• Published 26th Nov 2014
  • 5,232 Views, 170 Comments

Collaborators - Baal Bunny



Ahuizotl threatens to sue A. K. Yearling for libel unless she stops writing the Daring Do books. She makes him a counter-offer.

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Five

V

"So without any further ado," Dust Jacket said with a smile I recognized: instead of seeing the ponies crowding into the Barns & Kobold bookstore, he was seeing the bits in their saddlebags, "let me introduce the best-selling authors you've all come here to see this evening! Fillies and gentlecolts, A. K. Yearling and Ozzie Yodel!"

We'd been putting the final touches on Daring Do and Ahuizotl's Quest when I'd first suggested the pseudonym to him. Ahuizotl had stormed around the front room in outrage until I'd pointed out that if he laid claim to the identity of the character in the books, he would also lay claim to the crimes the character had committed. He'd settled down pretty quickly after that.

I glanced over at him now as the crowd began whistling and stomping. In his tweed coat and horn-rimmed glasses, he certainly didn't look like the megalomaniac who'd nearly killed me a dozen times in the past decade, and padding out onto the stage beside me, he almost seemed embarrassed, ducking his head and smiling shyly. The glint behind those glasses, though, told the Daring Do in me exactly how much he was eating this all up.

The whole party went off without a hitch, too. We unveiled the over-sized lithograph of the book cover that Random Horse was auctioning off for charity—my regular artist, Bristol Board, had done a terrific job on the Land Leviathan looming above the figures of Daring Do and Ahuizotl—and when the bookstore staff wheeled out the carts filled with special editions, the crowd practically stampeded to get their hooves on them.

After the auction, the signing went on for hours, but Ahuizotl didn't threaten to disembowel anypony at all. In fact, the big jerk was obviously basking in the admiration of the fans who lined up to get our signatures. He repeated the story that we'd come up with—Ozzie and Kay had known each other since their university days, but he'd never considered collaborating with her on a project until she'd asked him during one of their frequent get-togethers over lunch—and it flowed out of him with such sincerity that I once again found myself wondering just how much of what he said I could ever really trust. A written contract, of course, was a different matter, and the sales figures from the book so far made the Kay part of my brain allow that another collaboration might not be entirely out of the question under the right circumstances...

It wasn't until it was all over, the books sold and signed and the two of us strolling down the sidewalks of Manehattan toward the hotel, that he let his persona slip. His shoulders hunched forward under his coat, and that familiar aura of cold menace shimmered up around him. "Dust Jacket asked if I might be interested in writing a spin-off series focusing on Ahuizotl's attempts to take over the world. Something for the pre-adult market, he said, and he used the nonsensical phrase, 'Dark but light.'" He puffed a breath through his nostrils. "Nonetheless, I find it to be quite the tempting offer."

I nodded. "You'll need to hire a pony to work the typewriter for you. Another of your mercenaries, I guess."

He glared at me, but I wasn't worried. He'd come close to breaching my walls, closer even than Rainbow Dash and her friends had, but Daring and Kay were each more than tough enough to deal with him. I gave him a grin and went on: "Deadlines are tricky, though. Might be you'll find you won't have time for much else but working on stories."

His eyebrows bristled. "I will remind you, Daring Do, that I still mean to destroy you and everything you stand for."

The Daring Do part of me wanted to say something snappy like The feeling's more than mutual, pal. But the words dissolved before they could get even halfway up my throat, and I found myself murmuring instead, "Not one of your better lies, Ozzie."

Everything about his face went blank. Then his left eye twitched, and something that was either a laugh or a cough rattled from his mouth. "You know me so well. Although I imagine you're quite the expert in psychology with your three identities and all."

It took some effort not to leap away, but I managed to sound breezy and dismissive as I said, "Two identities are plenty for me, thank you very much."

Ahuizotl stopped, his gaze peering through those glasses and transfixing me like a spear to the chest. "We're exchanging lies, then?" he asked.

Four quiet little words, but they blew my shields away like the blast of a monsoon; I just stood there staring at him for what felt like five minutes before I barely squeaked, "I don't know what you mean."

He looked down at me, and the sweat that sprang up all over me made me feel like a piece of the deep and ancient Tenochticlan rain forest had suddenly sprung up in the middle of this Manehattan sidewalk. "I am quite familiar with the eyes of Daring Do glaring at me from that face," he said softly. "And over our contract negotiations and our discussions around your kitchen table, I've come to know the different shadings of A. K. Yearling's eyes." His tail hand snaked around to gently touch the end of my nose. "But these eyes that look out at me now, these eyes whose owner has changed my life over the last four months in ways I have yet to fully understand, these eyes are the eyes of a very different pony. A very different pony indeed."

My insides were shivering so violently, I almost thought it might show on my outsides. Still, I forced the same words out again: "I don't know what you mean."

"Ah." He shrugged. "Then I will say that I find you much more interesting than that busybody Daring Do or that status-seeking A. K. Yearling, and having said it, I will let the matter drop." Spinning away, he waved a big hand at the buildings all around us. "For the night is young, and I feel certain that with some concerted effort on our parts, we can find an establishment in this city that knows how to prepare a proper molé!" He looked back at me. "Are you up for an adventure, Daring Do?"

I couldn't move, afraid that the cyclone whirling through my brain would knock me sideways onto the sidewalk. There was no way he could know about me: no way, no way, no way!

Part of me as always wanted to run, but if I did, he'd catch me and kill me. Another part wanted to stay, but if I did, he'd look at me and kill me. And the vast majority of me screamed that he'd figured me out, that he would expose me to the world, that he was just toying with me now like those damnable cats of his!

Except they weren't his cats, he'd said. He had to hire them each time he had a job he wanted to pull, he'd said. To preserve his image, he'd said.

Could it possibly be true? Was he maybe not what I'd always known he was? Was the Ozzie Yodel I saw standing in front of me someone who really existed inside Ahuizotl the same way I existed inside Daring Do and A. K. Yearling?

Was I up for an adventure?

"Cricket." I pushed the word out before any other part of my brain could stop me. "My name's Cricket."

Everything froze, the quiet sounds of the late night city settling over me heavier than Kay's bonnet or Daring's pith helmet ever could.

He blinked. Then he smiled and bowed his head slightly. "A pleasure to meet you."

Comments ( 122 )

Going with the first person narration definitely helped this story and made it stronger and much more comprehensible at the start, which was the biggest weakness it had. And the ending is, I think, rather better than the original one.

5307057
Thanks! I've still got one more pass I want to give the ending, but I'm a lot happier with this version than I was with the other. Even with the extended time in the writeoff, I still couldn't get the thing done!:twilightblush:

As much as i loathe daring do is real as a thing in the show.
I liked the fic.

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I had a lot of mixed feelings about it myself, but since it gave me the idea for this story, I guess I'm getting to be okay with it.:raritywink:

5316276 This story does rather lightheartedly point out that having her writing about her own adventures is a pretty stupid thing to do since it kinda lets all your enemies know exactly where you are.

Well done. The plot is well crafted, the interactions engaging, and there is a distinct lack of the bothersome feature that haunts most fanfiction: poor grammar. I salute you for executing the premise marvelously. Truly, one of the greater works on this site. I look forward to reading more from you.

Goddamn. You never fail to amaze and awe.

While I enjoyed this story as a whole I did have an issue with the character development of both Daring Do and Ahuizotl. Specifically their friendship seems very rushed when you consider that one of them was constructing elaborate mechanisms to kill the other only four short months ago. It's a little better on Daring's side since the story is from her point of view and we get to see her thoughts but Ahizotl's side is almost entirely unexplored. You had two large blocks of time go by, both about a month and a half each if I remember correctly, where we the reader are to assume that they became closer to one another and start to form a bond. My problem is it feels like were missing all the moments it would have taken to build that kind of bond. Yeah, we get the scene of them cooking and of them walking together at the end but it feels more like were seeing the result without seeing the work they would of had to put in to get them there.

This is especially jarring with Ahuizotl since by all accounts he's pretty evil. And not Trixie evil where she's just self-centered and stuck-up but evil with a capital E. When he wants something he's willing to kill you to get it and probably, from the descriptions of several of his crimes from the first chapter, willing to endanger the public at large in his quest for power.

What did he want with the power and artifacts in the first place? Has he just given up on whatever was driving him to this point? Where these motivations he so easily tossed aside the same ones that once drove him to attempt the murder of Daring Do?

Even after a month and a half into the story he might have killed Daring when he had her trapped had she not fast talked her way out of it. Really I think that's the main crux of my issue with this story. How do you go from someone who sees so little value in others lives to a guy who might be a kind of OK, if a bit rough, friend in the span of four months? We see small indicators that he has changed or at least cares about Daring's opinion but why? Whats his motivation to care? This is someone he has actively despised, possibly for several years, to the point of plotting their murder and now they're cooking together and getting along for the most part? Can you see where it kind of breaks down for me?

Wow, that was long and a little more negative than I wanted it to be so I'll end by saying that despite my one issue above I really enjoyed this fic and will be keeping an eye out for your work in the future.

I kinda want a sequel, but what is there left to tell?
A like and favorite for you, good sir.

... and then they kissed! :heart:

5317414 "Never?" Did you ferret out the demonic bunny's true identity? You did, didn't you?

Wow.

I like your use of narration. It really displays the fragility Cricket has.

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Both these characters have a need to control the world around them. What I hoped to do by the end was show that one character has learned to let go of that need just enough to allow someone into her life who she can't really control, and the other character has been introduced to a world that he can control even more fully because he can make up everything that happens there. Life-changing epiphanies! They're better than kissing!

Still, all stories are attempts. I've never yet come across one that worked completely for everyone.:twilightsmile:

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I owe it all to The Writeoff Association. I mean, yeah, I did the writing, but they've put together this terrific little sparkplug over there, and I've been having a great time using it to jump start my brain.

They didn't kiss. And you know what? Maybe they didn't need to.

Because Cricket has just revealed what is arguably her most closely guarded secret to her worst enemy. She has said, "This is who I am. This is what I am. And now, you will destroy me."

And he has replied, so sincerely and so gently, "Never."

Goodness, I really shouldn't have sliced that onion....

5317914
You filthy shipper you. :duck:

Nothin' like a good piece of fanfic to validate the existence of an episode I didn't enjoy so much. This was fabulous. Thanks for sharing it.

(Second place? Gardez must have pulled out all the stops...)

Huh.

Surprisingly refreshing look on side characters if I must say so myself.

5307057
ditto

Shifting the persona quirk to the end made for a much smoother opening and a pretty strong hanger for the end.

5318358
Damn ninjas with their onions...

:pinkiecrazy:

Dude! You just blew my mind...

:heart:

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And they go off:

In search of molé, too, which is better than kissing since it involves chocolate and chilies! No onions, though...

But thank you. :twilightsmile:

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No specific reference. I think Ahuizotl's just been reading too many adventure novels.

5318592

I really debated whether to go with Bad Horse's requested kiss. But like I said above, I decided to give the characters molé instead.

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Wait till you see Gardez's story. It's not just the last word in library tree fics, but the story structure alone is a work of art!

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After her declaration and his reply at the end, I knew I'd finally come to the ending. It took a few tries, but there it was!

Mike

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In a good way:

I hope! :pinkiehappy:

5319429 In a very good way.

Love the changes you made. This version has a lot more power behind it. I was a little wary when you breezily stated that you'd changed it to first person, but it works. The new details about Cricket's past add a whole new level of interpretation, and the ending is vastly better as well.

Good job.

We'd been putting the final touches on Daring Do and Ahuizotl's Quest when I'd first suggested the pseudonym to him. Ahuizotl had stormed around the front room in outrage until I'd pointed out that if he laid claim to the identity of the character in the books, he would also lay claim to the crimes the character had committed. He'd settled down pretty quickly after that.

- Ultimate Power Is Finally... Mine?

:trollestia:

This was utterly amazing, a genuine privilege to read. Just, wow.

Would he be able to sue her irl I wonder? Does he even know she writes? XD

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I beg to differ, sir. Molé, although delicious, is not better than kissing.

Al pastor, however....

5319993

Al pastor, however....

I see what you did there.

I read the part where Ahuizotl was going to make a spin off, and i though i should do that, then i realized that i'd need to read all the Daring Do books, which is impossible without travelling across the multiverse. I am going to become a scientist to defy the depths of time ans space to read the daring do books just to write a fanfiction.:pinkiecrazy: Unless anyone can find them for me on the internet.

5320772 And whoever finds them send them to me too.

5320671
Well, I'm glad one of us did. Maybe you could, you know, explain what I did there? Cuz, I sure don't see it.

Well, that was a surprisingly enjoyable read. Read it because someone I'm watching was encouraging everyone to do so, very glad I listened.

An Excellent Read!

Honestly, its was a much better, smoother, and less errant read than most. I especially liked the fact that despite the fact they both have an Ego the size of the moon, as shown by Azhu's need to preserve a Self Image and Cricket's (Most Adorable name ever) Vigil in keeping her Persona's up, They feel more like real people, and I could see a sequel story based on their 'fictional' story, where the stuff they wrote actually Existed.

5319517

The whole idea:

Of Daring's multiple identities didn't even come to me till two days before the contest's deadline. The whole midpoint of the story just wasn't working with only the Daring/Kay dynamic in play--Daring Do caught in one of Ahuizotl's traps isn't anything to write a story about since it always happens. This led me to realize that she needed a third, narrative identity, so I just did a quick "find and replace" the morning before the stories were due to put Cricket's name in there. It wasn't till after the comments started that I realized I hadn't gone far enough: Cricket had to literally be the story's narrator. That meant I needed the whole fourth act, and it also showed me the way to the ending.

So pumpkin pie all around!

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I saw that story in the Feature Box while I was working on this story, so I didn't go read it. I prob'bly should now, though. :twilightblush:

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Thanks, folks. I'm just overwhelmed by the reception this story's gotten, and I'd like to thank again the folks over in The Writeoff Association for showing me where the story needed to go!

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I pulled the contract language from the one I signed 15 years ago with Tor Books when they published my novel The Blood Jaguar, so if Ahuizotl did find out about the Daring Do books, he could definitely make a case for legal action. :fluttercry:

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Here you go! :pinkiehappy:

5320959

I might read that, too. Don't know if I could write it, but anything's possible around here, I've learned!

Mike

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Conejo al pastor? And you're commenting on Baal Bunny's forum? :-)

5321355

Ah, Murphy's Law... :rainbowlaugh:

5317557 I think ultimately the problem might be resolved with a sequel, specifically helping us understand who this world's Ahuizotl is. We have by the end understood who Daring Do/A.K. Yearling are and why they were invented; if he can be reformed so soon there must be something else going on with him also.

This is brilliant.

5321897

You know I have a theory about that Batman villain, Bane:

--Bald head
--Big brown coat
--Speech impediment
--Hunting a prey that inevitably outwits him...

"Ooh, just wait 'til I get dat Caped Cwusadah--hehehehehe...."

This story is both adorable and disturbing. It gets more disturbing the more you think about it, but it never stops being adorable.

The crux of it, for me, is Chapter 3. You do a scene there that I'd expect to work only in farce, or a Gor novel, or one of those books that are just like Gor novels only they involve vampires so they are feminist and empowering.

You manage to make that scene not so overwhelmingly creepy that it spoils the rest of the story--at least not for me.

And in the end Scheherzade's tales redeem the wicked prince, and they...well, "fall in love" is a bit of a stretch here, but close enough.

That... was great. Just... wow. Thanks for the read. Definitely wasn't a waste of time.

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Thanks, folks!

5321883

That's a problem:

With stories like this where the narrative is so close to just one character. The other characters are always just a little mysterious... :pinkiehappy:

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Eating bunnies? :fluttercry:

I guess I'm more familiar with carnitas al pastor or whatever it's called when it's made with piggies.

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I think that might be the main difference between the stories I'm doing here and the ones I've been doing over at AugieDog. While I continue aiming for the adorable under both names, things are likely to get a little creepier over here. :scootangel:

Mike

Wow... That was pure genius. Ahuizotl's dialogue was perfect; I could hear him shouting each pithy line :pinkiehappy:. The way you nodded back to the composition of this story within the novel they write, and the ever-changing level of banter between the characters... Just take the thumbs up and favorite already. :twilightsmile:

5318225 And then Ahuizotl decided to eat her because lol vore. :trollestia:

Sequel?

That was pretty powerful, and in spite of my unrepressed inner shipper probably more so for not actually having the two of them jumping into a romantic relationship. Maybe in the future as they feel out their nascent friendship, but given the history they share (and don't share) it would probably be quite an emotional process to get there.

Great work as always, Mike.

Every once in a while we're graced with a story that is completely original and written to the highest standard. This is that story. It's been a long time since I've had this much fun reading a fanfic. The plot is witty, the characterizations are fantastic, and the story manages to be absolutely hilarious while maintaining a feel very similar to that of FIM. This is a story I'm never going to get tired of reading.

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