• Member Since 8th Nov, 2011
  • offline last seen October 16th

Cast-Iron Caryatid


T

Changeling Twilight Sparkle and her number-one assistant, Sunset Shimmer, try to study magic without learning any wholesome lessons of friendship. They fail.

Chapters (21)
Comments ( 400 )

Honestly, this is strange, unique, but darn catchy, seriously. I love the nuance between outlooks, a very good mirror darkly.

This is good, scarily good, two very different mindsets, and wham, the misunderstandings are just gold.

This has got a favorite from me. You've hit something gold here!

I love it! I don't think I've ever seen idea like this.:heart:

I like Sunset Shimmer's reaction to seeing a changeling for the first time, I don't think I've ever seen that before. I've seen fics where ponies confused the two, but only when operating on secondhand info, not on seeing them.

Wait, what… was that thing I just said about the both of us?

Hah. Most people don't realize they're doing that.

This is a really interesting AU. I like the way you play up Twilight's... mad scientist qualities, her obsessive research drives and her disconnect from normal pony society, which are all there in canon, but you do it while keeping her desire to understand and even help people so she still feels like Twilight.

I also liked your explanation for the name similarity. I see you're using the Pod Ponies from the comics, too. Those never really made sense to me, so your explanation they're generally useless fits.

Huh. Where did the idea for this one come from? :D

A somewhat strange story, this. And a good one. :)

“We use them in cooking—” she explains, “—like milk or baking soda. It’s an ingredient, not something we just eat… like this.”

mlpforums.com/uploads/monthly_10_2014/blogentry-23942-0-60185600-1413468490.png

Sisterhooves Social would argue otherwise.

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Err, would you believe I completely forgot about those? :twilightsheepish:

I don't hold the comics in very high regard, though I have read them :unsuresweetie:

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Shush, don't bring up those disgusting country pony customs. We're all refined ponies, here! :duck:

Whelp, you got me. I'm hooked. I can now only imagine Science!Bug!Sparkle and FaxMachine!BabyDragon!SS.
Gosh, if this had been the characterization for SS portrayed in the movie, I might not have hated it quite as much as I still do.

I had some trouble figuring out what the heck Twi was saying, but I like it! This thing was featured for a reason!

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Well, that's Rarity. She's a blood thirsty alpha ma--
Wait, wrong universe.

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Neither do, I really. I consider them non-canon. But at least you provided an explanation for the Pod Ponies that just show up in the comics changeling chapter, which are less efficient than just replacing the enemy with actual changelings.

I think the most egregious example of comics shenanigans that comes to mind was when a guy showed up when the Elements were visiting the beach and announced he was a pirate. Their responses were "This is so cool" and joining his crew. That was mind-boggling. No one goes around announcing to perfect strangers "Hi, I'm a murderer, thief and probably rapist" and if they did the response of our heroes would not be "Can we join in?" It's baffling, since he could have just announced he was a treasure-hunter looking for pirate treasure and it would have been the same plot without condoning banditry. I stopped reading at that point.

But I fear I'm wandering off the topic of this lovely story.

I am almost disappointed that the process does not, at any point described, appear to involve actual physical removal of Sunset's still living brain from her head.

Beyond that, this story so far is amazing and I absolutely cannot wait to see where it goes.

I never thought I'd actually end up reading this and liking it, but what do you know, I do like it. While you keep writing more chapters, I will be sitting here, waiting for that next chapter. What you have is good so far.

This is amazing. Best Twiling I've ever read.

Okay, this story has amazing potential. How far into the regular storyline are you planning to follow our intrepid duo?

Oh, god dammit. God dammit. Stop being such an awesome story-teller! Now you're holding my attention hostage for two stories.

 And I love it.

My new favorite Twi-ling fic. Honestly, one of the first I've really like. So that's probably not saying much... hm....

Well, if you write as much for this as your other fic, it will be top 5 of my Alternate Universe tagged fics. Probably better. But I read a lot, so no promises.

Analysis paralysis aside, fantastic start. I can't wait to read more. Once I get a regular paying job again, I'll probably support your patreon. I love it that much. Write more.

I LOVE tis Twiliing. She reminds me of every intellectual character known in fiction in changeling form.

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It would have, actually, but I didn't want the process to involve magic or really “compromise” the body like invasive surgery would, but hey, “liquefy your brain” has a nice ring to it too.

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It would be spoilery to say exactly how far, but that in and of itself is telling, isn't it? Well, we want to see Dragon Sunset Shimmer grow up enough to be a character with independence again, so it's pretty safe to say that there will be some significant time skips involved—though not quite yet. The first section of the story will be the growing up. But, yes, the story will eventually intersect with the time period of the show, and since Shining Armor figures into things, the wedding will likely be a thing that happens too.

Whether or not the climax ends up taking place during the wedding, though, it'll be about something else entirely. I have no desire to retell the original stories at all, even in a modified format. It does not work. I realized after reading The Wrong Place At the Right Time that no matter what you do, no matter how you do it, something is lost by following the canon formula of an episode, even if you use entirely different characters in an entirely different setting. This is not to say anything against TWPATRT, mind. I've read many, many such stories, many of them worse. That one in particular changed almost everything that you really could conceivably change, though, and while it was well written, it still felt the same, which really just killed it for me in the end.

tl;dr: Any events that the story shares with canon will have different emotional stakes involved. I will probably skip most of the show pilot.

I also want to quickly plug in how much I like your Sunset Shimmer, since no one else has brought it up. I suppose it's not too hard to do angst with ambitions, but you're making her relate-able, and that's why fic's make me like her. The fact that's she describes herself as attached to Twi-ling because she's the only one recently treating her like an adult is great. Can't wait to see how/if her character grows.

Also, if you do any more development on what went on between her and Celestia. There was brief mentions of Celestia banning soul magics, blocking progress in other promising fields. I'd be curious if Sunset was leaning mostly towards angst for your story, or for trying to unlock all the powers available to her, and being resentful towards Celestia for 'holding ponykind [or mostly her] back,' as it were.

And primal dragon magic. That'll be fun.

6150795 Really? That's a bit of a shame. Why those two limitations? I mean, I suppose I can understand if Twilight isn't capable of the kind of magics required for it, since the whole idea is that she's starting off only marginally more skilled and powerful than a normal changeling and needs to work to upgrade her biology to be more capable, but why not surgical removal? I mean, she HAS kind of already established that she intends to dissect Sunset's unicorn body once they've moved her out of it. Given how delicate she's stated the procedure they're going with is, I can't imagine removing her brain without compromising the body would be much more difficult.

Ah well. It's a little late to change things now, and like you said, this way of doing things is pretty cool too anyway. But given that you said you would have done it if not for those limitations, does this mean that there could be the possibility of a physical brain removal somewhere in the (likely distant) future of this story? Because it occurs to me that a living disembodied brain could be useful to Twilight, as a potential power source if nothing else. Perhaps a certain Great and Powerful unicorn's?

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I mean, she HAS kind of already established that she intends to dissect Sunset's unicorn body once they've moved her out of it.

I'm more worried that the brain [and subsequent lack of] may turn out to be important for their research findings. Can't study all of her magical wiring if you turn it into jelly and feed it to the kiddies.

This is brilliant! Really well done.

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I'm going to just have to say that Sunset's body will be important somewhere down the line, and leave it at that :scootangel:

You make a compelling argument in the second half of your comment, though… :trixieshiftleft::trixieshiftright:

6151108 Ah, I see! Fair enough then, fair enough.

And I'm glad you find my argument to be persuasive! Here's hoping it remains strong enough to actually be used. After all, it isn't like The unicorn in question, who shall remain nameless, uses it much anyways :raritywink: But seriously, I'm excited that you like the idea! There needs to be more bodiless pony brains in the world.

6151062 has a good point to I think. Studying an intact brain would probably help Twilight to understand magic even better, and Sunset's is shortly going to be dissolved and eaten.

I wanted to like this, and it is really quite well written, but I just found Twilight remarkably annoying and couldn't read any further.

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Understandable, and thanks for commenting to say so. I'd like to think that both characters are merely intended to have ‘room to grow,’ as it were, but it's true that that doesn't help much in the here and now if it overpowers the other aspects for you. I had much the same problem when reading Through the Well of Pirene, but it turned out to be worth it in the end. I can only hope people will think the same about ASP after everything is said and done.

6151520 No worries. I'm not sure why I found it so annoying. I like quite a few books with main characters who are real pieces of shit. I think it might be the first person perspective. There's only so much of an unlikeable character I can take, and I think actually being subjected to their thought processes is a bit beyond the pale for me.

I gave it a shot, but I couldn't really get into this one. It's well written and the idea is rather nice, but... I dunno exactly what it is, but it just rubs me the wrong way. Sorry, man, usually I really like your stuff. This one just isn't for me, y'know? Looks like you had fun coming up with it and writing it, so you keep doing you. Have a good one, mate.

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I have much the same idea on the 'room to grow' part of it. Plus I can see the proper personalities are indeed in place. SS at this point is completely self serving, and Twilight is a product of her species, even with that, she still has that nugget of the canon Twilight that I'm sure will grow in later chapters. I doubt this Twilight will ever be like canon Twi because she'll always been a Ling, if not in body then at heart.

On a side note: I wonder if Twilight will double check the dragon egg. If this is Spike's egg, then SS will be in for a rude surprise. Although I find it improbable that this egg would be Spike's because of how difficult/conspicuous it would be if the school's egg was taken.

I wonder ... Will Spike / Sunset be female in this story? or male like the original? :pinkiegasp:

This is interesting, in a body-horror way. I mean brain eggs? Ewwww.
Still the characters are there and its well written.
Let's see where you take it!

CCC

...an interesting start. Let's see where this goes...

Man, this is weird.

I think it might be the tone. It flips between serious character turmoil/body horror spookiness and a kind of slice of life comedy silliness, which is kind of jarring sometimes.

Still, the writing is sharp and witty, though not quite at Sharing The Night's level, and the concept is cool and has a vaguely macabre appeal to it. And I quite like Sunset here - recognisable as her canon counterpart but still a unique portrayal with a minimum of angst.

So yeah. I like it. :D

6147524 While the story is unique in a way the changeling headcanon... is not.

This story is freaking awesome on levels that I feel completely unqualified to measure. Fantastically written, witty, and I'm totally in love with filly changeling Sparkle. I can't wait to see more and more of this! :pinkiehappy:

6149146 To be fair, how much of that description is true of "pirates" really depends on the era and area in question, and, of course, the individuals. I think a lot of popular culture about pirates derives from the large number of Caribbean pirates in the Americas around the turn of the eighteenth century, and they weren't so bad on that score, at least judging by the impression I got from a good book on the subject, The Republic of Pirates.

How's things going with this story? Still looking forward to the next chapter ^^

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My apologies—I was having trouble pushing out an update for my other story, Sharing the Night, which required my attention. I am actively working on this, and expect to have an update this month.

Edit: And when I say an update, I mean at least 10k words total. My plan is for that to be spread over two chapters.

“I think it would be better if I show you,” I say and open the door to the basement. Addendum: I know ahead of time that it is not, in fact, better if I show her. I think we changelings might have some sort of instinctual shock/revelation fetish, which seems rather counterproductive, but there you have it.

:rainbowlaugh: Alright, that made me giggle.

“Got it. No ‘intimate’ contact with other changelings as a nymph if I don’t want them in my head,” I summarize, as if I wanted to spend any more time around changelings than I have to. “Do I want to know why you call them ‘nymphs?’”

Was that a 'Lolita' reference? Now I'm vaguely uncomfortable.

It is finally here! :heart:For once I am glad the patreon progress bar was wrong.

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…oops. I'm usually really good about that, but this month has been busy. Sorry!

*giggles at Request for panic DENIED*

OH MY GOD I HAVE ONLY JUST GOTTEN THE PUN IN THE TITLE

Wait...

Can it be...?

It is! Thank the update alicorns, you finished not just one, but two chapters. My Monday is now complete.

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