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PaulAsaran


Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords, and reviews both independently and for Seattle's Angels. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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Jan
19th
2020

Concepts and Creations — Nildian Roadtrip · 5:13pm January 19th

Here we go again. After much consideration, I've decided to spend the next few weeks revealing intended No Heroes stories likely to never see the light of day. And with that decision, there is no better place to start than my unnamed Octavia story. Just like last time, a fair warning: spoilers for published No Heroes stories will be abundant.

There's a lot going on behind this one. A lot. It's hard to determine what I should and shouldn't talk about, because if I go too detailed this might start to feel boring, but if I don't go detailed enough there would be a myriad of unanswered questions. I suppose I'll start with a short recap of events in the No Heroes timeline.

First, it should be noted that Octavia is one of the six members of Luna's personal team of back-up ponies for the Elements of Harmony, known as the Order of Shadows (not to be confused with the group of the same name in my Trixie vs. Equestria timeline). Although she was born in Equestria, Octavia's family has strong historical ties with Nildia, my ponified India, and she is proud of that heritage. Her great-great grandmother was closely associated with a revolution there that freed the country's native Nilgiri population from an oppressive puppet regime of Grypha (in these timelines, Grypha is the equivalent of Russia). In Part 3 of No Heroes, she got the chance to visit there on a mission (the same mission mentioned in my last CaC blog), where we got to meet her elder sister, Benjamina. We'll talk more about her later.

In Part 4 of No Heroes, the World Serpent Riptide (AKA Jörmungandr (yes, that Jörmungandr (long story for another time))) devastated the world, including much of Nildia. Equestria did significantly better than most, largely because the serpent was trying to get the hell away from there, but still lost entire cities in its rampage. It was ultimately killed by Upper Crust, but not before places like Las Pegasus, Baltimare, and Nilhi (ponified Delphi) were wiped off the map.

At the end of Part 4, my OC Fine Crime stepped down as leader of the Order of Shadows, feeling that there was too much power being placed on his shoulders at one time (he remained leader of the Archons, Luna's personal espionage agency). At his nomination and the enthusiastic encouragements of the other members of the team, Octavia was given his old position. All of this is established in-story.

What isn't established, but was always my intention, was that Luna approached Octavia later with an offer to make Octavia her student. Octavia had already been enchanted such that her voice and her cello could be used as magical focii on top of the natural magical abilities of earth ponies, something that had been critical in her fight against Applejack in the last battle of the original series. Luna could help her refine her abilities and perform proper magic using both, if unconventionally. Furthermore, Luna was offering Octavia a more rounded education of leadership, politics, economics, strategy, tactics, and so on. The offer was separate from that of leading the Order, meaning she could reject the education and still hold the role. Problem was, Octavia didn't know if she wanted the role in the first place. Though naturally talented and capable at anything she put her mind to, Octavia lacked self-confidence.

Octavia delays, needing time to wrap her head around everything being offered to her. It is fortuitous, then, that she gets a message from her estranged sister, Benjamina.

Benjamina was the only unicorn in her and Octavia's family, and also the eldest of five siblings. She's a no-nonsense, hard-edged pony with an ambition tempered by a firm grasp on reality; she's happy to succeed, but won't push herself beyond certain limits. It's a certain... controlled ambition that runs Benjamina, and as long as she's reached a certain height she's happy. Her family all think she's a wealthy banker, and she indeed runs a legitimate banking business that is spread all across Nildia and its neighboring nations. What they don't know is that she's also Nildia's premier crime boss.

At least, she was. When Riptide tore through Nildia, it practically wiped her business, legal and otherwise, off the map. Even with her savings, the crashing local economy has reduced her power to a mere fraction of what it once was.

With her empire destroyed but her health intact, Benjamina endures an epiphany of priorities. The top one is reconnecting with the little sister whom she'd belittled and mocked as a child. And so Benji contacts Octavia and suggests the two spend some time together. The discussion leads to an agreement of a cross-country road trip across Nildia, retracing the path of their great-great grandmother during the Nildian Revolution.

...and that, my friends, is merely the setup. Are you exhausted, yet?

The story begins directly enough, with Octavia and Benjamina traveling across Nildia, following their ancestor's hoofsteps and trying to rekindle the sisterly bond they'd lost. There are no small hurdles here, with Octavia's overarching 'good-ness' clashing directly with Benjamina's willingness to bend or even break the rules to achieve things. It's a constant struggle to keep the tension between them manageable, aided by a sincere desire on both their parts to bridge the gap between them.

Then things get... complicated. The two are met seemingly at random by a panicky mother and her foal who, claiming to recognize Octavia, beg for safety. Their panic soon proves justified when thugs attack, forcing all involved to defend themselves. It is then revealed that not only the attackers but the mother and foal are all changelings. Benjamina urges abandoning these events entirely, but Octavia decides to stick around and see what comes of it.

After the thugs are defeated, the terminally wounded 'mother' changeling explains the circumstances. The child, or "soft-shell" as the changelings refer to their young, is a prince from an Equestrian Hive in the midst of social turmoil. He is only around ten years of age. His mother, the queen, was convinced that her hive was about to undergo a brutal civil war and feared for her son and so had him sent away to a friendly hive for protection until things cooled down. The 'mother' is the boy's bodyguard and the last of a protective retinue that had been all but wiped out in subsequent enemy attacks. The rebel changelings would stop at nothing to capture the prince as a chess piece against his family. The dying bodyguard begs Octavia to take her prince to the friendly hive, assuring her that they wouldn't harm her and that they are friendly towards ponies.

So begins the purpose of the story; Octavia and Benjamina spend the majority of it escorting the young changeling prince east, clear across Nildia, to the safety of this friendly hive. Along the way, they have to deal with not only changelings, but local forces of both legal and extralegal nature that unwittingly work for the changelings. In the process Benjamina and Octavia disagree vehemently on how to proceed, with Benjamina constantly threatening to abandon the boy entirely. Of course, there's also the matter of the prince himself, too young for the dangers being thrust in his face. The plot thickens further as Octavia receives visits in her dreams from Luna, who helps them in their struggles by teaching Octavia more about her new magical abilities and providing strategic suggestions. There would also be a general depiction of Nildian culture and life, alongside a painful review of the devastation wrought by Riptide.

But we're still not finished, because Octavia is still journeying mostly along her great-great grandmother's path, which brings up topics of Nildian history and helps inspire her to greater self-confidence. Not done yet: as they stew of trouble thickens, Benjamina begins connecting with her sister and the prince while also seeing opportunities to use the situation to further her own ambitions of rebuilding her old strength, making connections all across Nildia in what can best be described as "Friendship is Magic".

Yeah. There's a lot going on with this story.

In the end, Octavia and Benjamina succeed in delivering the boy to the hive, who turn out to indeed be friendly and welcoming towards ponies despite maintaining the secretive nature of changelings in general. The sisters reforge their familial bond, Benjamina gets a hoofhold on rebuilding her financial empire, and Octavia returns home with the confidence she needs to accept Luna's offer of apprenticeship and lead the Order.

Whew. I knew that one would be a lot. Kinda glad to get it out of the way. Needles to say, this would have been a substantial story in its own right, likely becoming the largest No Heroes tale in the series. It was actually slated to be my next work for it, but alas, it's just too much for me to focus on at the moment. Maybe someday I'll develop this into its own unique, independent original fiction, but as a No Heroes entry it's unlikely to see the light of day.

It should also be noted that this was going to be the beginning of a changeling-centric plot arc trilogy. And yes, I have every intention of blogging the other stories in said trilogy next. The good news is that this one handled a large chunk of the No Heroes background, so they should theoretically be shorter.

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Comments ( 3 )

Man, I barely remember most of this stuff about No Heroes. Probably because I binged the first 4 books.

This sounds really interesting. I haven’t dived into No Heroes, but this all scans well regardless!

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