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Swan Song


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Oct
3rd
2018

This Game of Mine — The Obligatory Mid-Season Two Recap Episode · 7:50pm Oct 3rd, 2018


P R E V I O U S L Y ,   O N
T H I S   G A M E   O F   M I N E


The spectre of war looms on the horizon. Tensions between Equestria and Gryphos are reaching a head, with no signs of de-escalation in sight. But to a weary filly forced to contend with the social fallout of an unwanted cutie mark, murmurs of a distant war are the farthest thing from her troubles.

⚜ WARNING! Spoilers for chapters 6 through 13 follow. ⚜

Years of animosity between Sweetie Belle and Diamond Tiara have finally culminated in a violent and bloody confrontation between their friend groups. Spurned into action, their historically-complacent school finally agrees to host a lengthy tribunal, which only creates an opportunity for the two girls' families to lash at each other over years of alleged slights.

Seeking an end to the conflict, the headmaster chooses to suspend both students from classes, pledging to participate with the Town Guard to concoct a resolution that would prevent future strife at the school. This is enough to mollify both parties, who were only moments away from pressing criminal charges against each other.

But before Sweetie Belle can retreat to the safety of her home, she is confronted by Diamond’s forlorn father, Filthy Rich, who warns her that her actions against his family may provoke consequences beyond his ability to control.

Unbeknownst to Sweetie Belle, these consequences come at the behest of Diamond’s mother, Madame Proper Place, who is incensed by Sweetie actions against her daughter and the potential ramifications that the violent altercation may have on her family’s reputation. She arranges a meeting with an investigative journalist to assist in the production of a slanderous news article that would cast Sweetie Belle in a negative light, drawing upon Equestria’s current state of war wariness to frame the girl’s video-gaming pastime as a volatile catalyst for her allegedly violent and warlike disposition.

Diamond, excited to share the opportunity for comeuppance with her best friend, invites Silver Spoon to participate in the meeting as a potential witness. Silver realizes that the meeting may potentially unearth details about her secret online friendship with Sweetie Belle—cultivated under the guise of her in-game alter-ego Shadow Song—and arrives just in time to exert her influence upon the investigation and subtly redirect suspicion away from her nom-de-plume.

It is thus that the week ends, with both girls returning to their homes, seeking solace and comfort from the company of their loved ones. Still, the chaotic events of the week have left both Sweetie Belle and Silver Spoon emotionally shaken by the fallout. Independently, they reach the conclusion that, for the sake of their mental health, a short vacation is likely the best avenue of relief from their troubles.

The opportunity for Sweetie Belle presents itself on wings of prosperity. A senior developer of Eternity—the hit multiplayer phenomenon that has taken the gaming world by storm—has invited Sweetie Belle and members of her renowned in-game guild, the Regal Six, to an Eternity tournament taking place in Manehattan. Though two of her guildmates—Freya Stormtalon of Gryphos, and Zaid of Sadul Arabia—are forced to decline due to their foreign citizenship, no such barriers exist for the two Equestrian foals Sweetie and Button Mash, who accept the invitation with varying degrees of gusto.

However, amid this exchange, Prosperity accidentally reveals that Shadow Song—a stallion in their guild that Sweetie Belle has come to trust as a close confidante in spite of his insistence on anonymity—has actually lived in Ponyville with them since long before they met online.

Terrified of the implications and feeling betrayed by her guildmate’s dishonesty, Sweetie Belle confronts the stallion, demanding an explanation. He is forced to reveal the uncomfortable truth: not only has her identity been known to him this entire time, but he has also met and interacted with her on several occasions in real life. Hoping for amnesty from his incensed friend, he continues to explain that he had avoided revealing his identity due to the potential damage that being a video gamer could do to his high-society reputation.

Though he insists on maintaining his anonymity, he reassures her that he means no harm or ill will, and reasserts his pledge of friendship to Sweetie Belle and the clan. Mollified, if not quite satisfied, Sweetie Belle accepts his reasoning and agrees to table her concerns for now. But as she retires to prepare for her trip to Manehattan, the fears grow in her heart and never settle.

For Silver Spoon, it is less opportunity and more circumstance that drives the impulse to leave Ponyville. She arrives home to find that her often-absentee mother, Sterling Silver, is packing for an out-of-town excursion that would have her overseeing a massive expansion of the family metalworking empire to Hoofington, a major Equestrian port-of-call and the largest border city along the demilitarized zone between Equestria and Gryphos.

Things come to a head during dinner when her sister Quicksilver lashes out at their mother for ignoring a clear and present danger in pursuit of wealth. Silver Spoon is not passed up for blame, as she is incidentally the favored heir of the family estate and stands to benefit the most from their mother’s untimely demise. With such a heinous accusation weighing heavily on the minds of all at the table, no peace is found this night. Quicksilver stomps off to bed, and Madame Sterling seeks comfort in the support of her youngest daughter, to whom she reveals her motivations for the dangerous excursion.

As the Silversmith Mining Company is the nation’s oldest and most mature metalworking corporation in Equestria, Madame Sterling has determined that expanding operations and signing a massive defense contract with the Equestrian Defense Force for the production of arms and armor is the best means by which she can protect her daughters. Fearing for their safety, she hopes that by strengthening the tools available to the nation’s defenders, she can better secure a future for her family should conflict ever rear its head.

After a tearful farewell to her mother and a failed attempt to make up with her sister, Silver Spoon decides that the pressures of her life at home are too much to bear. At her family servant’s suggestion, she endeavors to put some distance between herself and Ponyville.

The next day, Silver is spotted at the train station by Diamond. Angry that Silver is leaving town without even informing her best friend, Diamond stomps away, and Silver personally resolves to enjoy her weekend without her. But this argument is overheard by Sweetie Belle, who also happens to be present. Intending to avoid each other, the two parties maintain their distance and board their respective trains… which happen to be one and the same.

During an unexpected confrontation in the halls of the train, Silver elects to unveil the true nature of her dominant position in her relationship with Diamond Tiara, whom she considers a convenient scapegoat that she can manipulate into exercising her will without fear of reprisal. The exchange leaves Sweetie Belle wondering at Silver’s true motivations.

Arriving in Manehattan, Sweetie Belle and entourage find themselves wandering into the shop of Suri Polomare, an award-winning fashionista. Recognizing the Champion of Generosity, Suri immediately implores that Rarity accept a gift of one of her finest works, a dress that Button and company surmise would look wonderful on Sweetie Belle. Desperate to impress Rarity, Suri immediately conscripts her clearly overworked assistant Coco Pommel into refitting the adult-sized dress for Sweetie Belle, a non-trivial task that will require the pair to commit to an all-nighter if they are to have it done by tomorrow’s event.

In the exchange that follows, the party deduces that this magnificent piece—and many of the best ones in the shop—are actually borne from the imagination of Coco Pommel, who is consistently exploited for her talent and summarily stripped of the credit for her creations and contributions by Suri. Although the party privately assures Coco that they’re more than happy to spare her the fitting work, she insists that she do the job anyways, taking solace in knowing that it would be going to a filly and mare who would truly appreciate it—and the one responsible for its creation.

Wishing Coco the best of luck, the trio heads to their hotel to turn in for the night. That evening, a private conversation leads to a rare moment of vulnerability where Button is gently encouraged by Sweetie to relate a source of his personal trauma: his family’s history and their motivation for moving to Ponyville.

As a young colt with no dad to serve as a father figure, Button came to adopt many feminine interests, mannerisms, and personality traits from the many fillies he ended up spending time with—including a young girl that his mother babysat for named Palette. His feminine disposition earned him few friends when he changed schools and found himself unable to relate to other boys.

His despondent mother, hoping to squeeze a little more “man” out of him, signed him up to the school hoofball team against his will, where he is belittled and berated on a daily basis. After a disastrous performance leads to a crippling defeat at a major seasonal game, he became the laughingstock of the school. The  endless stream of bullying that followed—earmarked by the dark implication of sexual abuse—finally motivated his mother to relent and move to Ponyville, in hopes that they can start a new life together.

Sweetie Belle, taking all of this news in stride, assures him that none of the night’s revelations will have any negative bearing on her (possibly romantic?) feelings for one of her closest friends, and endeavors to always support him no matter what.

The next morning, Sweetie Belle and company arrive at Suri’s shop to find a sleep-deprived Coco Pommel still laboring over a nearly-refitted dress, with no Suri in sight to help her. With little time to spare before the event and despite Coco’s apologetic reservations, Rarity decides to contribute her assistance in finalizing the dress, leaving Sweetie and Button with a little free time to explore the city.

They stop at a park for lunch, and it is there that Sweetie Belle’s mind is left to wander over the events of the last several days. At one point the weight of the memories becomes too much to bear, but Button offers his advice and support in managing her turmoil, which helps to clear the filly’s head. Now mostly free of her internal strife, Sweetie is able to look forward to the rest of the day with a clear mind.

Meanwhile, Silver Spoon has spent the better part of the morning exploring Manehattan and visiting various haunts of her own choosing, marveling at how much greater agency she can afford without Diamond Tiara’s insatiable whimsy dictating their activities. Ruminating on her friend’s uncultured, ill-mannered, impulsive, and ultimately unpleasant demeanor, she takes stock of Diamond’s place in her life and reasserts her determination not to let her best friend hold any sway over her.

But the train of thought leads the filly to reevaluate the dynamic of power in their relationship, forcing her to to realize how much she has come to rely on Diamond to provide structure, purpose, and validation in her life. Taking stock of her lifestyle, she can’t help but compare it to that of Sweetie Belle’s, desperate to convince herself of the fragility of the other filly’s world, and coming up short each time. These thoughts consume Silver, challenging the foundations upon which she has built her perception of self-worth, and setting a dark mood for the remainder of her day.

It is past noon when Sweetie and Button arrive at the hotel, where they meet Prosperity for the first time—along with several other members of the Eternity development team helping to run the event. Throughout the introductions, it becomes clear that Prosperity is no mere developer, but rather the creative producer of Eternity, a fact that leaves Sweetie and Button with no shortage of awe and admiration.

In the interest of resuming preparations, Prosperity reveals more about Sweetie and Button’s roles at the event as Masters of Ceremony and Guests of Honor, which they seem anxious but eager to accept. She expresses relief and gratitude for their attendance, revealing that the development studio has had no recent shortage of drama, and that not all has been well since the release of the game. With that in mind, the duo set out to assist Prosperity and her crew with preparations.

Dearly missing Diamond Tiara and left with no reprieve from her existential agitation, Silver Spoon decides that she has no recourse but to head home and make amends with her best friend. But upon approaching her hotel, she spots Sweetie, Button, and several unfamiliar adults hauling video game consoles into the building. Realizing that this is where the Eternity tournament is to take place, and hoping to avoid another confrontation with Sweetie Belle, she attempts to return to her room without being recognized, but is spotted by Prosperity, who very nearly reveals her identity as Shadow Song out loud.

Realizing the near-miss, the two retreat into a quiet wing of the hotel lobby, and Silver Spoon uses the opportunity to establish a rapport with the mare by means of social dominance. She shares a bit of her history with Sweetie Belle and her desire for continued anonymity, weaving malicious suggestions of sympathy and intimidation beneath her words. Prosperity agrees to honor her wishes, but not before expressing her belief that Silver would be better off revealing her true identity to Sweetie, and using that opinion as a framing device to systematically deconstruct and use Silver Spoon’s manipulative tactics against her. Stunned by the mare’s verbal agility, Silver Spoon is barely able to manage a farewell as Prosperity departs to finalize preparations for her event.

With no other recourse but to retreat to the solitude of her hotel room, Silver Spoon is left with little to distract her mind from mulling on Prosperity’s words… and the nature of her two-faced relationship with the girl she cannot seem to wrest from her mind, a girl who only twenty stories below is bracing herself for the time of her life.

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Comments ( 10 )
JMP
JMP #1 · Oct 3rd, 2018 · · ·

Oh wow. Super happy to see this back. Y'know, I suspected at the time that "Eternity" was based off Destiny, but now that I'm a year into playing Destiny 2, and having gone back to play (most of) the first Destiny, there's probably a few more references I'll pick up.

Good god yeah I'm ready load me up

JackRipper
Story Approver

AHHHHHHH

I am so ready to get back into this. Lets do it.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AN UPDATE

Holy fuck.
YES
YYYYEESSSSSSSSS

TIME TO REREAD IT ALLLLLLL

Huh I have this story up for dead
Neat.

Wow, this is great, not only has the new Forsaken expansion for Destiny dragged me back into the franchise with renewed vigor after being burned out of it for so long, but now one of my favorite stories that has a game that is based off of it is also back in action. It's great to see you back and updating Swan Song.

when can we expect the next chapter

I want to thank you for this recap, both in general and especially for it not being in a chapter. I will get back to this eventually, because as I expressed a while back, I think your writing is marvelous, but I was not about to refresh my memory on what had happened in This Game of Mine when I disliked the very bones of the story.

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