee. I love banter like this. I love it so very much!

“… So, um.” Twilight blushed faintly, nuzzling their noses together and making Sunset giggle. “This is probably really stupid of me to ask since we’ve come this far, but were you serious about having plans with me tonight? Just, you know, double checking. I don’t want to assume or anything.”
That made Sunset laugh outright, and she tugged Twilight in for another kiss—something that started out warm and soft and chaste, and then she felt her tongue press against her lips and the kiss got warm and deep and left Twilight breathless.
“Yes, Twilight,” Sunset purred, “I was serious.”
Twilight was suddenly very, very thankful for Starlight’s kind offer. With that tone of voice, she wouldn’t be back in Equestria until at least late in the morning.
She couldn’t wait to see what plans Sunset had in mind… and maybe along the way, she’d come up with some plans of her own. The night was long, after all.

Ayep. Rated T for Teen. Cough. Suddenly need a glass of water. Or just ice.

Ice is good. :unsuresweetie: :twilightblush:

Blood dripped from shaking fingers, stained through clothes on the right side of her body; she’d pressed her hand against the wound to try and stem the bleeding, but it clearly wasn’t helping much. She staggered on her feet, the pendant around her neck appearing to be the twin to the one Twilight had designed herself—if she could ignore the cracks that webbed their way along deep into the object, occasionally sending off small sparks of wild magic.
But what truly made Twilight stare was that beyond the wound, beyond the unstable pendant and the different clothes, beyond even the fact that this girl’s hair was a pixie cut and not long enough to fall down her back like it did in this world—what made Twilight stare was that the girl was Sunset Shimmer.
Teal eyes met violet. For a moment, the entire world seemed to stand still.
“Help,” the other Sunset gasped, and the spell was broken.

I did not see this little ending coming. I never, ever saw it coming and that’s what made it glorious. Seriously… a Wheel of Time style ending? You know what? I’m going to give the same comment I gave originally. It’s the best thing I can think of.

Holy... Sputtering... Alicorns... Batmare...
The coolest part about this collab is getting to work with some of the best talent on this site. The craziest thing about this collab is that no matter what you think will happen... you're probably going to be wrong. Someone will always surprise you. This was no exception. In fact, if anything, this was the best proof!
Seriously, I've got the shivers. I'm geeking out a little bit right now (okay, a freaking ton). So many damn good lines. So many little twists... and that end? Jeepers... that... I don't have words.
But I have gifs. They work too, right?

Just... freakin'... wow. :pinkiehappy:
(I'm so glad I doubled the word count for the start and the end...)



Unsung Heroes


And so ends the main Retrospective/Commentary for SunLight Sliders.

The last big reveal that no one knew about was just how awesome the cover was going to be from SciSetDaily. After Beltorn, Little Tinker, Ebon Quill and I threw ourselves into editing and tweaking this story into its final epic form, that was the final piece of the puzzle. Most of you know I’m really big on cover art. I think it’s critical for any story. And Adge from SciSetDaily killed it. Killed it so damn good. It was amazing. :pinkiehappy:

I want to give a special thanks to the Wavelengths Editing Team. This was both the hardest and the easiest edit we’ve ever done, because we didn’t want to change the narrative style. But there were things that needed to be changed. Which is why some chapters got expanded from their original versions (for example, Dubs Rewatcher’s chapter got a new explanation where Sunset explained the training teleporter to Twi and we also took the time to make the teleporter/talisman thing consistent). I do hope that we didn’t go too far overboard in editing.

The Team: Ebon Quill, Little Tinker & Beltorn.

...hell, we even re-edited our own chapters three times over what we’d already done, so no one was spared. Okay, except SciSetDaily, but that’s only because I can’t edit comic pages. :ajsmug:


Lessons Learned


Finally, I want to end this with some lessons learned. Like many of the authors who participated in SunLight Sliders, this was my first collaboration, too. Both organizing and writing. So I’d like to tell you what I learned personally from this project.

Because I am going to be doing this again. I’m already playing with new ideas for a prompt. So keep an eye out later this year.

1. Up the maximum word limit to 2,000 with a goal of 1,000-1,500 - This was one of the biggest problems a lot of people complained about. It was also one of the best challenges. I know it was hard for almost everyone and I just want to say you all did an awesome job working within those confines. Still, I’d like to give everyone a bit more flexibility, while keeping it easy to do in three days.

2. Be more clear about the handoff process from chapter to chapter - Authors are never going to do what you expect (or necessarily want) them to do with the situations you set up, but I should have done a better job explaining the process that authors need to pick up right where the last author left off or within a reasonable amount of time. (Space Jazz to Albinocorn is a great example of an excellent handoff while still being a scene change).

3. Check in with Authors before their start time. - This would have avoided a few potential problems with some time mixups and it’ll allow folks to be more prepared. Not only that, but it would allow us to do quick author additions if needed and even have a backlog!

4. Set up more Comic Chapters! - I’ve noticed there are a few more SunLight and SciSet artists around these days… I’m gonna bug ‘em.

5. Reach out to more authors! - This one was definitely on me. However, the nice thing is, I have a few more folks following me these days and I can ask them to help signal boost the project. That being said, depending on how many authors who “apply,” we may decide that there’s simply too many folks and need to select people!

6. Have a more interactive startup - I’m going to set up a few voting systems, I think. The first will be if folks want SunLight or SciSet as a sequel. The next will be if people actually want to continue with a similar premise of dimension jumping or do something completely new. If we go with new, everyone can put in their suggestions and we’ll vote to determine our prompt. At least that’s the idea. I’m still figuring this one out.

7. Don’t publish multiple lineups - This was a bad mistake on my part. I should have only released one randomized list and kept to that, but we had a flood of people afterward and I just needed to do it again. So they’ll only be one lineup.


And I think that’s it! This is my longest Retrospective to date, so if you made it this far, congratulations! Give yourself a cookie. You deserve it.

Again, I want to thank everyone who participated in this project, be it as an author, an editor, an artist, a reader, a commenter or even people who just pressed “like.” I had no idea how this was going to be received and I’m really impressed on how well the final product turned out.

We did something truly amazing here and I hope every single one of you is as proud as I am.

I'm just going to say this is the best twenty-five author collab on FimFiction. Ever. :duck:

You guys rock!

Until next time, this has been Novel Idea! Have fun out there!

Comments ( 28 )

Scientific progress goes Bzoot.

I thought it went "boink".

4490625 Your Calvin is in another universe.

0/10, not enough AppleDash.

Also -5 more points for not choosing Sci-Twi from the start!

:ajbemused:

Holy :yay: this is long.

Twenty-five authors. Fifteen hundred words each. Seventy-two hours an author. Three and a half months. Two mares. One interdimensional talisman. One crazy ride through the multiverse.

Totally thought that sentence was going to go crazy and off the rails halfway through. "...Two mares. One interdimensional talisman. One arbiter of black and white. One (Two? (Several? (Some positive integer?))) Universal Constants. One accidental roofie..."

...I forgot that Sliders show existed. I vaguely recall seeing something about it a long time ago in relation to some fic...I feel a bit dumb for not remembering, but to be fair, I was not of SciFi-TV watching age in 1995.

(Seriously, I never saw the literal “Shipping War” thing coming. Stroke of genius, that).

Shoot, and here I thought the whole world was made for that pun. :derpytongue2:

OddOneOut then finally gave us our first real dose of shipping. Okay, honestly? This was an overdose. And then some.

An overdose of shipping? Bite your tongue! Anime is love, Anime is life!
*Goes and rereads chapter*
Ooooooohhh yeeeeeaaaah...The love hotel. And the stuff that happened in it. Right...
Maybe it was a little overdose.
Still loved it, tho.

This is equal parts and

Agreed.

At first, the Sanderson fan in me cried a little since the vials Aeon gave Twilight and Sunset using non-Mistborn powers.

At least I wasn't the only one. But I liked the way it ended up going, at least after I got over what was, outside of Sanderson's works, effectively headcanon. :twilightsheepish:

Even tho it obviously SHOULD B--Ahem. Moving on.

He also happened to share an extra 600 word piece of the real reason Aeon gave Twilight the vials (which I’m going to make him publish).

That was cool. And I'm glad I'm also not the only one that thought Twi and Sunny (some version) were the real leaders of Accord.

“You’re a better me than I ever was.”

That was probably my favorite line of the whole thing.

Hey! I'm a reader, commenter, and a person who hit the like buttons!
Do I get three cookies?

4490630 Actually he's right here. (No joke i'm actually named after Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes)

Wow what a ride huh? Thank you for all the kind words and the constant Sunlight pictures. They truly brought a smile on my face.

And hey! You got me out of my partial writers block for a while and gave me such amazing inspiration so for that, I can't thank you enough!

Noo! I thought this would be of reasonable length, and started reading it at 2 in the morning...

I kinda wish I had the word count room to flesh out the version of Tartarus I landed them in. Originally, I'd intended for Tartarus itself to be a Universal Constant, that in all the multiverse, there is only one infinite prison plane which no one (is supposed to) escapes. Like, I wanted there to be more villains in the 'Special Containment' area where Tirek was held. Like a cage for Nightmare Moon, the sisters from the Gen 1 movie that released the original Smooze into Paradise Valley, a huge aquarium tank for the sirens from Rainbow Rocks, even Sunset in her demon form and Sci-Twi's Midnight Sparkle form.

Obviously, I had to cut all that, but I'm glad Tirek's little creepy goodbye line spawned a thread that lasted right up until the end. I originally saw that as just a threat, like a lurking sort of dread thing to remind the girls to be careful as they bounced from world to world. I never expected Tirek to become a multi-universal threat. But hey, that was a good idea.

Fascinating stuff to see after the fact, especially the new depth it adds to And a Sky Full of Stars. I hope you drop me a line next time you do this.

4490730 That makes it funny that you wanted to expand on it - I chat with Idsertian, and he'd intended that character to literally be the Devil, not Sombra. You somehow twisted it to make it work though, and Idsertian's been chomping at the bit about it. :rainbowlaugh:

Sunset “fending for herself in the wilds of the forest” (A wonderful Witch of the Everfree nod, I believe)

Actually, nope, never heard of that one. *bookmarks*

I will also admit that DrakeyC’s chapter was part of the inspiration for what became And a Sky Full of Stars.

I already had it bookmarked but now I HAVE to read it. :raritywink:

It was an honor to take part in this project, thank you for having me and congratulations on managing the chaos as well as you did. I can't wait for when I have a few consecutive days off next week so I can sit down and just binge all the wonderful Sunset stories this collaboration has inspired, as well as SunLight Sliders itself.

4490634 Oh get over it, you big whiner. You want more AppleDash, start writing more AppleDash! :rainbowwild:

4490645 ...yeah, 10K words. It took two days to write this... I might need halp.

Ooooooohhh yeeeeeaaaah...The love hotel. And the stuff that happened in it. Right...
Maybe it was a little overdose.
Still loved it, tho.

Told you! :ajsmug:

This is equal parts and

This is equal parts :rainbowkiss: and :facehoof: I don't know why the emotes aren't working in this post.

Hey! I'm a reader, commenter, and a person who hit the like buttons!
Do I get three cookies?

Sure.

4490678

I thought this would be of reasonable length

And here I thought you've ready my stuff before. :rainbowhuh:

4491016 With Blackjack and hookers!

I should rope you into an AppleDash collab if we do one. Or one of our AppleDash contests... :trixieshiftright:

4490732 I promise!

4490730 That actually sounds really cool. I could imagine a Slice of Life story for a Prison Guard or Warden in there... :applejackconfused:

4490804 How can you have not read "The Witch of the Everfree!?!" :pinkiegasp:

I already had it bookmarked but now I HAVE to read it. :raritywink:

All according to plan... :moustache:

4491024 I might be down for that. Seems only fair. :raritywink:

T'was indeed quite a wild ride. Many praises to all the authors who partook in this endeavor, and to you, Novel for setting it up. If I am king, then you are all princes and princesses, for you all write royally. :heart:

4490634 I kinda agree. Between the two, I like pairing Sunset with Sci-Twi more.

And I must make time to binge read your entire Wavelengths project. I am sad to say, I have been too busy writing to read much of anything lately.

4491315 She's just more fun to write, and to write with Sunset. Makes me want to attempt a fic sometime but i've no idea what i'd even do. I'd want something grand/epic like you and oroboro and novel's stuff but the ideas are not there! :fluttershbad:

4491322 I'm sure you and I could come up with something...

4491322; 4491325 Seconded without a doubt. You know these characters inside and out. All you need is a prompt.

In fact, why not spin something off your SunLight Sliders chapter? Talk about Pixie-Cut Sunset and Sci-Twi checking out Everton (after they find out where AJ and Dash are spending the night). Start small, then build up to something huge, either all in one go or try the episodic route (i.e. Wavelengths)

4491315 Well, I could give you an excuse and tell you to wait until How Not To Use Your Royal Prerogative comes out... then you'll be able to read through without any missing stories in between. If that helps any. :duck:

But after that, I'll just start spamming you. :trollestia:

4491019

4490645

Love the sunset! taste the sunset. while wearing nothing but a towel. yup.:trollestia:

Ah haha, so that was a Mistborn-esque vial. Of course, that's just leads to the question of whether it was a full blown Well of Ascension vial and metal and all that implies, or if we're not being so strict and they didn't really need the full Mistborn abilities to burn the metals. Self-priming metals, so to speak.

And yes, I intentionally had her lounging at the Map just like Starlight had, but unlike being in Fluttershy’s chair to symbolize the Butterfly Effect

Holy crap, I never realized.

That cover art, soooo good.

4494265

Ah haha, so that was a Mistborn-esque vial. Of course, that's just leads to the question of whether it was a full blown Well of Ascension vial and metal and all that implies, or if we're not being so strict and they didn't really need the full Mistborn abilities to burn the metals. Self-priming metals, so to speak.

I do actually know the answer to this, but since it wasn't my idea or my explanation... you'll have to wait and see if this is ever revealed. :moustache:

That cover art, soooo good.

Ain't it just?

I think I'll definitely have to get in on the next one of these if it happens. I came up with a few ideas for dimensions to travel to...

Though to be fair I should probably actually publish a Sunlight story of my own first lol. Despite it being my OTP, I have yet to do so. I have one written (and another one planned, even if it isn't solely a Sunlight story), but I also have an order I like to do things in and it's not yet time to post it. Oh well. At least I've still read a bunch of good Sunlight fics, and have several more to get around to.

Good work, to all involved :twilightsmile:

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