• Published 14th Jan 2015
  • 4,083 Views, 224 Comments

A State of Darkness - Wing

An ongoing tale of original characters set in an Equestria with secret branches of the well-known guard corps, A State of Darkness revolves around the Wonderbolt DarkOps unit as it protects Equestria from threats both foreign and domestic.

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A Game of Darkness - Installment 29 - A Nightmare's Reverie, Part Three

The princess had taken charge of restraining Lichlos and addressing his injuries after the members of DarkOps had collectively hurled themselves upon me. Through the multicolored forest of gathered fur, the essence of that regal face offered its greeting. Her grin was one that I would never forget, for the smooth curvature of her smile and that peeping, glimmering tooth reflected a subtle candlelight of rooted pride.

The giggles of the San Palomino Nine added a soprano flavor to the chorus of ponies that conquered my lavender coat. The young ones danced about the deck of the Phoenix Star, hurling their glee haphazardly about my ship without a care in the world – with the notable exception of Midnight. My little niece had not bothered to lower the barrier surrounding Conrad’s head. In fact, she sat stoically in his presence, watching as his flailing beak and rapid breathing produced vitriol that fell upon deaf ears. She waited with a coy smile and regarded the griffon’s rage-bent brow and futilely thrashing feathers with the same indifference that a mother would apply to a toddler in tantrum. She was definitely Trigger’s filly.

“Swag threads, Boss,” Mosaic quipped after pulling me from my thoughts with a quick slap to the brim of my cap. She slid along Trigger's flank, pressed her muzzle against my neck, and sighed. Her voice had cracked through even that simple phrase, and the quiver in her raspy tone sank into my memory. “You've already read how I feel,” she continued in a whisper, “but I’m not the one you have to worry about. I'm just thankful to have you back.”

I flinched the instant a hoof pressed firmly into my side. The time I had been lost to the nightmare had not dulled the effect or recognition of that touch. It was commanding, unyielding, and frankly, a bit terrifying – like most of the mares in my life when they wished to be. “Your core temperature is low. You’re barely able to stand up under your own power. Yes, I know when a hug pile is being used as a massive crutch for two equally moronic ponies, Colonel.”

The hairs around my neck stood upright to the bite placed in the title, and a seizing jerk of pain pulsed through my chest as Amora sniffled. I draped my wing over the mare’s back and curled the tip slightly until she scooted closer. My limbs burned to the rushes of blood pumped by an aching heart. I had let her down so utterly terribly. Every promise I had made as a colt had been tossed aside and trampled, and Celestia, if she knew. If any of them knew just how much…

“How long?” Trigger set my thoughts to the wind before I noticeably jerked in response. Of course he would know. I clung to silence for a few seconds, hoping beyond reason that the stallion would accept it as the answer. “Ya causally dropped that ya were gone for months when to us it had been a matter of minutes. Stop holding it in! That’s the type of crap that lets the nightmare take hold, and ya know it. So quit keeping it to yourself. How long did you wander the Ocean of Nightmare?”

My jaw clenched, and my legs quivered. For an instant, their warmth was gone, brushed aside by the icy gales of memories. My breath emerged in stuttered heaves, forcing Amora to considerably soften her firm posture. “Fifteen months.”

“Fifteen months?” The question practically crawled past Defiant’s lips. His hold on my midsection tightened, and he pushed his muzzle into my coat. “I’m sorry, Wing. I’m sorry you had to go through that alone.”

I shook my head immediately. “You shouldn’t be sorry. None of you should be sorry. I spent a long time stumbling blindly. I’m tired of stumbling, and I’m sorry for worrying you all. I’m sorry for breaking every promise. I was the one who went it alone the moment I chose to go to that hell-ship, but… I actually wasn’t alone for long.

“I was mad in the dark, corrupted by some twisted need to wait for you to come. It was like I was a foal again, sitting around just hoping my father would pat me on the back. Instead of doing something about it, I just let myself become devoured by those thoughts. I was just lucky that she was still looking out for me. I was lucky to find others that put up with what I became. The entire crew of this ship, every single one of them, reached me eventually; and if not for them, the light may have well gone out.”

I paused for the emerging buzz of Revenir’s vibrating edge. It pulled my attention as it shook in my grasp of its own magical accord – a gentle reminder that there was indeed some work still to be done.

“Uncle Wing needs to return that sword to its owner,” Midnight Star once again spoke with a timbre that outstretched her years. Her mane caught the wind of the sea after she turned to face the group, and her lilac cores glimmered with a contagious understanding that steadied the cluster of shocked ponies around me. “The power that griffon stole needs to be returned to the Ocean.”

“And what’s the plan for that?” Wick questioned. His tail flicked anxiously while his eyes shifted left and right. “I really hope it, in no way, involves Wing going back to where he was.”

“Would you all just wrap this up already!?” an agitated, exasperated voice dropped from the heavens. We all peered upwards just in time to observe the tornado of confetti that swirled about the draconequus. “I’m trying to celebrate, and you’re all just so very boring.” Discord vanished in a flash of light and reappeared in a coiling mass that sprawled over our backs. “I hate anticlimaxes – especially ones that come after something so excitingly delightful.

“You should have seen yourself, flying out of the clutches of death like a crazy pony. And then you did it! You made the choice…” His voice took a momentary detour through a rather sinister rasp. “The one I told you about when you were practically dead. You probably don’t even remember, but the kid does. She was there! She saw just how reformed I really am. And I’m trembling!” He paused to literally shake his body into separated pieces. “Trembling with excitement!

“But you can’t just be all lovey-dovey and not include everyone. I had to get in on the hug. Then there’s that special guest from beyond reality that hasn’t even been introduced yet. Don’t forget him! He might just be important. And this sword, brimming with a brand of chaos that a younger, more evil me might have been inclined to steal – Brand of chaos! Ha, get it!? – is just waiting for your next decision. You may wish to get on with it. The readers are getting restless.”

“Discord,” Luna hissed, “what claw dost thou have in this? Do not think of trying our patience either. We do not have the same affinity for your antics as our sister does.”

The draconequus gasped and rapidly pulled himself together. A sly grin coiled his countenance as he shot the princess a smug look. “My dear Princess Luna, I’m offended that you would accuse me off the bat. I went out of my way to keep one of your precious little ponies alive, but I’m afraid I can’t recall if I used a claw, paw, or hoof. It was just too incessantly boring in that horrendous place to commit every… little… detail to memory. Though, I will say that that icky griffon’s type of bedlam does not sit well with my interests, so I intervened. Of course, now I’m far more interested in hearing about Celestia’s affinity for my suave charm.”

The readers are getting restless? My mind churned over that one sentence for several seconds before I cleared the cobwebs from my head. There was always something nonsensical attached to the grains of truth Discord shared, but in this case, his less-than-subtle prod to move things along was thankfully heard loud and clear over the other ridiculous oddities. “We’ll have time for hugs and discussion later, but right now, there’s still something I need to take care of.”

“You are not going anywhere, stallion,” Amora chided immediately. Her muscles tensed and imposed their constructed wall upon my side.

“That won’t be a problem. We’re already where we need to be.” The scent of salt drifted through my nostrils as I took a deep breath, and the ponies around me fell silent before I screamed my order. “All hooves on deck!”

On command, the bolts securing the doors of the Phoenix Star popped. Dozens of ponies poured out of the ship, an event which evoked an immediate response from Trigger. The stallion stepped away with a renewed sense of vigor and lifted his head high. “Fifteen months,” he whispered as he glanced over the ranks in search of the revelation. “That’s what you were doing for fifteen months.” The hairs on his back shot upright as his volume spiked exponentially. “You finished all of them!”

“The heroes of Equestria’s future, with the exception of my gunner. He was a pretty unique find, and I’m assuming that one was Midnight Star’s doing.” I briefly gazed upon the filly. “He’s an older stallion than the rest, a bit grittier than the others too, and was the source... of my other form’s name. Honestly, I don’t think there is another creature of reverie I could leave this ship to or entrust with the endgame mission. Though, I’m pretty sure everypony will understand that decision once the lieutenant steps forward.”

“Lost the grumpiness already, I see.” A gruff voice meandered through the air as the claps of hoof upon steel marked the unicorn’s cadence. His pallid mane emerged from the sea of ponies like a whitecap riding the currents. A pair of amber eyes stood out against the backdrop of black fur, and a familiar seven-pointed star adorned the pony’s flank. “Good to see that you’re back to normal. Aura really suits ya better than the punk ass foal thing, but I guess I’m not really one to talk.”

Trigger stretched his hoof towards me and set it upon my shoulder. His stare did not waiver from the officer that stood before him, and his mouth hung open as his tactical brain went to work. “Ya redeemed Laizzy’s original? Ya found him – the one who started it all – the one that led to me.”

“Trigger, Tactical Caliber was the first to find me in the Ocean of Nightmare. I said there was a reason I didn't lose the light, and his presence was a big part of the reason. He put up with everything, even when I was in the deepest depths of my descent. There was always a connection near, and on day one, I still remembered your dream.”

“Quit speakin’ about me like I’m not right in front of ya,” the elder interrupted. “We’ve got shit to do, and you’re running your mouth like a politician with some red tape to cut. Buckin’ scientists. Luna bless your sister’s creative roots. Immediate results without the bullshit. Though...” He hesitated a moment as he scrutinized Trigger’s frame. “I’m glad I get to see this without being clouded by terror. You’ve grown up well, boy. Even with the little time I’ve had here, I can tell by your eyes that you’ve turned into the finest Caliber – my little SC.”

With determination plastered upon his face, the imposing stallion lifted his hoof, gestured at Autumn Tea, and released a formidable grunt. “Before I receive my final orders in this world, there is one bit of paternal business that I would like to deal with first. The two of ya need to knock off your around-the-bushes nonsense. Dreams are permeable, Dear, and Calibers always love a mare in uniform. It’s like they say, ‘Don’t buck around if ya could be buckin’.’”

Shades of red pierced Tea’s white coat, and even Trigger buckled from the verbal barrage. Neither of them knew what to say, which while not necessarily unusual for Tea, was a rare event for the stallion. “Tactical,” I finally ended the awkwardness myself, “might I remind you that there are children currently onboard?”

“Gosh, I can’t help but appreciate a new story of young love,” Discord wailed. “It always brings a tear to my left eye, though the right one isn’t much of a fan for sappy things.”

“Yeah, not helping.” I pushed forward through the congregation of Wonderbolts and surrendered Revenir to Tactical Caliber. “Please return it to Lady Verita. Lead this ship like the champion my sister dreamt you to be, and let Shady Cat know that the attack worked dreadfully. She’ll get a kick out of it.

“As for the rest of you, this is your ship too! You built it with me. You traveled through every tide to a different plane of existence for me. She’s yours to take back, and though we’ll be separated by a veil that even my beloved physics can barely comprehend, I hope you’ll never forget the goals we share. Those of the future put us here, so I ask that you’ll continue to defend them where I cannot. Should we meet again, I hope that we will all still be fighting for a better tomorrow.”

“Yes sir!” they responded in unison, though Tactical’s voice stood out amongst the chorus. His aged glare dug through my pupils as though he were searching for some last proverb of wisdom. Lady Verita, I do believe that upon my return, I will have the distinguished pleasure of informing ya that the storms of destiny have a decidedly unique kind of silver lining...

~Las Pegasus~

The chimes of the university’s five-minute bell might as well have pierced my eardrums. The dean had stuck me with a 9 AM lecture in the main hall, which made absolutely no sense for an undergraduate-level currents course. Even the big classes drew a hundred students at most, and the auditorium sat three times that. I was still in the process of rebuilding my home, and there was an eternity’s worth of paperwork to do regarding Ashen Mystic’s long-term rehabilitation program. I didn’t need a morning lecture. Frankly, the students did not need a 9 AM lecture either, though I was assured that it would be worth it. “What a load...”

“Calm down, Professor,” Mozy remarked after nudging my side. “You got blown away in a near cataclysmic event and played a role in establishing the most mind-blowing treaty this generation has seen. I think you can overcome a class at nine.”

I groaned and trudged up the stone steps of the yellow brick structure. “Yeah-yeah, just don’t forget that you’re on detail too, Ms. TA. Not only do you have Ground Cover to keep in line, but you need to keep an eye on our two griffon scholars over there. I expect all of you to pay attention. Your position depends on it, Ground Cover; and I don’t think many griffs would be happy to hear that the symbols of their new peace weren’t doing well as student ambassadors.” The muzzle and beaks of the three trailing creatures bobbed up and down as I grabbed hold of the door.

The soothing cool of the building’s modern western interior seeped through my mane when I stepped across the threshold. At least there was air conditioning. I guess if the dean had invested in that infrastructure, then there was the chance he was not lying about the early class after all. In fact, the drone of students settling into their rooms was like music to my ears. It was a symphony of white noise that I had sorely missed during my tenure in the shadows – the symphony to which I was meant to bring life.

“Cuttin’ it pretty close there, Doc,” Trigger quipped from his post just to the side of the auditorium entrance. He was leaning against the wall with the brim of his hat tipped just below his sightline. “Package has been delivered to her class with a pair of RG’s keeping tabs. Quite the interesting move ya pulled with that one, but I guess since Lichlos was involved, givin’ her a chance here made some sense.”

The stallion gestured to a large box at his hind hooves and grinned. “Then, somepony went out of her way to have me deliver a giant cluster of cinnamon cookies to share with your obnoxiously huge class. Seriously Wing, how ya went out and managed to forge a relationship with such an awesome mare is beyond me. Don’t ever buck it up, and whatever she wants to put in the new kitchen... yeah... don’t get in her way.

“Your guitar is by the podium too. That was another thing I was told to drop off – something philosophical about ya needing to be you. But before ya gallop off to embrace your new students, there are a couple things that ya really need to know. One, since dipshit went and name-dropped ya in Manehattan, your class is absolutely buckin’ packed; and two, our evoking of harmony has attracted the attention of another intellectually inclined lavender pony. Have fun with that one, Professor. I already got out of answering her dumbass chain of questions. Ya probably won’t have such luck.”

A smirk crept onto my muzzle as I picked up the box of cookies. “Scopes are meant to probe and discover, Trigs. I don’t need luck to answer those kinds of questions, regardless of the source.” Freezing my forehoof from opening the door to the auditorium, those words permeated every thought until a one-breath chuckle broke my daze. “Come to think of it, that’s what I told myself when I saw Ground Cover in my sights for the first time. That’s what I told myself before I shelved my place as an educator to take the shot that led to all of this.

“Now we’re all here. Now we’re all free to go back to the lives we love, but they won't be quite the same. It's never quite the same. There’s always the pull of a penumbra trying to drag us back, but in the end, we all gained each other. I think that’s pretty fitting, really. We’re out of the darkness and free to bask in the light... I do believe my fiancée was correct. It’s time for me to be me.”

~The End~

...for now...

Author's Note:

Well folks, that's the end of Arc 3! I think it's fair to say that the gap between 28 and 29 was rather large. While I have a blog about this, I'll keep it short here: work bullshit + a swirl of depression. With the fog lifted, I was free to write again, and damn does it feel good. For those of you who might be wondering what exactly Wing did upon entering the lecture hall, I'll leave this little gem as a sign off.

And, P.S... "We're far from being done."

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Comments ( 50 )

Thank you for the journey, Wing :)
Now it's time to reread the whole think in one go... while you prepare your next work :D

6694761 aww thank you!

Been a fun ride. A shot of whiskey to you madame! Or sir. Y'know what, ima just call you thing. A shot of whiskey to you thing!

6694912 Whoosh and stuff, brah. :)

A tip of my metaphorical hat to you, Wing. Quite a story!

6697165 Why thank you. :3

Well ended! Great work Wing :D I've really enjoyed the ride. I can't wait for your next project.

6704526 Ermahgawd comments :3.

Hehee, yes... the Atomic Caliber state was great to write. lol "Luna-bucked grifftrash..." was one of my uncharacteristic faves.

6704547 The master plan Anzel! The master plan! :3

6704571 In the end, I decided to click the complete button. After thinking it over, I decided that - with my job search - leaving this one open ended did a disservice to the completion of the saga. o.o I'm glad you enjoyed it! I poured mah heart into it and stuffs. <3

6718714 Oh snaps! Comments! :P There are always a few that slip through the cracks. These comments are all pretty damn useful! Thanks -- and glad you're enjoying now that things are done.

6721690 Take-no-BS Luna is best Luna. I also thought it was nice to bring her into the mix as she would clearly have some contact with Trigs given his existence as a creature of dream.

Again, thanks for your comments. In this case, I avoided the thy/thine. I tended to save it for areas of Luna emphasis along the thought lines that she modernized some of her speech but still falls into old habits. 'Your' was the sneaky modern in the fold.

6721716 Those old English with their English! :P The ye in this one is a ref to Wing+Trigs.

Try not to let the cliffhangers kill ya! :P

6728886 Yup, that is exactly what happened. lol

6760421 And so the journey of jxj begins. lol :P

6803456 Hello The Only Joe! Welcome! Indeed, I hope it doesn't.

6814380 :3 Thank you very much. Glad you're liking it.

Epically brilliant piece! I know I'll be going back to this one again and again!

6828980 I'm really glad you enjoyed it, Neon. :)

Well just finished and you sir have gotten a fovorite. I don't give them out lightly, i have really enjoyed your story. Your plot is fairly good, albeit your pacing was a little fast.
My biggest problem would have to be character development. You introduced a lot of characters really quickly, and most got a small description and some personality from speech, but were left alone really until the end with his memories. This shallow character development is understandable though from the size of the story and the amount of characters.
My biggest problem though is how much emphasis was put on wings relationship with ambrosia, and we didn't even meet her. We know shes a travelling cook and that she smells like cinnamon. She never really shows up in a scene.
Though what i really enjoyed was your use of language and vocabulary that is really hard to find on this site so kudos to that.(you actually challenged my vocabulary)

6837290 Glad you enjoyed it. :3

I'll address some of the excellent critique points you left -- not like I'm making excuses but lol some of these have actual reasons. My guess on the pacing comes from the fact that I've always loved to jump around. I never have liked to sit in the same scene for long. As you said, I have that vocab thing going. I also have a tendency to write on the purple side of the prose spectrum. If I sit in a scene for a long time, this tends to lead to utterly unruly messes of TL;DR. Ever since I was a little kid writing dumb things, I've been a get in, deliver the points, and then move on kind of guy.

Now, your big issue with the absence of Ambrosia actually has a historical reason. Amby is my friend's OC, and no matter how much I try, writing for her doesn't elicit the same emotion that the genuine article does. It's just not the same. It's not a joke when I say that that character stopped me from going off the deep end of depression. The start of the roleplay that led to A&W being a thing legitimately prevented a psychological breakdown. (I had a really really bad moving experience.) That being said, due to that, the warmth just isn't the same. All of her lines in this story actually came from the RP, so I had to incorporate them in a way that made sense. The very nature of her kind of being a ghostly entity in this tale is spot on to how the interactions really go. She's a rare catch given Scarlet's and my work loads, but even the mention of her name can generate a powerful response in Wing. That's the gist. ;)

Anyhoo! Out of that land... I'm very pleased that you were able to take away points of enjoyment from this work. And thank you for leaving a balanced comment filled with the pros and cons. I definitely appreciate it. :)

6859389 Hello Ghost Ray! :P What about ze Whynny?

You spell it Whynnyapolis, but its Whinnyapolis.

6878475 *Shrugs* I haven't seen an official spelling from the show. I consistently use the y. I used to live in Minnesota, so it felt like more of a play on the folks that think it's spelled 'Mini'.

As promised, here is my review.

It's great to see a well-conceived, mature story. As an older fan, I do enjoy fanfics that deal with adult concepts. This story approaches Equestria as having a whole layer that we simply don't see in the show, rather than dark themes being introduced in an otherwise near-utopian land. Using Luna in that sense was clever. It explains why we don't see her as much in the show, and it fits her personality.

The first thing that I noticed about this story is that you have a very good grasp of vocabulary. This is great, but I felt like it it played against the story in a few places, where the words chosen took away from the action. On a few occasions, I had to step back and read a sentence a few times to get a good image of the action. While crafting good sentences is important, it should always be done in service to the story. Things such as unnecessary adjectives can take away from that. I'm not saying to avoid big words. In fact, I don't think I came across any words I didn't know. I'm saying to pace your sentences according to what you want to accomplish with the scene at hand.

Another major issue I had was the narration. The story seems to jump from first person, to third limited, and then to third omniscient. Quite a few times, this confused me. I didn't know which character I was following. This was probably the biggest problem with the story for me. Changing pov character should always be done with a scene break. When you write in the first person, and then suddenly get inside another character's head, it gets confusing.

Technical issues such as this kept me from truly enjoying the story, which is a shame because there are some great ideas in there. I will admit that I expected less powerful magic from the description. One thing I could suggest would be to better explain how dreams are conjured up in reality early in the story. It's a very strange and unique concept, and it took me a while to wrap my head around it. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't feel like this was the tone the story initially set.

The characters were extremely deep and well developed, maybe even a bit too much. At times, I felt like I wasn't reading these characters' story, but one of many stories they'd star in. The most obvious example of this is Wing's love interest not being present in the fic. I will admit that I'm a bit torn on this. On the one side, well-developed characters are never a bad thing. On the other, I kept asking myself a few times if all the details mentioned really helped the story. This might be why their introduction feels rushed. Trigger, in particular, could have used a chapter very early on explaining his origins. This could also have helped cement early on how "reverie magic" works, including its limitations.

Don't get me wrong, I do not think that this is a bad story. I do think, however, that it fails to reach his potential mostly due to technical issues. Based on some of the conversations we had, another recommendation would be to detach yourself from your characters. It's great to think of them as part of yourself, but at some point you have to see them as tools that exist to serve the story.

7025084 Thanks for the large amount of feedback, Rora. I'm glad you liked the elements that you found appealing. Admittedly, some of the things you've brought up here are just not going to change -- or if they do, it will be a slow evolution. I'm sure you can foresee this one given our conversations on Skype. Characters aren't tools to me. Settings, places, etc... I can view those as tools to tell a story, but that is not how my mind works with characters. In cases like Trigger and Ambrosia, those entities legitimately stopped me from offing myself. From a logical perspective, I get the reason for that advice, but ya know, it just ain't gonna happen. We've also already talked about the vaguery of information regarding those two chars in particular. I think there's another comment on here somewhere about it as well.

The one thing though that really stood out to me was the POV shifts not being clear. I really thought I had weeded those all out at some point, and the fact that it had a direct impact on your enjoyment launched a semi-religious crusade.. that only now ended. Ya told me not to worry, and that it was a higher-level nitpick.... but... yeah... Wing is Wing. I scoured every set of italics that designated a thought. Most of them were dealt with in some way that will hopefully end future confusion. There are some cases where I do share the thoughts of another character when that character is in the spotlight. In two places, despite the technical incorrectness of this given the 1st PP in Wingly scenes, I kept it as is because it's clear who is pondering -- and it's pretty plot essential. Elsewhere, many things happened. Many things....

And now I am tired. G'nite!

If the OCs in this story were voiced, what would they sound like?

7273362 That's a really interesting question. :P When I was far younger, I actually had VA lists thought up, but now, not so much.

I think it's fair to say that Wing would probably sound a lot like I do, ex: http://wingpony.com/NLDMVT.mp3. Perhaps, being that he's from West Manehattan, he'd have a bit of an accent to go along with it, but his speech patterns greatly resemble my own.

Trigger has that grit in his voice, and he'd probably make a swag Batcolt, albeit nowhere near as harshly stacattoed as Christian Bale -- if that makes any sense.

Defiant sounds like the quintessential Chicagoan, whereas I've viewed Wick as being a bit closer to the Californian flair.

Amora will always have a little bit of Carolina in her; and there is no taking the southern comfort out of Ambrosia. ;)

Mosaic Breeze is one of my friend's characters, and I imagine her kind of like this: start with Rainbow Dash -- and then move a bit towards Spitfire. If that makes any freakin' sense.

I think Ashen will carry a bit of the Old Grey Mare Show in her forever. This story never had a plan. I wasn't even expecting to continue it beyond the first chapter, but I was visiting my gf for the holidays, and one of the charity streams popped up. Definitely was a stimulus for her character creation.

Erzse has some of that Poland, old Soviet Bloc going on. Can't say I've developed Wire Wise or Kinetic's voices very far as they are much newer on the character list; however, Conrad is almost as old as Trigger in terms of character creation. We've been around the block for 24ish years. He has a straight MidWestern sound to him (as I was young as hell when he popped up), but he has got that stereotypical British noble way of delivering his lines. I had a lot of fun writing his parts because I'd run around my apartment throwing my arms around and screaming like a crazy dictator. x3

Anyhoo, there are a lot of OCs up in here, but I hope that answers your question to your satisfaction. Thanks for commenting. :3

7310790 Glad you're enjoying it so far. I'm also super amused that you said, "...forge on," while having Ironsword in your name. x3

7529933 Hehe, thanks Shadow. The lesson of this one is do not buck with Amora. lol That Redemption spell of hers is an absolute doozy. :3

7532271 Where do ya think the ship got its name? ;)

7532616 "Damn right, I'm blunt." ~T

ROFL, I'm fairly certain that Sober fantasizes about being a potential random nurse every day.

If you're digging Trigger though, he takes over for Arc 2. :P

7534096 *Shrugs* We use boy and girl to describe men and women in colloquial conversation all the time. There aren't that many equine words to handle that separation easily. The language gets really dull.

7536147 yessss... I have lured the Shadow into wanting moooarrr...

7543921 lol There are things in the works about what all that dream stuff is. I have this crazy story idea. However, I'd rather not blow the surprise here. If you want to know about Trigs, though, totes hit me up on Discord. :3

7545738 Hehe, no... the nuclear option arrives at the end of Installment 26. :P

7549001 Ah, so this is the atomic option? XDDD

7549127 Well, originally I had intended for Conrad to detonate -- or threaten to detonate -- a nuclear device over Manehattan. However, the nuke thing just is all over the damn place. I decided to do what I did instead. :P

7549253 It's certainly interesting XD I'll give you dat

7549294 Woot! :3

7549434 Atomic is definitely not equal to Wing. His immediate declaration to fire despite ally proximity was the upfront giveaway to that one. ;)

7690698 Thanks Josi! Glad you battled through it.

Hehe, as for magic, just wait until the sequel. *Giggles and mumbles something spoilery.*

7733734 Well, I'm sorry you felt disappointed. The setup cannot last forever, though. Conrad had his claws in all three arcs, so it seemed appropriate to finally have things pop. The stage was set. The characters were on it. The time had come.

Trigger is Trigger, but Trigger also fails.

7734263 Well, I'm not knocking it: I didn't write the story. I'm just saying, it feels rather sudden. I don't mean to insult.

Also, your dream magic idea is very detailed and woven well, and I appreciate the uniquness. It does frustrate me that you never really explain how it works and it comes off as kind of a deus ex machina to me because it's so powerful, but the lack of explanation does lend an air of mystery and intrigue to it.

But I still really like the story on it's own merits! I wouldn't have faved it if I didn't like it!

7734792 :P I didn't feel insulted, Josi. ;) I was just given ya my thoughts on the magic.

If things pan out as I intend in the sequel, a lot more will be delved into where it comes to dream stuff. Wing will come up with a theory of magic, and that year+ he spends in the Ocean will be explored more thoroughly.

Is NLD like a combination of this story and APD/APD;AP? I think i read a blog post about them being intertwined or something else?

Kinda. It's not continuous with APD/AP. Though Barrier's 1000 year thing is the same. The divide between ASoD and NLD is much more fluid. Tail began her existence as a character as an R63'd Wing, so she inherited much of the backstory. However, it quickly became clear that she was her own sassy self, and that was the driving interaction with Barrier... along with the desire to write something different. Effectively, Tail is the Wing of the NLD world, and Wing is just in NLD as a cameo shoutout to ASoD.

That's a valid point. :P When I started this stuff, I really wasn't pondering at all the dynamic that comes from throwing OCs around. I just wanted to do it, and a friend flailed and said post it.

As for the Trigger bit, I was high on the fad of achronological writing at the time, and shot myself in the foot starting in the middle of a sequence instead of just starting from the beginning. In many senses, and thankfully, this lesson was applied well in another work. The day is saved, I guess?

Either way, I wrote this almost five years ago, and with age comes perspective. There are things in this that I'm still proud of, and there are things in it that I'm not.

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