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left on read.


High Style, Photo Finish's aide and famous stylist, was trying to have a normal day, but few things are normal when Cloud Kicker arrives.

This story is written as part of the Winningverse (which is why I don't go in depth into exploring Cloud Kicker's character). If you don't know why Cloud Kicker is the way she is, then go read the Life and Times of a Winning Pony. It is by far a better story than this one.

However, I'd appreciate it if you came back once you were done.

Chapters (2)
Comments ( 37 )

Ok! I'm off to a better story..!

(I kid)

~Skeeter The Lurker

well that was interesting...honestly I was expecting 'changeling', not 'trans', but I guess we'll see where this goes :rainbowderp:

intimacy that had to sated.

missing a 'be' in there

As soon as she started running I was thinking,' she's got a dick! Nah, it's probably just some scars or some shit.' Kinda funny I got that right.

This could go places, keep it up.

Instead, she carried herself more like a solider would.

Should be soldier. Good read so far

Read it. This is going to be going interesting directions. The loneliness that can go with living stealth. Also, I added it to my list of transpony stories on my user profile for any readers here interested in finding more transpony stories (I have pretty much all the ones out there that aren't horribly problematic).


you and your small mind :rainbowkiss:

this is excellent. it will probably be in the featurebox sometime today


Aww, thank you :twilightsmile:

I doubt it will hit the featurebox, since I don't have that kind of following and it went up yesterday, but so far people are liking it so I am not going to complain.



yeah i just checked the word count... under 4,000. damn. T_T

I am not familiar with the Winningverse (did look up the group atleast and got a small idea) but nice introduction, the last bit of the chapter hit me but I am definitely looking forward to future chapters. :twilightsmile:

Getting some dark back story, and also I was wondering If Photo Finish was a love interest at first. Keep it up.

Good, gooood. I love where this is going, please continue

Photo Finish asks about Cloud Kicker, and then shows surprised recognition of the name when it's said back to her.


Fixed, and thank you for pointing it out.. that was a big one.

Previous versions had Photo Finish already knowing who she was, but I figured this way was better. I guess I just didn't catch that one after I made the changes.

I think this is the first time I read a fan-fic with Photo Finish, I can say you pulled off her character well. Giving her a side that does care for Sty, but at the same time has most of her personality.

Sty's nightmare sure had some punch. Sty is very lucky to have Photo.

I wonder if Photo is right about Sty not needing to be so secretive. I know for myself, I've had cis people tell me I try to control who knows too much and should just let it go and run with it. This has been something I have been thinking about a lot in the last couple weeks. How right are they vs do they actually understand what cost can be incurred when people know. Still sorting it out.

I have the feeling that Cloud Kicker is going to try again, despite being hurt. The question is what is Sty going to do. With many authors, I would say that it Sty would have fun time with her and have a happy ending, but a few (I can imagine the parasprite doing this) would go for the ending that is harder to make oneself write, which would be the not so happy ending of Sty being too afraid and paranoid.

Comment posted by Xerzes deleted Sep 9th, 2013

Humm, well I hope you continue to work on this, its definatly interesting. I have transgendered friends, and for many of them, thay lived in fear untell thay learned that thay where not alone.

1. The Pony with a Silver Tongue (not me)

Kind of an odd chapter name, there.

“I guess,” she said, smiling sheepishly. “I’m visiting Canterlot for the weekend and I just kinda wandered in here by mistake, saw a beautiful mare, and decided to strike up a conversation. Any ‘rudeness’ on my part was incidental and not at all on purpose. I am sorry if I offended you though.”

You've been in Ponyville too long, Cloudy. You've got to take the approach a little more slowly when you've got neither context nor reputation to back you up.

The cool breeze tickled my face as the doors opened allowing us onto the brisk Canterlot afternoon. It always amused me that the days and nights of the fall season were cooler than the summer ones, since the weather was entirely controlled by magic and therefore could be made to be whatever temperature one wished year round.

Oy. City ponies. They think seasons are just a whim. They don't understand the ramifications that would come if the weather were just altered at random. They don't see that seasons have to change for a reason.

Really Cloud Kicker? Really? I do appreciate being called hot, and I probably would have blushed and acted like a school filly again if not for the fact that Cloud Kicker had just compared me not to the sun’s beauty, not to the sun’s splendor, and not the sun’s radiance, but to its physical temperature.

A poet Cloud Kicker was not.

Hey, she got you without needing any poetry.

Most ponies would not think of an open area such as this as a private place. However, I knew it to be so.

For starters, there was a rumor that this garden was closed and only accessible during big events like the Grand Galloping Gala, despite Princess Celestia’s numerous attempts to get ponies to use the grounds as a public park or recreation area. Then there was the fact that this part of the castle had nothing worth protecting but easily replaceable plants, meaning that guards would not come through here on their patrols, sparing us any awkward situations. Lastly, the surrounding trees and their location on the far side of the castle grounds meant that this area was as secluded as any random room in Canterlot.

That's nice, but I'm going to raise my eyebrow at you anyway.

My heartbeat quickened as the implications of what I had just done, and what I almost did, rushed to the forefront of my mind. Then the panic started.

Hurried breaths.

Falling tears.

My shaking frame.

I hope you know what you're doing. One should not stick rape in a character's past on a whim.
Well, unless you have previously established rape as a motif, but Project Horizons aside, not many authors are that crazy.

“You almost gave up your secret,” I scolded myself. “And for what? So you could bang somepony? Do you have any idea how stupid you are? What this could have cost you?”

As always, only silence answered my questions, allowing me to keep going.

“But that’s ok isn’t it? After all, it’s not like you sacrificed everything you had, your family, your friends, your history for this. And it’s not like you would lose everything again if you were found out. No, surely this is not important enough that you should keep it from a complete stranger!”

Wait, no. The probabilities have shifted. And so I am left to wonder how (we'll get to why later) he is such a convincing transvestite.
Okay, it's later. Why?

And finally, I wept for that closeness that Cloud Kicker offered. A closeness I knew I could never have again.

Fair warning, I'm going to assume you're being stupid until and unless you can prove otherwise.

If anyone found out I was transgender, it would cost me everything.

Just to be clear, when I said "transvestite" up there, that was not random. I stopped to consider whether the evidence pointed to transvestite or transgender. And I concluded that Sty's words thus far implied some outside force (probably job pressure) forcing faking of femininity.
Now, I'm not saying you have lied to me. I checked, and I can read stuff in the new light. It works. So you haven't lied to me. But I'm also not saying there aren't any tweaks that would benefit the hints. I don't know what they are, but I suspect they exist.
And to be honest, I'm getting a strong sense of melodrama here. You've not convinced me that Sty's problems are as serious as the story thinks. That's not good for my suspension of disbelief.
Oh, by the way: I think you mean "anypony."

Seriously, though, what's up with the "(not me)" in the title? All I can think of is that it means you didn't write this particular chapter, but seeing as it's in the titles of both chapters, and there was nothing in the description or the author note here to say any of this wasn't your work, this theory does not seem all that strong.


Well, it is written from Style's perspective, so the title points to the pony with the silver tongue not being her.

I'd also like to point out that transvestite is actually a very offensive term for transgender people. I know you didn't mean for it to offend and to be honest, most people don't even realize that it isn't the proper terminology, but I figured I'd clarify.

Fair warning, I'm going to assume you're being stupid until and unless you can prove otherwise.

Did I prove otherwise? :rainbowderp:

Yeah, I'm not going to change my mind about wanting an explanation for those "(not me)"s.

Rain hit the ground in heavy droves as I dug through the trash. I had already found a few cardboard boxes to make myself a shelter for the night, but none of them were big or sturdy enough to shelter me from the downpour, so I kept looking, digging through the refuse for something, anything, which could offer any form of protection.

Does Photo Finish not pay you?

As quickly as I could, I began stuffing the newspapers into the available space between my jacket and my fur, a task made more difficult by my hunger. Sure, there was the constant growling in my stomach and the pain that came along with malnutrition, but this was a pain I had grown quite accustomed to as of late. This pain had only gotten worse as my stomach seemed to begin eating itself for survival, much like how my lack of nutrition ebbed away my muscles, making each movement more difficult.

Or is this a flashback?

“A model’s envy,” I muttered, offering my mirthless laughter as a response to my horrible joke. That’s all I had now, my bad jokes and my imminent death. I shook my head in annoyance as I, with great effort, pulled out the last newspaper, almost dropping it as I read the cover.

Tranny Infiltrates Canterlot Fashion Industry! Public Seeks Action!

To quote a great writer, "stories about ponies are stories about people." (I bet you were expecting me to quote myself. My ego's not that big, nor am I even a writer.) There is always an ambiguity about how human-like to make ponies, and how earth-like to make Equestria. In lighter stories, this doesn't make much of a difference. But when you get into darker territory, it can become quite a minefield; people can easily get quite worked up over things going better or worse than their headcanon would dictate when the potential consequences are serious. Perhaps that is more true for those of us of a more utopian leaning, considering the fundamental tension between utopias and darkness. I can't say I think myself qualified to judge the large-scale impact upon story enjoyment of views I do not hold.
The point is (yes, that intro was completely superfluous), the way I see modern Equestria is pretty egalitarian. This may not hold for every species (Equestria's totally racist), but if you're a pony you'll pretty much just be judged fairly upon your merits, or at worst kind of unfairly upon your past failures. So I have trouble accepting this.

“I cannot believe this,” Hoity Toity said. “I mean, this pony was in constant contact with my models and none of us knew. I am shocked and disgusted, yes, but my models are outright distraught. I mean, can you imagine what could have happened to them?”

And I think that marks the point that my suspension of disbelief is officially gone for good.
Also, supports my job pressure theory. Just sayin'.
Now, normally, I would leave at this point, not even bothering to post this nascent comment. But I think I'm going to carry on to the end of the chapter, in the hope of providing valuable feedback. I'm hardly a professional reviewer, but I can at least promise to give much a more thorough summary of my thoughts than the average commenter. And the chapters on this story aren't very long.

I bolted up, tears still streaking across my face.

However, I was no longer wet and freezing.

In fact, I was home.

I fear this leaves me unable to explain myself. When I give up on a story, that decision is final, and not even I can question it. But there is, of course, far more to my opinion than conscious thought, and so I cannot always know why I feel as I do. My best guesses are that I found that implausible even as a dream sequence, or that I find it implausible that it was a dream (likely due to some apparently unforgivable sin against the narrative structure a dream should have). Perhaps it has to do with the story treating Sty's fears as reasonable, if probably overly strong. I certainly can't explain how I make judgements about what the story thinks; sometimes it's hard enough figuring out how I read characters. I don't know if I'm going to be very helpful. I may just bail and leave this pathetic attempt at constructive criticism unposted.

“I know I was the fashion show,” I mumbled to myself.

You're either quite egotistical, or missing a word.

“Well good morning Sty!” she exclaimed. “I hope my mishap in the kitchen didn’t wake you. Also, I owe you a teacup.”

I could say a lot of good things about Photo Finish’s voice, but that list would not include her ability to speak at an acceptable level of loudness, especially on a morning such as this one.

That doesn't sound like the Photo Finish I know. I hope you're going to say something soon about her public persona being an act.

“Not much to say,” I responded. “I went to the castle gardens with the pony you saw me with. We had fun, we talked, then we got… intimate. And then I remembered what I was doing. I freaked out and ran away.”

I sat there awkwardly for a long while before she responded.

“So you got intimate with a pony?” she asked.

So she knows? Does she agree with you that anypony at all (especially that nag who employs you) learning your secret would be basically the end of the world? Or has she tried to talk you into lightening up a little?

“The way I figure, you’re no longer calling yourself ‘stupid’ and moping around,” she said, using her hooves to do air-quotes for emphasis. “You’re also not going on about how you have to keep your secret at the expense of being close to others. The way I see it, I fixed things.”

Wait. I need to go back and see if I can read all of Photo's lines in Dash's voice. It's not like I'm having any luck reading them in Photo's voice.
No. And my next idea was Cloud Kicker (not that I know what her voice sounds like), but that's not right either. She's too polite for Dashie, and the only reason I really considered CK was because of the "that's great" about the intimacy, and because Cloud can talk similarly to Rainbow at times. So I think Rainbow Dash was the closest, but I can't pigeonhole quite so neatly.

“Bah,” she exclaimed, interrupting me. “They would what? Turn on you? Gossip? Let them. You’re better than that. Besides, they wouldn’t be able to lay a hoof on you. I would make sure of that.”

Once again, don't ask me where my statements about what the story thinks come from. But I know that, last chapter, the signals said I was supposed to take Sty's secret as a big deal and potentially disastrous if it got out. And I know that right now, the signals are saying Photo's right. (Not that I was ever questioning the position Photo is currently presenting.) And there has not been sufficient reason for the story's mind to change so.
There's a reason I don't normally set out to give criticism. I'm not good at it, and I can see just fine how I come across like I think my personal opinions are the only things that matter. I don't like giving that impression. I don't want people thinking I'm an egotistical fool. But it doesn't change the fact that I have spent far too much of my life reading, and that it has given me a correspondingly good sense for narratives. And it doesn't give me a way to explain the reasons I don't consciously know.

“Then they miss out on my art,” she said, shrugging. “To be honest, I kind of wish that would happen. It would make it easier to see who was worth doing business with.”

There's a sentiment I can get behind.

I couldn’t help but smile at first as I heard the way she had pronounced the word “mother”. Just the sheer amount of venom packed into those two syllables was enough to cheer me up. It was something I found it endearing, especially considering that she had never asked me to call her mom.

I gather that your mother does not approve of your lifestyle.
Also, unless I'm misinterpreting these pronouns, it would be better to show that Photo is somewhat of a maternal figure to Sty, rather than implicitly telling us. In fact, why bother with labels at all? Figure out how their relationship behaves, show us that, and leave us to decide for ourselves what words fit once we've gotten a feel for the dynamic. I mean, look at Twilight and Spike, for example. Practically everything interesting about their relationship comes not from how they refer to each other, or how others refer to the two of them, but rather from watching their actions.

“And this is exactly why you need to stop hiding. They should not have this much power over you! To think that they’re blackmailing you like this, giving you all the proof you need to get them arrested, and that you are doing nothing! It’s… it’s...”

“It’s fine,” I finished for her. “I make more than enough money to pay them off and to live comfortably.”

Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Instead, all I saw was sadness in her eyes and all I heard was a sigh filled with such heartache, that it resonated through my body.

“Do what you want,” she said softly. “It’s your life and your money. Just know that I want to see you happy, and that it pains me to see you go through this because you’re afraid that they will not understand.”

It may be time to consider plotting against her for her own good. Arrange for her to unintentionally reveal her secret to one pony. Somepony who won't judge her (preferably, somepony who won't even show much surprise, but I understand if you can't get just anypony and can only afford to rule out the complete jerks). And, of course, make sure nopony will ever know you were involved, since this sort of thing is risky and seldom goes over well if it is discovered. But she may not leave you any other choice.

The ‘mom’ was implied.

I don't think this line should exist at all. Show, don't tell.

That's just what I think. Or at least what I was able to infer of what I think. I'm sorry it's so fragmentary.


Yeah, I'm not going to change my mind about wanting an explanation for those "(not me)"s.

I'll refer you to my answer on the last comment you posted.

For everything else, I'm going to say spoilers.

Everyone not wanting to read spoilers do not read this.



So, the idea I have for this story is that the whole of Equestria is a lot more forgiving and a lot more accepting than Style thinks. She has deep-rooted fears and notions due to her being essentially kicked out at a very early age. After Photo took her in, she decided to live as herself but to never give up her secret because doing so would mean (in her mind) going back to being in the streets.

She almost died from hunger and exposure, and that stuff kind of changes you.

That being said, the point of the story is going to be her still keeping her secret, but also learning to trust others and realizing that the world isn't out to destroy her. Her baggage is destroying her more so than the world ever could, and in realizing that not only can she be herself, but she can be herself AND be happy.

Cloud Kicker is going to help with that, as is Photo Finish, an incident with Style's parents, and a few other things I have planned.

So to respond to your comment more directly, you're right, Equestria is better than Style gives it credit for and her mindset is kind of unreasonable, though justifiable. (or at least that's what I intended).

I'm enjoying your play by play commentary, though I have to wonder why you're doing it at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving reading them but they did seem to have come out of nowhere (especially since I haven't updated this story in a very long time... which thinking about it makes me think I really should go back to work on it).

3649697 Transvestite is a different thing from transgender. You can dress as the opposite gender from your physical sex without having a problem with your physical sex. Obviously one could take offense at being grouped in the wrong category, but that doesn't make either a derogatory term. So I will refer you to the part where I specifically clarified that I said "transvestite" because my judgement of the cues thus far said Sty was not transgender (though admittedly one could debate whether Sty would truly be a transvestite if my first guess were correct and she were a stallion cross-dressing out of some strange necessity despite not wanting to do so, or whether the term implies it is by choice). I stand by what I said as appropriate at the time. It happens to not have been correct, and if you tell me Sty was offended I will probably apologize to her for guessing wrong, but I won't apologize for guessing.
In fact, an amusing point: if you, for example, were born physically female, privately identify as male, but hide it in public by making sure to dress and act unambiguously femininely, then arguably you are both transgender and a transvestite, though to the casual observer you would appear to be neither.

3650213 It's just how I comment. I swoop in out of nowhere and I leave very extensive comments. I like sharing my thoughts and the things I want to say to the characters, and people like reading running commentaries apparently. Everybody wins.

3653205you are thinking of transsexual

You are right in that transsexual and transgender are separate terms,and there are also people who are intersex, gender fluid, and a bunch of other terms. Transvestite, however, IS derogatory. I'm trans and I have belonged to a grand slew of groups and organizations dedicated to educating others on trans issues and terminology so I can discuss with you at length if you wish.

EDIT: Actually, I may have skimmed your response the first time around instead of reading it. You are actually thinking of a cross dresser.

Transgender people are people who identify as the opposite gender, transsexual people are people who have had genital surgery, and people who cross dress are just people who like dressing as the opposite sex.

In any case, transvestite IS a derogatory term, hands down. Still open to talking about it if you so wish.

3653495 "Transvestite" is a more formal-sounding synonym for "cross-dresser." It is literally just the Latin roots for "cross" and "dress" put together. ("Transvest," incidentally, is its much-less-used verb cousin.) I tend to favor words composed of Greek and Latin roots, because they generally mean exactly what they say. And they sound nice. Merriam-Webster Wiktionary Free Online Dictionary Dictionary.com


Yea, I know, it was also originally the official clinical term. And yet time moves on and things that were considered acceptable are no longer so. The term is not only outdated, but offensive, akin to the n word for blacks or spic for hispanics.

Tranny, transvestite, and certain other words should not be used. I'm letting you know because I'm not as easily offended as others can be, but I know for a fact other trans people who would have a field day for someone using that word around them.

I'm probably going to read Dysphoria now:derpyderp2:

Living inside an illusion most unsatisfactory
will you eventually end the search for a friend;
never give way to the foolish, the blackness hidden in Harmony,
for they shan't understand your joy.

We shall read on.:pinkiesmile:

A mother who doesn't care for her child is no mother at all:duck:

And lo, there be a pony clothed in clouds,
perhaps to truly be a saviour in time.
Stay in light forever more
or be consumed by the blackness
existing only within your heart.

Awaiting further releases.:fluttershysad:

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