• Member Since 14th Jan, 2012
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Stories about: Feelings too complicated to describe, ponies


[Complete! With TVTropes apparently!]
Also, apparently, an animated trailer.

In a world of brass and steam, Twilight Sparkle had thought she had made a life-changing discovery with the invention of the telescope. For better or worse, she was correct.

Now her discovery has not only changed her life, but the lives of those she seeks out in her desperate attempt to contact the only other creature as lonely as Twilight herself.

It all would have been much simpler, but it had to be the one Twilight could only call The Mare on the Moon.

Decidedly not within walking distance, then.

[Featured on EQD before story was meant to be submitted. 4/03/2015]

[Editing team: Southpaw, Wolfvenom, Maskedferret, SwanSong and BluePaladin42, without whom this story would be a fraction of its current state.]
[Special thanks to Novel-Idea for the updated cover]

Chapters (16)
Comments ( 2105 )

Warning: The Following Spoiler is Incredibly Pretentious, and will Mark A Theme the Author Cares Far Too Much About.
Read At Your Own Risk.

There is a term in cinema, the field I ideally come from, called chiaroscuro. It is creating depth using sharp contrasts between the light and dark.

The brighter the light and the darker the dark, the sharper the contrast. That contrast adds remarkable depth to the medium.

In every chapter of this story there is one line that shows and evokes joy and wonder, and one that tears it down completely -- for me, at least, writing it. Obviously, I have an innate bias in this matter, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

For this chapter, we have: "Hoofprints left in the lunar surface. Hoofprints left in the moon dust. This wasn't an anomalous reflection, and her Telescope certainly wasn't broken. There really, truly was a mare on the moon!" for that light.

But then of course we have: ""I don't think I've ever seen a pony this lonely before." Not even in the mirror." as its counterpoint.

And so come to a story, then... of light and tunnels. Gaslight fics are wonderful. Even their very name evokes what they are: Harsh light catching brilliantly, then creating even harsher shadows immediately underneath that brilliance, if one could only look past the surface. It's a dirty light. It's a romantic light. There isn't nearly enough of it, and it's in all the wrong places, but that just makes where it is stand out so much brighter for it, and that's what makes it wonderful.

Okay, so if this is a romance fic, who are the two lovers? Just curious.

Why is this story password-protected? And why does Equestria Daily feature a story that is password-protected?

You won't get many readers that way.

Fabulous, keep writing and don't let those haters get you down!:derpytongue2:

These three things represented the pinnacle of the modern era, an era that shaped and defined Twilight Sparkle's library. Former library, since it had now been refashioned into an observatory that just so happened to contain a lot of books.
You would be forgiven for not noticing, however, for all of the books that got in the way.

When a story starts with a little streak of genius like this one, you know you're in for a good time. Man.

But never to this scale, never to this degree of precision. It was like comparing a crude walking stick to a jewelled sceptre by dint of being able to rest your weight on both.

You do realize there'll be Twicane comments about this, right?

As an addendum -- the fic is clearly steampunk, but Twilight has somewhat perfected the telescope now? If I remember correctly, the telescope was invented around the 1550s or so, and Galileo made his in 1600 (maybe I'm wrong, I didn't bother to look it up -- feel free to point out my incongruences if you want). The steampunk thingy is based on the victorian years, right? That's around the 1800.

So kind of weird, I guess. Then again, this is an AU, and steampunk (or gaslight, as I guess this is) is not exactly a precise year. Still, food for the thought -- ponies don't give no craps about stars, and Twilight invents the modern telescope (as in, perfects it) around 200 years later than one would expect them.

Seeing how there's probably some lore around the Mare in the Moon, though, I guess that's justified.

The housing of the thing was as long as eight of its creator pressed nose-to-tail, and as wide at its fattest end as three more Twilights to mark its diameter.

Twilight measures stuff in Twilights. That's hilarious.

And weirdly creepy -- I used to do that whenever I played DnD in highschool, myself. I used myself to measure distance, weight, and volume. Nice to see the creepy, snarky, cynical loner is similar to me.

God, I'm so alone.

Its creator, a purple unicorn covered in scorch marks and sticking plasters, with neat midnight bangs cropped at right angles, sat in a red velvet seat at the Telescope's control hub, staring down its eyepiece. The scorch marks were, at least for now, hidden beneath a set of hardened synthetic-leather overalls she wore with all the decorum of a ballgown, with a white cotton blouse where the overalls ended and she began, for modesty. It was a horrid pain to wash.

This entire fucking thing just screams fanart, dude. I guess it's a given with steampunk stuff, it's pretty visual. You create a picture, and then you develop it.

I hope this story does more than that, though. Steampunk is great for comics because you can just put every single character in googles and cool clothes and call it a day. Steampunk literature? That's tougher.

"We're getting two millibars of pressure, oh Captain my Captain!"
"Just Twilight will do, as always. Thank you, my faithful assistant. All right, that should be enough..."

Seeing how this is an AU, it would have been cool for Spike to call Twilight "Captain" all the time. Or maybe using some kind of title. You could use it to expand on the solitude of Twilight, or maybe to add one more layer of, you know, alien feeling to the story. Room for character development.

Then again, I'm reminded of that comment by... I think it was Tracy Hickman? When he explained why, when making a fantasy world, you don't do things as having the sun rise from the west and set on the east. You want to show the readers things they're not familiar with, but too many aliens alienate them. Plus, all in all, this is a fic.

So I guess Twi and Spike having a relationship like the one from the show makes more sense. Meh. Senseless rambling.

(Also that was slightly wooden dialogue, I think. "Just Twilight will do, as always" is weird to say out loud, and kind of awkward in casual dialogue. I would suggest her rolling her eyes, or refusing to humor Spike and his silliness. Then having Spike calling her Twilight, and calling it a day.)

"Well, there's a full moon tonight, so there's going to be plenty of light to see by?" His tone was uncertain. Rightfully so.
Twilight Sparkle massaged her temples with her hooves. "Spike, that will make other things more difficult to see because of light pollution. It's like going into a theater pit with a bright lantern to see the celluloidtography better."

Hmm. Maybe that wasn't as wooden as I thought, and it's just how they talk. I guess they're formal? I don't know, usually you make the conversations flow with more ease. Here they look a little stiff ("You can look for the tenth planet, which, as you know, nopony has ever found..."). It might be the style.

Or maybe you're just setting the atmosphere. This is an AU, after all, so you gotta establish a couple things. You can't just say HERE THIS IS TWILIGHT and then go to sleep.

"Oh. Wait, that wouldn't work? Is that why they have it so dark in there? I thought it was just so you couldn't see what they put on the popcorn to make it taste like that. Or what the ponies in the back row were doing."

Spike knows a surprising amount of things on the facts of life. Just pray that what they put on the popcorn doesn't come from what the pones in the back row do, little fella.

"We could map it! The vast oceans! The mountains, the crevices! We could prove that Equus isn't the only aetherial body with topography!"

Subtle way to establish the name of the world! I like that. Althought it's not the first time I hear it -- is it, like, a known thing in fanon? Or some kind of canon source said it? Because it's surprisingly specific to be a coincidence.

Also, more paralels with Galileo -- before him, everybody thought the Moon was a perfect sphere. Twilight here wants to prove otherwise, which shows that my hunch was right; contrary to what it seems, in the astronomy sense, Equestria (or Equus) is set in a 1600-esque world.

"Yay is right!" Twilight giggled excitedly, much in the same way another pony would after staying awake for a few hours too long, being sustained by at least four cups of coffee too many. "Where should we start?"

Oh, fuck yeah. Four cups of coffee and too long into the night? That's the best state of being there is, no doubts.

Twilight rolled her eyes, lamenting the fact that her number one assistant couldn't tell just how magnificent the gesture was through the pipes.
"No, my faithful assistant, I want your honest input on this. Where should we start?"

Slight repetition of the "faithful/number one assistant" thing here. Also, I knew she would roll her eyes at Spike.

Seriously, he's a capable assistant, but he's a kid, and Twilight is a scientist. If she's not fed up with his bullshit and/or naïveté at least once per day, she's not scientisting right. That job is not about working hard, it's about being condescending in the right places, goddammit.

"It's harder to tell from such an oblique angle. I forgot to remember the moon isn't flat, it curves like Equus does. I'm looking at this edge almost side-on."

Ah-hah! So they know it's a sphere. Not that big of a deal, but it sure shows that my 1600 guess was more or less right, in the sense that hey, at least they're not in the thousands.

Which reminds me -- some people have said, in other parts of the fandom, that Equestria might not be a round planet (seeing how the sun goes around it, instead of the other way around, they say it's feasible to say physics doesn't work like in our universe there, because rather obviously gravity is not really working in the show). However, the show acknowledges that the moon has phases.

So the fucking planet has to be round. Q.E.D. Twilight is surprisingly naïve here, forgetting for a second that the Moon is also a sphere, but then again -- they still think its surface is flat and have no telescopes. They obviously know nothing about the Moon, or space in general. So it makes sense for her to forget -- sure, on a rational level she knows it's not just a flat circle, but it's hard to have that as a fact when you can't really see it or know more about it.

Twilight's head pulled back from the eyepiece long enough for her to shake her head vehemently before realizing that, again, Spike couldn't see her, and feeling rather silly about it.

Hey, it's the thought that counts. Almost everybody nods and shakes their head while talking on a telephone, and that's completely useless.

I mean, other people do that too, right? It's not only me. Right?

"There's no atmosphere up there in the aether. The air just gets thinner and thinner like... well, you've been up in the balloon, Spike, you know. But that means, because there aren't really mountains, that there mustn't be any tectonic activity up there either. It's entirely dead, in every sense of the word."

Woah, how the fuck does this girl know so much about space when they have no idea about space? Also, wait a moment -- if they have no real telescopes, then how come they know there's a tenth planet? I imagined it was based on math, and the geometry of their orbit, but if they can't---okay, steampunk. They are talking ponies, they have cinemas, and they can use magic. I should stop thinking so hard about this.

How wonderfully morbid.

Oh, Twilight, you're nasty.

"Point. But there's... blue? Spike! I see blue!"
"Is it a sapphire? Is the moon made of gems?"

If you had included some line on how it can't be a chromatic aberration because she measured the lenses correctly, I would be in your pants already. However, of course Twilight wouldn't allow such a thing to happen, so this comment is silly.

"It definitely can't be a gem. If the moon is tectonically dead, there wouldn't be anything to create them, let alone push them to the surface. I need to get a closer look."

HAH! I love it when smart characters are actually smart. And they say smart, nerdy things. Delicious.

Also, in this universe Luna is on the moon, as in, physically speaking. I wonder what the heckle does she do to kill time? Whimsically gazing at the stars and her home must get boring after a while. I would take so many naps if I were her, man.

So many.

Using a nearby dune for scale, she estimated that the blue patch was at least the size of a pony, possibly larger. Not much larger, though. It was moving, too, or at least part of it was. Like it was caught in a breeze.

But it can't be a breeze, because--

A breeze obviously nonexistent on the moon, unless everything modern science and philosophy had gone so far to hypothesize was wrong.

Oh. Okay, yeah.

Wait, philosophy? What part does philosophy play in physics? The lack of an atmosphere is a merely physical thing -- lack of gravity.

Then again, metaphysics. They do use the term "aether" to refer to space, and that's the fifth Aristotelian elementh. So, okay, philosophy makes sense in this context.

Or maybe they don't understand the word "philosophy" as we do, I guess. It literally means "love for knowledge", and it's made up of logic, epistemology, etics, metaphysics, and anthropology. I always think either epistemology, logic, or etics whenever I see "philosophy" written down (because of modern science and all that jazz), but in a more rudimental universe, having philosophy as an important part in hardcore science would work.

Eh. Still thinking too hard about this. Magical talking ponies, cool steam-powered devices, enough with the useless talk.

"Well, I mean, you've never really been good with remembering names. Or faces. Or, ah, cutie marks."

Woah, never seen this quality of Twilight before. Seeing how I relate the shit out of it, though, I like it. Gives her a little more dimension. Too many people seem to think that "smart" equals "absolutely perfect in everything brain-related". Hah. No fucking way.

"I don't think I've ever seen a pony this lonely before."
Not even in the mirror.

And with that, Numbers smirked, made a pistol with his fingers, and mouthed the word "boum."

"Chiaroscuro, motherfucker."

Jokes aside -- great sentence and rhythm in that one, bro. Not as much a whiplash as it's a mere part of character building. But eh, the chiaroscuro theme can't be too contrasting in the very first chapter.


(Seriously, the show also played the "Twilight is very lonely" card. Twice, because after the first episode she said Cadance and Shining Armor were her only friends. I have the theory that Spike is legally seen as a really eloquent dog.)

Her Telescope certainly hadn't been broken. Before.

Woah. Reality ensues.

I wasn't expecting that.


Well, judging by the description, the title, and the chapter, I'm willing to bet it's Twiluna.

I can't tell if it's intentional, but having to re-enter the password every time I go to a new chapter is a real pain. I hope that gets removed at some point...

Good so far, just have to read the rest of the published chapters.

Very intrigued, and I have marked this for later reading...but I am curious and confused by the 0-word chapters at the end.

I am enjoying the imagery quite a bit so far and will now go back to finding out the why of this spun off world.


I don't think they are published yet.




The story has been fascinating up until this point, but what happened after the start of RD and AJ's hoofwrestling? The text went all fragmented, like words, sentences or whole paragraphs went missing. Is this an early draft? Did the upload get corrupted somehow?


EQD jumped the gun. This wasn't meant to be open to the public yet, as it were.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear

Then get with the posting, man! It's killing me that I have an OTP story by the author of Demense, and FimF isn't letting me download it.

I'm seeing eight chapters and 41,000 words. Is this the story as it was intended to be released?

If not, I'll wait for a blog post on the matter; if so, time to jump in, because all of my yes.

This is marked as Complete, good sir... :twilightoops:

I have to agree with Shiver McTimbers, right after the RD/AJ hoofwrestling starts things get Pinkie Pie strange and garbled with possibly imaginary text failing the poke test.

5695330 5695088

Temp fix: I missed the GDocs import. The text is now all there, but most of the BBC tags are gone.



Steampunk, downvote. But wait, MrNumbers, so upvote?

Ooooooh, I'm adrift in a sea of ambivalence, beaten upon the rocks by the tides of indecision. This is what it's like when doves cry.


Wasn't the reflecting telescope a more modern invention though?

It's Mr. Numbers, so you know it won't be your average gaslight fantasy. :twilightsmile:

Link to the cover art? It's amazing....


Hover your mouse over the cover art and then click the 'Source' button that pops up in the lower right corner.

lot of help from her friends, really

Stray sentence?

Wow... A story got published in EQD before it got published =D
It must mean that you're really good! :twilightsmile:

Seems like Celestia has really taken to the idea Luna is dead, but t's clear Luna isn't even possessed by Nightmare anymore in this reality. Celly's mood might swing in a totally different direction if she looks though the telescope herself and sees her sister waiting for Twilight to contact her. She probably sees the prophecy as some cruel punishment meant to torture he for "killing" Luna or she mostly blames Nightmare for Luna's "death" and grows furious at any reminded of Nightmare's existence. And clearly here "The Stars" doesn't mean literal Stars but some pony marked BY stars, and the prophecy lacks the bit about eternal night.

I recommend striking a balance by first downvoting, then upvoting the story.
That way both impulses are satisfied.

I would describe what it is, precisely, that I find so enjoyable about this story. I do not seem to know the words to do so adequately, however. I shall settle for, "Yes," followed by, "It has been written."

If we should go along the assumption that the Nightmare pins down, amplifies, and then acts out the worst parts of a pony's character, then I offer you an alternative interpretation of these events. Luna said, as we saw, that she can now walk through dreams without fear of the Nightmare any longer. We have not, however, been given any reason to believe that Luna was possessed by the Nightmare at any point. However, I can certainly think of another ponies who seems to be displaying, in a rather exaggerated — an amplied, you might say — manner, the worst parts of her character.

Anyway, food for thought.

Delightful and unique. I'll enjoy this one.

5608625 Taking pride in your art is not being pretentious, it is simply taking pride in your art.

"I just need you to power the death ray we're aiming at the moon." :twilightsmile:
Best job description ever.

In answer to your question about philosophy:

Some examples...are Isaac Newton's 1687 scientific treatise, which is known as The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and Lord Kelvin and Peter Guthrie Tait's 1867 treatise called Treatise on Natural Philosophy which helped define much of modern physics.

Science and the scientific method are the creations of philosophers. Asking what philosophy has to do with physics is like asking what math has to do with rocket science.


Yeah, so like I said. Right now I don't consider an essay on black holes a philosophy paper, but back then it definitely was. My comment was just me pointing out how what we understand by "philosophy" (or at least what I understand by "philosophy, perhaps I'm the odd one out) has changed over time.

Or maybe not what we understand by it, but rather what is included in it. Meh. You get my point.

Ah you seemed more focused on the alternate world concept "maybe they don't understand the word as we do" than the historical basis, so I wasn't sure you were aware.

This really deserves more readers and reviews... Very well written!

Bright Spark=Alexander Graham BellEdison, Pinkie=Nikola Tesla. For those who didn't pick up on it.:twilightsmile:

Ps Please have Bright Spark get his comeuppance unlike BellEdison. Tesla died mad and a pauper I think be Bell was successful and famous in his time.

Edit: Apologies I believe I mixed up Edison and Bell in my head, Bell is still a scumbag who stole the patent for the telephone though.


Close! But Thomas Edison.

I'm seriously loving this. The characters are wonderful AND adorable!

Two things...

1) ABOUT BLOODY TIME! :pinkiehappy:


That is all...for now

the one that you said is throwing out the orbit of the ninth one, but nopony can seem to find?

Ninth planet, ha, Pluto isn't a planet. Though if there were previous telescopes that could see that far and pic out such a faint object, I am not sure what makes Twilight's so special.

The vast oceans! The mountains, the crevices! We could prove that Equus isn't the only aetherial body with topography!

Again, seeing Pluto would make the moon easy cheese.

There was a shear grinding, like the sound of ripping tinfoil blasted through a megaphone.

Seems like Twilight needs to redesign her telescope. Something that delicate without cams to move everything and stops just seems silly.

When I first saw this... Oh my god!

Twiluna romance and Steampunk, two of my favourite story concepts combined. It sounded too good to be true and I was almost sure of getting disappointed.
Sadly most Sci-fi, Steampunk or otherwisely technology-inspired stories either loose themselves in pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo that is played for convenience and is neither realistic, nor interesting, or they loose their potential to immerse and create a very unlivid atmosphere with flat characters.

So I was all the more surprised, when neither your world, nor your characters failed to immerse me. Everything you described came alive in front of my eyes. Your world has just the right mixture of hard science and otherworldly charm to it. Nothing is really unrealistic and yet nothing is boring.
I also really love your interpretation of the (so far known) Mane 6. They fit into your world, but they don't loose their canon origins.

All in all there is not much I can criticise about your story, except for that it should have more chapters right now for me to read. :twilightsmile:

well lets see were this gets me

also its steampunk so....

This is absolutely beautiful. I love it and I cannot wait for more. You're doing a fantastic job so don't stop please.

I'm a bit shocked at Celestia's reaction though. I mean I can understand her reaction but I suspected her to be mad then sad or just sad. But that's me and this is you. Everything in this story is your choice and I enjoy your choices.

I don't know what else to say so ya. Hope you have a good day and have a smile when you read this. If you don't have a smile oh well. But either way have a good day fantastic writer you.

This seems like an interesting Fic, and I'm glad I read it, but one things niggling at me...

What the hell happened to Celestia? She seems to have gone batshit in this fic, what ever happened to the caring and kindly Princess? And why would she destroy all evidence of her sisters return, when she has clearly been in mourning her loss? She seems to have lost her sanity at one point, I understand its AU, so anything goes, but I'm just wondering what happened to her to make her like this.

Also, where's Nightmare? Wasn't Luna supposed to be Nightmare moon while she was trapped up there? did she cure herself? Also, what's going to happen when its Luna's time to come back? But hey like I said AU, anything goes.

I just have no idea what to expect.

Also, when's Flutters? I Kinda wonder how she fits into Twilights grand schemes and eventual friendship.

"We're getting two millibars of pressure, oh Captain my Captain!"
really? were breaking out the steam punk references this early!

5696603 Seems like Twilight needs to redesign her telescope. Something that delicate without cams to move everything and stops just seems silly.
its fucking steampunk there are no cams you have grease, oil, brass and pressure thats it

Twilight's doorbell was, naturally, a work of utter genius.
You can imagine the expression on Twilight's face, then, when she heard three loud, hammered knocks at the door.

I live in a house with two other guys, and one of them is always bringing people to my place. Without asking first. They get the whole place dirty as hell, and annoy the shit out of me.

And they never knock, even though we have a really cool doorbell. There's nothing more irritating than someoneo knocking on your door instead of ringing the damned bell.

As an addendum -- at least here they're knocking hard. In my case it's a soft tap tap tap every time they try to get in. I never answer that. You want to get in, you fucking embrace the fact you're annoying me. Bah.

"Spike!" her shout echoed down the cavernous library below her, the echo muffled by the impromptu soundproofing that thousands of books will provide, "would you kindly get the door?"

Something something Bioshock reference hahahah I'm so wacky. More importantly, after reading this and thinking on the place's description before, I wonder what kind of acoustics does that observatory/library have? The glass roof and wooden glass suggest echo, or at least reverberance, but the books making some kind of labyrinth are doomed to mess up the entire thing.

So I'm guessing small echo/reverberance/resonancy in some places (like under the telescope) and then soundproofing in other places. Kind of chaotic.

That would justify such a doorbell, too. It all adds up.

To think, the prior owner had wasted the space with an expansive wine cellar! Twilight couldn't get rid of the nasty stuff fast enough to make room for the boilers and tanks it now held.

God, yes. What a fiend. Alcohol in a library, god forbid. As a college student, I'm extremely offended by that.

Seriously though -- a wine cellar in a tree. That can't end well. (Or, wait, is this a tree? I don't recall it being a tree). Having a dragon there is dangerous too, because if I remember correctly, alcohol has vapour, and that's extremely dangerous. You can't enter a distillery with a matchbox, for example. Spike sneezes, the whole place goes boom.

Her magic gripped the lever in the elevating cage and, with all the force she could muster, jerked the lever down. The ability to manipulate almost as much force with her magic as she could with her own physical body made her one of the most powerful mages to ever live!

We're getting deep into AU territory here, as the show clearly portrays the unicorns moving stuff that's way heavier than them.

Wait. Or does it? Twilight moves the sun, but she does that while being an alicorn. Hm. Now I'm dubious.

However, this kind of establishes that A) the unicorns in here aren't exactly overpowered, as she can't levitate very heavy stuff, and B) Twilight is one of the best mages in the planet and yet she makes sure to build nonmagical stuff, like telescopes and doorbells. Because fuck you, standards. I do what I want.

Also, I'm guessing the apparent underpowerment of the unicorns is a way to justify the steampunk elements? It makes it more necessary for the ponies to come up with mechanical stuff, seeing how pure magic doesn't cut it anymore.

"Ah, beg'n your pardon?"
Now, that's a voice she didn't recognize. The voice was so... ignorant sounding.
Well, of course they were unencumbered by erudition. They knocked.

Oh God I laughed at this. I like how Twilight, immediately after saying that the voice sounds dumb, tries her hardest to sound as verbose and loquacious (second time I use this word in two comments, that's weird) as possible. "She's dumb, I'm smart!"

Also yeah AJ sounds stupid. I'm guessing that voice is AJ because, come on, it's right there in the title. And the tags. And the accent.

Colonization of the Zebra lands had brought the miracle of coffee, and the application of steam had made it even more wonderful again.

World-building! However, this means that the Zebra lands are a stand-in for America, instead of being a stand-in for Africa, as most people do. That's new!

Does that mean that Equestria is Great Britain, then? That would make sense, seeing how steampunk in general is based on victorian visuals. I'd actually like that -- I get why most writers have Equestria being more or less USA (or Canada!) when it comes to the pony planet (Plonet? Plany? Planyt? There's a good portmanteau somewhere in there, I know it) but it gets a little old after a while.

Incidentally, that would also mean that the Everfree is Australia. Wild, scary, and full of monsters. It checks out.

Twilight slid back the deadbolt, removed the chain, unhooked the latch, kicked away the chock and unlocked the padlock – something especially tricky if you didn't have magic, or a dragon's nimble hands – all in the space of ten seconds, desperate not to let that dreadful hammering hoof come into contact with her poor door again.

Pffft. Twilight's a paranoid.

Then again, the Telescope is expensive, and she has a lot of stuff in there. This can also be read as some kind of metaphor for isolation (she literally doesn't let anypony that's not herself or Spike get in there) but maybe that would be reading too much into the gag.

"It was your hooves. They're very solid, for a mare." Wait, was that offensive? "For anypony, really." Wait, was that offensive?


Twilight sighed in relief when she was rewarded with a brief chuckle rather than a door slammed in her face.

Yeah, but that's your house, and the door opens--

Well, actually, the door opened inward, and Twilight was in the way of a door being slammed... The mare didn’t storm off, then, upon finding a lack of door to slam in Twilight’s face, and that was the important thing.

Dammit, not fast enough.

Twilight just nodded, taking a moment to study the mare. Clean, washed, but obviously not with soap. Water alone only did so much.

I don't know why, but this line made me kind of sad. Poor Applejack.

It's also a funny line, and I smiled internally because HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH YOU'RE POOR AND DIRTY but that's merely because I'm a bad person and I shouldn't be allowed outside. But that aside? Dunno, it's kind of a heavy line, for what it implies.

She smelled strongly of apples, as well – natural apples, not a perfume.

I've talked endlessly about symbols, and preloading in stories, so I won't go deep in this comment, but yeah. This line here gives the reader the idea that AJ is a honest mare. Perfume implies something fake, something artificial. An natural smell is the truth, it's more honest itself. The message here is "this one doesn't lie".

Also, she's the Element of Honesty in the show, that too. But yeah. Symbols, totems, you know the drill.

Twilight had the sneaking suspicion that if she were to brush that hair, it would be for the first time this week.

On the other hand, based only on the wording, this sentence doesn't evoke sad/melancholic/pitiful thoughts, but rather a bemused smile, because it's about character, not lack of time or money. 'Cause of the wording, I think. And because brushing your hair is something the poorest person can do (especially if they can clean themselves with water, as stated earlier).

I get the nagging feeling I keep babbling about unimportant stuff. But eh, screw it, I'm having fun. Analyzing is interesting.

"You're here to sell apples, aren't you? Well, I'm dreadfully sorry, but I already have a supplier–"
"Yes, that's uh, that's me. Was me I should say. You haven't made any more orders."

Oh my God that's adorable.

"Ah was hopin' I could convince you to remain a loyal Apple family customer."
Twilight smiled in relief."I'm sorry, I just–"
"No! Don't be sorry!" the mare cried, her fragile smile cracking almost audibly

Oh my God, that's so fucking sad.

Dude, seriously, why is AJ being poor annoying me so much here? I've laughed at the hillbilly for years, and now I have empathy? That's bollocks!

Twilight didn't quite understand it; it was kind of weird to be proud of being technologically backward, really.


"Woo-wee! Caught a whole apple, there, tossed and all? You must be one heckuva powerful unicorn."

Ah-hah. That's subtle, but my suspicions were right -- unicorns are less powerful than in the show, and that's why everything is steampunk-ish.

Then again, you kind of said it out loud before, but I feel smart now, so shut up.

"Alright, so I nearly made a dreadful mistake here. A year's worth should be... one hundred and forty four bits, then? Round up to hundred fifty... no. No, one hundred and sixty bits, as my sincerest apologies, and my sincerest gratitude for not letting me make that mistake."

Yes. Happy Applejack.

Also yeah, forgetting about food. Funny how that happens, isn't it? I haven't eaten in almost twenty hours myself either, you reminded me of it.

That's a student for ya, I guess. Points to Twilight for being realistic.

And surprisingly kind, too. I get why -- this is a Save The Cat moment, the part where we realize that Twilight is a good person, thus immediately like her -- but I was expecting something more cynical from you. I guess it's not a bad change, though. This one seems more in-character.

"Well, ever since the colonies spread out to Zebra and Saddle Arabian lands, we just can't compete. Land prices shot up and we can't grow coffee or sugar in these climes, and that's all ponies seem to be paying the good bits for."

Oooh. Economics. I wonder what's the fare for getting the food from the distant lands to Equestria? I guess it doesn't really matter -- with colonies, you get so many things at such a low price that local commerce is going to crumble, unless they try to make things cheaper or change their business plan. Applejack outright said they did everything the old way, which I'm willing to bet means less product, and a much higher price.

No wonders she's poor, then.

Also -- yeah, just as expected (again), Equestria is definitely Great Britain here. Funny how a race of hervivores can conquer stuff.

Tea would have been better.


The harness stopped clicking, and fell to the ground with a whump, and the clatter of steel clips on stone. The earth pony's smile deepened more than it widened.

Ouch. Seriously, that's gotta be scary, not charming.

But hey, more money for Applejack. You go, girl.

However, small addendum here, before I continue -- I'm guessing Applejack is a blacksmith, or at least knows something about being one, based on her reaction. However, she's also shown to be a farmer, and the fact that she smells like apples (plus the fact that she's Applejack and she's poor) imply she works a lot.

As in, the whole day. I was gonna mention how that would mean no actual time to develop any blacksmithing ability, but then I realized that, well... Old-timey farmers did know a little bit about being a blacksmith. Not a lot, of course (that's why "blacksmith" is a job on its own), but if we realize that Applejack runs her business the old way (something I don't approve, as an economist) then we see that she obviously needs old-ish tools.

Tools that, probably, are hard to find. And sometimes it's cheaper to fix stuff than to buy a new tool. So if she knows baout blacksmithing, it's becuase she needs to, in order to survive. That's an ability gained not out of ability or will, but out of necessity.

Damn. Made myself sad again.

The apple farmer popped back up wearing a custom, faded-green welding mask, an elaborate welding torch held by what Twilight sincerely hoped was an imitation leather strap to her hoof.

Okay, she has a welding mask and a torch. She's not that poor then. Good.

Also oh Gods why would you even think of developing imitation leather in a pony society what are you even imitating you're not predators WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU APPLEJACK.

"Why... why do you have all this welding equipment on you?"
"Cart might break."

Fucking nailed it.

Applejack had pulled a pile of warped brass from the same rear compartment the tools had come from, and hefted it like a baseball to Twilight. It was about the same relative size of a baseball, so catching it like one was a relatively simple matter for a unicorn of Twilight's abilities... another one might not have been so lucky.
"Just makin' sure the apple wasn't a fluke," the mask chuckled

AJ has maimed quite the quota of unicorns, I see.

Also, Twi, yer braggin.

Just keep it held steady for me, would ya kindly?

Yaddah yaddah Bioshock again I'm still wacky. Paralel with Twi's conversation with Spike, at the start of the chapter? Dunno if that adds anything, thematically speaking, because Twi is not AJ's servant. Probably a coincidence.

She began to grow impatient after humming a full chorus of Schaden Freude's latest composition. She was about to hum it to herself again when the tingling in her horn stopped, fading to a dull tickle as the heat dissipated.

I recognize that pun! Dunno if you're referencing it, or if it's a happy coincidence. But still!

What had been a tangled mess of scrap metal was now a smooth orb, the size and shape of a small, smooth apple

AJ is pretty fucking monothematic, isn't she?

Twilight had circled around the orange mare, her previous hesitation long-forgotten, shunted from her mind as she rapidly reclassified Applejack from 'salespony' to 'bringer of food' and now, most importantly, to 'vital resource'.

I love how the implications here are that food is not "vital". Eating is a mere annoyance, something you have to do as quickly and efficientely as possible so you can move on to the important stuff.

"What's it do?"
Twilight blinked at the question. "It's an elevator," she stated rather curtly. "It elevates."
"What's that mean?"
Oh, right. Simpleton. Simpleton savant, obviously, with a welding torch and with farm labour, but simpleton nonetheless.

Simpleton savant. Now that's one I hadn't heard before.

Also, that's more like your Twilight. Hah. I knew it. She can't suddenly be a mare with a heart of gold.

"I can't help it! If the Mourning Princess had wanted me to get up this high, she'd have given me wings and left me a pegasus. This ain't natural!"


Celestia equals God, though? Interesting, Might just be a phrasing, though, so I won't make any assumptions.

"Most ponies look down on the Apples. Think 'cause we don't use machines, we're lesser, somethin's wrong with us."
"Well, I admit that I don't understand that at all."

Look, economically speaking? Applejack is in the wrong here. Sure, her apples are better, but they take longer, are more expensive, and there are fewer. Develop a brand, make sure to advertise your shit as deluxe apples, and then you might survive in the market -- but if the consumers clearly don't mind changing quality for quantity, then no work ethics is going to save ya.

Don't act good. Act smart. This is business, Applejack. You gotta learn how to play the game.

"But, you were very convincing with the taste test, so you obviously know what you're doing. And you're also obviously proud of what you do, your face lit up like a Spark bulb when you talked about your produce."

"Spark" is a proper name here. I'm guessing Edison. Well, "guessing". I know it's Edison, but you know the game. If they talk about bulbs and all...

Also, yes, AJ, you were very convincing. Now do that in public, and develop a good marketing strategy. God, it's as if you wanted to be poor. No wonders Twi sees you as a simpleton.

A pony choosing to follow passion over money, in this day and age?

Yeah, sorry. Economist and lawyer yere. I've been trained to see that as a bad thing.

Sure, humans with "hearts" and "self-respect" might think otherwise, but Applejack is poor, so checkmate, buddy.

"Huh. Well, don't that beat all. A high-class, educated, ivory-tower–"
"Well, brass and glass tower."
"–high-falootin' mare that don't look down on me. When all the rest are happy enough to leave their food in the hooves of zebras and diamond dogs who don't want to be growin' it, I got one right here telling me that what I'm doin' isn't a complete waste of a mare. Don't that honestly just beat all?"

Oh. Hey. Turns out I'm one of the villains in the story.

Well, fuck. My mother warned me about this. Should've listened to the old woman instead of selling her for a couple coins.

"But I never figured an educated mare like yourself would. Reckon they always seem to know better."

WELL EXCUSE US FOR SPENDING OUR TIME DOING NOTHING FOR SOCIETY AND SUPPORTING THE SYSTEM THAT CAUSES DEPRESSION AND DEHUMANIZATION EVERYWHERE. Seriously, you create an elitist group that fucks up everything that's not included in that elitist group, and suddenly you're the bad guy.

"Thankfully, those purse-clutching society mares appear to be allergic to hard work, or thinking of any kind. Which makes mares like us a rarity."

HAH! Foreshadowing. When Rarity appears, betcha she's a noblemare that actually thinks. And clutches purses.

Clutches all the purses.

"Mares like us, huh?" Applejack's smirk faded, warmed, baked itself into a sweet little affectionate smile. Twilight's eyes bulged, like she'd swallowed an entire apple without chewing and it had caught in her throat. Had she really said that? She had nothing in common with a mare so... so blasé, so uneducated, so... pedestrian.
And yet... she did.

I've always thought that, out of the Maney Six, Twilight would get along with Applejack far more than with the others. Rarity and Pinkie are close seconds, though.

He paused, his eager little tail practically wagging, as he stared dumbfounded at the mare standing beside Twilight.

Woah. Hey, that's cute.

Makes my Spike-is-just-a-loquacious-dog theory more plausible, too.

Inside Twilight's head, a dusty, cobweb-covered filing cabinet creaked open. Inside it she placed an orange file with a single word on it: Applejack.
There were no other files beside it. And for some strange reason, that made Twilight sad.

D'aaaw. This is not as sad as it's cute. She made her first friend!

ALSO HAHAHAHHA SPIKE IS NOT THERE. Seriously, poor guy. He does the best he can, and yet he's never rewarded. I'd feel pity for him if I wasn't laughing so hard.

oh never have i wanted to smack a pony more than i do right now

oh twilight please! please! beat his ass into the ground then get the princess to arrest him followed shortly by taking every bit he owns then giving it to pinkie


Probably not bell, but Edison

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