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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


  • EUnstable Sale
    Crusades have consequences. Some of those are financial, and so the trio turns to an emergency stable sale to gain funds for their future mark-finding attempts. But another price comes out of reputation, and the bill has just come due.
    Estee · 13k words  ·  234  13 · 3.7k views

Winona just went into heat. Most of Ponyville's dogs are following Apple Bloom around. The Crusaders see no correlation between those two events. None whatsoever.

But as long as there's a fresh chance to earn a mark, who cares about cause and effect? And consequences? Oh, those never happen.

Well, certainly not because of anything the Crusaders do


(Part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page and FIMFiction group. New members and trope edits welcome.)

Now with author Patreon page.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 39 )

I am crying. I have literally laughed myself into excruciating pain XD

You may have gone a touch too far with this one, but it was still funny.

It was obvious from about 1500 words in what was going to happen. Painfully obvious.

It's like watching a train wreck. One has already seen the inevitability of the outcome, so there's nothing to do but sit back and watch the disaster unfold.

Is it possible for the cutie mark crusaders to get cutie marks in obliviousness? Because that would be awesome.:pinkiehappy:

Your comedies are a thing of beauty. I'm really happy you started doing more of 'em


I know... I kept turning the dial on this one. I think it has to do with the way I've treated the CMC when they're background characters. Individually, they can have that rare moment of very temporary clarity. But as a group -- no.

Basically, my subconscious wasn't going to do this unless they had the collective logic of a freshly-concussed goldfish and the learning ability of the fishbowl. Or to paraphrase a certain high-ranking military official, "STOOPID! THEY ARE ALL MADE OF STOOPID!"

...okay, maybe not quite that far. But kids can be dumb. Damn dumb. And if there's anything the CMC does as a group, it's kick each other's IQs into the basement.


Is it possible for the cutie mark crusaders to get cutie marks in obliviousness?

Have you seen Applejack's "invisible mark" theory?

Oh, I completely agree. I don't think it's so much their level of obliviousness so much as how far you took the screw-ups. The sled? Sure. The meat? Okay. The dogs? Not a question. Opal? Of course. The toxic cloud? That, I'm not so sure about.

I love the warmth of your prose. Well done, fantastic read.


Have you seen Applejack's "invisible mark" theory?

No, I don't think I have. Or maybe. I don't remember.

Sheesh. No wonder the Crusaders released Discord. The sheer concentrated denial of reality must have caused the various seals to lapse into nonexistence for a moment.

Some day those three are going to look back on this and groan at their own stupidity. But then, who among us can't say the same of our youth?

Also, I hope Mr. Flankington got some of the flak. The Crusaders may have caused the biohazard (at least, according to such dubious, arbirary sources as causality,) but he supplied the materials.

In any case, thank you for another excellent story. :twilightsmile:

"Get what?" a frustrated Scootaloo shot back. "That you wind up with a mark because you do perfectly ordinary things you're already good at and love doing, instead of trying cool stuff which nopony's ever done before?"


I think I hurt something laughing...

> Is it possible for the cutie mark crusaders to get cutie marks in obliviousness?

I posit that they already have.

This is probably similar to the "invisible mark" theory 4144450 mentioned; but the mark is explicitly not invisible. They just can't notice it, by definition, because that's the thing they're very best at. And of course they can't earn their cutie marks if they already have one …

Why haven't we, the viewers, seen it? Unreliable narration. The show is actually told from the POV of the CMC.

Why doesn't anyone else comment on their marks? They do, but the CMC refuse to acknowledge it (see "unreliable narration," above).

This made me realize that maybe "Twilight Time" came about as an attempt by the adults to trick the CMC into actually getting their cutie marks the normal way.

"HAZMAT Equestria. 7 0 days since last biohazard incident."

Loved the story.


The "invisible mark" idea first (briefly) appeared in Triptych and got an expansion in Pinkie Pie vs. The Soufflé. The following quote is from the latter.

Applejack had come up with a dark theory, one she'd shared with Pinkie in strict confidence: that all three Crusaders actually had their cutie marks and had since the day they'd begun their collective quest. The marks were all for the talent of causing disasters. And they were invisible -- because that was the way to keep the talent expressed. If the Crusaders never believed they'd found their marks, they would keep searching for them in only those ways guaranteed to cause massive property damage or worse, none of which would produce visible marks, and that would make the trio keep searching, leading to still more disasters... Pinkie had listened and then rather frankly told Applejack to stay out of the older cider batches. The farmer had still proclaimed she was going to present the idea to Twilight on their next encounter and at least find out if it was possible.

This is not a theory which a pony comes up with after a good day.


But what would the cutie mark for deliberate, self-inflicted permanent reality-blinding obliviousness look like?

(Insert political party symbol here.)

"Where would we find out?" Sweetie asked.
All three sat still on the library floor for half a minute and thought about it.


You know, the CMC really should do more research into how ponies get their marks...

Self-enforced stupidity indeed :raritydespair:

Are you trying to kill us all through laughter, Estee? If one could die from jaw-dropping hilarity, I would be dead several times over.

OMC! I'm dead tired, been up all day, and hungry. But I couldn't stop reading this once I started. It was a hilarious on so many levels. Although I'm sad that we didn't get a , "Thank you Scootaloo!" Here. How many fics does that saying pop up in anyways?

Assuming the invisible mark of chaos isn't correct, I've got my money on collateral damage cutie marks. What does a collateral damage cutie mark look like anyways?


*approximately three thousand current news stories references deleted here*

Hey, I wrote a review for this story. In case you are interested, it can be found here.

Overall, I disliked the story. While I liked the premise, the set-up, and the pay-off, the writing style brought me out of it completely. Certainly not my cup of tea.

And of course, the alternative to what they're doing right now is admitting that they've ruined their reputations by pounding sand in a rat-hole because they were too stupid to listen. Children really don't like to have to apologize because they see it as a humiliation. Granted, none of the CMC have taken as far as Bart "If I ever apologize even once, I'll be forced to apologize for shit I didn't actually do because that's how it works" Simpson but they're getting there.

The interesting thing about these three is that their being made of stupid is something of a universal constant. The latest IDW Annual has the humanoid versions using a stupid screen name to stupidly turn people against Sunset Shimmer because a stupid ringleader convinced a stupid blowhard and a stupid wuss that it was right and just that it happen.

My theory is that Scootaloo is destined to be the Equestrian Evel Knievel. Possibly she's going to jump multiple, consecutive gorges, through multiple flaming hoops. It will be glorious.


But then she tries to jump the fountain at Las Pegasus... It is a dark day indeed.

Hmm, on the one hand I really liked the slow build up, but ... the CMC ... argh the CMC. On the other hand I started to feel a lot like Bobbi Brassie before therapy the more I read.

I almost feel like this deserves a sad tag ... all that self delusion was painful to read about.

And this story just becomes Hilarious in Hindsight, with Crusaders of the Lost Mark.


Scootaloo grinned. "I know just the --"
-- white and yellow hooves came up, jammed against the pegasus' mouth.
"Scootaloo?" Sweetie Belle asked. "You know I love you like you were my own sister, right? We're friends and nothing's ever going to change that?"
The shocked pegasus nodded.
"An' Ah feel the same way?" Apple Bloom added. "There's practically nothin' Ah wouldn't do for you, anywhere, any time at'tall?"
Another slow nod.
"Good," both said in a perfect chorus which reached into every word to follow. "And if you tell us to go get Angel Bunny, we're still never going to speak to you again."

That is my favorite segment of the entire story.

I reviewed this story as part of Read It Later Reviews #69.

My review can be found here.

Throughout, I've been alternating between :rainbowlaugh: and :facehoof:.

Mainly :facehoof:.

Good work encapsulating the chaos incarnate that is the CMC.

"Get what?" a frustrated Scootaloo shot back. "That you wind up with a mark because you do perfectly ordinary things you're already good at and love doing, instead of trying cool stuff which nopony's ever done before?"

A long pause.

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!" Scootaloo shouted.

The idiocy of the CMC in a nutshell.

"Oh, yeah? If we were gonna have a flying contest between my side and your wings, who would win? Or would we just tie forlast?"

I'm not entirely convinced that was necessary.

Somepony needs to sit down with these three and explain the words responsibility and consequences. Especially Scootaloo.

"They're just waiting for the right moment!" Scootaloo gushed. "Maybe it's not for making one dog listen! Maybe you need a whole pack ! And that's why they're still coming! Maybe you'll get a mark in -- tying dogs to the front of a scooter and having them pull you along! Or maybe even on a cart ! And then you could go really fast and we could still put that flaming hoop at the edge of the Gorge, or how about this , we make it float in the middle somehow..."

I get the feeling that in this ‘verse, Scootaloo hasn’t earned her cutie mark because she’s destined to die before she gets it, almost certainly because she was doing something phenomenally stupid trying to earn it.

“C-Cutie Mark *sniff* Crusaders... f-funeral planners... *SOB!*”

Seriously though, I actually hate the crusaders in this story because they’re so selfish and idiotic. I know they were pretty bad in the show, but most of what they did only ever hurt themselves.

You can fool all the people some of the time & some of the people all the time. BUT you can't fool Scootaloo, she never pays attention :scootangel:

I love going back to your older stories , but the huge lines of dashes kills my text to speech.

You pump faked me several times and made me guess the wrong disaster. Good on ya!

"Get what ?" a frustrated Scootaloo shot back. "That you wind up with a mark because you do perfectly ordinary things you're already good at and love doing, instead of trying cool stuff which nopony's ever done before?"

That does seem to be how it works.

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