• Published 24th Jun 2018
  • 1,694 Views, 282 Comments

The Fishbowl - Shrink Laureate



Vinyl remembers the doll. It's unmistakably hers. Except it's in Octavia's closet. Why do they have the same doll – and the same memory?

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Epilogue: Tartarus Girls

Rare Find was carrying a basket of oranges back home. Sweet! I get a nice bonus for this week’s delivery, and a bunch of oranges. The alley was dark, as sunrise took a while to work its way around the mountain and reach the west side of Canterlot, but he’d walked this way a hundred times before.

He stopped when he heard a rattling noise behind him. Who’s there? Was I followed? Was somebody watching the exchange? He looked around, and saw an open tin rolling harmlessly across the cobbles next to the trash cans.

Oh, thank the Princesses. I must have nudged it as I walked past. The nighttime makes everything seem more scary than it really is, even in the city. Oh well, it’ll be light soon. And tomorrow I head out to pick up another delivery.

He turned back to his task, and nearly trotted into a short figure in a dark cloak.

I can’t see anything at all under that hood. He’s just standing there, breathing. Is he okay? Does he need a doctor? Oh stars, isn’t he going to say anything?

“I’m very sorry,” said Rare Find with a forced laugh. “You came out of nowhere.”

“Is he friend, or is he foe, the pony wonders,” replied the figure in a deep, raspy voice.

I… what? I mean, yes, that’s pretty much what I was wondering. That and if he knows what I just delivered. Is he going to tell the guard?

“I can assure you, I am no friend,” he continued. “I am Lord Tirek! And I will take what should have been mine long ago.”

As Rare Find slumped to the ground, drained of strength and vitality, his fading thoughts were, At least… he doesn’t know…

“That’s not north, is it?” asked Octavia.

The three girls stood on the battlements of a relatively intact section of castle walls, looking out over the forest. In the distant east the sun was rising, throwing buckets of gold tinged with streaks of black and splatters of other colours across the canopy.

“It doesn’t look like it,” replied Vinyl.

She had one arm around Octavia’s waist as they stood looking out, both looking ahead with contented smiles. They resolutely did not look behind them.

“So what should we do about these guys?” asked Trixie.

She was leaning on an intact crenellation, her body language forcibly relaxed. Her battered magician’s hat lay on the stone floor beside her, cast in shadows.

“Smile,” said Vinyl calmly. “Avoid sudden movements. Keep our voices down.”

To their left, one of the advancing changelings hissed quietly, tasting the air with its disturbingly long tongue. To their right, a group of three took tentative steps towards Trixie. She gripped the stone, willing her body not to tense.

Another changeling hissed and chattered somewhere behind them. There were changelings perched on rooftops and sections of broken wall, changelings slinking along the battlements, changelings climbing up walls, changelings hanging down from stone archways, changelings looking out of bare stone windows, changelings crowding the street between the broken buildings, changelings hopping up to stand on fallen lumps of masonry, and changelings hovering in the air. Without turning around to look at the swarm, there was no way to count them, to tell which one had made the noise, though it was fairly likely that they’d lose count if they tried. The creatures were practically impossible to tell apart in their natural form.

“And we wait patiently for these other guys to arrive,” added Octavia, indicating the flight of silhouetted changelings flying in over the forest. The approaching group swooped around them once before landing on the battlements nearby. Nearby changelings ducked reverently out of their way. Several of the arrivals were wearing the forms of pegasi.

One of them stepped forwards. He was in the form of an orange pegasus who looked strangely familiar, and held his head high with an air of authority. The others around him lowered their heads in deference. He looked the girls up and down. A green flash enveloped his body, leaving him in the same shiny black body as the rest of them. He reared up, settling his weight awkwardly on his hind legs, before another green flash left him standing there as a human male.

Trixie allowed herself to turn and look directly into the face of Flash Sentry. The details were all there, from the annoyingly confident grin to the styled eyebrows. “You girls are a long way from home,” he said as he stepped forward.

Trixie looked at the other two girls. Then she took a deep breath, turned back to face Flash, and punched him hard in the face.

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Comments ( 26 )

Th– th– that's all, folks!

Yup, this story's all done. I hope you all enjoyed it. If so, don’t forget to like, follow and invite your friends.

I'd like to thank my helpers:

  • Solstice for early ideas and development
  • BaeroRemedy for more ideas and story structure
  • Oliver for keeping the continuity straight
  • MitchH for poetry and pedantry
  • Cursed Quill for hunting down fiddly details
  • Admiral Biscuit for helping me destroy a car

I realise this hasn't answered every question and closed every loop – and there are some fridge implications that I don't think anyone's spotted yet. I'm starting to think this story might need a sequel… but as of now I have very little idea what that might actually be.

Okay, that’s not quite true. I know one thing it should definitely be: shorter.

Wonderful stuff, though the open ends are going to leave me very frustrated indeed. Not at all a bad thing, but still annoying. In any case, thank you for a bizarre blend of mystery, quiet existential horror, and prison break. I loved every moment of it. Especially that last bit. :raritywink:

JMP
JMP #3 · Sep 5th, 2018 · · ·

Open-ended as it is, I quite liked this story.

9153835

Trixie's choice in the end reminds me to Arthur in We Happy Few when in the true ending he reflects about the train and how he left his brother to die in his place, yet still rejects the temptation of taking Joy and returning to Wellington Wells.
I would really want to see the trio exploring and adapting to live in a new magical world. Also, Celestia's reaction after finding out Chryssy has done a good action.

9153945
9153835

Besides that. Sunset. It seems she escaped, and the Sunset inside the mirror is the mirror image, but Celestia doesn't... know it? So what happened to original Sunset then? Or if that wasn't Celestia's letter, whos was it?

How does Pinkie Legion tie into all of that? Because they were clearly doing their own thing, despite not needing to escape en masse... Yet they did?

Where are the girls now? Is that Castle of Two Sisters, or Canterlot has been wiped out by Tirek and then occupied by changelings? One'd think the former, but with how (deliberately?) ambiguous you were - who knows.

The alicorns and people connected to them (Raven Quill) seem to be able to come and go. But not Sunset, despite probably coming in the same way they did, through the mirror? Or those ALSO were mirror images? One really can never be sure here.

And so on so forth. There's plenty of stuff that got left unresolved, I could think of more if need be. Maybe a collection of short stories on it all would suffice.

9154118
Don't forget Trixie's mom and the Mayor being in on things -- are they ponies, or exceptionally aware homonculi, or what?

Ah, so this is when Tirek got out for his rampage.

...Huh. Well, I wasn't expecting that as the ending? So how did that changeling know? And what happened next, to all of them? There's so much we still don't know! :D
Ah, but then, the story would have to end at some point, and I suppose this is a pretty fair one.


9153835
"and there are some fridge implications that I don't think anyone's spotted yet"
Oh? Interesting.

"I'm starting to think this story might need a sequel"
:D

"but as of now I have very little idea what that might actually be."
Ah, well, good luck, either way.

And thank you for sharing this story with all of us!


9154118
Oh, interesting!

9153835
Time to tackle another adventure:rainbowdetermined2:

Wait, wait! Complete?! On

THAT

Trixie allowed herself to turn and look directly into the face of Flash Sentry. The details were all there, from the annoyingly confident grin to the styled eyebrows. “You girls are a long way from home,” he said as he stepped forward.

Trixie looked at the other two girls. Then she took a deep breath, turned back to face Flash, and punched him hard in the face.

note?!

SEQUEL! SEQUEL! SEQUEL!

After one Hell of a ride, a great story ends. You sure knocked that one outta the park!:trollestia: Great finish, and please say there's a sequel!

It still feels very incomplete. We don't know what happens to the girls, we don't know why Tartarus is set up the way it was and how its mechanics work, we don't know what Celestia and the authorities know about Tartarus and its inhabitants, and really..."we don't know" seems to sum up this ending. As such, I found it rushed and unsatisfying. This feels more like an end to the first act of three than it does a legitimate end to a story.

While I do enjoy when a story leaves a certain amount up to the reader to fill in the gaps, I would have to agree with some of the other commenters that the gaps are a little too big here. The world that you have crafted is extremely interesting and this story feels like an amazing introduction into a broader world. I can see this going places. Not every story should have a sequel, in fact I can think of many series that probably should have been one-off entries, but this is not one of those circumstances. I feel that a sequel to The Fishbowl at a similar level of quality has the potential to enhance what is already here. It's obviously up to you, and kudos for what you have already accomplished as this is truly a wonderful work of fiction, but I would heartily recommend continuing in this world, even if it means having to diverge from canon MLP/EQG.

Looking forward to whatever you decide to write next!

This totally needs a sequel and it'll probably be just as badass as the original :pinkiehappy:

This was a wild ride, I enjoyed it very much :)

Interesting ending that places the whole thing chronologically.

I was sure right until the end that Trixie would go back.

I do wonder how these weird bipeds will get by in Equestria.

Yeah, that ending honestly felt abrupt, and came seemingly from out of nowhere for me.

It honestly feels like it just kind of stopped on a sentence halfway through a chapter. That just seems like such an incredibly odd and climactic situation for them to be in, and then they punch a dude, and the end? Uhh, what? The fuck?

People have already pointed out that there are many unresolved threads of the story. And it's totally fine to have unresolved threads. Not every story needs to have a neat bow tieing everything together. Just as others have also said though, it feels like there are still far too many gaps.

For example: Where the hell even are they at the end, and what happened to make the changeling armada surround them? Without Chrysalis addressing them? Will Chrysalis get her magic back? Will we ever learn how they got into the tunnel that led out of Tartarus, which they just kind of appeared in the middle of without explanation? How does Cerberus react to this whole thing, especially concerning the girls? What's the deal with the Pinkie Pies? How DO the girls go about surviving? Maybe it involves that phone they have, but does that still work, or was that an illusion? And so much more I simply haven't thought of.

Point being, this was a seriously dope story, and I was very invested in it. And while it certainly isn't intended, ending it on such a bafflingly incomplete note like that makes me feel like I've been led along and then fucked with.

This was a good read. The last chapter was a good ending point, even with all the questions that are still open. (I was kind of expecting all of them to go back because leaving their reflections in the lives they themselves fled from is rather hypocritical.) But that epilogue is total sequel bait.

My thoughts on the final scene:

what.

Hey, I know a lot of people are kind of miffed by the ending, but I wanted you to know that there is at least one other person who understands what's going on. (Well, as much as a reader could, after all) I really enjoyed this story, along with the ending and everything else inside of it. Thanks for a continuously updating story to follow. I wish you the best of luck in any of your following endeavors.

Wow, great story, but it leaves so much unanswered that I hope I will see sequel. But really great story with great existential breakdown.

The story was fantastic: it was well written, the ideas were poignant, the characters were well developed. Everything made for a very compelling narrative.

Now: The ending is quite abrupt. We have no actual resolution for the characters, and are stuck with serious questions that need to be answered: Are they going to survive the next 5 minutes? Is that even the same changeling from Tartarus? The current story seems to be stuck post climax, but pre-epilogue. If the situation were more stable, then we’d be able to extrapolate or guess things like the longer term questions: were any of their sacrifices worth it? Are they stuck in human form?

This screams for a sequel, or at least another chapter to round off the ending. Otherwise we’re stuck (story-wise) post climax, but pre epilogue. The Lord of the Rings equivalent would be dumping the ring into mount doom, then ending the book with the characters on the side of the mountain as it erupts.

That being said, If there is a sequel called “Tartarus Girls,” I will read it.

9182773
If/when there is a sequel (and I appreciate the need for it), it will be called Tartarus Girls. It's too awesome not to use.

That was actually my working title for this story for more than a year, before I came up The Fishbowl. It was hard letting go of it, but it was just too much of a spoiler.

Loved it! My favorite fimfiction story ever. Although, the end was a bit cheesy.

9182863
And Fishbowl or Snowglobe (Whovians, anyone?) fits it better anyway.

Trixie looked at the other two girls. Then she took a deep breath, turned back to face Flash, and punched him hard in the face.

Welp. Story over. Mission accomplished. Time to wrap up and go home. Good job, nice tale, apple out of five stars. :ajsmug:

9346682
And it is entirely balanced and fair. Thank you.

9034148
"A race devoted to the concept of forgiveness" that imprisoned the God of Chaos in stone

Harmony plays hardball.

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