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Forget not that I am a derp.

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Rave Exchange · 3:51pm Oct 27th, 2018

Hello, all! It’s time to announce the fabulous winners of the Villain Exchange Program.

First off, let’s introduce the other judges, now that they no longer need to skulk in the shadows like my own two-man squad of secret police:

Hiya, I’m forbloodysummer. I've never held or judged a contest before, but I've entered into a couple and edited stories for a couple of others. In terms of my qualifications, I'd say that villains are very much my area of focus, and I've written this story about EG villains reintegrating in Equestria. I had a story inducted into the RCL mostly on the strength of how I wrote Chrysalis there, too, and I was prereader/editor on the Adagio story which was inducted a few weeks ago. The RCL interview I did also had a sizeable answer for the writing advice section, which I think was generally well-received, and hopefully suggests I have some idea how to analyse writing and storytelling?

Hello! I am Fylifa! I've been writing in other media as a personal hobby for decades, though it's only been in the recent couple of years did a dear friend help get into the fanfiction writing game.

I don't have that many pony stories under my belt yet, but some of you might have had a read of Terms of Forgiveness, I was pretty happy when Equestria Daily put it on their the 2018 Top 50 list for Sunset day.

Like Summer, I am new to this side of the contest table so this has been quite an experience. Fimfiction is unique as a fandom with the kind of community it has. I saw some familiar names in this one, either from the previous contests or just general EqG lovers. It was interesting to see all of your ideas and you all had captivating premises for stories. The new ones and the vets alike!

Now, before we run down the top three, we’d each like to give an honorable mention. They don’t win anything beyond our accolades, but they’re still appreciated (not that the other entrants weren’t, but you know what I mean. :derpytongue2:)

FoME’s mention

It’s no secret that I love me a good crossover, especially one that unites its components into a cohesive whole rather than just going for the easy “X meets Y’ approach. One that happens to use my ideas? Well, I never claimed to be immune to flattery.

In all seriousness, I’m not just HM-ing this story because it uses my take on human Discord. It takes the premise of Back to the Future and, rather than blindly retreading it in the EqG universe, actually stops to think about what said premise entails. Big Mac explores the early 90s in all its extreme glory. Mr. Discord is easily convinced by Future-Boy’s claims when he gets a look at a smartphone. Burnt Oak is basically a walking Big Lebowski reference who wandered into the wrong movie looking for sarsaparilla, and it is fantastic. This one is solid fun, and honestly portrays a more sympathetic Discord than the show seems capable of doing these days.

forbloodysummer’s mention

‘Went to a convention dressed as your mom. Woke up in Equestria and can’t stop taking dicks.’ ...That’s as far as I got with a Displaced parody, as I couldn’t think of a way to make the joke work over a thousand words. But Rethewa has found exactly the right approach!

Are you as sick of Displaced stories clogging up the feature box as I am? As frustrated that people can get so confused between plot and shameless infantile wish-fulfilment? Then this is the story for you! Rather than a self-insert OC or first-person perspective, this story uses a canon character as the subject of the Displacement, taking her from the world of Equestria Girls into Equestria itself. And what does she do when she gets there? The same thing anyone would, if they woke up looking like that particular character :raritywink:

The word count here is minimal, but the style itself cleverly covers the characterisation, leaving the narrative free to handle the plot. A lovely aspect of villains is how rarely they do things by halves, and this story approaches its central characters with total commitment, daring anyone to question them. That’s right, Displaced writers – Vignette Valencia, social media obsessive willfully indifferent to human suffering, was much more enjoyable to read about than your OC or crossover character.

I presume, anyway. I haven’t actually read any Displaced stories other than this one, of course :trollestia:

Fylifa’s mention

Oddly enough, I've read only a couple of MagnetBolt stories in passing before. So I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Cherry Cola. It's the kind of fic that is a bit a mystery to click on by the tagline and cover

“Hmm that cover has woods with trees? Oh a Tempest-Light fic maybe Tempest-Sci-Light? Oh dear it sounds like this will be a tragedy or at least in part. Certainly mentions vengeance…”

…Is that a comedy tag?”  

The story definitely delivers on a tragedy spurred by an unexpected horrible death and a bond between an unlikely pair made by vengeance. It also has some of the funniest stuff I've read on here. Getting hammered out of nowhere by a joke that'll make you drop a kindle and belly laugh is pretty rare. It's this stories greatest strength, and perhaps weakness too as I know the seismic tone-shifts from drama to humor to drama to humor will put off some. I liked it though and its underlying message of facing one's traumas and rising above them is a good one.

Now, without further ado, let’s call up the medalists! At my wonderful co-judges’ suggestion, I’ll supplement my commentary with a card based on each winner.

Third Place

Tartarus Island
by Darkstarling


This is an amazing puzzle box of a story. Every detail matters. Every word matters. And when you see it all come together… Suffice to say, this is a pitch-perfect presentation of Tirek as a human. The OCs are excellent demonstrations of great characterization in just a few words. Subtle touches like Tirek’s muscle atrophy in Tartarus add wonderfully subtle depth. And the ending… Well, you can find that out for yourself, but there’s one part that I think you can guess:

Inevitable Escape 2B
Undergrowth — Return target creature card with converted mana cost equal to or less than the number of creature cards in your graveyard to the battlefield.
”No prison can hold a man save his own resignation.”


The Shawshank Redemption had the lovely idea that it was the innocent man who was most determined to break out of prison, driven by the false accusation that put him there. Tirek suggests otherwise. At no point is the suggestion made that Tirek does not deserve his incarceration – indeed, he agrees.what he did was wrong, and views it as a mistake. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to sit around remorsefully and serve out his sentence!

One of the problems with stories focusing on villains is how to arrive at a happy satisfying ending. Some of the contest entries fell down at the end by having the villain be defeated, after we’d come to root for them, because the stories decided the heroes still had to win the day. Tartarus Island removes the problem of heroes by setting the story in a maximum security prison, and staffing the narrative entirely with other villains.

The story here is an excellent example of a story kept to exactly the right length. Like its protagonist, it’s lean, but not skeletal, and the plotting is very tightly controlled.


Tirek is an interesting kind of villain in MLP canon. When we first see him he's a frail centaur sneaking behind streets. He talks Discord (who admittedly was already kinda morally wobbly) into joining forces. Later we see when he callously tells Discord the necklace that reminded him of his brother was a symbol of his hatred and he was playing Discord the whole time.

Its a characterization that gets sort of dwarfed by the huge Godzilla sized centaur part of the episode, but Tartarus Island uses it to the fullest. We see Tirek as the cold, calculating murderer that he is. Even the small things like able to suffer a humiliation while his lackies work. He has his sight on a goal and understands how to get there. While we as an audience only see bits and pieces and wonder things like Why are they carving soap? Tirek knows and he has those gears working. The last part shows too a very chilling future for our heroes once he has his sights set on new goal.

Second Place

Tempest Shadow: Mooby Road
by Captain_Hairball


This is a fascinating tale. “Witness protection road trip” is not a phrase I expected to encounter in this contest. Or, you know, ever. But seeing Tempest Shadow adapt to humanity, civilian life, and being one of the good guys with Pinkie and Rarity as her guides is a delight. And it’s not just pure fluff either. There are moments of poignant depth, lethal tension, and hints of fascinating events both magical and commercial going on in the background, and some amazing fight choreography:

Efficient Takedown 1(wb)(wb)
Destroy target tapped creature.
Tempest Shadow has no choice but to beat people one-handed. She still does it easily.


I prefer the attitude of the show Angel to that of FIM when it comes to the idea of redemption: the journey is much more important than the destination. In fact, the destination may never be fully reached – you will never truly atone for the hurt you have committed – but what matters is that you spend each day doing what you can to do so. And that’s what’s on display here, I think. A dark opening leaves us with a character haunted by her actions for the rest of the story; with no way to repair the damage, the most positive outcome she can hope for is using that past to ensure she never sinks so low again.

The journey being more important is echoed in a literal sense, too, since the place the story is named after only features in the last 1/20th of the story.

And for a story covering such bleak subject matter, there were a surprising number of good jokes! As well as the delightful image of Tempest Shadow shovelling her way through a whole mixing bowl of scrambled eggs and bacon, because that’s the first order of business when visiting a world where the meat’s not sapient :pinkiehappy:


This story comes at you with a big warning right on the tin that there is going to be a death in it.

Normally that kind of thing makes me wary, and reading at the start makes you wonder why does it have to happen at all. But I think it underlines an interesting point. Ponies forgive a lot of things, seemingly as a part of their intrinsic nature. But does that extend to a killer? Tempest is very much the literal definition of a wounded war vet, cagey, paranoid and liable to leap at every throat, yet one can see little hints of a softer side under the scars. It makes for very thrilling characterization and so are her parole officers Friendship Chaperons.

Pinkie and Rarity make for an interesting dynamic, not only because it's fun to pin elegant class with enthusiastic partier, but because they are also a little older as well. Snippets of conversation that suggest of a greater world and a natural transition to life beyond the perpetual high school purgatory that is C.H.S. I haven't seen done too often but it is done quite well here.

First Place


As I said at the start, the characters don’t have to be villainous; they just have to be in character. River Road took that and absolutely ran with it, presenting takes on human Chrysalis and Tirek that, while undeniably themselves, aren’t looking to take over the world. They just want to keep it from realizing precisely how much insanity has been going on in Canterlot since that fateful Fall Formal. This is basically a clip show episode of a supernatural buddy cop show, or possibly a binge-watch of its first season, and I mean that in the best way possible. The characterization, interaction, and implications both spoken and un make for a fantastic addition to the world.

Agents of S.M.I.L.E. 2UU
Creature — Human Rogue
Whenever an opponent casts a spell, that player puts the top two cards of their library into their graveyard.
”The only fantasy in this world is that of a sane reality. We exist to perpetuate it.”
—Tirek Kentar, agent of S.M.I.L.E.


I was unfamiliar with most of the references spread through this one, which, for many stories, would be a death knell. In this example, though, the story still managed to sail through as my top pick.

One of the many, many wonderful things about villains is how different a perspective they offer to heroes, but that’s hampered by the old problem of a villain being less exciting and impactful the longer they stick around. Chrysalis is in "A Canterlot Wedding," for example, for eight minutes, which was enough to fuel 4,000 stories she’s tagged in on this site, 25,000 images on Derpibooru, and two returns to the show.

So a beautiful opportunity offered by a mirror universe is to reimagine a villain character as good-aligned, letting us enjoy their unique characterisations without bleeding the dramatic tension from a story. This tale does that to great effect, and the resulting observations of familiar events through new eyes never cease to be engaging.

But it’s so much more than that. The characters have a wonderful chemistry together, one that doesn’t rely on romantic tension to stay interesting, and throws up so many fun and funny moments. Also, the characterisation itself is never tired or shallow – Tirek, for example, is the voice of calm here. Yeah: the poster boy for rampaging across Equestria now sips tea and counsels thoughtful restraint. And Chrysalis’ lust for destruction – and a certain siren :heart::pinkiehappy::heart::yay::heart: – is just as sharp and unhinged as her wit. “I know where your bed sleeps,” indeed. None of which ever feels like too much of a departure from canon, beyond what a parallel universe counterpart might naturally differ on.

Enormous fun from start to finish.


It's a bit of a trope in Magical Girl shows that the heroes are the only ones who care and are handling the supernatural threats. That if not but for the grace of seven high school girls we'd all be :yay: 'd. So it's great to see that EqG land is not so unprotected or unawares of the magical shenanigans. A whole organization set up to monitor these very magical events and Canterlot Town has their own pair of agents assigned.

Princess Twilight would likely have a heart attack at seeing who they are, though.

However, just like how Principal Celestia isn't a thousand year old archmage ruling Earth through magical fiat, this take on on our  villains is exceptionally fun. The strongest part comes not from how they are individually act, but act as a team. The banter is very on point as is their working relationship. It's a EqG X-files! Right to the point where the two leads are not romantic with each other, but they are still very much partners.

The story is a bit penned in by needing to follow the various movies, but River Road finds ways to make each situation fun without us feeling like we are re-treading the script. The bonus  framing story of them in therapy was good comedy as well as giving great insight to their thinking.

The hints of a greater world, of what comes next after the movies leaves me hungry for a sequel, especially at the exciting end!

Thank you again to each and every participant. I’ll definitely have to put together another contest sooner rather than later… though next time, I’ll get a sense of how everyone feels about the prompt first. :twilightsheepish:

Comments ( 24 )

Huh, welp, there goes that. :derpytongue2: Maybe I was a little too crazy to try to write a Cozy Glow story in two days. Ah well. (Though I am surprised at who actually won. Overstreet's isn't even on here, and Her Lips is only an honorable mention!) But it was fun, and the story itself was successful, so really that's all that matters. Great game everyone!

(Do you say that during a writing contest? What do we call it if it's not a game? I dunno.)

Regardless, this was fun!

-GM, master of COZY GLOW.

is it because my story focused on the introspection instead of the story itself? I suppose it makes sense, that seems to be something people don't enjoy as much as I do, the concept of it anyway.

Regardless, I'd like to say that this contest was fun! And also that I read Mac to the Future and am glad to it at least got a mention, I loved it, XD


Congratulations to the winners! Some fun reads all around, and I graciously bow in defeat.

Still, I will note that time management is just as important a skill in writing any other. Not everybody is going to be generous enough to extend the deadline for a contest like this, though most people around here end up doing so regardless.

This was a lot of fun, thank you for running this. And there were so many good stories, it must have been really hard to pick. Thank you for the kind words, I MAY have been kicking my little feet in the air in glee at placing. Possibly. And I really appreciate the reviews.

Thank you so much for those amazing reviews and for organizing and judging this whole contest. :raritystarry:
I'd like to say more but I'm a bit overwhelmed and have no idea what to add. All I know is that I'm looking forward to whatever contest you'll cook up next and that I hope to see everyone there again.

Grats to the winners, and good choice of honorable mentions. I know I've added a few fics to my pile of things to read.


I'll take it!

4958752 To me, 'It is because...?' suggests blaming a story for doing something wrong, which I think is perhaps not the healthiest way to look at not winning. There were fifteen eligible entrants, and only six were named here. I know it sucks when you see that yours wasn't among them, but keep in mind that the story that's been at the top of the feature box for four days wasn't mentioned here either. Each of the judges assembled a top three, and tossed out a couple of honourable mentions too, and we then went over those suggestions until we had a consensus. This meant that we each had some stories which didn't make the final cut. Rote, for example, had some lovely characterisation. And Out of Context Nightmare was inspired by one of the best ideas of the Culture series. Neither of which got a mention because by that point we'd be name checking half the entrants to the contest.

That said, feedback is of course very important, and it's a great trait to analyse what you can learn from an experience, and what you might adjust to do better next time. That's why all three of the judges left comments on your story. I can assure you it's no prejudice against introspection, though - I've written some introspective stories myself, and I'm sure FoME and Fylifa have too :twilightsmile:

Ngl, I'm fairly annoyed. I should have known better than to enter.
Of the three winners, I've read two. 1st and 2nd place were absolute dreck.
And the best story in the bunch is an Honorable Mention!

4958842 This is the second time you've brought your hostility into an announcement about this contest, after FoME warned you against it last time. I don't think being rude about the other stories serves any purpose here. I think it's fine to disagree with the choices, or to say you didn't like those ones or couldn't understand their appeal. All I can say is that the winner, for example, was almost unanimous, with two of us ranking it top and one as a very close second.

But if you're going to be like that about it, then I will say this:

I liked your story. And I left you a really enthusiastic comment about it. It wasn't without its issues - the compressed tell-rather-than-show nature of the third chapter, and the two new characters introduced just for the final scene. I pointed that out in the comment, and you pretty much told me where to go. When FoME announced the deadline extension, he gave you the opportunity to re-submit your story. You could have made the changes based on feedback given (not a perfect system; gives a little advantage to those who submitted early, but hopefully tries to even out the extra time the late submitters got), but you chose not to.

That's ok. I'm glad you wrote the story you wanted to write, the way you wanted to write it. But if someone points out issues with it, and those remain unaddressed, then you have to appreciate that they're going to hold those problems against it when they judge your story. Premise-wise, I think yours was one of the strongest entries. I liked your older Lightning Dust story, too. I hope it remains a story you're happy with just as it is, and that you don't regret writing it in the same way as you mention wishing you knew better than to enter.

I think the main thing holding you and your story back here is author attitude.

Looks like I have some more reading material to read!

Congrats to the winners

I published after the extension.

I regret writing anything.

It didn't come across it seems, but I was joking when I made that comment, XD I don't actually mind that I lost, or the reasons behind why. It's clear that I was up against some very good writer's, and while I'm confident I'm not bad as a writer, I can accept my lose humbly.

After all, I did enjoy some of the other stories myself. And I only got one downvote, so I must have done something right. ^-^

Congratulations to the winners!

This post didn't link to a story compendium! :raritycry:

The post that first announced the contest linked to the group, and every story is part of it, too. You can find all the stories there, even the ones that didn't enter the contest itself for some reason or other.

Congrats to the winners.

They can now claim they're award winning writers. :rainbowwild:

Congrats to the winners! I'm glad some of the less popular fanfics were chosen. Great stories don't always get into the feature box.

I appreciate the honorable mention. Your description of Burnt Oak is spot-on. :eeyup:

Sweet. Thanks!

That should have been linked here. Grumble grumble

Congrats to the winners! And I'll try again another time (hopefully when I have better inspirations than giving an alicorn magic horn laser incontinence).

(And those last five words sound a bit like an aphasia attack, don't they? Context is everything.)

Another load of stories for my reading list. Congratulations to all who won. I only wish I could've found the time this month for an entry of my own.

Congratulations to the winners!

Especially you! Now I'm extra-glad that I didn't snipe your idea, because it would have been criminal to deprive you of your well-earned victory lap. :twilightsmile: I'll look forward to queueing it up on the ol' Read It Sooner!

And I'm looking forward to you reading it. Although it really only became that good in the last two days before the deadline. :scootangel:

Maybe the next time we'll both be competing again. :rainbowdetermined2:

Those are some excellent winners indeed! All three of them are very good stories, and particularly Mr and Mrs SMILE is hilarious fun and a new favourite. Thanks very much for running the contest!

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